West Coast Road trip

West Coast Road Trip

Have you always dreamed of  a west coast road trip through the United States?  So had we! Route 101 is absolutely breathtaking and considered one of the best drives in the world. This phenomenal coastline will let you  experience a variety of climate and scenery as you make your way through Washington, Oregon, and California. Keep reading for everything you need to know including accommodation, budget, food, and the best stops along the way.

For information on currency, vaccinations, best time to travel, budget tips, and more visit our page on Traveling America

 How To Get There

When choosing a start and finish point for your west coast road trip, there are honestly endless options. You can explore the whole Coast by starting at the Canadian boarder and making your way down to San Diego or vice versa. You could also decide to just do one state or a portion of one; all depending on how much time you have.

Recommended Travel Time

4-6 weeks is ideal if you plan to drive the entire coastline. It is possible to do it in 3 weeks, but prepare to move camp almost every night and spend an average of 4-5 hours in the car each day. Another option is renting a car or motor-home to drive one way and flying home to save some time.

Average Daily Budget

The average daily cost of your west coast road trip will vary greatly depending on your desired transportation, food, and accommodation.

$75-125 USD per person per day if you are camping, cooking 1-2 meals each day and using your own vehicle:

  • Campsites: $15-$25 USD ($30-$50 USD split between 2 people)
  • Gas: $15 USD ($30 USD split between 2 people)
  • Food: $25-$35 USD
  • Attractions & Entrance fees: $20-$50 USD

$180-300 USD per person per day if you are staying in hotels, eating out for all meals and renting a vehicle:

  • Hotels: $65-$100 USD ($130-$200+ USD split between 2 people)
  • Car rental $20-$33 USD ($40-$66 USD split between 2 people)
  • Gas: $15 USD  ($30 USD split between 2 people)
  • Food: $60-$100 USD
  • Attractions & Entrance fees: $20-$50 USD


We camped most of the way, treating ourselves to a hotel every now and again. It decreased our budget substantially and the campsites along the coast are outstanding! If you plan to camp in July and August, I would recommend booking your sites at least 3-5 days in advance to ensure you get a spot (we actually booked the majority of ours a few months in advance). If you don`t plan on camping, Agoda is perfect for finding everything from hostels and B&B`s to 5 star hotels.  You can search by map or by price and they typically have free cancellation.

Budget: $30-50 USD per night for two people. A tent campsite on or near the beach with outhouses and showers.

Mid range: $75-180 USD per night for 2 people.  Bed & Breakfast, motel or a private room in an Airbnb.

Luxury: $200+ USD per night for 2 people. Luxury hotel, sometimes includes breakfast.


Driving: We would highly recommend driving your own vehicle. It is by far the best method of transportation! You can stop when you want, detour when you want and you have your own space for your belongings.

  • Driving your own car: Be sure that your car is in good condition before venturing out. If you have a small car like we did, getting a cargo space for the roof will free up some space. We put all of our camping gear in the cargo space and kept our belongings in the vehicle.
  • Renting a car: Make sure to get unlimited mileage and look into your insurance beforehand. If you are under the age of 25 or over the age of 70 extra fees may apply. Some rental companies will let you pick up in one state and drop off somewhere else for an extra fee. This can be helpful if you are short on time and plan to drive one way and fly home.

Bus Tours: There are several companies that offer bus tours along the west coast. The planning is done for you but you have  a lot less freedom.


The weather will vary greatly between states. California will be hot and sunny for the majority of the summer while Northern Washington will be cooler especially in the evenings. If you plan to camp on the coast in Washington and Oregon, bring a warm jacket and a toque. Even in July and August it will be cold throughout the night. For hiking and outdoor activities, dressing in layers will help prepare you for all weather conditions.



Seattle is the perfect balance between nature and city. There are trails, parks, mountains, and beaches as well as delicious restaurants and impressive architecture. Known for its tech scene, its friendly people, and Starbucks; Seattle is a great place to visit on your west coast road trip! 

Related Posts: Seattle Travel Guide

Hurricane Ridge 

You will find Hurricane Ridge 3.5 hours west of Seattle. Follow a scenic 17 mile drive up to a visitors center with many hiking trails of varied lengths and difficulties. Observe spectacular views and stop for lunch at the picnic areas or the snack shop. Note that there is a $25 USD charge to enter the park.

