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Home » North America » USA » West Coast

Ultimate West Coast Road Trip Guide for 2024

Going on a West Coast road trip has to be one of the most magnificent experiences in the USA. This region, comprising of California, Oregon, Washington, is one of the most beautiful parts of the world and offers countless things to do and places to see. Sorry East Coast – these routes have gotcha’ beat.

While traveling on the West Coast, you’ll have the option of taking many road trip routes. You can take a road trip on Highway 101 along the iconic coastlines of the Pacific Ocean, or you can navigate through the epic Cascades and the Sierra Nevada mountains inland.

Being raised in Oregon, and having taken several road trips on the West Coast, I have a lot to share with you, my fellow broke backpackers.

In this USA West Coast road trip planner, I’ll cover several topics, including how to stick to a budget, the best places to visit on the West Coast, and plenty of ideas and itineraries to easily organize your entire trip.

So come with me as we go on a road trip of the West Coast, USA!

A girl smiling in front of a hippie van in California United States of America.

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best route to travel west coast america

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Renting a Car or Campervan in West Coast

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Renting a car is the most popular way of getting around while backpacking the USA and that sure does include the West Coast. There are a myriad of car rental agencies here that offer varying deals and varying models.

To find the best rental car deal in the USA, use search engines that compare the prices of individual companies. I personally like using Rentalcars.com as they’ve never failed to give me a great price.

redwood national park road trip northern california

You can also rent an RV or campervan, which means you don’t have to worry about packing camping gear. You will have to empty and refill the various waste and water tanks to live the van life though, which will require a visit to the proper facilities. RVs also cost more to rent, use more gas, and demand higher prices at campgrounds.

Make sure you also purchase a RentalCover.com policy to cover your vehicle against any common damages such as tires, windscreens, theft, and more at a fraction of the price you would pay at the rental desk.

We suggest booking a campervan with Outdoorsy as they usually have a good selection and good prices. Better yet, Broke Backpackers also get a $40 discount with Outdoorsy! Just use the coupon code “BACKPACKER” when checking out.

The roads are generally very good and a sedan or economy car should deliver you to most of the West Coast’s top destinations. Only in the most remote portions of the Sierra Nevada and the Cascades will you need to be concerned about having 4-wheel drive.

If you’re on a West Coast road trip during the winter and conditions are poor, you will definitely need all-wheel or 4-wheel drive.

Tips for Saving Money on Car Rentals in the US

A of my personal favorite tips on how to save money on your West Coast USA road trip …

oregon scenic drive in winter

  • I mentioned before that you can reach out to vehicle relocation services, like Cruise America , as a way of saving heaps of cash on rentals. Pursue these as best you can as they can save you a lot of money. Don’t get your hopes up too much though, as availability is always limited.
  • Car insurance isn’t always mandatory in the USA but is highly encouraged. This being said, you don’t necessarily have to buy car insurance from the company you’re renting from. Purchase a RentalCover.com policy to cover your vehicle against any common damages such as tires, windscreens, theft, and more at a fraction of the price you would pay at the rental desk.
  • Many credit card companies offer free car insurance if you book the car with the proper card. Call your credit card company for more information regarding terms and conditions.

The most and best parties are usually in the larger cities of San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Seattle. These cities have the most bars, clubs, and just a greater selection of places to drink. The larger cities also host a greater amount of shows and touring musicia

While there are TONS of epic places to stay along the West Coast, here are three that are absolutely worth reserving in advance!

Best West Coast Mountain Getaway: Earthlight Washington Villa

cabin set on a mountain ridge with an orage yellow sunset and snow covering the mountains west coast road trip

This mountain villa in Waterville, Washington just might be the most incredible Airbnb on the West Coast. Built on the edge of a ridge that overlooks the Columbia River and some stunning mountains. Enjoy it all from a truly legendary deck that features a jacuzzi and panoramic views. Only one hour from Leavenworth and 15 minutes from the nearest town, you’ll get to be as secluded as possible while still having 21st-century amenities in reach.

Best West Coast Beach Cottage: Oregon Coast Beach Getaway

wooden living room of a west coast beach cottage

This Oregon Coast beach cottage is mere steps from one of the West Coast’s most legendary beaches. Multiple comfy beds, a large kitchen, and a wood-burning stove all add to the homey feel–just 100 yards from the ocean. You’ll also have easy access to local breweries and some hiking trails if you’ve had enough beach time!

Best Airbnb in Los Angeles: Downtown LA Condo

airy dining room with large windows in los angeles airbnb on a west coast road trip

Where you stay in LA matters a LOT, so why not choose this iconic condo located right near the City of Angels’ main attractions? The 1 bedroom condo features glass windows, 20 ft ceilings, and a rooftop pool that you’ll be thankful for if you visit in the summer! You can also count on a super comfy bed, a TV, fast Wifi, and EPIC views of LA.

Best Places to Stay on Your West Coast Road Trip

Here are some of the best places to stay all along the West Coast.

Below is a list of sample road trips up (and down) the West Coast. Varying from 10 days to 30 days in length, they cover many of the West Coast’s top attractions. Each itinerary provides day-by-day highlights, which are meant to give you some awesome West Coast road trip ideas and maximize the natural beauty you’ll get to experience.

Since the West Coast is massive and I can’t go into every single detail for each location, I’ve created more specific road trips to help you out a bit. Get ready for a heavy dose of driving in the USA inspo!

  • California Road Trip
  • Oregon Road Trip

A road trip on Highway 101 is one of the most popular and desirable adventures in the United States. This route features an amazing coastline that shifts every step of the way. While you’ll see other states too, this is the California trip of your dreams!

Starting in Southern California, you’ll see palm trees and surf-worthy swells slowly turn to dramatic cliffs. By the time you reach the Olympic Peninsula, you’ll be surrounded by lush, temperate rainforest, the likes of which you can see nowhere else in America.

On the road trip from San Diego to Seattle, you will pass by several of the most interesting cities in the region, Must-do’s include visiting Los Angeles , Santa Barbara, and Seattle. Between these many places, you will have your pick of bars, restaurants, and local markets.

Ultimately, a road trip on the Pacific Coast Highway is a no-fail and I wouldn’t be surprised if you decided to spend more time on this itinerary.

map of west coast road trip itinerary 14 days

Highlights: San Diego, Los Angeles, Big Sur, San Francisco, Point Reyes National Seashore, Redwoods, Oregon Coast, Olympic National Park

Notable bars and restaurants: Zeitgeist (San Francisco), A.O.C. (LA), Lost Abbey (San Diego), Annie’s Cambodian Cuisine (Eureka), Pelican Brewery (Cape Kiwanda), The Schooner (Netarts), Local Ocean Seafoods (Newport), Chestnut Cottage (Port Angeles), Granny’s Cafe (Port Angeles)

Where to Sleep:

  • Freehand Hostel Los Angeles
  • Green Tortoise Hostel San Francisco
  • Ecola Creek Lodge (Cannon Beach)

hidden waterfall marion falls oregon photography roaming ralph

You’ve only got 10 days on this West Coast Road Trip and it’s definitely not a lot of time for such a massive creation. Don’t expect to see each and every highlight on the way, especially when visiting LA where traffic can get hectic, to say the least.

You’ll have to plan your activities ahead to enjoy a stress-free adventure. The best activities are surfing around SoCal, camping in Big Sur, and whale watching. If you’re more of an active person, you should check out the hiking trails on the Olympic Peninsula. Exploring San Francisco and the Redwoods is a great experience too. As popular as it is, you can’t miss out on the Golden Gate Bridge, especially at sunrise or sunset.

If you’re into scenic drives, check out the Pacific Coast Highway (Highway 101) and Highway 1 – both offer incredible views!

Depending on when you’re visiting, you’ll be able to attend some cool festivals. Here are the coolest:

  • Festival of the Dark Arts in Astoria (February)
  • Goonies Day in Astoria (June)
  • SF Outside Lands (August)
  • Desert Daze (October)
  • Redwood Coast Music Fest (October)

best route to travel west coast america

Wanna know how to pack like a pro? Well for a start you need the right gear….

These are packing cubes for the globetrotters and compression sacks for the  real adventurers – these babies are a traveller’s best kept secret. They organise yo’ packing and minimise volume too so you can pack MORE.

Or, y’know… you can stick to just chucking it all in your backpack…

This is quite literally the opposite of a road on Highway 101 – this route primarily covers the eastern portion of California, Oregon, and Washington, areas that are defined by arid landscapes and rugged mountains.

Starting this road trip in California, you’ll begin in the hottest official place in the USA before escaping to the Sierra Nevada. You’ll pass by Yosemite , Lake Mono, and Lake Tahoe before reaching Oregon. Here, you’ll get a break from the desert by visiting Crater Lake before heading to the deserts around John Day again. By the time, you reach Washington, you’ll be in the rolling hills of the Palouse.

Given the harshness of the landscape, I advise that you undertake this road trip in late-spring or early-fall. Although it’s the desert, there is still a high probability of snow in the passes.

map of the west coast itinerary

Highlights: Death Valley, Sierras, Lake Tahoe, Lassen Volcanic NP, Crater Lake, Bend, Wallowas, Palouse

Notable bars and restaurants: Holy Smokes Texas Style BBQ (Bishop), The Stove (Mammoth Lakes), Peg’s Glorified Ham n Eggs (Reno), Crux Fermentation Project (Bend), McKay Cottage (Bend), Roosters Country Kitchen (Pendleton)

  • Villa D’billa Airbnb (Reno)
  • Moderne Hostel (Mammoth Lakes)
  • Mellow Mountain Hostel (Tahoe)
  • Bunk + Brews Historic Lucas House (Bend)

Death Valley best hikes on the west coast

The best activities on this road trip are definitely climbing in Yosemite and canoeing at Lake Tahoe. For everyone who’s into adventures and adrenaline, you can ski and then stay at a cabin on Mammoth Lakes and hike the John Muir Wilderness. Biking around Crater Lake and taking epic photos in the Palouse is a bit more relaxing.

For scenic drives on this road trip, I’d recommend the Tioga Pass, Lassen Scenic Byway, and Highway 395. There are more drives that you can find online, but these ones are my personal favorites.

The best events you can attend are:

  • Bishop Manzanar Pilgrimage (April)
  • Burning Man (August),
  • Mammoth Festival of Beers and Bluesapalooza (August)
  • Bend Brew Festival (October)

palouse falls eastern west coast road trip

One look at the map for this itinerary and you will probably exclaim how random it looks. Given that you will be visiting every national park between California and Washington, it’s pretty clear that there will be a great deal of driving.

But there’s going to be equal if not a greater amount of majesty. The national parks of the Western USA are famous and arguably form the finest collection in all of North America. You’re going to see deserts, valleys, giant redwoods, lakes, and mountains; if you can think of a landscape, it’s going to be featured here.

Luckily, there will be plenty of breaks on this best national parks edition of a West Coast road trip. You’ll also see many of the West Coast’s major cities, including Portland and Bellingham, and have the chance to take a brief road trip on Highway 101. So even if you are itching to go camping and get a little dirty, there will still be some showers along the way.

map of west coast road trip itinerary 10 days

Highlights : Joshua Tree National Park , Kings Canyon, Channel Islands, Yosemite, Crater Lake, Olympic, Mt Rainier, North Cascades

Notable bars and restaurants: Stonefly Restaurant (Markleeville), Austin’s Restaurant (Tahoe), Aaron Schat’s Roadhouse (Bishop), John’s Pizza Works (Mammoth Lakes), Peg’s Glorified Ham n Eggs (Reno),

  • Emerald Forest Cabins (Eureka)
  • Maverick Inn (Klamath Falls)
  • Bavarian Bungalow Getaway (Leavenworth)

crater lake sunset roaming ralph photography

On this road trip, you’ll come across the absolute best hiking trails in the US . You can do a separate road trip in Redwoods, bike around Crater Lake, or check out the awesome beaches of the Olympic Peninsula if hiking is not your thing. For the more creative ones, you’ll love taking pictures at Death Valley National Park.

All scenic drives that I mentioned above can be visited on this road trip too, but I’d recommend checking out the Cascade Loop and Lassen Volcanic Scenic Byway .

This is it – the most complete road trip from California to Washington that you can do in 30 days. Just about every destination that has been covered so far in previous road trips is included here. This includes a road trip on the California Coast, a road trip from San Francisco to the Sierra Nevada, the Oregon Coast, the Washington Cascades, the Olympic Peninsula, and much, much more.

All of the major cities on the West Coast are included as well. There will be plenty of places to visit while staying in Los Angeles -do check out the Santa Monica pier for some prime people watching- San Francisco, Seattle, and every other city for that matter. Regardless of where you choose to spend your time – be it in the cities or in nature – it will be time well spent.

This itinerary also has the added benefit of featuring the amazing San Juan Islands, located at the end of a Highway 101 road trip. These are among the most beautiful places to stay in Washington and a mandatory given the amount of time you have.

map of west coast road trip itinerary 3 weeks

Highlights : Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo, Big Sur, San Francisco, Sierras, Lake Tahoe, Redwoods, Oregon Coast, Crater Lake, Bend, Portland, North Cascades, Seattle, Olympic Peninsula

Notable bars and restaurants: A.O.C. (LA), Lost Abbey (San Diego), Zeitgeist (San Francisco), Annie’s Cambodian Cuisine (Eureka), Crux Fermentation Project (Bend), Cartopia (Portland), Dick’s Drive-In (Seattle)

  • Otter’s Pond Bed & Breakfast (Orcas)

painted hills viewpoint sunset oregon road trip roaming ralph photography

Well, you’ve got a whole month on your hands! So you better do everything the West Coast has to offer, right? Whether it’s surfing while staying in Santa Cruz , exploring LA’s nightlife, or hiking trails in the Sierra Nevada – you’ll never get bored.

A couple of things I’d definitely recommend though are sailing in the San Juans, alpine climbing in North Cascades, and taking the delicious beer in Bend. What you end up doing during the 4-week road trip is completely up to you, but you can be sure to have a blast!

Hit up the road and check out the most beautiful scenic drives in the West Coast. They include Highway 101, US-26, and Crater Lake Rim . If you’ve got a nice car and love driving around, add these to your list as well.

Below is a list of the best road trip stops on the West Coast. Study them well and decide which ones you like the most for your road trip.

Southern California Road Trip

Southern California or SoCal is the drier, sunnier part of California, known for its desert landscapes, Latin-influences, beach culture, and urban sprawl. It is distinct from Northern California in many ways and should definitely be discussed in its own section.

Southern California is by no means small – it hosts millions of residents, leagues of land, amazing national parks, and a lot of coastlines – but for the sake of brevity, we must condense all of Southern California into a single section.

The region is best known for its easy-going and Epicurean culture. Metropolises, like Los Angeles and San Diego, host huge populations of people who just want to have fun in the sun, do business, and maybe get famous. The parties in Southern California are often extravagant and it goes without saying that places like Hollywood or Santa Barbara  get really crazy.

los angeles at night road trip california

Southern California is also well-known for its desert landscapes and climate. Sunshine is plentiful, temperatures are warm, and rain is infrequent.

Superlative national parks, like Death Valley and the magical Joshua Tree , exhibit the arid beauty of Southern California. Add in some of the best beaches on the West Coast and you can why the surfer and beach culture is strong here.

In the end, Southern California is a paradisiacal place, both in mind and reality. People flock here in pursuit of dreams, warmer climates, and sometimes for no reason at all. I can think of no better place to start a fantastic road trip up the West Coast than Southern California.

Northern California Road Trip

Northern California or NorCal is a bit more temperate than SoCal, both in climate and attitude. The weather is moodier, people are slightly more cosmopolitan, and the food is far more eclectic.

You won’t find the desert beaches and vast deserts of SoCal; NorCal has grander forests, more alpine areas, and a rougher coastline. Its home to many of the best hikes in California .

Nothing illustrates the difference between NorCal and SoCal better than comparing Los Angeles and San Francisco. Whereas LA is more defined by its entertainment and pleasure industries, San Francisco is a technological utopia that hosts some of the most influential industries in the world i.e. Google.

As a city, San Francisco is far denser, better planned, and all-in-all more modern than Los Angeles. Staying in San Francisco can be refreshing and recharging, especially after spending a long time on the road. It has superior public transport, more public works, and a greater amount of accommodation options.

San Francisco also benefits from being a part of the greater Bay Area , which offers West Coast roadtrippers a huge array of activities.

golden gate bridge at dawn road trip to san francisco

There’s the increasingly affluent but always gritty Oakland in the East Bay as well as the gorgeous if not opulent Marin County in the North Bay. The stunning Napa Valley has some of the best wineries in California and the coastline around SF is spectacular.

Along the coast, Big Sur, Monterrey, John Muir Woods, and Point Reyes are all worth visiting.

Finally, Northern California offers some of the best landscapes in California. Legendary areas like Yosemite National Park , Tahoe , and the Redwood Forest are all worth visiting as are the lesser-known ones like Lassen , the John Muir Wilderness , and the Lost Coast .

Northern California is definitely one of the best places that you’ll visit on your West Coast road trip route. Like Southern California, I had to, unfortunately, be very brief with this region.

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Oregon Coastal Road Trip

Whimsical Oregon – home to hipsters, endlessly flowing beers, and some of the most enchanting beaches and hikes on the West Coast .

Over the years, Oregon has been the recipient of many titles and stereotypes, some of which are spot-on. Though not the enclave for the weird that it used to be, Oregon is still one of the most endearing and charming states in the entire country and is still utterly unique.

Oregon is one of the most geographically diverse states on the West Coast. It has deserts, mountains, rainforests, beaches, gorges, and volcanoes; you name it, and Oregon has got it. Because of this, there is an immense amount of things to do in Oregon, from relaxing to finding the best hikes you’ve ever seen.

mt hood sunset trillium lake oregon photography roaming ralph

The largest and most well-known city in Oregon is Portland. Famed for its craft beer scene, amazing food, and uncanny residents, backpacking Portland is definitely one of the best experiences you can have on your West Coast road trip. Grab a bike, grab a brew, grab a friend, and go for a joy ride in the city.

If you’re looking for a good hike, there are several trails near Portland in Forest Park , the Columbia River Gorge , and at every Portlandians favorite landmark, the elegant Mt Hood .

Almost as famous as Portland is the Oregon Coast . The Oregon Coast is far more rugged, moody, and, arguably, more beautiful than the California Coast – people love to visit here in order to get away.

The Oregon and California Coasts are, thankfully, connected via the amazing Highway 101, which runs further up to Washington. Taking a road trip on Highway 101 up the West Coast is undoubtedly one of the best ways to experience the region.

Oregon’s Highway 101 attractions include Cannon Beach , the Oregon Dunes , and Cape Perpetua .

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Eastern Oregon Road Trip

Many imagine Oregon to be a dreary, rainy wonderland full of trees and hippies. While this is true for the Western portion of Oregon, few realize that this is not the case for nearly two-thirds of the state.

Eastern Oregon is situated in a mostly high desert. Here, the people are more conservative, the landscape is harsher, and the sagebrush rolls on endlessly. It’s an ideal place to grab a quality Oregon cabin and really get acquainted with this unique class of nature.

Eastern Oregon is separated from the rest of the state by the Cascade Mountain Range . These mountains extend north through Washington and south to Northern California.

The Cascades have a profound effect on the climate. Eastern Oregon receives far less rain than the West and is much more arid. The Oregon Cascades are beautiful as well, and many of the top places to visit on a West Coast road trip are located in this range.

smith rock near end oregon road trip roaming ralph photography

The aforementioned Mt Hood , superlative Crater Lake , and countless waterfalls throughout the state can be found in the Oregon Cascades.

The desert dominates Eastern Oregon. Locations like the Painted Hills, Alvord Desert, Smith Rock , and Owyhee Canyonlands are all wonderful representatives of Eastern Oregon’s stark beauty.

Those looking for more than just desert though will be happy to hear that places like the Wallowa Mountains and the Blue Mountains offer more alpine experiences.

There are lots of things to do in Eastern Oregon. Aside from seeking solitude, people often visit Eastern Oregon for adventurous activities. Whitewater rafting, skiing, and hiking are all excellent here.

Staying in Bend , the largest city in Eastern Oregon, is an excellent place idea as it offers lots of outdoor opportunities year-round.

Road Trip to Seattle

Visiting Seattle is a must while road-tripping the West Coast. It’s one of the most prosperous and dynamic cities in the Pacific Northwest. It’s a culturally rich place that has helped gestate the careers of some of the greatest icons in American history including Ray Charles, Nirvana, and Jimi Hendrix.

Economically, it is one of the fastest-growing American cities and hosts several important companies like Amazon, Microsoft, Boeing, and Starbucks. Lying on the banks of the Puget Sound and in the shadow of the massive Mt Rainier , Seattle may also be the most beautiful city on the West Coast.

Seattle is best explored at a leisurely pace. Allocate lots of time to walk around and visit the many cafes in the city. Drink coffee and beer in copious amounts and be sure to eat the local seafood, which is bountiful in the city. Basically, try not to rush through Seattle’s many places to visit .

Though there are several restaurants to visit around Seattle, no trip to the city is complete without a visit to the iconic Pikes Place Market .

seattle washington state road trip with mountain rainier at dusk

Seattle is a very outdoorsy city. Lots of backpackers love Seattle because of its laid-back, hipster vibe . There are tons of parks around the city that offer amazing views of the surrounding cityscape/landscape and display quintessential PNW lushness, including evergreens and maples.

From parks like Jose Rizal, Kerry Park, Discovery , and Seaword , you’ll have astounding views of the city and Cascade Range. Seriously, these viewpoints are some of the best I’ve ever visited.

There are several notable museums in Seattle. The ultra-modern Museum of Pop Culture, Seattle Art Museum, and the Chihuly Garden are all gorgeous museums and are among the best places to visit in Seattle.

Consider sailing on  Elliot Bay  as well. You can charter a larger, more luxurious sailboat, which will obviously cost more, or choose a more affordable option. You can rent a kayak for good rates and even sail for free every Sunday with the Center for Wooden Boats , the latter of which is one of the best free things to do in Seattle!

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Olympic Peninsula Road Trip

The Olympic Peninsula hosts Washington’s best national parks , beaches, rugged mountains, and some of the densest and wettest rainforests in North America. It is an Arcadian destination where you could get lost for days (or weeks); it is, without a doubt, one of the top West Coast road trip destinations.

The Olympic Peninsula is located west of Seattle across the Puget Sound . You can reach the peninsula from Seattle by road via Tacoma and Olympia or by ferry.

Our favorite West Coast road trip route, Highway 101 , actually starts/ends at the Tumwater/I-5 junction, just south of Olympia, and circles the entire Olympic Peninsula too. (As if this road couldn’t get any better?)

The vast majority of the Olympic Peninsula is a part of the Olympic National Park . Within the park, you’ll find all sorts of natural attractions. Here you can go hiking, climbing, mountain biking, and rafting all within the course of a day, maybe.

shi shi beach olympic peninsula washington road trip

Near Port Angeles is the Hurricane Ridge Road, which grants access to the Hurricane Ridge . Aside from hosting a ski resort, Hurricane Ridge has one of the most jaw-dropping vistas in the state, as you’ll see huge swathes of peaks and forests.

Continuing west and then south around the Olympic Peninsula, you’ll reach the furthest shores of Washington state. Along the western portion of the Olympic Peninsula are a series of ultra-rugged and remote beaches among the most beautiful places on the West Coast.

Most of these require either a 4×4 car or a hike on foot to reach. Some of the best beaches of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula are Rialto Beach , Shi Shi Beach , and Ruby Beach .

Finally, the Hoh Rainforest is accessed via a series of dirt roads on the western edge of the peninsula. The Hoh is one of the most incredible rainforests in the world. Overrun by mammoth trees and covered nearly head to toe in lush moss, the Hoh seemingly offers nearly every shade of green imaginable.

Road Trip to Bellingham and the San Juan Islands

North of Seattle is the Salish Sea, which, apart from linking Seattle to the Pacific Ocean, hosts a number of idyllic islands and communities.

Most notable are the San Juan Islands – a gorgeous archipelago that offers some of the most bucolic and relaxing settings in the Pacific Northwest. It’s the perfect place to grab a quirky Washington treehouse and just bask in the awesomeness of nature. These in addition to Bellingham on the mainland are some of the best places in Washington.

Driving north from Seattle, you’ll first pass by Anacortes , which is the primary docking area for ferries to the San Juans as well as Vancouver Island .

South of Anacortes is Whidbey Island . Though not as gorgeous as the San Juans, Whidbey is still very nice and actually offers one of the most scenic drives in Washington. Whidbey Island is connected by bridge to the mainland at Deception Pass .

orcas in bay in the pacific northwest west coast road trip

Bellingham is one of the coolest towns on the West Coast, thanks to its awesome brewery scene, young population, and outdoorsy culture. It’s primarily a college town, inhabited mostly by students, but lots of people end up falling in love with Bellingham and settling here permanently. Like any good student town, the nightlife is usually ramped up, and the beer, in particular, is quite good in Bellingham.

Bellingham is very close to Canada, Mt Baker, and the San Juan Islands, which makes it a great base for exploring the Pacific Northwest.

The San Juan Islands are one of the best places to visit on a West Coast road trip. Here is a Pacific paradise with untouched woods, calm waters, and gorgeous scenery. Small towns like Friday Harbor make for amazing places to stay for a rest stop.

People love to visit the San Juans to unwind and escape from civilization. Migrating orcas are frequently seen in the San Juans as well, which makes them popular with whale watchers.

You can reach the San Juans via ferry back to Anacortes. The ferry runs all year though less frequently in the winter.

Cascades Road Trip

Though the Cascade Range extends all the way into Oregon and California, the portion in Washington is arguably the best. The Washington Cascades are home to two of the West Coast’s best national parks – Rainier and North Cascades – in addition to several superlative wildernesses.

For mountaineers, hikers, and anyone interested in the outdoors, the Washington Cascades are among the most beautiful places .

The Washington Cascades can be roughly broken into 4 sections: the Gifford-Pinchot, Mt. Rainier, the Okanogan-Wenatchee, and North Cascades .

The Gifford-Pinchot section of the Cascades is the most southerly part of the range and is a part of the eponymous national forest. Here you’ll find Mt Adams – the second highest peak in the Cascades – and Mt St Helens – the famous active volcano. Some of the most beautiful waterfalls in the Pacific Northwest are also in the Gifford-Pinchot.

mt baker north cascades washington state road trip

Mt Rainier is the largest mountain in the Cascades and hosts a national park. Mt Rainier National Park offers some of the best hikes and camping opportunities in Washington. The Summerland , Wonderland, and Tolmie Lookout trails are some of the most popular. Mt Rainier is also famous for its wildflowers, which bloom around July.

The Okanogan-Wenatchee area is home to many of Washington’s premier ski resorts. Stevens Pass, Snoqualmie, and Leavenworth are all notable locations.

Leavenworth is a very charming town in its own right and was designed to resemble a Bavarian village. Nearby to Leavenworth are the Alpine Lakes Wilderness and superlative Enchantment Basin , both of which offer amazing hiking opportunities.

Finally, the North Cascades – near the border of Canada – has some of the most rugged and remote peaks in the country. There are lots more hiking opportunities to be had around the North Cascades. Popular trails include Hidden Lake Lookout, Lake Anne, Sahalie Arm , and Copper Ridge . There is excellent skiing at Mt Baker as well, which is the highest mountain in the area.

Eastern Washington Road Trip

Eastern Washington is very different from the Western portion of the state. Lying on the other side of the Cascade Range, Eastern Washington is arider and desert-like, much in the same way as Eastern Oregon.

This part of Washington is distinctly more agrarian as well, and people tend to lean towards of the conservative side of the political spectrum. Regardless of its differences, Eastern Washington is a gorgeous place to visit and offers some of the most unique places to visit in Washington.

Though I’ll be frank when I say there is not a whole lot to do in Eastern Washington. Aside from a few very notable and beautiful attractions, 80% of Eastern Washington is either boring farmland or shrubbery. Definitely consider visiting this region but don’t allocate too many days to it.

palouse hills washington state road trip

Spokane is the largest city in Eastern Washington. It’s a peaceful city that doesn’t see much in the way of tourism. There are a few notable landmarks in the city like Spokane Falls, Davenport Arts District, and Manito Park .

Architecture fans may enjoy wandering around the city to see the works of Kirtland Cutter , who was one of the most influential architects in the PNW.

Most people just use Spokane as a base to explore the surrounding landscape. Spokane benefits from the excellent road trips nearby. The ever-charming Coeur d’Alene, and Sandpoint, Idaho are both very close to Spokane as is the Canadian border. Mountain lovers will love having the Northern Rockies right at their fingertips in Spokane.

South of Spokane is the Palouse , a very pastoral region that could easily rival Tuscany in terms of beauty. With rolling hills and endless fields, many photographers love Palouse. Consider a visit if you are looking to escape to the countryside. Steptoe Butte offers one of the best views of the hills.

Palouse also has one of the best waterfalls in the Pacific Northwest: Palouse Falls . This mighty waterfall drops into a gorgeous canyon and makes for excellent photographs. Hikers can walk to the base of the waterfall through the canyon itself as well.

Looking for some more unique West Coast road trip ideas? Then check out these off-the-beaten-path locations for a chance to see something different!

Nevada Road Trip

Nevada is a state directly east of California, best known for debaucherous Las Vegas. Because of its proximity to Los Angeles (a 4-hour drive), Las Vegas and Nevada are frequently visited on a California road trip.

Visit Las Vegas for a chance to party big and win bigger at the casinos, and consider visiting the rest of the state. There are several excellent attractions in Nevada that have nothing to do with LV like the Valley of Fire, Great Basin National Park, and Reno. 

Lake Tahoe is probably the biggest draw in the area. There are many cool things to do in Lake Tahoe , and it’s an ideal place to have your own vehicle.

Idaho Road Trip

Idaho is a relatively neglected state that doesn’t get much attention from the rest of the country. While some of it is admittedly unimpressive – the south is an endless expanse of ugly agriculture and weird towns – there are still a lot of cool things in Idaho.

sawtooth mountains sunrise twin lakes roaming ralph photography

Boise is quickly becoming one of the most charming cities in the Western USA and has a great culinary scene. The mountains of Idaho, being a part of the northernmost section of the American Rockies , are also very beautiful. The Sawtooth Range, Nez-Perce Woods , and the lake town of Sandpoint are all very attractive places worth visiting.

One of the best ways to see these mountains is to stay in a cabin in Idaho , as they offer unrivaled views of the mountains and the best scenic spots in the state.

Vancouver Road Trip

If you’ve finished your West Coast road trip route and want more, then why not continue your trip into Canada? While Vancouver isn’t exactly off the beaten path, it is just across the Washington-Canada border and one of the most gorgeous cities in the entire world.

Backpacking Vancouver offers many adventurous opportunities including skiing, hiking, sailing, and ferries to Vancouver Island. Granted, there aren’t many coastal roadways in British Columbia but the mountains are superlative and only a few hours drive away from Vancouver!

The US national parks are among the most beautiful places on the West Coast! Visit any one of the following areas for a glimpse of the best of the West Coast’s splendor and get ready to take lots of pictures.

yosemite valley with snow in winter

California National Parks

  • Kings Canyon/Sequoia (SoCal) – Home to the giant sequoias, which are one of the tallest trees in the world. Framed by quintessential-Sierra Nevada craggy peaks, Sequoia National Park is incredibly unique.
  • Channel Islands (SoCal) – Islands that have huge ecological diversity. Good for whale watching, scuba diving, and hiking.
  • Yosemite (NorCal) – Granite wonderland full of some of the sheerest and most dramatic rock walls in the world. A Mecca for rock climbers and hikers. Plan your visit to Yosemite ahead of time!
  • Death Valley (SoCal) – One of the hottest and most inhospitable places in the world. Defined by surreal geology, mountains, and enormous sand dunes, Death Valley National Park just can’t be missed.
  • Joshua Tree (SoCal) – A desert national park close to Los Angeles. Home to unique flora and fauna. Popular with hikers , climbers, and weekend warriors.
  • Redwood (NorCal) – Park dedicated to some of the oldest and greatest trees on the planet. One of the California Coast’s best attractions.
  • Lassen Volcanic (NorCal) – A highly volcanic area defined by bubbling thermal pools and active volcanoes, and one of the best camping spots in California .
  • Pinnacles (NorCal) – Set-up to preserve unique rock formations and local bat populations.

Oregon National Parks

  • Crater Lake (Oregon) – The only national park in Oregon and one of the best places in Oregon. Insanely deep and clear lake sitting in a collapsed caldera.

Washington National Parks

  • Mt Rainier (Washington) – The highest mountain in the Cascades and home to the largest glaciers in the lower 48. An alpine paradise.
  • Olympic (Washington) – One of the most geographically diverse regions on the West Coast. Mountains, glaciers, rugged coastline, and rainforest all in one place.
  • North Cascades (Washington) – “The Alps of the USA.” Vast and wild national park that protects some of the most beautiful mountains in America.

Americans have a weird affinity to the strange landmarks that are usually found out in the middle of nowhere. The roadside attractions on the West Coast have become so admired that many people go on a trip just to see them! Below is a list of some of the most interesting West Coast roadside attractions.

roadside attraction dinosaur california

  • Forestiere Underground Gardens (Fresno) – An impressive and intricate series of underground passageways with gardens everywhere. Very pretty place.
  • Trees of Mystery (Klamath) – An amusement park of sorts with, most notably, two giants statues of Paul Bunyon and his ox Babe .
  • Salvation Mountain (Niland) – A pretty famous attraction on the edge of San Diego. Surreal and Gaudi-like shrine in the desert. Definitely one of the most unique things to do in Southern California.
  • Cabazon Dinosaurs (Cabazon) – One of the OG California roadside attractions! A favorite for many.
  • Oregon State Hospital Museum of Mental Health (Salem) – A real mental institution that was used for filming One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Now displays important artifacts from the movie as well as archaic therapeutic techniques.
  • Octopus Tree (Tillamook) – An old spruce tree that came to be shaped like an octopus by unknown means.
  • The Oregon Vortex (Gold Hill) – A place where the laws of physics are purportedly non-existent due to paranormal activity.
  • Rosie (Sekiu) – An anthropomorphic fish statue complete with a pink skirt, bra, and tennis shoes. Doesn’t get much weirder than this.
  • Codger Pole (Colfax) – Local totem pole built to commemorate a local football game. Depicts the players as they appeared in the 1930s during their first match. Dedicated in 1988 during their final rematch.
  • Wild Horses Monument (Vantage) – Dedicated to Washington state’s centennial. A collection of iron horses galloping on a ridgeline over the Columbia River Gorge.

You have endless options for gorgeous roads on the West Coast. Choose any one of these scenic routes listed below to gain more West Coast road trip ideas!

Each drive features some of the best places to visit on a USA West Coast road trip and several other scenic byways detours as well.

1. Highway 101/1 (California/Oregon/Washington)

One of the finest drives in the entire USA. Road trip from San Diego to Seattle via Highway 1 and 101, which hugs the near entirety of the West Coast.

Watch the coastline change from desert-like to temperate and see some of the finest scenery of all. Highway 101 attractions include the California Redwoods, camping at Big Sur , the rugged Oregon Coast, and the lush Olympic Peninsula in Washington.

2. Highway 395/97 (California/Oregon/Washington)

A great alternative to a road trip on Highway 101 – this route takes you through Eastern California and the Cascades of Oregon and Washington. See epic mountain vistas and visit some of the best national parks in the West.

Highlights include Death Valley, Yosemite, Crater Lake, Bend, the Columbia River Gorge, and Leavenworth. This California-to-Washington state road trip begins in Los Angeles and ends in Seattle, and requires a transfer between Hwy 395 and 97 near Lassen NP.

sierra nevada mountains on West Coast road trip

3. Highway 26 (Oregon)

Travel from sea to sky and get a taste of Oregon’s geographic diversity. Start at Cannon Beach on the Oregon Coast and travel eastbound on 26. Pass by Portland and stop at the mighty Mt. Hood.

Continue down 26 to reach the Oregon High Desert and be sure to stop by Bend, Smith Rock, and the Painted Hills along the way.

4. Cascade Loop (Washington)

Hands-down the most scenic drive in Washington state. This enormous loop starts and ends in Everett – north of Seattle – and offers a little bit of everything. Begin by taking the Stevens Pass Greenway deep into the Cascade Mountains.

From there, head north and loop back around back west via the superlative North Cascades Highway. Finally, end your Washington state road trip in the Puget Sound via the Whidbey Isle Scenic Byway.

road eastern sierra nevada california road trip

Even if you’re unable to travel on $10/day like in some of my favorite countries, this West Coast road trip guide will at least help you minimize expenses.

Each West Coast state will cost different amounts of money. California will be the most expensive state, followed by Washington, and then Oregon.

Generally speaking, the average daily budget for a road trip on the West Coast will be between $175 – $250 – this includes gas, a rental car, lodging, food, drink, and activities.

Gas is very expensive on the West Coast and will lead you to an early bankruptcy if you’re not careful. Do everything you can to limit the costs of gas by planning/sticking to routes, using a fuel-efficient car, and carpooling.

a girl standing on top of a white car as she looks at the sunset and the ocean

Going on a road trip in the USA with a group is fun, more environmentally friendly, and cheaper. Traveling with other people is the best way to save money, but we understand this isn’t always possible!

No fear! You can also save money on a solo trip by camping and staying at hostels, grocery shopping, and taking your time (i.e. not driving 500 miles a day).

Food and lodging will cost as much as you’re willing to invest. Staying in fancy digs and eating out for every meal will obviously drain your funds. Camping out and cooking for yourself will save you much more money in the long run.

You will probably visit several national parks as well and each has a fee. Pick 1-2 parks, or invest in an America the Beautiful Pass .

While these costs might seem steep, always remember you can always save a TON by camping. But even if you don’t spend any nights under the stars, you can rest assured that your money is allowing you to see some of the very best places to visit in the US .

Average Costs of a USA West Coast Road Trip

Below is a breakdown of the average costs of a USA West Coast road trip:

Rental car : $30-$100

RV rental:  $100-$300

Gallon of gas: $4.50 – $5.50

Average AirBnB:  $120

Hotel room: $200

Hostel dorm bed: $50

Campground:  $5-$20 (sometimes free!)

Sandwich:  $6-$9

Beer at a bar: $7-$10

Coffee: $4-

Bottle of Whiskey from market:  $20

Dinner for two:  $35-$75

Here are some things you should definitely know before hitting the roads of the West Coast!

Best Time to Visit West Coast

Depending on what you want to do on your road trip and what kind of climate you like, the West Coast can be visited at any time of the year . With temperate winters, sunny summers, and few extreme weather patterns, the West Coast is relatively pleasant no matter what time of the year it is.

The West Coast of the United States is a huge region with many distinct climates. The northern areas (Oregon and Washington) are well-known for being wet, dreary, and grey while California is famous for being warm, sunny, arid, and smokey.

Note that these are generalizations and that individual climates are, in reality, far more complex (but we’ll get into that soon).

Summers on the West Coast are usually bright, warm, and dry, and depending on the latitude and proximity to the sea, summers can be more or less very long and very dry.

multnomah falls winter landscape oregon road trip

While this means that you can be guaranteed good weather, it also means higher prices. Wildfires also start in the dry summers, which have become an enormous problem in recent years.

Winters on the West Coast are very mild and most of the yearly precipitation falls during this time. Snow is not very common for West Coast cities located near the sea.

Portland and Seattle may see a few snowy days in the winter while San Francisco and Los Angeles may only see snow once in a lifetime. Both the Cascades and the Sierra Nevadas receive plentiful snow and skiing is a very popular activity in these mountains.

Autumn is a usually lovely time to go on a road trip down the West Coast. Temperatures are still pleasant and nights are crisp. November is a transition month and when the rainy season usually starts – the Pacific Northwest can receive bucket loads of rain and, hopefully, California is no longer on fire.

Spring is also a good time to go on a USA West Coast road trip. The rain is slowly subsiding, temperatures are rising, and the hordes of tourists haven’t arrived yet. This is the greenest time in California, though Oregon and Washington (the Evergreen State) are pretty much always green (aside from the very eastern parts).

Top Tips for Broke Backpackers

Below is a list of West Coast road trip ideas for saving money. Try and practice these as much as possible.

  • Rent an economy car : Prices can be as low as $25/day depending on the time of year and how far in advance you reserve. Economy cars are also more fuel-efficient. Use apps like ViaMichelin to find cheap gas, which, seriously, always ends up being one of the most surprising and costly expenses on a road trip.
  • Use vehicle relocation services : These brilliant services offer huge discounts to people on the condition they get a vehicle to a certain place at a certain time. No joke, you can rent a car sometimes for as low as $1/day! Availability is very limited though, so keep a watchful eye on the sites. Check immova and Cruise America to start with.
  • Sleep overnight in an empty lot : Though not technically legal, people sleep in parking lots all the time. Make sure the lot is safe by asking around. Walmarts are reportedly good places to park overnight as they allow overnight parking.
  • Camp : Unless you want to fork out big bucks for a lodge, you have to camp. With a solid backpacking tent , campgrounds are way less expensive and sometimes even free.
  • Cook your own food: Eating out can be very expensive. Cook your own food as much as possible to save – I recommend bringing a portable backpacking stove. Otherwise, have a fancy night out at a food cart.
  • Do free shit: There are lots of free activities on the West Coast! From epic hiking trails to laying on the beach to going to the local monuments; all of these things cost you nill. Be sure to keep your ear to the ground for all things free in the West.If you’re feeling really adventurous and want to save some cash, consider picking up a backpacking hammock.
  • Pack a filtered water bottle : It’s good for your wallet and the environment.

packable travel medical kit

Things go wrong on the road ALL THE TIME. Be prepared for what life throws at you.

Buy an AMK Travel Medical Kit before you head out on your next adventure – don’t be daft!

West Coast Road Trip Travel Insurance

Traveling in the USA is generally safe , but you never know what can happen while on the road! Do consider getting good backpacker insurance sorted before you head off on an adventure.

ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing .

They offer month-to-month payments, no lock-in contracts, and require absolutely no itineraries: that’s the exact kind of insurance long-term travellers and digital nomads need.

best route to travel west coast america

SafetyWing is cheap, easy, and admin-free: just sign up lickety-split so you can get back to it!

Click the button below to learn more about SafetyWing’s setup or read our insider review for the full tasty scoop.

Camping while traveling is absolutely one of the best ways to experience the majesty of the West Coast. This region has some of the most spectacular landscapes in the country and some truly awesome campgrounds. For those on a West Coast road trip, camping is an absolute must.

There are all kinds of campgrounds on the West Coast that offer a wide range of amenities and rates. Generally speaking, there are four types: private, public, dispersed , and backcountry . Below is a brief explanation of each.

camping on an oregon road trip

Private – Larger campgrounds that offer the most amenities including communal kitchens, showers, and maybe onsite restaurants. Most appropriate for demanding campers. Most expensive as well. Payment is made through the office of the owners.

Public – More basic campgrounds that offer limited but crucial amenities. Running water, electricity, and bathrooms should be but are not always present. Good prices. Payment is made to a public organization either online or via a dropbox at the camp.

Dispersed – aka wild camping and primitive camping . Camping in an area that is not an official campground but is still legal. Little to no amenities. Almost always free.

Backcountry – Camps located in the wilderness areas. Almost always require a hike to reach. Often no facilities so campers must bring food, cooking gear, camp supplies, etc. Permits are usually required and can be arranged at a nearby ranger station.

A lot of campgrounds, especially those at the national parks, can fill up very quickly. Consider booking a campground ahead of time to ensure that you have a spot. If you plan on sleeping at more unique sites – like yurt camps or a fire lookout – you will definitely have to book ahead.

Lots of campgrounds have walk-up sites available, which you’ll need to arrive early to claim. If you strike-out on the walk-up sites as well, there may be overflow camping nearby.

Aether Backpack

We’ve tested countless backpacks over the years, but there’s one that has always been the best and remains the best buy for adventurers: the broke backpacker-approved Osprey Aether and Ariel series.

Want more deetz on why these packs are so  damn perfect? Then read our comprehensive review for the inside scoop!

West Coast Camping – Gear Checklist

The West Coast has some of the finest camping in the whole country. This means a proper road trip packing list is essential .

You could sleep in your car or an RV while traveling on the West Coast but sleeping outside under the stars is way more fun. Having a good tent will keep you comfortable on those chilly nights and give you lots of flexibility when it comes to finding a place to sleep.

Here are some other things that I recommend adding to your RV packing list if you plan on camping out…

Pacsafe belt

Travel Security Belt

This is a regular looking belt with a concealed pocket on the inside – you can hide up to twenty notes inside and wear it through airport scanners without it setting them off.

sea to summit towel

Microfiber Towel

Hostel towels are scummy and take forever to dry. Microfibre towels dry quickly, are compact, lightweight, and can be used as a blanket or yoga mat if need be.

Gifts for backpackers

Petzl Actik Core Headlamp

A decent head torch could save your life. If you want to explore caves, unlit temples, or simply find your way to the bathroom during a blackout, a headtorch is a must.


‘Monopoly Deal’

Forget about Poker! Monopoly Deal is the single best travel card game that we have ever played. Works with 2-5 players and guarantees happy days.

Mesh Laundry Bag Nomatic

Hanging Laundry Bag

Trust us, this is an absolute game changer. Super compact, a hanging mesh laundry bag stops your dirty clothes from stinking, you don’t know how much you need one of these… so just get it, thank us later.

grayl geopress filter bottle

Drink water from ANYWHERE. The Grayl Geopress is the worlds leading filtered water bottle protecting you from all manner of waterborne nasties.

Single-use plastic bottles are a MASSIVE threat to marine life. Be a part of the solution and travel with a filter water bottle. Save money and the environment!

We’ve tested the Geopress  rigorously  from the icy heights of Pakistan to the tropical jungles of Bali, and can confirm: it’s the best water bottle you’ll ever buy!

Free West Coast Camping

Those on a road trip down the West Coast should totally take advantage of the many free campgrounds spread throughout the state. Keep on reading for a list of some of my favorite free West Coast camping spots .

best backpacking stoves

Note that some campgrounds listed in this guide may require a 4×4 vehicle to access.

By now, you should know everything there is to know about the West Coast and possible road trip hotspots. I know, it’s a lot to take in, and you’ve still got numerous options to choose from – which is why it’s important to plan ahead properly instead of just hitting the road.

Sort your packing list, your car, or stylish RV and your insurance first, come up with a rough itinerary and then you can be almost 100% sure that you’ll have a successful trip.

Of course, all road trips are flexible and you can always make spontaneous decisions (which is the best thing about them), but if you’ve got the time and your budget allows it, take a month and follow my complete 30-day west coast road trip. That way, you won’t miss out on anything! And if you don’t like it, just skip one stopover and go to the next one.

Now, enough talking! Let’s hit the road… the West Coast awaits!

sunset camp at goat rocks overlooking mt adams

Updated April 2024 by Samantha Shea

best route to travel west coast america

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Pacific Coast Highway California shot from above, one of the best romantic vacations for couples in the United States

19 Exciting West Coast USA Road Trip Itinerary Ideas

Stretching from the glaciers of Alaska to the deserts of southern California, there’s no doubt that the west coast of the United States is home to some of the most stunning (and diverse) nature on the planet. Add in iconic cities, quirky small towns, a great food scene, plenty of historic highlights, and several wine regions, and the possibilities for putting together a west coast USA road trip itinerary are nearly endless.

We teamed up with several travel writers to share their favorite west coast road trip routes, and the results are worthy of any bucket list.

Here are the best US west coast road trip ideas!

Table of Contents

Quick Tips for Your West Coast USA Road Trip

Best west coast usa road trips in california, oregon + washington road trip itinerary ideas, west coast usa road trip ideas in alaska.

Two people walking through a doorway in a fallen redwood tree in california usa

Some links in this post may be affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Please see our disclosure policy for more detail.

Before we dive into exploring the best west coast road trips, there are a few tips to be aware of–especially if you’re visiting as an international tourist and haven’t explored the United States before!

If you’re renting a car, shop around.

The best company to rent a car from for your west coast USA road trip will likely vary dramatically depending on where and when you’re traveling. Sometimes large international carriers offer the best prices, sometimes local outfits. Sometimes one company has an excellent base price, but terrible rental requirements.

The best way to find your rental car is to search through  Discover Cars , which will sift through dozens of companies to find the best combination of low prices and reasonable rental terms for your USA road trip.

Browse rental cars for your US west coast road trip today!

We have offered suggestions for the best hotels in each place but if you are doing this as a true road trip it is really cool to do it in an RV. You can rent incredible RVs and camper vans from Outdoorsy, book here for your next road trip!

snowcapped mountains in alaska as seen fro the water

Read the rental requirements carefully.

Especially make sure you know how many miles you’ve been allotted (or ideally, if they’re unlimited), if you need to return the car empty or full of fuel, what to do if the car breaks down, and what damages you’re liable for in the event of an accident.

On the off chance that you’re planning on continuing your road trip into Canada or Mexico, be sure to check requirements for crossing the border as well.

Make sure you pack the right gear.

From safety gear to snacks, a big USA road trip requires bringing the right tools along, whether you’re taking a short vacation, trying out van life, or something in between. We recommend taking a look at the suggestions on our road trip packing list  before you go!

Mission covered in wildflowers located in california along the pacific coast highway

Book travel insurance.

We don’t ever suggest traveling without travel insurance–anything can happen on the road, and an epic road trip is definitely a case of better safe than sorry. We use and recommend  Safety Wing  for road trips in the USA.

Don’t overextend yourself.

Exploring every nook and cranny of the US west coast is a project for a lifetime, not one trip!

As tempting as it is to add on additional driving to stop in just one more park or small town, make sure that you leave enough time to thoroughly explore each destination rather than spending the entirety of your west coast US road trip driving from one spot to the next.

road in the mountains of northeast oregon lined with evergreen trees as seen from above

The Iconic Pacific Coast Highway

From Allison of California Crossroads

View along highway 1 pacific coast highway california with the ocean taking up most of the shot

Driving Distance

Recommended road trip length.

Bixby bridge as seen along highway 1 in california, one of the most iconic us west coast road trip stops

San Diego to Los Angeles

From Chris of Explore Now or Never

Beach in La Jolla California with purple flowers in the foreground, a fantastic stop on a west coast usa road trip itinerary

Los Angeles to Yosemite

From Eden of Rock a Little Travel 

A Los Angeles to Yosemite road trip makes an excellent choice for those who love the big city, but also appreciate some quality time outdoors. 

During your time in Los Angeles, I recommend getting an early start to hike the city’s famous Runyon Canyon trail in Hollywood. After your hike, make your way towards Melrose Avenue to grab brunch and maybe do a little vintage shopping. Spend your afternoon in Santa Monica enjoying the beach before heading into downtown LA for dinner and drinks in the Arts District. 

From Los Angeles, you’ll head north to Paso Robles, one of California’s favorite wine regions. The wineries here are fun and affordable, and most are family-owned. Paso Robles is known for being down to earth and friendly, so even if you don’t know a lot about wine, you’re guaranteed to feel welcome and have a good time. 

After enjoying the wineries of Paso Robles, it’s time to head to Yosemite. Once inside the park make your way towards the Tunnel View lookout. This lookout offers some of the best views in the park with Bridal Veil Falls, El Capitan, and Half Dome off in the distance.

From Tunnel View, you’ll make your way down into Yosemite Valley. From here you can ditch the car and begin exploring this beautiful park on foot or bicycle. You’ll find trails and waterfalls all around you, so take your time and see it all. 

Three to five days is perfect for this Los Angeles to Yosemite road trip. This will give you at least one full day in each destination with the option to add on more time where you like. 

You’ll have lots of time in the car, so consider bringing some California books like Wild along!

yosemite falls in california, one of the best us west coast road trip destinations

Los Angeles to Eastern Sierra

The first place you can explore is off of the 14 freeway, the Red Rock Canyon State Park. In the summer, this area does get very hot, but if you’re doing this trip in the fall, spring, or winter months, it’s a great place to stop and soak in the desert views.

From there, head to Lone Pine, a cute town where several Western movies were filmed. From here, explore the Alamaba Hills. You can spend the day driving up and down dirt roads, viewing the rock formations, and gazing upon the Sierra Nevada Mountains. You can also disperse camp here.

From Alabama Hills you get a stellar view of Mt. Whitney , standing at 14,505 feet, it’s the highest point in the lower 48 states. Mt. Whitney is not an easy hike, but it’s a must-do for any avid hiker or backpacker. Permits are required for both day hikes and backpacking trips, and it’s a 22-mile round trip hike from Whitney Portal out of Lone Pine, so make sure to train if you want this hike to be part of your west coast road trip itinerary. 

Lone Pine is the start of the Eastern Sierra. From here, as you drive further North, you’ll encounter Independence, Big Pine, Bishop, and then Mammoth. There are so many hiking trails just outside of each of these towns with views that will make you not believe you’re in California.

You can make this trip as short or as long as you’d like. If you’re new to the area, give yourself a week to do several hikes, soak in hot springs and take in different elements of what this area has to offer.

view of mount whitney with an empty road in the foreground. mount whitney is a fantastic addition to a usa west coast road trip route

California Gold Country

Highway 49 links many historical gold rush towns through the foothills of the Sierra Mountains in California. Start your journey in the adventure-filled town of Angels Camp, then drive north through Placerville, Coloma, Auburn, Grass Valley, and ending in Nevada City.

Each of these gold rush towns is full of interesting museums, quaint stores, great dining options, and adventures like panning for gold or watch a real blacksmith at work.

Placerville, also known as Hangtown, has the oldest hardware store west of the Mississippi. Half the store is filled with gold mining equipment (like gold mining pans) and hard to find hardware, the other half is packed with housewares and fabulous gifts. There is something for everyone.

If looking for a shorter trip, start in Auburn, the easiest of the towns to get to from Sacramento, then head up to the sister cities Grass Valley and Nevada City. There are old gold mines to explore, the best chocolate candy store (Grass Valley), shopping until you drop, and then top it all off with an ice cream cone from one of many locations.

Highway 49 winds through beautiful pine trees and at times it passes along the South Fork American River making this a peaceful road trip with unlimited potential. Each of these gold rush towns along this highway has something unique and “oldest” that they can claim.

Driving this route directly would only take about 2.5 hours, but with so much to see and do, it could easily take you four to five days to complete this west coast USA road trip route. Much of the drive is through small towns along windy roads with a continuous supply of mining and gold rush history and activities for all ages.

American River in California gold country near auburn ca

San Diego to Palm Springs Loop

Hiker overlooking a sunrise in Anza Borrego State Park southern California, one of the best stops on a southern california road trip itinerary

California’s Lost Coast

From Julia of Well Planned Journey

California’s Lost Coast  is the longest stretch of undeveloped coastline in the contiguous United States. For 75 miles, the famed Pacific Coast Highway cuts inland, unable to pass through the rough terrain. This road trip from Eureka to Mendocino is perfect for those looking to explore off-the-beaten-path. 

Start your Lost Coast road trip in Eureka, California, an old town famous for its Victorian houses. Leave the Pacific Coast Highway behind as you head for the small town of Ferndale, where you can explore the Victorian homes and the Golden Gait Mercantile.

Mattole Road winds through rolling hills and backcountry before running parallel to the Pacific Ocean. Stop along Mattole Road to enjoy the solitude and coastal views. As Mattole Road turns back inland, you trade the rugged Lost Coast for a redwood forest.

Humboldt Redwoods State Park is the largest old-growth redwood forest in the world. End your first day in Humboldt Redwoods State Park exploring the Avenue of the Giants, a famous 31-mile scenic drive through the redwoods. Stay the night in one of Humboldt Redwoods State Park’s many campgrounds or if you prefer a hotel, stay at The Tides Inn in Shelter Cove. 

The next morning, make your way to Shelter Cove. Explore Black Sands Beach and grab lunch and a beer at Gyppo. After lunch, stop to explore Glass Beach in Fort Bragg, searching for sea glass, and watching for seals and whales. End your Lost Cost journey in Mendocino where you can hike the coast on the Mendocino Headlands trail or go on a kayaking tour with Kayak Mendocino.

Recommended Trip Length

While this route could be driven in a day, 2-3 days gives you the perfect amount of time to explore the Lost Coast and the Mendocino area. 

rolling green hills with the ocean in the distance with the pacific ocean in the background on california's lost coast, one of the best us west road trip ideas

National Parks in Southern California

From Dhara of Roadtripping California

Road trips are a wonderful way to experience California’s stunning natural wonders. And one of the very  best California road trips with a nature focus is a route that covers southern California’s great desert parks.

Start in Los Angeles and make your way to Palm Springs, a fun desert city with many resorts and spas to enjoy. Palm Springs is home to mid-century modern architecture and desert canyon hikes, as well as an aerial tramway that takes you to the top of Mount San Jacinto.

From Palm Springs, Joshua Tree National Park is just about an hour’s drive. The park is known for its magnificent boulder masses and the strange-looking, unique Joshua trees that aren’t really trees but a type of succulent. Whether you enjoy hiking or early settler history replete with relics of ranches and mines, you will have fun exploring Joshua Tree National Park.

Next, drive through the Mojave National Preserve, with more stands of Joshua trees and mighty sand dunes, before arriving at Death Valley National Park.

Death Valley National Park is home to the lowest point in North America. It is cool to take a photo by the sign saying “282 feet below sea level” at Badwater Basin! Explore the massive salt flats and take in the views from iconic viewpoints such as Zabriskie Point and Dante’s View. Death Valley National Park is huge but easily explored if you have a car.

From Death Valley National Park, make your way back to Los Angeles, stopping, if you like at more desert places along the way, such as Alabama Hills.

