Road Trip Tips,  Destination Guides

The Ultimate Pacific Coast Road Trip Itinerary (California & the PNW)

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The Pacific Coast Highway is arguably one of the most famous drives in the entire world. Stretching from Washington to California, the Pacific Coast is picturesque, with cliffs, sea stacks, gorgeous urban spaces, and the raging ocean. Making a Pacific Coast Highway road trip is a popular bucket list experience – for good reason!

If you’re considering a drive down (or up) the western coast of the U.S., look no further. After making the trip myself in 2014 and exploring the PCH extensively while living in Washington and California, I’ve put together this comprehensive guide to the great stops, breathtaking sights, and sense of unbelievable freedom you can find if you drive the Pacific Coast Highway.

Pacific Coast Highway Itinerary Featured Image

Whether you’re planning a San Diego to San Francisco, Seattle to San Francisco, San Francisco to San Diego, Seattle to San Diego road trip, or somewhere in between (Los Angeles! Portland! Crescent City!), this post will give you all you need to know. By the end, you’ll be ready to plan your own Pacific Coast Highway road trip itinerary.

Note: Due to heavy rainfall in California in January 2023, California Highway 1 is closed around Ragged Point; this means you will not be able to do a complete route down the Pacific Coast and will instead divert inland from Monterey to San Simeon (southbound). Be sure to check the California DOT website for more information.

In this post, I promote travel across lands that are the traditional lands of many Indigenous groups. With respect, I make a formal land acknowledgment, extending my appreciation and respect to the past and present people of these lands. To learn more about the peoples who call these lands home, I invite you to explore Native Land.

This post was originally published in August 2014, and was updated regularly – including most recently in May 2022. If you see an error, please contact me.

Where is the Pacific Coast Highway? How Long is it?

How long is the Pacific Coast Highway? Before launching into a bunch of details for where to stop along the Pacific Coast Highway, I need to define a few things:

  1. The Pacific Coast Highway is located in the U.S. states of Washington, Oregon, and California.
  2. The Pacific Coast Highway runs along two highways: US 101 in Washington, Oregon, and parts of California and California Highway 1 in the majority of California.
  3. From end to end, the Pacific Coast Highway is 1,675 miles long from Olympia, WA to San Diego, CA.

Now that you know the details, let’s dig into the logistics of planning your own Pacific Coast Highway road trip itinerary!

Pacific Coast Highway Map, Direction & Start/End Points

Pacific Coast Highway Map
Click to interact with the map!

One of the requests I get asked for is a Pacific Coast Highway map with all of the stops I suggest, so I used Roadtrippers to put together this one. I used to use Google Maps to do this, but I find that the numbered stops and waypoints are much easier to understand, and this Roadtrippers map also has other points of interest (“Extraordinary Places”) you might want to stop at too.

(I used Roadtrippers Plus to create this route; you can get $5 off Plus by clicking this link and using code BTR5QTP.)

Which Direction to Drive the Pacific Coast Highway?

PCH Southbound Sign

The most important thing you need to decide first when driving the Pacific Coast Highway is which direction you prefer to travel the Pacific Coast Highway (northbound or southbound). If I can make a recommendation? You should drive the Pacific Coast Highway southbound!

The reason I recommend doing your Pacific Coast Highway road trip north to south is that you’ll be on the coastal side of the road. Driving south on the right-hand side of the road, you’ll have a great view of the ocean and coastline. When I drove the PCH in 2014, I drove a northbound San Diego to Seattle road trip, and lament that I wasn’t on the “outer” side of the road.

Pacific Coast Highway Start & End Points

Your second choice is where to start your road trip. The traditional definition of the Pacific Coast Highway is to drive California Highway 1 from San Diego to Leggett (or vice versa); you can extend by adding on U.S. Highway 101 through Northern California and Oregon and Washington coasts.

Depending on whether you drive a Washington to California road trip or just drive portions in California, you can start/end your road trip at the various cities in this guide.

Here are some different starting/ending points for a PCH road trip:

  • Seattle to San Diego (or vice versa) – the whole Pacific Coast Highway
  • Crescent City to San Diego (or vice versa) – the California portion of the Pacific Coast Highway
  • San Francisco to San Diego – a great California coast road trip, but only the Central California and Southern California portions

As you can see, you have options! Now let me break down a few itineraries to choose from, based on how much time you have to do your Pacific Coast Highway road trip.

Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip Itinerary Options

Pacific Coast Highway Hotels Hero

The Pacific Coast Highway is an ambitious road trip, but totally possible in as few as five days. To help you plan your road trip, here are two possible road trip itineraries you could take. As I mentioned above, both are southbound itineraries.

5-Day Pacific Coast Highway Itinerary

If you are short on time to drive the PCH, as I was, a Pacific Coast highway itinerary for 5 days is ideal. You won’t have as much time to spend in each city, or to take a few of the “long drives,” but you’ll see it all in a short span of time. Here’s a Pacific Coast Highway map and schedule for 5 days:

Day 1Seattle to Portland1, 5, 6, 7, 8
Day 2Portland to Crescent City9, 10, 11
Day 3Crescent City to San Francisco12, 13, 14, 15, 16
Day 4San Francisco to Santa Barbara17, 18, 19, 20
Day 5Santa Barbara to San Diego21, 22

7-Day Pacific Coast Highway Itinerary

If you’re lucky to have a few more days for your PCH road trip, a week is a pretty fantastic amount of time to see all that the Pacific Coast Highway has to offer. This Pacific Coast Highway itinerary is 7 days and will let you take the whole route and return home with unforgettable memories:

Day 1Seattle to Newport1, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
Day 2Newport to Crescent City10, 11
Day 3Crescent City to Fort Bragg12, 13, 14
Day 4Fort Bragg to San Francisco15, 16
Day 5San Francisco to San Luis Obispo17, 18, 19
Day 6San Luis Obispo to Santa Barbara20
Day 7Santa Barbara to San Diego21, 22

10-Day Pacific Coast Highway Itinerary

If you have more time to drive the PCH, this 10-day itinerary is perfect. You can even stretch it out by spending a few extra days exploring some of the cities along the route if you want to. Here’s a Pacific Coast Highway map and schedule for 10 days:

Day 1Seattle to Port Angeles1, 2
Day 2Port Angeles to Long Beach3, 4, 5, 6
Day 3Long Beach to Newport, Oregon7, 8, 9
Day 4Newport to Crescent City10, 11
Day 5Crescent City to Fort Bragg12, 13
Day 6Fort Bragg to San Francisco14, 15, 16
Day 7San Francisco to Big Sur17, 18
Day 8Big Sur to Santa Barbara19, 20
Day 9Santa Barbara to Los Angeles21
Day 10Los Angeles to San Diego22

When to Drive the Pacific Coast Highway

Pacific Coast Highway View

One of the most popular questions I get about driving the Pacific Coast Highway is about when to drive the PCH. Here are my suggestions:

  • In Washington and Oregon, the best weather of the year happens between June and September.
  • In Northern California, the best weather of the year happens between September and October.
  • Southern California has great weather year-round.

Therefore, the best month to drive the Pacific Coast Highway is September, when you’re most likely to have great weather along the entire length of the road trip.

How to Choose a Car for the Pacific Coast Highway

Before you hit the road, you’ve gotta figure out your car situation!

When I drove the PCH, I rented a car and drove it as a ‘one-way rental’ (meaning I dropped it off in a different city than I picked it up). This was more expensive than a round-trip rental, but I didn’t want to drive the Pacific Coast Highway both ways!

I’ve put together some tips on how to choose the right car for the PCH, but in short, I recommend an automatic car with a low center of gravity – but skip the convertible! I drove one and I hardly ever got to enjoy it!

If you know which car you want, I recommend renting from Fox Rent-A-Car or Sixt. They all offer budget rentals, run regular deals and specials, and have one-way rental options. If you’re not sure (or not loyal to any particular car rental company), consider using a tool like Kayak or TripAdvisor to compare a bunch of options (yes, TripAdvisor does rental cars!).

Okay, now you’ve got your car, you’ve got your basic itinerary. You’re all set to start filling in the gaps!

Step-by-Step Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip Directions

Pacific Coast Highway Map

Now that you have all the details you need to plan a PCH road trip, you need to know which destinations are worth a stop along the Pacific Coast Highway. Now I’m going to lay out step-by-step directions for a Pacific Coast Highway road trip based on all my tips so far. These stops are numbered to match my Roadtrippers map and trip above (click here to open the trip in a separate window).

For each spot, I share whether I consider it an ‘Overnight‘ stop (where you should spend a night) or a ‘Waypoint‘ stop (where you should stop to stretch your legs and/or see the sights).

