Pacific Coast Highway
Perhaps the most obvious Westcoast USA Roadtrip is to take a trip along the
Pacific Coast Highway
down (or up) the USA West Coast. That way, you will get the most of the sun, sea and sand, and discover some classic USA cities along the way.
Your Pacific Coast Highway route will broadly follow Route 1 through most of California, and then route 101 through Northern California, Oregon and Washington, although there are also plenty of spur roads to follow detours along the way.
While you can start and finish your tour when you wish, the highlights of any Pacific Coast Highway tour will include the following sites (from south to north):
San Diego – California’s second largest city is a fun and lively place to visit, with something for everyone, from Balboa Park (and the famous expansive San Diego Zoo), to the lively buzz and nice restaurants of Old Town and the upscale exploring (and beach) at La Jolla.
Los Angeles – The Pacific Coast Highway runs past the metropolitan area of Los Angeles home to 18 million people; vast, sprawling and confusing to many visitors. However, who wants to miss the glamour of Hollywood and perhaps take in a Universal Studios tour or see the beautiful and strange people wandering along Venice Beach.
The Big Sur – after the madness of Los Angeles where city living is taken to an extreme where better to relax than along the Big Sur 300 miles north. The area offers great hiking country, beautiful beaches framed by rocky headlands, and arty shopping and classy dining.
San Francisco – follow the original hippy trail to the still cool area of Haight and watch the cool people on hippy hill, or take a trail round the original homes of the Grateful Dead, Charles Manson and Janice Joplin. The Golden Gate Bridge is another world wide known icon not to be missed.
San Francisco is one of my favourite cities in the world; it has large sky scrapers and city living, but still retains a small and homely feel to it.
Avenue of the Giants – feel dwarfed by the 100 metre high Redwoods along the North California Coast stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway, in the Redwood National and State Park. You better hope you aren't exploring during one of their pea-soup foggy days!
The Oregon Coast – some of the prettiest USA west coast is in Oregon. Enjoy exploring a series of attractive small towns between the dramatic and pretty coastline. Don't miss out on the Florence sand dunes; and try a sand board if you dare.
Think about taking a detour from the Pacific coast Highway inland and visit one of the lush and wooded national parks for a different feel to the west coast. One of my favourite spots is the
McKenzie River area.
Olympic National Park – enjoy walking in the land of bears (hikers should make noise in wooded areas to avoid getting too close by mistake), and appreciate the sheer scale of the wilderness of the northern Washington coastline.
Seattle - grab a view of the clean and neat city of Seattle from the Space Needle, wander around the various Seattle neighbourhoods and reflect upon your journey by having a famous Seattle coffee (Starbucks began in Seattle in 1971). The original store is now at 1912 Pike Place.