This trip is best enjoyed over a time frame of 5-7 days. Each of the parks is large and deserves a day or two to see the major sights and get in a couple of hikes.

desert landscape at sunrise in joshua tree national park, an excellent part of several of the best west coast road trips usa

Mammoth Lakes to Bridgeport

From Jeanine of Le Wild Explorer

One of the most incredible places in California is the Eastern Sierras. It’s full of natural beauty and a great place for outdoor adventures. A road trip from  Mammoth Lakes to Bridgeport  will take you amazing hot springs with killer views, pristine lakes, scenic hiking trails, and more. 

You’ll begin your trip to Mammoth Lakes which is extremely busy in the winter and summer. The famous Mammoth Mountain is an all-season resort that is popular for snow sports in the winter and mountain biking in the summer. Mammoth Lakes also has incredible hot springs and loads of hiking trails.

From Mammoth Lakes, you’ll head north where you can drive the June Lake Loop. The Loop is made up of four different lakes where you can go fishing, kayak, swim (in the summer), and more. There are also hiking trails that lead you to postcard-worthy vistas. 

Continue your drive north to Lee Vining where you’ll find Mono Lake. The lake is one of the oldest in North America and a true gem. The tufa towers are made of mineral deposits and give it an out-of-this-world look. The best time to visit is for sunrise or sunset but you can enjoy day-time activities such as kayaking and birdwatching.

Last, you’ll reach Bridgeport where you can soak in more hot springs and even visit a ghost town. Hiking and horseback riding are also popular. And if you love fishing check out their annual fishing events and go fly fishing in one of the creeks. 

This Mammoth Lakes to Bridgeport road trip can be done in a weekend but at least three days is recommended if you hope to enjoy a few hikes.

lone car driving on the june lake loop with the mountains in the background of the photo

Portland to Seattle 

Recommended by Lotte from  Beste voor Kids  

Start your road trip in the delightfully weird city of Portland (Keep Portland Weird is actually the city’s slogan) and stock up on food, snacks, and gas. If you’ve never been to Portland, be sure to allow for a day in your itinerary to explore the city before hitting the road.  

From Portland, head north on the I-5 S and drive to the Mount Saint Helens Visitor Center (about an hour). Here you can learn more about the major eruption on March 27 in 1980. This eruption took the lives of 57 people and drastically changed the shape of Mount St. Helens and the surrounding ecosystem.   

Drive to Randle on the 12 and continue to Windy Ridge via the NF-99. Often cited as one of the most scenic drives in Washington State, be sure to take plenty of time to admire the views here. Note that the NF-99 closes around late October/early November (depending on the first serious snowfall). At the end of the road, you can hike up Windy Ridge for a beautiful view of Mount Saint Helens and Spirit Lake.  

Next up on your west coast road trip itinerary is Mount Rainier National Park. Drive here via the 123 and Steven’s Canyon Road (also closed in winter) and spend a day or two exploring this amazing National Park. Nice hiking trails are the Skyline Trail (8.4 miles round trip) and the short but beautiful Alta Vista trail (1.8 mile). Both start at the Paradise parking lot.   

End your trip in Seattle, the birthplace of Starbucks, home to famous Pike Place Market, and of course the 605-ft.-tall Space Needle.  

You could drive the 175 miles from Portland to Seattle in just under 3 hours via the I-5 S, however, for this road trip, I’d recommend 3 days if you don’t plan on exploring Portland or Seattle. If you want to visit these cities as well, add at least two extra days so you can spend an entire day in both of these great west coast cities.  

Snowcapped Mount St Helens with purple and red flowers in the foreground of the photo

Willamette Valley

From Sarah & Nathan of Discover the PNW

Just south of the popular Oregon city of Portland sits the gorgeous Willamette Valley, known for the state’s wine production. A west coast USA road trip between Portland and Eugene will take you right through one of the most beautiful places in Oregon with plenty of opportunities to stop for great wine, food, and scenery.

There are nearly 600 wineries in the Willamette Valley and many of them are open year-round for tastings and tours. The region is known for producing premier Pinot-Noir but you will also find many other varietals to taste. 

Another plus to this road trip is the cute towns along the way offering fabulous dining and charming accommodations. McMinnville is a favorite with its historic center, boutique shops, foodie-focused restaurants, and dozens of tasting rooms. 

Oregon’s pretty capital city of Salem is also worth a visit with its gardens, cultural, arts, and food scene. Pay a visit to the Willamette Valley Cheese Company, enjoy a brunch cruise on the Willamette Queen Riverboat, or partake in a glass of wine at Oregon’s oldest producing winery.

The Willamette Valley is also a top choice of nature lovers. With miles of farmland, orchards, and vineyards plus views of the Columbia River and the Cascade Mountains, the drive is nothing short of stunning. If you’re looking for outdoor adventure be sure to spend some time around Eugene which is surrounded by hiking and cycling trails, waterfalls, and rivers. 

120 miles one way or 240 miles as a loop.

It only takes about 5 hours to drive this west coast USA road trip loop but with so many places to stop along the way we recommend at least 1 night and 2 full days.

grape vines in willamette valley oregon in the fall with yellow leaves

Portland to Bend

From Amanda of A Dangerous Business

Oregon is a great place for a road trip, and an easy route that includes everything from waterfalls to mountains to rainbow-hued hills is from Portland to Bend.

Once you’ve had your fill of weird in Portland, hit the road to the Columbia River Gorge. This river-carved canyon along the Oregon-Washington border is known for its great hiking trails and incredible waterfalls. Don’t miss Multnomah Falls, or hikes to spots like Latourell Falls, the Oneonta Gorge, and Elowah Falls.

From here, you can head south towards Bend on OR-35, which takes you past Mount Hood, Oregon’s most famous volcano. You could stop to hit the ski slopes or the mountain bike trails on Mt. Hood, or simply ride the Magic Mile Chair Lift up to 7000 feet for great views.

Continue your drive to an otherworldly spot in eastern Oregon: the Painted Hills at the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument near Mitchell. Enjoy the scenic drive through the park, and take a short trail or two to get up close to these orange, yellow, and green hills.

You’ll have to retrace your route on your way back towards Bend, so you may as well also stop Smith Rock State Park. Famous for its rock climbing, this stunning park also has some good hikes for all skill levels. If you’re up for a challenge, try the Misery Ridge Trail.

From Smith Rock, it’s only about 40 miles to Bend, the outdoor recreation mecca of Oregon. Bend is a great jumping-off point when you decide to continue your Oregon road trip .

If you drive straight through, this route takes 8 hours. But of course, you don’t want to drive it straight through! I’d recommend at least 3-4 days for the driving portion of this trip, not counting the time you spend in Portland. 

Mount Hood Oregon with wine country in the foreground

Seattle to the San Juan Islands

From Adria of The Emerald Palate

The San Juan Islands are an incredibly scenic chain of 170 islands about 3 hours north of Seattle that offer a ton of outdoor adventures. San Juan Island, Orcas Island, and Lopez Island are the 3 most popular ones to visit, and all of them are a perfect final stop on a road trip from Seattle.

Starting from Seattle, take I-5 north toward the Skagit Valley. Pronounced “skaaa-jit”, this area spans about 100 miles and is made up of a bunch of quaint towns and farms worth visiting on your road trip.

Start your trip off with a beer tasting flight in Mt. Vernon. If you love shopping, Mt. Vernon has some great antique shops and boutiques worth poking your head into. 

Next head to the nearby Chuckanut Drive. This is one of my favorite things to do in Skagit County, WA . It’s a 20-mile scenic drive that takes you along the coast through dense trees that open up to offer incredible views of the San Juan Islands. Hikers will love the Oyster Dome trail for incredible, uninterrupted views of your final destination. Those looking for more low-key hikes should head to Larrabee State Park.

Before heading to the San Juan Islands, make a stop at Deception Pass State Park. There are a bunch of easy walking trails overlooking some of the bluest water in Washington. It makes for a beautiful photo when you get the mint-colored Deception Pass Bridge in the shot.

Lastly, make your way to the Anacortes Ferry Terminal about an hour before your reserved your ferry ticket (reservations are a must in the summer).

If you chose the quieter and least-visited Lopez Island as your final destination, you can expect the ride to be about an hour on a direct ferry. Orcas Island, the largest and most food-focused of the islands, will take about an hour and 20 minutes. San Juan Island, the most popular and known for art and wildlife, will take about 1.5 hours.

No matter which island you chose, make sure you plan a whale watching tour because this is one of the best places in the world to see orcas and other types of whales.

About 155 miles one way. Here’s a map of the route .

Five days would make for a solid US west coast road trip, spending about 2 days in the Skagit Valley and 3 days on whichever island you choose.

orca jumping out of the water as seen in san juan islands washington

Northeast Oregon

From Erika of Erika’s Travels

Northeast Oregon is an underrated USA west coast road trip destination that will take you to some of the most remote and awe-inspiring wilderness areas in the Pacific Northwest. It is an off-the-beaten-path corner of the state that is home to character-filled Western towns, lonely scenic byways, soaring granite peaks, and the deepest canyon in North America. 

The road trip begins and ends in Baker City—a historic town that was once the largest settlement between Portland and Salt Lake. The picturesque town has over 100 historic houses, a phenomenal Oregon Trail interpretive center, and its very own Carnegie Library. 

From Baker City, the road follows the Hells Canyon Scenic Byway to the artsy town of Joseph, on the shores of Lake Wallowa State Park. 

Lake Wallowa is one of the premier recreation areas in Eastern Oregon. The shimmering cobalt lake is a paradise for boaters, swimmers, and fishing enthusiasts. It is also a primary gateway to the towering granite peaks of the Eagle Cap Wilderness. 

If you have a few days to spare on your road trip, hiking the Wallowas is an unforgettable Pacific Northwest experience. The sprawling area boasts alpine lakes, wildflower-laced meadows, and 18 peaks that eclipse 9,000 feet.  

From the Wallowa Mountains near Joseph, the road trip traverses barn-dotted farmlands and winds through a rugged river canyon to the minuscule community of Imnaha. The tiny town is the starting point of an epic adventure along a narrow and treacherous gravel road, to the Hat Point Overlook.

At Hat Point, a fire tower showcases stunning views of canyon walls that rise nearly 8,000 feet above the waters of the Snake River.

After taking some time to soak in the views of  Hells Canyon  from Hat Point, the scenic loop continues toward Baker City. Along the way, it traverses the eastern flank of the Wallowas and winds through golden hills of cow-speckled farmlands. 

A northeast Oregon road trip should ideally take at least 3-4 days. However, If you enjoy camping and hiking, consider adding a few extra days to enjoy the vast Eagle Cap Wilderness in Oregon’s Wallowa Mountains. 

Wallowa mountains in northeastern Oregon with a red barn in the foreground. northeast oregon is an offbeat usa west coast road trip itinerary

Oregon Coast

From Kay of The Awkward Traveller

Because of its simple route and beautiful coastal scenery, the Oregon Coast is the most popular west coast road trip in the state.

If you start at the north end, closer to Portland, you will pass the iconic bridges of Astoria, and also a major artistic hub for film and movies.

Once you reach the city of Seaside, where Lewis and Clark (and Sacagewea and York!) famously completed their expedition to the Pacific Ocean. While you stop to relax on the beachfront, be sure to head to Cannon Beach for a look at Haystack Rock.

Driving south, stop in the city of Tillamook  to visit the Tillamook Cheese Factory for a taste of their globally recognized cheese and farm-fresh ice cream.

Stay overnight in Yachats, a town that prides itself on sourcing local and sustainable products, as well as amazing attractions such as Oregon’s Sea Lion Caves and Cape Perpetua.

Next, wake up and drive to Florence, the sand dune capital of Oregon, and rent ATVs for the day. Or, continue south and spend your time exploring the dramatic views of the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor. However long you decide to drive the coast, the best lodging options to fully experience the location would be to rent a cabin on the beach.

About 338 miles.

It is not a far distance in total,  so 3-4 days is recommended to explore the Oregon Coast at a more relaxed pace. However, if you are an avid photographer or love to immerse yourself in nature by hiking and camping, spending a week in the area might be more fulfilling. 

One car driving along the oregon coast as shot from above

Beaches of Olympic National Park

From Michelle of The Wandering Queen

One of the best US west coast road trips to take in the PNW is to the Olympic National Park Beaches. The Olympic Peninsula beaches are so different than any beaches you have ever seen before! These beaches are filled with sea stacks, tide pools, wildlife, and driftwood. If you are lucky, you will spot a bald eagle while having a nice walk down the beach. 

The first stop should be the Kalaloch Beach. There are many campgrounds here if you want to stay a night. After that, make sure to stop by Ruby Beach, which has an enormous sea stack. It is a perfect place for sunset with the family, and you don’t need to hike too far to get great views.

Next, try out a great hike at Second Beach (4-mile round trip). Many people love backpacking and staying the night at this beautiful spot. The trailhead is located close to River’s Edge Restaurant, which had yummy food and large windows to watch the bald eagles hunt outside. 

The next beach on the list is  Rialto Beach . This beach has a popular hike called The Hole In The Wall hike, and it is around 4 miles round trip. The best time to experience this hike is during low tide. 

The last spot on this trip is a special place called Cape Flattery. This is the northwesternmost point of the contiguous United States and is also part of the Makah Reservation. 

This is a great weekend destination. The first day you should experience Kalaloch, Ruby, and Second Beach, then Stay in Forks. The next day, drive to Rialto Beach and Cape Flattery.

Rocky Beach in Olympic National Park washington at sunset, a fantastic view along a west coast usa road trip destination

Portland to Cannon Beach

From Daris of The Discovery Nut

The picturesque Cannon Beach is one of the shortest and most popular road trips from Portland.

The most distinct feature of the area is the iconic Haystack Rock, a 235-feet rock formation jutting out of the Pacific Ocean. Not far from it, visitors can explore the scenic Ecola State Park with stunning nature and hikes that can be entered from the north end of Cannon Beach.

Cannon Beach stretches for nine miles and provides plenty of space for walking, running, and strolling. Some of the top activities are wildlife watching, hiking, and relaxing. If you look closely, you might spot colonies of puffins on Haystack Rock and spot large mammals such as elk and deer more in the area more inland.

And while the town has become a tourist magnet for travelers taking a west coast USA road trip, it has retained a small-town charm thanks to stringent regulations that limit the number of big-name chains such as stores and restaurants allowing small businesses to dominate the downtown.

You can easily road trip to Cannon Beach from Portland on a day trip, but to enjoy a quieter side to this beautiful spot, consider spending the night.

Cannon Beach Oregon as seen from above, one of the best stops on a west coast usa road trip itinerary

Anchorage to Kenai Fjords National Park

From Rachel of Rachel Off Duty

When visiting Anchorage, Alaska, one thing you absolutely must do is rent a car and drive down to the Kenai Peninsula. Just 2.5 – 3 hours away from Anchorage, the Kenai Peninsula is a natural wonderland where the ice age mixes with the present day. Lush, dense forests, teal glacial water, massive glaciers, and abundant wildlife make this destination one that truly can’t be missed. 

Driving from Anchorage, within minutes you’ll find yourself tracing the side of Chugach State Park and Turnagain Arm, a massive waterway famous for bore tides that happen on a near-daily basis. Pullover at Beluga Point for a great viewing point of Turnagain Arm and, you guessed it, belugas! 

Back on the road, continue until you hit Girdwood, a resort town that’s bustling with things to do for adventure-lovers. You can stay here for the night, or simply make a pit stop for a bite to eat. Jack Sprat Restaurant is a popular choice, or for something more upscale with unbeatable views, go to Seven Glaciers Restaurant (which you can access by tram!). 

From Girdwood, it’s just another hour and 45 minutes to Seward, the entry point for Kenai Fjords National Park. Once you’re here, you can explore the national park on foot, by kayak, or by boat tour. On Resurrection Bay, you might spot whales, sea lions, otters, kittiwakes, and more! Be sure to also check out Exit Glacier, which is the only glacier you can pretty much drive right up to, park, and enjoy without hiking. 

While a trip to Kenai Fjords National Park and a quick boat tour of Resurrection Bay can easily be done in one day with minimal stops, we recommend dedicating at least 2 days to exploring the park and the surrounding areas in south-central Alaska .

fjord in alaska with a glacier visible in the background of the image. alaska is an incredible place for west coast usa road trip ideas

Anchorage, Seward + Denali Loop

From Jenifer of The Evolista

What’s better than an Alaskan cruise? An Alaskan road trip!

On a road trip in Alaska, you’ll see breathtaking views of mountains, wildlife, and ocean critters along with thrilling active pursuits along the way. 

Starting in Anchorage, take one of the most scenic roads in America, Seward Highway to visit Kenai Fjords National Park. Once in Seward, you can hike a glacier, take a whale-watching cruise, go iceberg kayaking, fishing, or one of sample some of these exciting things to do in Seward .

The next stop is Girdwood, Alaska’s ski resort town. Stay in the luxurious Alyeska Resort where you’ll have access to multiple hiking trails and the Alyeska Aerial Tram for breathtaking views of the Turnagain Arm and Chugach Mountain Range.

Snowcapped mountain in Denali National Park with evergreen trees in the foreground. Alaska is a bucket list us west coast road trip itinerary

Talkeetna, Alaska, 3 hours north, is a quirky, fun town that some say was the inspiration for the TV show Northern Exposure. Around May 1st, Talkeetna is overflowing with climbers preparing for a Denali summit. Not planning to climb a 20,320-foot mountain? You can still have the experience of a lifetime with a flightseeing tour complete with a glacier landing.

If you have an extra few days to spare, the entrance to Denali National Park is 2 hours north. The 6 million-acre national park is one of the best places in the world to spend time up close with wildlife but it’s too large for a day trip to be worth it. Plan accordingly and head back to Anchorage to complete the trip.

488 miles without Denali, 767 with Denali.

One week trip for Seward, Girdwood, Talkeetna, and Anchorage.

If you want to include Denali National Park, add a few days to this west coast USA road trip itinerary. There are additional activities near Denali like ATV trips or going to see the Into the Wild bus in Healy, Alaska.

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photo of la jolla beach in southern california with purple flowers in the foreground. black and pink text on a white background reads "the best west coast road trips"

About Kate Storm

Image of the author, Kate Storm

In May 2016, I left my suburban life in the USA and became a full-time traveler. Since then, I have visited 50+ countries on 5 continents and lived in Portugal, developing a special love of traveling in Europe (especially Italy) along the way. Today, along with my husband Jeremy and dog Ranger, I’m working toward my eventual goal of splitting my life between Europe and the USA.

3 thoughts on “19 Exciting West Coast USA Road Trip Itinerary Ideas”

Vielen Dank für die Tollen Anregungen. kann es kaum erwarten loszufahren. Grüße,Noeppes

Bitte schön!

Thanks a lot! I’m from Europe and planning a road trip for next year on the West Coast, focusing on Oregon and Washington. This was really helpful and interesting to read! I can’t wait to discover this fantastic country.

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The best usa west coast road trip: itinerary + ideas.

USA West Coast Road Trip Itinerary

Planning a trip to the west coast and want to do an epic road trip journey? Check out this west coast road trip itinerary + ideas to help you plan your trip.

best route to travel west coast america

There’s nothing more American than a road trip! In fact, there are at least 25 American Road Trips that I think are essential to do before you die! One of them is the great west coast road trip.

I’ve lived in California most of my life, and driving the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) is a must when you live here at least once in a lifetime. It’s like a right of passage.

But there are even more incredible places to explore on the west coast of the USA.

If you’ve got a few weeks to cruise the western coast of the United States, you’ve made a good choice. This is some of the most stunning scenery in the world. You’ll spend time in the famous PNW (pacific northwest) and be venturing into the beautiful diversity that is California.

West Coast Road Trip with Hum by Verizon

A west coast trip is a must, especially if you’re visiting the US for the first time. It’s so unique and classic, and something I hope everyone gets a chance to do in their lifetime! I hope that these west coast road trip ideas will help you when planning your trip and give you the confidence to drive the entire coast!

This loop ensures that you see all the most popular sites, while also getting off the beaten path and exploring hidden gems in each western state.

Here's a Short Cut

1. Safety Supplies for your West Coast USA Road Trip

2. get a good rate on a car rental, 3. be sure you have good insurance, 4. be sure to pack right, 5. don’t overdo it, 1. the pacific coast highway, 2. san diego to los angeles, 3. san francisco to yosemite national park, 4. southern california national and state parks, 5. portland to seattle, western us road trip driving map, south bound route, san juan islands, olympic national park, long beach peninsula, cannon beach, multnomah falls, bandon beaches, redwoods national park, point reyes national seashore, napa valley, san francisco, pismo beach, los angeles, crystal cove state park, palm springs, joshua tree national park, death valley national park, sequoia national park, yosemite national park, lassen volcanic national park, ashland oregon, crater lake national park, i hope this west coast road trip planner has been helpful, practical tips for your west coast road trip.

I wanted to share some practical information before diving into the road trip itinerary.

When you’re preparing for west coast travel, it’s always a good idea to keep a road safety kit in your car, in case of break-downs, accidents, or other emergencies. Even when my boys have to get out and “go” on the side of the road, I like to put up reflective warning road safety triangles like these ones , especially at night! I always like to have a good first aid kit on hand as well, not only when we road trip, but when we travel anywhere. You never know when it could be a literal life-saver!

If you’re renting a car for your west coast road trip, be sure to shop around for the best deals. We like to use Rental Cars to find the best rates and locations. Be sure to read the rental agreement too. Some rental car companies only give you a certain allotment of miles and if you’re going to do a massive road trip like this, you’ll want to make sure you pick a car with unlimited miles.

Be sure that you have good car insurance and also a good travel insurance. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been grateful to have travel insurance the the peace of mind it brings! If you’re driving your own car, be sure that you have enough insurance as well. The last thing you want to have to deal with on a road trip is fighting insurance companies if you get in an accident.

To prepare for your west coast road trip be sure to follow these tips that I’ve shared in How to Plan a Road Trip.  I share all my best tips on how to plan the perfect road trip, including safety tips, ideas on how to keep kids entertained during a road trip, and the best apps to use for roadtripping! If you’ve ever considered doing a west coast road trip in a camper, check out these RV rentals in California.

It’s human nature to think we can do more than we actually can. Try to be realistic about how much time you have to do this itinerary. I would give yourself at least two weeks for this. One week in each direction.

Other West Coast USA Road Trip Ideas

If you don’t have time to do this complete itinerary, you can always pick one of these shorter west coast road trip ideas. These road trip routes are some that I’ve done in the past and most can be done in just a day or two.

Perfect West Coast Road Trip Itinerary

This is the most iconic California road trip. If you’re shorter on time and can’t do the entire west coast, at least drive the PCH. Driving the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) in California is an incredible experience. The Pacific Coast Highway is a famous coastal road that runs along the Pacific Ocean, stretching over 600 miles from the north to the south of California. This scenic route is known for its breathtaking views, winding roads, and stunning beaches, making it one of the most popular road trips in the world.

This scenic highway, the PCH, runs from Dana Point in Orange County all the way up to Leggett in Mendocino County. The most scenic section of the highway is the stretch between San Francisco and Los Angeles, which takes you through some of the most beautiful areas in California, including Monterey, Big Sur, Santa Barbara, and Malibu.

monterey with kids

One of the highlights of driving the PCH is the incredible views of the Pacific Ocean. Along the way, you’ll see rugged cliffs, stunning beaches, and sparkling blue water. You’ll also pass through charming coastal towns, each with its own unique personality and attractions.

Another great thing about driving the PCH is the opportunity to stop at some of the state’s most iconic landmarks and attractions. For example, you can visit Hearst Castle, a grand mansion built by newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. Or you can explore the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which is home to thousands of marine creatures.

monterey county with kids

The PCH is also known for its winding roads and steep cliffs, which can be a bit nerve-wracking for some drivers. However, the road is generally well-maintained and offers plenty of pullouts and viewpoints where you can safely stop and take in the views.

Driving the Pacific Coast Highway is an unforgettable experience that offers some of the most stunning scenery in California. If you’re planning a road trip in the Golden State, the PCH is definitely a route you won’t want to miss.

Distance : 600 miles

A Southern California road trip from San Diego to Los Angeles is a great way to explore the southern coast of California. The drive takes you along the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), also known as Highway 1, which offers stunning ocean views and a chance to explore several charming towns and attractions along the way.

best route to travel west coast america

Starting in San Diego, you can head north on Interstate 5, which takes you through the coastal communities of La Jolla, Del Mar, and Encinitas, known for their beautiful beaches and oceanfront dining. Alternatively, you can take the scenic route and drive up the coast on the PCH, which takes you through the seaside towns of Cardiff-by-the-Sea, Solana Beach, and Carlsbad.

As you continue north, you’ll reach the city of Oceanside, which is home to the California Surf Museum and the historic Oceanside Pier. Further up the coast, you’ll pass through the beach towns of San Clemente, Dana Point, and Laguna Beach, all offering beautiful beaches, great restaurants, and unique shops.

best route to travel west coast america

One of the highlights of the drive is the stretch of Highway 1 that passes through Laguna Beach and Newport Beach, where you can see some of the most expensive homes in California and catch a glimpse of the famous surf spot, the Wedge.

As you approach Los Angeles, you’ll pass through the charming coastal towns of Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, and Redondo Beach, all offering great places to grab a bite to eat or take a stroll along the beach. The drive will end in Los Angeles, where you can explore attractions like Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and Santa Monica.

A road trip from San Diego to Los Angeles offers a chance to see some of the best beaches and coastal towns in Southern California. Whether you stick to the highways or take the scenic route along the PCH, you’ll be treated to stunning ocean views and plenty of opportunities to stop and explore along the way.

Distance : 130 miles

best route to travel west coast america

A road trip from San Francisco to Yosemite National Park is a popular way to experience the beauty of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and one of America’s most iconic national parks. The drive takes you through the heart of the Central Valley, a vast agricultural region, and into the Sierra foothills before arriving at Yosemite National Park. This road trip is full of outdoor adventures.

Starting in San Francisco, you’ll head east on Highway 580, which takes you through the East Bay and into the Central Valley.

Continuing east on Highway 205, you’ll pass through the city of Modesto, home to the Gallo Center for the Arts, before reaching Highway 99, which takes you through the agricultural heartland of California. Along this stretch of road, you’ll see vast orchards of almonds, pistachios, and citrus, as well as miles of fields growing crops like tomatoes and lettuce.

At Merced, you’ll exit Highway 99 and head east on Highway 140, which takes you into the Sierra foothills and toward Yosemite National Park. This scenic route will take you through the charming towns of Mariposa and El Portal, where you can grab a bite to eat or stock up on supplies before entering the park.

The Perfect West Coast Road Trip Itinerary

Once inside Yosemite National Park, you’ll be treated to stunning views of granite peaks, waterfalls, and lush forests. Some of the must-see sights in the park include Yosemite Valley, Half Dome, El Capitan, and Yosemite Falls. There are also plenty of hiking trails and outdoor activities to enjoy, from gentle walks to challenging climbs.

West coast road trips from San Francisco to Yosemite are a great way to experience the beauty of California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains and one of the country’s most beloved national parks. Along the way, you’ll pass through charming towns, see breathtaking natural landscapes, and create unforgettable memories.

Distance : 170 miles

best route to travel west coast america

You could spend weeks just in Southern California exploring the various national parks. Road Trips through Southern California’s national parks are a fantastic way to experience the natural beauty and diversity of the region.

Start your trip in Los Angeles and head east towards Joshua Tree National Park, located about two and a half hours away. Spend the day hiking, rock climbing, or simply enjoying the stunning desert landscapes of this unique park.

After a day in Joshua Tree, continue southeast to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, about a two-hour drive. This park is known for its rugged terrain, stunning wildflower displays, and fascinating geological formations.

Next, visit Cabrillo National Monument, located on the southern tip of the Point Loma Peninsula in San Diego. This park offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and San Diego Bay, as well as hiking trails, tide pools, and historic landmarks.

best route to travel west coast america

Drive north to Ventura, which is about three hours away, and take a ferry to Channel Islands National Park. This park is located off the coast of Southern California and offers pristine beaches, hiking trails, and opportunities to observe marine wildlife such as seals and dolphins.

Distance : Varies

best route to travel west coast america

West coast road trips from Portland to Seattle are a fantastic way to explore the Pacific Northwest and take in the natural beauty of the region. The drive covers about 175 miles and takes approximately three hours, depending on traffic and the route you choose. Along the way, you’ll encounter gorgeous coastlines, charming towns, and iconic landmarks that define the Pacific Northwest.

Starting in Portland, head north on I-5 towards Seattle. About an hour into the drive, you’ll reach the city of Olympia, the capital of Washington State. Olympia is known for its stunning waterfront parks, including Percival Landing Park and Priest Point Park. Stop by the Olympia Farmers Market to sample local produce, crafts, and food, or explore the Washington State Capitol Campus, which features beautiful gardens, monuments, and historical buildings.

Continuing on I-5, you’ll pass through Tacoma, another vibrant city in the Pacific Northwest. Tacoma is home to the Museum of Glass, where you can watch glass-blowing demonstrations and admire works by renowned artists. The city’s waterfront area offers stunning views of Mount Rainier and the Puget Sound, as well as a variety of restaurants, shops, and galleries.

As you approach Seattle, you’ll pass through the suburbs and get your first glimpse of the city’s iconic skyline. Seattle is famous for its coffee culture, music scene, and outdoor recreation opportunities. Take a stroll through Pike Place Market to sample local seafood, fresh produce, and artisanal goods, or visit the Space Needle for panoramic views of the city and surrounding mountains. Other must-see attractions include the Chihuly Garden and Glass, the Museum of Pop Culture, and the Seattle Aquarium.

A road trip from Portland to Seattle offers a unique blend of urban and natural landscapes, with plenty of opportunities to explore the vibrant culture and breathtaking scenery of the Pacific Northwest.

Distance : 175 miles

My Full West Coast Road Trip Itinerary

For this west coast trip, I’ve divided the west coast up into two routes so that you can drive in a loop. There is a coastal route, stopping at some of the most stunning beaches in the U.S., and an inland route, where you’ll visit famous national parks and mountainous roads.

In my opinion, this is the best west coast road trip and will allow you to see some of the most incredible sites in the region. You can drive this West Coast Road Trip Itinerary either way you like. You can even start in the middle and only do parts of this itinerary, but I prefer to drive from north to south if I can.

The weather becomes more temperate the farther down you go, and when you’re driving south along the coast, the passenger (usually me with the camera) gets all those gorgeous views out their window.

Driving south will also allow you to take the longer route down first, saving the faster route for the end. This interactive map will help you plan your west coast road trips.

This west coast trip map will help you navigate all the stops along the way.

You can begin or end your west coast road trip in Washington state. From the majestic, snow-capped Cascade Mountains, the bustling and hip town of Seattle, to the forested islands of the Puget Sound, Washington has beauty and variety that should not be missed.

Starting your west coast road trip off in Seattle is a great idea. Visit the Space Needle, a futuristic remnant from the 1962 World’s Fair, head to the century-old Pike’s Place Market, watch the fishmongers toss fish, grab a drink at the original Starbucks, and stock up on snacks for your epic journey! If you’re feeling brave you can make a visit to Mel’s Hole in Ellensburg before heading south.

Perfect West Coast Road Trip Itinerary

From Seattle, grab a ferry to the San Juan Islands and enjoy a day or two of these stunning forested islands, where you can camp or stay in one of the Bed and Breakfasts along the islands. See wildlife, hike, swim, bike, kayak or just enjoy the scenery as you drive along the scenic byway of the San Juan Islands.

Download and follow this map of the scenic byway in the San Juan .

best route to travel west coast america

Spanning several different ecosystems, from the Olympic mountain range to the old-growth forests. Drive through the majestic national park and take it all in. Stop and hike, climb, picnic or just enjoy the ride!

Along these stunning beaches you’ll find sand dollars, driftwood, anemones, and if you’re lucky, you might even spot eagles, whales, dolphins and other coastal wildlife.

Be sure to visit these beaches in the Olympic National Park:

  • Shi Shi Beach
  • La Push Beach
  • Rialto Beach where you can see the Hole-in-the-Wall rock arch during low tide

The Long Beach Peninsula is a 30 mile stretch of land with gorgeous white beaches just before the Oregon border. Visit the World Kite Museum and brave the winds by flying your own kite. If you’re making this west coast road trip in August, you’ll be just in time for the International Kite Festival.

Now it’s time to head south towards Oregon.

Welcome to Oregon! The northern Oregon coast has some of the most stunning scenery in the world. Home to more mountains, beaches, and some of the most incredible waterfalls in the world. It is a foodie mecca and home to more breweries than Scotland and the Czech Republic combined! Don’t miss these incredible stops along the Oregon coast:

best route to travel west coast america

Home to the ‘80s classic movie Goonies . Be sure to watch it before visiting, then you can see all the iconic scenes from the movie, including the infamous Goonies House.

Astoria is a historic city located on the northwestern tip of Oregon, at the mouth of the Columbia River. It is known for its stunning natural beauty, vibrant arts and culture scene, and rich history. The city is home to a number of iconic landmarks, including the Astoria Column, a 125-foot tall monument that offers breathtaking views of the surrounding area, and the Columbia River Maritime Museum, which showcases the history and culture of the Columbia River and its importance to the region.

Astoria is also home to a variety of shops, restaurants, and galleries, offering visitors a chance to experience the local arts and culture scene. Visitors can stroll along the waterfront, explore the town’s museums and historic landmarks, or take a hike through the nearby Fort Stevens State Park for stunning views of the coast and surrounding forests. With its stunning landscapes, rich cultural offerings, and unique history, Astoria is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling along the Oregon coast.

A charming little town and beach. Seaside is an amazing place to go if you want to spend some time by the ocean collecting shells, relaxing, and enjoying nature.

Seaside is a charming coastal town located on the Oregon coast, about 80 miles northwest of Portland. It is known for its beautiful beaches, scenic promenade, and family-friendly attractions. The town’s main attraction is the Seaside Promenade, a 1.5-mile long boardwalk that runs along the beach and offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. The promenade is lined with shops, restaurants, and other attractions, making it a popular destination for tourists and locals alike.

In addition to the promenade, Seaside is home to a variety of family-friendly activities, such as the Seaside Aquarium, the Funland Arcade, and the Broadway Theater. The town also hosts several annual events, including the Seaside Beach Volleyball Tournament, the Seaside Wheels and Waves Car Show, and the Seaside Jazz Festival. Whether you’re looking to relax on the beach, explore the town’s attractions, or participate in one of its many events, Seaside is a fun and welcoming destination for visitors of all ages.

Another iconic scene from Goonies where you can see haystack rock. My kids love this beach and it makes for an amazing photo backdrop.

Cannon Beach is a charming seaside town located on the Oregon coast, about 80 miles west of Portland. It is known for its stunning natural beauty, including its pristine beaches, towering rock formations, and picturesque lighthouse. One of the most iconic landmarks in the area is Haystack Rock, a massive monolith that rises over 230 feet above the beach and is home to a variety of seabirds and marine life.

In addition to its natural attractions, Cannon Beach is also home to a thriving arts community, with numerous galleries, studios, and festivals showcasing the work of local artists. Visitors can explore the town’s quaint shops and restaurants, stroll along the beach, or take a hike through the nearby Ecola State Park for stunning views of the coast and surrounding forests. With its stunning landscapes, rich cultural offerings, and laid-back atmosphere, Cannon Beach is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling along the Oregon coast.

Take a tour of the Tillamook Dairy Factory and learn where all that delicious, milk, cheese, butter, ice cream, and yogurt come from. Grab a giant ice cream cone and stock up on snacks for the next leg of your trip.

The Tillamook Cheese Factory is a popular attraction located in Tillamook, Oregon, about 75 miles west of Portland. The factory offers a free, self-guided tour that allows visitors to witness the cheese-making process firsthand, as well as sample a variety of cheeses and other dairy products. The tour includes a short video presentation, a viewing area overlooking the production floor, and a taste-testing area where visitors can sample Tillamook’s award-winning cheeses.

best route to travel west coast america

In addition to the factory tour, visitors can explore the Tillamook Creamery, which features exhibits on the history of Tillamook cheese and the local dairy industry. The creamery also includes a gift shop where visitors can purchase a variety of Tillamook products, as well as souvenirs and other gifts. The Tillamook Cheese Factory is a fun and educational destination for visitors of all ages, offering a glimpse into the art and science of cheese-making and the history and culture of the Pacific Northwest dairy industry.

You can choose to visit Portland on either route, north or south, or hit it twice, I don’t think you’ll mind. Be sure to eat everything in Portland, especially Blue Star Donuts and Salt & Straw Ice Cream.

Portland, Oregon is a vibrant and eclectic city located in the Pacific Northwest. It is known for its stunning natural beauty, vibrant culture, and progressive values. The city is situated at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia Rivers and is surrounded by lush forests, snow-capped mountains, and scenic waterfalls.

best route to travel west coast america

Portland is often referred to as the “City of Roses” due to its numerous rose gardens and annual Rose Festival. The city is also known for its thriving food and beverage scene, with a wide range of farm-to-table restaurants, craft breweries, and coffee shops. Visitors can explore the city’s diverse neighborhoods, each with its own unique character and charm, or take a stroll through one of the many parks and gardens, such as Washington Park or the International Rose Test Garden.

Portland is also a hub for arts and culture, with numerous museums, galleries, and performing arts venues. The city is home to the Portland Art Museum, the Oregon Historical Society Museum, and the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, as well as several theater companies and music venues. With its natural beauty, vibrant culture, and laid-back atmosphere, Portland is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to experience the best of the Pacific Northwest.

best route to travel west coast america

Multnomah Falls is a breathtakingly beautiful waterfall located in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, just outside of Portland, Oregon. It is the most visited natural recreation site in the Pacific Northwest, attracting over two million visitors each year. The waterfall is fed by underground springs and cascades over 600 feet in two tiers, making it one of the tallest waterfalls in the United States.

The falls are accessible via the Historic Columbia River Highway and are surrounded by lush greenery and stunning views of the Columbia River Gorge. A footbridge spans the lower tier of the falls, providing visitors with an up-close and personal view of the cascading water. There are also several hiking trails in the area, ranging from easy to moderate, that allow visitors to explore the surrounding forests and discover additional waterfalls and scenic vistas. Multnomah Falls is a must-see attraction for anyone visiting the Portland area, offering a glimpse into the natural beauty and wonder of the Pacific Northwest.

There are several beaches in Bandon, Oregon, all amazing. Visit the lighthouse at Bullard’s Beach, and Face Rock to look for the famous Tufted Puffins. The beaches in Bandon are said to be one of the best places in the world for storm watching.

Explore more from this Oregon bucket list.

Once you’ve had your fill of Oregon beaches, you can continue your west coast road trip down into California.

Welcome to the Golden State. Be prepared for some more gorgeous views and stops. If you’re traveling with kids, be sure to check out these California road trip stops. 

best route to travel west coast america

These protected forests and beaches along the northernmost coast of California are not to be missed. Spend time hiking or driving through the parks and taking in the trees, some of which are over 5,000 years old! Read more about visiting Redwood National Park with Kids. 

Redwood National and State Parks is a national park located in the northern coast of California, known for its stunning coastal landscapes and towering ancient redwood trees. It spans over 131,000 acres and is home to some of the world’s tallest trees, including the Hyperion tree, which stands at over 379 feet tall. The park offers visitors the opportunity to experience the natural beauty of the coast, hike through ancient forests, and observe a variety of wildlife.

In addition to its natural attractions, the park is also known for its cultural significance. It is home to several Native American tribes, who have lived in the area for thousands of years and continue to practice their traditions and customs. Visitors can explore the park’s museums, attend cultural events, or take guided tours to learn more about the area’s rich history and cultural heritage. Redwood National and State Parks is a unique and awe-inspiring destination, offering visitors a chance to experience the natural and cultural wonders of the northern California coast.

Located along the stunning Mendocino coast, Fort Bragg is known for its Glass Beach where you can see millions of colorful stones scattered along the shores.

Fort Bragg is a charming coastal city located in Mendocino County, California. It is known for its stunning natural beauty, historic landmarks, and vibrant arts and culture scene. The city is situated on the rugged Mendocino coast, offering visitors stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, scenic beaches, and towering cliffs.

best route to travel west coast america

One of the most popular attractions in Fort Bragg is the Glass Beach, which is located near the city’s downtown area. The beach is covered with millions of colorful glass pebbles that were created over time from discarded glass bottles and other objects. You can take a stroll along the beach, collect glass pebbles, and enjoy the stunning natural scenery.

The city is also home to several historic landmarks, such as the Skunk Train, a historic narrow-gauge railroad that offers scenic tours through the surrounding forests and hills. Fort Bragg is a charming and unique destination, offering visitors a chance to experience the natural beauty and rich cultural heritage of the Mendocino coast.

These protected lands offer seashores, hiking trails, forests and a beautiful historic lighthouse. Stop into Point Reyes Station to wander the shops, eat some lunch, stay the night, and grab more snacks for your drive. Read more about Point Reyes here.

Point Reyes is a peninsula located on the coast of Northern California, about 30 miles northwest of San Francisco. It is known for its stunning natural beauty, diverse wildlife, and historic landmarks. The peninsula is surrounded by the Point Reyes National Seashore, which offers visitors miles of unspoiled beaches, scenic hiking trails, and breathtaking vistas of the Pacific Ocean.

Perfect West Coast Road Trip Itinerary

One of the most popular attractions in Point Reyes is the Point Reyes Lighthouse, a historic landmark that has been guiding ships through the treacherous waters of the Pacific since 1870. Visitors can tour the lighthouse and learn about its history and importance to the region.

The peninsula is also home to a variety of wildlife, including elk, deer, foxes, and numerous bird species. Visitors can explore the park’s many trails and observe wildlife in their natural habitats. Point Reyes is a stunning and unique destination, offering a chance to experience the natural beauty and rich history of the Northern California coast.

Visit the Napa Valley wine region, where you can tour local wineries and do taste testing.

Napa Valley is a world-renowned wine region located in Northern California, about 50 miles north of San Francisco. It is known for its picturesque landscapes, award-winning wineries, and gourmet food scene. The valley is home to over 400 wineries, ranging from small family-owned vineyards to large estates that produce some of the world’s most celebrated wines.

best route to travel west coast america

In addition to wine tasting, visitors to Napa Valley can explore the valley’s charming towns, such as Yountville, St. Helena, and Calistoga, which offer a variety of restaurants, shops, and galleries. The valley is also home to a number of spas, hot springs, and wellness centers, making it a popular destination for those seeking relaxation and rejuvenation. Napa Valley is a must-visit destination for wine lovers and foodies alike, offering a unique blend of natural beauty, culinary excellence, and world-class wines.

There is so much to do in this beautiful city, that it has its own post. Read more about it here.    We love San Francisco as its one of the nearest metropolitan areas where we live. It’s where we come when we need a little taste of city life and culture.

San Francisco is a vibrant and diverse city located on the northern coast of California. It is known for its iconic landmarks, rich culture, and stunning natural beauty. The city is home to the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, and the Painted Ladies, as well as several world-class museums, theaters, and galleries.

Perfect West Coast Road Trip Itinerary

In addition to its attractions, San Francisco is also renowned for its culinary scene, with a wide range of restaurants, cafes, and food markets offering a variety of cuisines and flavors. The city’s diverse neighborhoods, such as Chinatown, the Mission, and Haight-Ashbury, offer visitors a chance to experience the city’s unique culture and history. With its stunning views, vibrant culture, and world-class attractions, San Francisco is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Northern California.

It’s time to start your trip down the iconic   Pacific Coast Highway!

Monterey is another area of California that requires its own post. There is so much to do here, but if you only do one thing, take the 17-mile drive for the most breathtaking coastal views. There’s so much to see in Monterey with kids . 

monterey with kids

Monterey is a charming coastal city located on the central coast of California. It is known for its stunning natural beauty, rich history, and world-class aquarium. The city is situated on Monterey Bay, offering visitors beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean, as well as opportunities for whale watching, kayaking, and other outdoor activities.

Monterey is also home to several historic landmarks, such as Cannery Row and the Monterey State Historic Park, as well as the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which features a variety of marine life and exhibits. With its beautiful beaches, unique culture, and natural wonders, Monterey is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to California’s central coast.

monterey with kids

While you’re passing through Monterey, stop by the charming little town of Carmel-by-the-Sea, which is famous for it’s fairytale cottages. Be sure to stop at the candy store for some road trip snacks.

This rugged stretch of California’s coast can be a little tricky to drive, with winding curves and nearly constant fog. Be careful while taking in the views. Big Sur is a rugged and stunningly beautiful stretch of coastline located on the central coast of California.

It is known for its towering cliffs, pristine beaches, and dramatic landscapes. Visitors can take a scenic drive along Highway 1, which winds along the coast and offers breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean, with the iconic view of Bixby Creek Bridge (above) or explore the area’s many hiking trails, such as the famed McWay Falls Trail, which leads to a picturesque waterfall and beach. With its rugged beauty and unspoiled natural landscapes, Big Sur is a must-visit destination for anyone seeking to experience the breathtaking beauty of California’s central coast.

This classic Central California surf town has great beaches. Be sure to check out the Dinosaur Caves Park for stunning views of the Pacific.

Pismo Beach is a beautiful coastal town located in San Luis Obispo County, California. It is known for its sandy beaches, crystal clear waters, and picturesque sunsets. Visitors can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities, such as surfing, kayaking, and fishing, or explore the area’s many hiking trails and nature reserves. The town also offers a vibrant downtown area with a variety of shops, restaurants, and galleries, making it a popular destination for tourists and locals alike.

Wind your way down to LA, visit Venice Beach, climb to the Hollywood sign, drive through Beverly Hills, then skip town, trying not to hit too much traffic.

best route to travel west coast america

I mean, what’s a trip to California without visiting your favorite mouse? You’ll need to plan at least a full day or two for your trip to Disneyland. Read this to help you plan your trip.

The Perfect West Coast Road Trip Itinerary

One of the most beautiful beaches in Orange County, Crystal Cove State Park is worth the parking fee. Crystal Cove State Park is a beautiful coastal park located in Orange County, California.

It is known for its natural beauty. You can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities, such as swimming, surfing, and sunbathing, or explore the park’s hiking trails, which offer breathtaking views of the coastline and surrounding hills.

The park also offers several historic landmarks, including the Crystal Cove Historic District, which features 46 vintage beach cottages and a beachfront restaurant. With its idyllic coastal setting and diverse recreational opportunities, Crystal Cove State Park is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Orange County.

There is so much to do in San Diego that is also deserves its own post. Check out this San Diego itinerary . 

This is also a great California road trip itinerary !

Congratulations, you’ve now hit the southernmost tip of your West Coast road trip itinerary and it’s now time to head north!

San Diego is a vibrant coastal city located in Southern California, known for its stunning beaches, warm weather, and rich cultural offerings. The city offers visitors a variety of attractions, including Balboa Park, which houses several museums, gardens, and the San Diego Zoo, and the historic Gaslamp Quarter, which features a variety of shops, restaurants, and nightlife venues.

You can also enjoy the city’s beautiful beaches, such as La Jolla Cove, Coronado Beach, and Mission Beach, or explore the nearby coastal towns and attractions, such as the Cabrillo National Monument and the USS Midway Museum. With its perfect weather, diverse cultural offerings, and beautiful beaches, San Diego is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Southern California.

North Bound Route

If you’re ready for some desert R&R, this is the place. Take a step back in time and book a room at one of Palm Spring’s trendy retro hotels, soak up some rays and hang by the pool.

Palm Springs is a desert oasis located in the Coachella Valley, known for its hot springs, luxurious resorts, and iconic palm trees. The city offers visitors a variety of activities, including world-class golf courses, art museums, and the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, which takes visitors on a scenic ride up the San Jacinto Mountains.

best route to travel west coast america

Visitors can also explore the nearby Joshua Tree National Park or relax at one of the many spas and hot springs in the area. With its beautiful weather, luxurious accommodations, and stunning natural landscapes, Palm Springs is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Southern California.

Take a day trip or camp at Joshua Tree National Park where you can find rugged rock formations and twisted other-worldly Joshua trees.

Joshua Tree is a stunning national park located in Southern California, known for its unique desert landscapes, towering rock formations, and diverse wildlife. The park is named after the iconic Joshua Tree, a type of yucca plant that is native to the area and has become a symbol of the park.

The park offers a variety of hiking trails, rock climbing opportunities, and camping sites, allowing visitors to experience the natural beauty and rugged wilderness of the desert. With its otherworldly landscapes and stunning vistas, Joshua Tree is a must-visit destination for anyone seeking to explore the beauty of the American Southwest.

Move from one desert park to the next and visit Death Valley’s ghost town and see North America’s lowest point.

Death Valley is a starkly beautiful national park located in Eastern California, known for its extreme temperatures, unique geological features, and diverse wildlife. The park is home to the lowest point in North America, as well as stunning sand dunes, salt flats, and canyons.

best route to travel west coast america

The area’s harsh environment supports a wide range of plants and animals, including coyotes, bighorn sheep, and several species of cacti. The park also has a rich cultural history, with evidence of human habitation dating back thousands of years. With its stunning natural landscapes and unique features, Death Valley is a fascinating destination for anyone seeking to explore the beauty and diversity of the American Southwest.

Located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Sequoia National Park is home to huge sequoia trees and underground Crystal Cave. Be sure to drive through the Tunnel Tree. Read more about Sequoia National Park here. 

Sequoia National Park is a stunningly beautiful park located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California, known for its giant sequoia trees, rugged mountain terrain, and diverse wildlife. The park is home to several groves of giant sequoia trees, including the General Sherman Tree, which is the largest tree in the world by volume.

The Perfect West Coast Road Trip Itinerary

The park also offers a variety of recreational activities, such as hiking, camping, and fishing, as well as several historic landmarks, such as the Giant Forest Museum and the historic Lodgepole Village. With its stunning natural beauty and rich cultural history, Sequoia National Park is a must-visit destination for anyone seeking to explore the wonders of California’s mountain wilderness.

Famed for its iconic vistas and epic granite cliffs, Yosemite offers hundreds of hiking trails. Read more about Yosemite here.

Yosemite National Park is a breathtakingly beautiful park located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California, known for its towering granite cliffs, stunning waterfalls, and diverse wildlife. The park is home to several iconic landmarks, such as Half Dome, El Capitan, and Yosemite Falls, as well as several groves of giant sequoia trees.

The park offers visitors a variety of recreational opportunities, such as hiking, rock climbing, and fishing, as well as several historic landmarks, such as the Yosemite Valley Railroad and the Ahwahnee Hotel. With its stunning natural beauty and unique geological features, Yosemite National Park is a must-visit destination for anyone seeking to explore the natural wonders of California’s mountain wilderness.

Bordering the California and Nevada state line, Lake Tahoe is a deep blue lake nestled in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The beaches, hikes and ski resorts are some of the best in the world. Take in the clear blue waters of the second deepest lake in the United States.

The Perfect West Coast Road Trip Itinerary

Lake Tahoe is a stunningly beautiful alpine lake located on the border between California and Nevada. The lake is known for its crystal-clear waters, rugged mountain scenery, and year-round recreational opportunities. Visitors can enjoy a variety of activities, such as skiing, snowboarding, hiking, and boating, or simply relax and take in the stunning natural scenery.

The area is also home to several charming towns and villages, offering a variety of shops, restaurants, and cultural attractions. With its stunning natural beauty and diverse recreational opportunities, Lake Tahoe is a must-visit destination for anyone seeking to experience the beauty of the American West.

Lassen Volcanic National park is rich in hydrothermal sites like Bumpass Hell and has acres of bubbling mud pots. Lassen Peak Volcano offers views of the nearby area.

Lassen Volcanic National Park is a unique and breathtakingly beautiful park located in northeastern California, known for its fascinating geothermal features, rugged mountain landscapes, and diverse wildlife. The park is home to several active volcanoes, including Lassen Peak, as well as numerous geothermal features, such as hot springs, mud pots, and fumaroles.

best route to travel west coast america

Visitors can explore the park’s hiking trails, take a scenic drive through the park’s various regions, or enjoy the park’s diverse recreational opportunities, such as camping, fishing, and winter sports. With its stunning natural beauty and unique geological features, Lassen Volcanic National Park is a must-visit destination for anyone seeking to explore the wonders of California’s mountain wilderness.

Home to the world-famous Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Ashland is a charming mountain town, with trendy vibe, offering museums, restaurants, and parks that make this a great road trip stop to stock up on snacks again, especially after visiting all those national parks and hopefully doing a lot of hiking!

Known for the famous Crater Lake, formed by Mount Mazama, the now-collapsed volcano, Crater Lake National Park offers hiking trails and a rim road, which circles the famous lake.

best route to travel west coast america

Crater Lake National Park is a stunningly beautiful park located in southern Oregon. It is known for its pristine blue lake, which is the deepest in the United States, as well as its towering cliffs, stunning vistas, and diverse wildlife. You can explore the park’s hiking trails, take a boat tour of the lake, or participate in a variety of outdoor activities, such as camping, fishing, and snowshoeing. With its breathtaking natural beauty and unique geological features, Crater Lake National Park is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to the Pacific Northwest.

The Perfect West Coast Road Trip Itinerary

These famous falls just outside of Portland can get busy, so be sure to go early to find a good parking spot and beat the crowds. Take the short hike up to the bridge which bisects the two sections of the waterfall. If you visit during the spring you’re likely to get wet!

Visit Portland again! You’ll need some more good food by now!

Congratulations, you’ve made it back to Seattle!

Phew! What an epic West Coast road trip! I hope you’ve enjoyed some of the most iconic scenes and locations on the West Coast. I would love to know what your favorite was. If you’ve driven the West Coast, I’d also love to know what I’ve missed. Any hidden gems that you recommend?

I know that this is a massive trip and should not be attempted in a week!

It is a lot of driving, so be sure to prepare your car for this epic road trip and install a HumX in your vehicle to take the worry out of your journey and to get you on the road!

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Wanderlust Crew

One thought on “ the best usa west coast road trip: itinerary + ideas ”.

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Nice article! There is so much to see in California! I have been creating California itineraries of various duration and for various interests for 4 years. I have 35 now on my blog http://familyroadtripguru.com/ and I think we only explored just about 20% of the state 🙂

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Ultimate USA West Coast Road Trip: 7, 10 or 15 Days Itinerary Ideas

Las Vegas Girls Trip (30 of 42)

Are you looking for the best US west coast road trip itinerary to explore the most beautiful places along the Pacific Coast? Our 7 to 15 days USA West Coast itinerary will help you explore this part of the country from the stunning Grand Canyon to the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. Visit Hollywood in LA, the Space Needle in Seattle, and gamble in Las Vegas while you road trip the Western USA. Read our ultimate West Coast of USA road trip itinerary now. You may also like our post on Best Places to Visit in the USA .

Welcome to our West Coast road trip planner.

West Coast USA road trip is a grand adventure.

This classic road trip has the ultimate Clint Eastwood Western meets Baywatch vibe.

Drive on lonely, dirt-caked roads and stumble upon mining ghost towns.

Discover millions of years old landscapes and rock formations.

Lose track of time in the utter stillness that surrounds you.

Fall in love with sleepy coastal communities and find your inspiration in Hollywood.

Sunbathe in Malibu and take in the beauty of Big Sur’s rocky coastline. 

But that is not all this trip has to offer.

Unique geographic sites are littered throughout the West Coast road trip map and nature reigns supreme here.

Visit the lowest and driest place in the continent at Death Valley.

Feel dwarfed by the 50 feet tall Saguaro cacti and 350 feet tall coastal redwoods.

Hike in the prehistoric Fern Canyon and explore foggy cities along the Pacific Coast.

Climb up to active volcanoes and experience the earth’s geothermal activities along the Ring of Fire. 

Travel Tip – For a unique West Coast road trip, visit Alaska! Plan the ultimate Alaska road trip around Denali, Fairbanks, and Anchorage.

Walk-through history as it happened and discover momentous lands on the West Coast America road trip.

Explore the Lewis and Clark expedition.

Honor the first pioneers on the California trail at Donner Pass and see the first settlement on the West Coast at Old Town San Diego.

Understand the military importance of the Presidio of San Francisco and the Klondike Gold Rush that led to the fortunes of Seattle.

The USA west coast tour itinerary is an educational experience and perfect for a family summer vacation with kids. 

Epic West Coast Road Trip Itinerary Planner

Planning a West Coast itinerary is not easy.

And that’s why we have created this Ultimate West Coast road trip planner.

Use our suggested road trip route to plan an epic West Coast American road trip.

As always, we have included recommendations to customize this Western USA Itinerary based on your interests and the number of days you have.

Whether you want to begin in Las Vegas or San Diego and end in San Francisco or Seattle, we can help you plan a memorable and epic road trip.

We have linked this guide to our in-depth articles covering the region – Click on the names of cities and natural attractions to read more about them.

best route to travel west coast america

7 Day USA West Coast Road Trip

If you have just 7 days, you cannot see the entire West Coast.

You have a few options to either see the southwest and California or plan a road trip along the Pacific Coast Highway in the Golden State.

Or see the highlights of the Pacific Northwest.

We have outlined these suggested Western road trip itineraries in this section.

Vegas Grand Canyon LA San Francisco

This West Coast USA tour itinerary covers the most visited attractions of the West Coast from the Grand Canyon to the Golden Gate Bridge.

If you can plan only one trip to the West Coast, then use this route. 

Las Vegas – 2 Days

Begin your West Coast driving trip in Las Vegas .

Explore the attractions of the strip including the beautiful Fountains of Bellagio and the Eiffel Tower ride in Paris Las Vegas.

Watch a concert or Cirque du Soleil show.

Gamble and enjoy the nightlife in Las Vegas.

See the scenic Valley of Fire State Park then head over to the Grand Canyon in the afternoon.