Start: Seattle

Pacific Coast Highway - Seattle - View from Kerry Park
  • Stop Type: Starting Point, Overnight
  • Accommodation Suggestions:
    • Seattle’s most famous hotel, The Edgewater, is right along the waterfront, and a perfect way to relax before a long multi-day drive. Rooms from $159/night, book on or
    • For a vacation rental option, try this South Lake Union condo near the Space Needle (from $160/night).

Seattle is one of my favorite destinations in the world. After all, I liked it so much when I first visited in 2012 that I moved there in 2013! Therefore, it’s an amazing place to start your Pacific Coast Highway trip! Technically, Seattle is not on the Pacific Coast Highway, but you can fly into Seattle and drive one hour south to Olympia to start your PCH road trip.

Seattle is perfect for anywhere between one day and three days if you have the time. If not, spend your day exploring the Seattle waterfront to see all of the city from above.

Briefly, here are some of the other must-see attractions in Seattle:

  • The recently renovated Space Needle with its all-new glass floor and paneling
  • The Fremont neighborhood and its resident Fremont Troll
  • Gas Works Park or Kerry Park, both with stunning views of the Seattle skyline
  • The Ballard neighborhood and the Chittenden Locks and Fish Ladder

If you want to spend a few days in Seattle, consider purchasing the Seattle CityPass. You’ll get access to five major attractions at a discounted price, so you can experience more of what Seattle has to offer for less. (Hours and dates for the attractions on the Seattle CityPass have been affected by the pandemic, so be sure to check those when you purchase!)

Pacific Coast Highway Directions: From Seattle, head south along US Highway 101 to Olympia.

1. Olympia

PCH Road Trip - Washington - Olympia State Capital
  • Stop Type: Waypoint
  • Accommodation & Meal Suggestions: none

It’s not a long drive from Seattle to Olympia, so I recommend just making a ‘waypoint’ stop here to stretch your legs before the rest of your driving today – whether that’s to Port Angeles or Portland. There’s a nice public parking area near a lake that overlooks the Washington State Capital building. You can stretch your legs with a short walk before getting back on the road.

Pacific Coast Highway Directions:
If you are doing a quick Pacific Coast Highway road trip, head south from Olympia along I-5 to Portland.
If your PCH road trip includes the Olympic Peninsula, follow U.S. 101 west and then north along the eastern side of the Olympic Peninsula toward Port Angeles.

2. Port Angeles

PCH Guide - Port Angeles - Marina
  • Stop Type: Overnight
  • Accommodation Suggestions: If you decide to spend a night in Port Angeles, my #1 recommendation is Colette’s Bed & Breakfast. I reviewed it in my post about FOMO-inducing B&Bs. Rooms from $195/night, book on and
  • Meal Suggestions: For dinner, book a table at Alder Wood Bistro in nearby Sequim. I had an amazing four-course meal there on my last trip to the peninsula.

If you’re planning a full 10-day west coast road trip, make sure you follow my guide and do at least one overnight on the Olympic Peninsula. Port Angeles is the place for that one-night stop.

There are loads of cool things to explore in/around this small PNW town, including Olympic National Park! Other cool attractions include Hurricane Ridge (a popular hiking spot), Elwha River Valley, and Olympic Hot Springs.

Pacific Coast Highway Directions: Head west along U.S. 101 until it turns south along the west coast of the Olympic Peninsula. You’ll see signs for Hoh Rainforest, a left turn that takes you inland to the forest.

3. Hoh Rainforest

  • Stop Type: Waypoint
  • Accommodation & Meal Suggestions: none

Can you believe there’s a rainforest in Washington? Located on the Pacific side of the Olympic Peninsula, Hoh Rainforest qualifies as a rainforest due to the amount of precipitation that occurs each year. In this forest, you’ll find amazing old growth trees and is incredibly verdant. It’s a great spot for a short hike to stretch your legs.

Pacific Coast Highway Directions: Return west to U.S. 101 and turn south. The turn-out for Ruby Beach occurs right as the highway reaches the Pacific coast.

4. Ruby Beach

PCH Road Trip - Washington - Ruby Beach
  • Stop Type: Waypoint
  • Accommodation & Meal Suggestions: none

Ruby Beach is only a short drive from Hoh Rainforest but it’s the most picturesque beach on Washington’s Pacific Coast. You can look out over beautiful sea stacks that dot the northern part of the Pacific Coast and stroll along the sand covered with huge driftwood formations and seafoam.

Pacific Coast Highway Directions: Head south from Ruby Beach along U.S. 101.

5. Aberdeen

  • Stop Type: Waypoint
  • Accommodation & Meal Suggestions: none

Aberdeen has one main claim to fame: it was the hometown of Nirvana lead singer Kurt Cobain. If you’re a fan, make sure to stop in Aberdeen to see the house where he grew up. You can find the Cobain house at 1210 E 1st St, and right next door you can see a memorial to Cobain in Kurt Cobain Memorial Park (the house now a private residence, so don’t disturb the owners!).

Pacific Coast Highway Directions: From Aberdeen, continue south along U.S. Highway 101.

6. Long Beach

  • Stop Type: Overnight
  • Accommodation Suggestions: For accommodation, you can splurge on a stay at the beautiful Shelburne Hotel, which changed owners and had a major renovation – or choose an alternative option by booking a trailer at the Sou’wester (from $128/night).
  • Meal Suggestions:

Long Beach is – and always will be – one of my favorite destinations in Washington. The little set of communities on the Long Beach peninsula is at the lower-left corner of the state and is home to cozy accommodations and surprisingly delicious restaurants. There are plenty of things to do in Long Beach for more than an overnight stop!

Pacific Coast Highway Directions: It’s a short drive south and a little east along U.S. 101 from Long Beach to cross the Astoria into Oregon.

7. Astoria

PCH Road Trip - Oregon - Astoria
  • Stop Type: Waypoint
  • Accommodation & Meal Suggestions: none

Astoria, like Aberdeen in Washington, is a great destination for lovers of pop culture. If you’ve ever seen The Goonies, you know exactly what I mean. After driving across the famous Columbia River bridge, stop and give yourself a self-guided tour of popular Goonies spots in Oregon’s northwest-most town.

Pacific Coast Highway Directions:
If you are on a quick PCH road trip, turn inland along the Columbia River and then south on I-5 to Portland.
If your Pacific Coast Highway road trip includes the Oregon Coast, skip “Portland” below and drive south along U.S. 101 to Seaside & Cannon Beach (#8).

(Optional: Portland)

Weekend Getaways from Portland Hero
  • Stop Type: Overnight
  • Accommodation Suggestions:
  • Meal Suggestions: Portland is a foodie’s heaven. Most of my favorite spots have closed recently, so I don’t have specific questions – but don’t miss Portland’s famous food trucks too, for lunch or dinner.

Portland is the only city on this list that isn’t on the coast, and it’s definitely a trip extender if you want to visit Portland while driving the Pacific Coast Highway.

Once in Portland, it’s easy to spend a few days exploring; I have been to Portland repeatedly and there are so many experiences that can more than fill a stop on your road trip. If you don’t have the time, plan an overnight stop and make a late start after brunch at one of Portland’s many amazing restaurants.

Pacific Coast Highway Directions:
If you are on a shorter Pacific Coast Highway road trip, continue south along I-5 to Grant’s Pass, then turn southwest to Crescent City (#11).
If you are taking a longer PCH drive, turn west out of Portland along Oregon Highways 99W and 18 to connect with U.S. 101 near Lincoln City. You will miss Seaside & Cannon Beach on this route, so your next stop will be Newport (#9).

8. Seaside & Cannon Beach

  • Stop Type: Waypoint
  • Accommodation & Meal Suggestions: none

Seaside is a picturesque coastal town, a western interpretation of the East Coast summer destinations along the Atlantic. The huge sweeping beach is admittedly not warm enough for a swim – but it’s great for a stroll in the surf. Downtown is a series of taffy-colored storefronts filled with beach gear, kitschy coastal crafts, and the Funland Seaside Arcade, which harkens back to the heydays of coastal vacations.

South of Seaside, be sure to stop in Cannon Beach to admire Haystack Rock. One of the most famous sea stacks on the U.S. Pacific Coast, Haystack Rock is picture perfect while you stretch your legs.

Pacific Coast Highway Directions: Continue south on U.S. Highway 101 along the Oregon Coast to Newport.

9. Newport

PCH - Oregon - Haystack Rock
  • Stop Type: Waypoint
  • Accommodation & Meal Suggestions: none

Newport is a great destination to stretch your legs for a few hours once you arrive back on the Pacific Coast (you can also drive straight down Highway 101 from Cannon Beach if you decide to skip a stop in Portland). The Oregon Coast Aquarium lets visitors explore the marine ecosystems around this part of the Pacific Ocean.

