West Coast Road Trip: Where Should You Stop?

West Coast Road Trip: Where Should You Stop?

Written By: Santana

Over the summer, my friend and I wanted to take a road trip, but we weren’t sure where we wanted to go because neither one of us had a lot of time to spare. He was headed a new job in Brazil and it was one of our final chances to get together before he left Mexico. Out of nowhere, I came up with the suggestion that we should take a road trip all the way up the West Coast to Seattle. Neither one of us had been to most cities along the West Coast, with myself only traveling to San Diego and Los Angeles a few times. There were so many things that we wanted to see further north that we thought a road trip up the West Coast would be the perfect solution and knew that the views from most of the drive would be outstanding.


We started our trip at the base of California, in San Diego and rented a car. It was the easiest place to meet up from Mexico and spending a day at the beach was really one of the best ways to kick off our week long drive up the West Coast. We didn’t see many of the attractions in San Diego, opting to keep it easy and hang out at the beach and then grab dinner in the Gaslamp District -- but if you’re in the city and traveling with kids, many popular attractions are located in San Diego including Sea World and the San Diego Zoo.

Next, we drove up through Los Angeles, capturing views of the Hollywood Sign. Since Los Angeles is only a couple hours away from San Diego it was a great time to get out and stretch our legs to grab a bite to eat -- we walked along Hollywood Boulevard and had lunch at a Dave and Buster’s near one of the famous theaters. Los Angeles is the type of city that you should visit on its own because there are so many attractions and points of interest spread around the city – it’s very difficult to see all of it in one day.

After we had lunch, we headed out of the city and made our way up the Pacific Coast Highway through Santa Barbara. Since it was a little later in the afternoon and we were still a ways off from San Francisco, we agreed that staying the night in Santa Barbara would be the best option. Once we secured our hotel we walked around the pier and even went to the courtyard of the Santa Barbara Mission, which was interesting and looked beautiful in the early evening hours – though it was closed by the time we arrived so we could only explore outside.

On our third day of the West Coast road trip, we passed over the Golden Gate Bridge which was one of the highlights of our trip. We had never seen it in person so we were thrilled that it looked just as amazing in real life as it had in all the pictures we’ve seen. We didn’t stop in San Francisco because we wanted to stay near the Mendocino Coast, which we had heard was close to the Glass Beach. We walked along the Glass Beach and picked up some really beautiful stones to save as a token of our road trip.

We continued driving up Pacific Coast Highway and just taking in all of the scenery around us-- between the redwood forests and the coastal drive thanks to going along the Pacific Coast Highway, it was just a relaxing drive and we had nowhere in particular to go. We took a slight detour and drove to the Avenue of the Giants, which is a must if you’re in the area of the redwood forest -- the size of the redwoods are truly impressive.

Oregon and Washington

After another stop we got up the next morning and made our way toward Oregon -- we didn’t have any plans so just took advantage of the relaxing drive and got closer to Washington. Within a few short hours we finally arrived in Seattle and checked into our hotel, which was located near the famous Pike Place Market. Of course, while we were there we just walked around and explored the various neighborhoods and then stopped in to grab a coffee at what is known as the first Starbucks in the city. We finished off our trip with a view from the Space Needle and spent the next few days exploring the city before our flight home back to San Diego.

If you love to take road trips, driving up the West Coast from San Diego to Seattle offers so many detours and amazing views that it’s really been one of my favorite vacations.

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