Las Vegas Girls Trip (30 of 42)

Grand Canyon National Park – 1 Day

Grand Canyon is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the natural wonders of the world.

It is one of the essential attractions on a road trip to the West Coast.

On a visit, you can see the exhibits about the formation of the canyon at the visitor center and admire the expansive views of the Grand Canyon from the South Rim Drive.

Spot the wildlife in the Grand Canyon including mountain goats and buy Native American arts and crafts at Trading Posts.

If you have time see the beautiful Antelope Canyons in Page. 

Photo of Grand Canyon National Park at sunset

Los Angeles – 2 Days

Then head over to Los Angeles .

See the Walk of Stars and the Oriental Theatre in Hollywood.

Take behind the scenes movie studio tours and visit Universal or Disney.

Visit Museum Row on Miracle Mile and admire the art at LACMA and fossils at La Brea Tra Pits.

Walk on the beach and enjoy a sunset on the Pacific Ocean during your road trip on the West Coast. 

San Francisco – 2 Days

End your West Coast trip in San Francisco .

Walk the Golden Gate Bridge and climb down Lombard Street.

Take a ferry to historic Alcatraz Island and admire the San Francisco skyline from Twin Peaks.

Enjoy delicious seafood at Fisherman’s Wharf and the dim sum in Chinatown.

Conclude your trip by wine tasting and shopping in Union Square.

Golden Gate Bridge, San Franciscoo

Los Angeles to California via Big Sur

While this road trip is based only in California, it is one of the best west coast road trips.

It has plenty of diverse attractions from world-class cities, stunning natural areas, and sleepy coastal communities.

This road trip is said to be the most scenic in the world for its gorgeous views along the wild coast. 

After exploring the urban attractions of Los Angeles , head up north towards San Francisco along the coast.

Enjoy the beach life in Malibu and Ventura and admire the view of Santa Barbara from the clock house tower.

Feel the trendy vibe in the college town of San Luis Obispo and climb the dunes at Oceano Beach.

Go wine tasting in Paso Robles. 

Big Sur – 2 Days

Then comes the highlight – a drive through stunning Big Sur .

See the elephant seals at San Simeon and visit the Lime Kiln State Park.

Photograph the engineering marvel of Bixby Creek Bridge and see the stunning McWay Falls.

Go antiquing in charming coastal communities like Pismo Beach and Carmel by the Sea and take a whale-watching cruise in Monterey.

See scenic lighthouses along the foggy coast. 

Big Sur drive

The 90 miles of Big Sur is filled with beautiful beaches and coves.

It has numerous hiking trails along bluffs and campsites right on the beach.

You can see marine life including whales, dolphins, sea otters, sea lions, and a variety of tide pool creatures.

Big Sur is also home to tall coastal redwood trees and blooms with beautiful wildflowers in the spring.

This region is a delight for nature lovers and a delightful stop on road trip USA West Coast.

San Francisco & Yosemite – 3 Days

Get your urban fix in San Francisco and end your West Coast trip USA on a high note at the Golden Gate Bridge.

Then explore the stunning Yosemite National Park and see the legendary granite faces of El Capitan and Half Dome.

Yosemite National Park is one of the most visited in the country and worth a visit on a West Coast roadtrip.

To plan this road trip, read our post on the Pacific Coast Highway road trip itinerary . 

Pacific Northwest Road Trip

Explore the Pacific Northwest on an ultimate road trip through hip cities, scenic drives, and open spaces.

See one of a kind geological landforms and eat plenty of seafood.

Go from the mountains to the beaches and drive through river gorges.

This road trip has plenty of hidden gems and underrated attractions. 

Portland – 2 Days

Begin your road trip in Portland and wrap your head around its ‘weird’ vibe.

Visit attractions such as the Japanese Garden and the Shanghai tunnels.

Eat the city’s famous doughnuts and visit the food truck pods.

Take a photogenic view of the Portland skyline with Mount Hood in the background from Pittock Mansion. 

Beautiful View of Portland, Oregon

Columbia River Highway – 1 Day

Then drive along the historic Columbia River Highway.

This scenic route has plenty of waterfalls and small communities.

The scenery here looks stunning in fall.

Visit the beautiful Multnomah Falls and admire the view from the Vista House Museum. 

Optional – Coastal Oregon & Washington

If you have more time, head to the coast and Cannon Beach.

See the beautiful haystacks before heading up towards Astoria.

Spend time admiring the seaport city from the Astoria Tower and understand about the Lewis and Clark Expedition at Fort Clatsop. 

Follow Highway 101 to Olympic National Park in Washington.

The park is a UNESCO Heritage Site and has attractions such as the Hof Rainforest and Sol Duc Hot Springs.

See the beautiful mountain views at Hurricane Ridge then tour the Washington State Capitol at Olympia as part of US road trip on West Coast. 

Also Read: Best Things to do in Washington State

Hurricane Ridge Olympic National Park Washington

Mt. Rainier National Park – 1 Day

Mt. Rainier National Park is a beautiful paradise in the Cascade mountains.

This active stratovolcano looks scenic when surrounded by wildflowers filled meadows in the summer.

One of the most popular regions to visit in Mt Rainier National Park is Paradise and Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center.

Sunrise road and the visitor center are also scenic and have beautiful trails. 

Tacoma – 1 Day

Then spend a day enjoying the cultural attractions of Tacoma.

A must visit in the city is the Museum of Glass and the Bridge of Glass which connects the museum and downtown Tacoma. This bridge has Dale Chihuly’s artwork.

Other good museums include the LeMay Car Museum and the Washington State History Museum which has a model railroad.

Take a stroll at the scenic Fort Defiance Park in Tacoma before heading to Seattle. 

Seattle – 2 Days

In Seattle , drink lots of coffee and visit the original Starbucks at Pike Place Market.

Visit the Seattle Center and climb up the observation deck of the Space Needle to see beautiful panoramic views of Seattle.

See the Chihuly Garden & Glass and enjoy the exhibits at Pacific Science Center.

Take a whale-watching excursion to the islands in Puget Sound before ending your road trip with a visit to the Museum of Pop Culture.

Aquarium Seattle and frontview, Seattle, Washington

For more West Coast Road Trip Itinerary 7 days ideas, see our post on Best Road Trips to take along the West Coast . 

10 Day West Coast Road Trip

If you have 10 days to road trip the West Coast USA, then you can see many more attractions along the West Coast.

Here are our favorite comprehensive West Coast road trip ideas for the first time US visitors. 

Vegas to San Francisco via SR 395

While this road trip sounds similar to the one we mentioned earlier, you will be taking the much more scenic route through the Sierra Nevada and eastern California.

See the unique Death Valley National Park and reach Yosemite via the eastern entrance.

Then visit San Francisco and Los Angeles to complete your road trip in USA west coast. 

Explore the highlights of Las Vegas.

Walk along the Las Vegas strip and see the famous casinos including Bellagio, Luxor, Ceaser’s Palace, the Venetian, etc.

Explore the Freemont Street in downtown and take a photo with the Fabulous Las Vegas sign.

Hike the trails in Red Rock Canyon and see the Hoover Dam.

Grand Canyon – 1 Day

Either head for Grand Canyon on your 2nd day in Las Vegas or If you want to make a day trip, see the Grand Canyon from the western rim.

Grand Canyon West is not located in Grand Canyon National Park but on the Hualapai Indian Reservation.

At the western rim, visitors can walk over the glass panels on the Skywalk and see the Grand Canyon spread out before them.  

Panoramic view of the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona at dusk

Death Valley – 1 Day

Then visit Death Valley National Park.

Death Valley is the aridest and hottest place in the country; it is also the lowest.

See the salt flats at Badwater Basin and the panorama from Dante’s View.

Hike along the Salt Creek trail and see the pupfish and sandboard the Mesquite Flat sand dunes. 

Then drive along SR 395 north towards Yosemite.

The best time to drive this road is from summer to fall; the rest of the year you may encounter snow and/or attractions may be closed.

See Alabama Hills, Manzanar historic site, Mammoth Lakes, Mono Lake, and enter Yosemite National Park through the eastern entrance.

This entrance is closed during winter and spring.

Yosemite – 1 Day

Drive along the Lee Vining Canyon Scenic Byway.

The road will take you to the Tioga Pass entrance into Yosemite’s high country.

This area is snowed over from late fall to spring but is incredibly scenic in the summer.

See the attractions like Tuolumne Meadows and the panorama at Olmsted Point Overlook.

Then check out the attractions in Yosemite Valley including Yosemite Falls, El Capitan, and Half Dome. 

View of the Yosemite Valley at dawn

After checking Yosemite, take the drive to San Francisco.

Walk or bike across Golden Gate Bridge and see the attractions in the Presidio of San Francisco including Crissy Fields, Fort Point, Walt Disney Museum, and the Palace of Fine Arts.

See the sea lions at Fisherman’s Wharf and devour the chocolate at Ghirardelli Square. 

San Francisco Fisherman's Wharf

Big Sur – 1 Day

Take a short day trip through scenic Big Sur before heading to Los Angeles on this west coast of USA road trip.

You will need to leave on day 2 from San Francisco and reach Los Angeles late in the day to get the time for this side trip but it is totally worth it.

Explore Big Sur’s attractions including Bixby Creek Bridge, Pfeiffer Beach, Keyhole Rock, McWay Falls, the redwood groves, and Point Sur Lighthouse. 

In Los Angeles, take a movie studio tour or walk along the iconic Hollywood Blvd.

Snap a photo with the movie stars on the sidewalk and shop on Rodeo Drive.

See the movie star homes in Beverly Hills and see the museums.

Spend time on the Santa Monica Pier and people watch at Venice Beach.

Enjoy the SoCal vibe to make the most of your West Coast America road trip. 

10 Day California Road Trip

Spend the entire time in California, driving down the Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco to San Diego.

Then explore the state’s desert region of Joshua Tree and Death Valley.

Follow SR 395 through Alabama Hills and Mammoth Lakes to Lake Tahoe. 

Pacific Coast Highway

San Francisco – 2 Day

Explore the best attractions in San Francisco including the Golden Gate Bridge, Chinatown, Lombard Street, and Alcatraz Island.

Take a ride on the historic cable car and dine in popular Fisherman’s Wharf.

San Francisco is very diverse and has something for everyone, whether you are visiting for the first time or a frequent traveler to the city.

Photograph the Victorian architecture and take a day trip out to Muir Woods.

Then drive down south along Pacific Coast Highway towards Big Sur. 

From the urban skyline of San Francisco, the scenery changes quite a bit even before you reach Big Sur.

Highway 1 will take you through communities such as Half Moon Bay and Pescadero before reaching beautiful Monterey.

Spend some time in Monterey at the Cannery Row. See sea lions or take a whale-watching cruise.

Visit the aquarium and hike in Point Lobos then head for Bixby Creek Bridge. 

Visit Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park which is home to the beautiful McWay Falls.

Then visit the purple sand Pfeiffer Beach before checking out scenic landscapes in Garatappa State Park and Andrew Molera State Park.

Enjoy surfing on the crescent-shaped Sand Dollar Beach.

See the Point Sur lighthouse and the elephant seal rookery at San Simeon. 

Big Sur

Los Angeles – 2 Day

Then drive down California’s coast to Los Angeles.

Experience the city’s beach and movie culture.

Take a photo with the Hollywood sign and dine at Michelin starred restaurants.

Relax on the sandy beaches in Malibu and see stunning art at the Getty Center.

Visit the Griffith Observatory and see gorgeous views of the city from above.

Buy fresh produce at the Farmer’s Market and take pictures for the ‘gram at the Broad. 

From Los Angeles, drive to Death Valley National Park.

Located in California’s high desert, Desert Valley is a hostile environment.

This is the driest, lowest, and hottest place in the country.

It is home to stunning salt flats at Badwater Basin, mysterious moving rocks at Racetrack Playa, and unique geological landforms such as Artist’s Palette and Zabriskie Point.

See the nearby ghost town of Rhyolite while leaving Death Valley for Yosemite. 

Yosemite – 2 Days

Take the SR 395 north towards Lake Tahoe.

On your way, you will pass via attractions such as the alien landscape of Alabama Hills, the Museum of Western Film History in Lone Pine, and Bodie, a mining ghost town.

Finally, arrive in Yosemite and take the Lee Vining Tioga Pass Road to Yosemite Valley.

Explore attractions such as Yosemite Falls and Tuolumne Meadows before driving back via the same road to Lake Tahoe. 

best route to travel west coast america

Lake Tahoe – 1 Day

The scenic Lake Tahoe is California’s favorite outdoor playground.

The lake is located on the Nevada California border and is stunning blue in the summer.

Take the Lake Tahoe Loop Road trip to explore attractions along the lake.

See Emerald Bay State Park and the Viking Castle.

Bike the famous Flume Trail and enjoy South Lake Tahoe. 

To plan this road trip, read our post on 10 Days in California . 

Portland to San Francisco

Another awesome option is to follow Oregon Highway 101, California Highway 101, and Highway 1 down the Pacific Coast.

You will be treated to stunning coastal views, rock formations, sandy beaches, waterfalls, marine life, coastal towns, whale watching, lots of history, and fresh seafood on this West Coast USA itinerary 10 days. 

Also Read the full post here: Portland to San Francisco Road Trip Itinerary

Start this amazing road trip down the coast in Portland.

The city is best for foodies and you should sample local doughnuts and ice creams as well as food truck pods in the city.

Visit the independent bookstore Powell City of Books and tour the underground tunnels.

Visit Portland’s beautiful gardens including the International Rose Test Garden, the Japanese Garden, and the Lan Su Chinese Garden.

See the beautiful views along the waterfront. 

best route to travel west coast america

Columbia River Gorge – 1 Day

Take a day trip to Columbia River Gorge via the Historic Columbia River Highway.

The road is extremely scenic and has many attractions including waterfalls.

The most popular waterfall by far is the stunning two-tiered Multnomah Falls.

Walk up to Benson Bridge and see the iconic falls up close.

Visit the Multnomah Falls Lodge Visitor Center before driving all the way to Mount Hood to enjoy your trip. 

Northern Oregon Coast – 1 Day

Then it is time to head down to the coast.

Spend a day exploring the attractions of the northern Oregon Coast.

Start at the beautiful seaport city of Astoria. See the Goonies filming locations.

Then head down to Ecola State Park and Cannon Beach .

Take the iconic photo of Cannon Beach sea-stacks from the state park.

Have fun on the beach, then visit the Tillamook Cheese Factory and try the fresh cheeses. 

Cannon beach, Oregon

Central Oregon Coast – 1 Day

There are many things to do on Oregon’s central coast.

Visit the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area and enjoy the stunning views.

Hike through old-growth forests of giant Sitka spruce and see the Devil’s Churn.

You can also whale watch from the shores.

Explore the scenic towns of Yachats, Florence, and Newport, which is home to the Oregon Coast Aquarium.

Visit the Devil’s Punchbowl area and see the unique geological formation.

Tour the charming Yaquina Head Lighthouse and Heceta Head Lighthouse. 

Southern Oregon Coast – 1 Day

Continue the drive down Highway 101 through Southern Oregon.

Take a short scenic road trip along the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor.

This 12-mile long route has plenty of panoramic coastal views and pullouts to enjoy them.

See the lighthouses at Cape Arago, Cape Blanco, and Pelican Bay.

In southern Oregon, you can also see the giant coastal redwoods along the Oregon Redwoods Trail.

The southern coast also has lots of breweries and is a great place to drink craft beer. 

Northern California Coast – 2 Days

Then cross over the border into northern California.

Northern California is the best place to have a variety of redwood experiences including drive-through trees and single log cabins.

Use the two days to explore attractions such as the Avenue of the Giants, the Fern Canyon hike, the Glass Beach at Fort Bragg, the coastal city of Mendocino, and Point Reyes.

Eat the oysters at Tomales Bay and see the Birds filming locale in Bodega Bay.

Read our North California road trip itinerary to plan your 2 days in North California. 

Avenue of the Giants

Make your way down to the northern California city of San Francisco.

See the iconic Golden Gate Bridge and take the tour to Alcatraz Island.

See the famous federal prison and know about the prisoners incarcerated here including Al Capone.

See the oriental architecture in Chinatown and the murals in Balmy Alley.

Drive down twisting Lombard Street and dine at the Ferry Market Building.

See the city of San Francisco from the Marin Headlands and enjoy the laid back vibe of Sausalito. 

West Coast USA itinerary 2 weeks

If you have 2 weeks, then you are in for the treat of a lifetime.

You are going to drive through ever-changing landscapes and explore the diversity of the West Coast.

Start your road trip at the Canadian border near Seattle and go south till you reach the Mexican border in San Diego.

This USA west coast itinerary 2 weeks is the ultimate road trip adventure. 

While you won’t get time to see all of the natural attractions including Mt. Rainier, Columbia River Gorge, Yosemite, Big Sur, and Coastal Oregon-Northern California coast, we recommend picking a few of the attractions you most want to visit and dividing your days accordingly for this West Coast road trip 2 weeks. 

Start your 2-week West coast USA itinerary in the Emerald City of Seattle .

It is known for its coffee houses, wet winter season, and the iconic Space Needle.

Try out the city’s famous attractions and tour the Seattle Underground.

Visit the Chinatown-International District and enjoy shopping for knick-knacks and souvenirs.

Eat dishes such as pho, noodles, and Ramen.

Visit the Seattle Museum of Art and the free Olympic Sculpture Park along the waterfront.

Read our guide on Seattle to plan your trip. 

The ferris wheel on the waterfront of Seattle, Washington

Optional: Mount Rainier National Park – 1 Day

Mount Rainier National Park is one of the most beautiful places to visit in the Pacific Northwest.

The National Park is very close to Seattle and hence easy to see on a day trip.

If you are visiting from July to September, check out the Sunrise Visitor Center and hike the Sunrise Nature Trail or Sunrise Rim Trail.

During the rest of the year, visit the Paradise area and the Henry M Jackson Visitor Center.

The views from the Paradise area are also equally stunning and you can see the active volcanic peak of Mt Rainier, wildflowers, wildlife, and glaciers. 

Then make your way south to the hip and trendy city of Portland.

The Willamette River runs through this city and Tom McCall Waterfront Park is located along the river.

Check out the park and its memorials before checking out Portland’s attractions including the Portland Art Museum, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, and the Pittock Mansion.

Take a hike through Forest Park and discover the Witch’s Castle!

Go on a food spree and eat unique dishes all around the city. 

Optional: Historic Columbia River Gorge – 1 Day

It’s time for a historic trip down the Columbia River Gorge.

Take the scenic Columbia River Highway from Portland to Mt. Hood and explore the attractions along the 75-mile long route.

Start in the town of Troutdale and visit the historic McMenamins brewpub.

Then stop at the beautiful Multnomah Falls Scenic area. Hike along the falls and other famous hiking trails in the area.

See the panoramic views from Crown Point.

At the end of the road, continue along the Mt Hood Scenic Byway.

Return to Portland for the next part of the trip. 

This is a slow shutter shot of Multnomah Falls in Autumn colors.

Optional: Coastal Oregon and Northern California coast – 2 to 3 days

You can either drive down the coast for which you will need at least one additional day without stopping anywhere or fly from Portland to San Francisco for a fly and drive West Coast itinerary.

If you are driving, we recommend devoting 2 to 3 days to this stretch which is filled with redwoods, beautiful lighthouses, charming coastal cities, and more. 

In Oregon, must-see stops include Astoria, Cannon Beach, Tillamook Creamery, Yachats, Heceta Head Lighthouse, Devil’s Punchbowl, Cape Perpetua, and Samuel H Boardman Scenic Byway.

Read our post on Coastal Oregon road trip itinerary to know more about these attractions and plan the trip. 

In Northern California, some of the must-visit attractions include Redwood National and State Parks, Russian River, Avenue of the Giants, Leggett drive-through redwood tree, Napa/Sonoma County, Point Reyes, etc.

To see all the attractions, read our Northern California road trip guide. 

Heceta Head Lighthouse

In the city, see the best things to do in San Francisco including the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, Chinatown, Lombard Street, Palace of Fine Arts, the Exploratorium, California Academy of the Sciences, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, and other attractions.

Take a day trip to Napa or Sonoma wine counties and go wine tasting, see the geyser in Calistoga, check out the Bay area attractions in neighboring San Jose and Palo Alto, or see the redwood trees at Muir Woods in case you missed them further up the coast. 

Optional: Yosemite National Park – 1 Day

If you want to see the beauty of the Sierra Nevadas and the Sequoia trees, then go on a day trip to Yosemite National Park.

This is one of the most visited national parks in the country and has amazing scenery.

Start your visit in the Yosemite Village and see the valley.

See the highlights of Yosemite Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, etc.

Drive around the national park and see the famous views of Tunnel View, Valley View, Glacier Point Road, and Olmsted Point Overlook.

See the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoia trees and see the wildflowers on Tuolumne Meadows. 

Optional: Big Sur – 1 Day

Welcome to beautiful, bold Big Sur.

The beauty of California’s unspoiled central Coast has inspired artists, poets, and writers.

This is the place to visit for secluded beaches, lots of marine wildlife, tide pools, hiking trails on the coast, and waterfalls.

Visit small charming communities like Carmel by the Sea, Pismo Beach, and Morro Bay to understand and appreciate the relaxed life here. 

Morro Bay

Then head down to Los Angeles and enjoy some of the best sunsets of your life.

The city is pretty huge and most of the landmark tourist attractions aren’t concentrated in one place but you can easily get cabs and rideshares to get around the city.

Start your day at Hollywood in Central LA and see the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, Kodak Theatre which hosts the Academy Awards, and the Hollywood Museum which has movie props, scripts, and costumes.

See other attractions including Griffith Park and Observatory, Getty Villa, Rodeo Drive, and the museums. 

Optional: Anaheim – 1 Day

If you have kids or adults in your party that love theme parks, then make the stop at Anaheim.

Our favorites are the Disney theme parks – Disneyland and California Adventure.

Disneyland is perfect for younger kids who want to meet Mickey and friends and the princesses while California Adventure is more for older kids who like roller coasters and other thrill rides.

You can also visit Universal Studios to see the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

There are many other theme parks in Anaheim besides Disney and Universal and you are in for a fun day. 

San Diego – 2 Days

End your road trip in the sunny city of San Diego .

It is known for its warm sun, mild weather, and inviting beaches.

Explore Old Town San Diego and its historic buildings.

Eat delicious Mexican cuisine and walk along the waterfront Embarcadero.

Explore Balboa Park and its attractions.

See the museums housed in historical buildings and take a day trip either to Coronado island or the sunny beaches in La Jolla. 

Balboa Park San Diego

USA West Coast itinerary 3 weeks

In 3 weeks you can cover a whole lot of the country.

Drive from border to border along the Pacific Coast, then make a beeline for the southwest.

Visit one of a kind attractions such as Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, and Monument Valley.

Experience the best of Western USA on this epic road trip. 

If you look at the West Coast America road trip map, you will be covering an L shaped section of the western USA.  

To plan this road trip, follow our suggested route for the 2-week itinerary up to Los Angeles.

Then take the route to Las Vegas from Death Valley.

From Las Vegas, embark on a week-long southwest road trip to the Grand Canyon and beyond.

The itinerary will follow the route as follows:

There is no better place than Seattle to start your West Coast 3 week road trip itinerary.

You will begin near the northern border in Canada and explore the most vibrant city of the Pacific Northwest.

See iconic attractions of the Greater Seattle area including the Space Needle, Museum of Pop Culture, Chihuly Garden and Glass, Pike Place Market, and Seattle Waterfront.

Understand the history of Seattle and the Klondike Gold Rush at Historic Pioneer Square neighborhood.

Read our Seattle itinerary guide to plan your trip. 

Needle Space at sunset, Seattle, Washington

Optional Mount Rainier National Park – 1 Day

After seeing Seattle, drive to Mt. Rainier National Park which is located to the southwest of Seattle.

The drive takes about 2.5 hours and is incredibly scenic.

At the end is your destination, the iconic Mt. Rainier. This is an active stratovolcano in the Cascade ranges.

At the national park visitor centers, you can see exhibits about the volcanic activity, plants, and animals in the National Park.

Then enjoy hiking along the park trails and enjoy the waterfalls in the Paradise region.

If the roads are open, drive to Sunrise Visitor Center to see Mt. Rainier from a different vantage point. 

Your next destination is Portland. Start your visit in Washington Park.

This urban park is home to Oregon’s many attractions including the Oregon Zoo, Portland Children’s Museum, and the World Forestry Center Discovery Museum.

It also has expansive gardens including the International Rose Test Garden, the Japanese Garden, and the Hoyt Arboretum.

See the famous Pittock Mansion and the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.

Visit the local Farmers Market, hike in Forest Park, and walk across the beautiful historic St. John’s Bridge. 

 Portland Japanese Garden

Today, you will be visiting one of the best places to see on the West Coast – the stunning Multnomah Falls.

The falls are 620 feet tall and are the tallest waterfall in the state.

The falls cascade from the basalt cliffs in two tiers.

The charming Benson Bridge overlooks the base of the first tier and has an excellent vantage point over the falls.

After seeing the falls, check out Hood River and other falls including Horsetail Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, etc.

Then drive down to San Francisco. 

As we mentioned before, spend 2 to 3 days on the course from Portland to San Francisco.

Start at the Lewis and Clark Expedition Site in Fort Clatsop in Astoria.

See the beautiful view from Ecola State Park and visit the Tillamook Creamery.

Hike Cape Perpetua Scenic Area and the Devil’s Punchbowl near Yachats.

See the cities of Newport and Florence before heading into Northern California.

In Northern California, hike in Fern Canyon in Prairie Creek Redwood State Park and drive through the fog-covered Redwood Highway.

Sport elks and the other wildlife and view the scenic lighthouse in Crescent City.

Admire the Victorian architecture of Old Town Eureka and see the beautiful glass beach at Fort Bragg.

Read our Coastal Oregon road trip itinerary and Northern California road trip itinerary to plan a trip along this route.

Fern Canyon California

Meander your way down the coast to the amazing city of San Francisco.

Enjoy its hip vibe.

If this is your multiple visit to the city, then discover hidden attractions such as the Grateful Dead house in Haight Ashbury neighborhood , the 16th Avenue tiled steps, and Mission Dolores Park in Mission District.

Eat your way around the egg tarts in Chinatown, Mission-style burritos, and sourdough clam chowder soup at Boudin’s Bakery. 

Yosemite National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most beautiful places to visit on the West Coast.

Take the scenic Highway 140 through Mariposa to Yosemite Valley.

Visit the museum and take a stroll around Yosemite Village.

Then explore the valley and its major attractions.

You can also see the valley on a guided tour given by the park rangers if you have less time.

Drive up to Tunnel View and see the beautiful panorama of El Capitan, Half Dome, and the Bridalveil falls.

Hike in the valley and explore the park’s wildlife before coming back to the coast. 

Yosemite National Park

Optional: Big Sur – 2 Days

The drive through Big Sur is one of the most beautiful road trips in the world.

You will be driving parallel to the rugged coast and have awesome views of the coastal cliffs and the blue water of the Pacific Ocean.

There are many hiking trails and natural areas along the road including Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, Garatappa State Park, Lime Kiln State Park, etc.

Beautiful waterfalls, hidden beaches, and coves surround this area.

Stay at Big Sur village and enjoy the stunning beauty of Big Sur. 

Optional: Channel Island National Park

Channel Islands National Park is one of the least visited National Parks in the country.

Located off the coast of California, the park comprises five islands in the Pacific Ocean.

Visitors can either take a ferry or a plane to the Channel Islands, with the ferry being the more economical option.

The trips depart from Ventura where the park visitor center is also located. 

Two of the most visited islands include Santa Cruz and Anacapa Island.

On Anacapa Island, visitors can hike to Inspiration Point to get stunning views of the islands.

The lighthouse on Anacapa Island is also worth a visit.

In Santa Cruz, visitors can see sea caves including the Painted Cave.

The Channel Islands are also popular for diving among the kelp forests and seeing wildlife including seals and sea birds. 

Potato Harbor in Channel Islands National Park in California

From Ventura make the trip down along the Pacific Coast Highway to Los Angeles.

This is the second-largest city in the country and a must-visit while road tripping the West Coast.

Its many attractions include watching movie stars shop on Rodeo Drive, seeing their homes in Beverly Hills, taking a movie studio tour including Warner Brothers, Sony, and Paramount.

The city is a top cultural destination and has many noteworthy museums including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the La Brea Tar Pits, the Getty Center, Getty Villa, and the Broad.

Also must try are the several renowned restaurants in Los Angeles. 

Anaheim – 1 Day

Anaheim, located in Orange County, is home to California’s theme parks.

The city also has sports stadiums as well as many free things to do besides theme parks.

In Anaheim, you will find Disney Parks, Universal Studios, Knotts Berry Farm, etc.

Foodies must visit the Anaheim Packing House, a renovated food hall.

Other free things to do include taking a stroll through the historic district and seeing the architecture and famous buildings. 

Optional: Death Valley National Park – 1 Day

After seeing Los Angeles and Anaheim, make the trip towards the southwest to the Sin City of Las Vegas.

Along the way, you can make the detour to Death Valley National Park.

As we mentioned, this is a park of extreme landscapes and weather.

It is the lowest, driest, and hottest place in the country. Death Valley is famous for its salt flats at Badwater Basin.

Other things to see at Death Valley include the Harmony Borax trail, the Mesquite Flats sand dunes, Artist’s Drive, and the 360-degree panorama at Dante’s View. 

Death Valley National Park Salt Flats in California

Now it’s time to road trip the Death Valley Scenic Byway to Las Vegas.

The city is most famous for its casinos and the strip attractions including Bellagio Fountains, the volcano at Mirage, the canals at the Venetian, etc.

Other than the Las Vegas strip attractions, you can also check out hidden gems in Vegas including the Mob Museum, the Neon Museum, Discovery Children’s Museum.

Also, take the time to explore outdoor Las Vegas including Seven Magic Mountains, Red Rock Canyon, and Valley of Fire State Park. 

Zion National Park – 1 Day

From Las Vegas, visit the stunning Zion National Park.

After checking out the Visitor Center, take the shuttle or drive along the Zion Scenic Drive.

This drive is spectacular and has stunning views of the red rock canyon landscape.

Hike along popular short trails such as the Emerald Pools, the Riverside Walk, and the Weeping Rock.

Or spend half a day to more strenuous hikes such as the Narrows or Angels Landing.

The hikes will show you stunning views of the Zion Canyon and the Virgin River through different vantage points. 

Optional: Bryce Canyon National Park – 1 Day

Bryce Canyon National Park is one of Utah’s most underrated National Parks.

It is famous for its spire-shaped hoodoo rock formations caused by weathering due to wind and rain.

In the famous area known as the Bryce amphitheater, you can see a variety of these hoodoo formations.

Hike the rim trail to see the hoodoos from above and hike down into the canyon using the Navajo Loop Trail to see the hoodoos from below.

Road trip the 21 miles long Bryce Canyon Scenic Drive and see the canyon from the lookout points. 

Bryce Canyon National Park_amphitheater

Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend – 1 Day

Another must on an epic West Coast road trip USA!

The Antelope Canyons in Page, Arizona are the most beautiful slot canyons in the world.

The canyons are made of red sandstone and formed due to weathering.

The floodwaters from millions of years ago have left beautiful swirling patterns on the canyon walls and seeing the Canyons just as the sunlight lights them up is a delight.

Another popular attraction in Page is Horseshoe Bend overlook.

Here the Colorado River forms a beautiful horseshoe-shaped meander.

Visitors can see the scenic Horseshoe Bend from an observation platform. 

Optional: Monument Valley – 1 Day

If you have time, then venture into the beautiful landscape of Monument Valley on your road trip US West Coast.

This red sand desert region located in Arizona is probably one of the most photographed spots in the country.

Monument Valley has a fascinating landscape of red sandstone buttes that reach up towards the sky.

You can see all of these buttes on a scenic drive through Monument Valley. 

The views of the buttes are awesome and otherworldly.

Monument Valley is also a popular filming location and the movie Forrest Gump was filmed here. 

Grand Canyon National Park – 2 Days

End your memorable adventure in the Grand Canyon National Park.

The Grand Canyon is a majestic natural wonder and you will seldom see anything comparable to its vast scale ever again.

The Colorado River formed the Grand Canyon over millions of years of weathering action.

Visit the South Rim and enter the park through the popular Grand Canyon Village.

Check out the visitor center exhibits about the geological formation of the canyon and its natural resources.

Then go to Yavapai Point to see one of the most amazing viewpoints of the canyon.

Hike the rim trail and drive all the way to Desert View Watchtower. 

Skywalk glass observation bridge at Grand Canyon West Rim

Optional – Phoenix

After seeing the Grand Canyon, you can either drive to Las Vegas or Los Angeles for the return flight or to see even more of the country, drive to Phoenix.

The route will take you through many attractions including historic Flagstaff on Route 66, the beautiful red rock landscape of Sedona, and the ghost town of Jerome.

In Phoenix, you can experience the beauty of Arizona’s deserts at the Desert Botanical Gardens.

In spring and early summer, the cacti will be blooming with beautiful colorful flowers.

Hike up to Camelback mountain for iconic views of the city.

Take the kids to see the Phoenix zoo.

The Children’s Museum of Phoenix is also lots of fun for youngsters.

See the OdySea Aquarium and enjoy learning science at the Arizona Science Center. 

Art lovers should visit the Phoenix Art Museum to see Renaissance-era art and the Heard Museum to understand the Native American culture.

See the unique Musical Instrument Museum and the Hohokam Native ruins at the Pueblo Grande Archeological Park & Museum.

Architecture lovers should visit Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West in nearby Scottsdale. 

Route 66 sign amidst Red Rock mountains in Arizona

4 Week USA West Coast Road Trip Itinerary

If you have an entire month for the USA road trip on the West Coast , then we really envy you!

Very few lucky souls have that kind of time and even we hope to go on such a grand adventure one day. 

With 4 weeks in hand, follow our same route as above except take time to see each and every optional attraction.

Stop in cities like Bend in Oregon and Santa Barbara in California while coming down the coast. 

Drive south all the way down to San Diego before you venture into the Californian desert and American southwest.

See Joshua Tree National Park and Death Valley National Park both before going to Las Vegas. 

In Las Vegas, see Lake Mead and Hoover Dam plus the area’s outdoor attractions.

Spend two or more days in Zion and hike all its trails including the famous Narrows hike along the Virgin River.

Make the detour to Grand Canyon north rim after seeing Bryce if the roads are open. 

Hoover Dam

See both the upper and lower Antelope Canyons in Page.

Spend a day cruising on Lake Powell and see the Rainbow Bridge National Monument.

Camp in Monument Valley to see its dark sky and the silhouette of the buttes at night. 

In the Grand Canyon National Park, hike all the way down via the Bright Angel Trail or go river rafting in the Colorado River.

Get a permit and hike to the beautiful Havasupai Falls.

Drive down to Phoenix and spend some time exploring the Grand Canyon State on an epic Arizona road trip through Saguaro National Park and Petrified Forest National Park.

These are just a few ideas to make your road trip better!

The USA West Coast road trip is an adventure of a lifetime.

This road trip is more American than any road trip could ever be.

If you have any trip planning questions, let us know in the comments.

Inspired Routes

30 Gorgeous West Coast Road Trip Routes You Gotta See to Believe

Posted on Published: January 31, 2023  - Last updated: December 18, 2023

Ready for an epic road trip adventure through the American west? From amazing coastal views to stunning national parks, the western part of the USA has some truly unbelievable landscapes. If you’re looking for the best west coast road trip – here’s 30 routes you’ll absolutely love.

west coast road trip USA view of ocean and road with black sand beach and rugged coastline

This post may contain affiliate links. For more info, see my  disclosures .

Whether you’re looking to take a leisurely drive over a long weekend or plan an amazing adventure covering a lot of ground over 2 weeks, this list has a bit of everything.

Visit charming towns along the California and Oregon coast. Go hiking in the national parks out west and catch views of dramatic landscapes. Rugged coasts, dense forests, wide open spaces and outta-this-world desert scenes, you’re about to find your perfect road trip out west in this guide .

Let’s dive in!

large mountain peak and lake with some snow green forest white puffy clouds on road trip out west

Must-see video: west coast road trips

West coast road trip map

This map includes highlights of some of the destinations on the west coast road trip itineraries below. Check out the full guide on each destination below!

Oh and by the way, I haven’t been everywhere (yet), so I’ve called in some help from some fellow travel writers to create these epic itineraries. Enjoy!

Essentials for your Road Trip USA west coast

road trip out west to mt rainier national park hiking trail through meadow of flowers and trees and mountains in distance

Before we dive into the list of awesome road trips, make sure you’re prepared by packing the right gear. Here are some suggestions to make your road trip go smoothly.

  • Collapsable cooler. Perfect for if you’re flying to a destination for a road trip, or just to store when you’re not using it. A collapsable cooler keeps your drinks and food cool, too.
  • Appropriate clothing for weather. From tank tops to a winter coat, be sure to check the weather before you go and take the appropriate layers. If you’re hiking, this is my favorite medium hiking coat , rain jacket and sun hat .
  • Emergency items like satellite communicator and first aid kit . We all think it will never happen to us – until it does! This 2-way satellite communicator comes with me on all road trips and hiking adventures. Take this first aid kit for your car or pack it for day hikes.

hiking trail through rocky terrain

  • GoPro. Capture the best photos and videos of the road (while another adult is driving) or take it for underwater adventures and swimming. This GoPro goes with me on every trip!
  • Reusable water bottles. Pack one or two for each person to avoid buying single-use plastic bottles. Refill at restaurants, hotels and clean water stations at national parks.
  • Right hiking gear. If you’re visiting any of the national parks in the west and stepping foot out of your car, you’ll want the right gear to be comfortable. These are my favorite hiking shoes , hiking socks , trekking poles and hiking backpack that accompany me to any hiking destination.

By the way, if you’ll need to rent a car for this adventure, try searching Discover Cars first. It’s free to use, the site searches the major car companies and I typically save 10-30% using Discover Cars .

US west coast road trip

Gahhh! I’m so excited for you! Epic adventures await on a west coast road trip. Starting off with a few of my favorites…

1. Oregon Coast road trip

oregon cliffs and ocean on a road trip usa west coast

Distance: 745 miles Recommended time: 5-10 days Best time of year: May through October

The Oregon Coast is perfect for road trips, with 363-miles of stunning coastlines and more than 15 not-to-be missed towns.

It’s perfect for a choose-your-own-adventure kind of trip, to accommodate your interests and the amount of time you have to spare. But if you have some flexibility, you could easily spend a week and a half exploring the coastline.

Start your trip in Portland and make your way to the northern portion of the Oregon coast. Cannon Beach should absolutely be on your bucketlist, home to the iconic sea stack, Haystack Rock. Here, you can explore tidepools, keep a lookout for puffins in the summertime, and have a bonfire right on the sand. 

Making your way south, stop at Pacific City Beach, which offers sweeping sand dunes and epic rock formations at Cape Kiwanda . If you’re brave, this is an excellent spot to take on the chilly Pacific waves at a surf lesson- it’s one of the most popular places along the coast to catch a wave!

Continuing south, the town of Florence has a charming historic downtown, with ice cream parlors and salt-water taffy stores. Florence is also home to the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area , a 40-mile stretch of rolling sand dunes that has earned the town the name “Sandboarding Capital of the World.”

At the southern tip of the Oregon Coast, you’ll find the Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor in Brookings. This recreation area has rugged sea stacks, secluded beaches, and some of the most jaw-dropping vistas you’ll find on the West Coast.

Finally, make your way back to Portland, completing the 745-mile loop around the western portion of the state.

Summer is absolutely the best time to head to the Oregon Coast , thanks to the pleasant weather and clear skies. If you want to avoid the crowds, though, early fall (late September and early October) can be a good time to get most of the attractions to yourself and snag some decent deals on accommodations.

The Oregon Coast from Portland is certainly worthy of being on this list: road trip USA west coast!

Recommended by Jessica of Uprooted Traveler

2. Pacific Coast Highway road trip: San Francisco to San Diego

Big Sur california view of grey beach teal water scenic road through mountain

Distance: 615+ miles Recommended time: 3-10 days Best time of year: November through April

You’ll want to keep this west coast road trip itinerary! The drive from San Francisco to San Diego, California is absolutely stunning.

From the rugged, untouched coast of Big Sur to the sandy beaches of Southern California and charming towns in between, this is a bucket list road trip, for sure!

Fly into San Francisco and rent a car , drive the coast and fly back out of San Diego. You can do this trip in as little as 3 days, but 7-10 days is recommended.

There are over 30 fabulous stops on a San Francisco to San Diego road trip , so you’ll never run out of things to do.

Starting in San Francisco, be sure to visit the Golden Gate Bridge and hike the Land’s End Trail for spectacular views of the bay. Next up is Monterey, where you can shop and dine in the historic Cannery Row, or visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium .

There are plenty of things to do with kids in Monterey too, making this road trip option one of the best on this list for families.

A must-see along this US west coast road trip is Carmel-by-the-Sea. Charming architecture met with great beaches, this is a fun stop. This is a great spot for an overnight stay , because Big Sur is next and there’s not very many accommodations for a few hundred miles.

Fill up on gas in Carmel-by-the-Sea before hitting the road to Big Sur. This undeveloped stretch of land is where cliffs meet the ocean, where whale watching, sea lions and sea otters are prominent nearly year round.

There are so many things to do in Big Sur that every vacation style will love this region. Be sure to stop by the Bixby Creek Bridge, McWay Falls and Sand Dollar Beach.

As you make your way through Southern California, the charming towns of San Luis Obispo and Solvang make way for Malibu, Huntington Beach, La Jolla and finally to San Diego.

Ideally, you could spend 2 days in San Diego , visiting the highlight including Balboa Park, Old Town San Diego , the Gaslamp District and Coronado Beach.

This fun-filled road trip can be done any time of year. The Big Sur coast sees a lot of marine fog during the summer and early fall months, so winter and spring are the best times for views and the fewer crowds.

Recommended by me – Nikki of Inspired Routes

3. Washington National Parks

mt rainier hike up skyline trail with paved path wildflowers and mountain in distance

Distance: 600+ miles Recommended time: 7 – 14 days Best time of year: June through September

If you’re looking to see some of the most beautiful views on the western part of the United States, then a Washington state national parks road trip is a must!

On this trip, you’ll see the sites and hear the sounds of Mount Rainier, Olympic and North Cascades National Parks, as well as see the Rainy City, Seattle.

Start the road trip in Mount Rainier, hit Olympic second, and then make your way towards North Cascades for a long , but totally worth it road trip. 

This trip can quickly become over 600 miles, so it’s recommended to have at least a week to complete it, but having 10 to 14 days is more ideal.

Starting in Mount Rainier, it’s a must to visit the Paradise area of the park, and spend some time hiking the trails, such as the Skyline Trail . The Nisqually Vista trail is one of the best beginner trails in the state.

After you’ve spent time enjoying the best things to do in Mt Rainier National Park , head north towards Olympic National Park. Start your visit on the western half, along the Pacific Coast. Visit Ruby and Rialto Beaches before heading to Hurricane Ridge.

From here, drive out of the park and stop in Seattle before the last leg of the trip. Spending just one day in Seattle , you can see the highlights like Pike Place Market, the Space Needle, Museum of Pop Culture and the Olympic Sculpture Park. Be sure to take one of the Pike Place Market food tours while you’re in town!

North Cascades is your final destination, where you’ll be greeted with towering peaks. See the fabulous Diablo Lake and Washington Pass Overlook. Embark on the Maple Pass Hike or to Blue Lake.

Because this Washington road trip is through many mountains, it’s best done in the summer, as many roads close in the winter.

If you’re flying in, it’s best to fly into Seattle and then rent a car there. And don’t forget your America the Beautiful parks pass , as you’ll get good use out of it on this trip!

Recommended by Kassidy of The Hiking Helper

4. Anchorage to Seward, Alaska (one of the most scenic on this list of road trip USA west coast)

west coast road trip itinerary view of Alaska wilderness trees green and yellow and lake in fall

Distance: 125 miles Recommended time: 2+ days Best time of year: April through September

The drive from Anchorage to Seward Alaska is arguably among the most beautiful stretches of road in the USA. On a map the distance between these two cities is just 125 miles, but with all the stunning views and beautiful places along the way it takes much longer than 2 hours to drive.

This road trip follows the Old Seward Highway which traces Turnagain Arm, a waterway that forms the northern boundary of the Cook Inlet off of the Gulf of Alaska.

On one side of the road is deep blue water with snow-capped mountains in the distance and on the other side are the stunning forest-covered Chugach Mountains with endless hiking trails to explore. Beluga whales can be spotted along this section from July through August.

Once you reach the town of Portage, the highway crosses onto the Kenai Peninsula, where the small harbor town of Seward is located. Here you will find Kenai Fjord National Park , which is accessible by both land and water. By land, hike up to Exit Glacier or, by water, spend a day on a glacier cruise into the park.

Other great places to stop on this road trip from Anchorage to Seward include the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, the Alyeska aerial tram in Girdwood and a boat ride to Portage Glacier in Portage.

This road trip is best in the warmer months, from April through September. Beginning in October, many businesses and tours begin shutting down for the season. Seward is a charming town to stay in with many lodging options ranging from hotels, quaint cabins by the water and bed and breakfasts.

This Alaskan adventure is undoubtedly one of the best west coast road trip itineraries!

Recommended by Susan of This Big Wild World

5. Arizona road trip: Phoenix to Tucson

pink sky at dusk with road below and mountain in disance

Distance: 110+ miles Recommended time: 3+ days Best time of year: spring or fall

This US west coast road trip is based in Arizona, and you’re certainly in for a treat!

While Phoenix may be the official capital of Arizona, Tucson is the outdoor hub of the state. One hundred and twelve miles to the southeast of Phoenix, Tucson’s surrounded by mountains, saguaros and the only National Park protecting the sacred Saguaros – Saguaro National Park. 

The drive on Interstate 10 isn’t much to write home about, but when you begin to close in on the Tucson City limits, the fun begins. You’ll first reach the western half of Saguaro National Park, a pristine landscape covered in cacti.

This part is geared toward photographers and those without the need for handholding. It’s best viewed at sunset when Arizona’s famed skies put on a show.

After sunset, continue into the city for delicious Mexican food and your lodging. The following day you can explore Tucson , drive the 50 minutes up to Mt Lemmon, a 9,000+ foot goliath casting its shadow over Tucson, or head to the eastern end of town for the second half of Saguaro National Park.

If you choose the park, know it’s more developed, mountainous (trails go as high as 8,000+ feet), and has a visitor center. The eastern part is perfect for families and those looking for a moderate day hike. The main area isn’t large but offers a nice loop drive with various trailheads to start your walks.

If you’re visiting in the warmer months and looking to escape the heat, Mt. Lemmon is your best friend. On average, the top of the mountain offers visitors a 22-degree reprieve from the heat below . Here, you’ll find miles and miles of hiking and mountain biking.

After your adventure, stop by the famous Cookie Cabin for delicious pizza and an even more tasty Pizookie. Then, on your way down, stop by Windy Point and take in the sunset. Tucson’s known for putting on the best sky magic in the southwest. 

Lastly, be careful while driving on Mt. Lemmon’s scenic byway. It’s curvy and a favorite of cyclists in the area. 

Recommended by Alec of Explore with Alec

6. San Francisco to Yosemite (iconic west coast road trip route)

San Francisco bridge with cliffs in background white waves and large bridge

Distance: 212 miles Recommended time: 2+ days Best time of year: May through September

Visiting Yosemite National Park is one of the most popular weekend trips from San Francisco, and is a fantastic option for one of the best west coast road trips itineraries!

A scenic road trip from San Francisco to Yosemite is the best way to enjoy the area. The most scenic route to  Yosemite from San Francisco  takes CA-99 S and CA-140 E and goes through the towns of Merced, Mariposa, and Midpines to the Arch Rock Entrance of Yosemite National Park. 

The distance between San Francisco and Yosemite NP via this scenic route is just over 200 miles, and the average driving time is about 4.5 hours. 

However, making stops in Merced, Mariposa and Midpines on the way to Yosemite is a must-do. Therefore, choose to spend an extended weekend in Yosemite instead of a weekend.

Merced, called the “Gateway to Yosemite’, is about 130 miles away from San Francisco. Make a stop in Merced and do wine tasting at Vista Ranch , see the historic Merced County Courthouse Museum and visit the fabulous Merced Antique Mall. 

After a break in Merced, head to Mariposa, only 37 miles from Merced. The town Mariposa is such a charming Gold Rush town.

You might enjoy staying overnight in Mariposa . Choose a 2-hour zipline adventure at Yosemite Ziplines & Adventure Ranch from the mountain in Polaris Rangers to Downtown Mariposa. Afterward, indulge in delicious bites at Charles Street Dinner House and explore fantastic Mariposa wineries like Casto Oaks Fine Wine and Art and the Butterfly Creek Winery.

Continue to Yosemite after Mariposa, but make a break in Midpines, which is only 12 mi southwest of El Portal in Yosemite. Midpines is a lovely place for picnicking, swimming, rafting and fishing.

After Midpines, head to Yosemite. The stylish Rush Creek Lodge at Yosemite is in Buck Meadows and on the way from Midpines to Yosemite Valley. Check-in at your room and start exploring the marvelous Yosemite National Park.

El Capitan, Yosemite Valley, Yosemite Falls, Glacier Point viewpoint, Fallen Wawona Tunnel Tree and Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias await you! 

The best time to visit Yosemite is from May to September. 

Recommended by Milijana of World Travel Connector 

7. Las Vegas to Antelope Canyon

orange curvy sandstone rock in antelope canyon arizona

Distance: 726 miles Recommended time: 3+ days Best time of year: spring or fall

One of the best road trips in the western USA is  Las Vegas to Antelope Canyon . Because Las Vegas airport has so many connections and fairly cheap flights, many people like to fly into Las Vegas and explore from there.

This road trip starts in Vegas and explores some of the amazing destinations northern Arizona and southern Utah has to offer.

You can do this road trip as a loop, or as a there-and-back trip. Starting out at Vegas head west towards Flagstaff and along the way you can stop off and enjoy Hoover Dam, Lake Mead and Kingman Arizona.

From Flagstaff head north towards the Grand Canyon, one of the best stops on this road trip. After checking out the Grand Canyon, head north to Page, Arizona, which is a great stop-over city to spend the night.

The next morning head out to explore all the best sights near Page, such as Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend. After touring these incredible places, you can start heading towards Zion National Park.

After hiking some incredible trails inside the park, grab a hotel room in Springdale , just outside Zion. The next day head out back towards Las Vegas, while stopping at Valley of Fire State Park on your way back.

Of course you can spend longer at any of these destinations, but if you’re short on time this road trip can be done in 3 days . 

The best time to do this road trip is in spring or fall. In the summer it can be incredibly hot in this part of the country. Zion in particular is one of the best national parks to visit in May , if you can arrange for it.

The winter is a great option if you really want to avoid the crowds, but some trails and roads could be closed so keep that in mind. Don’t forget to buy your Antelope Canyon tickets in advance, as they sell out really fast.

Recommended by Jessica of Unearth the Voyage

8. Utah national parks road trip

Zion National park view of canyon with massive orange rocky cliffs and road deep in valley

Distance: 878+ miles Recommended time: 5 – 14 days Best time of year: anytime

One of the best American west coast road trip adventures is through the Mighty 5 in Utah. A stunning display of nature and endless views greet you on a Utah national parks road trip .

It’s best to start this road trip by flying into Salt Lake City and departing from Las Vegas. Rent a car, RV or camper van to explore these amazing national parks.

From Salt Lake City, travel about 4 hours to Moab. There, you’ll have access to Arches and Canyonlands National Park. Ideally, you’d have a few days to explore each park. But you can see quite a bit with just one day in Arches National Park .

Hike to Delicate Arch, the most famous arch in the world! Visit the Devil’s Playground, where you’ll see multiple arches in a short distance. The last major stop within the park is The Windows, where you see the huge Double Arch.

Canyonlands National Park has expansive views with many overlooks and hiking trails. The Mesa Arch Trail is a short walk to an arch overlooking the canyon, and perfect for a sunrise adventure. Be sure to check out the views at Grand View Point Overlook, Green River Overlook and White Rim Overlook.

The journey to Capital Reef is a fun drive along Utah Scenic Byway 24. Once there, be sure to check out the Fruita Historic District, Hike the Hickman Bridge Trail and take the Capitol Reef Scenic Drive.

For out-of-this-world views, you’ll love Bryce Canyon National Park. Check out the viewpoints at Inspiration Point and Bryce Point. This park has a shuttle system that’s convenient and prevents congestion within the park.

Be sure to take the shuttle to Sunrise Point, where you can start a phenomenal 3.2 mile hike, the Queens Garden Trail and Navajo Loop . Walk through the funky hoodoos into the base of the amphitheater. So fun!

The last park on this US west coast road trip is Zion. This is one of the most visited national parks in the USA, and for good reason! Massive canyon views surround you throughout the park.

Take the Zion shuttle to hike The Narrows, or apply for a permit to hike Angels Landing . For a low-key trip to Zion with kids , you could hike the Canyon Overlook Trail, Emerald Pools or Pa’rus Trail.

After your visit to the Mighty 5 in Utah, take the 2.5 hour drive to Las Vegas. Fly out directly or spend a day or two exploring Vegas and the area’s many attractions.

Want to see more of Las Vegas? Check out what you must do in Vegas for first timers .

9. Salt Lake City to Yellowstone (perfect US west coast road trip)

multicolored prismatic spring with steam coming off it and parking lot in distance

Distance: 321+ miles Recommended time: 3+ days Best time of year: May through September

Salt Lake City is a beautiful place to start your road trip to Yellowstone National Park. Surrounded by the Wasatch Mountains, breathtaking views will greet you from the get-go.

The drive from Salt Lake City to the west entrance of Yellowstone National Park is 321 miles and takes 5 hours to drive via I-15N. It’s one of the best west coast road trips USA!

If you’d prefer a more scenic route, consider taking a longer trip to the south entrance of the park through Jackson, Wyoming, via Highway 89. This longer loop (SLC to Yellowstone and back to SLC) includes 12 hours of road time, covering 734 miles.

Whether you have a few days to spare or all week, take this trip at your own pace.

The scenic drive from Salt Lake City to Yellowstone detours through Jackson and Grand Teton National Park. Jackson is a popular ski resort and has a charming wild west feel to the town.

If you’re looking for lodging in Jackson, consider staying at Elk County Inn , Wyoming Inn of Jackson Hole or at The Lodge at Jackson Hole .

Grand Teton National Park is just miles away from Jackson. The beautiful park features amazing hiking trails and scenic views, including Inspiration Point Grand Teton . Most known for its beautiful mountains, the Teton Range is famous for its sharp peaks.

Once you’ve made your way to Yellowstone, best places to stay in Yellowstone are limited. Old Faithful Lodge and Cabins, Canyon Lodge and Cabins, Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel are great options for lodging. Keep in mind West Yellowstone and Gardiner are also great nearby areas to stay.

Most of the roads and amenities in Yellowstone are closed through May in the Tetons and in the park. May is a great time to visit because it’s less crowded, but most of the park, including the most popular attractions, is open.

Recommended by Candice of CS Ginger 

10. Salem, Mt Hood and Oregon waterfalls loop

mount hood at sunset and lake reflection pink sky

Distance: 530 miles Recommended time: 3+ days Best time of year: June through September

Starting in  Salem  or Portland, you can easily visit the wide range of Oregon’s diverse terrain in a short time. This Oregon Highlights loop can be completed in less than 11 hours (530 miles) of driving time. 

You’ll want to spend a minimum of 3 days on this road trip, though it’s best enjoyed over a full week, or even longer.

While the trip can be enjoyed all year round, you may sometimes need chains or snow tires to drive through the mountain pass in winter. For the best road tripping weather in Oregon, aim for June through September. 

First, spend as much time as you want in Oregon’s largest cities – Portland or Salem, where you’ll find tasty eateries, urban hikes and cute shopping streets. 

Next, head East on I-84 through the impressive Colombia River Gorge with its many waterfalls, on your way to the trendy windsurfing town of Hood River. 

You can pick up treats from local apple farms as you head South through Mt. Hood National Forest and drive by snow-capped mountain peaks on your way to Central Oregon.

After enjoying your favorite outdoor adventure activities in the high desert, make your way back over the mountain range to Silver Falls State Park . This is where you can see 10 waterfalls on one trail – and even walk behind a few of the falls! 

Continue back into the Willamette Valley. Explore Oregon wine country around McMinnville, Oregon, taking your pick of scenic vineyards for wine tasting.

Then, continue West just 1 hour to reach the rugged Oregon Coast. You can climb the dunes at Pacific City and grab some crispy fish and chips. Make a final stop at the Tillamook Cheese factory on your way back to Salem or Portland.

Recommended by Michelle of Intentional Travelers

Can you believe this list?! Not even half done, there’s way more ideas to build your perfect west coast road trip itinerary coming right up!

11. Death Valley to Yosemite (find adventure with this road trip USA west coast route)

view of brown tan rocky terrain at Death Valley national park

Distance: 319 miles Recommended time: 2-3 days Best time of year: September or October

The drive between Death Valley and Yosemite is an epic adventure through some of America’s most iconic national parks, and it’s one of the best west coast road trips!

The 2 parks have their own distinct personalities — Death Valley National Park is a desert expanse with hundreds of mountain ranges and some of the lowest elevation points in North America, and Yosemite National Park is filled with granite cliffs and waterfalls that provide majestic landscapes.

Start your trip at Badwater Basin in Death Valley National Park. You can stop along Highway 190 as it passes through Furnace Creek, but plan on stopping near Zabriskie Point for sunset views of the surrounding mountains and valley floor.

