The Rowena Loops section of the old Columbia Gorge Scenic Highway, Oregon.

11 Most Scenic Road Trips to take on the Pacific Coast

Begin an adventure along the most scenic road trips of the Pacific Coast, where breathtaking landscapes and enchanting destinations await. From the iconic Pacific Coast Highway winding along the California coastline to the captivating Oregon Coast Highway and the picturesque Redwood Highway, these road trips offer a perfect blend of natural wonders, alluring towns, and unforgettable experiences.

Drive along rugged cliffs, marvel at stunning beaches, explore majestic national parks, and engage in each region's unique culture and heritage. Whether seeking the wonder of the coast, outdoor adventures, or cultural exploration, these road trips promise to create cherished memories and provide an opportunity to discover the diverse and awe-inspiring beauty of the Pacific Coast.

Pacific Coast Highway

Beautiful scenery of the Santa Monica gulf and mountains over renewed Pacific Highway descent. California.
Santa Monica gulf and mountains over renewed Pacific Highway descent. 

Set out on a breathtaking road trip along the iconic Pacific Coast Highway, approximately 600 miles from Monterrey to Dana Point, California. This scenic journey offers mesmerizing coastal views and a chance to explore endearing western towns. Start the adventure in Monterrey, where travelers can visit the world-renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium. Drive through the majestic Big Sur region, stopping at scenic overlooks like Bixby Bridge and Pfeiffer Beach.

Continue south to Santa Barbara, known for its beautiful beaches and Spanish architecture. Explore the artistic town of Laguna Beach before concluding the trip to Dana Point. This unforgettable road trip typically takes around 12 hours, allowing ample time to savor the beauty, visit local shops, and indulge in delectable seafood along the Pacific Coast. It stands out for the freedom of the open road that blends with the divine atmosphere for full road trip vibes.

Oregon Coast Highway

Oregon Coast Highway
Oregon Coast Highway near Cannon Beach, Oregon.

Witness the beauty of the Oregon Coast Highway, stretching approximately 363 miles from Astoria to Brookings. Begin in Astoria, exploring the historic waterfront and visiting the Columbia River Maritime Museum. Drive south along the coastline, admiring stunning views of rocky cliffs, sandy beaches, and picturesque lighthouses. Do not miss Cannon Beach, famous for its iconic Haystack Rock, and the alluring town of Newport, home to the Oregon Coast Aquarium.

Discover the beauty of Cape Perpetua Scenic Area and explore the dunes at Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. Cap it off in Brookings, where folks can enjoy the scenic beauty of Harris Beach State Park. The Oregon Coast Highway journey takes approximately eight to 10 hours, offering a remarkable blend of coastal landscapes, natural wonders, and cultural attractions. An irreplaceable adventure, the unique stone of the natural surroundings that changes while driving makes it beautiful and memorable trip.

Highway 1: San Francisco to Los Angeles

Bixby Creek Bridge on Highway #1 at the US West Coast traveling south to Los Angeles, Big Sur Area
Bixby Creek Bridge on Highway #1.

Journey along Highway 1, approximately 600 miles from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Start the trip in the vibrant city of San Francisco, home to iconic landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island. Drive south along the coastline, marveling at the stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. Stop by the alluring towns of Santa Cruz and Monterey, and explore the famous Monterey Bay Aquarium. Continue driving along the rugged coastline of Big Sur, known for its breathtaking cliffs and dramatic scenery.

Visit Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park for hiking trails amidst towering redwoods. As you venture further south, discover the quaintest Danish town of Solvang and soak in the beauty of Santa Barbara's beaches. Conclude your trip in the bustling city of Los Angeles, where you can explore Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and the iconic Santa Monica Pier. This incredible road trip takes around 12-14 hours, offering a blend of coastal beauty, cultural attractions, and vibrant cities. This is an ideal road trip along the Pacific Coast for a bit more urban flavor in your road trip adventure.

Redwood Highway

Redwood Highway, route 101, Eureka, California.
Redwood Highway, route 101, Eureka, California.