Pacific Coast Highway Directions: Continue south along U.S. 101. It’s less than 10 minutes drive from Newport to Devils Punch Bowl.

10. Devils Punch Bowl

PCH Stops - Devil's Punchbowl
  • Stop Type: Waypoint
  • Accommodation & Meal Suggestions: none

Sort of the “opposite” of sea stacks like Haystack Rock, Devils Punchbowl is another beautiful natural rock formation along the Oregon Coast. It was also formed by wave erosion, and now the huge hole is a beautiful vista or hiking spot.

Similar to Haystack Rock, your experience stopping at Devils Punchbowl will depend on the tides. At low tide, you can hike down into the hole or go tide pooling; at other times you can have a picnic while trying to spot whales off the coast.

Pacific Coast Highway Directions: Continue south along U.S. 101 to Crescent City – always stick to the coast!

11. Crescent City

  • Stop Type: Overnight
  • Accommodation Suggestions:
    • If you’re budget-conscious, this cute house sleeps two and has all the basics to serve as a base for exploring the city or a quick overnight stop. From $75/night; book on VRBO.
    • On our recent trip, we stayed at this gorgeous 3-bedroom oceanfront property on Pebble Beach Drive. It was huge and fully stocked, perfect for a family or for a couple who just want space to escape. From $210/night; book on VRBO.
  • Meal Suggestions: Opt for a meal stop and enjoy harbor views while you dine at Chart Room. We also enjoyed Port O’ Pints and Seaquake Brewing on our visit in late 2020.

When you hit the California coast, it’s like driving in a postcard. The jagged coastline, infinite blue water, sunny days, gorgeous sunsets… these are just a few of the reasons California Highway 1 became a popular route in the first place! Here are the stops I suggest for a Pacific Coast Highway California road trip itinerary.

Crescent City is the first city you’ll enter when driving southbound into California along the Pacific Coast Highway (or last if you’re headed northbound). Located on a beautiful crescent-shaped bay, Crescent City is along part of the PCH where California Highway 1 and U.S. Highway 101 overlap – hence this guide refers to both Highway 1 and Highway 101 as the “PCH” in the different states. The coast near Crescent City is dotted with the gigantic rock formations out at sea that characterize most of the northern and central California coastline.

Crescent City is a great spot for an overnight stop (or longer) depending on your itinerary.

Pacific Coast Highway Directions: At this point in Northern California, the PCH is still U.S. 101. Follow the highway south as it winds inland and along the coast.

12. Humboldt Redwoods State Park

  • Stop Type: Waypoint
  • Accommodation & Meal Suggestions: none

After Crescent City, the Pacific Coast Highway starts to navigate in and away from the coast at times, which includes chances to experience one of California’s natural wonders: the Redwoods. It’s easy to make a stop in Humboldt Redwoods State Park, so take the opportunity!

Old Highway 101 is now called the Avenue of the Giants, and I highly recommend slowing down to enjoy this 31-mile stretch through some of California’s oldest living – and tallest! – trees.

Pacific Coast Highway Directions: South of Humboldt Redwoods, there’s a junction where California Highway 1 (CA-1) begins. At this point you should take the exit to CA-1; this is now the Pacific Coast Highway.

13. Fort Bragg Glass Beach

Things to Do in Fort Bragg - Glass Beach
  • Stop Type: Waypoint
  • Accommodation & Meal Suggestions: none

My stop in Fort Bragg was relatively short, but it was worth it! Fort Bragg is home to a beautiful glass beach, pictured above, where the entire beach is made of sea glass from past trash dumps. While the glass is technically part of MacKerricher State Park and you can’t take it home – you can still spend time out of the car searching for different colors and shapes of beautiful sea glass that wash up from the Pacific Ocean.

Pacific Coast Highway Directions: Follow California Highway 1 south.

14. Mendocino

  • Stop Type: Overnight
  • Accommodation Suggestions: The Little River Inn
  • Meal Suggestions: The Whale Watch Bar at Little River Inn is one of my favorite pubs in California.

I recently discovered Mendocino on a weekend trip and fell in love with the small town. With colorful historic seaside homes and great hiking trails and other outdoor activities, Mendocino is good for at least an overnight stop – don’t be surprised if you want to spend even longer here once you arrive! If you do decide to spend an overnight in the area, I recommend stopping in the town of Mendocino first for late lunch, walking around the Mendocino Headlands, then continue driving south to spend the night at the beautiful Little River Inn for dinner at the Whale Watch Bar.

Pacific Coast Highway Directions: Continue south along California Highway 1.

15. Marshall & Point Reyes

  • Stop Type: Waypoint
  • Accommodation Suggestions: none
  • Meal Suggestions: If you’re hungry, stop for lunch at Nick’s Cove (pictured above). If you really love oysters, swing by Hog Island Oyster Company and purchase some to shuck and eat right then.

Point Reyes is arguably my favorite part of the Pacific Coast Highway – and that is saying something as it’s really hard to choose favorites from over 650 miles of California coastline!

While driving southbound, you’ll approach Marshall first. From the perspective of California Highway 1, it might seem like just a few buildings alongside the road. Next, you’ll pass through Point Reyes, which again seems underwhelming. Both have way more to explore once you stop or pull off the road.

In particular, plan a long foray out to Point Reyes State Park and Lighthouse. This 20-mile (one way) detour will take you out on Point Reyes, and has a stark and beautiful landscape because it’s so far out “at sea.” Additionally, you’ll get a sense of the magnitude of the San Andreas fault line, which comes inland along the northern part of Point Reyes.

Be sure to plan your trip on a day the lighthouse is open for tours, so you can climb the steps down to the lighthouse and lookout beneath the clouds across the sea. The Point Reyes Lighthouse is only open to visitors from Fridays to Mondays (weekends) from 10am-4:30pm. Plan accordingly when you design your PCH itinerary. It’s worth it!

Pacific Coast Highway Directions: Follow CA-1 south – it’s a meandering route, but if you follow it all the way until Muir Beach you can make an optional stop at Muir Woods if you want.

16. San Francisco

  • Stop Type: Overnight
  • Accommodation Suggestions:
    • Blow your budget and stay the night at Fairmont San Francisco, one of the nicest hotels in town. This gorgeous building mostly survived the 1906 earthquake and captures Victorian glory with modern amenities. Rooms start from $179/night, book on or
    • San Francisco has tons of cool neighborhoods, so it’s hard to choose which vacation rentals to recommend… Check out this luxury condo near Civic Center (from $125/night).
  • Meal Suggestions: See my 3-day San Francisco guide for more.

It’s impossible to reduce all of the amazing things to do in San Francisco down to a small paragraph or overnight stop on a Pacific Coast Highway road trip. Now that I’ve moved to this part of California, I know this is true.

If you’re planning a PCH trip and want to pass through San Francisco, you can either skim over along the side of the city as you drive down the coast, take a detour inland to visit Yosemite National Park or dive in for one night knowing it will only make you want to come back for more.

No matter which you choose, you’ll enter SF by driving across the Golden Gate Bridge; you can either stay along the coast and drive down Ocean Beach or head east into the city. In the city, the San Francisco CityPass is a good option – it’s super helpful for getting around and seeing the city’s top sights. (Hours and dates for the attractions on the SF CityPass have been affected by the pandemic, so be sure to check those when you purchase!)

Pacific Coast Highway Directions: When you’re ready to continue on your PCH road trip, make your way back to California Highway 1 and head south.

17. Pigeon Point

  • Stop Type: Waypoint
  • Accommodation & Meal Suggestions: none

Pigeon Point can be a fun rest stop along the Pacific Coast Highway or a quirky one-night stop depending on your itinerary. As the tallest lighthouse on the U.S. Pacific Coast, Pigeon Point Lighthouse is picturesque, and you can view it from several different angles along the nearby coastline. Unfortunately, you can’t climb the lighthouse steps as it has been closed for restoration since 2001.

Pacific Coast Highway Directions: Carry on south on CA-1, the PCH.

18. Big Sur

Pacific Coast Highway Itinerary Featured Image
  • Stop Type: Waypoint
  • Accommodation & Meal Suggestions: none

When you picture the Pacific Coast Highway, it’s Big Sur that comes to mind. The most easily accessible and breathtakingly stark part of the PCH is a short drive (about 3 hours) sound of San Francisco, so many people in the Bay Area do it as an overnight or weekend trip.