Then head north towards Mono Lake and stay overnight in Lee Vining or Mammoth Lakes . End your trip in Yosemite Valley after driving through Tioga Road in Yosemite.

The drive from Badwater Basin to Yosemite Valley is 319 miles and takes 6 to 6.5 hours non-stop. You can finish the road trip within a day but it’s recommended to spend at least 2-3 days exploring the parks and in between.

Highlights of this road trip include Lone Pine, Crowley Lake and Mammoth Lakes.

The best places to stay are inside Death Valley National Park and Yosemite National Park so you’ll get more time to explore the park. Since Tioga Road is closed from November through May and Death Valley gets scorching hot during the summer, the best time to do the road trip is in the fall. 

Recommended by Rasika of Bae Area And Beyond

12. Road to Hana, Maui

black sand beach epic maui road trip with green covered cliffs and ocean

Distance: 52 miles Recommended time: 1- 2 days Best time of year: anytime

When you think of Hawaii, a road trip may not come to mind but driving the  Road to Hana  on Maui is one of the best ways to experience this island. The scenic drive takes you from Kahului to the eastern side of the island to the town of Hana. 

While obviously not located in the Continental US, it’s a must-see on this list of best road trip USA west coast!

The Road to Hana is 52 miles of one lane bridges, hairpin turns and curves. This road trip will take up an entire day so make sure you pack lots of snacks and fill up for gas before you embark on this journey.

The winding road takes you past jaw-dropping seascape views, roaring waterfalls, pristine beaches and through lush rainforest. Some highlights of this drive include Twin Falls, the Painted Forest, Honomanu Bay, the awe inspiring Wai’anapanapa State Park, Wailua Falls and Haleakala National Park.

Most people drive the Road to Hana and back in the same day but if time allows, stay the night in Hana town . If you stay at the  Hana Maui Resort  you’re in for a real treat.

This will give you a full day to experience the Road to Hana and to not feel rushed on the way back. Plus it’s not the most enjoyable drive at night on a narrow, winding cliffside road.

Since we are talking about Hawaii, you can road trip the Road to Hana anytime of the year. Just avoid this journey during heavy rains as flash floods can happen in the blink of an eye and parts of the road can get swept away.

Don’t forget to wear your bathing suit, water shoes and pack a lightweight towel because pulling off the side of the road to swim under a waterfall is the name of the game. Buckle up, enjoy the ride and prepare for a road trip of a lifetime.

Recommended by Jess of I’m Jess Traveling 

13. San Francisco to Lake Tahoe

bright blue lake water and shore road trip usa west coast

Distance: 323 Recommended time: 2+ days Best time of year: June through October

A road trip from the San Francisco Bay Area to Lake Tahoe is filled with gorgeous vistas and plenty of amazing things to do!

This road trip is 323 miles and can be done in only 2 days, but do yourself a favor and spend a few more to really soak up the beauty of the area! A road trip to Lake Tahoe can be completed in any season of the year, however summer or fall is recommended to avoid possible road closures due to snow.

Departing from San Francisco, travelers should head east on Highway 80 through Donner Pass, Truckee and then Tahoe City on the lake. 

Driving around the full length of Lake Tahoe is 72 miles of pure beauty. In summer, there are  many swimming beaches  such as Kings Beach, Zephyr and Sugar Pine Point Beach. 

The Tahoe East Shore Bike Trail is a 3 mile long paved path that runs from Incline Village to Sand Harbor either on bike or on foot. Many other hiking trails also provide a break from being in the car, such as Eagle Rock or down to Emerald Bay.

Tahoe Lakeshore Lodge & Spa and Hotel Azure Tahoe are both wonderful choices for lodging due to their lakefront locations, incredible views and lovely rooms.

After circling the lake, visitors are in for a fun day of adventure in Virginia City . This old silver mining town is filled with old saloons selling sarsaparillas, tours of underground mines and old schoolhouses, wooden sidewalks and plenty of cute shops. 

This Lake Tahoe road trip can end by taking an easy flight out of the Reno airport or travelers can head back on the scenic Highway 50 for another route back toward the Bay Area. No matter which route you choose, your San Francisco to Lake Tahoe adventure is sure to be one of the best west coast road trips!

Recommended by Sierra of Island and Alpine

14. Grand Teton to Glacier National Park (amazing sights on this road trip USA west coast)

Yellowstone national park waterfall with snowy mountain cliffs nearby

Distance: 500+ miles Recommended time: 10 – 14 days Best time of year: August or September

The next road trip USA west coast is a must-see! A Wyoming and Montana road trip from Grand Tetons National Park to Yellowstone National Park to Glacier National Park is a great way to take in some of the most scenic and wild places in America.

At Grand Teton National Park, you’ll see the Teton Mountains, considered one of the most beautiful stretches anywhere in the Rockies.   Must-see in Grand Teton include Inspiration Point, Jackson Lake Beach and the Hike to Taggart Lake.

These parks are so amazing in late summer and early fall, Grand Teton made the list of one of the best places to visit in August in the US.

In Yellowstone, you’ll see some of the most famous landmarks in the country: Old Faithful, Mammoth Hot Springs, and the Grand Prismatic Spring. The wildlife, wide open spaces and scenic views are simply incredible.

And finally, in Glacier, you’ll see the park’s namesake glaciers, along with big horn sheep and, depending on the season, one of the most famous drives in America: the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Don’t miss the beautiful waterfalls in Glacier National Park , including Virginia Falls, Saint Mary Falls, Baring Falls and more.

You can start by basing yourself in Jackson, Wyoming, then move on to West Yellowstone, Montana, and end your trip in Whitefish, Montana. 

The trip is over 500 miles from start to finish, however, plan on putting many more miles than that on your car as you explore the parks. 

If you rent a car , you can fly into Jackson and fly out of Kalispell. Just make sure you get a car with unlimited miles!

Timing this road trip is the real challenge, as these parks are remarkably different from season to season.  

This trip is perfect for a shoulder season road trip since you’ll find smaller crowds in May and September than in the summer. 

However, watch for seasonal closures, as some of the highlights of the parks (especially Glacier) are only open in the late summer. If you want to be able to experience all of the best sites at each park, plan your trip for August or the first half of September and book early! 

While these parks can technically be visited in winter, highway closures combined with heavily restricted park access make these a winter destination for those with a true sense of adventure (and an ability to be flexible!).

Ten days is enough to get the highlights of each park, but, if you can spring for 2 full weeks, you won’t regret it! If you do end up with more time, you can even see more of the  National Park Sites in Montana  or Wyoming.

Recommended by Stephanie of History Fangirl

15. Kauai road trip

multicolored canyon with blue sky, green trees and red cliffs

Distance: 80 miles Recommended time: 3+ days Best time of year: anytime

While not in the continental US, this is absolutely one of the best west coast road trips!

Home to the jaw-dropping NaPali Coast, you can’t actually circle the whole island via car, but you can drive most of the perimeter. This road trip takes you around as much of the island as you can drive from north, to south, then west and back north again.

Starting in Princeville, Hawaii on the north shore of Kauai, visit the famous Hanalei Pier , an iconic place in Kauai. Go snorkeling on Anini Beach, one of the best beaches in Kauai . You’ll want to spend at least one day exploring the north shore, or more if you have the time.

Next stop is Kapaa, this eclectic beach town perfect for smoothies and swimming. Be sure to stop at Java Kai, one of the best places to eat in Kauai . Later that day, make your way south to Koloa.

Famous for Poipu Beach, this is typically the sunniest and driest part of the island. Visit Shipwreck Beach and hike the Mahaulepu Heritage Trail , where you’ll see the stunning southern coastline.

On your 3rd day touring the island, you’re in for a real treat! Drive about an hour northwest to the Waimea Canyon State Park. Also known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, the Waimea Canyon is a stunning, multicolored canyon and a must-see in Kauai.

There, you can spend some time at the overlooks or hike the Waimea Canyon Trail , which takes you into the canyon to a lush waterfall. So fun!

After seeing the Waimea Canyon, you’ll want to head to Koke’e State Park to witness the stunning NaPali Coast . Visit the Kalalau Lookout or Pu’u O Kila Lookout for amazing views of the rugged coastline. If you’re prepared with hiking boots and trekking poles , hike the Pihea Trail for even more views of the NaPali Coast.

This epic Kauai vacation and road trip around the island can be done anytime of year. You’ll want to spend as many days in Kauai as possible to experience the magic of the island, but at minimum 3 days and 4 nights to complete this road trip.

Recommended by Nikki of She Saves She Travels

16. Portland to Seattle, plus Astoria

view of coast and bridge in Oregon with poles sticking out of water

Distance: 275 miles Recommended time: 4+ days Best time of year: spring and summer

One of the best road trips in the western U.S. hits 3 of the best cities in the Pacific Northwest: Portland, Astoria and Seattle.

The entire route is only 275 miles and about 5 hours if you drive straight through. But you’ll want to spend 2-3 nights in each stop to enjoy each of these wonderful spots and their surroundings. This PNW road trip is the perfect combination of beautiful scenery, history, bucket list attractions and great food.

In Portland, stay at the Hyatt Centric and you’ll be in walking distance to Pioneer Courthouse Square, as well as some great restaurants. The City of Roses is one of the best food cities in America after all.

Make sure to eat some of the  famous foods of Portland  like a Voodoo Doughnut and local charcuterie from Olympic Provisions. If you have the time, a day trip to the Columbia River Gorge is worth an excursion.

Drive to Astoria via route 26. It’s worth the 5 extra minutes on your 2 hour trip for the scenery. The best part is you’ll see the northern Oregon Coast. Stop at Ecola State Park for stunning views of Cannon Beach.

When you arrive in Astoria on the Columbia River, stay at the Bowline Hotel . Spring for a riverfront room where you’ll have gorgeous views from your balcony. Stroll the Riverwalk, admire the Victorian architecture, and explore the historic gems of the Lewis and Clark expedition. 

When leaving Astoria, go across the Astor-Megler Bridge to follow the 101 to Seattle. This large port city has lots of museums, gardens, and coffee shops.

Although it’s touristy, go to the top of the Space Needle for incredible vistas and explore Pike’s Place Market to see whole fish being tossed back and forth at the fish markets. 

This American west road trip offers classic views of the ocean and the moody coastline. Plus it’s a road trip you won’t soon forget!

Recommended by Denise of Chef Denise

17. Las Vegas, Southern Utah and Arizona (epic adventure: road trip USA west coast)

Grand Canyon National Park red multicolored canyon at sunset on a west coast road trip

Distance: 850+ miles Recommended time: 7+ days Best time of year: March through May

Start and end this  epic 7 day southwest road trip loop  in Las Vegas. You’ll see 12 amazing natural features, including 4 national parks, and one modern engineering marvel. Not to mention any extra days spent exploring Vegas at the beginning or end of your trip!

Begin with a day trip out to Death Valley National Park. Return to Vegas for the night.

Next, explore the beauty of Red Rock Canyon scenic drive , a national recreation area in the morning and the fiery red swirls of Valley of Fire State Park in the afternoon. Drive to St George, Utah to spend the night.

Enjoy the next 2 days exploring Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks . Both have stunning hikes and views. Continue on to Page, Arizona.

Spend a day in this area visiting photogenic Horseshoe Bend, touring Antelope Canyon and paddling or hiking around Lake Powell.

Next, explore the Grand Canyon’s South Rim in just a day . Take the scenic drive in from the east entrance and end the day at Mather Point viewpoint for stunning sunset views. Drive to Flagstaff, Arizona to overnight.

A quick morning visit to Walnut Canyon National Monument is worth it to see ancient cliff dwellings up close and personal. Then get on the road and drive to Hoover Dam, gaining an hour as it operates on PST, arriving in time to catch one of the afternoon Dam Tours.

Back in Vegas, use the evening to explore or catch a show!

Spring is the ideal season for this road trip. You’ll avoid the extreme heat of summer but also miss most of the snow and reduced winter hours at the higher elevation parks.

An America the Beautiful National Park Pass will save you hundreds of dollars on this road trip itinerary. It pays for itself several times over in just a week, and it’s valid for a year.

This amazing western USA road trip is busy and covers a lot of ground! If you can expand your time to 2 weeks, you take take a more leisurely pace.

Recommended by Rachel of Means to Explore

18. Death Valley to Mammoth Lakes, California

view of mammoth lakes with forest and mountains

Distance: 200 miles Recommended time: 4-5 days Best time of year: spring or fall

Take an amazing American west coast road trip full of outdoor adventures in the Eastern Sierras from Death Valley to Mammoth Lakes!

The drive north along US-395 is approximately 200 miles and takes about 4 hours straight through, but it’s definitely worth taking at least 4 or 5 days to fully explore all the areas along the way.

Start your road trip in Death Valley National Park , located along the border of Nevada and California. Death Valley is home to the highest recorded air temperature on earth, as well as the lowest point in North America at Badwater Basin.

Head from Death Valley to the town of Lone Pine, which is famous for being home to Mount Whitney, the highest point in the continental US. You’ll need a permit to hike Mt. Whitney , but if you’re lucky enough to snag one, standing on the 14,505 foot summit is a truly incredible feeling. If you just want a view of Mt. Whitney, camp in the Alabama Hills for a truly spectacular sight of the Sierra Nevada.

After you come down from that high, drive north to Bishop and partake in your favorite outdoor pursuit . This mountain town is home to plenty of hiking trails, mountain biking trails and rock climbing crags.

Finally, make your way to Mammoth Lakes where you can continue your outdoor adventures or take a break and soak in some of the many nearby hot springs . Be sure to check out the Crab Cooker if you like it hot! And say cheers to your epic road trip with a local beer at Mammoth Brewery.

Recommended by Allison of She Dreams of Alpine

19. Alaska Highway (amazing idea for west coast road trips)

view of buffalo crossing road on Alaska Highway road trip USA west coast

Distance: up to 1,390 miles Recommended time: 7+ days Best time of year: May through September

Are you looking for an epic road trip USA west coast? Look no further than the Alaska Highway! Stretching 1,390 miles from Dawson Creek, British Columbia to Delta Junction, Alaska, this highway will take you through some of the most beautiful scenery in all of Canada and Alaska.

To get to the Alaska Highway (Alcan), you’ll need to take one of two ways to get to Dawson Creek: either up Icefield Parkway ( Banff to Jasper National Park ), or through British Columbia down the Sea-to-Sky Highway. Perhaps take one there and the other on your way back home!

When planning your road trip on the Alaska Highway, it’s important to consider how much time you want to spend on the road and where you want to stop along the way.

The highway can be completed in as few as 3 days, but that will feel very rushed. Even spending at least a week along the Alcan highway will feel too fast if you’re fully taking advantage of everything this incredible journey has to offer. 

While the Alaska Highway winds through some of the snowiest parts of the world, the road is open and maintained all year long. However, this amazing west coast road trip is best between May to September.

From wildlife viewing opportunities and breathtaking mountains, to roadside attractions like Liard River Hot Springs Provincial Park, there is something for everyone along the Alcan Highway. 

There are plenty of national parks, provincial parks and free remote camping spots along the way, as well as small hotels and inns in even the smallest of towns. Do keep in mind that peak season along the Alaska Highway is short and things book up fast, so the earlier you make reservations the better!

Recommended by Chris & Sara of Chris and Sara

20. Southern California road trip: Los Angeles, Joshua Tree, San Diego

US west coast road trip view of California pier with carnival rides above ocean

Distance:  408 miles Recommended time:  4 days Best time of year:  spring or fall

If you’re looking for a Southern California sampler, this 4-day road trip itinerary is for you! On this looped route, you’ll see the best of Southern California including Los Angeles, Joshua Tree National Park, and San Diego for some city, desert and beach time!

Whether you’re traveling to Southern California as a couple, solo, with young kids or even exploring LA with teens , you’re going to love this road trip!

Because this route is a loop, you can easily start from Los Angeles or San Diego depending on where you can secure the cheapest flights. Spring and fall are the best times to visit all 3 destinations because of great weather and fewer crowds.

In Los Angeles, you’ll want to stay at least 2 full days to get a good taste of the city. 

First, visit the downtown LA area where at Grand Central Market, you can try many local favorites including strawberry donuts from The Donut Man and Mexican sweet and spicy fruit cups at La Frutería.

Also nearby is Angel’s Flight Railway, the Last Bookstore and the iconic Bradbury Building.

On your second day in LA, be sure to visit Griffith Observatory, which has great views of the Hollywood Sign and downtown LA. If you prefer another museum, the Getty is one of the best art museums in the city, or instead opt for a half day at the Santa Monica Pier to ride the ferris wheel at Pacific Park.

In Los Angeles, stay in Burbank for a more quiet location, or Silver Lake to be right next to the action downtown!

Next, take a  day trip to Joshua Tree National Park . 

Check out Barker Dam Nature Trail with authentic petroglyphs, Keys View for a one-of-a-kind view of ecosystems colliding, hike Lost Horse Mine Trail Loop to learn about the Western mining history in the park, and finally visit Cholla Cactus Garden with plants that you can only see here.

Joshua Tree has some phenomenal camping or check out the many unique vacation rentals nearby including those that look like spaceships!

San Diego is the final stop on this loop (or maybe first for you depending where you flew into). 

You can see the highlights of San Diego in one day including Balboa Park where there are over 20 local museums and gardens, the historic Gaslamp Quarter with a vibrant nightlife scene, and Cabrillo National Monument where you can explore the Point Loma Tide Pools and maybe spot some sea lion!

Be sure to check out the best things to do in Old Town San Diego as well, including the birthplace of California.

In San Diego, stay along the marina or near the Gaslamp Quarter for the most central location. The Horton Grand Hotel is a great affordable option with a beautiful courtyard!

Recommended by Alanna of Periodic Adventures

More ideas for a west coast road trip

This final 1/3 of the list we’ll hit more of the west coast states, including Washington, California, Oregon and many more. Let’s keep going!

21. Denver to Moab

large lake with mountains and trees on partly cloudy day

Distance: 348 miles Recommended time: 5+ days Best time of year: April through October

This is an American west coast road trip that offers a variety of views from the stunning Rocky Mountains to the desert landscapes in Utah.

Starting in Denver, Colorado, spend a day enjoying the city sights like Union Station, 16th Street Mall and the Denver Art Museum. From there, hit Interstate 70 through the gorgeous Rocky Mountains.

So many charming mountain towns greet you along the way. Be sure to stop and see lake Dillon, and Sapphire Point Overlook which is stunning, particularly in the summer sun.

Next stop by Vail for shopping and dining. This 4-season town is great for skiing in the winter, hiking and biking in the spring, summer and fall. Stay overnight at the Lodge at Lionshead to break up the long drive on this Denver to Moab road trip .

The next day, you’ll drive through more of the Rocky Mountains and Glenwood Canyon out to western Colorado. Swim at the world’s largest mineral hot springs in Glenwood Springs or grab lunch in the charming downtown.

On your way out of Colorado be sure to visit the Colorado National Monument, where this scenic drive provides hiking opportunities and the last of the dramatic landscape in Colorado.

Hop off I-70 and take the scenic highway 128 in Utah. Drive through rocky red desert scenes along the Colorado River to Moab.

Once in Moab, take a day or more to hike in Arches National Park and see the sights of Canyonlands National Park. From there, take a long day’s drive back to Denver, or go through the Mighty 5 in Utah and fly out of Las Vegas.

22. San Francisco, CA to Newport, OR (one of the most underrated road trips USA west coast)

coastal waters with rugged cliffs lighthouse and blue ocean

Distance: 625 miles Recommended time: 3+ days Best time of year: May through October

Taking a  Pacific Coast road trip  is a bucket list experience, and one of the most beautiful stretches is between San Francisco, California and Newport, Oregon.

Start to finish is about 625 miles and will take approximately 14 hours, so allow at least 3 days for this road trip. North of San Francisco, catch CA-1 and stop at Point Reyes National Seashore. It’s a great place to spot gray whales and elephant seals in the spring.

As you continue north, you’ll be treated to stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and rugged cliffs. Once you reach Mendocino, take some time to explore this charming coastal town. Enjoy the best Mendocino restaurants , Glass Beach, botanical garden and so much more.

Pick up Highway 101 when CA-1 ends in Leggett. When it’s time to stop for the night, you can camp at Sue-Meg State Park in Trinidad. It’s a verdant park with easy access to oceanfront trails.

Get an early start the next day, because you’re in redwoods territory. Plan to do some hiking in Redwoods National and State Parks. Since there are multiple parks, stop at the visitor center for maps and advice from rangers.

The next stretch of the coast is stunning! You’ll want to stop at every scenic overlook; there isn’t a bad view along the entire drive. This is especially true once you enter Oregon. 

Brookings is a good place for an overnight at Beachfront Inn . From there, Newport may only be 200 miles away, but it’s definitely going to take some time to get there. A few of the must-see spots include Spruce Island Viewpoint, Meyers Creek Beach Viewpoint, and Heceta Head Lighthouse and Cape Perpetua. 

Once you’re in Newport, head to Mo’s Seafood and Chowder for some crave-worthy clam chowder. While there are now multiple locations, there’s nothing like a cup from the original.

With its incredible views of the Pacific Ocean, historic lighthouses, charming towns, and lush forests, a drive from San Francisco to Newport is one of the best west coast road trips , and an experience you’ll remember forever.

Recommended by Theresa of The Local Tourist

23. Kona to Hilo, Big Island, Hawaii

volcanoes national park red lava at sunset with dark sky

Distance: 200 miles Recommended time: 5-7 days Best time of year: anytime

The Big Island of Hawaii is a bucket list destination and a must-see. A road trip to experience all the unique places should definitely be part of your Big Island itinerary . 

As most visitors land at Kona International Airport, this road trip starts in the beach town of Kona, then continues to the rainforest town of Hilo, followed by a visit to the Volcanoes National Park and then back to Kona.

A total of 5-7 days are recommended for this Big Island road trip to explore all the best sights. 

Plan to spend a few nights in Kona to experience the amazing beaches and snorkeling activities. Kona is the drier side of the Big Island and where all the brand-name resorts are.

The next stop is Hilo, which is around 2 hours drive from Kona. Hilo is where the amazing waterfalls are like Akaka falls and Rainbow Falls. Plan to spend a couple of nights in Hilo. 

Hilo makes for a great base to visit the Volcanoes National Park which is around 45 minute drive from Hilo.

There are amazing hikes here like the Kilauea Iki Crater hike, and you can see the lava glow depending on recent volcanic activity in the park. Visit the nearby black sand beach which is amazing to see. (Oh and if you love unique beaches, be sure to add the Black Sand Beach Vieques in Puerto Rico to your bucket list!)

Finally, make your way back to Kona to complete your road trip. 

In Kona,  King Kamehameha Kona Beach Hotel  is a great beachfront hotel at a prime location. In Hilo, the Castle Hilo Hawaiian Hotel is a great oceanfront property. 

Although not on the continental US, you can definitely say this is one spectacular road trip USA west coast!

Recommended by Anu of Destination Checkoff

24. Boise to Twin Falls (road trip USA west coast – perfect weekend getaway)

gorge in Idaho view of bright blue water at base of canyon

Distance: 285 miles Recommended time: 2+ days Best time of year: May through September

If you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-path road trip in Western USA, give Idaho a try.

From Boise to Twin Falls, you’ll walk on the Oregon trails where emigrants travelled in the early 1800s, discover lava tube caves and paddleboard on a crystal clear turquoise river.

Start in Boise, the capital city of Idaho . Make sure to walk around the city center, visit the Old Idaho Penitentiary and hike the Table Rock trail (a 3.5 miles hike).

Then, drive to Three Island Crossing State Park. It’s 73 miles away from Boise.

Stop at Y Knot Winery for a winery tour and a wine tasting. You can stop at the Oregon Trail Interpretive Site and see the original wagon ruts and Conestoga replicas. Or take a self-guided tour of the park.

The Three Island Crossing State Park has a nice campground if you’re camping.

The next day, drive to Twin Falls and explore the Thousand Springs State Park complex . Make a first stop at the Malad Gorge unit, where you can walk along the rim to the Devil’s Washbowl Overlook.

Next up, drive to the Ritter Island unit, where you can paddleboard around the island and admire Lemon Falls. When you are ready, drive to Box Canyon Springs. You can hike down to enjoy the Snake River.

End your day at the Niagara Springs unit before arriving in Twin Falls for the night.

Don’t miss the Perrine Coulee Falls, the Shoshone Falls and the Perrine Memorial Bridge in Twin Falls. If time allows, drive north to Shoshone and stop at the Mammoth’s Idaho Cave and the Shoshone Ice Cave.

Recommended by Emilie of Love Life Abroad

25. Portland to Yellowstone National Park

waterfall through trees west coast road trips itineraries

Distance: 800+ miles Recommended time: 2+ days Best time of year: May through August

A great road trip to take in the Western USA is from  Portland, Oregon to Yellowstone National Park , and back again.

There are 2 routes that are roughly the same distance, one which follows a southern route and one which follows a northern route. It’s the northern route that passes through some amazing landscapes.

Taking the northern route will cover over 800 miles and can be done in as little as 2 days. However, if you are combining it with a visit to Yellowstone National Park, visit the park first and take a leisurely drive back to Portland over several days, stopping at least once along the route.

From Portland, you take I-84, along the Columbia Gorge Creek. If you have time and are doing this route over a few days, stop at Multnomah Falls, one of the most popular recreational places to visit in the Pacific Northwest.

After Columbia Gorge Creek, you will meet I-90 which travels through spectacular scenery and past Coeur d’Alene which sits on the northern end of Harrison Slough lake. 

From wide open country to mountain passes with slopes of trees on either side and then ranch country of Montana, the ever-changing landscape will leave you awe-inspired. 

Yellowstone National Park is your destination and it won’t disappoint. Don’t miss Old Faithful, Grand Prismatic Spring, the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and Mammoth Hot Springs.

On your return journey, spend a few nights in Missoula and enjoy leisure time in Caras Park, meditate among the statues of the Garden of 1000 Buddhas, or visit the National Bison Range. And then head back toward Portland.

This route is best taken during summer due to possible road closures due to snow/ice conditions during the winter. There are some steep mountain roads to pass which may be hazardous to drive. 

And be aware that later in summer, the landscape may not be completely visible due to forest fires. However, if you manage to avoid them, you will have a pleasurable drive along this US west coast road trip!

Recommended by Cath of Passports and Adventures

26. Anchorage to Fairbanks (gorgeous west coast road trip itinerary)

river in valley in alaska during a vacation to west coast road trip itinerary

Distance: 360 miles Recommended time: 5 – 7 days Best time of year: June through September

Alaska offers an ideal road trip to visit its gorgeous national parks!

Starting in Anchorage, head north toward the small town of Trapper Creek for approximately 2 hours. You should stay 1-2 nights in the Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge. This quaint lodge is in a secluded area and has a few restaurants onsite.

From there, you can drive further north for 2 hours to Denali National Park or take the  McKinley Explorer train ride  from the nearby town of Talkeetna. This luxurious train offers double decks for upstairs seating under the glass dome windows and downstairs restaurant dining.

The scenic train journey (climbing from 350 to 1600 feet altitude) takes 5 hours and crosses many rivers.

Once in Denali National Park, you can stay at the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge for 2 nights. This resort offers a huge main lodge, several restaurants and many gift shops.

You’ll want to spend at least 1 full day touring the nearby Denali National Park where you’ll see jaw-dropping scenery. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot some wildlife such as grizzly bears, ground squirrels, golden eagles, Dall sheep or wolverines!

Onward to Fairbanks for a 2.5-hour drive, you can stay at the comfortable  Westmark Fairbanks Hotel which offers expansive views from the rooms.

One fun excursion to do in Fairbanks is the  Riverboat Discovery tour  which takes you on an eventful cruise on the Chena and Tanana rivers aboard an authentic sternwheeler boat. Observe sled dog training, bush pilot flying and visit a traditional village.

This is one of the best west coast road trip itineraries, and the best time of year to do it is in September to see the amazing Autumn colors!

Recommended by Jan of Jan Adventures

27. Southern California charm: Ventura, Santa Barbara, Solvang

Solvang California windmill with patio and potted plants

Distance:  130 miles Recommended time:  3-4 days Best time of year:  anytime

While this west coast road trip may be low in mileage, it takes you through some of the best spots in California! A route primarily along an ocean-front section of Highway 101, you’ll see Ventura, Channel Islands National Park, Santa Barbara and Solvang. 

Departing from Los Angeles, drive north roughly 2 hours to your first stop, Ventura. You’ll want to spend at least 2 nights here.

On your first evening, you should visit Ventura’s Main Street. This pedestrian-friendly street is full of theaters, boutiques, breweries, and restaurants . Check out TikiGirl for shopping and Rumfish y Vino for dinner. You could also visit the historic Spanish Mission San Buenaventura or grab drinks at the VenTiki Tiki Lounge.

Using the next full day, visit Channel Islands National Park . Departing from Ventura Harbor, take the official boat taxi, Island Packers, to see one of the least visited national parks in the country. Along the way, dolphin, sea lion, or other marine life sightings are nearly guaranteed. 

On your 3rd day, drive an hour north along the coast for your next stop, Santa Barbara . Two nights are also recommended here. Santa Barbara has a wide variety of activities.

From surfing to kayaking and hiking to wine tasting, there is no shortage of fun things to do . If you’re looking to stay in the heart of the action, try the Hotel Californian. Other recommended spots for food or drinks include Zaytoon, Handlebar Coffee Roasters, Loquita and the Santa Barbara Public Market.

Finally, your last stop takes you inland to California’s Danish town. Solvang is memorable for its windmills sprinkled throughout the walkable town.

A thematic experience, Solvang boasts many bakeries and hosts festivals celebrating its Danish heritage. It’s also within the Santa Ynez Valley, so you can visit many wineries and sample some of California’s best wines. If you like cycling, this area is also quite popular among cyclists and you can even do a wine and cycling tour . So fun!

Recommended by Taylor of Taytrum Travels

28. Portland to Southwest Utah (more amazing sights on this US west coast road trip)

utah rocky cliffs desert scenery

Distance: 2,000+ miles Recommended time: 6+ days Best time of year: May or June

This is the West USA road trip for pacific northwest dwellers who are emerging from a long winter and craving sunshine!

The best time for this road trip is the last week of May or the first week of June. The parks are open and it’s hot in SW Utah but it is not the high season yet.

At just over 2,000 miles roundtrip, you will cover some ground. Plan on setting aside at least 6 days to complete the loop, and 8+ days if you have the extra time. 

Beginning in Portland, drive east to Boise, Idaho for your first night. Make sure to stop at Shoshone Falls on the way.

From Boise, continue to SW Utah, stopping in Salt Lake for lunch. Spend 3-5 days exploring all that Southwest Utah has to offer and soaking up the desert sun.

Stay at Under Canvas Zion for a luxury glamping experience, and/or at Zion EcoCabins for other worldly views from your A-frame or private hot tub. For details and more places to stay check out where to stay Near Zion National Park . 

Allocate at least 1 day to explore Zion National Park. Hike Angels Landing for sunrise and Canyon Overlook Trail in the afternoon.

The next day, venture to Red Cliffs National Conservation Area for incredible scenery and hiking, then hop over (5 minutes) to Quail Creek Reservoir to cool off. You can even rent paddle boards and kayaks. 

On your last day, begin your journey home and stop at Bryce Canyon National Park on the way.

Spend a few hours exploring the trails around Sunrise Point to get a feel for the park. The Queens Garden Trail and Navajo Loop offers spectacular scenery.

Continue on to Park City for your last night. Spend the evening strolling the picturesque streets. Rise early to make your way back to Portland.

Recommended by Jade of Well and Good Travel

29. Las Vegas to Death Valley

Death Valley national park california road trip west coast USA multicolored sand hills at sunset

Distance: 298 miles (there and back) Recommended time: 1 – 3 days Best time of year: October through April

Unknowingly to most, Las Vegas is actually a perfect starting point for many west coast road trips itineraries. You can oftentimes find affordable flights to the McCarran airport which will start your adventure off on the right foot.

This Las Vegas to Death Valley road trip will take you to other-worldly landscapes, epic hikes and some of the best views. 

The Furnace Creek Visitor Center in Death Valley is located just over 2 hours from the airport and this road trip can actually be completed in just one day! Get an early start to your day so you can catch the breathtaking sunrise inside the park. 

After arriving in the park, head to Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes to watch the sun rise over the undisturbed and smooth sand dunes. You can choose to hike to the top of a dune or watch closer to the parking lot. Once the sun has risen, head to the Mosaic Canyon Trail for a 3.3-mile hike. 

Other stops on this road trip include lunch at Stovepipe Wells, marveling at the lowest place in North America , Badwater Basin, driving Artist Palette drive, Golden Canyon trail and watching the sunset over Zabriske point. 

It’s HIGHLY discouraged to visit this park in the summer months as the temperature rarely dips below 100 degrees Fahrenheit, so this road trip is best done between October and April . If you’re wanting to extend your time in Death Valley, you can grab a room at one of the 4 on-site lodges or a campsite.

If completing this west coast road trip in a day, you will then return back to Las Vegas for a good night’s rest and to prepare for the rest of your L as Vegas adventures . No matter how long you choose to spend on the road trip, it’ll surely be one to remember for years to come.

Recommended by Jordan of The Homebody Tourist

30. Seattle to Glacier National Park (a favorite on this list of American west coast road trips)

waterfall along cliff green water at base on a US west coast road trip

Distance: 805 miles Recommended time: 5+ days Best time of year: April through October

This west coast road trip itinerary is one of the most scenic routes in the U.S! It passes through 2 national parks, varied landscapes, gorgeous lakes and quaint cities like Spokane and Coeur d’Alene. 

A perfect itinerary would be spending 1 full day hiking through Mount Rainer, exploring the best of Paradise Mt Rainier , including Myrtle Falls and Reflection Lakes.

The next day can be spent by driving to the Idaho panhandle. If you have the time, be sure to stop in Palouse Falls and Spokane City along the way.

Then spend one day in Coeur d’Alene, and 2 days exploring Glacier. Be sure to check out all the amazing things to do in Glacier National Park like the Going-to-the-Sun Road, the Avalanche Lake Trail , iconic Lake McDonald and going stargazing.

It’s optimal to take this road trip between April – October since the scenic roads at Mount Rainer and Glacier National Park are closed in the winter. 

To make the most of your time, make sure to leave early from Mount Rainer on day 2. There’s a lot of ground to cover between Mount Rainer and Coeur d’Alene, and you will thank yourself for finishing it in a single day.

Waking up in Idaho on day 3 will make the remainder of the trip much more relaxing.

In each National Park, there are lots of campsites available to reserve, but in between Mount Rainer and Glacier, one of the best places to stay is at One Lakeside Hotel , right at the heart of Coeur d’Alene.

Of course, if you have more time, you could add a day for each part of the journey, or spend one day in Seattle , too.

Recommended by Caleb of Pazook Travel Journal

US West coast road trip itineraries

rocky scenery with blue sky orange spires on a road trip out west

Whew! What a list!

There are exciting adventures around nearly every curvy road, mountain, desert scene and coastal area in the American west. There’s simply so many breathtaking views along these routes in the west. How do you ever choose?!

Let’s recap that list one more time, in a quicker fashion…

Road trip USA West Coast ideas

  • Oregon Coast
  • San Francisco to San Diego
  • Washington National Parks
  • Anchorage to Seward
  • Phoenix to Tucson
  • San Francisco to Yosemite
  • Las Vegas to Antelope Canyon
  • Utah national parks
  • Salt Lake City to Yellowstone
  • Salem, Mt Hood and Oregon waterfalls loop
  • Death Valley to Yosemite
  • Road to Hana, Maui
  • San Francisco to Lake Tahoe
  • Grand Teton to Glacier National Park 
  • Kauai road trip
  • Portland to Seattle, plus Astoria
  • Las Vegas, Southern Utah and Arizona
  • Death Valley to Mammoth Lakes
  • Alaska Highway
  • Los Angeles, Joshua Tree, San Diego
  • Denver to Moab
  • San Francisco, CA to Newport, OR 
  • Kona to Hilo, Big Island, Hawaii
  • Boise to Twin Falls
  • Portland to Yellowstone National Park
  • Anchorage to Fairbanks
  • Ventura, Santa Barbara, Solvang
  • Portland to Southwest Utah
  • Las Vegas to Death Valley
  • Seattle to Glacier National Park

Related posts to read next: 29 Amazing Road Trips USA: Scenic (& Underrated) Routes You’ll Love 17 Exciting Winter Road Trips USA: Scenic and Unexpected Routes You’ll Love 32 Amazing Stops on a San Francisco to San Diego Road Trip (You’ll Love) AMAZING Utah National Parks Road Trip (Map, Best Hikes, Scenic Route Between Parks + More) 12 Epic Scenic Drives Colorado (Map + Tips + Photos)

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30 gorgeous west coast road trip routes with road trip images coast wild flowers and mountains

Sunday 19th of February 2023

These all look like beautiful road trips! I think I would combine a few different ones and go for a couple of weeks of exploring!

Thursday 2nd of March 2023

Loooove this idea! So many good ones, it would be hard to choose. Wise to combine a few :)

Thursday 16th of February 2023

Marvelous places! I’d so loooove to ride my motorcycles on some of these roads, especially Death Valley!

Friday 17th of February 2023

Oh that would be so much fun Isabella! Sounds like a trip in your future ;)

Wednesday 15th of February 2023

This is an epic road trip guide through the American West Coast. We are planning to take a road trip from Seattle to San Francisco so this will serve as a great resource.

Oh that will be an awesome road trip! Love the coastal, moody vibes from Seattle to San Francisco. Have fun!!

Linda (LD Holland)

We do love a great road trip and these are some great choices on the west coast. We have talked about investing in a satellite communicator and really should follow up. And now day we will make it up to Alaska for a great summer road trip.

Linda yes! A satellite communicator is crucial when you're in areas with no cell phone coverage. And gosh, a road trip through Alaska sounds amazing too. Enjoy!

These all so incredible, I don't even know how I would choose! The Las Vegas to Antelope Canyon route looks out of this world😍

Right?! There's so many fabulous places in the western USA, it's really difficult to decide, that's for sure!

west coast us road trip itinerary self drive holidays

Planning a 10-Day West Coast USA Road Trip Itinerary

Home | Travel | North America | United States | Planning a 10-Day West Coast USA Road Trip Itinerary

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Traveling along the West Coast of the United States  had been in my head since the day I found out I’d be moving there for work. Who hasn’t dreamed about a road trip across the Western US? For me, the landscapes that automatically come to mind are the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, and Death Valley among others, as we have seen again and again in a bunch of movies.

national parks in western us map of west coast usa

Grand Canyon

In addition to nature, the American West Coast also offers you visits to symbolic cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas.

My favorite part of this trip was definitely the National Parks where natural wonders of this incredible country are concentrated within. I had been taking note of them on a  Western US  map   for a long time so that I could visit them as soon as I had the chance.

That’s how I started planning the 10-day West Coast USA road trip that we took in August.


10-day west coast usa road trip itinerary infography map capture the atlas

Our 10-day West Coast USA road trip itinerary

  • Day 1: Arrival in Las Vegas.  Beginning of our 10-day West Coast USA Road Trip.
  • Day 2: Monument Valley + Antelope Canyon + Horseshoe Bend.  The most popular places in the Western USA.
  • Day 3: Bryce Canyon National Park. One of the less touristic national park in the West Coast USA.
  • Day 4: Zion Canyon National Park. One of the places we like the most during our 10-day West Coast USA trip.
  • Day 5: Grand Canyon,  a must-visit place on the West Coast.
  • Day 6: Mojave National Preserve + Death Valley,  the best of our 10-day West Coast Itinerary.
  • Day 7: Yosemite Valley, the best attraction in the Western USA.
  • Day 8: Upper Yosemite Falls,  the best hike of our West Coast America road trip.
  • Day 9: Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias. You cannot skip this highlight of West Coast USA:
  • Day 10: Return flight from San Francisco.  En of our 10-day Western US trip.

If a Western US road trip is also one of your dreams, you will find everything you need to prepare your trip here:

  • 10-day West Coast USA Road Trip

Best places to visit in West Coast America

  • Our West Coast USA 10-day itinerary
  • How to plan a self-drive trip to the Western US

How much does it cost a West Coast USA trip?

  • Map of Western US

10-day west coast USA road trip

One of the first things I am sure you will be wondering about is how long a West Coast trip could take. My opinion is that you could be discovering the American West Coast for months and would still have things to do.

death valley west coast america tours

Death Valley – Zabriskie Point

When looking at a West Coast USA map, it may initially seem that the best tourist destinations are close to each other. However, distances in this country are huge, and you will spend a lot of time on the road during your trip.

Keep in mind that the US public transportation system is very scarce outside of the big cities, so the only practical option is to rent a car and prepare for a West Coast USA driving holiday.

On our West Coast USA road trip, more than ¼ of the trip was spent driving and still, along with the Canadian Rockies trip , it was one of the best trips of our life.

Another highly recommended option is to take a West Coast RV trip , as this country offers all kind of facilities for those who like to travel with their motorhome. You can check the best RV rental companies in the USA here.

Although it takes a long time to travel across the West Coast in depth, if you don’t have too many days or prefer to combine them, I encourage you to spend in West Coast America at least 10 days.

driving routes west coast usa grand canyon

Grand Canyon – Plateau Point

There are thousands of West Coast USA tours you can take, so the first thing you have to choose is a few must-see places. It may seem complicated to plan this trip at first, especially when you do not have much time.

To help you choose your perfect West Coast America itinerary, you will discover the main tourist attractions in this section. Then, you can design the West Coast USA holiday itinerary that best suits your needs.

I suggest that as you read through this article, write down  the things to do in West Coast America  that interest you most on a map to help determine the best itinerary.


If you like to visit cities, one of the places you cannot miss on the West Coast America is San Francisco. This popular city of California, is characterized by the steep slopes and the well-known Lombard street.

The most popular thing to do in San Francisco is visiting the Golden Gate Bridge, one of the most famous bridges in the US and a classic in many American films, as seen in Godzilla and Superman.

In addition, another interesting activity to do is visiting the Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary whose best-known prisoner was Al Capone. It was said that nobody could escape from this maximum-security prison island since the only way was by swimming almost two kilometers in cold and treacherous waters.

If you are visiting this city, stay in one of the best hotels in San Francisco.

Las Vegas,  also known as “Sin City”, is one of the American classics famous for its countless casinos, open container laws (aka public drinking), and legalized prostitution in nearby counties.

The largest city in the state of Nevada welcomes both domestic and global tourism, where vice is a right. It is not surprising to hear the old saying: What happens in Las Vegas, stays in Las Vegas.

Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Sign

Welcome Las Vegas

Whether you like gambling or not, it is a must-see Western American city. It is also a good place to celebrate your (fake) wedding if being married by Elvis is also one of your dreams. Here you can find the ultimate list of things to do in Las Vegas.

If you are visiting this city make sure you know where to stay in Las Vegas , since its hotels are some of the most amazing in the World.

Do not miss our Guide TO THINGS to do in las vegas

  • Los Angeles

Los Angeles , also known as LA, is the most populous city on the West Coast of USA. The City of Broken Dreams and Hollywood stars is located in California.

The Walk of Fame and the Hollywood sign are probably the main tourist attractions in Los Angeles , although a visit to Santa Monica , the beach where Baywatch was filmed, is also recommended.

Another place of interest is the Warner Bros. studios , where you can visit the film sets of a lot of movies, as well as Venice , where the canals remind you of those from the Italian city with the same name.

LA is a stop that you cannot miss on your 10-day West Coast US trip if you happen to enjoy both cities and film. You can find where to stay in Los Angeles here.

Do not miss our Guide TO THINGS TO DO IN LOS ANGELES

Grand canyon.

If we had to choose just a single place to start, visiting the Grand Canyon  would probably be the first that we recommend to do in West Coast USA.

The Grand Canyon is in Arizona and was shaped by the Colorado River over millions of years. In some points, the Canyon reaches a depth of more than 5250 feet.

grand canyon west coast usa packages

Grand Canyon – Helicopter Tour

If you don’t have much time, taking a Grand Canyon helicopter tour is a good option, as we told you in that article about our experience. However, if you have several days, I advise going down the canyon  through one of the many different hikes to discover the Colorado River.

Do not miss our Guide TO THINGS TO DO IN GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK and best places to stay in Grand canyon

Havasu falls.

If you like adventure, visiting the Havasu Falls is an essential of West Coast USA.

The Havasu Falls, along with others in the area, belong to the Havasupai Indian Reservation and are guarded by a tribe of Native Americans. They are inaccessible by car, so you must be in excellent physical condition to visit as you will be hiking in and out.

Plan well in advance for your visit, since you will need a permit that usually runs out shortly after the beginning of the  reservation  period which starts in February of each year. In addition to the permit, you will have to book a camping spot, as it is mandatory to stay there when visiting the falls.


Back at the coastal area, Santa Bárbara, located 150 kilometers north of Los Angeles, can be another interesting stop.

The main beach largely resembles Santa Mónica, except Santa Bárbara is not as popular.

However, Santa Bárbara is not just a beach: its architecture with Hispanic colonial roots is an important tourist attraction.


Between Utah and Arizona, Monument Valley is another one of the supernatural landscapes in the American West. It is a huge valley where very interesting geological formations rose with reddish colors. This was also a scene featured in many classic western films.

10 day west coast usa self drive itinerary monument valley

Monument Valley

This desert valley is located within the Navajo Nation, a territory that belongs to the Navajo natives who are responsible for both maintenance of the reserve and collection of entrance fees, which is not included in the US National Parks pass.

The best time to photograph the valley is during sunrise when the sun is behind the monuments, or during sunset when the monuments are illuminated by the last rays of the sun. In addition, there are different hiking trails that bring you closer to the main monuments of the valley, or you can even take a Jeep tour with one of the Navajo guides.

Do not miss our Guide TO THINGS TO Do IN Monument Valley and WHERE TO STAY IN MONUMENT VALLEY

Page: antelope canyon and horseshoe bend.

Page is a town inside the Navajo Indian Reservation, located in Arizona.

The most interesting attraction here is the Antelope Canyon , a geological feature formed by consecutive floods throughout history, which eroded narrow labyrinths of sandy rock into its terrain.

10 days western us destinations antelope canyon

Antelope Canyon

Do not miss our Guide to antelope canyon TOURS

In addition, if you visit Page, you cannot miss a sunset in  Horseshoe Bend, which is named after its shape. It is probably the most famous bend of the Colorado River.

horseshoe bend western us family vacations in 10 days

Horseshoe Bend

Do not miss our Guide to VISIT horseshoe bend

Here we leave you the best guide to know where to stay in Page.

The Wave in Arizona is another attraction to see in Western America.

To see this solidified wave-shaped dune, you must have a permit issued  four months in advance and by lottery (only 20 visitors per day are allowed).

It is one of the few virgin wonders that remain in the United States, so if you missed the date of the draw, it is always a good idea to check if someone has canceled his or her tour on the calendar. Visit this booking website both to participate in the lottery and to check the calendar.


Bryce Canyon National Park is a reserve located in Utah and is popular for the peculiar rock formations also known as “Hoodoos”. This park should be included in any Western US National Parks itinerary.

Due to the reddish color of the terrain, the best time to contemplate the main amphitheater viewpoint is at sunrise and sunset.

10 days western us vacation spots bryce canyon

Bryce Canyon

There are also several hiking trails that will take you through the formations, where you can discover some with very interesting forms and names like Thor’s Hammer or Queen Victoria.

Do not miss THE BEST HIKES IN bryce canyon and the BEST PLACES TO STAY IN BRYCE

Close to the Mexican border, we will find San Diego, the second largest city in the state south of Los Angeles

This city is a good stop on your 10-day West Coast US road trip if you are more interested in beach areas. La Jolla Cove is the most popular beach and you can find all kinds of wildlife including sea lions there.

In addition to the beach, there are other places of interest, such as Old Town San Diego, where you can find original buildings of the first Spaniards that arrived here, and Balboa Park, where many museums are concentrated, or the Coronado Island , where you can find the best views of the city.


In Utah, one of the most important landmarks of the state is  Zion National Park, where the main interest here is an 800-meter-deep canyon carved into the reddish terrain for 24 kilometers by the Virgin River.

There are different hikes that you can take in this park. One of the most popular is Angels Landing, where you can get a full view of the canyon after three hours of hiking and up the Via Ferrata section.

backpacking the west coast usa zion national park 10 days

Zion Canyon

Another longer route is The Narrows , which can be completed in 8 hours or done over several days. The route goes through the narrow gorges carved in by the virgin river, so you always need to check river flow the day before at the visitor’s center, and also to get water shoes.


Joshua tree national park.

Located in a desert area in southern California, Joshua Tree National Park stands out for its unique rocks and mountain shapes.

Although its name comes from the unique Joshua Tree , what makes this park really interesting are the infinite rock-climbing possibilities .

Whether or not you are a climber, if you decide to visit Joshua Tree National Park on your West Coast USA trip over 10 days, you will experience the feeling of finding yourself on another planet.


On your 10-day West Coast America self-driving tour, you cannot miss the Death Valley that is located in California.

west coast america best places to visit death valley

Death Valley

This immense desert is famous for Badwater, a dry area with the highest negative elevation within North America, situated at 262 feet below sea level. In addition, it is one of the hottest places on earth during summer, with a maximum recorded temperature of 58ºC.

map of west coast usa death valley

Zabriskie Point

If you are going to cross it, be sure to fill the fuel tank and bring plenty of water to survive the extreme desert temperatures during the day.

Do not miss tHE bEST tHINGS TO DO IN Death Valley and where to stay in Death Valley

Mojave national preserve.

The Mojave Desert  spreads across Joshua Tree National Park, Death Valley, Lake Mead National Recreation Area (NRA) and the Mojave National Preserve.

While you will find Joshua trees all over in this vast extension of land, the world’s highest concentration is located within the Mojave National Preserve .

driving holiday west coast usa 2 weeks mojave desert

Mojave Desert

In addition to the flora, the fauna is abundant and diverse, from reptiles like snakes, lizards, and turtles to mammals like bobcats or hares.

Do not miss WHAT TO DO IN mojave desert

Arches national park.

Arches National Park , located in Utah, has the highest concentration of stone arches in the world, however, there is no record of how many arches there are in this extension. This is the reason why it’s one of the most beautiful places to visit in Utah.

In addition, we can find another type of geological formations that defy gravity here, such as the Balanced Rock, a rock that seems to be falling at any time, yet has been standing for thousands of years in the same position.

The best way to go across Arches National Park is through a park ranger-guided tour that takes you to the purest and most virgin area of the park, where you cannot access on your own. You can book it here.

This park is one of the most acclaimed by photographers since the impossible shapes of the arches are very easy to use in any composition.


An essential stop in West Coast USA is Yosemite National Park , located in the Sierra Nevada mountains in California.

This park is remarkable for two of the most important climbing sites in the United States and the world: the big granite walls of El Capitan and the Half Dome. In addition, we can find the American Giant Sequoia, one of the largest trees in the world, as well as extensive fauna that includes raccoons and black bears in this park.

west coast usa yosemite and vegas western united states vacation packages

Yosemite Valley

If you are a lover of nature, outdoor activities, and camping , this is surely going to be one of your favorite places near West Coast of the United States.

Do not miss all you have to do in Yosemite and WHERE TO STAY IN YOSEMITE

Sequoia national park.

In Sequoia National Park, you can find the largest concentration of giant sequoias in the world. These are grouped within what is known as the Giant Forest.

The park is located about 10000 feet above sea level, a critical altitude for this type of trees to grow. However, it may be closed during the winter because of the snow.

In addition, here we can find the giant sequoia known as General Sherman standing at 275 feet. While it is the largest single-stem tree, the Hyperion , located in Redwood National Park, California, stands taller at 379 feet as the tallest living tree known in the world.


Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming is the oldest national park in the United States. It stands out for the incredible volcanic activity in the area and for the abundant fauna that inhabits the park: buffalo, grizzly bears, black bears, moose… If you want to enjoy the authentic American wildlife and landscapes with a smell of sulfur taken from another world, Yellowstone is an essential place to visit on the American West Coast.

things to do in Yellowstone National Park West Coast USA in 10 days

I didn’t visit it during my first trip to the West Coast in the United States in 10 days, but during my next trip in which I toured Yellowstone and Grand Teton for 10 days, a great plan if you are looking for an alternative itinerary.


Grand teton national park.

The mountains of Grand Teton National Park are one of the most haunted landscapes by photographers on the West Coast. If you like wildlife, hiking, and want to flee the typical 10-day US West Coast itineraries , I recommend visiting this national park that promises a quiet vacation away from the masses even in peak tourist season.

things to do in West Coast USA in 10 days grand teton

Grand Teton adjoins Yellowstone National Park, so taking a 10-day tour of the US West Coast combining these two parks is quite popular.

Check what to do in grand teton and WHERE TO STAY IN GRAND TETON

Our 10-day west coast usa itinerary.

As we stated above, our West Coast USA trip was focused on national parks and all the natural wonders of this area in North America.

Cities in the west coast are for sure some interesting destinations, but, without a doubt, if we had had more than 10 days to travel the American West Coast, we would have kept exploring the natural places that this country offers, each one so different and full of contrasts.

DAY 1 – West Coast America Trip: FLIGHT TO LAS VEGAS

We arrived in Las Vegas at noon, picked up the rental car and made a quick route to see the highlights of the city.

After a mandatory stop to make the classic photo with the Welcome Las Vegas sign, we headed to Monument Valley (6 hours driving) where we spent our first night.


We photographed the sunrise in Monument Valley to see the incredible geological formations of the Navajo Reservation tinted in beautiful reddish colors.

monument valley western us vacations itinerary 10 days

Monument Valley (Our 10-day West Coast USA Road Trip)

In the morning we went to Antelope Canyon , in Page (2 hours driving) to take both the Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon tours.

antelope canyon planning a west coast usa road trip

Antelope Canyon (Our 10-day West Coast USA Trip)

In the afternoon we had a rest at  Lake Powell. Then we went to Horseshoe Bend from where we watched and photographed an unforgettable sunset.

driving holiday west coast usa 15 days Horseshoe Bend sunset

Horseshoe Bend (Our 10-day Western US Road Trip)

We drove 2.5 hours until our next stop on our 10-day route along the West Coast.

DAY 3 – West Coast America Trip: BRYCE canyon NATIONAL PARK

We woke up in Bryce Canyon National Park , where we took pictures of the twilight from Sunrise Point overlooking the amphitheater.

We hiked the Rim Trail, seeing different Hoodoos as Thor’s Hammer.

usa west coast itinerary 2 weeks bryce

Bryce Canyon (Our 10-day WesternUSA Road Trip)

At night, we returned to photograph the amphitheater under the Perseid Meteor Shower, and camped inside the park.

western us road trip bryce milky way

Bryce Canyon – Sunrise Overlook


We arrived in Springdale (2 hours driving), parked our car and took the shuttle to Zion National Park.

We did the Angels Landing trail to get the best views of the valley.

west coast usa road trip 10 day itinerary zion

Zion National Park (Our 10-day West Coast USA Road Trip)

In the afternoon, we drove 4 hours to the next stop on our 10-day Western US trip.


We watched the sunrise at the Grand Canyon from Mather Point in probably the most epic light display we have ever seen during a sunrise.

national parks tour western us grand canyon sunrise

Grand Canyon (Our trip to West Coast USA for 10 days)

In the morning we take this tour , as we tell you in this article about Grand Canyon helicopter rides . Without a doubt, I enjoyed my visit the most.

In the afternoon, we descended the first section of the Bright Angel Trailhead trail.

road trip west coast usa 10 days

In the evening we drove to the next stop of our 10-day Western US trip, Mojave National Preserve (4 hours driving), where we spent one of the best nights of our life camping in the wild desert.

west coast america holiday ideas mojave desert milky way joshua tree

Mojave National Preserve


We photographed the first sun rays of the day through the branches of the Joshua trees in the Mojave National Preserve.

10-day west coast america fly drive itinerary mojave

We filled the tank to cross the Death Valley and made stops at the main viewpoints.

west coast usa holiday packages western us cities

Death Valley (Our 10-day West Coast USA Self-drive Trip)

We arrived at Yosemite National Park where we set up a bivouac to spend the night in order to get accommodation the next morning at the historic Camp 4.

This day we drove a total of 10 hours, more driving hours than any other day of the entire trip.


Once settled in Yosemite National Park valley we went to discover the main viewpoints of the valley, from which we would photograph the last sunrises and sunsets of our 10-day trip to the West Coast USA.

taft point yoosemite western us family vacations

Yosemite (Our 10-day West Coast USA holidays)

We took the opportunity to enjoy the real camp life,  cooked on the bonfire at night and raccoon watched with our campmates so they didn’t eat our food.


On the eighth day, we did the most strenuous hike of our 10-day West Coast USA trip. We climbed to the Upper Yosemite Falls, where we had a bath in one of its natural pools.

yosemite west coast america things to do

Yosemite Falls (Our 10-day West Coast USA vacations)

In the afternoon we took refuge in the tent as a hail storm fell – remember that weather in Yosemite, like any high mountains, is quite unpredictable even during summer season.


On our 9th day, we decided to try one of the small hiking trails in Yosemite National Park, such as the hike that takes you to Bridal Veil Falls or the Taft Point viewpoint.

In the afternoon we visited Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias, where we could see these giant trees.

sequoiawest coast america places to visit

Tuolumne Grove (Our 10-day West Coast USA self-drive holidays)


We left Yosemite National Park to head to San Francisco , where we took our return flight home.

Our initial idea was to have the last day to discover the city. However, we liked Yosemite so much that we ended up leaving just enough time to catch the flight back. It took us 4 hours to get to the airport.