Indulge in a remarkable journey along the Redwood Highway, a scenic route stretching approximately 300 miles from Crescent City to Leggett in Northern California. Begin your adventure in Crescent City, where you can explore Redwood National and State Parks, home to the majestic western redwoods. Drive south along Highway 101, marveling at the towering giants and stopping at picturesque viewpoints such as Trees of Mystery and Lady Bird Johnson Grove.

Explore the allure of the town of Eureka and visit the Humboldt Redwoods State Park, featuring the famous Avenue of the Giants. Continue your journey through the scenic beauty of Richardson Grove State Park and Standish-Hickey State Recreation Area. The Redwood Highway trip takes around six to eight hours, allowing ample time to deepen your experience in the tranquility of the ancient redwood forests, hike through nature trails, and appreciate the awe-inspiring natural wonders of the region. A must-see for any globetrotter, the towering wonder of the redwoods makes this trek stand out from the rest.

Olympic Peninsula Loop

View of Olympic Peninsula beach
View of Olympic Peninsula beach.

Take part in the diverse landscapes of the Olympic Peninsula on a captivating road trip loop spanning approximately 330 miles. Begin your journey in Port Angeles, Washington, and drive west to Olympic National Park. Explore Hurricane Ridge for breathtaking mountain vistas and visit Lake Crescent, known for its crystal-clear waters. Continue along Highway 101 to the Pacific Coast, where you can stroll along the scenic beaches of La Push and explore the dramatic sea stacks at Ruby Beach.

Traverse the enchanting Hoh Rainforest, a lush and moss-covered wonderland. Discover the picturesque town of Port Townsend, known for its Victorian architecture and gorgeous waterfront. Conclude your trip by crossing the Hood Canal Bridge and returning to Port Angeles. The Olympic Peninsula Loop typically takes around seven to nine hours, allowing ample time to appreciate the diverse landscapes, explore the National Park, and discover the unique seaside beauty of the region. For travelers focused on water-based endeavors, this is a definite hit as far as road trips go.

Cabrillo Highway: Half Moon Bay to Santa Cruz

Cabrillo Highway California Highway No 1 in cloudy weather with green fresh meadows
Cabrillo Highway with green fresh meadows.

Dive into a picturesque road trip along the Cabrillo Highway, a scenic stretch of California State Route 1, covering approximately 50 miles from Half Moon Bay to Santa Cruz. This captivating drive showcases the stunning beauty of the California coastline, offering breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean, rugged cliffs, and golden sandy beaches. Start journeying in Half Moon Bay, an endearing coastal town known for its art galleries, pumpkin festivals, and picturesque beaches. Explore the historic Main Street and indulge in fresh seafood at local restaurants.

While heading south, marvel at the breathtaking vistas along the cliffs of Pescadero and visit the Pigeon Point Lighthouse, one of California's tallest lighthouses. Discover the enchanting Ano Nuevo State Park, famous for its elephant seal rookery. Continue your scenic drive to Santa Cruz, a vibrant beach town renowned for its iconic boardwalk, picturesque wharf, and world-class surfing spots. Explore the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, the oldest amusement park in California, and enjoy the lively atmosphere of Pacific Avenue.

Route 1: Mendocino Coast

Mendocino County long exposure ocean view
View of Mendocino County with ocean.

Set off on a captivating journey to discover the beauty of Mendocino Coast along Route 1, a scenic road trip covering approximately 80 miles from Gualala to Fort Bragg in Northern California. This picturesque drive showcases stunning coastal views, dramatic cliffs, and charming seaside towns. Start your journey in Gualala, a serene coastal village known for its artistic community and beautiful beaches. Explore the Gualala Point Regional Park, offering hiking trails and panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean.

As you travel north, admire the rugged coastline and breathtaking vistas along the Mendocino Headlands State Park. Explore the wonderfully understated town of Mendocino, renowned for its Victorian architecture, art galleries, and scenic coastal bluffs. Continue your road trip to Fort Bragg, a quaint seaside city famous for its glass beaches and the historic Skunk Train. Visit Glass Beach, where colorful sea glass sparkles along the shore, resulting from years of discarded glass items being polished by the sea.