Big Sur is defined as the stretch of coastline and adjacent state park between Carmel and San Simeon. Here, California Highway 1 carves a sinuous path along steep cliffs; the road is beautiful at a price, since mudslides aren’t uncommon along this stretch of highway, and can close the highway for months. (As of July 2018, the PCH reopened after a 2017 mudslide!)

If you want to spend part of one day during your Pacific Coast Highway road trip beachcombing or hiking, Big Sur is the place to do it.

Pacific Coast Highway Directions: Continue south on CA-1, the Pacific Coast Highway.

19. Pismo State Beach

Calfornia Coast Road Trip - Pismo Beach
  • Stop Type: Waypoint
  • Accommodation & Meal Suggestions: none

Pismo State Beach is another great stop during a day of driving from San Francisco to Santa Barbara (or reverse). I stopped here to eat a to-go lunch I had purchased earlier in the drive, with my toes in the sand.

Pismo is a popular camping destination, so the most common amenities you’ll find if you decide to stay longer than a few hours are camping-oriented. There are a few restaurants in town and 17 miles of beautiful beach to explore. If you happen to do your PCH road trip in the winter, Pismo State Beach is also home to the largest colony of migrating monarch butterflies during the winter months.

Lastly, Pismo is a great stop for a midday workout on the road, with a huge stretch of beach to walk/run on.

Pacific Coast Highway Directions: Continue south along CA-1. The PCH heads inland near Lompoc but is the main road you can take to Santa Barbara.

20. Santa Barbara

  • Stop Type: Overnight
  • Accommodation Suggestions:
    • Plan an overnight in Santa Barbara so you can soak in the charm. For accommodation, try a small hotel like the Eagle Inn. Rooms start from $115/night, book on or
    • When it comes to vacation rental options, Agapios Cottage is a cute, affordable option that offers some privacy too. Starts from $123/night, book on
  • Meal Suggestions: Try to make it to Happy Hour at Enterprise Fish Company. Oysters, calamari, and other fresh seafood small plates are on sale! (Temporarily closed due to the pandemic!)

Santa Barbara was the biggest surprise I had on my PCH road trip in 2014. I was, for the most part, ambivalent about the cities along the PCH. I was far more interested in the hundreds of miles of coastal roadways.

My overnight stop in Santa Barbara changed my mind. I loved the harbor and wharf, was surprised by the food scene, and lightly dabbled in the historical significance of Santa Barbara enough for me to want to return. I enjoyed it so much that I wrote a whole article about the experiences I recommend in Santa Barbara!

Pacific Coast Highway Directions: As you might have guessed – continue following California Highway 1 south!

21. Los Angeles/Venice Beach

  • Stop Type: Waypoint
  • Accommodation Suggestions: none
  • Meal Suggestions: Venice Ale House is a good spot with waterfront views and plenty of people watching opportunities.

Los Angeles is the last major city on my list of Pacific Coast Highway stops, and though I have a guide to spending one day in L.A., you can and should spend as much time as you like. Whether you just want to see the top highlights and sightseeing hotspots or want to dive into L.A.’s booming food scene, you can find it all in Los Angeles.

Depending on the timing of your itinerary, you may want to do an overnight here. If you’ve just stayed overnight in Santa Barbara or started your road trip in San Diego, that may not make as much sense. I haven’t stayed at any L.A. hotels, so I don’t feel comfortable recommending any. That said, there are plenty of nice ones depending on which part of town you want to stay in.

Pacific Coast Highway Directions: Follow CA-1 south out of L.A. to avoid the city’s notorious traffic as you make your way along the coast.

22. Huntington Beach

  • Stop Type: Waypoint
  • Accommodation Suggestions: none
  • Meal Suggestions: none

If you need to stretch your legs on your day of driving between Los Angeles and San Diego, Huntington Beach is a great spot to stop. I had the chance to spend a weekend in Huntington Beach a few years ago and loved the vibe in this surf town. On your stop here, be sure to walk out along the pier and keep an eye out for surfers working the breaks along the beach.

Pacific Coast Highway Directions: Continue along CA-1 to San Diego, your final stop on this PCH road trip.

End: San Diego

  • Stop Type: Overnight, Ending Point
  • Accommodation & Meal Suggestions: none

San Diego was the starting point of my Pacific Coast Highway road trip; for you, it may be the end. San Diego is high on my must-visit-longer list, so I’m again a bit short on recommendations here. San Diego is known for its Zoo and was made Instagram famous for Potato Chip Rock. Whether you stop to take a few Instagram-worthy spots or ogle the animals, there’s plenty of experiences to choose from in San Diego.

Pacific Coast Highway Directions: None! Congrats on finishing your Pacific Coast Highway road trip.

That’s it! PCH bucket list road trip… done! Have other questions about driving the Pacific Coast Highway? Let me know in the comments!

Help others discover this post too!

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I was born on the East Coast and currently live in the Midwest – but my heart will always be out West. I lived for 15 years in Alaska, as well as four years each in California and Washington. I share travel resources and stories based on my personal experience and knowledge.


  • Lauren Falardeau Pariseau

    This is such a great resource. I love Portland and San Diego. I would love to do a Pacific Coast Highway drive at some point in my life. I love all the details and recommendations!

  • Larissa Joassaint

    What a great and comprehensive post! One day, I would LOVE to make this road trip. I can’t even imagine how incredible it must have been to experience all this in person. I’m saving this post to reference when I think about doing this trip, because that has to happen! Also, I love your pictures!

  • Cait

    You’ve put together one awesome road trip! Although I live in San Francisco, I’ve yet to visit several of these places on this list. Next time I have a few days off, I’ll have to change that!

    • Jennifer

      Thank you for the comprehensive narrative! Just starting to think about a 1st time road trip from Az to Washington and back among the PCH!!?? Do you think we could do it in 7 days?? There and back that is?

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        Thanks for reading, Jennifer. Sorry, but there’s no way to do the drive to Seattle and back along the PCH in just 7 days. It’s hard to do the drive one way in just 5 days from San Diego to Seattle – adding on the time driving from Arizona and the return trip, I think you need at least 10-12 days.

  • Kathi Kamleitner

    Such a thorough guide! I drove part of this back in 2009 – from LA to San Francisco (northbound…..) and would also recommend stops in Morro Bay and Monterey – I enjoyed both very much! Especially watching the sun set over Morro Rock in the distance! Would love to do the northern parts of PCH though – I loved Portland and Seattle, but would like to see more of the coastal regions!

  • Vicky Entsminger Saunders

    This sounds like a great adventure. I have a few questions. If I wanted to follow your trip but stop off a day at Yosemite what might the drive look like? Also, about how many miles a day are you traveling on your 10 day itinerary? I’m thinking I might end my trip at Santa Barbara.

    • Valerie

      Thanks for your comment, Vicky! I don’t think you can do Yosemite in a day — it’s a four hour drive from the coast to Yosemite (one-way) and you’ll probably want a full day in the park at minimum. The total distance is about 1,500 miles! from Seattle to San Diego along this route 🙂

  • Angel De La Cruz

    Loved your trip adventure and recommendations !! We are doing the PCH this July and August coming from Yellowstone, Glacier and Teddy Roosevelt NP —it has been on our Bucket list for quite some time after this trip we only have Alaska to visit and we will have visited all the States !! I am saving this to research more of the places you mentioned !! Very nicely done thanks ever so much !!

    • Valerie

      Thanks for reading, Angel! I’m glad it was helpful. I haven’t been to some of those national parks, but they sound amazing! Feel free to comment back here if you have questions while planning your trip 🙂


    Extremely informative. I am planning for this roadtrip this December- starting from Dec 25th. I will be driving from Dallas to Seattle. Planning for 5-6 days of Seattle to San Diego. My car is a convertible (BMW 3 series) so I am not sure if it can take on the road during Dec end – Seattle and portland area mainly ?

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      Glad this was helpful! You should have no problem making it down the road in December. You may encounter some rain up north near Portland and Seattle, but you shouldn’t experience any snow!

      • Catherine Ouahada

        We are planning to do Northbound…from Ventura to Wine country but only have 5 days returning on the 5th day.
        From Ventura.
        How can we apply this info in the reverse

      • Sonia Soto

        Hello, my name is Sonia and I am from Puerto Rico. I am planning a road-trip with my husband along the Pacific coast. I’m trying to connect with the guide I found on pinterest. I also downloaded the Roadtrippers app but I can’t find it. I would like to follow the route on the map. How do I do it? Thanks. My English is very very basic but if you write to me I can understand it. Thanks again.