How to plan an self-drive trip to the Western US

Although many travel agencies offer West Coast USA holiday packages, this destination seems more appropriate to be planned on your own (unless you are interested in photography and decide to take a photo tour to the West Coast America ).

In any case, we will explain step by step how you can plan a trip to the West Coast USA on your own in this section:

  • Choose your best West Coast USA itinerary
  • Plan how to get to West Coast USA
  • Get your US tourist visa
  • Hire the best travel insurance for traveling to the United States
  • Book a rental car
  • Buy America the Beautiful Pass to enter the US National Parks for free
  • Book the best accommodation  on the West Coast

HOW TO CHOOSE THE best West Coast USA itinerary

From the previous section where we highlighted the best places to visit in Western US, choose 8 (if taking a 10-day West Coast road trip) or 15 places (if taking a 20-day trip) that interest you most.

Jot them down on a map of  West Coast USA (I suggest using  Google MyMaps ).

Connect the different points and check on our map below to see if there is any tourist attraction that is on your way or that you can easily reach.

Finally, check that the driving hours are compatible with the itinerary or else leave them out of your list.

driving hours west coast usa road trip

Driving in the West Coast USA

Do not be frustrated, no matter how long you stay on the West Coast, you will always leave something to explore for the next trip 😉

how to get to the West Coast of USA

In order to define our itinerary, we must know how to get to the Western US.

The best way is by flying to one of the following three airports:

  • San Francisco

If you want to find cheap flights to the West Coast , the best time to book them is 3 months in advance. You can find here the best cheap flights hacks . My favorite search engine is Kiwi.com.

Also, if you want to visit too many places in the West and do not have much time, I suggest that you do a one-way trip , starting at a different airport from where you will return home through. This will increase the travel budget a bit, but you don’t get to travel to the Western US every day, do you?


There are two ways to travel as a tourist to the United States. If you belong to one of these countries you can travel to the US without a visa, but must obtain a travel authorization called “ESTA”.


The ESTA is very easy to obtain. Simply fill out the application form on iVisa and you will receive the approval in about 6 hours by email.

We have a step-by-step guide on how to apply for the ESTA to the USA.


If you do not have a passport from one of the countries mentioned above, you need a B2 visa to travel as a tourist to the United States.

This type of visa is more difficult to obtain. In addition to preparing the required documentation which proves that you are not going to travel to the United States with the intention of living or working, you will have to go through an interview at the embassy.

A more extensive explanation of how to process this visa can be found on the US Department of State website.


Living in the USA, I know how important is to have good travel insurance for the USA. Since health care cost in this country is very high, hospitalization without insurance can easily make your bill rise above $100,000.

So when we moved here, we bought long-stay travel insurance , although we are currently using annual multi-trip insurance.

honeymoon west coast usa death valley

Death Valley dunes

Although I always recommend buying the best travel insurance wherever you go, you must have extraordinary coverage for the US (never consider hiring anything that covers below $30,000 if you travel to the United States).

You can get the best quality-price insurance with Heymondo .

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western USA car rental

As we have said, the only practical way to travel the Western United States is by renting a car.

west coast usa car rental death valley road trip

Driving in Death Valley

If you do not have too much time, consider taking a  one-way instead of a round-trip  along the West. We picked up the car in Vegas and left it in San Francisco. Although this meant an increase in the budget because of the drop off-fee, we were able to visit more places during our 10-day West Coast trip.

The cheapest way to rent a car is using DiscoverCars , where we hired the rental car in Las Vegas.



If you are planning a Western US National Parks itinerary, I recommend that you buy an annual America the Beautiful pass.

This pass allows access to all US National Parks, as well as other state parks.

The pass is valid for one year from when it is purchased and covers entry for one vehicle with up to 5 passengers. Display pass by hanging it over the rear-view mirror).

In addition, the pass is issued for two owners who must sign behind the card to use. A very good option is to buy the annual pass, leave one signature blank, and resell it to a second owner at the end of your Western USA tour.

Even if you don’t resell the pass, you will get your money’s worth just by visiting 3 or 4 National Parks (Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce, Yosemite …).

The pass can be purchased online from here or directly at the ticket office of the first national park you visit.


It is difficult to find cheap and very good quality hotels at the same time on West Coast America. Therefore we will try to help you by listing the best places to stay, considering different budgets, tastes, and needs.

monument valley milky way tend campings best places to stay in west coast usa

Best accommodation in West Coast USA

Keep in mind that accommodation will be one of the major expenses of your trip to  West Coast America. On the other hand, sometimes a good hotel can even be one of the best attractions you can enjoy during your trip.


  • HI San Francisco Downtown Hostel: Hostel in the heart of San Francisco that has both shared and private rooms at a very low price. Free WIFI. Includes breakfast and a kitchen for those who want to cook.
  • Buena Vista Motor Inn: Hotel with complimentary parking in the middle of Lombard street. Wi-Fi and breakfast included. Totally safe area to walk at night. Just a short walk from Fisherman’s Wharf.

Guide on where to stay in San Francisco


  • Venetian:  Venice-themed casino resort with gondoliers included.
  • Circus Circus: Casino hotel with circus theme, with its own indoor amusement park that runs throughout the year.
  • Stratosphere:  Casino hotel that includes vertigo attractions at 350 meters high.
  • Bellagio: Inspired by Italy, it is one of the most luxurious resort and casinos in Las Vegas.
  • New York – New York:   Resort casino inspired by the big city where we can find a miniature statue of liberty.
  • Paris Las Vegas:   Perfect casino hotel for honeymoon or couple trips with miniature Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe.
  • Excalibur:  You will find yourself in the Middle Ages in this casino resort within its castles.
  • Planet Hollywood:  Modern hotel and casino where you will feel the essence of the West Coast.

Guide on where to stay in Las Vegas


  • Hollywood Travelodge:  Located very close to the walk of fame. Includes breakfast, Wi-Fi and free parking.
  • Samesun Venice Beach:  The best option if you want to enjoy the Venice boardwalk and its beach. They have bicycle rental service.
  • Cal Mar Hotel Suites:  If you prefer to be close to Santa Monica beach this option is very well priced.

Guide on where to stay in Los Angeles


If we visit the South Rim, the most touristic edge of the Grand Canyon, it is quite important to stay in the Grand Canyon Village, since two of the main attractions of this jewel of Western US is their sunrise and sunset. So, the closer we are to the edge, the easier it will be for us.

We camped in the Grand Canyon, at the  Mather Campground on the South Rim.

If you prefer to stay at a hotel, all accommodations at Grand Canyon Village are run by the company   Xanterra ,  and you can make reservations on whose website.

Guide on where to stay in Grand Canyon


  • Hyatt Place Page Lake Powell: This hotel is located in the center of Page. As it is highly valued, you will have to book it well in advance, since rooms tend to run out being such a small and tourist place at the same time.
  • Country Inn & Suites by Radisson: Without a doubt the best hotel in Page, both the price and the charm of its rooms. It is not in the center but is closer to Horseshoe Bend.

Guide on where to stay in Page


Bryce is one of the best places to camp in the Western US. In addition to two conventional campsites ( North Campground and Sunset Campground ), there are 12 backcountry campsites.

If camping is not your thing and you prefer to stay in one of the best hotels in the West, then I recommend the Best Western Ruby’s Inn , a historic hotel at the gates of the national park that also has a camping area.

Guide on where to stay in Bryce


  • Bumbleberry Inn:  One of the few hotels near Zion whose price is below $200 a night and with a great value.
  • La Quinta Inn and Suites : Another hotel that also has good prices and is highly rated near Zion, known for its buffet breakfast that includes delicious homemade waffles.

Guide on where to stay in Zion


If you want to enjoy dawn with the best views of the valley, I recommend that you camp in the Monument Valley. The campground is called The View Campground and the only way to reserve it is by calling +1 435-727-5802.

This campsite belongs to  The View Hotel , a hotel run by the Navajo Indians with equally amazing views.

Guide on where to stay in Monument Valley


  • Hotel Santa Barbara: One of the best hotels in Santa Barbara with a great location in the city center and very close to the beach. Includes Wi-Fi, breakfast and free parking.
  • The Eagle Inn:   On the beach of Santa Barbara and in a beautiful historic building. The price is a bit higher but it includes a jacuzzi in the room.


We decided to camp at Camp 4 during our visit to Yosemite. Here, the hippy movement was born in the 60s and spread throughout the United States.

However, if you don’t want to camp, don’t worry. There are very good hotels in Yosemite. Some of the best are:

  • The Ahwahnee
  • Yosemite Valley Lodge
  • Curry Village

Guide on where to stay in Yosemite


  • Staypineapple at Hotel Z: One of the best hotels in downtown San Diego. Modern design and quite affordable. It offers free bicycles to its customers.
  • HI-San Diego Point Loma Hostel: Hostel with shared rooms, very good price and located next to the beach. Ideal if you visit San Diego with the intention of meeting other travelers.


The best place to stay in Joshua Tree is in one of its campsites. There are 4 campsites throughout the national park that can be reserved, and another 4 first-come, first-served campground. All the information regarding the Joshua Tree campgrounds can be found on the National Parks Service website.


  • The Inn at Death Valley: This Oasis in the middle of the desert is the most luxurious resort you’ll find here. Refresh between your palm garden and its spring water pool and relax in your spa area.
  • The Ranch at Death Valley: Run by the same company as The Inn at Death Valley, it is the familiar and informal complement of the previous one. If you want to relax in a unique environment but without too many pretensions, this accommodation is for you.
  • Panamint Springs Resort:  This resort offers both tourist resorts and lodging in tents. It’s close to the west entrance of the national park, from where you’ll have stunning views of the sand dunes.

Guide on where to stay in Death Valley


There are no motels inside Mojave National Preserve. The only way to stay is camping. There are two family campsites, Hole-in-the-Wall Campground and Mid Hills Campground. Both are first-come, first-served campgrounds.

There is also the possibility of doing backcountry camping. If you want more information, check the US National Parks Service website.


There are no campsites or hotels within Arches National Park. The best thing to do is to stay somewhere close to the entrance:

  • Red Cliffs Lodge:  All rooms have views of the Colorado River. In addition, you have access to a private living room with a fridge and microwave. This accommodation is the best you’ll find if you visit Arches National Park from the west. Do not miss its western cinema museum.
  • Under Canvas Moab:  This accommodation is located east of Arches National Park and offers already pitched tents, some with private bathrooms. If you are not a fan of the camps, but you would like to try, this is your place. In addition to the bed linen, the hotel will lend you towels and a flashlight. A very comfortable way to learn a little about the American camper culture.


  • Montecito Sequoia Lodge: This rustic mountain accommodation offers a place to relax, surrounded by lakes, forests and rugged peaks. It has a restaurant that offers breakfast, lunch and dinner buffet.
  • Bearpaw High Sierra Camp: This established camp has 6 canvas tents with wooden floors. The views of the surroundings are amazing. Breakfast and dinner are included in the price of the accommodation.
  • Wuksachi Lodge:  It is the emblematic hotel of Sequoia, an amazing mountain hut made of stone and cedar located in the heart of the park, surrounded by a powerful sequoia forest and towering peaks of the sierra.


As we commented, if you visit Havasu Falls, it is compulsory to spend at least one night in one of its campsites, since you cannot make excursions exclusively for one day. Book both the tour and the camping permit from the official website of the Havasupai Indian Reservation.


There are only  9 hotels within Yellowstone National Park , so in peak tourist season, most travelers only find accommodation outside the park.

You can find the best options on our guide on where to stay in Yellowstone National Park, but my favorite hotels are:

  • Kelly Inn West Yellowstone
  • Yellowstone Gateway Inn
  • Stage Coach Inn
  • Al’s Westward Ho Motel
  • Travelodge by Wyndham
  • Absaroka Lodge


There are many places to stay in Grand Teton National Park but my favorite ones are:

  • Colter Bay Village 
  • Jackson Lake Lodge  
  • Headwaters Lodge & Cabins at Flagg Ranch 
  • Jenny Lake Lodge

To calculate  how much a road trip along the West Coast cost, keep in mind that gasoline in the United States is quite cheap compared most European countries, so even though you will drive many kilometers, this is not something you have to worry too much about when planning your itinerary.

Regarding the food , going to restaurants or going out to have a drink is very expensive; especially when you are looking for somewhere that serve healthy and quality food. If you’re willing to eat fast food, your West Cost travel budget will decrease since the United States is the paradise for junk food.

Regarding accommodation , while it is more expensive in the US than other countries, there are ways to make it cheaper .

Consider camping during your West Coast America tour. In addition to being cheaper, it is very fun and do not forget that there is no country in the world with such an active camping culture as in the United States. You will enjoy watching all the American accessories that make camping more comfortable, and the amazing motorhomes that are better than many houses. You can check some tips for traveling by rv in the USA here.

If you want to know how much we spent during out trip, you can check our West Coast travel budget for 10 days.

West Coast USA combinations ideas

In case you have more time, you can combine the West Coast of the USA with other destinations. Some of the most popular combinations are the following.

West Coast America and Hawaii holidays

If you love nature, combine  West Coast USA and Hawaii to enjoy the most active volcanoes in the United States. These wild islands in the middle of the Pacific, offer a native culture totally different from any other place in the world, in addition to beautiful beaches. The Western US and Hawaii landscapes are an excellent combination for the more adventurous.


Riviera Maya and West Coast America honeymoon trips are very popular.  With this travel itinerary, we can enjoy a mix of the natural American West Coast landscapes with turquoise water beaches and the history of ancient civilizations. This is the best combination for honeymoons or for travelers interested in a mix of all-inclusive vacation packages.


If you want to travel the most famous road in the United States, plan a Route 66 – Western US road trip. With this tour, you will have a chance to visit my favorite city in the US: Chicago. I don’t recommend this combination if you do not like driving since much time of this trip will be spent inside the car.

West Coast USA tours from New york

Another very popular combination, especially if you are traveling from Europe. A New York & West Coast America fly-drive itinerary mixes the Western US National Parks with the busiest city of the East Coast. This option is perfect for those who also enjoy visiting big cities, since there are plenty of things to do in New York City.

New York view from brooklyn skyline pier night photography

With any of these combinations, I recommend spending at least 10 days in West Coast America .

However, if you only plan to travel to the West Coast and can afford it, I would recommend spending 2 or even  3 weeks.

map of West Coast USA

Finally, it is very useful to plan your trip using a map of Western US , marked with your places of interest. Then check the following map to see if there is any other attraction on the way.

SEE you ON THE WEST COAST and do not hesitate to ask if you need help preparing your itinerary!

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80 replies on “ Planning a 10-Day West Coast USA Road Trip Itinerary ”

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We are from Singapore and planning a 20 days trip in June to West Coast of US and would be our first drive trip to the US. We wanted to cover Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce, Yosemite, route 66, UTAH but not sure if we are able to (or worth to) cover up till Seattle. We love your advise as it will be our first trip to West Coast of US and accommodation recommendations will be helpful plus itinerary. regards Melvin

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Hi Melvin, Wow, that sounds amazing! There is so much to see the western United States. I think you’ll find our road trip itineraries from Las Vegas to be super helpful. As for accommodation, it depends on whether you’re renting a car or RV since an RV will take care of accommodation for you. Otherwise, the hotel recommendations above in this article are a great place to start. 🙂

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Hi! Wow, relieved i came accross this blog. Thank you for sharing this.

I made an almost similar itinerary and posted it in trip advisor.

we are arriving early morning in Vegas on March 10 and flying out late night from San Francisco March 20. For the 10 day trip, we’d like to see Bryce, Zion, Grand Canyon and Yosemite. Most of the comments says most of the time will be spent driving hence the trip might not be an enjoyable one. Some even suggested dropping Yosemite as this is too far from the rest of the places we’re hoping to see.

With all the driving you did on this trip, do you think you still spent a good time exploring the parks?

Thanks heaps!

Yes, it was a lot of hours driving but it was a trip of a lifetime. I won’t change any of the stops I did so I highly recommend it specially if you don’t mind driving at night and you don’t have more time to spend on the West Coast USA.

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Hi, very informative post there ! May I know what route did u take to travel to yosemite from death valley ? I supposed you travelled when the tiogo road was closed ?

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We traveled in August when the Tioga Road was open. So we just drove Nort through the Eastern Sierra and enter from the Northeastern part of the park 😉

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i am planning to go to a trip with my friends but iam confused where should i go.

It’s difficult to choose when there are so many great options! My recommendation is to check the places and pictures and just pick the 4/5 places that you find more interesting 😉

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Hi Martin from Australia here. I am busy planning an 8 day self drive tour in April starting in, and returning to Las Vegas. I stumbled on your website and found it to be a fantastic resource, full of very helpful information. One thing that is puzzling me with your route. Why did you go to Monument Valley first and then criss-cross south to Antelope Canyon, north to Bryce Canyon and then south again to the Grand Canyon. This appears to add an additional 400 miles (appx). I had originally been planning a circuit through Bryce Canyon, Monument Park, Antelope Canyon and Grand Canyon. Then Back to Las Vegas via Mojave Desert and Death Valley. Thank you

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We did that itinerary because we were traveling in August (high season) and wanted to camp in Monument Valley and Grand Canyon, so we book the only days available hehehe

Your itinerary sounds great. Let me know how you do it finally.

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Hi! I would love your help in planning my itinerary for my West Coast Roadtrip Honeymoon. We would love to check as many of the same locations off our list as you have in this post. Would love to get your thoughts on cost efficiency, glamping/camping vs. RV rentals and what we HAVE to see, and what we could skip. We definitely don’t want to spend the majority of our trip in the car. Thinking of flying into Vegas and then going from there. We would be going from June 12-20th. This is by far the most helpful article I have found online so far! Thanks for writing!

We will be happy to help. Let me know any questions you may have and we will help.

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we are a couple, 60 years+ but able to drive and planning a trip next Sep. 2020. However we note that at some places you had to camp. I don’t think we are up to camping and wonder how to achieve the trip you made without camping.

You don’t need to camp if you don’t want to. There are many hotels where you can stay 🙂 Let me know your itinerary and I will give you some hotel ideas.

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I wish more people would post valuable content like this. This is the first time I’ve been on your website, but after this, I doubt it will be the last time.

Thanks Robert!! You are always welcome 😉

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Planning a trip in mid December. Is your 10 day trip feasible at this time of year ? Thanks.

Yes, it’s perfectly fine. Just bear in mind that you might find snow in some places like Bryce and Yosemite and the main roads to Yosemite from the east (Tioga road) is gonna be closed.

Hope you have a beautiful trip!

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Have you ever thought of planning a trip of the Four Corners States of the Southwest (New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado & Utah). There are so many sites that would be a tough decision. New Mexico has the Gila National Forest, City of Rocks in the southwest, Carlsbad Caverns to name just a few, Colorado, Arizona, Utah you could go on and on. This would also the sunrises and sunsets, rivers canyons. It is so vast that each state could provide what every photographer would want to see and shoot. Just think about it. if you more information, please contact me.

Sure! We still have a bunch of places we want to visit!

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Thank you It was very useful

Thanks Isabel!

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Great post, thanks for the info I’m considering doing this trip with my dad, how fit do you have to be to do this trip? He can’t really walk a whole lot at a time.

Hi Emiliano,

You don’t need to walk if you don’t want to. Just visit the main lookouts accessible by car.

Let me know if you have any other question.

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Well, that was a pretty fascinating read, not going to lie. I really hope you continue to write. Probably one of the more informative pieces I’ve read on this subject. Thanks!

Thanks Justin! Glad to see our USA West Coast article was useful and you enjoyed it reading!

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You know if you are not on Instagram, you should be. I know you can’t put text up, but just throw in a few pics and build an audience there. I think you’d find a ton of people who would be super interested in your blog here.

Thanks for the advice. We already use Instagram, our account is: @Capturetheatlas

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Well… consider yourself added to my blogroll. I have like six other blogs I read on a weekly basis, guess that number just increased to seven! Keep writing!

Thanks Chris! and Welcome to Capture the Atlas! 😉

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Way to go on this post man. Really killer stuff. I’ll be back to read your other posts.

Thanks Travis! Glad you found the information helpful!

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Wow! What a scenery. I hope I can visit those place in the future too! People on your newsletter must love you. This content is pure 100% gold

Thanks Matthew for your kind words! I am sure you will be fascinated by the West Coast USA landscapes when you visit them.

Feel free to join our community and receive our newsletter 😉

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Hi, My family of 3 will be travelling to West of USA for about 12 to 14 days this coming September month 2019. Can you help us to plan the trip visiting all the interesting places and also advise us the cost.

We give a lot of piece of advice on our blog. Please read it and let us know if you have any question.

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I am flying from Toronto, Canada and am unsure which airport to arrive and leave in. I am planning on visiting Zion, Bryce Canyon, Cathedral Canyon, Antelope Canyon, and Grand Canyon (South Rim). I am unsure whether to fly to Las Vegas and leave from Arizona, or vice versa, or do a loop. Any suggestions?

Amazing blog by the way!

Which airport in Arizona are you considering? Las Vegas in quite close to those places you want to visit and usually there is cheap flights to go there.

Let me know if you have any question

Thank you for your reply! I was thinking Phoenix airport. Just not sure the best route and will be renting a car!

Also, do you know if its possible to rent a car at one airport and return it to another?

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Hi, i am traveling with 6 adults. Planning to arrive in New York, then fly to LA and hoping to have a glimpse of the city and its surrounding and fly to vancouver . We will fly back home from Vancouver.

How many days do you think is good for us? I am travelling with my parents aged 60yo.

Can you give me any recommendations

Hi Felicia,

I would say to book at least 10 – 15 days. As recommendations I would suggest hiring good travel insurance for the USA and check the different articles we have at the blog.

Let me know if you need something else,

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Hello there,

We have about 8-9 days along the West Coast after a conference in Vegas. Looking at the following itinerary/places we want to visit. Do you think this is something workable/have any comments? Thanks so much!

Day 1: (From Vegas) Antelope Valley/Horseshoe Bend (Find somewhere to stay for the night – is there a recommendation where we can stay in that area?) Day 2: Grand Canyon Day 3: Travel back to Vegas, fly to San Francisco. Day 4: San Francisco Day 5: San Francisco -> Monterey, Big Sur (Find somewhere to stay?) Day 6: Travel to LA Day 7: LA Day 8: LA

Thanks very much for your message and for reading us!

Until day 4 your itinerary is gonna be very intense but definitely doable, as we made a very similar itinerary at the beginning of our trip. You can find recommendations for the night near horseshoe bend/Antelope Canyon in this section of our article.

As for the second part of your trip, We didn’t travel from SF towards the south so don’t know if that would be something possible.

Please let me know if we can help with any other questions.

Best regards,

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Hi I am trying to plan a trip with my son for September 2019 have i left enough time to do this? And could you help us with an itinerary Also if we choose to camp do we purchase this in the USA as we are travelling from the UK Thanks

Hi Richard,

Thank you very much for your message.

You are still in time for planning the trip, so I ‘d definitely try to do it!

You can see different itineraries in our US articles depending on your days and preferences. Hope that helps.

As for the campings it depends on the campsite, some accept online reservations like the one in Monument Valley while others are filled in a first-come first-served basis like Camp 4 in Yosemite.

Please let us know if we can help with any other questions.

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Hi everyone! Could you help me to make a itinerary with the time and 10 destinations?

We will need some more information to help you. When and where are you starting your trip, days, preferences and so on.

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Hi guys, Love your work. I’m a photographer and looking to do a road trip through the west cost of the USA, covering as much of the national parks as possible (Yellowstone a must). We only have a 2 week gap during July to do this. Do you have any tours available for July 2019 for 2 super fun people?

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Me, along with spouse and 13 year old son, are planning for a 10 day trip to LA, LV & SFO from India during June last week.

Request if you could help build us an itinerary for First Timers to US. It would be with a driver if we have to hire a car.

Do you deal in hotel accommodations too – 4 star?

Could you please let me know a rough expenditure on all this.

Kindly do mention your charges too for helping us out with a good itinerary and any help on ground that you could provide during our stay.

Thanking You, MOHAN

I have sent you an email with our service rates.

Have a nice day!

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I am planing with my boyfriend our trip in June to California for 10 days. We are landing in LA and we would like to visit Yosemite, Death Valley, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon and San Diego. Could you please give us some tips? We are afraid that Tioga Pass might not be opened at the beginning of June..

Thanks a lot!

Hi Anabel, I think you have enough time in 10 days to visit the cities and NP you mentioned. You can do 2 days for LA, 3 days for Yosemite, 1 day for Death Valley, 1 day for Las Vegas, 2 days for Grand Canyon and 1 day for San Diego.

As you said, Tioga Pass maybe is still close in June, so I recommend you booking a hotel around Fresno (in case Tigoa Road is close) and other around Mammonth Lakes (in case it is open). And cancel the one you are not going to use once you know the Tioga Road status?

Let me know if you need anything else.

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Hello, Thanks for the detailed analysis of west coast. We are planning to visit west coast from Philadelphia and would like to cover California/LA/SFO/Las Vegas. We would however fly to Seattle from PHL and take our trip to west coast from Seattle.

Please provide us with an itinerary.

We are planning 10 days for this trip and would like to over not just national parks but also Golden gate bridge/Hollywood/Alcatraz etc. We don’t want to do the theme parks.

Sure, I have sent you an email with our planner services rates.

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Hi, Thanks for itinerary! We are going on a trip from LA in September for 16 days, and this helped a lot! If you could give some tips on showering…it’s not available in a lot of camp sites. Also, if you have some experience with laundry service, I would appreciate some info. Thanks!

Hi Soma! Thanks for your message and words!

You can check beforehand which campsites offer shower utilities and plan according to your needs. We booked camping with showers in Grand Canyon and Yosemite, taking a shower at least every 2 days. As for laundry service, I would suggest doing the same. We went just for a week and didn’t really need to do any washing but if you are staying 16 days some campings have some sort of place for washing. As an example again, you can find those utilities in Grand Canyon and Yosemite, and I am sure there will be more in other important campgrounds.

Hope that helps and have a wonderful US West Coast trip!

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Hi we are planning a 15 day stay flying into LA hiring a car can you recommened a route then we fly back out from LA.Thanks

The US West Coast is huge and there are endless possibilities doing a round trip from L.A.

Depending on your personal taste and the number of miles that you are willing to drive, there are many itineraries.

I recommend that you check all the main attractions explained throughout the article and once you know your preferences, you can design your own route.

Hope it helps and you make the most of your trip!

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Planning on driving to monument valley and staying at View hotel I need driving directions from Salt Lake City

Take I-15 S, US-6 E, US-191 S and US-163 S to Main Monument Valley Rd/Monument Valley Rd in Oljato-Monument Valley

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Hi my husband and I are planning a trip to tour the west coast next June/July next year for 4 weeks starting in San Francisco driving down the coast then across to Vegas by car then possibly hiring a camper van to visit the national parks, would you be able to advise us of some places to stop and stay and give some advice as to how long we should stay at certain places, we would also like to spend a week in Washington and New York at the end of our stay but we will fly to the east coast, thanks Tracey

Sure, I have sent you an email more information about our trip planner services. I can also help you to plan your visits to NYC and Washington. I live in Philadelphia, that is 2hours from NYC and two hours from Washington, so I know these cities very well and I can help you too.

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Hello Jaz, thank you for the useful information. I am planning for the west coast trip but could you confirm will it be too much to digest if I cover all/most of the destinations mentioned in your article above in just one trip?

Or shall I split the trip in multiple trips to enjoy and assimilate the delightful view which each destination has to offer?

That is up to you. How much time do you have? Where are you coming from? If I could, I would do it in one trip (3-4 months).

Let me know if you need something else, Ascen.

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We are planning a tour of West Coast starting and ending at LA. Can you suggest a good travel itinerary for family of 3 or 6 pxs. for 8-12 days sometime in June or July 2019. Thanks Jaz

Hi Jasmine, I have sent you an email with our rates. Ascen.

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Planning to gravel to west coast of USA Visiting friends & also travelling (self drive) . I have 14 days from Sep15 to Sep30 Would like to visit Yosomite, Death Valley Coastal Drive & Las Vegas and Grand canyon. Thanks for your help with an itinerary.

Sure! I will help you to plan your West America trip. I have sent you an email.

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Hi, I am planning for west coast tour for 10 days in July. I would like to start from San Francisco . Could you please suggest road trip plan

Hi Rajan, I will be happy for helping you to plan your west coast USA itinerary.

I have sent you an email regarding our travel planner services.

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Hi, I am planning a 15 days trip to USA with my family of 5 (2 sons aged 24, 25, Daughter 18). What route would you recommend us to take? We are looking to rent a car and drive around ourselves. Thank you.

Hi Sharon, I have sent you an email regarding our travel planning services.

Thanks, Ascen.

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Hi.. myself and 2 friends are planning a trip up the west coast from San Francisco in April.. We are renting an RV ..we would like to try and go as north to Portland maybe Seattle.. could you advise of the best route and places we should try to see.

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Hi we are planning to Visit West coast in the month of June 19 . Not sure about self drive option but could u please suggest some best places to explore in 10 days . We are landing at San Francisco & leaving to New York from LA .

Would appreciate if u could help us to arrange our trip .

Thanks Sunil

I have sent you an email regarding our travel planning services.

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Hi Loved reading your information on USA! My husband and I want to travel the west coast in September this year. We have booked so far return flights from Sydney to San Francisco. We would like to see Yosemite Bryce Zion Death Valley Redlands Lake Tahoe Sequoia and Grand Canyon. Not interested in Los Angeles or Las Vegas. We thought we would return via The big Sur to San Francisco. Do you think we can do this in a month? What would be the best driving route to do all this. Can we also purchase driving maps? Any help you could give I would be most grateful! Thanking you

Hi Cath, I have sent you an email regarding our travel planning services.

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Hi, thanks a lot for your details itinerary which is very much appreciated. I’m planning my self-drive trip to west coast USA for about 12 days, in May 2019. Just wondering any tips on what to wear? Will it be cold in the Yosemite national park? I’m planning for Grand Canyon, Upper Antelope Canyon + Horseshoes band, Yosemite, is it still worth to get the annnual pass? There are total 6 of us.

Hi Joey, If you are only visiting two national parks (Yosemite and Grand Canyon ) it is not worth getting the annual pass. Pay just for the standard fee in each of them. Horseshoe Bend is free and Antelope Canyon is private, so you will have to pay the Navajo fee.

In 12 days you have enough time to visit Death Valley, Bryce and Zion too.

Regarding what to carry in the backpack, please check the camping and cold weather section of this post.

P.S: Next sunday we will be posting our Guide to Yosemite and I am sure you are going to find it interested!!

Best, Ascen

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best route to travel west coast america

That Adventurer

Ultimate West Coast USA road trip itinerary

Planning a West Coast USA road trip? Then this guide to the best places we saw on our West Coast road trips should help.

There were a lot of highlights from our 3 month east to west coast road trip of the USA and many of them are from our time spent on the west coast road trip segment.

Full of beautiful beaches, National Parks, cool relaxed cities, and super tall trees, a road trip on the west coast of America is a must-do.

We also ended up living on the West Coast of Canada for 6 years following our big USA trip and so visited places up and down the coast of America over that time too. Returning to our favorite haunts, and visiting new places.

All that to say, if you need some ideas for a road trip on the West Coast, I can help you gather some ideas for your American road trip.

In this post, I’ll cover some of my favorite places from our USA west coast road trip that you should add to your US west coast road trip itinerary!

sunset in mt rainier national park

Itinerary for a road trip USA West Coast

We spent around a month working our way up the west coast from San Francisco and Big Sur to Seattle and eventually Vancouver, BC where we’ve been living.

Get the lowdown on Seattle vs Vancouver and which one you should visit !

You could start your West Coast USA itinerary from lower down the West Coast such as in Los Angeles or Palm Springs, or from higher up such as Portland. That’s the best part about road trips, the itinerary is yours to decide as you plan your West Coast American tour.

Use this post as inspiration for your USA West Coast itinerary! You can mix and match destinations and add to them to make your own west coast road trips.

Preparing for your USA Road Trip & Travelling the West Coast of America

Prepping for a road trip is a bit different from packing for a standard vacation. You’ll have to make sure your car is running well, and you probably don’t want to book hotels too far in advance as you might drive further or shorter distances than you’d expected.

We’ve done a lot of road trips across the world and have put together some posts that’ll help you have a fun and safe trip.

  • Road Trip Packing List
  • Best Road Trip Apps
  • How to find places to sleep for free in the USA – great if you’re camping!

Get a USA National Parks Pass for just $80 and save a tonne of money if you’re planning on visiting multiple National Parks in a year, or visiting the same one more than once!

We did our US west coast trip in our self-converted campervan but if you’re just visiting America you can rent a car or rent an RV for your road trip.

For car rentals, I like to use Discover Cars and Rental Cars . These give you an overview of various different rental companies, their options, and prices so it’s good for getting comparisons.

I use comparison sites like DiscoverCars and RentalCars to book my car rentals as it’s easy to check prices and compare the best deals!

When it comes to renting an RV for your road trip on the West Coast, you can use a site like Outdoorsy which is similar to the car rental companies above. Or, Escape Campervans which has a couple of locations up and down the Coast.

Outdoorsy typically has more options and different styles of campervans, whereas Escape Campervans are vans converted into campers so are smaller.

do you need to own a car in vancouver

What to know before doing US West Coast trips

Here is a list of things to consider before you head off on your West Coast USA road trip:

  • Planning and Route : Research and plan your route in advance, taking into account the distance between stops and your interests. This guide can help give you plenty of ideas. Decide whether you want a loop (starting and ending at the same city) or a one-way trip.
  • Budgeting : Set a daily budget for expenses like fuel, food, accommodations, and activities. The West Coast can be expensive, particularly in major cities.
  • Accommodations : Book accommodations in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons. Consider various options, including hotels, motels, Airbnb, and campgrounds.
  • Vehicle Preparation : Ensure your vehicle is road trip ready with a thorough check (oil, tires, brakes, etc.). Rent a car if necessary, and make sure rental insurance is covered.
  • Travel Insurance : Purchase travel insurance that covers health, car issues, and potential trip cancellations or delays.
  • Packing : Pack light but include essentials like clothes for various weather conditions, toiletries, and a first aid kit. Bring a cooler for snacks and drinks, and camping gear if you plan to camp.
  • Navigation : Have a reliable GPS or map, as some areas may have limited cell service. Familiarize yourself with the main highways and alternative routes.
  • Weather and Season : Research the weather for your planned destinations, as the West Coast has diverse climates. Summer is the peak tourist season; spring and fall usually have milder weather and fewer crowds.
  • Activities and Attractions : Make a list of must-see attractions and activities, but allow for spontaneity and changes in plans. National Parks often require entrance fees, so consider an annual National Park Pass if visiting multiple parks.
  • Safety and Emergency : Always have spare tire, jack, and jumper cables in your car. Keep emergency contacts and know the location of the nearest hospitals along your route.
  • Legal Regulations : Be aware of different traffic and parking laws in each state. Make sure you have valid identification, driver’s license, and car insurance handy while driving.
  • Fuel and Charging Stations : Keep an eye on your fuel gauge and know where gas stations are along your route. If driving an electric vehicle, map out charging stations along your route.

things to do in San Francisco on a budget

San Francisco

Despite not being one of my favorite cities on our USA west coast road trip, San Francisco is still a must-visit. The city is known, of course, for the Golden Gate Bridge but there’s a whole lot more to see.

Since we were traveling on a budget, we prioritized finding cheap and free activities in San Francisco and had a great time exploring the city’s distinct neighborhoods.

tunnel view yosemite

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is a must on a West Coast USA road trip itinerary due to its breathtaking natural beauty.

As one of America’s most famous national parks, its full of granite cliffs, thundering waterfalls, and ancient sequoia trees.

Whether you’re looking to do some of the best hikes in Yosemite National Park like the Yosemite Falls trail , or simply someone means to drive through and admire the views and other best things to do in Yosemite , you’ll be wowed by this beautiful National Park.

The park is in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains and is fairly accessible from several major cities, including San Francisco, so it’s a logical addition to any West Coast journey.

San Diego California, is a coastal city known for its beautiful beaches, fantastic weather, and laid-back vibe.

With a vibrant cultural scene, it boasts a world-renowned zoo, extensive parks, and a rich maritime heritage.

Its close proximity to Mexico means it’s got some absolutely delicious food!

San Diego is a sunny, friendly destination that’s perfect for family fun, outdoor adventures, and relaxing on the beach. I highly recommend making some time to go surfing while you’re visiting.

usa west coast road trip

Big Sur & Monterey

Before heading north up the coast, we did a Big Sur road trip .

The year of our west coast road trip the road was washed out from heavy rains and flooding so we didn’t get to see all the best sites but the views were still incredibly impressive and I highly recommend this for any California road trip.

Now that the road is reopened, you’ll get to do the full drive, taking in the coastal views, beaches, waterfalls, and artsy scenes in Monterey.

This drive on its own is a complete road trip on the west coast and one that many people want to experience. It’d be perfect for a west coast road trip itinerary of 7 days.

Lee Flat Joshua Tree Forest death valley

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California is a blend of two distinct desert ecosystems.

Famous for its otherworldly Joshua Trees and dramatic rock formations, this park is a haven for climbers, hikers, and stargazers.

It’s a perfect escape to experience unique landscapes that seem almost alien, offering peaceful vistas and a clear, starry night sky – a quiet, stark contrast to the nearby bustling cities of Los Angeles and San Diego.

Los Angeles

Los Angeles or LA, is the entertainment capital of the world.

This massive sprawling Southern California city teeming with celebrity culture, iconic landmarks like Hollywood and Venice Beach, and extensive art and history museums.

It’s a vibrant melting pot of cultures, with diverse neighborhoods each offering a unique flavor and experience.

Whether you’re into film, fashion, art, or food, LA is a dynamic, bustling city that’s quintessential to any West Coast road trip experience.

redwood national park california (1 of 7)

Highway 101 California

Take the coastal route out of the city and drive Highway 101. It’s more peaceful and waaay more picturesque! The route also has some super fun places to stop at.

Ever wanted to drive through a tree? Find corn bigger than you? Or explore a big ship? There’s all that and more along Highway 101 with its weird roadside attractions .

Napa Valley

Napa Valley in Northern California, is synonymous with world-class wineries and luxury dining.

It’s a picturesque valley with rolling vine-covered hills and quaint towns that feel a world away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Whether you’re a wine connoisseur or just enjoy a good glass of wine, Napa offers a chance to explore vineyards, enjoy wine-tasting tours, and indulge in gourmet meals, making it an elegant and delightful stop on a West Coast road trip.

redwood national park california (1 of 7)

Redwood National Park

Heading north out of San Francisco we were keen to stop at Redwood National Park . We’d stopped off at Muir Woods just outside of San Francisco but it was super busy and quite small. The same can not be said of Redwood National Park!

This National Park is actually made up of several areas and it’s huge!

There are plenty of Redwood forest trails to explore as you wander among the giant redwood trees.

We explored the part of the park around Klamath which is a bit out of the way for most people exploring the west coast USA. However, if you’re road-tripping the USA’s west coast it’s the perfect stop!

oregon coast sunset

Oregon Coast

Arguably one of the most beautiful USA road trips on the West Coast is an Oregon Coastline road trip. I was absolutely blown away by the Oregon Coast.

I had zero expectations going into it as I hadn’t heard much about Oregon besides a bit here and there about Portland.

I feel like more people know about its beauty nowadays and if you’re doing a West Coast USA road trip you simply have to drive this stunning stretch of coastline.

We went crabbing, watched an incredible sunset, and visited cute towns and breweries. It was a great few days!

If you’re looking for cool places to stay in Oregon, be sure to check out these Oregon treehouse rentals.

things to do in portland

Portland, OR

Portland is known as a cool city and also a weird one: as the city’s slogan goes “Keep Portland Weird”.

We ate great food and enjoyed chilling out in some of the city’s cool coffee shops while visiting Portland as part of our west coast itinerary.

Ultimate West Coast USA road trip itinerary photo 1542325823 53124d9c5cbe?crop=entropy&cs=tinysrgb&fm=jpg&ixlib=rb 1.2

Mount Hood & Columbia River Gorge

Mount Hood is Oregon’s tallest mountain and the area where it meets the Columbia River is beautiful. You can enjoy paddleboarding and floating or swimming at the river, then go hiking around Mt Hood and taking in the view.

A few months after we drove through, there was a huge wildfire, the Eagle Creek fire of 2017, so some areas of the forest aren’t quite as lush as they once were. It’s recommended to check with the USFS for more information on trail closures as this area recovers.

Ultimate West Coast USA road trip itinerary photo 1581195173454 d73c59e08239?crop=entropy&cs=tinysrgb&fm=jpg&ixlib=rb 1.2

Mount St Helens

From Mt Hood, we drove north into Washington and over to Mount St. Helens. This active volcano not only offers great hiking trails. There’s a great museum with information about eruptions and the geology of the area. I’d definitely recommend checking it out during your visit.

Another fun thing to do near Mount St Helens is to visit the Ape Caves. You can reserve your ticket in advance and then wander into the lava caves over 2 miles long!

To make it to the furthest point you’ll have to be prepared to climb up a rock wall and scramble over rock piles, but you can turn around before that point if that’s not up your street!

Crater Lake National Park

In southern Oregon lies Crater Lake National Park, home to the deepest and purest lake in the United States, created by a collapsed volcano.

The stunning blue waters and the surrounding cliffs and forests make this a breathtaking stop and addition to a West Coast trip.

It’s a paradise for lovers of outdoor activities, with excellent hiking, boat tours, and scenic drives, making it a must-visit on any West Coast itinerary.

Ultimate West Coast USA road trip itinerary mt rainier 6 of 6

Mt Rainier National Park

Mt Rainier National Park was one of my favorites – mostly because it was the first time I saw a bear! We were also in the park for sunset and watched as some beautiful light beams crossed over the valley.

Mt Rainier has some incredible hiking trails including the Wonderland Trail which goes around the base of the mountain. At over 86 miles long it takes most people 10-14 days to complete and you’ll need to secure a permit through their lottery system if interested.

There are other shorter trails that would be more fitting for your American west coast road trip too!

best things to do in seattle

Seattle was another place I was looking forward to exploring on our West Coast road trip and it didn’t disappoint. The whole city has a kind of relaxed feel to it and there are tonnes to do whatever your interests are.

We enjoyed ticking off all the touristy things like Pike Place Market, the Gum Wall, and a trip out to one of the islands.

Portland – Oregon Coastline – Mt Rainier – Seattle

A trip from Portland to Seattle including some of the National Parks would also be a fun road trip on the USA West Coast. If you’re looking for a 2-week west coast USA road trip this could be the one!

north cascades national park diablo lake

North Cascades National Park

North Cascades National Park is a place I’ve been meaning to go back to. We visited it the day before we crossed over the border into Canada and it was still snowy in early June with some of the scenic drives and a lot of hiking closed.

What we did see, however, was Diablo Lake, and did the short and easy Thunder Knob trail for an outlook over the park.

There are loads of awesome hikes in the North Cascades to check out! Perfect if you’re looking for an adventurous USA road trip west coast route.

Knowing where to stay when visiting North Cascade s can be hard since it’s fairly remote. That’s why I’ve put together a list of my top picks.

Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park in northwestern Washington State is a diverse and stunning wilderness park that is pretty much the Pacific North West personified. Think of misty forests and a lot of rain!

With its mountains, rainforests, and rugged coastline, it’s like three parks in one.

You can explore the glacier-capped peaks of the Olympic Mountains, wander through the moss-draped trees of the Hoh Rainforest, and wander along the pristine shores of the Pacific Ocean.

It’s a perfect stop for outdoor enthusiasts and those seeking solitude and natural beauty on a West Coast road trip.

If you plan on going to Vancouver Island in Canada, you can easily take a ferry from here towards Victoria BC which would be another great way to extend your west coast USA trip by heading up to Canda.

things to do in bellingham

Bellingham is somewhere we drove straight through on the way to Vancouver at the end of our West Coast itinerary but, honestly, this little town has so much to offer and should be included on your west coast US road trip itinerary.

From super cool cafes to awesome breweries, mountain biking, trail-running, and more!

We spent a day in Bellingham when activating our Candian permanent residency and had so much fun. I’ve been desperate to go back and hope to soon now that borders are open again!

downtown vancouver views stanley park

Vancouver, BC

And yes, I may be biased, but I think I’ve totally saved the best until the last.

Sure, it’s not in the US, but if you’re doing a West Coast road trip and have some additional time, head over the border and into Vancouver.

Vancouver is my favorite city – you just can’t beat its’ location between the mountains and the ocean. It’s beautiful even when it rains (which it does a lot) and there’s an outdoor adventure to be had at every turn.

I’ve written a lot about Vancouver having lived here for over 5 years so you can check out my Vancouver travel guides.

blue lake trail north cascades national park

USA West Coast itinerary 2 weeks

Here’s a suggested two-week West Coast USA road trip itinerary. This itinerary starts in Seattle, Washington, and ends in San Diego, California, but you can also do it in reverse.

I’ve planned it with 14 stops over 14 days, but feel free to spend more or less time in each location based on your interests. For example, you may prefer to spend less time in cities and more in National Parks during your west coast road trip USA.

This itinerary runs north to south, but you could do it the other way around too.

  • Day 1: Seattle, Washington : Explore Pike Place Market and visit the iconic Space Needle for panoramic views of the city.
  • Day 2: Olympic National Park : Hike in the lush Hoh Rainforest and explore the rugged coastal beaches.
  • Day 3: Portland, Oregon : Visit the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) and wander through the artistic Pearl District.
  • Day 4: Crater Lake National Park : Take a drive around the rim for breathtaking views of the deep blue lake.
  • Day 5: Redwood National Park : Walk among the towering redwoods and feel the serenity of these ancient forests.
  • Day 6: Mendocino “ , California : Enjoy coastal views and explore the charming, artsy seaside village.
  • Day 7: Napa Valley, California : Go on a wine tasting tour at some of the world-renowned vineyards in the valley.
  • Day 8: San Francisco, California : Visit the Golden Gate Bridge and explore the bustling Fisherman’s Wharf.
  • Day 9: Monterey & Big Sur : Drive the scenic Pacific Coast Highway and visit the impressive Monterey Bay Aquarium.
  • Day 10: Santa Barbara: Relax on the beach and stroll along State Street for shopping and dining.
  • Day 11: Los Angeles, California: Explore Hollywood, visit the Getty Center, and take a stroll on the beaches of Santa Monica.
  • Day 12: Joshua Tree National Park, California : Hike among the iconic Joshua Trees and enjoy the unique desert landscapes.
  • Day 13 + 14: San Diego, California : Visit the world-renowned San Diego Zoo and relax at the picturesque La Jolla Cove. Or enjoy a relaxing beach day, explore the historic Gaslamp Quarter, or visit more of the city’s attractions.

Please note that each day involves different levels of activity and travel, so starting early and pacing yourself is key to fully enjoying each location on this itinerary.

battery east viewpoint golden gate

West Coast trip itinerary 1 week

Here’s a condensed one-week West Coast USA road trip itinerary with specific activities for each day:

  • Day 1: San Francisco : Explore Golden Gate Park and visit Fisherman’s Wharf.
  • Day 2: Monterey & Big Sur: Drive along the scenic Pacific Coast Highway and spot sea otters at Monterey Bay.
  • Day 3: Santa Barbara : Wander through the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden and enjoy local dining on State Street.
  • Day 4: Los Angeles: Visit the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the Griffith Observatory for city views.
  • Day 5: Joshua Tree National Park: Hike the Hidden Valley Trail and star-gaze in this Dark Sky Park.
  • Day 6: San Diego, California : Spend a day at the San Diego Zoo or enjoy the beaches of La Jolla.
  • Day 7: Return to Los Angeles: Shop at The Grove, explore the Getty Center, and depart from LAX (if needed).

This west coast road trip itinerary 7 days, provides a mix of city exploration and natural beauty, all while making the most of a shorter road trip timeframe for a road trip west coast USA. These days will be jam-packed, so it’s key to start early and prioritize activities based on your own interests.

FAQs about a West Coast America Road Trip

How to travel the west coast of america.

To travel the West Coast of America, consider a road trip along the Pacific Coast Highway (Highway 1 in California and Highway 101 in Oregon and Washington), which offers stunning coastal views. Start from San Diego, California, and head north through Los Angeles and San Francisco, continuing through Oregon to Seattle, Washington. Alternatively, you can travel by Amtrak trains, which offer routes along the coast or opt for domestic flights between major cities.

How many days do you need for a West Coast road trip?

A West Coast road trip can vary in length, but a minimum of one week is recommended to see a few key highlights. Ideally, two to three weeks allow for a more relaxed and comprehensive exploration of the various cities, national parks, and scenic routes along the way

What is the famous road on the West Coast?

The famous road on the West Coast of the United States is the Pacific Coast Highway, also known as Highway 1 in California. It is renowned for its breathtaking coastal views, winding turns, and dramatic cliffs, making it one of the most scenic drives in the United States.

What not to miss on the West Coast USA?

Don’t miss the iconic cities of San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Seattle, the stunning national parks like Yosemite, Olympic, and Joshua Tree, the scenic Pacific Coast Highway, and the unique coastal towns like Monterey and Santa Barbara. These are all worthy of a visit during an America west coast road trip.

How long do you need to travel the West Coast of America?

To travel the West Coast of America comfortably, plan for at least two to three weeks. This allows time to explore major cities, national parks, and coastal scenery, while also having some downtime to relax and enjoy each destination without feeling overly rushed during your West Coast trip USA.

Final thoughts on this West Coast of America Road Trip Guide

A West Coast USA road trip is a rewarding adventure that mixes cities, stunning national parks, and scenic coastal drives.

Remember to embrace spontaneity along the way, allowing for unexpected detours and discoveries – as they’re often some of the best parts of any American road trip!

Hopefully, you’ve now got some road trip ideas for the west coast US. Of course, there are lots of other places you could add but these are some of my picks from our time traveling West Coast America. Many. of these destinations are worthy of being on anyone’s USA bucket list and I think planning a west coast America trip is the best way to see them.

After you’ve explored the West Coast, you might want to do an East Coast road trip. If so, here are several places you should visit on the East Coast as well as this guide to a Florida road trip, or plan a New England fall color road trip.

Last Updated on August 17, 2023 by Hannah

hannah author bio

Hannah started That Adventurer after graduating back in 2013 and has documented all of her adventures since then. From backpacking South America to city breaks in Europe , a 3 month road trip across the USA in a self-converted van and 6 years living in Canada , you’ll find posts on all of this.

Hannah specialises in active travel and on That Adventurer you’ll find hiking, walking, biking, skiing and all sorts of active travel guides to allow you to see a destination in an adventurous way.

Now back in Europe, you’ll find new guides as Hannah and her husband spend the next year ‘digital nomading’ from Norway to Portugal, Switzerland to Scotland and places in between.

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Greta's Travels

USA West Coast Road Trip: 6 Places To Visit In The West Coast Of The United States Of America

Posted on Last updated: August 28, 2023

Let me set the scene: I’ve just returned from a 6-month stint in California and all I get from friends is the sarcastic quip, ‘Mate, did you go to California?’ YES MATE I DID.

Why were all my friends being annoying? Because I couldn’t stop talking about it; California truly is amazing. You can ski, surf, hike, swim and do it all in the same week.

Last year was a blast so I decided to return this year to see what I missed out on. So, here’s your ultimate road trip guide to the West Coast.

California’s pretty big so where do you start? There’s a bunch of different routes you could take to cover all the best places to visit on the West Coast, but here’s my top 3.

If you want to go an awesome USA West Coast road trip, this is the guide for you! We have outlined the top three road trip routes, as well as detailed West Coast itinerary.

So that for every stop you know all the best things to do, where to stay, where to eat and more! So read on, and start planning your American road trip dream!

  • 1 How to road trip around the US
  • 2.1.1 Where to stay in San Francisco
  • 2.2.1 Where to stay in Santa Barbara
  • 2.3.1 Where to stay in Los Angeles
  • 2.4.1 Where to stay in San Diego
  • 2.5.1 Where to stay in Joshua Tree National Park
  • 2.6.1 Where to stay in Yosemite National Park
  • 3 What to pack for a West Coast America road trip

Map with possible USA West Coast road trip itineraries

Possible USA West Coast road trip itineraries

How to road trip around the US

The easiest way to road trip around the US is obviously to rent a car and drive around. Roads in the US are wide and easy to drive on.

Most cars come with modern GPS devices, but even if it doesn’t have one Google Maps is very trustworthy. You just type where you want to go and it will usually get you to the right place.

However if you don’t know how or want to drive, you can also road trip to the best towns on the West Coast of the US by bus. The US has a fairly reliable bus system, you just won’t have as much flexibility on your departure times.

Click here to rent a car for your USA West Coast road trip!

Time to go on a California road trip!

Time to go on a California road trip!

USA West Coast road trip itinerary

San francisco  .

Top 3 things to do/see:

  • Bike across The Golden Gate Bridge
  • Get a boat taxi across the Bay
  • Hang out in Mission Dolores Park

San Fran was weird. Boy it was so weird. The city has a kind of unique, relaxed energy that makes it addictive to stay in. Every corner has something  and someone  different.


The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco at sunset - Photo by Kaitlyn Thurlow on Scopio

The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco at sunset – Photo by Kaitlyn Thurlow on Scopio

Daytime San Fran is very different to night-time San Francisco and they both have a lot to offer. Ya girl can’t ride a bike so had to drive this bit but it is well worth renting a bike and cycling across the Golden Gate Bridge.

It’s definitely one for the bucket list and does not disappoint. Lots of places offer bike tours and it’s a great way to see the tourist attractions and get a base for your first day.

Whilst travel writers always promote walking as a sure fire way to get to know a city, why not try a boat taxi as an alternative?

When I first read boat taxi I thought major ship, fifty seats but it’s actually a small, yellow boat like the size of a big dinghy.

Epic views over the San Francisco skyline - Photo by Rainer Puster on Scopio

Epic views over the San Francisco skyline – Photo by Rainer Puster on Scopio

Waves can be a little choppy but you’ll get to see the whole bay and stop off at popular places like Pier 39 to see the infamous sea lions who reside there.

It’s a hop-on/hop- off type thing with a flat rate of 10 USD per person. If you ask nicely enough, you might even get to drive the boat.

If you’re after a more ‘authentic vibe’ walk up some hills and check out Mission Dolores Park. San Francisco is known for its liberal, hippie counterculture of the 60s.

In the park you’ll find people playing the bongos, walking on tight ropes and smoking weed.

Top tip: Return your rental car to the same place that you picked it up so you don’t get hit with extra fees.

San Francisco skyline

San Francisco, photo by Just Jenny Lamb

Where to stay in San Francisco

We have listed below some cool places to stay in San Francisco for every budget.

Luxury: Fairmont Miramar – If you’re looking to treat yourself, this is a great place to do so. Located right on the beach, with a pool and epic sea-view, it’s a great place to chill after a long day exploring San Francisco.

Click here to book your stay at Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows

Mid-range & Budget: HI San Francisco Downtown Hostel – This lovely hostel is a great choice for both mid-range and budget travellers. They have both dorms and private rooms for both levels of privacy and budget.

Click here to book your stay at HI San Francisco Downtown Hostel!

The Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco - Photo by David Chaidez on Scopio

The Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco – Photo by David Chaidez on Scopio

Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is the next major city on the coast but if you want you could stop by Monterey on the way down; it’s famous for its aquarium and the bay’s rock formations.

As for Santa Barbara, it hasn’t got much that the rest of California can’t offer you but if you’re after the image of a ‘typical’ Californian lifestyle you’ll find the embodiment of that in Santa Barbara.

Many people visit Santa Barbara on a day trip from Los Angeles , but I think it’s worth stopping a bit longer. The city is known for its party school along with its serene beaches and great seafood.

Top tip: On your way down to the next location, take the slightly longer route down Pacific Coast Highway so you get views of the ocean all the way down.


Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara, photo by Just Jenny Lamb

Where to stay in Santa Barbara

There are lots of cool hotels, apartments and Airbnbs in Santa Barbara . I have listed some options below for every budget.

Luxury: Harbor View Inn – Located right on the beach and with a beautiful pool, this hotel is the perfect place for those who want to relax even more, after a long day at the beach (it can be very tiring)!

Click here to book your stay at Harbor View Inn!

Mid-range: The Wayfarer – This hotel is a short walk away from the beach and also has a pool. It’s great choice for those still looking for something nice but without spending as much.

Click here to book your stay at The Wayfarer!

Budget: Casa del Mar Inn – This lovely hotel is close to the beach and all the main attractions of Santa Barbara.

Click here to book your stay at Casa del Mar Inn!

Beach views with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background - Photo by Andrew Chen on Scopio

Beach views with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background – Photo by Andrew Chen on Scopio

Los Angeles

  • Hike to the BACK of the Hollywood sign
  • Explore Korea Town and go to a speakeasy
  • Hit up Venice Beach on a weekday

Los Angeles is a monster of a city. The traffic is no myth but suck it up. Unfortunately, there is no easier way than to drive in L.A. because of its vast expanse.


View over Los Angeles from Griffith Observatory - Photo by Khurum Khan on Scopio

View over Los Angeles from Griffith Observatory – Photo by Khurum Khan on Scopio

There is SO much to do in L.A. but the peak for me was a literal peak. The Hollywood sign is a must see but why not see it whilst getting a great view of the whole city?

Careful with this one though, we spent ages driving around the Hollywood hills looking for the trails. Plan which route you want to take. For the most rewarding hike take the Brush Canyon Trail.

If you don’t fancy a 6.4 mile hike you can always drive up part way, find somewhere to park and walk the remainder up Mount Lee.

The view over Los Angeles from behind the Hollywood sign

The view over Los Angeles from behind the Hollywood sign, photo by Just Jenny Lamb

L.A. and the surrounding areas of Malibu and Long Beach are known for their beaches. Kick back and relax on Venice or Manhattan Beach. Perfect time? 10am on a Tuesday.