Olympic Hot Springs Hike

It’s about a 1 hour drive from Hurricane Ridge to this trail head. Olympic Springs Hike is an easy 5 mile round trip trek with a relatively low elevation gain. You will cross the river multiple times throughout this hike and be rewarded with several natural pools when you arrive at the top.

West Coast Road Trip
Olympic Hot Springs, Washington

FairHolme Campground

This lovely lakefront campground is only half an hour from the Olympic Hot Springs trail head. Rent kayaks for $20 USD/ hour from the general store or go for a swim in the lake.  Click here for more information about the campsite and some of the best hiking trails on your west coast road trip!

  • $20 USD per night
  • Restrooms, no showers
  • Check-Out: 11 AM
  • No reservations, first come first served. If you hope to get a lakefront campsite, plan to get there early!

Sol Duc Falls

There are many things to do when visiting the Sol Duc Valley which is just a 30 minute drive from FairHolme Campground. Relax with a massage, soak at the Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort, or go on your choice of hikes. One of the most rewarding hikes is a 1.6 mile return trip to get to the Sol Duc Falls.

Ruby Beach

A unique and stunning beach full of sea stacks and driftwood. Drive 1.5 hours south along highway 101 to find the Ruby Beach parking lot. From here you will see a well-maintained trail to the beach.

Kalaloch Campground

10 minutes down the road from Ruby Beach is one of Washington’s best campgrounds! It is backing onto the beach with access to trails, tide pools and gray whales playing in the waves off the shore. Make sure to find Kalaloch Tree Root Cave during your stay.

  • $22 USD per night
  • Restrooms, no showers
  • Reserve online here, some sites remain first come first serve

Pacific Beach State Park

Pacific Beach Campground: A 1.5 hour drive from Kalaloch and one of my favorite campsites of our entire west coast road trip! There are 18 tent sites that literally back onto the ocean. Walk for miles exploring the wide, beautiful beach where you can enjoy a sunset campfire.

  • Price: $25-35 USD per night for a standard tent site
  • Check-In Time: 2:30 PM Check-Out Time: 1 PM
  • Hot Showers
  • Reserve online here  


Cannon Beach

A unique little town 3 hours from Pacific Beach. Home to Oregon’s famous landmark Haystack rock; you can hike, surf, lay on the beach or explore the local shops and restaurants. If you’d like to stay the night check out Wrights for Camping family run campground which is 5 minutes from the beach! There are also tons of boutique hotels and cute B&B`s to choose from.

Tillamook Cheese Factory

An amazing dairy factory one hour south of Cannon Beach. They promote local farmers and products without growth hormones or artificial sweeteners. Take a tour, try some samples and make sure to stop for a treat on your way out. It`ll be the best ice cream you have on your entire trip!

Cape Lookout State Park

Cape Lookout Campground: Find a great tent site near the beach only 20 minutes from the Cheese Factory.  Spend time in the water or hike up Cape Lookout Trail for jaw dropping views of the coastline.

  • $21 USD per night for a standard tent site
  • Check-In Time: 4 PM Check-Out Time: 11 AM
  • Hot showers and restrooms available
  • Reserve online here

Sand Masters

Visiting the worlds first sand-boarding park is a fun way to break up your drive. Sand Masters is 2.5 hours from Cape Lookout State Park and a unique place to get a few hours of activity in. Rent a board at the shop for $ 16 USD and drive just up the road to the sand dunes!

Coos bay

Drive 1 hour from Sand Masters to Sunset Bay Campground and set up camp. From there you have access to Sunset Bay State Park, Cape Arago State Park and Shore Acres State Park.You could easily spend a few days between these three areas. Explore hiking trails, rugged cliffs, landscaped gardens, Cape Arago Lighthouse, and beautiful beaches. This was the cheapest campsite of our west coast road trip and well worth the stop!

  • $19 USD per night for a standard tent site
  • Check-In Time: 4 PM Check-Out Time: 1 PM
  • Hot Showers and restrooms
  • Book online here

Crater Lake

Although Crater Lake  is 4 hours inland from Sunset Bay Campground, this bucket list destination is absolutely worth the detour! The stunning lake was formed by the volcanic collapse of Mount Mazama. You can drive 33 miles along the rim of the crater which offers awe- inspiring views and access to numerous hiking trails. Another activity option is to take the ferry to Wizard Island near the western edge of the lake. We passed on staying at Crater Lake Lodge because of price and camped 7 km down the mountain at Mazama Village Campground instead. The campsite is excellent, but be sure to make a reservation early because the sites fill up quick!