  • Cherie Carmona

    Hello good morning my name is Cherie Carmona,

    Wealth to California a little over a year ago I love it I live in Dana Point California, my husband will be moving here in a few weeks and I’m so excited my daughter lives in Seattle so we were considering a road trip to Seattle realistically how long do you think it would take thank you so much God-bless

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      Cherie, thanks for your comment. You could do this road-trip in as little as five days, but I recommend taking at least seven — or maybe 10 if you have the time! The longer you spend, the more you’ll get to see and enjoy.

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          Thanks for your comment, David! I’m pretty confident they’ll be wowed by these sights. Best of all, there’s no cell service so they’ll have to look around to see them 🙂

    • Donald

      Is seaside orgon a good food option is pigs in a blanket rustic american diner. We and my friends would go there to eat when we came down for sports from abrdeen

  • Adrian Jacobs

    Hi, and thanks for this terrific resource. We’re using it to plan our itinerary for June/July this year, 3 weeks, Seattle to LA. 1 question: we’ve booked hotels at both end (Seattle and LA) and would prefer not to book hotels until we’re on route and know how far we’re along and how long we want to stop in each place. is booking hotels on the day or maybe the day before likely to be OK, or should we book well in advance? We’d like to be flexible so, if we like somewhere we could stay an extra night, or if we need to push on, we could pull the itinerary forward. Whats your thought on late availability rooms at that time of year?

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      Adrian, great to hear from you! I’m glad you booked LA and Seattle, because those are the two you most need to have arranged! Are you planning to stay in bigger cities (Portland, SF, Santa Barbara), or smaller ones? For bigger cities, there are probably enough options that you can wait until you arrive to book, even during that time of year. The worst that happens is you might end up in a slightly less nice place than you had planned. In smaller towns though, I’d recommend committing to those earlier – you may find you have nowhere to stay and have to drive on another 100+ miles at some parts! I hope this helps!

      • Adrian

        Thanks Valerie. Yes, we intend to stay a couple of nights in Portland and 2 or 3 in San Francisco but we’ll probably look for hotels on the outskirts and travel in to the cities by car or public transport each day. The rest of time will hopefully be in small towns all along the coast. We’re making a shortlist of 3 or 4 likely hotels for each expected stopover. Thanks again for this excellent resource.

  • Sonja L. Marshall


    my best friends and I have talked about driving down from San Francisco to some of the Orange County, CA cities. Though I have visited a few cities in California over the years, I (we) are looking forward to that California coastal drive. I already have the vista points where we will stop for photos and eating. Thanks for your points.

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      Mike, great to hear from you and thanks for reading! I did a quick search and here’s how it breaks down:

      Newport > Crescent City (what I originally suggest) = about 5 hours of driving
      Newport > Crater Lake > Crescent City = about 8 hours of driving (and none of it is on the coast)

      If you chose to go from Portland > Crater Lake > Crescent City instead = 7.5 hours of driving

      So it adds about 3 hours of driving time, but it also means you’ll miss out on basically all of the Oregon Coast. That includes missing the Devil’s Punchbowl and Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area in the southern part of the state; you would however get to drive through Oregon’s Redwoods on your way from Crater Lake to Crescent City.

      Happy driving!

    • Samantha Greenwell

      We just did this trip in October 2019, We started in Portland to Cannons beach then headed south on HWY 101. We detoured at Reedsport to go to Crater lake, which turned out awesome, there was a ELK reserve on the way, it took about 3 hrs to get to Roseburg, where we stayed the night, the next day the drive to Crater lake was about 3 hrs, the drive was absolutely beautiful. The views of the colors changing in the trees were surreal. After Crater lake we headed back to 238 towards HWY 101, we took an off road to hit the coast right at Brookings. So we used really about a day off the coast but well worth it. Crater lake was amazing!! I don’t feel we missed a lot of Oregon coast the views we seen before & after Crater lake were absolutely stunning. We then headed to San Fran, our ending point. This was a 6 day trip. Best trip ever! I had saved this resource to help me plan. It was a great help! Thank you!

  • Donna

    Hello! Awesome suggestions and itinerary! I am planning to take this trip with my family of 5 as you have lined out for the 10 days this coming June. Only question I have is how much money would you recommend someone having for a trip like this and staying in a 3 star hotel each night? I’ve never been to CA and I know the prices are high. I would love to take this vacation but not fall short on money. I do not plan to do any shopping at stores, so our money would be spent on a rental vehicle, hotels, gas, and food. I would rather guess on the high side than the low side so I’m prepared. We might consider staying a total of 12-15 days. Thanks so much for any tips you can suggest on having adequate funds! 🙂

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      Donna, thanks for your comment! I’d recommend booking – or at least searching – every hotel you want to stay at, and the nights you want to stay, so you can get a sense of exactly how much it’s going to cost. It’s a little tough to guess without knowing the exact dates and which towns/cities you plan to stay in on any given night, but I hope this helps!


    We are so overwhelmed. We can only do a quick trip. We will be coming from Anaheim and want to drive the Pacific Coast Highway to Half Moon Bay. We are planning to stay overnight at the Madonna Inn. Is this possible?? I know we won’t see everything, but it’s the only time frame we have. Do you have any tips? Can you share with me how long this should take us?? Is Pacific Coast Highway the same as Highway 1 or Highway 101?

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      Aretta, thanks for your comment! What you suggested (Anaheim > SLO/Madonna Inn > Half Moon Bay) is a great two-day itinerary. You can definitely do that! I didn’t spend a ton of time on the Central Coast, but be sure to stop at Pismo Beach and drive through Carmel. Stop and admire the views in Big Sur, too! The PCH is Highway 1 in California, though sometimes Highway 1 and 101 overlap which is what causes the confusion! When in doubt, stay on the coast. Have a great trip!

  • Adam

    You did a fantastic job with this giude, everything is straight to the point but provided in a fun and educational way. I can really tell that you love traveling, Valerie 🙂

  • Wilbert

    Hi, I love Portland and San Francisco. I love to do a Pacific Coast Highway drive at some point in my life. I love all the details that you are recommended here. Thank you so much for sharing this informative article with all of us.

  • Angie Redmon

    My husband and I plan to do this trip in June. As we will be married 40 years! WOW! Anyway, we are looking to do the very same drive. Start in Seattle and end in San Diego. Any other advise you could give us. I didn’t want to make all my reservations, but just go with it for one time in my life. You thinks that’s safe or should I make some. Thanks! Getting excited.

    We would be flying from GA, so I guess I go fling to Seattle, and the book one home for San Diego?

    I’m nervous go excited. We were 70’s teenagers all around!

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      Angie, thanks so much for your comment! Yes, I’d recommend flying one-way to Seattle, and flying one-way home from San Diego. Also, you can probably get away with booking hotels/vacation rentals in the smaller towns only a few days in advance – but if you want to stay in any of the big cities, I would book those 2-3 weeks in advance at the latest! Have a great trip!

  • Ann

    Thank you for this wonderful review. I am planning a trip for next year, saving and researching. I live in Florida and have never been to the pacific coast. I want to fly out to the NW and drive to Crescent city, then go inland to see the redwoods, Bend, and Mt. Hood. Sort of a round trip Oregon adventure. What’s the best time of year to do this? I hate cold! Also, I will have 3 weeks to do this, I like small towns, Vegan food, and too out of shape for extended hikes.

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      Ann, thanks so much for your comment. This sounds like a great trip – the PCH + inland Oregon! The best time of year to do this will be in the summer (June/July/August), probably sooner in the year rather than later. I hope you have a great trip!

  • Nate Webb

    Wonderful trip sharing you made. Thanks so much. Am planning to do a 10 day PCH drive in August. This will be a great tool in planning. Prior to retiring I have done the San Francisco to LA 3 times but always by myself. This time I plan to take a friend and start in Portland. Again, thanks for great info and advice.

  • Laurie Baxter

    Thanks for the great ideas! We are planning a west coast trip and are considering renting an RV one way from Portland or Seattle to San Francisco. Does that sound reasonable or doable?

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      Thanks for reading, Laurie! With an RV, I’d just give yourself a lot more time each day (probably 25% more driving time) since you’ll need to go a bit slower. Hope that helps you plan!

  • rudy zimmer

    valuable tips ! Nice ride. I’m looking forward to have the same experience with my wife and my son.
    The ideia is to have a “West Coast Beer Route” drive. Thanks for sharing.

  • Midwest Retired Guy at 56

    Great read! My wife and I are planning an 18 day trip in the coming months to fly into San Diego and then make the drive up to Seattle. But, we need to go the opposite way; starting in San Diego and heading north. Is this going to be a big disappointment? Also, we were thinking with the additional days to do a detour over to Yosemite. To ensure accommodations, I was thinking to book all of the hotels in advance. I’me hoping the trip will run about $10k. staying at decent places 3-4 star properties. Any additional thoughts?