Seattle To San Diego

California Palm Trees and City of San Diego, California USA
California palm trees and city of San Diego, California.

Seattle to San Diego, covering an impressive distance of approximately 1,650 miles. This iconic journey takes you through some of the most breathtaking coastal scenery in the United States, offering diverse landscapes, cultural attractions, and delightful coastal towns. Starting in Seattle, Washington, explore the city's vibrant neighborhoods, visit the famous Pike Place Market, and enjoy stunning views of Puget Sound. As you venture south along the coast, pass through the adorable towns of Oregon, such as Cannon Beach with its iconic Haystack Rock and the picturesque Oregon Dunes.

Continue your journey into California, where you'll encounter stunning vistas of Big Sur, explore the lively city of San Francisco, and discover the beauty of Santa Barbara's Riviera. Finally, reach San Diego, California's sunny gem, known for its beautiful beaches, diverse culture, and vibrant nightlife. Throughout this road trip, indulge in fresh seafood, visit world-renowned wineries, take in the awe-inspiring area, and maybe even spot the background of a favorite TV show or movie!

Highway 1: San Simeon to Santa Barbara

Sweeping panorama of cliffs, ocean and the San Simeon Point jutting out towards the Pacific Ocean
Sweeping panorama of cliffs, ocean and the San Simeon Point jutting out towards the Pacific Ocean.

This scenic road trip spans approximately 170 miles in a single direction, offering awe-inspiring coastal views and a journey through iconic seaside towns. Start your adventure at Hearst Castle in San Simeon, known for its grand architecture and historical significance. As you drive south, marvel at Big Sur's dramatic cliffs and crashing waves, a picturesque stretch of coastline that boasts stunning vistas.

Continue your journey to one-of-a-kind coastal towns like Cambria and Cayucos, where you can indulge in fresh seafood and relax on pristine beaches. Explore the artistic community of Morro Bay with its iconic Morro Rock and waterfront ambiance. Further south, arrive in the vibrant city of Santa Barbara, known for its Spanish architecture, beautiful beaches, and cultural attractions. Make stops at famous landmarks like the Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery and enjoy hiking, whale watching, and wine-tasting opportunities along the way. Standing out for its unique flora, just watch the look change as you journey to Santa Barbara, showing just how lush California can be.

Historic Columbia River Highway: Oregon's Scenic Wonder

Old Columbia River Highway, Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Oregon
Old Columbia River Highway, Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Oregon.

Begin a journey through the natural wonders of Oregon on the Historic Columbia River Highway, a scenic route spanning approximately 70 miles from Troutdale to The Dalles. Start your adventure in Troutdale and drive along the historic highway, marveling at the stunning views of the Columbia River Gorge. Explore the magnificent Multnomah Falls, one of the tallest waterfalls in the United States, and visit the picturesque Vista House at Crown Point.

Continue your journey, stopping at various viewpoints and hiking trails that offer breathtaking vistas of the gorge and its towering cliffs. Discover the enchanting town of Hood River, known for its windsurfing and local breweries. Conclude your trip to The Dalles, where you can learn about the region's history at the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center. The Historic Columbia River Highway journey takes approximately two to three hours (in one direction), providing ample time to lose yourself in the natural beauty of the gorge, visit local wineries, and experience the area's outdoor adventures.

Final Pacific Coast Road Trip Notes

Concluding any scenic road trip along the Pacific Coast, it can help to take a moment to reflect on the breathtaking vistas, alluring towns, and memorable experiences gained through the journey. From the rugged cliffs of Big Sur to the towering redwoods of Northern California and from the picturesque beaches of Oregon to the enchanting coastal towns of Washington, these road trips have provided a window into the unparalleled beauty of the Pacific Coast in both the Northern United States and Southern United states like California. 

Whether by indulging in fresh seafood, explored vibrant cities, or hiked through pristine national parks, each stop has contributed to an unforgettable journey. As the road stretches behind you, the memories of the Pacific Coast's scenic wonders, geographical landmarks, and cultural treasures will stay with you forever. Until the subsequent adventure calls, carry the spirit of the Pacific Coast road trips in your heart and continue to explore the wonders that await in the world's vast landscapes.


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