Are you thinking of taking a West Coast road trip but don’t know where to start, or where to go? Then this list is for you!
The West Coast is a varied landscape and there are so many options for fun road trips. From National Parks to exciting cities, the West Coast has it all. On this list, we’ve tried to include a road trip for every state on the West Coast. Some of the road trips also pass through several states.
You’ll quickly find on this list there is a West Coast road trip itinerary for every type of traveler and budget. Whether you like small towns, coastal adventures, or natural wonders, there is a road trip on the West Coast for everyone.
When planning your West Coast road trip, it’s important to pick an airport that is close to your starting point. Some of the bigger airports on the West Coast are in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland. From any of these airports, you’ll also be able to rent a car. Or, you can choose to rent an RV in the area.
No matter how you choose to explore the West Coast, you’re bound to have a good time. So, let’s take a look at 15 fun West Coast road trips for your bucket list!
15 Fun West Coast USA Road Trips For Your Bucket List
Ultimate Oregon Coast Road Trip
- Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor
- Port Orford and Cape Blanco State Park
- Devil’s Punchbowl State Natural Area
- Cannon Beach
The Ultimate Oregon Coast Road Trip is one of our favorite West Coast road trips. Start by hiking on any of the amazing trails at the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor. From there, head to Port Orford and Cape Blanco State Park. Port Orford is the oldest town on the Oregon Coast and is incredibly charming. In Cape Blanco State Park, see the Cape Blanco State Lighthouse.
Next, head to the unique rock formation at the Devil’s Punchbowl State Natural Area. The Devil’s Punchbowl is a cool rock formation that was once two sea caves. You can get pretty close to it too. Continue on to Cannon Beach where you can see the popular Haystack Rock in the ocean.
There is also a charming small town of Seaside nearby that you should explore. End your road trip in the beautiful town of Astoria. In Astoria, you can walk in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark and learn more about the area’s history before heading home.
Pacific Coast Highway Highlights
- Santa Monica Pier
- Moonstone Beach
- Point Lobos State Natural Reserve
- Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
- Swanton Berry Farm
The Pacific Coast Highway is a fabulous way to see the beauty of California. Start at the famous Santa Monica Pier and spend some time exploring all the fun rides and booths on the pier. From there, head to Moonstone Beach. It is a beautiful example of a California beach. There is a wooden boardwalk you can walk on and of course a nice sandy beach.
Next, head to Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, where you can find one of the best hikes in the USA. It’s full of gorgeous rock formations and local flora and fauna. Continue on your road trip to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. It’s the state’s oldest amusement park and full of new attractions as well as plenty of nostalgic ones.
Before you head home, explore the Swanton Berry Farm. You’ll be able to bring back some berry preserves as a souvenir, or spend some time sampling their homemade treats. It is a perfect way to end a West Coast road trip.
California Gold Country Road Trip
- Rancho Cordova
- Whitewater Rafting on the American River
Start your road trip through California’s Gold Country in Sacramento. The district of Old Sacramento is where you will find most of the historic buildings relating to the Gold Rush. There is a history museum, a railroad museum, and lots of unique shops. From there, head to the city of Rancho Cordova.
Rancho Cordova was one of the most prominent cities established thanks to the Gold Rush, and it is proud of it’s history. You’ll find plenty of historic sites, museums, and more to explore before heading to Folsom. Folsom is another Gold Rush era town, and is probably most well known for the Johnny Cash song, ‘Folsom Prison Blues’. There is a large lake, historical sites and museums, and amazing restaurants as well.
Next, take a break from driving and enjoy some outdoor adventure. The American River played a large part in the Gold Rush and is where many people once panned for gold. It’s also a great place for white water rafting, which is a fun break in all the driving. After white water rafting, end your west coast road trip in Jackson.
Jackson is a small town and the county seat of Amador County, one of the counties with the most Gold Rush towns. Jackson is full of Gold Rush era architecture and a cool way to finish your road trip through the California Gold Country.
Ultimate Alaska Road Trip
You’ll start the Ultimate Alaska Road Trip in Anchorage. In Anchorage, take some time to explore the city on a trolley tour. You’ll see cool homes, beautiful parks, and so much more. Next, head to Talkeetna. Talkeetna is home to some of the best restaurants in Alaska and is a unique city that is worth spending some time in.