L.A. has a lot of neighbourhoods but if you’re after ‘edgy’ fun then go to Korea Town. You’ll indulge in some of the best Korean food you’ve ever tasted as well as treating your ear buds to dulcet tones in a karaoke bar.

BUT, if you’re looking for something more off the grid try Break Room 86.

I won’t ruin it for you but it’s a speakeasy with hidden doorways in the most unexpected places; retro decor in the cool way, not the try-hard way.

Top tip: If you’re single, get on a dating app and ask for recommendations for local hot spots but just be careful they don’t follow you to the location…

If you’re not single, anytime you get in an Uber ask for recommendations, they ALWAYS know.

Sunset at the famous Santa Monica Pier - Photo by Stefan Obermeier on Scopio

Sunset at the famous Santa Monica Pier – Photo by Stefan Obermeier on Scopio

Where to stay in Los Angeles

I’ve listed below some cool places to stay in Santa Monica, one of the coolest areas of LA, for every budget.

Luxury:  Shutters On The Beach   – If you’re looking to treat yourself, this is the perfect place to do so. Located right on the beach, this hotel has a beautiful pool, spacious rooms and epic beach views.

Click here to book your stay at Shutters On The Beach!

Mid-range:  Arizona Apartment  – This modern apartment is close to both the beach and main attractions of Santa Monica, perfect for two travellers who want a bit of privacy and freedom.

Click here to book your stay at Arizona Apartment!

Budget:  HI Los Angeles, Santa Monica Hostel   – If you want to save a bit, this hostel is a great option. It’s really close to the beach and in the heart of Santa Monica, with spacious dorms and lots of social common areas.

Click here to book your stay at HI Los Angeles, Santa Monica Hostel!

View over Los Angeles from the Hollywood sign - Photo by Sarah Czajkowski on Scopio

View over Los Angeles from the Hollywood sign – Photo by Sarah Czajkowski on Scopio

  • Snorkel and swim with the seals in La Jolla
  • Balboa Park/ San Diego Zoo
  • Gaslamp Quarter

San Diego is known for its miles and miles of white sand beaches, so make the most of it. La Jolla Cove is a small, picturesque beach enclosed by the cliffs.

La Jolla has a rich marine life making it a popular destination for snorkelers. It gets quite busy but make sure you stay for sunset.

A San Diego whale watching tour is another popular activity. The beauty of the West Coast is that migrating whales can be seen at any time of the year here.

Sunset on the beach in San Diego - Photo by Nick Rizzo on Scopio

Sunset on the beach in San Diego – Photo by Nick Rizzo on Scopio

Ok, so you’re reading the word park up there in my top 3 and you’re wondering why would I go all the way to California to sit in a park? Balboa is no ordinary park.

There’s museums, performances, shopping, art and the world famous San Diego Zoo. The zoo is home to over 3,700 different animals.

After a day of exploring everything the park has to offer, take a night-time stroll through the Gaslamp Quarter.

Tucked into 16.5 blocks, the quarter is packed with restaurants and bars where you can have fun as you immerse yourself in Victorian architecture.

Top tip: As with any major city there can be problems with homelessness. Be careful with Airbnb as I ended up staying in a homeless heavy district.

Seals in San Diego

San Diego, photo by Just Jenny Lamb

Where to stay in San Diego

Given you’re already driving a lot in this road trip, you probably don’t want to waste too much time driving within cities. These accommodation options for every budget are all in great locations in San Diego.

Luxury: Wyndham Garden San Diego – This beautiful property is located in the heart of San Diego, close to the Old Town. It has spacious rooms and a big pool where you can chill.

Click here to book your stay at Wyndham Garden San Diego!

Mid-range: Old Town Inn – This cute hotel also has a pool for you to relax at the end of the day, big rooms and a cosy atmosphere at a more affordable rate.

Click here to book your stay at Old Town Inn!

Budget: Old Town Western Inn – Similar name, different place. This lovely hotel is right in the heart of the Old Town of San Diego, perfect as base for your San Diego adventures!

Click here to book your stay at Old Town Western Inn!

Driving into the famous University Heights neighbourhood in San Diego - Photo by McClean Photography on Scopio

Driving into the famous University Heights neighbourhood in San Diego – Photo by McClean Photography on Scopio

Joshua Tree

  • Explore the national park
  • Smith’s Ranch – drive-in movie theatre (open Thu, Fri, Sat & Sun)
  • Pappy and Harriet’s restaurant and bar

Joshua Tree National Park is one of the most popular weekend getaways from Los Angeles , and it’s easy to see why.

If there’s one thing you know about Joshua Tree it’s either that they are famous for their weird looking trees or that it’s the place people go to ‘get away’ and ‘be at one’ in the desert.

Whichever one you’re after make sure you check out the National Park. You can drive to the different viewing spots because the heat is simply unbearable in the summer.

Beautiful desert views in Joshua Tree National Park - Photo by Alexander Mirtschink on Scopio

Beautiful desert views in Joshua Tree National Park – Photo by Alexander Mirtschink on Scopio

Joshua Tree is in the middle of nowhere so what is there possibly to do in the evening? Go to a drive-in movie theatre.

There aren’t many left in the US which is why Smith’s Ranch in the neighbouring town of Twenty-Nine Palms is perfect. Just remember to take 5 USD cash as they don’t accept card.

After the movie, if you’re in the mood for a drink then head over to Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace. Expect BBQ food, live music and drinks in mason jars.

Top tip: When you enter the national park, make sure you buy an annual park pass as it works out cheaper for you if you want to visit other national parks in the country.

Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree, photo by Just Jenny Lamb

Where to stay in Joshua Tree National Park

You will need somewhere well located to relax after all the driving in this West Coast road trip itinerary. I’ve listed some options for every budget below.

Luxury: The Art House – This apartment has an outdoor jacuzzi, do you need anything else? Jokes aside it also has big common areas, perfect for a family or group of friends.

Click here to book your stay at The Art House!

Mid-range: Joshua Tree Bungalow – This cute bungalow has a big garden and is located right in the heart of Joshua Tree.

Click here to book your stay at Joshua Tree Bungalow!

Budget: View at the Top – This lovely and spacious apartment is located on top of a slight hill, with incredible views over Joshua Tree.

Click here to book your stay at View at the Top!

Desert views in Joshua Tree National Park - Photo by Sarah Czajkowski on Scopio

Desert views in Joshua Tree National Park – Photo by Sarah Czajkowski on Scopio

Sequoia & Yosemite

  • General Sherman (the world’s biggest tree)
  • Hike to Glacier Point
  • Try anything LOCAL e.g. drink in a honky tonk, stay on a citrus farm, visit the local fair

I’ve combined these into two because you could theoretically drive through one and stay in the other. Sequoia comes first and if you’re interested in big trees then WOW, you’re in heaven.


Yosemite Falls in Yosemite National Park - Photo by Joseph Miguel on Scopio

Yosemite Falls in Yosemite National Park – Photo by Joseph Miguel on Scopio

Sequoia and King’s Canyon National Park are right next to one another so you can smash them out in a day.

Though, the most impressive landscape I’ve ever seen has to be in the next national park along the route, Yosemite.

For those who don’t know, Yosemite is home to the tallest waterfall in America and around 300-500 black bears.

3.5 million people visit every year to witness its magnificent landscape. Still don’t know what I’m talking about? You know that massive rock on the default background of a Mac? Yeah, that big boy.

There are numerous hikes you can do but always check with the park rangers to find one suitable for your ability. Glacier Point is by far the best viewing point but Nevada Falls is also impressive.

Beautiful reflections in Yosemite National Park - Photo by Joseph Miguel on Scopio

Beautiful reflections in Yosemite National Park – Photo by Joseph Miguel on Scopio

Glacier Point is also accessible by car so if you feel you can’t do a 4.8 mile hike with an elevation of 3,200 feet then consider driving. However, you’ll miss out on plenty of stop-offs for pictures on the hike.

Lastly, experience something LOCAL.

Stepping into central California is how you might imagine stepping into the South of North America is like. Thick, lazy accents and ‘cowboy feels’, pick-up trucks everywhere and American flags.

Top tip: If you want to witness the impressive waterfalls in the parks go in the spring as there is no water in the valley during the summer and many paths are closed in the winter.

Yosemite, photo by Just Jenny Lamb

Yosemite, photo by Just Jenny Lamb

Where to stay in Yosemite National Park

Your United States West Coast road trip is coming to an end, you’ll want to stay somewhere special for the occasion! Here are some options in Yosemite for every budget.

Budget & Mid-range: Yosemite Bug Rustic Mountain Resort – This is  THE place to stay in the Yosemite area (even if it’s technically outside the national park). It has beautiful cabin-style rooms and a tasty vegan-friendly cafe.

Click here to book your stay at Yosemite Bug Rustic Mountain Resort!

Luxury: Yosemite Valley Lodge –  Sitting directly in front of Yosemite falls itself, this is the perfect place to stay if you want to splurge a bit and treat yourself. You won’t find a more prime location.

Click here to book your stay at Yosemite Valley Lodge!

The iconic trees, waterfalls and cliffs of Yosemite National Park - Photo by olivier langevin on Scopio

The iconic trees, waterfalls and cliffs of Yosemite National Park – Photo by olivier langevin on Scopio

What to pack for a West Coast America road trip

There aren’t many things you will need besides your usual travel essentials and outfits. However I’ve listed below a couple items you should definitely remember to pack.

Water bottle – You can drink the tap water anywhere in the US. Save money and the environment by refilling your own water bottle. I like these steel insulated ones because they remain cold for hours.

Power bank – I always recommend travelling with one, but especially so if you’re going on a road trip, you don’t want to run out of battery while driving! No music and no GPS is a bad combination

Motion sickness tablets – There’s a lot of driving in this road trip itinerary, if you’re prone to getting motion sickness you’ll want these tablets

Camera – Don’t forget a camera to capture all the awesome America road trip memories you’ll create on this trip!

The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco at sunset - Photo by Ben Kao on Scopio

The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco at sunset – Photo by Ben Kao on Scopio

Final thoughts on our United States West Coast road trip itinerary

So, there you have it: my ultimate guide to a USA West Coast road trip.

If you’re feeling adventurous and want to extend your trip then you can see even more in the neighbouring states by going through Death Valley to Las Vegas  (after all, if you’re doing this road trip with friends, a girls trip to Vegas is a must on any travel bucket list!), to the Hoover Dam and finishing in the Grand Canyon .

As always let me know where your travels take you!

Looking for more US travel tips? Check out these guides:

  • Discover Florida – the best winter sun in the USA?
  • The perfect Miami 2-day itinerary

Enjoyed reading our USA West Coast road trip planner? Pin it!

Two girls overlooking Los Angeles from the Hollywood sign with text overlay saying

About the author

Just Jenny Lamb Blog | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

Jenny is a 21-year-old writer from London who recently decided to escape real life and travel the world for the next year. Fed up with ghost writing about mundane topics for other people she created her blog, JustJennyLamb in the hope of creating a ‘non-pretentious’ and relatable travel blog. Expect a brutally honest version of events, a lot of sarcasm and some witty prose. If you’re looking for a light bed-time read, you’re in luck.

Jenny Lamb, author of Just Jenny Lamb

Jenny Lamb, author of Just Jenny Lamb

A Local's Guide To Los Angeles - Best Things To Do, Where To Eat & More

Friday 9th of November 2018

[…] Have you been to Los Angeles before? How did you find it? Let us know in the comments below! I hope you find this local’s guide to LA useful in planning your trip, so that when you visit you can blend in and not stand out as a tourist right away! If you’re planning a wider California road trip, check out this guide to the best places to visit on the USA West Coast. […]


10 days road trip in USA West Coast: Epic itinerary + Tips

Usa west coast itinerary 10 days: the perfect road trip.

You’re planning to visit the American West for 10 days?

Great idea!

In order to help you plan your stay, I have prepared for you this 9, 10 or 11 days itinerary on the American West Coast.

During your trip, you will discover all the best places to visit such as  Las Vegas , Route 66, the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Antelope Canyon, Death Valley  and a lot more!

In this travel guide, in addition to the must-see attractions , I will also give you all my best tips as well as my list of the best accommodations depending on your budget.

So, what are the best things to do during your 10-day trip to the USA West Coast?

Let’s find out!

Renting a car for your 10 days road trip in the USA (West Coast)

Where to stay in las vegas, where to stay around the grand canyon, day 3 – grand canyon, where to stay in monument valley, where to stay around lake powell, where to stay in bryce canyon, where to stay in zion national park, where to stay around death valley, day 9 – death valley, day 10 – las vegas, 9 or 11 days west coast itinerary, get your esta (electronic system for travel authorization), travel insurance, driving in the us, map of your 10 days itinerary in usa west coast, you’re traveling in the us these articles will help you.

To visit the west of the United States for 10 days, you will need a car. It’s simply not possible to discover the best of the west coast in such a short period of time by public transport.

To rent a car , you should use Rentalcars.com website.

It’s the one I use for all my trips, as it’s super convenient: it allows you to compare all the rental companies’ rates in just one click and to book your car rental at the best price!

And if you don’t have an insurance with your credit card, you can opt for the  “Full Protection Insurance” , to be fully refunded in case of accident or theft.  Tested and approved! (They refunded me more than 1200€ to date!)

For this 10 days itinerary, you will need to rent a car in Las Vegas.

If you already know your travel dates to the American West, simply click on the button below to compare prices and rent your car: 

To rent a car in the United States, you need to:

  • Be over 21 years old
  • Have a valid license from your country of residence (you must have your driver’s license for at least 12 months)
  • Have an international license: it’s not mandatory but more and more rental companies require it, so it’s better to have it (especially if your driver’s licence is not in English)
  • Provide a credit card in the name of the main driver
  • Present your passport.

Day 1 – Las Vegas

Let’s start your Western USA 10-day itinerary in the city of Las Vegas , located in the heart of Nevada.

First, you should go see the iconic Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign . It’s the perfect starting point for your day, and a mandatory photo stop in Vegas!

After capturing your first memories, drive towards the famous Strip. Here, you’ll encounter the most renowned hotels and casinos and the replicas of the world’s famous landmarks.

Start with New York New York . This resort brings the charm of the Big Apple to Vegas , complete with the Statue of Liberty and a heart-pumping roller coaster  soaring above the casino floor.

Just across the street, the mighty MGM Grand awaits. Recognizable by its emerald green facade, it’s home to top-notch casino, shows, dining, and entertainment.

Moving on, you will find the Bellagio and its fountain show . Every evening, these synchronized water fountains dance to a medley of music, lights, and colors. It’s a spectacle you shouldn’t miss during your 10-day trip to the American West!

High Roller Observation Wheel

Continue on the strip and you will arrive at Paris Las Vegas . The resort’s replica of the Eiffel Tower is really worth a look!

You wanna enjoy a a panoramic view over the Strip ?

In that case, you should go on the Eiffel Tower viewing platform!

Tickets needs to be booked in advance by clicking on the green button below:

For an extra touch of magic, consider dining at the top-floor restaurant during the evening.

Then, step back in time to ancient Rome at the Caesars Palace . Wander through its expansive shopping arcade or play the many slot machines. 

If you’re seeking a thrill, the Fly Linq Zipline Las Vegas (book it here!) will be the perfect activity for an adrenaline rush. It offers a bird’s-eye view of the city as you fly over the bustling promenade.

Of course, your first day isn’t complete without a visit to The Venetian . Take some time to explore its canal system and perhaps enjoy a gondola ride , reminiscent of Venice itself.

To end your first day in style, you should head downtown, to the Fremont Street Experience.

It’s a five-block entertainment district boasting the world’s largest video screen . With free nightly shows and an electric atmosphere, it’s the best way to wrap up your day in Vegas.

The Venetian's Grand Canal Las Vegas

To learn everything about the best places to visit in Las Vegas, you should read my other article: The 30 best things to do in Las Vegas.

Las Vegas truly comes alive at night. Here are some nighttime activities you should try:

  • Ascend the STRAT observation platform (book your tickets here!) at sunset for breathtaking views of the city.
  • Experience the city’s from the Ferris wheel (click here to book!) .
  • Attend a show! Whether it’s a magic act , a comedy show , or a grand performance like Cirque du Soleil , Las Vegas’s offers some of the best shows in the world.
  • Embark on an helicopter tour to fly over the iconic Las Vegas strip!

New York – New York hotel and casino Vegas

There are a lot of hotels in Las Vegas, and choosing the best for your stay can be a bit complicated.

In order to help you out, I have selected for you  the best hotels in Las Vegas depending on your budget.

As always, to get the best prices, you should  book your hotel as early as possible*!

*And a little clarification: in Las Vegas prices can explode for weekends or if there is a special event during a the day of the week. For example, you can have a night at Caesars Palace for €140 and the next day it will be €1,600.

Please note that prices “start from”, they can vary greatly (and I’ve got nothing to do with that 😅).

In any case, I can always help you find a hotel within your budget if you ask me in the comments.

Here is my selection of the best hotels to stay at on the Strip:

  • Excalibur: With its castle-themed structure, it’s a hit among families and offers affordable rates starting at 70€ per night. Strong points: comfortable beds, size of rooms, price. An excellent choice for cheap accommodation on the Las Vegas Strip!
  • Luxor: Have you ever dreamt of sleeping in a pyramid? Well, in Las Vegas you can! Double room from €80. Strong points: helpful staff, big bedroom, connected to Excalibur and Mandalay hotels.
  • Caesars Palace Hotel & Casino: This famous 5-star hotel on the Strip offers rooms from €140. Strong points: its architecture, beautiful pools, nice and clean rooms.
  • Treasure Island Hotel & Casino: Double room from 170€. Plus points: spacious room, fridge in the room, great location on the strip, self check-in so you don’t have to wait, self parking.
  • Paris Las Vegas Hotel & Casino: Hotel located opposite the Eiffel Tower. Double room from 225€. Strong points: good restaurants, room and hotel decor, very comfortable.
  • Las Vegas Hilton at Resorts World : Double room from 290€. Strong points: room and facilities are new, great pool area, super comfy bed, super clean. This is my recommendation for a top-of-the-range stay in Las Vegas!
  • Bellagio: I can’t forget to mention the Bellagio in my selection of the most beautiful hotels in Las Vegas! The hotel offers sumptuous rooms from €480. Strong points: very luxurious, perfect location for exploring the Strip, fountain view. This is my recommendation for a deluxe stay in Las Vegas!

Here is my selection of the best hotels to stay in Downtown Las Vegas / Fremont Street:

  • The D Las Vegas: Double room from 75€. Strong points: the price, friendly staff, clean, free parking.
  • Downtown Grand Hotel & Casino: Nice and clean double room from 85€. Strong points: pool terrace, comfortable bed, great location, big room.
  • Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino Las Vegas: Double room from 110€. Strong points: free parking, huge room.
  • Circa Resort & Casino – Adults only: Double room from 180€. Strong points: rooftop bar, swimming pool area, new and modern.

Bellagio Where to stay in Las Vegas

Day 2 – From Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon – The legendary Route 66

On the second day of your 10-Day West Coast USA Road Trip Itinerary, you will drive on America’s must famous road: Route 66.

Ideally, you should start your day early and head first to Hoover Dam.

This colossal concrete dam stands tall on the border between Nevada and Arizona, 40 minutes by car from Las Vegas.

As you stand atop this engineering wonder, you can admire the vastness of the man-made Lake Mead. To make the most of your stop at Hoover Dam, you can opt for a guided tour. It’s the perfect way to learn more about the history of the dam’s construction.

After your visit, it will be time to set your wheels on the historic Route 66!

A road that embodies the spirit of classic America, Route 66 has been immortalized in numerous songs, stories, and films.

Between Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon, you will stumble upon several iconic stops that capture the essence of Route 66. And you will have the full day to discover them!

Your first stop should be Kingman .

Often termed the ‘Heart of Historic Route 66’, Kingman is home to the Route 66 Museum. Here, you can dive deep into the tales of America’s highway.

In Kingman, you will also find retro cafes and diners, reminiscent of the bygone era. You should grab a meal or at least a coffee here, soaking in the 50’s and 60’s vibe.

Mr D'z Route 66 Diner

Get back to your car and head to Seligman .

With vintage cars lined up and colorful murals painted across buildings, it’s a photographer’s delight.

The iconic Snow Cap Drive-In is a must-visit. Their quirky signs and classic shakes are just what you need for a mid-drive break.

As you get closer to the Grand Canyon , you’ll come across Williams .

This charming town will take you back to the 1950s, with its diners with neon signs, classic motels, and vintage gas stations reminiscent of the golden age of American road trips.

You can also find numerous souvenir shops here, perfect to purchase a few souvenirs of your 10-day west coast road trip for your family, your friends, or yourself!

Spend the night near the Grand Canyon.

Don’t forget to fuel up before embarking on long stretches of Route 66.

While the historic charm is undeniable, there aren’t that many gas stations along the way, so keep an eye out for old-fashioned gas stations and relive the nostalgia while filling up.

You have 3 different options for sleeping near the Grand Canyon:

  • Grand Canyon Village, right on the edge of the Canyon
  • The town of Tusayan , 15 minutes from the Grand Canyon
  • The town of Williams , an hour from the Grand Canyon

At the Grand Canyon Village, you could sleep at:

  • Yavapai Lodge: Double room from €265. Strong points: free parking, the setting, close to the shops.
  • Maswick Lodge: Double room from 320€. Strong points: free parking, very big bedroom, close to the best sites and shuttles.

Here is my selection of the best hotels in Tusayan:

  • Squire Resort at the Grand Canyon, BW Signature Collection : Double room from 250€. Strong points: indoor and outdoor swimming pool, arcade, friendly staff, perfect location.
  • Grand Canyon Plaza Hotel : Double room from 260€. Strong points: free parking, very clean, swimming pool, proximity to the Grand Canyon.
  • The Grand Hotel at the Grand Canyon: Double room from 290€. Strong points: the friendliness of the staff, the decoration of the hotel, very comfortable, the peace and quiet.
  • Holiday Inn Express Grand Canyon, an IHG Hotel : Double room from 300€. Strong points: indoor swimming pool, close to restaurants, clean, spacious.

Here is my selection of the best hotels in Williams:

  • Travelodge by Wyndham Williams Grand Canyon : Double room from 80€, breakfast included. Strong points: friendly staff, free parking, close to shops, fridge and coffee maker in room.
  • Ramada by Wyndham Williams/Grand Canyon Area : Double room from 100€. Strong points: indoor swimming pool, clean.
  • Comfort Inn near Grand Canyon: Double room from 130€, breakfast included. Strong points: indoor swimming pool, comfort of beds, size of rooms, good breakfast. This is my favorite hotel for its excellent value for money!
  • Quality Inn Near Grand Canyon : Double room from 135€, breakfast included. Strong points: spacious, clean and comfortable room.
  • La Quinta by Wyndham Williams-Grand Canyon Area : Double room from 175€, breakfast included. Strong points: new, modern hotel, lovely pool, free parking.

Route 66

Your western America 10-day road trip will now take you to one of the most famous natural landmarks in the world: the Grand Canyon!

The Grand Canyon’s South Rim offers stunning viewpoints, trails, and incredible experiences. Here are the best places to visit, in chronological order:

1) Yavapai Point

Start your day at Yavapai Point , one of the widest sections of the Grand Canyon.

This viewpoint offers unparalleled panoramic vistas of the canyon’s gorges, cliffs, and the winding Colorado River.

2) Hermit Road

To explore Hermit Road , one of the highlights of the South Rim, you should use the park’s shuttle service.

This 11 kilometer route is dotted with numerous viewpoints, each offering a different perspective of the Grand Canyon.

Keep in mind that from March to November, private vehicles have limited access, so using the shuttle is both convenient and eco-friendly.

3) Desert View Drive

Stretching for about 40 kilometer along the South Rim , the Desert View Drive promises incredible memories. Every twist and turn on this road unveils a new vista.

Don’t forget to stop at the Desert View Watchtower. This stone tower not only offers an elevated viewpoint over the canyon, but also encapsulates Native American art and culture.

4) Bright Angel Trail

If you want to experience the Grand Canyon on foot , the Bright Angel Trail is one of the best options.

This trail leading you down into the canyon, is a very difficult hike with a steep gradient, which has to be descended and then climbed! As the signs along the trail say “Down is optional / Up is mandatory”.

Allow between 9 and 12 hours for the entire hike.

Hopefully, even if you are not a seasoned hiker , you can still do the first part of the trek . For example, if you’re doing a western USA 10-day road trip as a family with young children , I would recommend you to turn back after the second tunnel.

5) Hummer Guided Tour at Sunset

To enjoy the sunset over the Grand Canyon , you can opt for the Hummer guided tour. These tours, led by experienced guides , take you to secluded viewpoints, away from the crowds.

Book it here!

Grand Canyon Mather Point

As you’re exploring one of the world’s natural wonders, there’s one activity that I would especially recommend: the Grand Canyon Helicopter Tour.

Yes, you can discover the Grand Canyon’s Hidden Secrets from the Sky!

Imagine soaring like an eagle over the expansive canyon, experience this iconic wonder in a way few ever will. Witness the majestic rock formations and the winding Colorado River, all from a breathtaking aerial perspective.

It’s a once-in-a-lifetime adventure that promises to leave you with memories that will last forever!

As the seats are limited , you should secure your seat as early as possible . Trust me, you don’t want to miss out on your chance to admire the Grand Canyon from the sky because you forgot to book 😅.

To book your helicopter flight, it’s very simple: you just have to click on the green button below:

If there is no more availability , you can also book with this other company (click here!) , it’s exactly the same thing!

Spend another night near the Grand Canyon.

There’s an entrance fee for all the national park in USA, which is approximately $30 / 35$ per park.

To save money, I’d recommend buying the “America the Beautiful Pass” , which costs $80 and gives you unlimited access to all the US national parks for 1 year. As long as you visit 3 parks during your 10-day West American trip, you’ll get your money’s worth!

The pass is valid for all occupants of the same vehicle.

You can buy the pass at the ticket booths at the park entrances or at the Visitor Center. 

Grand Canyon

Day 4 – Monument Valley

On Day 4, you will discover an other emblem of the American West.

When you think of the Wild West, it’s often the silhouette of Monument Valley that comes to mind – a horizon punctuated by colossal red rocks, standing tall against the azure sky.

You have probably already seen Monument Valley’s iconic red mesas and buttes in numerous movies and ads, and you will for sure love seeing them in real during your West Coast 10 days road trip!

From Grand Canyon Village to Monument Valley Welcome center, it takes about 3 hours by car.

Nestled on the Arizona-Utah state line , this valley is not a national park but a Navajo Tribal Park*. It stands as a testament to the spirit of the Navajo Nation and their deep-rooted connection to this land.

*As Monument Valley is on Navajo Nation Land, the entrance isn’t included in the “America the Beautiful Pass”. It costs around 20$ per vehicle.  

To explore Monument Valley, you have 2 options: 

1) Visiting with your own car

You can drive your own vehicle through the 27 kilometer Valley Drive that snakes through the park. This dirt road takes you past some of the most emblematic formations like the Mittens, Merrick Butte, and John Ford’s Point.

But navigating the rugged terrains can be challenging, especially after rains. A SUV or 4×4 is recommended and you will also have to purchase a permit at the Visitor Center.

Moreover, a personal vehicle limits your access to only certain areas of the park, leaving many hidden gems unexplored.

Monument Valley

2) Opting for a guided tour: the best way to experience Monument Valley!

Visiting Monument Valley is not just about admiring the panoramic vistas; it’s also about discovering the history, traditions, and sacred sites.

A guided tour, especially one led by a Navajo guide, unlocks this treasure trove of experiences.

Here’s why it’s my preferred choice:

  • Access to Restricted Areas: Many of Monument Valley’s wonders lie in areas off-limits to personal vehicles. A guided tour grants you access to these places. The tour I recommend takes in all the iconic sites of Monument Valley: West and East Mitten, 3 Sisters, John Ford Point, Moccasin Arch, Big Hogan, Sun’s Eye, North Window and Sleeping Dragon.
  • Insight into Navajo Culture: The Navajo guides share personal anecdotes, legends, and histories, offering a dive into the rich Navajo culture.
  • No hassle and safe driving: The terrains of Monument Valley can be tricky to navigate. Professional guides ensure you traverse these landscapes safely, without missing out on any key spots.

You need to book your guided tour in advance by clicking here:

This excursion is also available in the late afternoon to enjoy the sunset. You need to book it here!

Spend the night around Monument Valley.

  • Wetherill Inn : Located in the city of Kayenta. Double room from 140€. Strong points: clean, spacious bedroom, good breakfast.
  • Goulding’s Lodge : Located in Monument Valley. Double room from 190€. Strong points: the view over Monument Valley, comfortable room, good restaurant, location.
  • Hampton Inn Kayenta Monument Valley : Located in Kayenta. Double room from 230€, breakfast included. Strong points: swimming pool, typical Navajo cuisine, excellent breakfast, peace and quiet.

road monument valley

Day 5 – Antelope Canyon / Horseshoe Bend / Lake Powell

On the fifth day of your west American 10-day road trip, you will discover 3 emblematic places of Western USA : the sinuous curves of Antelope Canyon , the famous 270° river turn of Horseshoe Bend , and the blue waters of Lake Powell.

Start your day by heading towards Antelope Canyon, 1.5 hours by car from the town of Kayenta.

Located just a few kilometers away from Page, Arizona , Antelope Canyon stands as a testament to the power of water erosion.

Over the ages, flash floods have sculpted sandstone into wavy, flowing forms, creating corridors of light and shadow. When sunlight filters down these narrow canyons, the spectacle is nothing short of magical.

The only way to explore Antelope Canyon is to take a guided tour.

For safety reasons and to respect the land owned by the Navajo Nation, you cannot visit on your own.

There are 2 sections of the canyon that you can visit. No matter which one you choose, you need to book in advance by clicking on the green buttons below:

  • Upper Antelope Canyon: Known for its light beams, it’s the more popular section and easier to traverse with flat grounds. It’s my recommendation if it’s your first visit!
  • Lower Antelope Canyon: While it requires some climbing, its spiral rock arches and depth are also worth a look.

No matter which section you choose, you will see that visiting Antelope Canyon is a unique experience: the colors, from golden yellows to rich reds and purples , are simply beautiful, especially during midday when the sun is high.

Antelope Canyon

Just a short drive from Antelope Canyon , you will find Horseshoe Bend and its iconic U-shaped turn of the Colorado River.

To get to the viewpoint from the parking area, you will have to do a short and easy 1.2km hike. As you stand atop the cliff, 305 meters above the river, the panorama will leave you spellbound.

After snapping a few pictures (or a hundred, like me 😅), get back to your car and head to today’s last destination: Lake Powell, a man-made reservoir that offers a refreshing contrast to the arid landscapes of the region.

With its azure waters set against red rock formations, it’s the perfect spot to relax a bit at the end of the day.

Of course, you can also do activities there: boating, fishing, taking a swim… And if you wanna explore the surroundings, you should rent a kayak or paddleboard to navigate the numerous canyons and inlets.

Spend one night in Page.

All the hotels I’ve selected are in the town of Page, close to Lake Powell:

  • Rodeway Inn at Lake Powell : Double room from 100€, breakfast included. Strong points: spacious room, clean, comfortable bedding. The perfect choice if you’re on a budget.
  • Baymont by Wyndham Page Lake Powell : Double room from 100€, breakfast included. Strong points: free parking, good breakfast, swimming pool and jacuzzi.
  • Days Inn & Suites by Wyndham Page Lake Powell : Double room from 140€, breakfast included. Strong points: nice outdoor area with the swimming pool and jacuzzi, bedroom with sitting area and kitchenette, close to bars and restaurants.
  • Best Western View of Lake Powell Hotel : Double room from 160€, breakfast included. Strong points: superb views from the terrace, ideal location, comfortable and spacious room.
  • Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, Page, AZ : Double room from 170€, breakfast included. Strong points: friendly staff, modern rooms, swimming pool, jacuzzi, gym. It’s the best option for a more high end stay!

Horseshoe Bend Colorado River

Day 6 – Bryce Canyon

On the sixth day of your 10-day USA itinerary, you will visit Bryce Canyon National Park, famous for its impressive geological formations.

Bryce Canyon is a 2h40-minute drive from Lake Powell.

Here, you won’t find “regular” canyons but a series of horseshoe-shaped amphitheaters adorned with hundreds of fairy chimneys, known as hoodoos.

You will see, it’s very different from anything you will have seen to date. These tall, thin spires of rock coming out from the bottom of arid basins are truly unique , with colors ranging from white and pink to fiery orange and red.

Crafted meticulously by nature’s elements over millennia, these hoodoos give Bryce Canyon its distinctive appearance and allure.

To make the most of your visit to Bryce Canyon , you should take the 29-km scenic road passing by all the best viewpoints.

Here are my favorites:

  • Sunrise Point: As the name suggests, this is your ideal spot to witness the first light of day in the park.
  • Inspiration Point: Elevate your perspective and gaze upon the vast collection of hoodoos and spires.
  • Bryce Point: Also renowned for its breathtaking views during sunrise, this viewpoint unveils the full scale of Bryce Amphitheater.
  • Sunset Point: Offering panoramic views of the main amphitheater. As you guessed, you should get there when the sun dips below the horizon.

Bryce Canyon

While viewpoints offer a quick glimpse into Bryce Canyon’s beauty, you can get up close to the fairy chimneys by venturing onto the trails.

Here are the best trails in Bryce Canyon:

  • Navajo Loop Trail: A 2 kilometer hike that descends into the heart of the main amphitheater, taking you through the iconic Wall Street section—a narrow canyon flanked by towering cliffs.
  • Queen’s Garden Trail: A relatively easy hike that lets you get close to the park’s stunning hoodoos, including the famous Queen Victoria hoodoo. You should combine Navajo Loop Trail + Queen’s Garden Trail to do a loop. The full loop is about 2h30 , and it’s in my opinion the perfect option for a first time visit.
  • Peek-A-Boo Loop: A more challenging 3h30 trail, but the rewards are worth the effort. As you weave through the hoodoos, every turn offers a new perspective!

As night falls on the sixth day of your 10-day west coast road trip , Bryce Canyon has one more treat in store— a pristine night sky adorned with thousands of stars, unspoiled by city lights.

It’s the perfect end to a day of exploration!

Spend the night in Bryce Canyon City.

If you don’t fancy taking your car to explore the park or if you want to add a fun activity during the day, there are several other ways to discover Bryce Canyon:

  • Free shuttle buses
  • A minivan tour with a local guide
  • A quad bike tour (Awesome!)
  • Hiking with a guide
  • Horse riding
  • Guided E-bike tour
  • A horse-drawn wagon ride.

All the hotels are located in Bryce Canyon City, just before the entrance to the national park.

  • Bryce Canyon Pines : Double room from 160€. Strong points: clean, good restaurant, swimming pool.
  • Bryce View Lodge Part of the Ruby’s Inn Resort : Double room from 185€, breakfast included. Strong points: big parking, quiet, indoor swimming pool.
  • Best Western PLUS Ruby’s Inn : Double room from 200€, breakfast included. Strong points: good breakfast and restaurant, big indoor swimming pool, spacious and comfortable bedroom.
  • Best Western PLUS Bryce Canyon Grand Hotel : Double room from 300€, breakfast included. Strong points: pleasant staff, heated swimming pool, free parking. The best choice for a more upscale stay!

Day 7 – Zion National Park

On day 7 of your western USA 9, 10 or 11 days road trip, head to Zion National Park, 1h45 drive from Bryce Canyon.

Nestled between the edges of the Mojave Desert and the Colorado Plateau and spanning over 600 square kilometers, Zion National Park is known for its massive sandstone cliffs, narrow canyons, and diverse wildlife.

Here are the best places to see and things to do in Zion National Park:

  • Zion Canyon Scenic Drive: This road is the best way to enjoy amazing views of the park’s most iconic landmarks. Please note that during peak seasons, private vehicles might have limited access, and you might need to hop on the park’s shuttle bus.
  • The Narrows: A hike like no other, The Narrows takes you through the narrowest section of Zion Canyon. Depending on the season and water levels, you might find yourself wading through the Virgin River, so come prepared!
  • Angels Landing: For those who seek a bit of thrill, this 8 kilometer round trip hike offers breathtaking panoramic views. The last kilometer is the scariest one, as you will walk on a narrow ridge with steep drop-offs.
  • Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel: This 1.7 kilometer tunnel, constructed in the 1920s, features windows carved out of the rock, providing glimpses of the beautiful landscapes outside.

Before going to Zion National Park, always check the park’s official website for any alerts, especially if you’re planning to hike The Narrows, as flash floods can be a risk.

There, you can also enjoy several great activities (click on the orange links fore more info and to book):

  • Horseback riding in Zion
  • Sunset jeep tour
  • Star-gazing with a guide
  • Helicopter flight

All the hotels are located in Springdale, the best place to stay close the entrance to the national park.

  • Zion Park Motel : Double room from 130€. Strong points: free parking, heated swimming pool, fridge and microwave in the room, shuttle bus to the park stops right outside.
  • La Quinta by Wyndham at Zion Park/Springdale : Double room from 190€,breakfast included. Strong points: nice area with swimming pool, clean and spacious room, view over the mountain
  • Holiday Inn Express Springdale – Zion National Park Area, an IHG Hotel : Double room from 270€. Strong points: hearty breakfast, nice swimming pool with view, great welcome. It’s my favorite hotel for its excellent value for money in the area.
  • Best Western Plus Zion Canyon Inn & Suites : Double room from 350€. Strong points: well-maintained, clean and well-tended complex, top-notch breakfast, beautiful swimming pool.
  • SpringHill Suites by Marriott Springdale Zion National Park : Double room from 400€, breakfast included. Strong points: magnificent hotel decorated with great taste, beautiful room and large bathroom, magnificent setting, excellent breakfast. It’s the best choice for a luxury stay near Zion National park!

Zion National Park

Day 8 – From Zion to Death Valley

Today, you will go from Zion towards Death Valley.

Without stopping, the journey takes about 4h30, but there are at least 2 places you should stop by along the way.

Here’s how to make the most of your day:

You should first stop in St. George , a town roughly an hour away from Zion. You can visit its historic downtown and art galleries.

Don’t miss out on the St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site if you’re traveling with kids or if you love everything dinosaur related!

  • Valley of Fire State Park

This state park located in Nevada is known for its red sandstone formations.

The park’s terrain might remind you of Mars, with its wavering rocks and arches. It’s in my opinion really worth a stop!

There, you can also take a short hike to witness ancient petroglyphs.

When mapping your route for the day, always check the road conditions , especially if you’re traveling during off-peak seasons. You best bet is to use a GPS map with real time traffic data such as Google Maps or Waze.

Spend one night around Death Valley.

  • El Portal Motel : Located in Beatty. Double room from 90€. Strong points: free parking, outdoor swimming pool, clean.
  • The Ranch At Death Valley : Located in Furnace Creek. Double room from 150€. Strong points: comfortable, nice swimming pool and outdoor area, ideal location.
  • The Inn at Death Valley : Located in Death Valley. Double room from 320€. Strong points: the garden, the setting, the pool, provision of buggies to get around. For sure the best hotel in the area!

On the 9th Day of your 10 days trip on the USA West Coast, you will discover Death Valley, the hottest and driest national park in the US.

Here, rugged mountains rise over 3000 meters right next to the lowest point in North America at Badwater Basin (86m below sea level!).

This desolate land is surprisingly full of life and history, with its ancient rock formations and the stories of the Native Americans.

To explore the heart of Death Valley, you should take Badwater Road.

Stretching for kilometers, this road will allow you to discover some of the park’s most iconic landmarks:

  • Badwater Basin: This salt flat marks the lowest point in North America, sitting at 86 meters below sea level. White salt crystals stretches as far as the eye can see, offering a landscape that seems almost otherworldly.
  • Dante’s View: From the depths, ascend to one of the highest vantage points in the valley. Dante’s View provides a panoramic vista of the valley below, with the Black Mountains on one side and the Sierra Nevada on the other.
  • Devil’s Golf Course: Here, the terrain is so rugged that it’s said only the devil could play golf on such a course!
  • Artist’s Palette: As you continue on Badwater Road, the Artist’s Palette emerges as a splash of color against the desert backdrop. This area is known for its oxidized metals, resulting in a spectrum of colors—from blues and purples to reds and yellows.
  • Zabriskie Point: Another must-visit viewpoint, Zabriskie Point, offers a maze of beautifully eroded badlands.
  • Ubehebe Crater: This massive volcanic crater, 800m wide and 235m deep, is a testament to the violent geothermal forces that once shaped this land. The crater was formed following a steam explosion, and the dark, ash-covered landscape that surrounds it offers a stark contrast to the rest of the valley.

For the last night of your 10-day stay in the American West, you can spend another night in Death Valley or drive to Las Vegas at the end of the day (a 2-hour drive from Death Valley).

Death Valley, known for its extreme temperatures , especially during the summer months, can be hazardous.

You should always carry water, put sunscreen, bring sunglasses and a hat , and avoid strenuous activities during peak hours.

Death Valley

It’s hard to believe that your 10 days road trip on USA West Coast is almost over!

Today, as you’re back in Vegas, you can revisit spots you missed on your first day or venture just outside the city limits .

For example, you can head to Red Rock Canyon , located just 32 kilometers west of Las Vegas. It’s the perfect spot if you want to spend one more day exploring the great outdoors before leaving!

You can embark on scenic drives or enjoy the numerous hiking trails that meander through the crimson rock formations.

At the end of your last day of exploration, go back to the airport and catch your return flight.

If you have only 9 days to visit the American West , I would recommend you that for day 8, you leave early in the morning and go directly to Death Valley , without stopping along the way.

Alternatively, you can also remove the day at Monument Valley, Bryce Canyon or Death Valley.

On the contrary, if you’ve got 11 days for your West coast road trip , you have 2 options:

  • If you enjoy hiking, add a day in one of the National parks
  • You can also add 1 day in Las Vegas.

Tips before starting your 10-day road trip on the USA West Coast

To wrap things up, here are a few important things to know before embarking on a road trip in Western USA.

If you’re not living in the USA, it’s mandatory. You can’t enter the United States without it. 

  • What is it? It’s an online application system introduced by the U.S. government to pre-screen travelers from Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries.
  • Before You Apply: Ensure your country is a member of the VWP.
  • Duration: It’s typically valid for 2 years or until the traveler’s passport expires, whichever comes first.

Apply for your ESTA at least 72 hours before your trip.

Of course, use only the official website to avoid scams.

  • Why is it Important? Medical care in the U.S. is extremely expensive. Having insurance is the only way to avoid unexpected medical bills and other travel-related mishaps.
  • Coverage: The basic insurances cover medical emergencies, and more expensive ones also cover trip cancellations and lost luggage.

On my side, I always opt for ACS: it’s a great deal and they are very reliable. You can check their price and purchase your travel insurance by clicking here.

I already talked about that at the beginning at this article but here is a quick reminder. To drive in the US, here are the important things to know:

  • International Driving Permit (IDP): If your driver’s license is not in English, or if you’re planning to rent a car, it’s a good idea to get an IDP from your home country.
  • American cars are usually automatic. If you’re not used to it, learn the basic functions and controls before hitting the road.
  • Stay Updated: Download navigation apps like Google Maps or Waze for real-time traffic updates.

To help you visualize your itinerary a bit better, I’ve created a map of all the best places to visit during your 10 days in the USA.

You can display the map legend by clicking the button with a small arrow located in the top left corner.

And if you need any help to plan your 10 days road trip on the West coast, don’t hesitate to ask me your questions in the comments section below!

Discover all my articles about USA : All my articles to help you plan your trip to USA are listed there.

  • Las Vegas: Top 30 Best things to do and must-see attractions
  • Los Angeles: The 45 best places to visit
  • New York: The 57 best things to do
  • San Francisco: The 27 best things to do and must-see attractions
  • 2 Days in New York – The best itinerary to visit the Big Apple in 48h
  • 3 Days in New York – All the best places to visit + Detailed itinerary
  • 4 Days in New York – The perfect itinerary for your visit
  • One Week in New York – The perfect 7-day itinerary

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west coast road trip 10 days

Creator of the Voyage Tips blog, travel and photography lover. I give you all my best tips to plan your next trip.

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19 Epic West Coast USA Road Trip Ideas & Itineraries

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The western coast of the USA is a stunning haven, a perfect blend of big cities, national parks and au natural beaches. And the BEST way to explore this beauty is to take a road trip. In this post – 19 Best West Coast USA Road Trip Ideas, we have handpicked some of the awesome routes that you can undertake to explore the States and beyond – from city lights to the twinkling stars – experience it all!

Best West Coast USA Road Trip Ideas and Route Itineraries to fuel your wanderlust. 2- 10 day road trip itinerary ideas with activities, tours and more

The West Coast is also called the Pacific Coast and it is the coastline along which the continental Western United States meets the North Pacific Ocean. The West Coast of the USA comprises the coastal states of California , Oregon, Washington, and Alaska.

The west coast road trip itineraries listed below have routes, trip highlights, and duration of travel ranging from a short weekend trip to 10 days itinerary. The starting point is on the west coast and then drive to explore more of the USA.

19 Best West Coast USA Road Trip Ideas & Route Itinerary

USA Road Trip Ideas

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click one of them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Reserve Car Rental: Prepare Ahead

If you need a car rental, we recommend comparing and checking prices on Discovercars.com to book yours.

Preparing for a road trip – Road Trip Packing List/Essentials

Before you embark on the Pacific Coast Highway road trip, it is important that you are prepared and carry the following essentials to make your journey less stressful and enjoyable.

  • Emergency Car Kit – This 90 piece emergency car kit SHOULD be included when you start your trip. The kit comprises of portable air compressor, tow strap, jumper cables, and more. Buy your emergency car kit here
  • First Aid Kit – Carry a small first aid kit (2-4 person or more, depending on the number of travelers). Buy a first aid kit here
  • GPS or Offline Maps – Carry a GPS for road navigation. Buy GPS here . If you prefer an offline map system via your smartphone, then Maps.me is a good option. It is FREE as well.
  • Car Adaptor – To charge your smartphone and/or other electronics. Buy your car adaptor here
  • Phono Cable – To connect your cell phone or iPod to the music system inside the car (skip this if you are using a CD player or have wireless connectivity). Buy your phono cable here from Amazon
  • Music – Great Playlist
  • Clothes – Including a waterproof jacket. Buy my all-time favorite jacket here
  • Scarf – To cozy up or as a cover-up
  • Flip flops – To walk the beach. Buy your flip flops here
  • Camera – Don’t forget your camera to capture your moments. Buy our mirror-less camera here
  • Sunscreen and any OTC medications – Buy sunscreen here
  • And of course, don’t forget car insurance and roadside assistance service Get this nifty holder to keep details 

Get the SHOPPING LIST on ToSomePlaceNew Amazon Site

Los Angeles to Death Valley and Joshua Tree National Parks 

ROUTE: Los Angeles – Death Valley National Park – Joshua Tree National Park – Los Angeles 

Joshua Tree National Park LiveLoveRunTravel

DAYS: 4 – 6 

ROUTE STOPS: Los Angeles to Death Valley to Joshua Tree to Los Angeles

MILES COVERED: 650 miles (1046 kms) round trip


California has no shortage of National Parks or road trip itineraries. If you are visiting Los Angeles, you can easily take a road trip to Death Valley National Park and Joshua Tree National Park before circling back to LA.

While you can make this journey in as little as four days, spending five to six days along this route works best. If you want to see more of Los Angeles, plan to spend an extra few days there before or after your road trip.

Los Angeles to Death Valley: The drive from Los Angeles up to Death Valley takes about four hours. Since Death Valley does not have many accommodations within the park, make sure to plan your visit ahead of time to stay at one of the few hotels inside the park or to stay outside of the park.

Staying outside of the park can mean an hour’s drive into the park again, so try to arrive in the evening if you plan to stay outside the park. Then you can spend the entire next day inside the park itself before moving on. Browse hotels in Death Valley here

Death Valley National Park

Death Valley : Within Death Valley, make sure to stop and see the Mesquite Flats Sand Dunes. The best time to visit Death Valley is in the spring or fall, but even then, visit the dunes near sunrise or sunset if possible. There is no shade during the summer heat, but the sand dunes also make for a perfect place to watch the sunrise or sunset.

Another must-see stop is the Badwater Basin , the lowest point in North America. The salt flats here stretch for miles, but you only have to walk about 10 minutes out to get past the dirty salt of the walkway. Before you leave, make sure to drive through Artist’s Drive to take in the colorful hills.

Joshua Tree : From Death Valley, the drive to Joshua Tree takes about four hours. Joshua Tree has plenty of accommodations nearby, and most of the popular spots to visit are near the north end of the park where the namesake Joshua Trees abound.

Start your day with sunrise at the Cholla Cactus Garden to enjoy the low sun shining through the garden. Then head back up to the White Tank Campground area to hike the short path out to Arch Rock. Take the road to the west entrance to see lots of great spots to stop for pictures of the famous Joshua Trees.

If you have some extra time, you can also visit nearby Palm Springs.

Back to Los Angeles : The drive from Joshua Tree back to Los Angeles is a shorter one at less than two and a half hours. Once you are back in Los Angeles, you can visit the Hollywood Walk of Fame and check out the other famous sites, watch the sunset at the Santa Monica Pier, hike to the Hollywood sign, or enjoy the views from Griffith Observatory.

CONTRIBUTED BY: Christine from LiveLoveRunTravel

Key Activities and Tours at this route

  • Los Angeles – Book Hollywood Hike Tour
  • Get Hollywood Access Ticket Here 
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Southern California Desert – Ultimate West Coast USA Road Trip

ROUTE: Orange County – Palm Springs – Salton Sea – Salvation Mountain and East Jesus – El Centro



  • Orange County to Palm Springs (100 miles) – Palm Springs Windmills
  • Palm Springs to Salton Sea (64 miles) – Bombay Beach
  • The Salton Sea to Salvation Mountain and East Jesus (21 miles) – Salvation Mountain
  • Salvation Mountain to El Centro (40 miles) – Overnight in El Centro, CA
  • El Centro to Imperial Sand Dunes (35 miles)
  • Imperial Sand Dunes to Borrego Springs (80 miles)
  • Borrego Springs to Orange County (122 miles)

MILES COVERED: 462 miles (or 743.5 kms) round trip


This quick loop through the Southern California desert will bring you through some of the most interesting and desolate places you may have ever seen!

Day One Palm Springs : Palm Springs, which is famous for its windmills. The best spot for getting up close is on Garnet Avenue, near North Indian Canyon Drive.

Salton Sea : The Salton Sea was once a very popular place to escape to but is now basically deserted. Bombay Beach is the only community that still inhabits the Salton Sea. Check out the Bombay Beach Ruins and Drive-In Theater during this stop .

Salvation Mountain : This brightly-colored mountain is a unique sight to see. You can walk on top of the mountain and through little caves underneath. Follow the yellow brick road on your way up and don’t step on any areas you shouldn’t. 


East Jesus, or Slab City : This tiny town is in the middle of nowhere and apparently off-the-grid (not regulated by the government). Take a walk through the Art Garden to see the various used and recycled items that have been put together to create some very unique art.

El Centro: This is the closest city to rest for the night. 

Day two – Imperial Sand Dunes : Make a quick stop at the Imperial Sand Dunes. Watch the dune buggies, take some photos, and head on out. 

Borrego Springs : Borrego Springs, where you can find over 100 metal sculptures scattered throughout the desert. The most popular one is the Sea Serpent!

Borrego Palm Canyon Nature Trail: This short hike will give you a good sample of the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

Time to head back home, where you will be happy to be after experiencing all of that remoteness in the middle of the desert!

CONTRIBUTED BY:   Heather Saez from That OC Girl

  • Enjoy aerial views – take an aerial tramway in Palm Springs
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Las Vegas to Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, and the Grand Canyon 

ROUTE: Las Vegas – Springdale – Zion National Park – Bryce Canyon National Park – Page – Grand Canyon

Where to stay in Vegas first Stratosphere Resort, Casino and Towertime


  • Las Vegas to Springdale Utah- 160 miles
  • Zion National Park to Bryce Canyon National Park – 85 miles
  • Bryce Canyon National Park to Page – 153 miles 
  • Page to Grand Canyon – 133 miles
  • Grand Canyon to Las Vegas – 279 miles 

MILES COVERED:   810 miles (1303 kilometres) round trip approx.


One of the classic road trips in the Western United States is the small loop starting and ending in Las Vegas: visiting Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, and the Grand Canyon. We did this road trip with eight people ranging in ages from one to 80, over the course of a week!

Las Vegas: Before we officially hit the road we had a day for arrival in Las Vegas, car rental, and grocery shopping.

Springdale Utah and Zion National Park : Drive 160 miles from Las Vegas to Springdale, Utah, on day 1 to access point to Zion National Park. After spending the night, we had a full day for exploring Zion, specifically the Westside with lots of family-friendly hikes, accessible via the free shuttle inside the park.

Bryce Canyon National Park : Following the second night in Springdale, we drove through the Eastern side of Zion National Park on our way to Bryce Canyon.

The views are spectacular but much of the road is small and windy making this 85 mile stretch take several hours. We made it in time to take in the sunset at the aptly named Sunset Point , a gorgeous introduction to Bryce Canyon.

Bryce Canyon National Park : Again we had a full day for hiking in Bryce Canyon National Park, and the following morning after a final visit to Sunrise Point, we started the long drive to the Grand Canyon. This driving day entailed 286 miles and took pretty much all day.

Grand Canyon Tour

Page Arizona : We stopped in Page, Arizona, approximately half-way through for lunch. Just in time for the late afternoon sunlight, we had a first look at Grand Canyon Visitors Center and decamped to a hotel in Tusayan, Arizona.

Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam:  On our last full hiking day we did parts of the  Grand Canyon National Park South Rim Trail . Ending our week was the 280-mile drive to Las Vegas, with a final stop to tour the  Hoover Dam  just outside the city.

CONTRIBUTED BY: Daphna from A Tiny Trip

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San Francisco Bay Area to Crater Lake National Park in Southern Oregon

ROUTE: San Francisco – Klamath Falls – Ashland – Crater Lake National Park – San Francisco

Crater Lake National Park

ROUTE: From San Francisco to Crater Lake, one-stop in either Klamath Falls (southeast of the park) or Ashland (southwest of the park)

MILES COVERED : 800+ miles (1288 kilometres) round trip

San Francisco Bay Area to Crater Lake National Park: Road trips from the San Francisco Bay Area up to Crater Lake National Park in Southern Oregon are great for weekend trips. The distance is about 400 miles.

If you wish you can stop at Klamath Falls for the night before heading over to Crater Lake the next day. However, there isn’t really much to see in Klamath Falls so we would only recommend it for ease of access to the lake.

Ashland and Medford: Ashland and Medford, although located a bit further away, are two other towns in Southern Oregon that would make for excellent stops before or after visiting the national park. Ashland is home to the famous Shakespeare festival and it’s just a very quaint town that makes for an interesting road trip destination.

Drive to Crater Lake : Since there are no towns next to Crater Lake, you’ll either end up driving an hour and a half from Ashland/Medford or 45 minutes from Klamath Falls to reach the entrance.

If you go in the summer when there’s no snow, you should definitely complete the Rim Drive. This route takes you about two-thirds of the way around the crater and you can stop at numerous viewpoints along the way to take pictures.

If you visit Crater Lake during the winter months or any month where there’s a lot of snow, the Rim Drive will likely be closed. In this case, you’ll want to park at the main visitor center and walk around the outskirts of the crater.

Either way, a visit to Crater Lake will mostly consist of walking around, staring out into the distance, and appreciating the incredibly unique and picturesque views.

CONTRIBUTED BY: Michael from Passport Explored

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Wine County One Day California Road Trip 

ROUTE: LA to Paso Robles and Santa Ynez Valley 

Daou Winery

DAYS: 1 

ROUTE STOPS: Los Angeles to Paso Robles and Santa Ynez Valley 

MILES COVERED: 681 miles (1096 kms) round trip 

The secret is out. Paso Robles, roughly 200 miles north of Los Angeles, is producing some of the best wines in the world. And it doesn’t get much better than a quick romantic weekend getaway.

To say the area has become a hot spot is an understatement — today Paso Robles alone has over 300 wineries. Like surfing through Netflix, all these choices can be overwhelming. So we did the work for you and picked our top recommendations. And hey, if all else fails, there’s always Netflix. 

Los Angeles to Buellton, 138 miles: Hitching Post II Call it the Sideways effect — the 2004 cult wino movie with Paul Giamatti that put a spotlight on Santa Ynez’s Pinot Noir.

Many of the movie’s most memorable scenes were filmed in the restaurant Hitching Post II, best known for their filet mignon and Pinot Noir. Though something tells me the bartender has heard the classic line more than once, “If anyone orders Merlot, I’m leaving!” We recommend getting the Pinot Noir flight ($18) that includes four 2 oz pours. 

Hitching Post

Buellton to Paso Robles, 100 miles: Wine Tasting at Daou Vineyards With so many wineries, how can we narrow it down to just one? Well, Daou is pretty special. Daou is located at one of the highest spots in the region with sweeping views.

The winery was founded by Georges and Daniel Daou, Lebanese brothers who immigrated to France when they were 10 and 14 years old to escape the civil war. They became fascinated by winemaking and the rest is history. Tastings are $40 per person. 

Paso Robles to San Luis Obispo, 35 miles: Evening at Petit Soleil Petit Soleil is one of our favorite hotels. It offers free wine and snacks, a big breakfast, and easy parking. Hey, we’re from LA… now that’s a luxury item! The boutique hotel is French-themed, right down to the room decor, and accordion music playing on the alarm clock/CD player. 