  • Scott Bush

    Hi, My wife and I are planning a 7-day drive from San Fran to Portland in late June of this year. Can you recommend where to spend time and in which cities to plan to spend the night? We’ve spent time in SF already so don’t need to stay there. The redwoods are a definite. Seeing some nice beaches is also of interest. My wife doesn’t particularly like high bridges or steep drops (one reason we are driving north), so any advice on where we might avoid such things is appreciated. Is there any river rafting or boating along the way?

    Thank you, Scott

  • Eileen

    This is exactly what I was looking for. My husband and I are both 62 in pretty good shape and planning to do this trip from Portland to San Diego in late September 2019 over 2 weeks. Are we likely to hit snow in the northern stops? I am not fond of the cold and a bit fearful of icy driving in the mountains. We will be stopping to see the sights along the way but not for strenuous hikes.
    Thank you for any other tips.

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      Eileen, thanks for your comment, and for reading! You probably won’t have any snow – it’s usually just rain in the Pacific Northwest (Oregon & Washington). Have a great trip!

  • Rex

    Thinking of Seattle to San Diego on US 1 in late September or early October, is the weather still good for a 10 day driving trip?

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      Thanks for your comment, Rex! Should be pretty good – it might be a bit rainy up in the Pacific Northwest, but the weather once you reach California should be great!

  • Victoria

    Hello Valerie,

    Looking to travel with your recommendations southbound! Looking to fly into Crescent City – I’ve tried to locate flight from Oakland to Crescent City but haven’t been able to, do you have any info on this flight?

    Also being from Colorado, we would love to camp oceanside, do you have any recommendations on campsites?

    Thank you for sharing your travels and still helping others along their journey!

  • Kathy

    I am planning a trip in late July. I am flying into Portland to meet my niece and we will rent a car and drive down the coast to LA to meet another nephew. We fly out of LA. I am thinking 5 days from Portland to LA. Would it be worth it to continue to San Diego then back to LA? We will probably book Airbnb if cost effective. I appreciate this guide. I want the most scenic route but RT 1 on the cliffs seem risky ? Suggestions? Also, niece is vegan and I am meat eater.

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      Thanks for your comment, Kathy! To answer your questions:
      1. Don’t drive down to SD and back up to LA. Just give yourself more time and end n LA.
      2. Route 1 is fine – it’s twisty turny but it’s the best route by far.
      3. You should have no problem finding vegan options! Oregon & California are both pretty vegan friendly states so I’d expect lots of restaurants have at least an option that’s animal-free.

      Have a great drive!

  • CJ

    Doing this trip starting this weekend! We’re taking the 5 to Seattle with a few stops on the way then PCH from Port Angeles to SD. We’ll be camping out at most stops except for SF. Super excited. Great article!

  • Karen Wells

    I have been reading your blog posts about the PCH and think I read where you mentioned a couple of crossover vehicles that would be good rental cars. It may have been in a reply to someone else’s comment, but I can’t seem to find it now. Any ideas?

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      Karen, great question! I don’t remember providing that advice… but off the top of my head, I wouldn’t go bigger than a Tesla Model X (swoon!), a Jeep Liberty, or most Subarus. If you go as big as a Suburban or Tahoe, you’ll be way to big and clunky to enjoy the road! I hope this helps.

  • Shelly

    Hi – We have just 1-day and will be starting in Fortuna and heading to San Francisco. We want to make the best out of drive there. I see we can head to Mendocino and then over to a larger highway to San Francisco or…….drive all the way down the PCH to Point Reyes Station & then head over San Francisco but that would be a lot of driving. We are only going to be there once though and want to make the most of it. Do you highly recommend the LONG route OR is thru Mendocino only enough? Thanks for your help in advance!!!!

    • Avatar photo


      Thanks for your comment, Shelly! To be honest, I’d opt for the long route – you only have one day, and Point Reyes is one of my favorite parts of California. Be sure to stop at Nick’s Cove in Marshall, CA for a meal or Hog Island Oyster if you love oysters!

  • John Finders

    Hi Valerie,
    Great job!
    I am planning to start my road trip in Vancouver BC and ending in San Francisco. I am planning 14 days to take in the sights. Would you have any other suggestions since I am using 4 more days and not going south to Sa Diego and strarting in Vancouver?

  • Kim Taylor

    My husband and I are wanting to fly from Denver to California on December 27th. We want to spend 5 days for PCH and not sure where to fly in or out of. Is this time of year realistic for an enjoyable adventure, or should we maybe plan to go somewhere else? Where would you start and end if it is reasonable to go in December, and what might we expect weather wise?
    Thank you, and your blog is fantastic!

    • Avatar photo


      Kim, December should be a pretty good time, but plan for classic marine layer weather (chilly and cloudy – this is what’s normal on the Pacific coast!). If I were youI would do a leisurely drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles/San Diego. Let me know how it goes!

  • Anthony

    We’re renting an RV in Seattle (after few days in hotel) and have 30 days before we drop it off in San Fran (and hotel for a few days). Should we go down the coast only (plus say Portland & Crater Lk), or head inland given how much time we have? Is Yellowstone worth the long detour?

    • Avatar photo


      Thanks for your comment, Anthony! You’ve got so much time, that’s awesome! I would definitely do some research on inland options – I’m not as familiar with what’s inland though. I can think off the top of my head that you could do the Columbia River Gorge, Mt. Hood, Crater Lake, the Redwoods in much greater depth than I advise above… you could also spend some time at Lake Tahoe, Yosemite, or elsewhere in the Sierra Nevadas!

      I haven’t been to Yellowstone so I can’t say if it’s worth it, unfortunately. #addittothelist


    Thank you so much for this information! We are planning a trip next year from New Orleans while my husband has a conference in Portland…we were thinking of driving Hwy 1 down to Disneyland…and catching some of the beautiful beaches and state parks. Our kids will be 15 & 10…I’m just afraid it will be a boring ride for them in the car. We were planning on 10 days total for driving, site seeing and ending it with 2 days in Disneyland. Any recommendations will be appreciated! Thanks!

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      Heather, you saw the rest of the post, right? Those are my top recommendations! I’d find an interesting podcast for everyone in the car and have the kids keep an eye out for whales and wildlife. Have a great drive!

  • Raynard Richards

    Hi Valerie,

    I am traveling with my husband, brother and our 4 year old. What type of car would you rent for 4 of us? We will only have 7 days. We planned to start in Seattle and drive to San Diego. Is this doable in 7 days, with stops during the day and to spend the night?



  • Alexandra Faux

    Hi there, I am desperate to do the road trip next year – however, I am not keen on driving over bridges (I am fine on coastal roads/cliff edges), so are there any places that i definitely need to avoid or that you cant get through/past without crossing a bridge? Many thanks, alex

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      Alex, unfortunately, this might not be the trip for you. There are no reasonable alternatives for some of the routes like the one across Bixby Canyon Bridge (shown above). You’d need to drive about 7-10 hours out of the way depending on the bridge, and miss major stretches of the road 🙁

  • Jorge Alcala

    Great content here, thank you! We are thinking of taking this drive during the week of Christmas. Any thoughts on this as it pertains to weather? Is it worth waiting to do this trip in summer?

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      Thanks for your comment, Jorge! The weather should be okay – but be prepared for coastal fog and chill (as you would experience pretty much all year long!). Have a great drive!

  • Angela

    Planning a mother/son trip after my son graduates HS next year. This blog has been incredibly helpful. I love road trips & he tolerates them so I am looking forward to all these sights to see!

  • Sharon

    Thank you for great info – This is exactly what I was looking for. Booking this trip for late Oct. I’d like to fly in ( from East Coast) somewhere north of San Fran. What would be a good hopping on point?

  • Pam

    Thanks for sharing your trips and valuable tips. If I am going to follow your 10 day itinerary from Washington State to San Diego, how many overnight stays can I have?

  • Erin Huelsman

    Valerie – I just came across this post. Love it. My husband, myself and our four kids always take adventurous vacations every summer. We are from Ohio. If we have 10 days to do this and could skip San Francisco, because we just did that 2 years ago, could we drive from Seattle to either Los Angeles or San Diego in an RV? We always wanted to do an RV trip, but maybe the PCH is not the one to do that on?? Thoughts? You also mentioned Suburbans are not great because they are so big, but I don’t think we have much choice with the large family.

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      Thanks for your comment, Erin! I wouldn’t advise doing this one in an RV, to be honest. It’s a very winding cliff-side road and doing it in an RV is going to be laboriously slow and probably make you a bit nervous at times. Also, it’s not exactly the most stimulating view – it’s a bit better for older kids than younger ones.

