(Closed) Pacific Coast Road Trip – Need Your Tips!

posted 5 years ago in Travel
Post # 4
129 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: September 2013

Ok, first of all Yellowstone is in Wyoming, not the Pacific Coast.  I’ll bet you mean Yosemite.  Sequoia and Yosemite are quite a detour.

Your route up I-5 is not scenic!  You need to get over to the coast for the spectacular coast scenery.  You may consider substituting the redwoods for the sequoias to save on miles.

in San Diego do not miss:

Downtown (the Gaslamp) at night

La Jolla for scenery and shopping

Mission Beach boardwalk for craziness, So Cal style


on the way towards LA:  Laguna Beach-glorious scenery, walk along the bluffs north of the city beach, art galleries galore.  Drive north on PCH, left on Jamboree to visit darling Balboa Island.


after you visit LA, I would head up 101 to Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo ( wineries on the way) and then cut over to Highway 1 to Moro Bay, San Simeon ( get a reservation to Hearst Castle), Big Sur (wow!), lovely Carmel, Monterey, Santa Cruz.  Then to SF.  From there you can visit Wine Country then get back over on Highway 1 for more spectacular coast scenery (Mendocino nice stop.). Redwood forests along the way.  The Oregon coast is also fab, wilder, sand dunes.  Portland is a must, ditto a side trip down the Columbia River Gorge.  Then it’s 3 more hours to Seattle.

if you are more interested in mountains, the route will have to be altered to the interior of CA to see Yosemite, Sequoias.  You would not really have time to do mountains and coast in one trip.

i have LA suggestions if you need them



Post # 5
1344 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2013 - Vine Street Church

I agree with the poster above that you need to get off of the I-5 and go on the Pacific Coast Highway. It’s a beautiful drive — my family is from Newport Beach, California, and we took a drive from Newport Beach to Pacifica to see my uncle when I was in high school, and it was beautiful. We stopped along the way in Santa Barbara (my grandfather painted the murals in the courthouse, so my dad wanted us to see them in person), Morro Bay, San Simeon and Monterey. The aquarium is Monterey is amazing.

In Newport Beach, we always spend time on Balboa Island (don’t even try to find parking most of the time though… a lot of the time, we just park on the peninsula and take the ferry over) — my grandma lives like a five minute’s drive away, so it’s a good, close place. When we want to swim, we go to Big Corona in Corona del Mar. There’s also a nice park called Crystal Cove on the PCH between Corona del Mar and Dana Point. Oh, and around there is also the Shake Shack, now part of Ruby’s, that has date shakes are absolutely amazing.

Post # 6
46675 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

On the Pacific Coast  in Oregon, if you are in Florence, make sure you have a meal at The Waterfront Depot.Fabulous food at very reasonable prices.

Post # 8
2550 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: July 2013

@kmarie719:  I agree with PP’s if your looking for a coastal type of road trip I-5 is going to majorly disappoint! You should take either the 101 or portions of HWY 1/101… HWY is gorgeous but a slow drive as it’s right along the coast and cliffs with alot of tiny roads, steep drop-offs, and hairpin turns. BUT there are soo many places ot stop on hwy1- wineries, coffee shops, mom & pop gift shops, country town dinners, beaches, scenic overlooks…. Just keep in mind it will take about twice the time, when we did it last it took 6-7 hours from SF to Eureka (with plenty of stops) and we can get from SF to eureka on HWY 101 in about 4 hours…. 


I live in Eureka- just on HWY 101 about halfway between SF & Portland so we would be a good stop if you wanna take a break here- we have some gorgeous victorian hotels with alot of history (Carter House Inn, Eureka Inn). We also have gorgeous redwood parks just south of us on the 101 around Red Bluff that would be awesome to tramp through…. The town of Mendocino on Hwy1 is gorgeous as well… I’ve only been on HWY north of San Fran so I can’t comment on the southern portions but from SF I would take HWY 101 to HWY 1 (we got on at Bodega Bay, also very picturesque & popular- where they filed Hitchock’s The Birds) then HWY1 joing the 101 north of Ft. Bragg (also really pretty but a little bigger than most HWY1 towns) all the way through Brookings, OR to HWY 199 which follows the Smith River- the only undamned river in California. It’s a lovely wild river and the road follows it pretty much all the way to grants pass- lots of great places to stop and take a walk/dip, rafters/kayakers…. 