CONTRIBUTED BY : Phil & Kevin from Gourmet Globetrotter

  • Explore more wine tours in the Santa Barbara Wine County

Utah Road Trip National Parks – West Coast USA Road Trip

ROUTE: Zion National Park – Bryce National Park – Capitol Reef to Arches/Canyonlands

Arches National Park

DAYS: 5+ 


  • Zion National Park to Bryce National Park – 72 miles
  • Bryce National Park to Capitol Reef – 112 miles
  • Capitol Reef to Arches/Canyonlands – 136 miles 

MILES COVERED:   494 miles (795 kilometres) round trip

If you’re a fan of visiting national parks, then you’ll love this Utah road trip to visit all 5 national parks in the state.

Zion: Start the road trip at Zion National Park and spend 2 days exploring the park’s hiking trails. Drive along Highway 9 and Kolob Terrace Road to get away from the crowds in Zion Canyon.

Bryce Canyon: Next drive to Bryce Canyon National Park and spend one day. You’ll pass through Red Canyon on your way which gives you a sneak peek of what you’ll see at Bryce. Take the scenic drive road to the end at Rainbow Point without making any stops.

Spend half a day to drive from Rainbow Point to the Amphitheater and the other half walking the Rim Trail or Navajo Loop Trail to really experience all Bryce has to offer.

Bryce Canyon National Park

Capitol Reef: Drive toward Capitol Reef National Park via Highway 12. You’ll find some Utah State Parks along the way, so take your time on this road. One full day at Capitol Reef includes the scenic drive, hiking, and picking fruit in the orchard.

Arches and Canyonlands: Now it’s time to drive to Moab where you can explore Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. You’ll pass by Goblin Valley State Park which is a fun side trip. Take 1 to 2 days to enjoy and photograph the unique beauty of Arches while driving along the park road and hiking the trails.

Another 1 or 2 days can be spent at Canyonlands biking, hiking, off-roading, and river rafting. Be sure to visit Dead Horse Point State Park as a side trip near the entrance to Canyonlands Island in the Sky.

CONTRIBUTED BY: Jamie & Dave from PhotoJeepers

  • From Moab to Arches National Park hiking and riding on a 4×4 – Book your tour here
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Las Vegas to Death Valley National Park Day Trip – West Coast Trip

ROUTE: Las Vegas – Amargosa Valley – Death Valley – Shoshone – Las Vegas 

Death Valley - Las Vegas to Death Valley West Coast Road Trip

ROUTE STOPS:  Las Vegas – Amargosa Valley – Death Valley – Shoshone – Las Vegas 

MILES COVERED: 450 miles (724 kilometres) round trip 

Making the round trip from Las Vegas to Death Valley National Park is one of my favorite west coast road trips in the United States.  You can make the entire route in a single day, and still see many of the top attractions of the park, or you can add in a couple of overnight stops to make it into a vacation.  

Las Vegas to Death Valley : The route is about 125 miles from Las Vegas to Death Valley , and on a day trip, you will travel about 75 miles in the park.  It totals about 325 miles, but there are plenty of stops to make it an enjoyable day, and be back by evening.

If you choose to cross to the far side of the park and add in some overnight stays, it will be about 450 miles for the round trip.  Most often, we prefer the day trip.  

Amargosa Valley: We recommend using US Route 95 out of Las Vegas, and turning on Highway 373 at the Amargosa Valley .  You can’t miss the stop for refreshments at the intersection!

When you get to Death Valley Junction, you may want to visit the Amargosa Opera House before turning right to the park on Death Valley Road, route 190.  

Death Valley from Las Vegas Road Trip

Death Valley Road: On Death Valley Road the stops to make include Zabriskie Point, Furnace Creek, the Devil’s Cornfield, Mesquite Dunes, and Stovepipe Wells.  You will want to hike around a bit, or at least explore in each of these stops, so bring plenty of water along.

Turn around at Stovepipe Wells and head back to Badwater Road to visit Artists Drive and Badwater Basin, where you can get some amazing photos. 

Town of Shoshone: Your final stop of the day will be the little town of Shoshone, where you can see mining relics, and have dinner before heading back to Las Vegas.

CONTRIBUTED BY: Roxanna from Gypsy with a Day Job

  • Full day tour from Las Vegas to the Death Valley

Portland OR to Yellowstone National Park – West Coast USA Road Trip

ROUTE: From Portland, Oregon to Yellowstone National Park, stopping in Richland, WA, and Missoula , MT

  • Portland to Richland – 220 miles
  • Richland to Island Park – 606 miles
  • Island Park to Yellowstone – 77 miles 
  • Yellowstone to Missoula – 313 miles

MILES COVERED:   1600 miles (2575 kilometres) round trip approx.

After watching a documentary about Yellowstone National Park , we knew we had to visit it. And in 2017, with flights, car hire, and accommodation booked, we set off from Portugal to visit this amazing National Park. 

Portland: We landed in Portland, OR after a long flight from the UK and hit I-84 east following the Columbia River along the Columbia River Gorge. The scenery was stunning.

We then turned north onto I-82 towards Richland where we stopped overnight. From Richland we headed onto US-395, joining I-90 at Ritzville. This road took us past Coeur d’Alene in Idaho, a beautiful lake surrounded by rich forests. We stopped at an interesting place called the 50,000 Silver Dollar Inn along the way to freshen up.

Missoula in Montana was our next stop for lunch, as we planned to do the 600 miles from Richland to Island Park, Idaho in one day. 

Clepsydra Geyser Yellowstone

Island Park and Yellowstone National Park: Late in the evening, we finally arrived in Island Park, ready to start exploring Yellowstone National Park with our son over the course of four days. We saw bison, Old Faithful erupt, lots of springs, and a stunning sunset. Visiting Yellowstone with our son was our best holiday to date. And worth the 800 miles each way!

Missoula, Montana: On the return trip, we took the same route back to Portland, with a 3-day stop in Missoula, Montana to break up the journey. It was a town that surprised us with many things on offer for families like ours. Had we had more time, we would have spent time around Coeur d’Alene.

Mount Hood : Our original plan was to stop by Multnomah Falls on our return to Portland from Richland, but due to forest fires it and the entire Columbia River Gorge was closed, and we had to take a diversion around Mount Hood, which was very picturesque. 

CONTRIBUTED BY: Cath from Passports and Adventures

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Olympic Peninsula Coast Road Trip

ROUTE: South to North Coast – Kalaloch and Ruby Beach – Second and Third Beach – Rialto Beach – Shi Shi Beach

West Coast USA Road Trip

  • Kalaloch to Second Beach- 48 miles
  • Second Beach to Rialto Beach – 10 miles
  • Rialto Beach to Shi Shi Beach – 65 miles 
  • Shi Shi Beach to Olympic National Park – 81 miles

MILES COVERED:   204 miles (328 kilometres) round trip approx.

The state of Washington is known for its moody vibes and breathtaking mountainous forests. Surprisingly, one of the best things to do in Washington is to do a two-day road trip along the Olympic Peninsula Coast . The beaches are filled with sea stacks, driftwood, wildlife, and many sea anemones. The vibes and the views are outstanding. A road trip with many stops at the beaches is the perfect way to experience the Pacific Northwest. 

Kalaloch and Ruby Beach : If you are driving from the South coast to the North coast, your first stop is Kalaloch and Ruby beach. There, you can experience the exciting Tree Of Life . If you choose to, you can spend the night at the Kalaloch Lodge or drive north to First, Second, and Third Beach.

To access Second and Third Beach , you need to hike a few miles, but the effort is worth the hike with views of sea stacks and many wildlife. Second Beach is an excellent spot to the beach camp, don’t forget to obtain a permit. 

Rialto Beach : The next stop will be Rialto beach which is mainly known for the “Hole in the Wall” photography spot. It is also a great beach sunset location.

Shi Shi Beach: The last destination is the great Shi Shi Beach. Its 8-miles round trip hike makes it a bit more difficult than most. However, it is an excellent spot to backpack and camp. Just make sure to obtain the correct permits. 

CONTRIBUTED BY : Michelle from The Wandering Queen

  • Seattle is a good starting point for this road trip itinerary. Seattle to Olympic National Park is 88 miles. 
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  • The San Juan Islands is located 108.7 miles away from Seattle, one way. San Juan is a popular whale and Orcas sighting location. Take a private tour to the San Juan Islands

San Diego to Phoenix West Coast USA Road Trip

ROUTE : San Diego – Jacumba Hot Springs – Imperial San Dunes – Quartzsite – Phoenix

San Diego USA Bucket list


  • San Diego to Jacumba Hot Springs – 72 miles
  • Jacumba Hot Springs to Imperial Sand Dunes – 79 miles
  • Imperial Sand Dunes to Quartzsite – 89 miles
  • Quartzsite to Phoenix – 129 miles

MILES COVERED : 366 miles one way

The drive from San Diego to Phoenix is actually only five and a half hours, but what many people don’t know is that there are a few fun places to stop so you can stretch the trip out.

This is the perfect road trip for anyone who loves the outdoors and off-the-beaten-path activities.

San Diego to Jacumba Hot Springs : There are many more opportunities for stops in the first half of the trip since it’s so close to San Diego. Right as you leave the city you can stop for a hike at Sunrise Highway.

Garnet Peak is one of the best and can range from 1 to 5 miles depending on the route you take. The scenery is absolutely breathtaking here.

Jacumba Hot Springs: There are many things to see here including the desert view tower, boulder park, and the hot springs. Exploring the tower does cost a small fee, but you can also rent the whole thing out for the night.

This is where we would recommend staying to break up your trip. Boulder park has different rock formations that have been molded and painted into different animal shapes.

Imperial Sand Dunes: Make a quick stop here to see the largest sand dunes in the state. You can hike around here as much as you like but if you have more time then go on an ATV tour. It’s one of the most fun things that you can do in the area!

Quartzsite to Phoenix: Quartzsite is the perfect jumping-off spot to explore the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge. It’s a popular place for photography because of its stunning views and plentiful wildlife.

The drive from Quartzsite to Phoenix is pretty desolate so make sure you fill up on gas and your vehicle is in good shape. The scenic mountain views in the distance make the drive well worth it though.

CONTRIBUTED BY: Chelsey from Chelsey Explores

City and National Parks (SF to Las Vegas) West Coast USA Road Trip

ROUTE : San Francisco – Yosemite National Park – Sequoia National Park – Death Valley – Las Vegas

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  • San Francisco to Yosemite National Park – 191 miles
  • Yosemite National Park to Sequoia National Park – 169 miles
  • Sequoia National Park to Death Valley – 312 miles
  • Death Valley to Las Vegas – 150 miles

MILES COVERED: 1391 miles (2239 kilometers) return trip SF to Las Vegas

This is a great trip because it combines two incredible (and very different) cities with three awe-inspiring (and very different) national parks.

SF to Yosemite National Park : Start with spending three days in San Francisco. In San Francisco, highlights include riding a cable car, visiting Chinatown, and seeing the Golden Gate Bridge. 

Then drive to Yosemite National Park.  It takes about half a day to get there plus two full days in the park. In Yosemite, drive and/or hike to lookouts and admire El Capitan and Half Dome, dramatic rock formations that dominate Yosemite Valley.

Yosemite National Park to Sequoia National Park : Then another half day on the road to Sequoia National Park, where you can easily spend another two full days. 

Then a full day of driving, especially if you are in an RV, as you will have to backtrack to the north entrance of Sequoia National Park and go the long way around, to Death Valley National Park.  This drive takes you through much of the park. 

Sequoia National Park

In Sequoia, home to the largest trees on earth, don’t miss the Congress Trail , the Big Trees Trail, and the adjacent Kings Canyon National Park, where you can see enormous trees such as General Grant, General Sherman, and Chief Sequoya.

Death Valley: Spend another two full days in Death Valley before heading to Las Vegas, where you can easily stay for three full days before heading home.  

Death Valley has sand dunes, salt flats, and mini- badlands among its many desert landscapes. It’s very hot in Death Valley, so avoid summer!

Death Valley to Las Vegas : Of course, Las Vegas has dozens of casinos on the famous strip, but even if you don’t gamble, seeing the themed features such as the New York’s roller coaster, the Bellagio’s fountains and the Mirage’s volcanic eruptions are fun.

This road trip really has something for everyone.

CONTRIBUTED BY: James from Parks Collecting 

  • San Francisco to Yosemite and Wine County 3 day tour – Learn more about the tour here
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Oregon Coast Road Trip 

ROUTE: Astoria – Cannon Beach – Three Cape Route – Newport – Florence

OR West Coast USA Road Trip

DAYS: 3. Preferably 3 days but if you are pressed for time, the Astoria to Newport stretch can be done in a day.

ROUTE STOPS : From Astoria to Florence via Three Capes Scenic Loop 

MILES COVERED : 379 miles via Highway 101 (605 kilometers) round trip

With its old-growth forests, picture-postcard towns, towering cliffs, and unparalleled views of the great blue Pacific Ocean, the Oregon Coast is beyond beautiful. A drive from Astoria in the far north, near the Washington border, to Florence in Central Oregon will give you a taste of the best that this part of the world has to offer.

Astoria : Start with guzzling a few craft beers at Astoria, tasting the delicious seafood which includes the West Coast’s famous Dungeness Crab, visiting the Astoria Column, and, of course, taking photos of the famous iconic sea-green Megler bridge. Hike to the top of Neahkanie Mountain to be rewarded with some breath-taking views of the Oregon Coast.

Another gorgeous hike is Cape Perpetua, south of Newport.

Cannon Beach: Cannon Beach is a quaint town with cute cafes and mansions overlooking the Pacific Ocean. One look at this town and it isn’t so hard to guess why it is one of Oregon’s prime real estates!

The sunset is especially beautiful here; the soft pink blush of the setting rocks adds a tinge of magic to the Haystack Rock. You can spot puffins in the spring here.

Best West Coast USA Road Trip Ideas and Route Itineraries to fuel your wanderlust. 2- 10 day road trip itinerary ideas with activities, tours and more

At Tillamook, explore the Tillamook Dairy and indulge in loads of creamy ice cream!

Three Cape Route: The Three Cape Route is arguably one of the most beautiful routes in the world! The road climbs up along the cliffside and promises stellar views. At Cape Meares, visit the lighthouse and check out the magnificent Fresnel lens.

Stop by at Oceanside for a swim and at Agate Beach to do some beach-combing. If you’re lucky, you find slices of translucent agate in the sands!

Go on a whale-watching tour at Depoe Bay.

Newport: Newport’s historic bayfront is lined with restaurants, cafes, and galleries and it is delightful to wander through the narrow streets, past the pretty houses.

There are glass-blowing workshops and studios here, should you be interested in a lesson. Say hi to the sea lions before heading further south to Seal Rock where the beach is lined with impressive formations of basaltic rock.

Florence : Near Cape Perpetua is the famous Thor’s Well. During high tide, the ocean seems to drain away from it! The dunes and the sea lion rookery at Florence are a lovely epilogue to the trip.

It is 188 miles via Highway 101 from Astoria to Florence. You can stay at hotels and motels along the way. There are 4 campsites along the route: Fort Steven State Park, Warrenton, Nehalem Bay State Park, Cape Lookout State Park, and Beverly Beach State Park, Newport. 

CONTRIBUTED BY: Mohana & Aninda from Two-Together

  • Explore Oregon Coast highlights in a day tour – Book tour here
  • Eugene to Oregon Coast 2 day tour

Las Vegas to Zion National Park, Monument Valley, Bryce Canyon National Park, and Sierra Nevada 

ROUTE : Las Vegas – Zion National Park – Moab – Monument Valley – Las Vegas  – Bryce Canyon National Park  – Sierra Nevada mountains – San Francisco

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DAYS : 7 – 14

ROUTE STOPS : Las Vegas to Zion, Moab, Monument Valley. Back to Las Vegas (you can complete the West Coast American road trip here or continue to) Sierra Nevada, Yosemite National Park, and San Francisco

MILES COVERED : 1632 miles (2626 kms)


This USA west coast road trip can be completed in one week or two weeks covering a wide variety of national parks, major cities, and natural landmarks. 

Day 1 in Las Vegas: Kickstart your itinerary in Las Vegas. Spend one day in Las Vegas covering the primary attractions on the Strip, go shopping, or catch a show. 

Day 2 – 3 in Zion National Park: Head to Zion National Park and spend 2 days here. Plan to camp, hike on the Angels Landing trail or just enjoy nature walks. You can go star gazing and take in the views of the amazing landscape of Zion. 

The driving time from Las Vegas to Zion is about 3 hours.

Day 4 in Monument Valley: Drive through southern Utah to get to Monument Valley, and spend one night here 

Day 5 and 6 in Moab: Next drive 3 hours to get to Moab and explore Canyonlands and Arches National Park. Enjoy hikes, paddleboarding, or just admire the towering rock formations.

Day 7 in Bryce National Park: Visit the Bryce National Park next. Go on easy hikes here, check the ‘hoodoos’, and see the unique landscape. The driving time from Moab is about 5 hours.

Day 8 and 9 in Las Vegas: You can drive back to Las Vegas and complete the road trip here, or continue on with the next leg of the journey. Spend 2 days in Las Vegas and explore more places in and around the city.

Day 10 in Sierra Nevada: Head to Sierra Nevada and camp overnight here

View of Half Dome Yosemite National Park

Day 11 to 13 in Yosemite National Park: Explore the best of Yosemite California in 3 days. Check off Half Dome, and Yosemite Falls, and enjoy hikes and camping here before arriving in San Francisco on day 13.

Day 14 in San Francisco: Arrive in San Francisco and explore the city attractions like Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island sightseeing, Fisherman’s Wharf, Chinatown, and beyond. Here is a complete one day in San Francisco itinerary

  • San Francisco: Golden Gate Bay Cruise
  • SF: Alcatraz Ticket w/ 2-Day Hop-On Hop-Off Bus & Night Tour
  • From San Francisco: Yosemite Park Guided Day Trip
  • Las Vegas: Entry to Madame Tussauds with a Gondola Cruise
  • Las Vegas: Grand Canyon West Bus Tour with Hoover Dam Stop

Los Angeles to Palm Springs and California Desert Parks 

ROUTE: Los Angeles – Palm Springs – Joshua Tree National Park – Anza Borrego State Park – Palm Desert & Thousand Palms – Los Angeles 

Road to Joshua Tree


  • LA to Palm Springs – 106 miles
  • Palm Springs to Joshua National Park – 38 miles
  • Palm Springs to Anza Borrego State Park – 99 miles
  • Palm Springs to Palm Desert and Thousand Palms – 21 miles for both
  • Palm Springs to LA  -106 miles

MILES COVERED : 349 miles (562 kilometers) round trip

One of the most fabulous road trips you can do from Los Angeles is to the beautiful desert community of Palm Springs. Palm Springs is not only a desirable destination unto itself, it is also the perfect base for day trips to a couple of gorgeous California desert parks: Joshua Tree National Park, and Anza Borrego State Park.

LA to Palm Springs : Plan on five days for the road trip, including the drive from LA to Palm Springs and back. Start early on day one and do the drive to Palm Springs, which is about 106 miles, and takes about 3 hours in normal traffic.

Spend the rest of the day exploring Palm Springs. Discover beautiful examples of mid-century modern architecture, stroll downtown Palm Canyon Boulevard, or hike in nearby Indian Canyons.

Joshua Tree National Park : On day two, do a day trip to Joshua Tree National Park. There are lots of fun things to do in Joshua Tree National Park , including hiking, bouldering, watching the sunset from Keys View, and discovering the flora and fauna in the park.

The namesake Joshua trees and the cholla cactus are two examples of unique flora you can see in Joshua Tree National Park. Joshua Tree is about 38 miles from Palm Springs, and you can do the drive in about one hour.

Although you can camp in the park or stay at Twenty-nine Palms just outside the park gates, accommodations in Palm Springs are much nicer.

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Anza Borrego State Park : On day three, do a day trip to Anza Borrego State Park, which is about 100 miles away, a drive of about 1.45 hours. Especially if you visit in the spring of a super bloom year, Anza Borrego is a must-visit, with carpets of wildflowers providing color in the desert.

The park also features gigantic sculptures in metal, which are interesting to photograph. On the way, stop at the Salton Sea, an enormous body of saltwater with lots of birds.

Palm Desert & Thousand Palms: On day four, you can explore the communities of Palm Desert, which has some desert gardens and a zoo, and Thousand Palms, where you can do some desert hikes. These two places are just a few minutes drive from Palm Springs.

Drive Back to LA: Drive back to Los Angeles on day five, having experienced the magic of the California desert!

CONTRIBUTED BY: Dhara from It’s Not About the Miles

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  • One day tour from LA to Palm Springs and shopping outlets – Book your tour here

Yosemite Valley Road Trip Itinerary

ROUTE: Mariposa Grove to Tuolumne Meadows via the Tioga Pass

Yosemite Valley Road Trip

ROUTE STOPS:  Yosemite Valley Stops 

  • Mariposa Grove to Tunnel View – 28 miles
  • Mariposa Grove to Glacier Point – 34 miles
  • Mariposa Grove to Tuolumne Meadows – 43 miles
  • Mariposa Grove to Pacific Crest Trail  – 72 miles

MILES COVERED: 144 miles (231.75 kilometres) round trip

Yosemite National Park makes the perfect destination for a road trip. This Yosemite road trip can be completed in as few as 3 days or extended for as long as you like. All stops are found within the confines of the park. 

Mariposa Grove : Begin your road trip adventure at Mariposa Grove, near the park’s southern entrance where you can view some of the largest trees in the world. From here you’ll drive to the historic Wawona Hotel . This is a really pretty hotel with a great restaurant.  If you’re hungry, take advantage of the opportunity. This may be your last great meal for a few days. 

Tunnel View Lookout : After lunch, you’ll stop at the famous Tunnel View lookout. Find a parking spot and take your time, it’s worth every minute. After Tunnel View you’ll make your way into Yosemite Valley. Get settled into your accommodations and head back out to explore the valley.

Your next several stops can be seen on foot walking around the valley floor. Use your park map to locate Bridalveil Fall, Yosemite Falls, El Capitan, and Half Dome.

Mist Trail, Vernal and Nevada Falls : The next morning you’ll tackle the Mist Trail to see Vernal and Nevada Falls up close.

Glacier Point and Yosemite Valley: In the afternoon you’ll get back in the car to head up to Glacier Point. This is another famous lookout perfect for photographs. The drive up will take about an hour and 15 minutes each way. You can finish off your second night relaxing back in Yosemite Valley and viewing the stars on a clear night. 

Tioga Pass: The next morning you’ll head out on the infamous Tioga Pass. You’ll follow the Tioga Pass all the way out to Tuolumne Meadows. The drive can take 90 minutes, but the object is to take your time.

There are tons of lookouts and rivers and mountains along the way. Stop wherever looks interesting and enjoy this peaceful and serene side of Yosemite. I assure you, there will not be any crowds here. Bring lots of water and snacks with you as you will not find anywhere to purchase anything on the road. 

Yosemite Valley Road Trip

Tuolumne Meadows and Pacific Crest Trail : Once you reach Tuolumne Meadows you can have a picnic, walk around, or even hike part of the Pacific Crest Trail. Whenever you’re ready, you can begin the slow drive back to Yosemite Valley for your last relaxing night in the park.

CONTRIBUTED BY : Eden from Rock a Little Travel

  • 3-day Camping Adventure at Yosemite National Park. Learn more here

Utah West Coast USA Road Trip

ROUTE: Moab – Arches National Park – Bryce Canyon National Park – Zion National Park

Bryce National Park

  • Arches National Park to Bryce Canyon National Park – 246 miles
  • Bryce Canyon National Park to Zion National Park  – 75 miles 

MILES COVERED: 634 miles (1020 kilometres) round trip

Zion, Bryce, and Arches are three of my favorite National Parks in the world. Take it from a Park Ranger who has worked and camped in her fair share of parks, these Utah gems are frankly perfection. If you have not yet fallen in love with the fiery allure of the red rock desert, oh boy, get ready to fall hard.

That said, these three beauties are still deeply unique in their own ways. The starting point of the trip is Moab, Utah. 

Arches National Park : Arches, on the East side of the state, is the most like a desert, but with a jungle of towering red slabs and bizarre arches everywhere you look. Arches are in the coolest area, in my opinion; its gateway town of Moab is rad and full of fun adventure activities. The Moab Brewery has great food and even better beer. 

Bryce National Park: Bryce, in between the two, is known for its eerily human-like hoodoos, and feels almost like the Grand Canyon with its rim hikes and pine forests.

Zion National Park: Zion, famous for needing a shuttle bus most of the year because it’s just that popular, is named for “paradise” for a reason.

To properly visit these parks, I recommend at least two solid days in each and camping as often as possible. Luckily, the longest drive of this road trip—that between Arches and Bryce—is only 244 miles through some gorgeous terrain. The road trip in its entirety (not including exploring each park to your heart’s content) is only 317 miles in total. 

I’d spend the most time in and around Arches, and in and around Zion. Bryce is lovely, but smaller and more easily appreciated in a day or so. 

Besides that, you can’t go wrong with spending every spare moment hiking in each park. In particular, the Narrows and Angel’s Landing in Zion is literally world-famous, for good reason (you need a permit for the Narrows, so plan ahead).

You could do this Utah National Park trip in less than a week, or really take your time and stretch it out. I’ve done it both ways, and never been disappointed.

CONTRIBUTED BY: Kaisa from  Glam Ganola Travel

  • Small group Zion and Bryce National Park Camping Tour – Book tour here
  • Full day Arches National Park with Canyonlands and driving 4×4 tour – Book tour here
  • Book a scenic flight tour over Arches National Park

Cannon Beach Oregon to the Samuel H Boardman State Scenic Corridor

ROUTE:  Cannon Beach Oregon to Samuel H Boardman State Scenic Corridor

  • Cannon Beach 
  • Cannon Beach to Yaquina Head Lighthouse –  155 miles
  • Yaquina Head Lighthouse to Florence – 53 miles
  • Floras Lake State Natural Area to Gold Beach – 39 miles
  • Gold Beach to Samuel H Boardman State Scenic Corridor – 14 miles

MILES COVERED: 298 miles one way


Day 1: Cannon Beach

Spend the day in Cannon Beach. Time your visit right so you can visit Haystack Rock at low tide. Haystack Rock is one of the most iconic pictures of the Oregon Coast. It stands at 235 feet tall. 

At low tide, you can explore the tide pools home to starfish, green anemones, and crabs.  After exploring the tide pools, head to Ecola State Park for beautiful hiking trails and Hug Point for beautiful coast views.  

Day 2: Tillamook Creamery > Cape Kiwanda > Devil’s Punchbowl > Yaquina Head Lighthouse

Today you will start your drive down the beautiful Oregon coast. The first stop is Tillamook Creamery. It is a perfect road trip stop to stretch your legs and grab some freshly made ice cream and cheese. There is a massive cheese-making process hall with viewing windows where visitors can go on a self-guided cheese-making tour.

At Cape Perpetua Scenic Area there are beautiful views of the jagged coastline and the forest area that seems to fall straight into the ocean. The Cape Perpetua Visitors Center has lots of information about trails, camping spots, and viewpoints.

Devil’s Punchbowl is a large giant sea cave with a hole in the roof. The best time to visit the cave is at high tide when the waves crash in the bowl. It is a spectacular thing to watch from the viewing area above.

Your road trip along the west coast is not complete without a lighthouse visit. Yaquina Head Lighthouse along with the surrounding historic areas and tide pools make it a fun area to explore. Cobble Beach is a fun place to spend some time as well.

Day 3: Florence > Floras Lake State Natural Area  

Florence is a great place to either hit the sand dunes or go canoeing for the first part of the day. Then head down to Floras Lake State Park. There are not a lot of amenities there so pick up some food in Florence to take with you. The easiest beach access is at Boice-Cope Park.

Day 4: Gold Beach > Samuel H Boardman State Scenic Corridor

Before heading to the scenic corridor, spend a few hours exploring Gold Beach. It is a small Oregon town with beautiful beaches like Meyers Creek Beach. You will want to leave the majority of your day to explore the Samuel H Boardman State Scenic Corridor.

Some of the highlights are Cape Ferrelo Viewpoint, House Rock Viewpoint, Arch Rock, and Natural Bridges Viewpoint.

CONTRIBUTED BY: Candice from CS Ginger

San Francisco to Redwoods of Northern California West Coast USA Road Trip

ROUTE: Mendocino –  towns of Fort Bragg & Leggett – Humboldt Redwoods State Park

West Coast USA Road Trip

  • San Francisco to Mendocino – 155 miles
  • Mendocino to Fort Bragg  – 10 miles
  • Fort Bragg to Leggett  – 43 miles 
  • Leggett to Humbolt Redwoods State Park – 56 miles 

MILES COVERED: 500 miles (805 kilometres) round trip

One of the best road trips in California is the route between San Francisco and the redwoods of Northern California.

The trip takes approximately 4 days and will take you through the sleepy coastal towns of Mendocino and Fort Bragg before you reach your final destination at Humboldt Redwoods State Park (part of Redwood National Park, California). 

Mendocino : Mendocino is best known for its beautiful iconic cliffs that extend into the Pacific Ocean. Kayak into sea caves to explore inside the cliffs or hike along the cliffs at Mendocino Headlands State Park to take in the gorgeous ocean views. Check out the quaint downtown area for a small-town vibe and some fudge. 

Fort Bragg : Be sure to explore the colorful Glass Beach in Fort Bragg. It is famous in California for its amber, white, green, and sometimes blue sea glass. Noyo Headlands Park also offers amazing views of the Pacific Ocean. 

Town of Leggett : Another place to stop on the way to the redwoods is the town of Leggett. Here you’ll find the Chandelier Drive-Thru Tree, a remnant of the bygone days when it was socially acceptable to saw through trees for cars to drive through as a road trip sight to see. 

Humboldt Redwoods State Park : Finally, you’ll reach Humboldt Redwoods State Park, home to some of the tallest redwood trees in the world.

Don’t miss the drive through the Avenue of the Giants, nowhere else will you feel so small as you coast between giant redwood trees. The hiking trails within the park are also amazing, especially in Founders Grove and Rockefeller Forest. 

READ: Cities and beach towns to visit in coastal California

CONTRIBUTED BY: Constance from The Adventures of Panda Bear

  • Redwoods and Wine County Tour – Learn more here

A love affair with Baja California (Los Angeles to Ensenada Mexico)

ROUTE: Los Angeles –  San Ysidro – Tuetano Taqueria – Tijuana – Ensenada

Baja California

  • LA to San Ysidro – 137 miles
  • San Ysidro, the USA to Tijuana, Mexico – 4.5 miles
  • Tijuana to Ensenada – 104 miles 

MILES COVERED : 245 miles (395 kilometers) round trip

If you grow up surfing in Southern California there’s no doubt that you have had a love affair with Baja California. The Baja Peninsula is visually stunning, the beaches are mesmerizing and the restaurant industry has grown into the envy of Mexico. 

LA to Ensenada: Ensenada has the soul of Baja but it’s only 200 miles from Los Angeles. It is perfect for a three-day weekend. Leave before daylight on Saturday morning and you will cruise through San Diego in less than two hours, cross the border quickly and be in Ensenada and surfing in just over three. 

San Ysidro : It is mandatory to buy Mexican car insurance. I prefer to stop in San Ysidro to buy it at the drive-through. It takes 5 minutes and there are great tacos a block away. Everybody on the US side is reselling the same policies from the three big Mexican insurance companies. The policy has to be from a Mexican company.

Tuetano Taqueria : The best birria tacos (chile-rubbed and slow-roasted beef served with a beef broth soup) this side of Tijuana. If Bill Esparza of @StreetGourmetLA fame is a fan then you should be too. 

Tijuana to Ensenada: The coastal highway from Tijuana to Ensenada is a toll highway with three toll booths that cost a total of about US$10 each way. It is fast, in perfect condition with views of the ocean most of the way. 

Ensenada: At the last toll booth before you enter Ensenada is the world-famous San Miguel surf spot. It’s a right-hand river mouth that breaks like Trestles but with a small fraction of the crowd. After surfing all morning you have to decide if you are going to head into Ensenada or up the hill to the Valle de Guadalupe wine region.

Restaurants in Mexico- Best West Coast USA Road Trip

  • Muelle 3 Restaurant – Located in the Ensenada Harbor just steps away from the seafood market, Muelle 3 is different from the rest of the seafood restaurants on the block. Excellent salads, grilled fish fillets, and European-style steamed mussels make this one of the best restaurants in town.
  • Tostadas La Guerrerense – Fresh, exotic seafood cart tostadas that won a street food world competition in Singapore and enchanted Anthony Bourdain. La Guerrerense recently opened a sit-down restaurant in the Condesa neighborhood of Mexico City.
  • Manzanilla Restaurant – Harbor to table and farm to table staple that helped define the regional cuisine. Celebrity chefs Benito Molina and Solange Muris are the husband and wife team behind this celebrated restaurant.
  • Valle de Guadalupe – Sinaloan Ranch style breakfast made with local ingredients and lots of lamb. Highly regarded as one of the best meals in the Valle de Guadalupe the wait can go on for hours. Get here early.
  • Cuatro Cuartos – Vineyard glamping with a rustic wine bar overlooking the pacific ocean. This is one of the most Instagram-friendly spots in the Valley because of the dramatic views of the coastline.

CONTRIBUTED BY : Paul Hudson from Playas y Plazas

  • Canopy Tour at the Ensenada – Learn more about the tour here

We hope you enjoyed our West Coast America road trip itineraries. More USA Travel posts below

  • USA Bucket list – Top places to visit in the USA
  • East Coast Road Trips – East Coast USA Road trip itinerary
  • USA Weekend Getaways – Top destinations for a quick 2 – 3 day trip in the East Coast
  • Winter Destinations in the USA – Best places to visit in winter in the States
  • Hotels Guide to Las Vegas – Where to stay in Las Vegas the USA
  • Vegas for couples –  Romantic Things to do in Las Vegas 
  • Grand Canyon National Park – which rim to visit?
  • Grand Canyon Tours – Top 5 Las Vegas to Grand Canyon Day tours

Pin: USA West Coast Road Trip

Pin for West coast USA Road trip

Mayuri is the founder & editor of ToSomePlaceNew. An Indian-Canadian globetrotter, she has traveled to over 100 cities and 40+ countries.

She has lived in Portugal, Canada and India.

Mayuri has a graduate degree in History and is an MBA. She loves traveling the world particularly Europe, capturing historical nuances, and discussing that over a cup of coffee with her husband, Salil. 

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Bookmarking this! My partner and I have talked about doing a west coast roadtrip for years. We’ve been to a few spots before but haven’t spent nearly enough time. High on the bucket list are definitely Yosemite, Grand Canyon and driving the PCH. Can’t wait to head off on one of these routes someday soon – when we get back from our expat year living in Prague!

That’s awesome Riana! Thanks so much – I am sure you will have lots of FUN doing this road trip!

Happy Travels xoxo

Love this blog post and love your photography! I have been to a few of these places and they are just amazing!

Mayuri, thank you for this post! My boyfriend and I are currently planning a three-week roadtrip to the States with many of these spots in mind! We did Yosemite last year and part of Nevada this year, but so many of these spots are high up on our list and I can’t wait to dig deeper and refine our itinerary, now that I’ve downloaded your pdf version 🙂

So glad you found the post useful!

Love that you started the post off with essentials needed for a road trip! I would add to that – always make sure to have an extra bottle of water on hand. You never know if you may accidently get stranded somewhere. Great post!

Great tip about the water. We carry ours too!

Nice Post. very well written and very impressive

awesome post! what service do you use to create your map?

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12 Top-Rated West Coast USA Road Trips

Written by Brad Lane Updated May 3, 2023

Author Brad Lane has driven up and down the West Coast of the USA on several occasions. His most recent trip took him from San Diego to Mount Baker, spanning 12 months between 2021 and 2022.

The West Coast of the United States offers some of the best road trips in the world. Dramatic natural attractions and culturally iconic cities line this entire side of the country. From Seattle and the Cascade Mountains of Washington down to the sunny weather and ocean vistas of San Diego in California , several standout destinations solidify why the West Coast is the best coast for travel.

Pacific Coast Highway

Among many West Coast must-see roadside attractions, areas like the redwoods surrounding San Francisco, the ancient caldera known as Crater Lake, and the mighty Mount Rainier top the list of places to visit. Whether it's a 10-day, two-week, or months-long trip, plan to spend more time on the road than initially budgeted. Attractions like active volcanoes, sterling beaches, and alpine lakes encourage a few extra days added to an itinerary.

Fun things to do stem in every direction on the West Coast. And each season brings new opportunities for travelers to enjoy wide-ranging landscapes that are sure to satisfy some wanderlust. Plan your trip with our list of the best West Coast USA road trips.

1. Pacific Coast Highway: Where the Mountains Meet the Sea

2. touring the cascade loop of washington, 3. exploring the oregon coast highway 101, 4. cruise along the columbia river scenic byway, 5. circling the olympic peninsula loop, 6. california's redwood highway, 7. travel the volcanic legacy scenic byway, 8. highway 395: south lake tahoe to yosemite national park, 9. travel the cascade lakes scenic byway in central oregon, 10. southern california splendor: santa barbara to san diego, 11. exploring washington's volcanoes: mount rainier and mount st. helens, 12. experience the willamette valley of oregon, map of west coast usa road trips.

Pacific Coast Highway

The Pacific Coast Highway, also known as California State Route 1, is one of the country's most iconic road trip destinations. This modern marvel of engineering hugs over 600 miles of California coastline. It connects movie stars in Los Angeles to the postcard wonders of Big Sur, all before spanning the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and ending in the redwood forests of Mendocino County .

The highway's southern terminus is near the beaches of Dana Point in Orange County. An average trip length along the highway spans five to seven days. However, the recommended itinerary allows for a few weeks to explore the state parks, cities, and hundreds of places to visit along the way. Right at its beginning, popular attractions include extensive ocean vistas and whale-watching tours.

Bixby Canyon Bridge on the Pacific Coast Byway, Big Sur

One of the most scenic stretches of the highway can be found near Big Sur and the Bixby Canyon Bridge , where multiple pull-offs and vantage points offer a classic California photo opportunity. This entire area is a rugged California paradise where the Santa Lucia Mountains meet the sea, and the highway navigates several canyon-hugging hairpin turns.

Thirty miles north on the coast from Big Sur, the city of Monterey and its adjacent bay provide historical intrigue and one of the best aquariums in the country. For intrepid explorers, Muir Woods, 10 miles north of Sausalito, features groves of incredible old-growth trees.

State Route 1 connects many major metropolitan areas along the coast for automobile touring and everyday commuting. Alongside San Francisco and L.A. , the highway also connects other cultural hubs, including Santa Barbara , Santa Cruz, and San Luis Obispo .

Diablo Lake overlook on Cascades Loop

For a full taste of the cities, sights, and mountain splendor of Washington, the roughly 400-mile Cascade Loop has it all. Starting from the culturally rich city of Seattle , travelers on the Cascade Loop can head in either direction for guaranteed fun things to do.

Heading north toward Anacortes, tourists on the Cascades Loop connect with the North Cascades Scenic Byway (WA 20) for a 120-mile stretch through some of the most dramatic landscapes in the state.

The North Cascade Scenic Byway is open seasonally between May and November and tours many of the best hiking trails and top campgrounds of North Cascades National Park . Among the many great views, the aquamarine water of Diablo Lake really stands out, with a viewing platform easily accessible from the highway.

Bookending the eastern end of the North Cascade Scenic Byway, the tourist-friendly Methow Valley welcomes visitors with scenic places to visit, including Mazama, Winthrop , and Twisp.

Fall colors along the southern portion of the Cascade Loop

The southern portion of the Cascade Loop passes through more road trip destinations, including Wenatchee, Cashmere, and Leavenworth — a Bavarian-themed town on Highway 2 with high alpine peaks and cultural celebrations to match. Among the many fun things to do in Leavenworth is exploring the highly detailed German village at the city's core.

The route concludes back in Seattle via U.S. Route 2 after crossing Stevens Pass, 35 miles west of Leavenworth. This final stretch provides even more opportunities for hiking, skiing, and white water rafting along the way.

Oregon Coast Highway 101

The stunning Oregon Coast stretches for over 360 miles from Astoria and the Columbia River down to Brookings and the California border. Historical shipwrecks, impressive sea stacks, and a constantly changing tide line the entire expanse. And what's unique to the coastal location, every single inch is open to the public, earning the nickname the "People's Coast."

Some of the top attractions of the Oregon Coast include Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach and the Yaquina Head Lighthouse in Newport . Towards the southern end of the state, the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor features some of the most ruggedly beautiful views along the entire coast. Other special places of interest include Cape Perpetua , Yachats , and the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area — a popular place for off-highway vehicle riders and campers.

Oregon Coast Highway

The drive has plenty of scenic vistas worth pulling over for, sometimes spaced every half-mile. In the more popular tourist destinations on the northern Oregon coast, closer to Portland and the Willamette Valley, reservations are recommended in the summer for campgrounds and resorts. For a more bite-sized road trip along the Oregon coast , the Three Capes Scenic Drive can be done over a weekend.

Read More: Top-Rated Small Towns on the Oregon Coast

Bridal Veil Falls along the Columbia River Scenic Byway

Defining the boundary between Oregon and Washington, the Columbia River Gorge is home to many of the best waterfalls in Oregon and a long list of other scenic roadside attractions. The route follows the Columbia River before it plunges into the Pacific Ocean in the charming city of Astoria.

Most visitors start their Columbia River road trip from the city streets of Portland and head east. Alongside stunning waterfalls like the 620-foot Multnomah Falls and historical attractions, including the Vista House at Crown Point , a recommended city stop is Hood River . This happening city has a growing collection of restaurants, galleries, and windsurfing rental companies.

Read More: Top-Rated Hiking Trails near Portland, Oregon

Hikers in the Hoh Rain Forest at Olympic National Park

No roads cut through the heart of the Olympic Peninsula of western Washington. Instead, the entire peninsula can be circumnavigated with over 300 highway miles and plenty to see along the way. Among the varied scenery are rainforests, glaciated mountains, and boulder-strewn beaches.

Seattle and Olympia make great starting points for the Olympic Peninsula Loop, and towns like Port Angeles , Forks, and Hoodsport make great basecamp destinations to explore the surrounding Olympic National Park . For extra add-on appeal, boarding a ferry in Port Angeles takes visitors to the always-seasonable Victoria, British Columbia .

It takes more planning, but the peninsula is navigable by public transportation or private shuttle if traveling without a car. It's especially manageable to get from Seattle to Olympic National Park with a few different bus and ferry options available.

  • Top-Rated Campgrounds in Olympic National Park
  • Top-Rated Hiking Trails in Olympic National Park

Jebediah Smith Redwoods State Park

Plan a trip along California's Redwood Highway to explore some of the state's most inspiring trees. Several state and national parks protect these incredibly tall trees on this 230-mile route spanning south from Crescent City through Eureka and ending in Leggett in Mendocino County.

Crescent City is an excellent place to start or finish a road trip on the Northern California Coast. Its tsunami history is always on display alongside a growing list of tourist attractions and ways to enjoy the ocean. Crescent City also gives instant access to the Jebediah Smith Redwoods State Park, part of the larger Redwoods National and State Parks.

Other collaborative units of Redwoods National and State Parks span south of Crescent City. This collection includes Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, and Redwood National Park. All units provide access to campgrounds, hiking trails , and, sometimes, seaside redwoods.

Humboldt Redwoods State Park

It's approximately a 90-mile drive from Crescent to Eureka, passing by each of these redwood offerings. From Eureka , or its scenic neighbor to the north, Trinidad , it's approximately 30 miles south on Highway 101 to reach Humboldt Redwoods State Park for even more tall-tree attractions. Hop off Highway 101 here and choose the Avenue of the Giants instead.

It's another 30 miles driving south from Humboldt Redwoods to complete the drive in Legget. But the redwoods don't stop there, nor does the coastal attraction. Mendocino county itself, including Fort Bragg and Mendocino , are charming spots with some big trees nearby.

Read More: Best State Parks in California

Mount Lassen above Lake Helen

The Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway spans from Crater Lake in Oregon to Mount Lassen of California, unearthing the geological past of the Cascade Mountains. The ancient caldera known as Crater Lake is a stand-alone destination as the deepest lake in the country and one of the best weekend getaways in Oregon . Within Crater Lake National Park, Mazama Village makes for a great camping destination the whole family will enjoy.

Heading south, the impressive slopes of Mount Shasta beckon with adventure, as do the impressive water features found at Burney Falls. The stunning Shasta-Trinity National Forest stands tall as one of the top places to explore in Mount Shasta and is easily accessible from the charming community of its same name.

On the southern end of this 500-mile scenic byway, the geothermal features of Lassen Volcanic National Park define the inviting landscape. During the summer season, expect to see long-distance hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail sharing the scenic stops alongside the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway.

El Capitan viewpoint at Yosemite National Park

Shimmering alpine lakes, jutting mountain peaks, and lush forests filled with wildlife — the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California present one postcard image after another. Highway 395 is the main thoroughfare through the Sierra Nevadas, connecting many iconic national parks, gateway cities, and opportunities for adventure.

A great place to start and stay, South Lake Tahoe is an alpine-infused community surrounded by natural attractions, including the sparkling Emerald Bay State Park . In summer, you can enjoy hiking trails in the mountains or along the shores or simply relax on a beach. In winter, pack your skis and hit some of the ski resorts around Lake Tahoe .

A three-hour drive south connects Lake Tahoe with Mammoth Lakes , a year-round destination for hiking, mountain biking, and downhill winter sports. The small town of Lone Pine is also along the route, 100 miles south, serving as the gateway to Mount Whitney , the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States.

Heading west near Mammoth Lakes on Highway 120 (Tioga Pass) leads visitors to the enchanting Yosemite Valley . The highway leads straight to iconic areas of the national park including Half-Dome, Tuolumne Meadows, several impressive hikes , and a number of the area's best campgrounds .

Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway

The 66-mile Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway departs from the high-desert town of Bend . From its arid surroundings, the byway climbs into the Central Cascades and into a world of alpine splendor. With prominent views of postcard summits like Mt. Bachelor, Broken Top, and South Sister, the byway does well to define Oregon's mountain style.

The route is inaccessible in the winter between mid-November and May . Coming from Bend, the byway begins as Century Drive (Oregon Route 372), where it enters the Deschutes National Forest. Todd Lake is one of the first alpine lakes encountered, followed by many more.

At least a dozen beautiful lakes line the entire route. And much of the recreation centers around these icy-cold bodies of water. Beaches, marinas, and picnic areas line several of the shores, and all cater to activities like fishing and hiking. Lava Lake offers a particularly interesting stop, as does Little Lava Lake, which provides the source for the Deschutes River.

Santa Barbara

Southern California provides great weather to explore any time of the year, with sandy beaches, surf spots, and palm trees lining the sidewalks. The 200-mile stretch of Highway 101 and Interstate 5 that connects Santa Barbara and San Diego is a great way to experience this warm-weather region of the country.

Mission Santa Barbara is a great place to grab some architectural and cultural flavor of Santa Barbara. The area is filled with many top hiking trails , beach resorts, and fun things to do with the family .

Cities like Beverly Hills , Long Beach , and Irvine all comprise the major metropolitan areas south of Santa Barbara and surrounding Los Angeles, each providing unique cultures and places to visit.

Farther south, near the U.S./Mexico border, San Diego offers even more family-friendly things to do . With an average annual temperature of around 70 degrees Fahrenheit, one of the most popular attractions in San Diego is the 14,000-acre Balboa Park complex featuring multiple museums, botanical gardens, and the world-famous San Diego Zoo.

Mount Rainier

Mount Rainier is a massive active volcano sixty miles southeast of Seattle and home to one of the best national parks of Washington . The stunning national park surrounding this 14,411-foot peak invites all sorts of recreation with many top campgrounds and scenic hiking trails .

Just a few must-do hiking trails at Mount Rainier include the Skyline Trail and Spray Park . It's an extremely popular park throughout the summer and shoulder seasons and offers winter adventure with cross-country ski trails and scenic snowshoe opportunities.

More of Washington's volcanic activity can be experienced at Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, a two-hour drive south of Mount Rainier. Best known for its dramatic 1980 eruption, Mount St. Helens today is a living science demonstration of how habitats bounce back after an eruption.

The top-rated hiking trails at Mount St. Helens provide many unique opportunities to explore this altered environment, including underground expeditions at Ape Caves and permitted hikes to the massive crater left behind after the 1980 explosion.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Campgrounds near Seattle

State Capitol in Salem

Surrounding the Interstate 5 corridor and Willamette River in northern Oregon, the Willamette Valley is well known for its fertile soil and culturally rich places to visit. It's home to Oregon's largest cities, including Portland, Eugene, and the state capital of Salem .

Fun things to do line this entire region, from the western Cascade slopes to a wide range of agricultural attractions and tours. Summer in the Willamette Valley encourages car rides with the top down, and throughout the shoulder seasons, this scenic region features dazzling displays of spring flowers and fall foliage.

Read More: Top-Rated Attractions & Places to Visit in Oregon

More Related Articles on PlanetWare.com


California Destinations: Many of the best places to visit in California can be found on road trips. Some of the national parks in California you may want to tack on to these trips are Redwoods National and State Parks and Joshua Tree National Park . For an extra special vacation, the top romantic getaways in California range from seaside resorts to the rolling hills of Sonoma County.


Oregon Exploring: Oregon is home to adventure, and whether it's top-rated waterfalls , hot springs, or hiking trails , it's fun to explore Oregon at any time of the year. For a mix of city culture and natural appeal, the top-rated attractions in Oregon include places to visit in Portland, along the coast, and at Crater Lake National Park.


Washington Wonders: Including stops in Seattle and adventures on the Olympic Peninsula, the attractions in Washington are only limited by the time you can spend exploring. For some real adventure in this rugged state, both the top-rated hiking trails and best campgrounds in Washington provide epic places to explore the day and spend the night.

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Are you ready for a Road Trip? Explore these eleven incredible cross-country road trip routes across the U.S.!

best route to travel west coast america

Pacific Coast

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Border to Border

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The Road to Nowhere

best route to travel west coast america

The Great River Road

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Appalachian Trail

best route to travel west coast america

Atlantic Coast

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The Great Northern

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The Oregon Trail

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The Loneliest Road

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Southern Pacific

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Classic American Road Trips

best route to travel west coast america

Pacific Coast Highway

Starting at the northwest tip of the United States at Washington’s Olympic National Park and remaining within sight of the ocean all the way south to sunny San Diego, this 1,650-mile, mostly two-lane road trip takes in everything from temperate rainforest to near-desert.

Highlights along the Pacific Coast Route: Olympic National Park (WA), Three Capes Loop (OR), Redwood National Park (CA)

mountain landscape with overlaid text reading Route 66 Road Trip

Historic Route 66

The romance of traveling along historic Route 66 from where it starts in Chicago and ends in Los Angeles continues to captivate people around the world. If you’re looking for great displays of neon signs, rusty middle-of-nowhere truck stops, or kitschy Americana, do as the song says and “get your kicks on Route 66.”

Highlights along Route 66: Chicago (IL), Meramec Caverns (MO), Tucumcari (NM), Painted Desert (AZ), Santa Monica (CA)

best route to travel west coast america

  • Barnes & Noble
  • Books-A-Million
  • Indigo (Canada)
  • Powell's Books
  • Apple Books

big sky and water adjacent to a road with overlaid text reading the loneliest road trip

Running coast-to-coast from San Francisco to Ocean City, Maryland, “The Loneliest Road in America” is a 3,200-mile odyssey from sea to shining sea. US-50 passes through a dozen different states, four state capitals, and the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C.

Highlights along the Loneliest Road: South Lake Tahoe (CA), Moab (UT), The Million Dollar Highway (CO), Washington D.C.

suspension bridge backed by forest with overlaid text reading The Oregon Trail Road Trip

Following in the footsteps of pilgrims and pioneers, US‑20 takes in a little of everything during its two-lane trek from Oregon’s rugged coast to the glorious sea and sand of Cape Cod.

Highlights along the Oregon Trail: Cannon Beach (OR), Fort Boise (ID), Yellowstone National Park (WY), Mt Rushmore & Carhenge (NE)

trees with vivid fall color with overlaid text reading The Great Northern US-2 Road Trip

Dubbed the Great Northern in memory of the pioneer railroad that parallels the western half of the route, US‑2 is truly the most stunning and unforgettable, not to mention longest, of all the great transcontinental road trips.

Highlights along the Great Northern: Tumwater Canyon (WA), Glacier National Park (MT), Lake Michigan (MI), Acadia National Park (ME)

The Open Road

The Appalachian Trail

This driving route of the Appalachian Trail parallels the epic hike. From the top of New England to the heart of Dixie, it takes you through continuous natural beauty—without the sweat, bugs, or blisters.

Highlights along the Appalachian Trail: Mt. Washington (NH), The Poconos (PA), Shenandoah National Park (VA), Great Smoky Mountains National Park (NC)

lakes and green landscape with overlaid text reading the Great River Road Trip

Old Man River, Father of Waters, “body of a nation,” Big Muddy: By any name, the mighty Mississippi River cuts a mythic figure across the American landscape. Tag along from its headwaters in Minnesota to where it meets the sea in Louisiana via the GRR.

Highlights along the Great River Road: Main Street USA (WI), St. Louis (MO), Natchez Trace Parkway (MS), New Orleans (LA)

dense city on a peninsula with overlaid text reading the Atlantic Coast Road Trip

Starting at the Statue of Liberty and ending with a drive across the Overseas Highway to free-wheeling Key West, these almost 2,000 miles of roadway run within earshot—if not sight—of the Atlantic Ocean.

Highlights along the Atlantic Coast: The Statue of Liberty (NJ), Assateague Island National Seashore (MD), Savannah (GA), Cocoa Beach (FL)

old Spanish-style church with overlaid text reading the Border to Border Road Trip

Starting at Canada’s Jasper National Park, and winding down in the Sonora Desert, this route traverses some of the wildest and most rugged lands imaginable: mighty mountains, glaciated valleys, raging rivers, and two very different deserts.

Highlights along the Border to Border Route: Columbia Icefield (AB), Bitterroot Mountains (MT), The Extraterrestrial Highway (NV), Joshua Forest Parkway (AZ)

dunes with overlaid text reading tThe Road to Nowhere US-83 Road Trip

Once the only entirely paved route from Canada to “Old Mexico,” US‑83 cuts across America’s heartland and remains a must-do long-distance byway—transnavigating this broad, odd nation without once grazing a conventional tourist destination.

Highlights along the Road to Nowhere: Sitting Bull Memorial (SD), Nebraska Sand Hills (NE), Monument Rocks (KS), Paint Rock Pictographs (TX)

trees draped with moss with overlaid text reading the Southern Pacific US-80 Road Trip

Following old US-80 and its contemporary equivalents takes you through more varied cultural and physical landscapes than you’ll find along any other cross-country route. From deserts to bayou swamps and Tex-Mex to barbecue, this route offers a full-flavored taste of America.

Highlights along Southern Pacific: The Desert View Tower (CA), Tombstone (AZ), Roswell (NM), Civil Rights Movement National Historic Trail (AL)

US map showing the 11 cross-country road trips on roadtripusa.com

The American Road Trip Company

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Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California West Coast, USA

Ultimate West Coast

Visit Seattle, Olympic NP, Oregon Coast, Portland, Crater Lake NP, Redwood NP, Sonoma & Napa Valley, San Francisco, Monterey Bay, Big Sur, Santa Barbara & LA.

Home > Find A Road Trip > California > Ultimate West Coast

Drive north to south along the entire West Coast of America

Drive from Seattle to Los Angeles along our popular Ultimate West Coast America route. You’ll parallel the gorgeous Pacific Coast as you drive through the outstanding scenery of Washington, Oregon and California. The west coast of America offers astounding natural beauty, along with some of America’s most hip and trendy cities. Check out this three-week itinerary below to see why this West Coast holiday is a must-do for any keen road-tripper.

Key road trip highlights:

  • Enjoy four of the West Coast’s most iconic cities – Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
  • Explore three amazing National Parks and numerous stunning State Parks
  • Drive along two of America’s most thrilling roads – Route 101 and Highway 1.
  • Enjoy coastal driving in all three states – Washington, Oregon and California.
  • Option to add extra days to allow time to visit Orange County and San Diego.
  • What’s included? Direct flights with a premier carrier, accommodation, car rental and a personalised road trip pack.

Ultimate West Coast route with The American Road Trip Company

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Our Favourite Hotels

We’ll suggest properties to match your preferred budget, be it low-cost, mid-range or high-end luxury that you’re looking for. We can also mix it up so you’ll experience a range of standards and experiences along your road trip.

View Crest Lodge, Redwood National Park, California

View Crest Lodge

Redwood National Park

Lake Crescent Lodge, in Olympic National Park

Lake Crescent Lodge

Olympic National Park

Inn at Cannon Beach, Oregon Coast. Pacific Northwest

Inn at Cannon Beach

Oregon Coast

Kimpton Alton, Fishermans Wharf, San Francisco 4 star hotel

Kimpton Alton

San Francisco

Intercontinental at the Clement, Monterey

Intercontinental at the Clement

Argonaut Hotel, San Francisco

Argonaut Hotel

The Duniway Portland A Hilton Hotelin Portland, Oregon

The Duniway Portland

Carmel Valley Ranch, Big Sur

Carmel Valley Ranch

Road Trip Itinerary

All of our American road trips can be tailored to meet your requirements. Do you have more or less than 21 days for your road trip? No problem, we can bolt on extra nights to allow more time to explore or shorten the number of destinations as required.