  • $23 USD per night for a standard tent site
  • Check-In Time: 4 pm Check-Out Time: 11 am
  • Showers and restrooms available
  • Book online here


Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park

Jedediah Smith Redwoods Campground: A three and a half hour drive from Crater Lake, this wonderful campsite is in the heart of the redwoods with over 20 miles of walking and hiking trails nearby. You can also choose to fish or kayak in the Smith River.

  • $35 USD per night
  • Check-In Time: 2 pm Check-Out Time: 12 pm
  • Showers and Restrooms
  • Book online here

Del Norte Coast Redwood State Park

 You will enter this state park approximately 20 minutes south of Jedediah Smith Redwoods Campground. Throughout the park there will be many opportunities to stop and take photos of the wonderful landscape. You will find hiking and walking trails, rugged coastline, massive redwood trees, a beach and a tide pool.

 Drive Through Klamath Tree

Klamath Tree is the newest of the drive-thru redwoods and just 10 minutes from Del Norte State Park. The opening is quite large and critical areas of living wood were avoided keeping the health of the tree in tact.

Gold Bluffs Beach Campground

Gold Bluffs Beach Campground is 40 minutes from the drive-thru tree. This is the perfect place to stay for a change of scenery on your west coast road trip. Explore hiking trails, go for a walk in Fern Canyon (Where parts of Jurassic Park were filmed), or hang out on the beach!

  • $35 USD per night
  • Check-In Time: 2 pm Check-Out Time: 12 pm
  • Showers and restrooms
  • Reserve online here

Big Lagoon

A beautiful lagoon located 40 minutes from Gold Buffs Campground in Humboldt Lagoons State Park. Stop here for a few hours to kayak and enjoy the beach.

Avenue of the Giants

This famous roadway runs parallel to Highway 101 for 31 miles. The beginning of this detour is 1.5 hours south of the Big Lagoon. Avenue of the Giants takes you along some of the most magnificent redwood trees, a few cute little towns, and The Shrine Tree. This is another drive-thru tree which has an opening made primarily by nature.

Glass Beach

A beautiful and unusual beach 2 hours from the Avenue of the Giants. The sand is made up of small, smooth, colored pieces of glass. Created from years of dumping garbage north of town, the sea and currents broke down the glass and piled it on this beach. 

Santa Rosa

A 2 hour drive from Glass Beach, Santa Rosa is part of Sonoma County and known for its wineries. We made Santa Rosa our home base for exploring the Sonoma and Napa Valleys because accommodation is much cheaper here.

Hot Air Balloon Ride: Wake up early to enjoy sunrise from a hot air balloon! Experience marvelous views of the valley and the vineyards complete with a champagne breakfast after landing. Up & Away Ballooning offers a great safety record and excellent customer service for $239 USD per person.

Wine tour: There is no shortage of vineyards and wine tours in this area. We loved Terrific Tours because it was affordable, had small groups and a really fun tour guide. We stopped at 5 vineyards on this all day tour and had lunch in an adorable little town. The Northern Sonoma package has a free pick up in Santa Rosa and costs just $100 USD per person.

San Francisco

San Francisco is a beautiful city that is full of life and fun things to do. Set aside a few days of your west coast road trip to experience everything here! 

Related Post: San Francisco Travel Guide

Kirby Cove Campground

Hands down the best place to stay in San Francisco! Located across the river from downtown very close to the Golden Gate Bridge. You will enjoy phenomenal views of the bridge and downtown from the campground beach.

  • $30 USD per night for a tent site, hike in only.
  • Check in: 1 pm Check out: 12 pm
  • Outhouses, no showers
  • Book online here

Berry Creek Falls Loop

A moderately strenuous 9.5 mile hike that takes you to 4 picturesque waterfalls and redwood groves. It is about 1 hour 30 minute drive from San Francisco and slightly inland. If you are up for the challenge the views will make it worth your while. Don`t forget to bring $10 for the park entry fee.  Click here for more information.


1.5 hours from Berry Creek Falls or 2 hours from San Francisco. Spend the day on the beach, visit the aquarium, or go whale watching or kayaking in Monterey Bay.


A small beach city on California’s Monterey Peninsula. Check out the museums, Carmel Mission, art galleries and the fairy tale cottages. Point Lobos State Reserve has hiking, walking, scuba diving and magnificent views. Carmel-by-the-Sea also gives you access to the famous 17 mile drive.There is a $10 entrance fee but it is home to some of the most beautiful views on the Peninsula.