      If I were going to recommend a route, I’d do something like the National Parks in California or the Utah/Arizona/SoCal loop. That gives you a lot more to do each day to wear the kids out and much more suitable for an RV.

  • Catherine Jackson

    Planning a trip on PCH last week of July 2020. Starting at San Francisco ending San Diego. Making the drive in 2 days. What are must see spots.

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      Thanks for your comment, Catherine. I make all of my ‘must see’ recommendations in this post, so I recommend checking out the section on California to find the ones that sound interesting to you. If you would like a customized itinerary, I offer that for a fee to help cover the time it takes me to put those tips together. There’s a link to that at the end of the post.

  • DAN

    Hi Valerie,

    Thank so much for putting together a wonderful and comprehensive itinerary of the PC scenic drive. This will be a great resource for the trip that we are planning. My wife and I were planning to fly to San Diego to start the trip, but your point about southbound visibility makes total sense. What do you think about making this drive in November? We are planning to spend Thanksgiving in San Diego.

    Thanks again and best wishes,


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      Glad to help, Dan! November should be a good time, but you may experience some days where the Marine Layer rolls in – be sure to pack layers in case it’s cooler/less sunny than expected!

  • Amy Delacluyse1

    Hello Valerie; my family and i are thinking about a trip from northern CA to San Diego along the coast. Want to stop over a few nights, and hit some of the destinations you listed. I was wondering if you would recommend any wine tasting spots along the way? I’ve been to Napa, Sonoma and Russian River Valley – but curious if there are any great places you are aware of.

    Thank you!

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      Amy, take a look at the Santa Maria Valley – I stopped in Lompoc on a trip recently and they have some fun and interesting wineries there. Sounds like a great trip either way – drive safe!

  • Teena Maher

    Hi. I’m thinking of doing this trip from Seattle to San Diego. I was hoping to see autumn colours in the northern area. Is this possible? What time of year would be best to do this. Travelling from Australia and would like to spend 3 weeks driving around . Thanks Teena

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      Thanks for reading, Teena! I’d look at September as an ideal time to catch autumn colors in the Pacific Northwest – but admittedly it’s hard to predict since this part of the country isn’t known for the same leaf colors as New England. I hope this helps!

  • Chinquel Wiley

    Hi Valerie. This information is great!!! Thank you for sharing. My husband and I are planning a Spring Break trip with our girls March 2020. We will start in Portland, Or and drive to Las Angeles, CA. Will we be able to enjoy the drive in March? Thank you again for all of your information.

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      Chinquel, nice to hear from you! March is a fine time to drive the PCH – the weather on the Pacific Coast is pretty similar all year long! (Be prepared for fog from the marine layer!)

  • Tim

    My wife and I are planning this very trip you outlined. Thank you so very much.
    You absolutely nailed it.
    AAA has no candle to this.
    Tim and Janice

  • Bethany

    Reading through this – your article is going to be a huge help as our family plans our two-week trip. We’re driving south-to-north. Thank you.

  • Hunter Roquemore

    I’m sure someone else has asked this but…..When is the best time to travel PCH (traveling Southbound through California to San Diego in hopes of warm days and cool(ish) nights)?

  • Rita Chalan-Montano

    Thank you for the pointers! I am heading to LA in March and have a day to drive around and wanted to drive from LAX up HW 1 to around Malibu, maybe further!

    I also agree that Point Reyes (and the lighthouse) is spectacular and my top place to go when in North Ca.

  • Terri

    Valerie-thanks for the great overview. The PCH is on my bucket list since my daughter did it with Teens Westward Bound over 10 years ago. I’d like to make a 10 day trip with a couple days in San Francisco and San Diego. I’ve done Yosemite and Sequoia, so no need for inland stops.
    I especially appreciate your links to stays and dine.
    A frequent Cali traveler warned me of smog in the late summer and recommended late Sept. early Oct. What are your thoughts?
    What day of the week would you recommend starting from WA?
    Thanks again!

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      Thanks for your comment, Terri! September and October are definitely best for visiting NorCal, so I recommend that time of year too! Not sure it matters when you set out from Seattle; it’ll be great no matter when you go!

  • Silvia

    Thanks so much for this comprehensive look at the PCH. I’ve just started planning our trip for this autumn. We were thinking October, but after reading all the comments, I think we will make it September. Want to avoid the summer crowds, but still enjoy nice weather. And thanks for confirming what I thought (hoped) that southbound is the best way to go. I travelled alone from San Francisco to LA while on a work trip years ago and haven’t stopped thinking about getting my husband out there. AND, I did it in November in a PT Cruiser with the top down….all bundled up with the heat on full…..but man, what a view! We will go from Seattle to San Diego using your itinerary as our planning guide. Thanks so much from a couple of Canucks!

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          Silvia, not to minimize risks but I think the issue is not being represented realistically by the media. I don’t plan to change any of my travel plans based on the Coronavirus unless there are required quarantines.

  • manny strassburger

    hi planing to do the PCH however we will be in Las Vegas and driving to San Francisco will be there for 2 or 3 days and don’t know witch is better to do San Francisco to L A back to Vegas or go north San Francisco to Seattle and then drive to Vegas i will have a extra 3 to 4 days what is your thoughts, we are nature and wildlife lovers not to big into visiting towns. Manny from Massachusetts.

  • Ashley

    Thanks for sharing this! I am currently living in crescent city and plan to make the drive in a couple of weeks. I appreciate all the information!

  • Archimedes

    Hello Valerie & Valise,
    I love this trip information on, it is so amazingly helpful. I do have OCD though, and I’m having a really hard time getting past your use of the word lament in the paragraph suggesting to drive on southbound. I have looked up the different uses of the word and grammatically correct samples, and I believe you needed to use it in past-tense. Sorry, I could not get past it, and I may not even be correct, but I truly loved this page. Please keep doing what you’re doing.
    Thank you,

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      Thanks for your comment, Archimedes. However I actively lament that I was on the ‘wrong’ side of the road in the present tense (as in, if you ask me today, I still lament it); I didn’t really realize I was on the wrong side until after my trip was over – and it’s not like you can change your route once you start! So the verb ‘lament’ is correct in the present tense, and the tense of ‘recommend’ earlier in the paragraph. I appreciate your asking for clarification!

  • Julie Dratz

    Hoping to do this mid Sept 2020. Our plan (2 people) would be to fly into Seattle, where family is. Hope to rent a car there? We only wish to go South as far as Salinas (more family) or Santa Barbara the furthest. I do not care to get into the Los Angeles area…However, the Sequoias are a must. So heading east eventually to round out the trip. Would there be a place where the rental could be left in those regions? Then flying back to Michigan. These seem to be the hardest parts to figure out for this type of trip! Best rates and airports to use. Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thank you. Even an email answer is fine!!

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      Great questions, Julie. I’m not sure there are many good airports to leave a rental car in the region you’re suggesting – you may end up driving into L.A. to do so and to fly home. It’s really up to you to decide where you want to end and figure out the closest rental car/airport option from there, but there are airports of all sizes throughout the region.

  • Elin

    Hey there! I’m at work surfing around your blog from my new apple iphone! Just wanted to say I love reading through your blog and look forward to all your posts! Carry on the fantastic work!|

  • Helen

    Hi Valerie, I am doing the PCH drive southbound from Seattle and as far as we can go for 5 days. I was wondering if you could suggest a place for stargazing. It probably means deviating from PCH for a bit and we’re ok with that. Thank you!

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      Thanks for asking, Helen! Stargazing along the PCH depends a lot on the weather; since there aren’t a lot of roads that connect the PCH inland, you kinda have to make do with what happens out on the coast. My favorite place is Mendocino if the skies are clear!

  • Michael W. Bolin

    I was a truck driver for 29 years and could not drive that road. Now I want to take a trip there from San Diego to the Canadian border while sitting on a Honda Goldwing trike. You have the same recommendations?

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      Congrats on the trip, Michael! I do have the same recommendations – you’ll see A LOT of fellow bikers/trikers out on the PCH; it’s a great ride on 2-3 wheels as well as 4 wheels 🙂

  • Stephen Underwood

    My wife and I (with our dog) are driving from Pismo Beach to Cannon Beach and staying at a beach house there. Along the way we plan to stop at the Benbow Inn near Garberville, CA and in Newport. While staying in Cannon Beach we have planned day trips to Astoria and Long Beach and maybe an inland drive to McMinnvile, for some wine tasting. I appreciated your take on the drive, and now I’m sorry we will be going north rather than south, but we are planning on going back the I-5 and stopping in Ashland. Or.

    Again, thanks for the tips.

