06 Jun Planning a West Coast US Road Trip
The United States is a big country and all of its citizens are very accustomed to driving. Need to go to the store? Drive. What about to the pharmacy? Drive. Heading off to the gym? Drive. If you don’t have a car, you’re going to have a very hard time getting anywhere.
That’s why so many people end up taking that car and doing something fun for a change: a road trip. There is no real definition for a road trip: they can be quick day trips, weekend trips or even month long trips.
If you’re planning on going along the West Coast of the United States, you’d best carve out a few weeks for yourself. This guide will give you some tips on where to start and the best places to see along the way.
Where to Start?
There are two major cities in the Pacific Northwest: Seattle and Portland. Seattle, home to the original Starbucks, Peugeot Sound and lots of fish, is a beautiful city. Even though it doesn’t receive the most rainfall on a yearly basis, Seattle sees rain about 40% of days during the year.
Portland, on the other hand, is a rather eclectic city filled with biking, special donuts and plenty of homebrews. It’s surrounded by forested areas and is just a few hours away from the beach. You really can’t go wrong starting in either.
Heading Down South
If you started in Seattle, you may want to stop in Portland next or you could just drive on through. About four hours south of Portland is Crater Lake National, home to Crater Lake. Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States and is a site to behold. If you are going during the summer and the red algae is yet to bloom, you can hike down to the bottom and go cliff-diving.
Once you cross over the Oregon-California border, you should make time to stop in California’s capital: Sacramento. The city is filled with fantastic museums and has an old town where you can see an old gold rush building and railroad museum.
Once you go past Sacramento, you should make your way over to Highway One. One of the most beautiful drives in the world, Highway One starts out north of San Francisco and winds its way along the coast and finishes just outside of Los Angeles.
The curving roads and constant view of the ocean are two things that will likely leave you breathless along the way.
You shouldn’t get on Highway One without making a few stops! San Francisco, one of the country’s most unique and diverse cities, has something for just about everyone. You should make sure and visit the Golden Gate Bridge, head to Chinatown and even catch a sporting event while you’re in town. It also wouldn’t be a trip to San Francisco without riding a trolley or two during you stay.
You should also make sure and checkout the Redwoods forest outside of San Francisco. You can spend an afternoon there or all day. Make sure and bring a jacket, as the shade is going to cut you off from a lot of sunlight.
After walking among the streets of San Francisco, it’s time to get back in your car and head down Highway One until you reach Los Angeles. Now is your time to walk among the stars.
Go to the Griffith Observatory to to get a great view of LA and a picture with the Hollywood sign. Walk downtown on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Los Angeles is also home to Disneyland (not as big as Disney World) and Universal Studios. If you like theme parks, you’ve come to the right place.
Los Angeles is also home to some incredible beaches so make sure you find the closest beach to where you are staying. If you haven’t already dipped your toes in the Pacific Ocean, just know that is very, very cold and the undertow is quite strong!
While not officially on the West Coast, many travelers make a stop in Sin City a must. How many times are you going to find a casino paradise in the middle of the desert?
Don’t feel like you have to gamble your whole time away in Las Vegas, as there are tons of attractions and clubs to keep you entertained as well. Look to see what shows are happening during your stay and try and book tickets ahead of time.
If you’re still looking for outdoor activities, Las Vegas has a number of hiking trails that are just outside the city. It’s hard to go wrong in Vegas.