 Big Sur

The breathtaking stretch of road from Carmel-by-the-Sea to San Simeon will be a highlight of your west coast road trip. The drive will take 1.5 to 2 hours and you will want to pull over ever few minutes to take photos! Some of the best stops include Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park and beach, McWay Falls (an 80-foot waterfall from the cliffs onto the beach) and the Bixby Bridge.

Hillside Hot Tubs at Sycamore Mineral Resort and Spa

This lovely resort an hour from San Simeon is a must see! Relax for an hour in the hillside hot tubs for $15 USD per person. They even allow you to bring your own wine or beer up to your private tub overlooking the forest! If you would like to treat yourself further, the Sycamore Mineral Resort offers beautiful rooms and a pool for around $200 USD per night.

West Coast Road Trip

Point Mugu State Park

Sycamore Canyon Campground: 2.5 hours drive from the hot tubs, this beautiful campground is close to the beach with lots of trees and bushes for added privacy. The gate is locked at 10 PM and opens at 8 AM, so keep that in mind when planning your arrival.

  • $45 USD per night
  • Token operated showers
  • Book online here

Sky Diving

Sky diving along the California coast is an amazing experience and a must do for the adventure lovers! We went with Sky Dive California Coastal and had a blast. The instructors were a lot of fun and we felt very safe. If you go on a weekday and pay in cash the price is $209 USD per person. It is more expensive to pay by card or if you decide to go on the weekend.

Santa Monica

A coastal city west of downtown Los Angeles and an hour from Point Mugu State Park. Home to Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica Pier Aquarium, Muscle Beach and Bergamot Station; its got plenty to keep you occupied throughout the day.

The Venice Beach Boardwalk: Stretches about 1.5 miles along Venice Beach and you will find hundreds of vendors and street performers. You can buy pretty much any souvenir you can think of and get your fortune read, watch a man walk across broken glass, or get a tattoo. In addition there is a large selection of restaurants, bars, bike rental and surf shops along the way.

The Santa Monica Pier: A great place to stop for an evening of fun. About a half an hour walk from the Venice Beach Boardwalk; you can enjoy food, drinks, rides, and street vendors. The Ferris wheel offers amazing views of the beach and the water.

From Santa Monica we decided to skip LA because we have both been there previously.  If you have time to stop in on your west coast road trip, there is an endless list of things to do and places to see. Hollywood, Universal Studios, and Disneyland are just the beginning!

Dana Point

About 1.5 hours from Santa Monica depending on the LA traffic. Relax in the sun, go surfing at Salt Creek or Doheny State Beach, or explore the shops and marina. Go hiking on one of the many trails in Dana Point Headlands Conservation Area or take a 1 hour ferry ride to Catalina Island! Captain Dave’s Dolphin & Whale Watching Safari offer some amazing tours from the harbor complete with underwater viewing spots on the boats!

San Clemente State Beach Campground

A great campground close to the beach, surfing, and the shopping pier. Being only 15 minutes down the road from Dana Point, you will have access to tons of activities.

  • $40 USD per night
  • Check-In time: 2 PM Check-Out time: 12 PM
  • Showers and restrooms
  • Reserve online here, a number of first come first serve spots always available


30 minutes south you will come across this oceanfront city known for Tamarack Surf Beach and Carlsbad Village. Check out LEGO-land, The Flower Fields, and the Museum of Making Music. The Carlsbad Lagoon is a water sports center that rents canoes, kayaks, paddle boats, stand up paddle boards, wave runners, and speedboats.

La Jolla

La Jolla is known for its rugged coastline. It`s a marvelous little village with so much to do! You can surf and snorkel, para-glide or go on a boat tour. Visit the beach or see a show at the La Jolla Playhouse. Visit Torrey Pines Gold Course, the Del Mar Race Track or Temecula Wine country. Plan to spend a few days here to experience as much as you can.

La Jolla B&B Inn: Am amazing B&B with a 3 course breakfast just 1 block from the ocean. It is a little pricey but absolutely worth the money for a relaxing, romantic couple of days.

San Diego

A remarkable place to end your west coast road trip. Known for its parks, family attractions, and 70 miles of beaches San Diego has something for everyone. The San Diego Zoo, Legoland, and Sea World are a few top sights. Enjoy a huge culinary culture as well as almost 100 golf courses, a rich military history and tons of outdoor activities.

Related Post: San Diego Travel Guide

We hope you enjoy your West Coast Road Trip! Feel free to contact us with any questions or to let us know your favorite stops!

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