From Talkeetna, head to Denali and Denali National Park. In Denali you’ll see beautiful Alaskan mountains, wild elk, and absolutely stunning views. After admiring Denali, continue on to Seward.
If you want to go on a whale watching tour, Seward is the best place to do that. There are a ton of companies that will take you to see the Kenai Fjords National Park. You’ll get to see the amazing glaciers and usually plenty of animals too. Before heading home, end your road trip in Homer. In Homer, you can walk to beach and watch people fish for Halibut. You can also fish if that is something your interested in. It’s a beautiful place to see before heading back home.
Small Towns In California Road Trip
Start your West Coast road trip through California’s cutest small towns in Solvang. Solvang is known as ‘a little slice of Denmark in Southern California’. It is super charming with Danish architecture, restaurants, and more. From there, head north for the rest of the small towns on this road trip.
In Carmel-by-the-sea, in California’s Central Coast, explore the small one square mile town. There are lots of unique boutiques, wonderful restaurants, and it’s also close to Point Lobos State Natural Reserve. Next, head to Sausalito. In Sausalito, you’ll be near the Golden Gate Bridge on the northern end of San Francisco.
Sausalito’s unique history dates back to the Liwanelowa Nation before Spanish settlers arrived. From there, you’ll finish your road trip in Mendocino, another city near San Francisco. Mendocino is known for it’s distinct New England style architecture and it’s hippy past. It is a super fun small town to explore before heading home.
West Coast Hot Springs Road Trip
- Deep Creek Hot Springs, California
- Travertine Hot Springs, California
- Umpqua Hot Springs, Oregon
- Terwilliger Hot Springs, Oregon
You’ll start your West Coast Hot Springs Road Trip at some of the best hot springs in California. There is some distance between all of these hot springs, so make sure you give yourself plenty of time to see them all. The first one you’ll see is the Deep Creek Hot Springs in Southern California. Deep Creek is in the Mojave Desert and is known for it’s stunning views of the California desert landscape.
From there, head north to Travertine Hot Springs. The Travertine Hot Springs are in the Sierra Nevada’s, so you’ll get to enjoy stunning mountain views. They are beautiful hot springs that you absolutely must see.
Next, you’ll head farther north to Oregon. Your first stop in Oregon are the Umpqua Hot Springs. They are located down a trail in the Umpqua National Forest, and a pretty popular. So be prepared to possibly deal with a crowd. You’ll end your road trip further north at the Terwilliger Hot Springs. They can be found down a trail in the Willamette National Forest. Terwilliger Hot Springs are a perfect way to end your West Coast Hot Springs Road Trip.
Big Sur Road Trip
- Point Lobos
- Garrapata State Park
- Bixby Bridge
- Pfeiffer Beach
You’ll begin your road trip on California’s Big Sur at Carmel-by-the-Sea. Take the time to explore the cute small town before heading to Point Lobos. At Point Lobos, you can find plenty of hiking trails so you can enjoy the local flora and fauna.
Next, head to Garrapata State Park. This is another great spot to enjoy a beautiful hike. You’ll find a landscape full of wildflowers and sand dunes along the coast. From there, continue to Bixby Bridge. The Bixby Bridge is one of the most iconic photo spots on Big Sur. Make sure you stop at one of the lookouts to get a good picture of the bridge.
The last stop on your Big Sur road trip before heading back to Carmel-by-the-Sea is Pfeiffer Beach. Pfeiffer Beach is one of the best beaches in the area that you can actually walk down to and enjoy. There is a $10 entry fee to get to the beach, but it is well worth it. It has stunning rock formations, a large beach, and is a perfect spot to end your road trip.
Highlights Of Washington Road Trip
- Olympic National Park
- Rialto Beach
- North Cascades National Park
For the Ultimate Washington Road Trip, start in Seattle. Take some time to explore the city, and depending on how long you have, spend a day or two there. From there, head to Olympic National Park. The Olympic National Park is full of natural wonders for you to explore and admire, and you’ll love adding this stop to your West Coast road trip itinerary.