Start your road trip in Seattle, Washington

You’ll start your West Coast of America fly-drive in the Emerald City – Seattle. After you’ve checked into your chosen Seattle hotel, why not have dinner at one of Seattle’s excellent restaurants? We highly recommend the seafood joints found in and around Pike Place Market. Or perhaps you just need a cup of coffee to help you stay awake following your flight? Then head over to the first-ever Starbucks, which is also located in Pike Place.

Seattle, WA

Pikes Place Market, Seattle waterfront, Washington, Northwest Explorer USA

A full day to explore Seattle

Emerald City is one of the fastest-growing cities in North America, famous for its coffee, grunge music and an ever-growing tech sector. Sightseer highlights include the iconic Space Needle, historic Pioneer Square and the vast Museum of Flight.

The Space Needle in Seattle, Washington, USA

Begin the Ultimate West Coast road trip

The words rugged, craggy and remote come to mind when thinking of Olympic National Park. Situated in the far northwest of Washington State, Olympic is one of the wettest places you’ll ever visit. The unique climate makes this National Park an extraordinary and atmospheric place to explore. Visitors can discover wild Roosevelt Elk living amongst the moss-covered trees, alpine meadows and the waterfalls of the area.

Olympic National Park, Washington USA

Explore one of America's best National Parks - Olympic NP

The west coast of America has many magnificent beaches, and Rialto Beach and Ruby Beach are two of the most magical. Sea stacks, black sand and colossal driftwood, are all battered by the mighty Pacific Ocean. Your personalised Road Trip Pack will show you how to find these beaches and many more places of outstanding natural beauty along this wild and wonderful coastline.

Olympic National Park, Washington, Pacific Northwest USA - Beach

Cruise inland to Oregon's Capital... Portland

It’s time to remove your hiking boots and enjoy the second city on this 3-week itinerary. You’ll find plenty of trendy shops, cool cafes and hip restaurants on the streets of Portland. Plus, this is a Tax-Free shopping area, so if you intend to shop whilst you’re road-tripping, then this is a great place to do it. If shopping is not your thing, then Portland’s other highlights include a Japanese Garden, the Pittock Mansion and the Portland Art Museum.

Portland, OR

Portland, Oregon, USA

Portland or the Columbia River Gorge... you choose

Your second day in Portland can be spent exploring the city’s attractions or travelling along the awe-inspiring Columbia River Gorge. If the latter appeals, then head east on the super scenic Columbia River Highway to visit wonders like Multnomah Falls, Mount Hood and the Bonneville Dam.

Mount Rainier, Washington, Pacific Northwest, USA

Head west to find Oregon's unspoilt coastline

Massive sandstone boulders look like they’ve been dropped from the heavens along this 360-mile stretch of coast. Rugged, wild and windswept – Oregon’s beauty is up with the best of them.

Cannon Beach, OR

Haystack Rock at Sunset at Cannon Beach, Olympic National Park, Pacific Northwest

Cruise south along Oregon's west coast

Drive south on the legendary Highway 101, this famous old road spans from Seattle in the north to Los Angeles in the south. Along with Highway 1, Route 101 will be your preferred road for most of this west coast road trip. The Oregon section of Highway 101 is less developed than certain parts of California. So relax and enjoy nature’s artistry at work as you cruise by mist-covered forests and vast sun-soaked beaches.

Sea Stacks, Oregon Coast, Pacific Northwest USA

Crater Lake - A volcano topped with a crystal clear lake

Crater Lake National Park has inspired people for hundreds of years. No place else on earth combines a deep, pure lake, so blue in colour; sheer surrounding cliffs, almost two thousand feet high; two picturesque islands; and a violent volcanic past. It’s a place of immeasurable beauty and a worthwhile detour away from the West Coast.

Crater Lake NP

Crater Lake, Oregon, Pacific Northwest USA

Leave Oregon for California's west coast

Today, you’ll start the California section of this road trip along the USA’s West Coast. First stop in the Golden State is the majestic Redwood National Park, located in the very north of California.

Giant trees in Redwood National Park, California, USA

Enjoy tranquility in the West Coast's Redwoods

The most giant trees on the planet are found in Redwood National Park on America’s West Coast. Redwoods were once common throughout America, but sadly, they’re only found in Oregon and California now. These trees are enormous, up to 100m high and 11m in diameter. Spend the day walking amongst them and let your stresses melt away.

Walking amongst the trees, Redwood National Park, California, USA

Continue south to Sonoma & Napa Valley

You don’t have to like wine to enjoy this beautiful area (but it helps). These two neighbouring valleys offer stunning scenery made up of perfectly manicured vineyards stretched across endless rolling hills. The scenery can be enjoyed by car, train or even by an early morning hot air balloon ride.

Sonoma Valley, CA

Vineyards in Napa Valley, California wine region, USA

Cross the Golden Gate Bridge to find San Fran

Spanning the headlands between Marin County and San Francisco. The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the world’s most beautiful structures, whether you walk, bike or drive across it. You can also gain stunning views of the Bay and San Francisco beyond by driving up Conzelman Road on the north side of the bridge. Once you hit town, you’ll spend three fun-filled days enjoying all that this West Coast city offers.

San Francisco, CA

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California, USA

A second day in America's favourite city - San Francisco

Once the famous morning fog lifts, one of America’s favourite cities will be revealed. Ride a cable car, climb the steep streets and get into the vibe that only San Francisco can offer. Packed with Victorian charm, remarkable restaurants, spectacular shopping and famous movie locations, this iconic city really has it all.

Painted Ladies, San Francisco, California, USA

A third and final day in San Francisco

When visiting the West Coast of America, Alcatraz Island is often near the top of visitors’ to-do lists. Enjoy the unique experience of Alcatraz and take in some spectacular views of San Francisco, Angel Island and the Golden Gate Bridge as you ferry across the Bay to this former prison and iconic tourist destination. Once you’re back on the mainland, grab a meal in Fisherman’s Wharf before riding a cable car back to your hotel.

Alcatraz Island in San Francisco, California, USA

Cruise down Highway 1 to Monterey & Carmel

Monterey was once California’s capital; today its best known for the world-class Monterey Bay Aquarium on Cannery Row. In years gone by, Monterey was most famous for its whaling and sardine industry, today, it focuses on marine education and preservation. Take a whale-watching to see whales migrating along the West Coast of America. Later, take 17-Mile-Drive to find Carmel, this scenic toll road takes people on a short tour past rugged beaches, millionaire homes and wind-blown cypress trees. Along the way, you’ll notice seals basking in the sun on coastal rocks and sea otters bobbing up and down in the waves.

Humpback Whale in Monterey Bay, California, USA

Explore pretty Carmel and wild Point Lobos

Point Lobos marks the start of the Big Sur coastal area, and such is the beauty of this reserve that it demands to be visited before you continue down the coast tomorrow. Seal lions give birth to pups on inaccessible beaches, sea otters frolic in the bays, and whales slowly migrate through the 750 underwater acres of the park. Pure beauty that can only be fully enjoyed through hiking the many short walks. After Point Lobos, head back to beautiful Carmel for lunch before spending the afternoon on one of the West Coast’s finest beaches.

Main Beach in Carmel by the Sea, California, USA

Drive through Big Sur on Highway 1

Big Sur is known as the best driving experience on the West Coast. Experience curvy roads, enchanting State Parks and stunning coastal vistas. At the end of this 100-mile scenic drive, you’ll find Hearst Castle perched upon “The Enchanted Hill”, which overlooks the Pacific Ocean. Hearst Castle is indeed the product of one man’s ambition, wealth and imagination – If time allows, consider popping in for a visit.

Big Sur, CA

The Big Sur, California Coast, USA

Charming Santa Barbara awaits

This affluent, sun-soaked town, built in a Mediterranean style, is one of the central coast’s finest destinations. Highlights include State Street’s shopping and restaurants, wine tasting in the Funk Zone and enjoying the city’s beaches.

Santa Barbara, CA

Old Mission in Santa Barbara, California, USA

Last stop - Los Angeles, California

Hollywood is synonymous with glitz and glamour, and although many of the studios have now moved on to other parts of town, it’s still fun to visit the home of the Oscars and walk Hollywood Boulevard looking for the handprints of your favourite movie stars. Just a short drive northeast lies the Griffith Observatory, perched high on a hill overlooking the urban sprawl of LA. This recently renovated landmark is well worth a visit. It’s also a great place to view the iconic Hollywood sign.

Los Angeles, CA

The Big Sur, California Coast, USA

Complete your road trip in Santa Monica, Los Angeles

The Santa Monica Pier brings your Ultimate West Coast holiday to a glorious end; Santa Monica’s beaches and old-fashioned pier are a worthy finishing point for any road trip. You can hire a bike, cruise the Venice Beach boardwalk, or shop your heart out on 3rd Street. Or, perhaps you’ll prefer to watch some of La La Land’s crazy characters play basketball or push weights while you enjoy a meal in one of the many eateries. Lastly, if you have a few extra days to spend away, then this trip can be extended to visit Orange County and San Diego. Alternatively, Palm Springs and Las Vegas could also be added to complete your Ultimate West Coast road trip.

Santa Monica pier in Los Angeles, California, USA

Frequently Asked Questions

You’ll find answers to most of your questions right here. If you still need assistance, Feel free to  get in touch , and we’ll be sure to get back to you promptly!

Not a problem. If you are lucky enough to have extra time to explore more places or add more rest days, then just let us know and we’ll adjust your trip to match your preferred timescale.

We strongly advise that you purchase travel insurance for your holiday to cover you against medical expenses, theft and other financial costs. Should you need to cancel before travelling, some insurance policies may pay out for any loss of funds that have been paid to us and which cannot be refunded under our cancellation policy.

Many of our trips have a different end destination than the starting point, so this is not a problem. Please note a fee sometimes applies for one-way rentals between other regions or states, which will be paid to the supplier directly when collecting the vehicle. We’ll endeavour to inform you of this charge within your quote.

No, far from it. We work with a range of properties from 3* to 5*, so we can adapt the trip to match most budgets. We have access to rooms in more than 800 hotels, motels, lodges and B&Bs across North America.

The minimum age to rent a car is 21 in the United States or Canada, although, in addition, any drivers under 25 years of age will generally incur a surcharge.

Request a Quote

Please use the form below to request a quote from our team. Fields marked with an * are mandatory. Please note that we currently only serve customers based in the UK & The EU.

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ARTCo customers can be confident that we only work with the very best service providers, such as Virgin Atlantic, British Airways and Alamo. Any payments made to us are fully protected via the government’s ATOL scheme (Flight packages) or Financial Failure Insurance (Non-Flight Packages).

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Scenic States

10 Best Cross-Country Road Trip Routes in the US

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The open road, blue skies, fresh air: a cross-country road trip may just be what you need to go somewhere new, spend some time by yourself or with your loved ones, and gain some perspective.

The great American road trip became popular in the 1950s, when there was a rapid increase in the number of families owning cars post-World War II.

With the recent changes in travel and diminished financial capacity, people are looking for different ways to explore new places. It definitely looks like driving cross-country will see a revival.

In this article, you’ll learn about the best routes to travel as well as tips and resources on how to plan a cross-country road trip that you (and your loved ones) will remember for years to come.

The 10 Best Cross-Country Road Trip Routes

These 5 routes are by no means the only ways to go on a cross-country road trip, but these are certainly popular and scenic.

The first three routes are coast-to-coast road trips, while the last two run north to south along the west and east coasts, respectively.

1. America’s Mother Road: Historic Route 66

America's Mother Road Route 66 Map: Cross-Country Road Trip

Who Should Take This Route: Those who long for the nostalgia and romance of small-town America

Don’t mess with a classic.

Route 66 is the legendary cross-country road trip destination for tourists, not only Americans but also foreigners. The Pixar animated movie Cars is greatly responsible for sparking renewed interest in driving this road.

In the 1930s, it was the route of choice for workers who wanted to try their luck in the west, and later in the 1950s and 1960s, for vacationing families to go to the Grand Canyon and Disneyland.

As the road became more popular, tourist traps, motels, diners, gas stations, car repair shops, and other roadside attractions sprang up, earning Route 66 the moniker “Main Street of America.”

best route to travel west coast america

Sadly, it was decommissioned in 1985 as motorists favored using I-40; it can get them from one point to another much quicker.

Even though it’s officially decommissioned, more than 80% of the original route can still be driven today thanks to road maps and websites dedicated to reviving the route as well as the small towns and businesses along the road.

The “normal” direction to take this road trip is from east to west, but eastward is good if you want to go coast to coast.

That is, if you start from California and want to continue your trip to the east from Illinois all the way to Massachusetts, you can turn on US-20 from where Route 66 ends on Joliet Road in Countryside, Illinois (more details on US-20 below).

States (West to East)

Notable attractions/stops by state.

Route 66 Sign, Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, California

  • Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica
  • Pete’s Rt 66 Gas Station Museum, Williams
  • Petrified Forest National Park
  • Route 66 Monument, Tucumcari
  • Blue Swallow Motel, Tucumcari

Blue Swallow Motel, Tucumcari, New Mexico

  • Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo
  • Pops 66, Arcadia
  • Rock Café, Stroud
  • Route 66 State Park, Eureka
  • Ted Drewes Frozen Custard, St. Louis
  • World’s Largest Covered Wagon, Lincoln, Illinois
  • The Start of Route 66, E Adams St., Chicago, Illinois

Miles Covered

2,278 miles (3,665 km) long; recommend setting aside at least 12 to 14 days for 3 to 5 hours of driving a day

Best Time To Travel

Spring (April to May) and autumn (September to October) are the best times to drive this route, when the temperatures are just right and there are fewer cars on the road.

More Information

We’ve previously written about other Route 66 attractions in detail.

2. The Oregon Trail: US-20 Route

Who Should Take This Route: History buffs who love long drives and diverse sights

Historic Route 66 may be the more popular road, but US Route 20 is actually the longest road in the US, earning it the nickname “Big Daddy.”

Not only is it the longest, but US-20 also offers the most contrasting sights and sounds. From mountains, lakes, rivers, and beaches, to “frozen in time” small towns and the most modern urban cities.

Again, east to west is the popular way to go on this road trip, but starting from the west gives you a chance to go parallel to the path formed by the Oregon National Historic Trail , which was followed by pioneer families on wagons from Missouri to Oregon.

  • Montana (less than 10 miles)
  • Pennsylvania
  • Massachusetts

Notable Attractions/Stops

  • South Beach State Park
  • Willamette Valley
  • Cascade Mountains
  • Oregon High Desert
  • Craters of the Moon National Monument
  • Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park

  • Carhenge, Alliance
  • Field of Dreams Movie Site, Dyersville
  • Indiana Dunes National Park
  • Cedar Point Amusement Park, Sandusky
  • Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Cleveland
  • Presque Isle State Park, Erie
  • Finger Lakes Region
  • Sonnenberg Gardens & Mansion State Park, Canandaigua
  • The Tepee, Cherry Valley
  • Old Sturbridge Village, Sturbridge
  • Kenmore Square, Boston

3,365 miles (5,415 km); recommend setting aside at least 15 to 21 days for 3 to 5 hours of driving a day

Summer (June to August) is the best time to travel this road, notwithstanding the weather and crowds. Most places are closed during the winter, as this trail lies mostly in northern states, and spring and fall mean unpredictable weather.

3. The Loneliest Road: US-50 Route

The Loneliest Road US-50 map

Who Should Take This Route: Those who love solitude

If you look forward to driving alone with nothing but nature around you, you will love driving US Route 50.

The “loneliest road in America” moniker applies to the section of US-50 that goes through Nevada from Ely to Carson City; there’s little more than mountains, skies, and endless desert to see on this 300-mile stretch of road.

Eventually, the entire US-50 became popular enough that Time Magazine featured it in the mid-90s, calling it the Backbone of America, as history, success, failure, and revival are all documented along this long and often winding road.

Portions of the US-50 route overlap with such historic trails as the Santa Fe Historic Trail as well as the Pony Express National Historic Trail.

Along the way, you’ll see towns that have flourished into cities, cities that have collapsed into ruins, and small towns that have bounced back from near-death.

The western end of US-50 lies in Sacramento, California, but if you want to make this a true blue coast-to-coast drive, drive another 100 miles to San Francisco via I-80.

Highway 50

States (East to West)

West Virginia

  • Washington, D.C.
  • Sky Meadows State Park, Delaplane
  • Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, Winchester
  • Capon Bridge
  • Tygart Lake State Park
  • Chillicothe
  • Daviess County Amish Country
  • George Rogers Clark National Historic Park, Vincennes
  • Carlyle Lake, Carlyle Township
  • Gateway Arch, St. Louis
  • Lake of the Ozarks
  • Whiteman Air Force Base
  • Old Drum, Johnson County Courthouse, Warrensburg

Gateway Arch, St Louis, Missouri

  • Guy & Mae’s Tavern, Williamsburg
  • Midway Sign, Kinsley
  • Santa Fe National Historic Trail
  • Great Plains
  • Madonna of the Trail Monument, Lamar
  • The Royal Gorge Bridge & Park, Cañon City
  • Gunnison National Forest
  • Colorado National Monument, Grand Junction
  • Arches National Park
  • Canyonlands National Park, Utah
  • Notch Peak, Utah

US Route 50 Nevada

  • Great Basin National Park
  • Pony Express Territory
  • Spooner Lake–Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park, Carson City

3,073 miles (4,946 km); recommend setting aside at least 14 to 17 days for 3 to 5 hours of driving a day

Late spring (May to June) and autumn (September to October) are the best times to drive this route.

Keep in mind that you’re passing through some contrasting landscapes: mountains, deserts, lakes, and seas. Winter will be too cold and the roads may be too slippery for you to drive safely, while summer will be too hot when passing through the desert.

4. The Pacific Coast: US-101 Route to California State Route 1

The Pacific Coast US-101 Map

Who Should Take This Route: Beach bums who like sunny weather, salty air, and breathtaking ocean sunsets

Taking a cross-country road trip along the Pacific Coast is one of the most scenic drives you’ll ever take.

Called Highway 101 in Washington and Oregon, and Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), California State Route 1 (SR1), or Highway 1 in California, this road takes you right beside the Pacific Ocean and the western border of the contiguous United States.

The I-5 eventually replaced the old US-101 as it passes more major cities and has less dangerous curves to navigate, but for natural beauty and ambiance, you can’t beat the US-101.

US-101 meets up with US-20 in Oregon, so if you want to go north from California to Oregon and then eastward from Oregon to Massachusetts, you can have a west coast road trip and then a coast-to-coast one.

States (North to South)

  • Olympic National Park
  • Lake Crescent, Clallam County
  • Cape Disappointment Lighthouse, Ilwaco
  • Astoria–Megler Bridge, Washington to Oregon

Astoria–Megler Bridge, Washington to Oregon

  • Cannon Beach
  • Cape Kiwanda, Pacific City
  • Devils Punchbowl State Natural Area, Otter Rock
  • Yaquina Head Lighthouse, Newport
  • Newport (intersection with US-20)
  • Seal Rock State Recreation Site, Seal Rock

Seal Rock, Oregon

  • Thor’s Well, Yachats
  • Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, Reedsport
  • Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor
  • Redwood National and State Parks
  • Avenue of the Giants, Humboldt County
  • Leggett (US-101 merges with Highway 1)
  • Glass Beach, Fort Bragg
  • Point Arena Lighthouse, Mendocino
  • Bodega Bay, Sonoma,
  • Point Reyes National Seashore, Marin County
  • Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco
  • San Francisco (Start of Highway 1/PCH)
  • Half Moon Bay
  • Pigeon Point Lighthouse, Pescadero
  • Carmel-By-The-Sea
  • Pismo Beach
  • Santa Barbara
  • Malibu Beach, Malibu
  • Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica (Where Historic Route 66 begins)
  • Los Angeles

1,550 miles (2,500 km); recommend setting aside 7 to 10 days for 3 to 5 hours of driving a day

Any time of year gives you great driving weather on this road, though if you want to avoid crowds, you might want to avoid driving in July and August.

We’ve previously described a detailed itinerary for the California portion of this road trip.

5. The Atlantic Coast: I-95 Route

The Atlantic Coast I-95 Map

Who Should Take This Route: Tourists who appreciate all types of scenery, from New England’s historic architecture to Florida’s tropical charm

The west coast is gorgeous, but don’t write out the east coast just yet.

Interstate 95 is the longest north-to-south interstate highway that runs parallel to the Atlantic Ocean.

Driving a cross-country road trip along the I-95 takes you from historic towns to glamorous cities, from wetlands to forests to beaches.

  • New Hampshire
  • Rhode Island
  • Connecticut
  • North Carolina
  • South Carolina
  • Maine: Houlton and Old Orchard Beach
  • New Hampshire: Portsmouth
  • Massachusetts: Middlesex Fells Reservation
  • Rhode Island: Pawtucket or Providence
  • Connecticut: Mystic, New Haven or Groton

Mystic, Connecticut

  • New York:  The Bronx, Manhattan, and George Washington Bridge
  • New Jersey:  Newark, Elizabeth and New Brunswick
  • Pennsylvania:  Philadelphia

Rocky Steps, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

  • Delaware:  Wilmington
  • Maryland:  Baltimore, and Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge, Fort Washington
  • Virginia:  Occoquan Historic District, Fredericksburg or Richmond
  • North Carolina:  Roanoke Rapids, Wilson and Fayetteville
  • South Carolina:  South of the Border in Dillon, Florence, and Santee State Park in Santee
  • Georgia:  Savannah , Brunswick, or Kingsland

Castillo de San Marco National Monument, St Augustine, Florida

  • Florida Georgia State Line, Yulee
  • Jacksonville, Florida
  • Fuller Warren Bridge, Jacksonville
  • Castillo de San Marco National Monument, St. Augustine
  • Beaches: Daytona Beach, Vero Beach, West Palm Beach, Boynton Beach,  Miami , or Dixie Highway in Miami

Your Detailed Guide To An Awesome Miami Weekend Trip

Worthwhile Detours

These detours will take you away from I-95, and you’ll have to add a few days more to your road trip if you want to explore these attractions.

  • Mansions in Newport, Rhode Island
  • Central Park, New York
  • North Carolina Beaches
  • South Carolina Beach Towns
  • Georgia Beaches
  • Florida Keys

1,920 miles (3,090 km); recommend setting aside 8 to 12 days for 3 to 5 hours of driving a day

Beaches are best appreciated in the summer, but any weather is good for taking a road trip through I-95. Winter may mean snowfall in the northern states on this route, while spring and fall give you mild weather and less crowded beaches.

6. TransAmerica Trail

best route to travel west coast america

An east-to-west, off-road adventure trail, which lets you take in the scenic beauty of the East Coast to the West Coast while taking you off major highways to discover hidden attractions.

Who Should Take This Route: If you’re a history buff, this road trip takes you to the path pioneers and early settlers followed.

Here are some interesting stops along the TransAmerica Trail:

  • Virginia/North Carolina : Pass by Blue Ridge Parkway – one of the most scenic roads in the country with breathtaking views of the Appalachian Mountains.
  • Kentucky : Stop by Berea, the heart of Appalachia, for cool arts and crafts mementos. If you have a day or two for this stop, you can explore the world’s longest cave system in Mammoth Cave National Park.
  • Missouri : Visit the Gateway Arch and explore St. Louis’ rich history.
  • Oklahoma : See American bison at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge and explore the rugged landscapes of the southern Great Plains.
  • New Mexico : Discover the art and culture of the historic Taos nestled in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.
  • Colorado : Be in awe of the tallest dunes in North America at Great Sand Dunes National Park, then visit the charming Telluride mountain town for a laidback stop.
  • Oregon : Once you reach the Pacific Coast, you can explore the stunning coastline and visit towns like Astoria, Cannon Beach, and Newport.

7. The Great Northern Road: US-2 Route

best route to travel west coast america

The Great Northern Road follows the US-2 Route. It stretches from the northernmost border with Canada to the Pacific Ocean on the West Coast.

Who Should Take This Route: A coast-to-coast road trip through the northern states, which is perfect to embark in during the summer or for people who love visiting charming small towns.

The Great Northern Road offers numerous opportunities to visit rugged parks like the Acadia in Maine or White Mountains in New Hampshire, the lakeside cities of Vermont, and the always-amazing Niagara Falls.

There are also cultural spots in Missoula (Montana), Spokane (Washington), and Michigan’s Mackinac Island.

I recommend you end your Great Northern Road trip at Seattle.

Other Cross-Country Road Trip Routes

I did say there are infinite possibilities depending on where you want to start, where you want to end, what you want to see, and how much time you have.

Here are other cross-country road trip routes you can explore.

8. Southern Pacific: US-80

  • Who Should Take This Route:  Another coast-to-coast road trip through the southern states; great to take in the winter

9. Big Muddy: The Great River Road

  • Who Should Take This Route: Drive alongside the Mississippi River and explore the 10 states that border it. I wrote about this road trip more extensively on this post .

10. The Road to Nowhere: US-83

  • Who Should Take This Route: North to south road trip right through America’s heartland

Tips For Planning A Cross-Country Road Trip

Driving across the country is great fun, but there are plenty of things and factors to consider when planning. Here are some of them so you can arrange a road trip with no hassle.

Make sure your vehicle is roadworthy. Have everything checked: fluid levels, brakes, tires, lights, drive belts, etc.

Also, make sure you have jumper cables, spare tires, a tire jack, and everything else you need in case of car trouble.

Have a plan, but don’t have a plan. Sounds confusing, but the point is to have a general plan for how many days you want to take, what to do per day (sights and places you can’t miss versus those who want to see but can skip), how many hours you’ll drive, and where you’ll stay per night.

Beyond that, booking hotels and making restaurant reservations way in advance may not be a good idea. You’ll want to have some flexibility in your schedule to make room for emergencies and side trips and detours.

Sign up for emergency roadside services. If you’re not already a member of AAA or any other reputable roadside assistance service, join one before your road trip.

Prepare for areas that don’t have mobile service. Camping in the middle of nowhere? Chances are you won’t have a cellphone signal. If your plan is heavily dependent on having an internet connection, you’re asking for trouble.

Download your maps on your smartphone beforehand or use paper road maps. Take a GPS navigation tool that’s not dependent on a mobile signal.

Have a packing list.

Here are travel essentials you’ll need on your cross-country road trip (or any road trip, for that matter):

  • Driver’s license
  • Vehicle registration
  • Insurance card
  • Emergency car kit
  • Gasoline container
  • GPS navigation tool
  • Cell phone signal booster
  • Powerbank and car chargers
  • Flashlight/lantern
  • Playlist (music/audiobook)
  • In-car games and activities
  • Hiking shoes
  • All-weather set of clothes
  • Electronic toll pass or change to pay toll fees
  • Tent (if camping)
  • Cooler (with plenty of water)
  • Sunshades for windshield and windows
  • Vitamins and medication
  • Pillow and blanket
  • First aid kit

Take your time.

Giving yourself an allowance would also allow you to take side trips to charming small towns, cool landmarks, hidden gems, and one-of-a-kind restaurants.

The less rushed you are, the richer your adventure will be.

Must-Use Cross-Country Road Trip Tools and Apps

You’ll get by with a little help from these tools, sites, and apps to plan your road trip.

Road planners

  • Roadtrippers
  • MyScenicDrives

Navigation and checking traffic

  • Google Maps

Find places to eat

Find places to rest or sleep.

  • Recreation.gov
  • Free Campsites

Go On A Cross-Country Road Trip Soon!

Whether you’re traveling solo, with friends, or with family, the memories made on an epic cross-country trip are ones that last a lifetime.

You’ll get to see the magnificent natural beauty of these United States, meet strangers that enrich your lives, visit amazing places you never thought existed, and understand your country better.

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7 of the best interstate travel routes in the US


The arrival of the interstate revolutionised the way Americans get around this enormous country. On 29 June 1956, President Eisenhower signed the Interstate Highway System into existence through the Federal Aid Highway Act. It set off a colossal engineering feat that changed road transportation forever in the US. This massive country-wide road network currently stands at around 47,850 miles in length. It’s filled with great views and good pavement, so you can see the best of the USA in style. Whether you want to cruise through the Deep South, wind your way up the Atlantic Coast, or take on the big road trip from East to West, here are 7 of the best interstate travel routes in the USA.

1. Interstate 90: Seattle to Boston

Seattle harbour city interstate travel

Interstate 90 is the longest you can take on in the nation, crossing 13 states and 3,085 miles. It starts near Safeco Field in Seattle then passes through a tunnel under Mount Baker Ridge, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. As you leave Seattle, you’ll cross two floating bridges, including Evergreen Point Floating Bridge, the longest and widest floating bridge in the world .

Interstate 90 route map USA

You’ll then cross the scenic Lake Washington before continuing through places like Wallace in Idaho where the Battle of the Little Bighorn took place. Make a stop in the city of Cleveland, before reaching the end near the Logan International Airport in historic Boston.

RELATED CONTENT: Everything you need to know about travelling between states in the USA

2. Interstate 95 : Miami to Houlton, Maine

autumn foliage red house new hampshire new england USA

I-95 may not be the longest interstate, but it covers the most states in the country, spanning 1,920 miles through 15 states plus the District of Columbia. This massive road takes you from the sunny shores of Miami to the cooler town of Houlton in Maine on the US-Canada border.

Interstate 95 route map USA

You’ll drive through the eastern greats of Miami, Baltimore, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, New York and Boston. Cruise along the Atlantic Ocean, before dipping inland through Georgia, Virginia and the Carolinas. You’ll finish by humming through the gorgeous region of New England, including New Hampshire and your final stop, Maine.

GET INSPIRED BY: East Coast USA and Canada End New York

3. Interstate 80: San Francisco to Teaneck, New Jersey

Golden Gate Bridge San Francisco USA

Route 66 may be the most iconic path for an east-to-west road trip. But the I-80 takes the crown as the best interstate travel route through the middle of the USA, passing 11 states and 2,902 miles. You’ll begin in the heart of San Francisco at Bay Bridge, crossing the Bonneville Salt Flats near the Great Salt Lake, and hitting parts of the California Trail in California and Nevada. Next up, you’ll climb to 8,000 feet above sea level in Wyoming and cover parts of the Oregon Trail through Wyoming and Nebraska.

Interstate 80 route map USA

You’ll then have a virtually straight 72-mile run outside of Lincoln, Nebraska – the longest of all US interstates. After that, you’ll get to explore some of the lesser-visited states like Iowa, Indiana and Ohio. Leaving the pretty cornfields behind, you’ll move through the cosmopolitan stars like Chicago and Cleveland, before ending your journey in Teaneck, New Jersey, just a few miles shy of New York City.

GET INSPIRED BY: Journey Along California’s Pacific Coast Highway

4. Interstate 10: Los Angeles to Jacksonville, Florida

ferris wheel Santa Monica Pier Los Angeles USA

While the I-80 takes the more picturesque, pastoral route through the middle of the United States, Interstate 10 is all about travelling coast to coast through the American South. It spans 2,460 miles, starting on the shores of Los Angeles at the iconic Santa Monica Pier. It then winds its through eight states including Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

Interstate 10 route map USA

You’ll journey through flat desert roads, cruising from 5,000 feet to below sea level as you hop between famous cities like Tucson, El Paso, Phoenix, Houston and Mobile. You’ll then pass by Lake Pontchartrain into New Orleans, where you’ll cross the six-mile causeway known as the Twin Span Bridge. You’ll end your boot-scootin’ trip on the beaches of Jacksonville in Florida.

GET INSPIRED BY:  San Diego, Palm Springs and Orange County Beaches

5. Interstate 40: Barstow, California, to Wilmington, North Carolina

South Rim Grand Canyon Arizona USA

Interstate 40 also cuts through the middle of the USA, but this route starts at a junction of pioneer trails at the city of Barstow in California’s Mojave Desert. From there, it’s 2,500 scenic miles to the end at Wilmington in North Carolina. Wilmington is a port city gateway to the Cape Fear Coast beaches and Cape Fear River where the Battleship of North Carolina is moored.

Interstate 40 route map USA

Between Barstow and Wilmington, you’ll see plenty of iconic sights like Oklahoma City, historic Little Rock, and Albuquerque where you can go to the famous balloon festival . You’ll also tap your toes from Nashville, the home of country music, to Memphis, home of the blues. The most scenic part of this interstate travel route takes you to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. You’ll also get your kicks along Route 66 for the western part of the journey.

GET INSPIRED BY: Southwest Native Trails with Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

6. Interstate 70: Cove Fort, Utah, to Baltimore, Maryland

Baltimore harbour city skyline interstate travel USA

The I-70 contains the oldest section of all US interstate travel routes in Kansas and Missouri. It’s also got one of the most recently built sections of any interstate, with the last stretch finished in 1992. The route starts in Cove Fort in Uth and runs for 2,175 miles through 10 states including famous cities like Denver, Kansas City, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Columbus, Pittsburgh and Baltimore.

Interstate 70 route map USA

Along the way, you’ll come across highlights like the Eisenhower Tunnel, the highest vehicular tunnel in the world . It’s also the highest point in the whole USA interstate system at 11,158 feet. You’ll cross quite a bit of history, as the I-70 was the first interstate to go through previously uncharted territory in Utah’s San Rafael Swell. It also has the longest stretch of interstate without any services. You’ll definitely want to stock up snacks before you take on this interstate road trip!

GET INSPIRED BY: America’s Amazing Canyon Country

7. Interstate 75: Miami to Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan

tropical palm trees purple sunset Miami USA

If you want to take an epic journey through America’s Southeast, take the I-75. It starts in Miami and crosses six states over 1,787 miles, ending in Sault Sainte Marie near the US-Canada border. You’ll pass through Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Ohio, with stops in buzzing cities like Atlanta, Chattanooga, Lexington and Cincinnati.

Interstate 75 route map USA

You’ll also get a taste of America’s natural beauty, as you pass over the Cumberland Mountains and follow the shore of Lake Erie to Detroit. Once you get to Michigan, you’ll get to cross the star of I-75, Mackinac Bridge. This impressive 26,000-foot-long bridge is the longest suspension bridge in the Western Hemisphere. 

GET INSPIRED BY: Spirit of the South

Are you dreaming of an interstate trip? What is your favourite interstate travel route in the USA? Let us know in the comments below! For more epic journeys across the USA, take a look at our new Near Not Far Limited Series of trips.


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The Best Cross-country U.S. Road Trip Itinerary: Southern Route

Where to stay, eat, and sightsee, from Los Angeles to Virginia — or vice-versa.

best route to travel west coast america

Driving cross-country is the ultimate trip for the adventurous soul. If you are in need of varied landscapes, picturesque viewpoints, and impressive, relaxing stays, then this route is for you. Here we mapped out the must-see stops and roadside attractions along the southern route from the Southwest to the Southeast. Not to worry, this trip can be accomplished starting from whichever coast you prefer, so pack your bags and let's get started.

Los Angeles, California

As you depart Los Angeles , a city known for its bustling downtown and landmark attractions and neighborhoods, stop by Alcove Cafe and Bakery near Griffith Park for a unique take on classic breakfast favorites before continuing east. If starting your trip from the East Coast, Los Angeles will be your final stop on the route, so an overnight stay at The Hoxton in Downtown LA will be much-needed — this chic hotel is the ideal combination of phenomenal views over Broadway and Old Hollywood glam. Grab dinner and drinks at L'Antica Pizzeria da Michele in Hollywood, an iconic restaurant serving world-renowned, traditional Neapolitan pizza, as well as handmade pastas.

Sedona, Arizona

No road trip through Arizona would be complete without a visit to Grand Canyon National Park . Plan to arrive at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon — as this part of the park is open year-round — and stop at one of the breathtaking viewpoints to absorb its magnificence. Continue on to Sedona where you will be enamored by the beautifully colored red rock formations. Right before sunset, follow the short walk up to the Chapel of the Holy Cross, which was built into the buttes, for a beautiful panoramic vista. Stay at Amara Resort and Spa for an upscale retreat with spectacular views of the red-rock buttes.

Santa Fe, New Mexico

This enchanting city is known as a richly artistic and culturally distinctive place with a deep-rooted history. Spend the day exploring the Canyon Road art galleries to get a taste of the vibrant display of both traditional and contemporary art. Dine at The Shed for a timeless take on New Mexican cuisine in a bright, exciting atmosphere. After you have had your fill of margaritas and enchiladas, make your way back to the Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi for a luxurious stay in a classic adobe-style hotel a short walk from the downtown Santa Fe Plaza.

Amarillo, Texas

For a short visit to Amarillo, a stop along Route 66 at Cadillac Ranch is a must. Here you will find a row of 10 spray-painted Cadillacs buried nose-first, which comprise an art installation and public sculpture. Come add your own spray paint and leave your mark on Amarillo. Stay at The Big Texan Airbnb — a lodging experience and partnership from The Big Texan and Amarillo's Airbnb Superhost — right across from The Big Texan Steak Ranch , a historic landmark and Texas attraction known for its 72-oz. steak eating contest.

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

As you head out to Oklahoma, make a pit stop off Route 66 in Stroud, near Oklahoma City, at Rock Cafe , which served as the inspiration behind Disney's Cars movies. The cafe showcases Cars movie posters and other items left by the crew, as well as other gifts from the owner's time helping with the movie.

Hot Springs, Arkansas

When visiting Hot Springs , spend time hiking through Hot Springs National Park before making your way to Bathhouse Row. Here you can visit the historic eight bathhouses built over the natural hot springs — only two of which remain open today, the Quapaw and the Buckstaff. Check out Superior Crafthouse Brewery for the only craft brewery that uses the thermal water of the hot springs in its beer. Stay overnight at The Waters Hotel , where you can see Bathhouse Row and Hot Springs National Park from your window.

Memphis, Tennessee

Take a step into the "Home of the Blues and the Birthplace of Rock 'n' Roll" with a short trip to Memphis. Be sure to stop by Elvis Presley's Graceland Mansion for a tour before enjoying Elvis's favorite peanut butter and banana sandwich at The Arcade . This vibrant and eclectic city is also home to Beale Street, a must-visit place to soak up the live blues music and nearby restaurants and shops.

Nashville, Tennessee

Known for its prolific country music scene, lively downtown nightlife on Broadway, and local eateries serving Southern comfort food staples, Nashville is sure to leave you enamored. For an inventive spin on the classic biscuit breakfast, stop by Biscuit Love , and for its 23 daily scratch-made varieties of pancakes, stop by The Pancake Pantry . Affectionately nicknamed Music City, Nashville is home to such iconic live music spots as The Bluebird Cafe , the Grand Ole Opry , and the Ryman Auditorium . After shopping your way through 12 South and The Gulch, check in for the night at the nearby Thompson Hotel , and go up to its LA Jackson rooftop bar for cocktails with a skyline view. Dine at The Pharmacy for a burger parlor and beer garden serving creative burgers or Whiskey Kitchen for its sophisticated take on Southern classics. End the night checking out the live music at some of the many honky tonk bars on Broadway.

Asheville, North Carolina

Tucked away in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville is the quintessential mountain town with gorgeous vistas and a rich history. For a short visit to Asheville, start by hiking a portion of the Appalachian Trail before checking out the shopping at the historic downtown Grove Arcade . Be sure to save time to drive part of the Blue Ridge Parkway, a National Parkway known for showcasing the serene beauty of North Carolina. Dine at Buxton Hall Barbecue for a sample of authentic Carolina-style barbecue.

Charlottesville, Virginia

Congratulations, you completed your cross-country road trip! No better way to celebrate than ending your trip in Charlottesville's wine country with an overnight stay at The 1804 Inn at Barboursville Vineyards, one of the best wineries in the area. Here you will find a stunning landscape, cozy cottage suites, and on-site wine tasting. If you are beginning your road trip from the East Coast, then Virginia will be your first stop on the route (lucky you!), so be sure to set aside some time to explore all that Charlottesville has to offer before heading west.

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Desert Blues: 8 Beautiful Beaches On America’s West Coast Worth Driving To

The US West Coast is home to some of the country's most beautiful beaches, with miles upon miles of immaculate shoreline and breathtaking ocean views.

  • Enjoy the breathtaking natural beauty of West Coast beaches like Rialto, Ruby Beach, and Cannon Beach.
  • Explore sea stacks, tidal pools, and marine life while taking in stunning ocean views and sunsets.
  • For a memorable road trip adventure, visit sandy gems like Bandon Beach, Manzanita Beach, and Santa Monica Beach.

The U.S. West Coast is home to some of the country's most beautiful beaches, with miles upon miles of immaculate shoreline, breathtaking ocean views, and magnificent sunsets. A road trip along the West Coast is worth the drive and has something to offer everyone, from the bright beaches of California to the untamed shores of Washington.

The West Coast beaches will please vacationers whether they're searching for exciting activities, leisure, or both. So grab a pair of sunglasses and sunscreen, and hit the road toward seven beautiful beaches on America’s West Coast worth driving to.

6 Scenic Road Trips That Are EV-Friendly On The West Coast

8 rialto beach, washington, accessible from mora road.

Vacationers will be in awe of the sea stacks at Washington's Rialto Beach, a West Coast gem. Stroll to the stunning natural arch created by the Pacific Ocean and explore the tidal pools at low tide to spot aquatic life. And keep an eye out for animals, including bald eagles, in the nearby coastal woodlands.

For those seeking excitement, the seaside area near Olympic National Park is an ideal desintation. If you're considering a road trip along the West Coast , head to Rialto Beach to take in the breathtaking scenery and natural treasures. For those who enjoy being outside and taking in the splendor of the West Coast beaches, it's a great place to visit.

7 Ruby Beach, Washington

Accessible from highway 101.

Ruby Beach, a stunning location in Washington, provides spectacular coastal scenery and rugged beauty. It's the ideal destination for nature lovers, with its sea stacks, tidal pools, and shorelines littered with driftwood. Visitors can explore the rocky sections and learn about the marine life that inhabits the tidal pools during low tide. Photographers will enjoy capturing the beautiful driftwood and sea stacks on the beach.

Nearby Olympic National Park offers a variety of coastal paths with breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and the surrounding countryside for those seeking a more active experience on the U.S. West Coast. The journey to the Hoh River is especially picturesque, offering views of driftwood logs and sea stacks along with the possibility of spotting eagles and other wildlife.

Additionally, roadtrippers can enjoy a leisurely stroll along the beach to fully appreciate the natural splendor of this amazing location. Ruby Beach is easily accessible by car from Seattle-Tacoma Airport , which is conveniently located a few hours away for vacationers planning a road trip along the West Coast.

6 Cannon Beach, Oregon

Accessible from the oregon coast highway.

Situated about 80 miles from Portland , Cannon Beach is a breathtaking natural marvel on the U.S. West Coast that attracts tourists from all over the world. It's a nature lover's dream, well-known for its distinctive geological characteristics, such as the famous Haystack Rock that rises from the ocean's edge, and its profusion of animals, which includes puffins and seals.

Discover the many marine life species that live in the vicinity of Haystack Rock by exploring the tidal pools. Nearby Ecola State Park offers hiking paths and gorgeous vistas with spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean for those seeking a more immersive natural experience. When you're ready to escape the outdoors, meander around the quaint downtown district of Cannon Beach , which has a range of places to eat and shop, including specialty shops and local art galleries.

10 Most Scenic Spots For Beach Camping On The West Coast

5 laguna beach, california, accessible from the pacific coast highway.

Laguna Beach, nestled between Los Angeles and San Diego, epitomizes Southern California's coastal charm. Known for its glamour, it's been a magnet for the affluent and celebrities for decades. The beautiful beach on America’s West Coast is also renowned for its cultural richness, highlighted by events like the Pageant of the Masters.

There are over 20 diverse beaches and coves, each with its own splendor. Whether it's the bustling Main Beach with its amenities and activities or the tranquility of Crescent Bay, there's a spot for everyone . Surfing enthusiasts flock to historic Brooks Street, home to one of the world's oldest surfing contests .

Additionally, West Beach offers natural beauty with basic amenities. With its perfect weather and consistent surf, Laguna Beach is a gem on the California coast, attracting visitors to experience its coastal splendor.

4 La Jolla Cove, California

Accessible from coast boulevard.

One of the most beautiful beaches on the West Coast is La Jolla Cove in California. It's a snorkeler's and diver's paradise with crystal-clear blue seas and abundant marine life. The 6,000-acre La Jolla Underwater Park , which is located in La Jolla Cove, is a great place to see the diverse marine life, including sea turtles, leopard sharks, and colorful fish. A leisurely stroll along the La Jolla Coast Walk , provides stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and the shoreline, and is another enjoyable activity for visitors driving to this beautiful beach.

West Coast USA: Complete Travel Guide

3 bandon beach, oregon.

Bandon Beach, known as Bandon State Natural Area , has a wide and flat expanse of mesmerizing sand perfect for beach games like football and tag. Its iconic sea stacks, such as Face Rock, Elephant Rock , and Komax, create a picturesque backdrop. The beach and rocks serve as habitats for various seabird species and sunbathing seals.

Nature and landscape enthusiasts can drive to the breathtaking beach on the West Coast to enjoy picnics, beachcombing, and witnessing enchanting sunsets. This beach is accessible via multiple points along Beach Loop Road , including the jetty near Old Town , Kronenberg County Park , China Creek , or Devil’s Kitchen , and ample parking is typically available, making it convenient for visitors to explore this Oregon gem.

2 Manzanita Beach, Oregon

Oregon's Manzanita Beach is the ideal location for those seeking a serene and beautiful beach getaway on the West Coast of the United States. The peace of the beach and the breathtaking vistas of Neahkahnie Mountain provide vacationers with a much-needed break.

Beachcombing is a well-liked pastime here, where vacationers can find seashells and other treasures along the coast. Another must-do activity is hiking up Neahkahnie Mountain, which offers expansive views of the coastline. Visitors can also explore Manzanita's charming downtown district, which boasts a variety of interesting stores and eateries to suit various palates.

1 Santa Monica Beach, California

Accessible from i-10.

California's famous and energetic Santa Monica Beach has enough to offer visitors of all ages . It's a must-visit location for every road trip along the West Coast because of its vibrant atmosphere and variety of activities. Among the many entertaining attractions at the Santa Monica Pier are the aquarium and Ferris wheel .

The Marvin Braude Beach Trail is a terrific place to hire a bike and enjoy a leisurely ride. Additionally, visitors can explore the Third Street Promenade , which is close by and has a variety of dining, shopping, and entertainment choices, including independently owned boutiques and local art galleries. Drivers can easily rent a car for a West Coast road trip from conveniently located rental outlets close to Santa Monica Beach.

best route to travel west coast america

Bucket List: The 12 Best Road Trip Routes In The World

  • Road trips offer freedom and flexibility, allowing travelers to explore at their own pace and stop as long as they want. No schedules or time constraints to worry about.
  • The world is full of incredible road trip routes, from scenic coastal drives to traversing challenging mountain passes. There are options for every type of traveler.
  • Some of the top road trip routes include Route 66 in the US, the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Great Ocean Road in Australia, Trollstigen in Norway, and the Ring Road in Iceland. These routes offer amazing views and unforgettable experiences.

Traveling by train, like enjoying an adventure on Amtrak's epic sleeper train routes around the world , can be a comfortable way to explore a destination (and multiple, at that!). However, there's far less freedom when traveling by rail because passengers are limited to the time constraints and stops on the journey. What's better than rail travel for folks with wanderlust hoping to be free from the clutches of time limits? Road trips, of course!

Going on a road trip is an amazing way for travelers to discover the world at their own pace; explorers can go wherever their hearts desire and stop for as long as they wish without having to worry about schedules. Moreover, there are countless options for road trip routes that range from scenic coastal drives to traversing rugged mountain passes and immersing oneself in the culture and history of an area (or an entire country, in many cases).

For aspiring roadtrippers looking to see the world, here are the top ten best road trip routes around the globe to add to the bucket list. From the breathtaking vistas of Scotland's North Coast 500 to the remote and challenging terrain of Pakistan's Karakoram Highway, these amazing bucket list road trips offer unforgettable experiences and awe-inspiring views for those who crave adventure on the open road.

UPDATE: 2023/11/30 12:40 EST BY NOAH STAATS

Who's Up For A Drive? These Are Some Of The Most Beautiful Routes To Take

This list covers a number of the most beautiful road trips in the world (in other words, the best!). However, there's always room for more! As such, this article has been updated with two new bucket list road trip routes, both in the US and the most beautiful to embark on ASAP. From Route 66 across the Western United States to the Blue Ridge Mountain Drive, there are endless places to travel by vehicle. Have fun!

Related: Road Trip Bucket List: 12 Major Cities To Stop At Along Route 66

Route 66, United States

Welcome to the wild west: route 66 is the perfect desert adventure.

One of the most famous road trips in the world is Route 66 in the United States. Not only has this iconic road-inspired movie like Cars , but it also boasts endless scenery, history, and communities worth stopping in for the night. Most notably, Route 66 offers tons of epic stops and spans over 2,400 miles across states like Arizona, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico and ends in Los Angeles, California.

This is undeniably one of the best driving ideas for a road trip itinerary and should keep everyone occupied from mile one to 2,488. Moreover, Route 66 boasts an eight-state coverage, with something to see and do at nearly every turn. However, much of this route goes through desert landscape, so make sure and bring plenty of water!

  • Distance : 2,448 miles
  • Time to Drive: 10 days (minimum) , but 2 weeks is an ideal timeframe

The Blue Ridge Parkway, United States

This road trip route is known to be the most scenic drive in the united states.

Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the most stunning drives in the United States and arguably North America. Here, people can embark on a 469-mile adventure through this famous mountain range, traveling through states like Virginia and North Carolina. Moreover, the Blue Ridge Parkway detours into places like Shenandoah National Park and the Smoky Mountains National Park system. This makes it a perfect choice for mountain lovers and hikers, plus it is a pretty scenic route from start to finish.

It's also worth noting that while on this road trip route, you will drive through countless towns, including Linville Falls, Blowing Rock, Boone, Sparta, Roanoke, Virginia, Bryson City, Mouth of Wilson (Grayson Highlands State Park), West Jefferson, and so on.

  • Distance: 469 miles
  • Time to Drive: ~9-10 hours

The Blue Ridge Scenic Highway through North Carolina is another epic US road trip route in this region!

Great Ocean Road, Australia

Coastal views and cliffside driving make the great ocean road a top road trip.

Covering a distance of 413 miles, The Great Ocean Road is a picturesque coastal route that starts from Torquay and ends in Allansford, near Warrnambool, located on the southeastern coast of Australia.

Constructed by Australian soldiers in remembrance of their fallen colleagues, the road is renowned for its scenic beauty, with stunning oceanic views, cliffs, and rainforests. Exploring this road with its gorgeous scenery is one of the best things to do in Australia.

  • Distance: 413 miles
  • Time to Drive: ~9.5 hours

Trollstigen, Norway

Get ready to turn (a lot) in norway while driving trollstigen.

Trollstigen, which translates to the "Troll's Path" or the "Troll's Road", is a mountainous road located in western Norway, running from south to north from Sylte in Fjord Municipality to Åndalsnes in Rauma Municipality. It is approximately 20 kilometers long and contains 11 hairpin turns that ascend the steep mountainside, with gradients as steep as 10%.

The road was built between 1925 and 1936 and has since become a popular tourist attraction due to its breathtaking views of the surrounding valleys and mountains, earning a spot on many lists of the world's most scenic drives. Even though it is not included as one of the things travelers should not miss out on in Norway because it's a bit off the beaten path (and tourists without a car will have to rent one), it provides a breathtaking experience for road trip fans.

  • Distance: 31 miles
  • Time to Drive: ~1-2 hours

Ring Road, Iceland

Also called route 1, this route offers glaciers, volcanoes, hot springs, and falls.

The Iceland Ring Road, also referred to as Route 1 or simply the Ring Road, is an 828-mile-long highway encircling the entire island country of Iceland. The road provides access to some of Iceland's most popular tourist spots, such as volcanoes, glaciers, hot springs, and waterfalls.

Completed in 1974, the Ring Road has emerged as a major tourist attraction in Iceland, offering visitors stunning vistas of the country's diverse landscapes and unique geological formations. Several charming towns and villages in Iceland (other than Reykjavik) dot the road, providing essential services and accommodations to travelers. From Icelandic culinary adventures to marveling at Iceland's unique beaches , Iceland's Ring Road is worth the bucket list because it promises a deep exploration of the entire country.

  • Distance: 828 miles
  • Time to Drive: Approximately 6 days in summer and 12 days in winter , at a minimum

The Garden Route, South Africa

190 miles of beaches, mountains, lagoons, and forests.

Located on the south-western coast of South Africa, The Garden Route is easily one of the most scenic drives in the world; it's a 190-mile-long scenic route between Mossel Bay and Storms River, passing through a range of breathtaking landscapes such as lush forests, pristine beaches, towering mountains, and tranquil lagoons.

As a popular tourist spot, The Garden Route offers visitors an array of attractions and activities throughout the journey, making it an ideal road trip destination. Drive down this road and discover what South Africa is really like .

  • Distance: 190 miles
  • Time to Drive: 2-3 hours (but it's recommended to take a few days to complete it and appreciate the sights along the way)

Amalfi Coast, Italy

High-class living and mediterranean views make the amalfi coast an upscale road trip choice.

The stunning Amalfi Coast is a 31-mile road that winds along the southern coast of Italy, connecting the cities of Sorrento and Salerno. The road passes through a series of charming coastal towns, such as Positano, Ravello, and Amalfi, each with its own unique character and attractions.

The narrow, winding road features hairpin turns and steep drops, providing breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea and cliffs. Travelers can stop at scenic overlooks, indulge in local cuisine, and explore historical sites and cultural attractions.

  • Time to Drive: ~2 hours

A82, Scotland

Catch a glimpse of the lochness monster on scotland's a82 route.

In Scotland, the A82 is a major road that spans approximately 167 miles from Glasgow to Inverness, passing through some of Scotland's most stunning landscapes, such as Loch Lomond, Glencoe, and Loch Ness.

Initially constructed in the 18th century as a military route to the Highlands, it has become a vital transport link and popular tourist route. The A82 goes through several towns and villages, including Fort William, the gateway to Ben Nevis, which is the highest mountain in the UK.

  • Distance: 167 miles
  • Time to Drive: ~3 hours (but it's better to take one's time to enjoy the stops and views along the way)

Related: Discovering The Beauty Of The Palisades Parkway: A Road Trip Adventure In Northern New Jersey

The Karakoram Highway, China/Pakistan

Peaks, glaciers, and valleys from kashgar, china to islamabad, pakistan.

The Karakoram Highway, also known as the Friendship Highway, is one of the best travel routes for road trippers on this list for those who crave adventurous terrain. The route spans over 1,300 kilometers from Kashgar in China to Islamabad in Pakistan. The road traverses through some of the most remote and rugged terrain on earth, including the Karakoram mountain range, which houses some of the world's highest peaks, such as K2, the second-highest mountain in the world.

The construction of the Karakoram Highway was completed in 1986, and it is recognized as a remarkable engineering feat involving the construction of numerous bridges and tunnels through some of the planet's most challenging terrain. The highway provides breathtaking views of snow-capped peaks, glaciers, and deep valleys while also providing an opportunity to experience the culture and history of the region.

  • Distance: 810 miles
  • Time to Drive: ~4-5 days (but travelers can spend longer if they wish to take their time)

Related: From Canyons To Wildflowers: Discovering Anza Borrego On A Scenic Road Trip

The North Coast 500, Scotland

Castles, cliffs, pubs, and water views in the scottish highlands.

The Scottish Highlands is a picturesque region in Scotland that boasts natural beauty, rugged landscapes, and historical landmarks. Many scenic routes and roads are scattered throughout the area, offering visitors breathtaking views of the region's unique culture and history. However, none are quite as enchanting as the North Coast 500 drive, which easily earns its place among the world's best road trips for its scenery alone (and the quintessential Scottish pubs en route!).

One of the best road trips in Scotland (or indeed the UK overall) is the North Coast 500, a 516-mile road trip showcasing some of Scotland's most spectacular scenery. The journey begins and ends in Inverness, taking travelers through small villages, historic towns, dramatic mountain ranges, and rugged coastlines. There are plenty of ancient castles, scenic overlooks, and traditional Scottish pubs to stop and enjoy along the way.

  • Distance: 516 miles
  • Time to Drive: ~ 8 hours 30 minutes

The Overseas Highway, Florida Keys, USA

This is the drive between the florida keys and miami beach.

The Overseas Highway , located in the Florida Keys of the USA, is a 113-mile-long road that connects Miami to Key West, the southernmost point in the continental United States. The highway spans a series of islands, providing awe-inspiring views of the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean.

Originally built as a railroad track in the early 20th century, it was later converted to a highway to connect the Keys' islands. Today, the highway is one of the best road trips in the world for coastal scenery, passing through several towns and villages, including Islamorada and Marathon, each with its own unique attractions and activities.

  • Distance: 113 miles
  • Time to Drive: ~4 hours one-way

Related: From Waterfalls To Wildlife: Exploring The Catskill Mountains Scenic Byway On A Road Trip Adventure

The Atlantic Road, Norway

This route in norway makes its way to the little island of averøy.

The Atlantic Road in Norway is a 5.2-mile road that runs along Norway's coast, connecting the mainland to the island of Averøy with eight bridges. It passes through some of Norway's most stunning coastal landscapes, offering views of the open sea, rugged cliffs, and tiny islands.

This road is an engineering marvel, completed in 1989, as it required the construction of several bridges and causeways in one of the most challenging marine environments in the world. The Atlantic Road is a popular tourist attraction that offers stunning views of the surrounding scenery to those visiting Norway.

  • Distance : 5.2 miles
  • Time to Drive: ~10 minutes

This road is short but sweet; however, if travelers want to extend it, they can drive the whole of the super scenic Route 64 ( Route 64 includes the Atlantic Road ). Doing so will add around an hour and 15 minutes to the journey.

Bucket List: The 12 Best Road Trip Routes In The World


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