Post # 9
5226 posts
Bee Keeper

@kmarie719:  I have to agree with previous PP on Santa Cruz! Check out the board walk, then go to Boulder Creek and see Big Basin state park and check out the redwoods! I was used to live a mile from the park. On your way to the park, stop at the Brookedale Lodge to eat. Its AMAZING (yes, that is an actual creek going through the inside of the restaraunt):



Post # 10
3368 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: May 2013

@kmarie719:  the West coast stretch of I5 is the most boring stretch of highway you’ll ever be on. You’ll be on the West coast, might as well follow the ocean! As the other ladies said you should really take 101 up, its gorgeous!

You’ve already been told must see attractions in California, but in Oregon be sure to stop in Yachats, Newport, and Lincoln city. There’s an amazing hotel (where dh and I got married and honeymooned) in Lincoln city called starfish manor. Each room has jacuzzi tubs with an ocean view, and its a wonderful price! So make that a must see 🙂 don’t waste your money at the Newport Aquarium, its $20 to get in and you’ll be done in 15 minutes. Check out the ocean research center instead! Old Town newport is really cool, and be sure to get some salt water taffy!

Do a whale watching tour in depoe bay. They drive orcas off the direct shore line but you almost always see whales on those tours. 


After a night in Lincoln City be sure to take the three capes scenic route. The most GORGEOUS scenery you’ll ever see.

Post # 11
169 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: September 2014

Definitely make your way past Cannon Beach (goonies beach) and Ecola State Park in Oregon, that is an absolute MUST! There is also a cool “shipwreck” a little north of there as well that is worth stopping for. I would also suggest lengthening the trip if you’re up for it and heading all the way up the WA coast towards Forks because the Hoh Rainforest is up there and is amazing. Plus, if you loop around Forks and into Port Angeles you go through some beautiful forested land and pass a gorgeous lake (Lake Crescent).

Post # 12
2299 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: September 2013

@kmarie719:  The Oregon Coast is so beautiful.  Definitely stop!  Some easy and common places are Lincoln City, Depoe Bay, or Cannon Beach.

Portland is super great, and in the last couple years it has become a really big food town!  Try The Montage for mac and cheese, Pok Pok for some cool Thai food, and don’t miss the food trucks!  There are huge lots full of them, and they’re awesome.

Seattle!  If you’re into tourist-y stuff, walk around Seattle Center. It’s where the Space Needle is but there is also the Chihuly Garden of Glass (totally worth it).  Pike Place is of course great, but I’d recommend going on a weekday if you can.  Other things that are worth checking out are Gas Works Park, the University of Washington campus, and the neat areas of Fremont and Ballard.  Lots of fun shops in these neighborhoods, as well as good coffee and food.

@PacificMrs:  The Starfish Manor is AMAZING!  I love that it looks a little sketchy from the outside but the rooms and the views are just incredible.  And you can’t beat a beach front hot tub!

Post # 13
3232 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: August 2011

@kmarie719:  Another bee mentioned you stopping in Laguna Beach, CA which is located in Orange County.  So it’s inbetween Los Angeles and San Diego.  If you’re stopping in the OC you might as well spend some time at Disneyland too right?  Unless you’re not into theme parks.  Other then Laguna Beach and Disneyland there’s not much else to see in Orange County.

Post # 14
1088 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: July 2014

Agreed, you want the Pacific Coast Higheay, not I-5, I was on I-5 through Oregon today, definitely not scenic!!!

Post # 15
2522 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: November 2013

@kmarie719:  Wow, you’re missing some good stuff.  Highway 1 is beautiful from San Luis Obispo to San Francisco.  Humboldt County has some beautiful GIANT Redwoods.  Eureka, CA has a bunch of victorian homes. 

Post # 16
592 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: February 2015

I will let you know that the 101 route from San Francisco to Oregon is NOT for the fait of heart! It is a very windy drive, and while it is scenic, it can have dense fog and is very difficult to navigate at night. Expect to go a lot slower if you take the scenic route. After San Fran, definitely visit Napa. There’s also Bodega Bay and you can make a stop in Humboldt/Arcata!

Have fun!

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