Your next stop is Rialto Beach, which is fairly close to the Olympic National Park. It is a rocky beach with large pounding waves that are absolutely beautiful to see. For all you Twilight fans, Rialto is also very close to the town of Forks. Yes, that Forks. That is an optional stop if it’s something you’re interested in.
From there, head to Bellingham. What makes Bellingham so cool is that it is a major port city on the border of Canada. It is also a popular port for items going to Alaska. So you’ll find plenty to do and see there. End your road trip at the beautiful North Cascades National Park. It is a National Park that has everything from lakes, glaciers, and mountains. You’ll find plenty of hiking trails to explore before heading back home.
Northern California Road Trip
- San Francisco
- Point Reyes National Seashore
- Wineries of Santa Rosa
- Avenue of the Giants
- Lassen Volcanic National Park
There are a lot of great stops on this Northern California Road Trip. You’ll fly into San Francisco, and you should take the time to explore the city. There is a lot of things to do in San Francisco, and you’ll at least want to see the Golden Gate Bridge. From there, head to the Point Reyes National Seashore.
You’ll want to give yourself plenty of time to explore this super cool seashore. There are shipwrecks, animals, a tree tunnel, and so much more. We could easily spend 1-2 days just exploring the area. Next, enjoy some wine tasting at any of the many wineries in Santa Rosa. The area is well known for its wineries, so it’s a must-do activity when visiting Northern California.
After sampling some wine, head to the beautiful Avenue of the Giants. The Avenue of the Giants is a 31-mile road in Northern California bordered by massive Redwoods. You don’t have to drive all 31 miles, but make sure you do a bit of the drive. Before heading home, end your West Coast road trip at the Lassen Volcanic National Park.
It is a lesser-known park, but it is absolutely worth the stop. It perfectly rounds out your Northern California Road Trip.
Southern California Road Trip
- San Diego
- Los Angeles
- Trona Pinnacles
- Death Valley National Park
- Mojave Desert National Preserve
There’s no better place than San Diego and it is one of the cheapest places to live in California! It is the southernmost city in California and full of things to do on your San Diego Itinerary! Make sure to get out and explore the parks and food and all the city has to offer.
From there, head to Los Angeles. If you have the time, spend at least two days exploring Los Angeles. From there, you’ll head to the Trona Pinnacles.
The Trona Pinnacles are unique rock formations that are seemingly in the middle of the desert. They have been used as the background for several popular Science Fiction movies like Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Planet of the Apes, and Lost in Space. From there, head to Death Valley National Park. There are a ton of unforgettable things you’ll be able to do in Death Valley, so give yourself time to explore the area.
Although it may be a bit out of the way, a visit to the Mojave Desert National Preserve is worth it. In the Mojave Desert you’ll be able to hike and admire beautiful rock formations, canyons, and even abandoned mines. It is a great place to see before heading back to either Los Angeles or San Diego for your flight home.
Best Of Oregon Road Trip
- Mount Hood
- Oregon Caves National Monument
- Samuel H. Boardman National Scenic Corridor
- Cannon Beach
There’s no better place than Portland to start your Best of Oregon Road Trip. From Portland, head to Mount Hood to admire the view and take in a few hiking trails. Your next stop is Eugene, which is a perfect stopping point for foodies. It has a thriving food scene as well as plenty of local breweries to check out.
Next, head to the Oregon Caves National Monument. The Oregon Caves are the most detailed and elaborate cave system west of the Mississippi. You can explore the caves pretty freely, so plan to spend some time here. From there, head to the Samuel H. Boardman National Scenic Corridor.
The National Scenic Corridor is a beautiful stop that is full of hiking trails. On your hikes you’ll find stunning views of the Oregon Coast, making it worth spending some time there. Before heading back to Portland, and home, end your road trip at Cannon Beach. Admire the famous Haystack Rock and enjoy the view. Its a great place to end your Best of Oregon Road Trip.
West Coast National Parks Road Trip
- North Cascades National Park
- Mount Rainier National Monument
- Crater Lake National Park
- Redwoods National Park
- Pinnacles National Park
Begin your road trip through the West Coast National Parks in Washington at North Cascades National Park. It is right by the Canadian border and you’ll get to experience some breathtaking mountain views, lakes, and more. From there, head south to Mount Rainier National Monument.
