Now that summer is here, it’s time to pack up the car and hit the road for an epic adventure. This week we’re taking a look at the ultimate West Coast road trip and uncovering the spots you won’t want to pass up. We’ll give some tips for checking out fun and memorable things along the way (without covering sights like the Giant Ball of Yarn). Grab some great music, slap a wanderlust sticker on your bumper, and hit the road. This ain’t your grandma’s road trip!
Cannon Beach, Oregon
Cannon Beach houses iconic (and massive) rocks that jet out of smooth beach sand. Haystack Rock is one that creates an awesome sight and makes for stunning photos along the beach. If you stop by Hug Point, you’ll see plenty of waterfalls that gently cascade down onto the earth below. It’s definitely not surprising that National Geographic has named Cannon Beach one of the “100 Most Beautiful Places in the World.” When you’re done taking in the views at the beach, head over to the small city to explore art galleries, boutiques, and fun restaurants.
Tillamook Cheese Factory, Oregon
The Tillamook Cheese Factory is a fun stop along the Oregon coast. Swing by for a tour of the factory and sample some delicious cheese from this well-known dairy producer. There’s a viewing gallery, a visitor’s center, and a souvenir shop. There’s even a grocery area where you can stock up on cheese, ice cream, and delicious snacks for the rest of your road trip. Making this stop creates fun memories that you can look back on every time you see the logo in the grocery store. (Note that the factory is undergoing construction, so check their website for up-to-date details before planning a stop.)
If you need to stretch your legs during your drive along the Oregon coast, make a pit stop at Devil’s Punchbowl on your way down to the California border.
Avenue of the Giants, California
This is a world-famous 31-mile drive along old Highway 101. It parallels the new 101, but travels through nearly 52,000 acres of redwood forest. It is a stunning display of old growth, and there are plenty of convenient services along the route. The Humbolt Redwoods State Park has the largest stand of virgin redwoods in the world. Breathe in some fresh air and try to plan time for a hike through these awe-inspiring trails.
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The Golden Gate Bridge, California
Golden Gate Park is a great stop along the way. Take fun photos of the Golden Gate Bridge and enjoy views of Alcatraz and Fisherman’s Wharf. Before you hit the road, grab a cup of coffee in Union Square and take a trip down Lombard Street (the most twisted road in America). The road appears in many movies and is famous, but it’s not San Francisco’s only claim to fame. Thirty-somethings can also appreciate driving past Mrs. Doubtfire’s home in this fun city.
Santa Cruz, California
You’ll pass Half Moon Bay on the way down from San Francisco, so make sure to stop and take some scenic photos from the cliff’s overlook. As you continue down the highway, you’ll have the chance to visit Año Nuevo State Park, where you’re able to spot elephant seals in their natural habitat. The marine park is full of life and creates a memorable experience. Once you make your way into Santa Cruz itself, you’ll find nostalgic boardwalks and gorgeous beaches. You’ll also find great hiking and an intriguing place named the “Mystery Spot.” This is a great area to spend the night in, as it has live music and energetic evening restaurants.
Monterey houses an aquarium, the Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, Old Fisherman’s Wharf, and the famous Cannery Row. Cannery Row has boutiques, great restaurants, nice hotels, and historic buildings. If you’re up for more driving, the ’17 Mile Drive’ is a beautiful and relaxing sight to see. This stop will definitely be a fun one during your ultimate West Coast road trip.
Big Sur, California
To get to Big Sur, you first have to cross over Bixby Bridge (where Death Cab For Cutie fans can nerd out). It’s one of the tallest single-span concrete bridges in the world, at 714 feet long and 280 feet high. If you’re afraid of heights, this is a good time to get out some of that Tillamook cheese from your factory tour and do a little bit of stress-eating. Big Sur is a great place to spend a few days and soak up its many perfect beaches. Surfers enjoy the area and travelers have fun at McWay Falls, Ragged Point, and Pfeiffer Beach.
San Luis Obispo, California
San Luis Obispo is known for its botanical garden, Bubblegum Alley, Black Hill, and Bishop Peak. The Fremont Theater is another fun spot that tourists can enjoy looking at. The area also houses Pismo Beach, which has ATV rentals, mineral springs, and wine tasting. In addition to all of that, the area is known for being the “Clam Capitol of the World” and will make seafood lovers drool.
Point Dume is a scenic stop in Malibu that has sandy beaches and exciting coves to explore. There are also cliffs and headlands that make for some great pictures near sunset. The real estate in this area can be incredible, so it’s an entertaining place to drive around if you admire luxury properties. Pepperdine University is housed here, along with clean, health-conscious restaurants.
Los Angeles, California
Welcome to L.A.! There is so much to do here that it’s hard to pack it all in. Enjoy time at the famous Kodak Theatre, catch a live taping of Ellen or Jimmy Kimmel, and explore luxurious Rodeo Drive. Los Angeles is also known for its creative cuisine, so tour the many food trucks lining the streets. Then, enjoy fresh fruit from a sidewalk cart and try some new fusion foods. The Griffith Observatory is an amazing sight, and the Hollywood Sign is an easy hike near the observatory, as well.
Overall, we think that the ultimate West Coast road trip buddy is the TRED app. It’s there so that you can keep track of your car’s value and list it for sale when you’re ready to part ways. It also puts up with your dad jokes and doesn’t eat all of the good beef jerky. We’d like to call that a win-win.
We hope that this was helpful for you. Enjoy your summer trips and tag us online if you stop at any of these fun destinations along the way!