There you’ll be able to see and hike near the active volcano in Washington, Mount Rainier. Next, head to Crater Lake National Park. On the drive, you’ll also pass near the super cute Washington town of Leavenworth. Crater Lake National Park is a beautiful park that is home to Crater Lake, which is a massive lake that was created by a sunken volcano. You’ll find plenty of beautiful views while you hike the various trails in the park.
Continue on to one of California’s most iconic National Parks, the Redwoods National Park. Hike amongst ancient trees that soar up to the sky. It is an amazing experience and definitely worth the stop. Before heading home, make one last stop at Pinnacles National Park. Pinnacles is full of unique rock formations once created by volcanic lava flows. It is a great way to end your West Coast road trip.
Waterfalls Of The West Coast Road Trip
- Panther Creek Falls, Washington
- Multnomah Falls, Oregon
- Proxy Falls, Oregon
- Burney Falls, California
Start your Waterfalls of the West Coast Road Trip in Washington at Panther Creek Falls. Panther Creek Falls is one of the most impressive waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge and is fairly easy to get to. The hike itself isn’t too long, but it can quickly get wet and slippery, so be careful. From there, head to Multnomah Falls in Oregon.
Multnomah Falls is one of, if not the, most popular waterfalls in Oregon. It is bucket list-worthy and you’ll quickly see why when you visit. It’s the tallest fall in Oregon and you can take a fairly easy trail or a more difficult one. Either way, you’ll get stunning views. From there, head to our personal favorite waterfall in Oregon, Proxy Falls.
Proxy Falls is super tall, has a very easy and family-friendly hiking trail, and packs a visual punch. It is a stunning example of Oregon waterfalls and a must-see. End your Waterfalls of the West Coast Road Trip in California at Burney Falls. Burney Falls is in the volcanic region of California and is a bit of a hidden gem. It is the perfect last stop for this beautiful road trip.
Los Angeles To Yosemite Road Trip
- Los Angeles
- Sequoia National Park
- Kings Canyon National Park
- Yosemite National Park
Start your road trip in Los Angeles, where you should try to spend a few days exploring if you have the time. From there, head to Sequoia National Park. In Sequoia National Park you’ll find massive sequoia trees that make up the amazing landscape in the park. The trees are considered the largest in the world, and you’ll feel like you’re walking in a land of giants.
Next, head to Kings Canyon National Park, which is right by Sequoia National Park. It has a similar landscape, but it is also home to the famous General Grant Tree in Grant Grove. The canyon that the park is named after was carved by glaciers and the Kings River. Surprisingly, it has points that are deeper than those in the Grand Canyon.
While there, there are plenty of hiking trails for you to explore before heading to the main attraction. The main attraction is of course Yosemite National Park. Plan to spend a few days here exploring all the amazing things the park has to offer before heading home.
Olympic Peninsula Road Trip
- The Staircase Area, Olympic National Park
- Ruby Beach
- La Push Beaches
- The Hoh Rainforest
- Lake Cresent
You’ll start the Olympic Peninsula Road Trip in Seattle. If you have the time, explore the city a little bit. From Seattle, you’ll head to one of the least popular, but still beautiful, areas of Olympic National Park. The Staircase Area is absolutely beautiful and perfect for those who are looking for a break away from the crowds. Next, head to Ruby Beach and the famous La Push beaches.
Ruby Beach is full of interesting rock formations and is a great place to stop and explore with a picnic. From Ruby Beach, you’ll head to the famous La Push beaches. You’ll find massive driftwood logs and stunning Pacific Northwest beach views. Continue on to the Hoh Rainforest.
The Hoh Rainforest is known as one of the world’s largest temperate rainforests. Some years it gets up to 14 feet of rainfall. There is a visitor center that you can explore and learn more about this iconic and beautiful rainforest.
Your last stop before heading home is Lake Crescent. On Lake Crescent, you can go kayaking and there is also a very challenging hike if that is something that interests you. Exploring Lake Crescent is the perfect way to end your Olympic Peninsula Road Trip.
There are so many amazing things to do and see on the West Coast. That’s what makes these West Coast road trips so fun. Whether you like outdoor adventure, small towns, or big cities, the West Coast has something for you. We hope that one of the West Coast road trips on this list has inspired you to get out there and explore this beautiful part of the USA.