  • Jan Evans

    Hi there, I am thinking of taking a solo trip down the PCH from Long Beach, WA to LA? Have you heard any issues with the Covid and being able to rent places on the way down? I don’t have it I just want to make sure businesses are open? Just wondering about restrictions? Also how many days driving for this trip. I was planning 10-12 days? I appreciate you taking the time to answer everyone’s questions.

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      Thanks for reading, Jan. I have suggestions on dates earlier in the article to help you figure out how long to do the trip and where to stop. Regarding openings, I’m sorry but I can’t keep up with all of the places and changing restrictions in the various counties and states. I recommend researching/contacting each one individual to confirm they’ll be open.

  • Lois Degenhardt

    First off, congratulations on your recent wedding! I am currently planning a road trip from Phoenix to Vancouver, WA to visit family and we’ve decided to come back home via the PCH. Your article was just what I needed!! I had lots of recommendations from a friend, specific to Big Sur, but your article was so encompassing and complete. Now my only problem is trying to figure out how many extra days we’re going to need!

  • Mindy

    We’re on day 2 of our 8-day PCH Tour….and it’s great to have your help! We’re staying just outside of Long Beach, in cute little Ilwaco, WA, at Salt Hotel & Pub. Thank you for your great ideas and itineraries! ❤️

  • Teresa Rayner

    Valerie, I am so glad I found your guide to the PCH! A few years ago I started saving (unbeknownst to my husband) for his 50th birthday this summer. We’ve daydreamed about a lot of different trips we would take one day, and a flight from the southeast US to Seattle and PCH drive to San Diego was one of them. I have tendency to suffer from “analysis paralysis” therefore navigating all the ins and outs what to do where to stay etc would be overwhelming to say the least. And other than his military time at Ft Lewis many years ago, we have never lived nor toured the west coast at all. So I am very, very thankful to have found THIS resource!! I am going to plan for at least a 10 day trip, it’s once in a lifetime and truly don’t want to rush it 🙂 I can’t wait to see his face when I announce at his local birthday party in July that I have saved for and planned this fantastic trip for September 2021!! Again, thank you so much!!

  • Kay B

    Hi V& VDid you make hotel reservations in advance for your overnight stops? Or, do you think one could just ‘take a chance’ and stop and book a room when in need??? Taking my granddaughter on an epic journey.

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      Thanks for reading, Kay. I strongly recommend making reservations in advance, and also please be aware that hotels and other accommodation are not currently allowed to accept leisure travelers during the current mandates. I recommend checking out California resources for the pandemic before you book anything.

  • Brianna

    My fiancée & I want to do this for our honeymoon next month! We are just wondering if you have an estimate on how much it would be to travel the PCH! Thank you 🥰


    We took this trip several years ago. Flew into Seattle and drove back. We stayed in Seattle and drove south to Olympia, to pick up the beginning of the 101. I wish I could remember the name of the mountain turnoff in Washington. But you missed it and it was so incredible. You could see Canada and the river valley. It was just gorgeous with a 360 degree view. We continued on until we picked up the beginning of CA Hwy 1. We then took that to the end. It is a time consuming drive but the most worthwhile time you will ever spend traveling. I have been to Europe, for 2 years, and nothing compares to this coastal trip. I agree, go north to south. Don’t be in a hurry and be cautious so you can enjoy everything. ENJOY the sightseeing trip of a lifetime.

  • Ronald Christman

    I have 22 foot van camper are their any length height(9.5 ft) restrictions I am hoping their are amp sites along the way? We are coming from Pennsylvania

  • Charla Gilmore

    First thank you for all the work you put into this! We plan on doing the 7 day trip June/July. Thinking of maybe making this where we would b me somewhere different for 4th of July. Do you recommend any of your overnights for golf fireworks for 4th of July?

  • sireesha

    Thanks so much for an in depth post. We were planning on a 7day road trip with our 8, 6 and 20 month olds in June. Do you have any recommendations or modifications while traveling with kids. Thank you

  • Nancy

    This is such a great article. Thank you for sharing! I am beginning to plan a family trip and loved all the recommendations. We are from FL and east coast and know very little about west coast, so this is great!! It includes so many things each person in my family wants to see and do! Thanks again!

  • Ravi

    Thanks for sharing this great itinerary. I’m planning a trip for end of this year most probably the California part only. I will definitely use all the info you’ve provided. Amazing!

  • Scott

    Thanks for all of this great information! I had a question regarding travel to California present time as in next week(August 14, 2021). Are people moving about freely or are things locked down with the covid? I would hate to plan a trip only to find out that things are shut down or there are big restrictions placed on free movement. I appreciate any help you can provide.

    Thank you!

  • Rob Alter

    We plan a trip to San José, California because of its diversity, beautiful scenery, and exceptionally high outputs. San Jose is a creative and thriving high-tech culture epicenter. We booked a flight to San Jose to explore the city’s economic hub and cultural traditions. After reading your blog we are excited to visit San Jose.

  • Tony Le

    Hi Valerie,

    We are planning on a 7 days trip in Dec 2021. 3 days trip to Joshua Tree/stay at Twentynine Palms, then swing to San Diego. From there we are planning on 4 days drive/stop on high 1 (PCH) up to Santa Monica/Malibu then flight out LAX. Would be every much appriciate if you can provide tips and recomendattions where to stop, what to see/do and eat the drive on high 1 from San Diego to Santa Monica.

    Thanks much !

  • Dave Hanson

    Great article. We are thinking of late September of 2022 doing a two week drive from north to south. Wondering about forest fires and how they affect the trip.
    Also wondering if you can tell me where I could get a printable version of your article

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      Thanks for reading, Dave. You can get a printable version by signing up on the forms in this post. I have no idea what the case will be for forest fires next year, unfortunately!

  • Karthik

    Thank you so much for creating this itinerary! It was so helpful as I planned and traveled cross country this summer starting with the PCH. My only additional rec for anyone would be to add the Great Tide Pool in Monterrey to check out little worlds of marine life.

  • Alex King

    I have a question in regards to your amazing experiences and my hopes to travel the PCH with my older kids. This is my idea of an itinerary but I need to cut out one of these days or consolidate one since I really only have 8 days. I was curious about which one you suggest if you were to slim down this itinerary by 1 day (ex. skip Santa Cruz, skip San Francisco Day 2 and just hit the highway) OR if you had a suggestion on swapping out one of the spots with a different one (ex. San Luis Obispo with Paso Robles). Any thoughts are greatly appreciated:

    Day 1: San Francisco (Arrive late in the evening)
    Day 2: San Francisco
    Day 3: Santa Cruz
    Day 4: Carmel-By-The-Sea
    Day 5: Big Sur
    Day 6: San Luis Obispo
    Day 7: Santa Barbara
    Day 8: Los Angeles
    Day 9: San Diego (leave early in the morning)

  • Bill and Brenda Davis

    What is the average speed on the 101? We are planning a trip in Sept 0f 2022, starting in Portland, ending in San Diego. Thinking approximately 250 miles a day. Your help is appreciated. Your website is very helpful.

    Bill & Brenda

  • Brian

    Hi, we are flying into Seattle 7/27 and out from San Diego 8/7, we are visiting colleges in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, and San Diego for my daughter. So doing our 101 bucket list too, but want a 2-3 days near Ocean Beach, CA. My wife and I have been to Cali a couple of times, our daughter once from Diego to Fran (Berkeley) and loved it, and just us once to Seattle and Portland, but flying in and out only.

    This guide is great, do you have a Google map itinerary to download with the stops?
    Would you recommend the 7 day to get 2-3 days in Diego?
    What do you think of Coos Bay/North Bend or better places for overnight, seemed a good split between Seattle and San Francisco?

    We live in Colorado, so more interested in Ocean more than hiking, so 101 is ideal.
    We figured booking hotel in Seattle for 1 or 2 days for arrival and checking the college. 1-2 days in Portland to visit college and check out Portland. Ending at a beach front hotel in Diego for 2-3 days to visit that college, unwind and settle a little bit before leaving.

    I would love any advice you can give us!

    Brian and Janet

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      Thanks for reading, Brian. I’m assuiming you’ve read the whole post, as I do cover a 7-day suggested itinerary, and cover overnight stops along the Oregon coast. Also, for a map, I use the app Roadtrippers, which is linked in the post.

  • Andrew

    Valerie, can’t thank you enough for this guide! I am planning a 10 day trip the last two weeks in May down the entire PCH from Seattle to San Diego. This post was so helpful! I am going to mostly follow the path you outlined in your 10 day itinerary. My problem is going to be deciding what not to do because I’ll only have so much time (and money). But my priority for this trip is just going straight down the PCH so that should help me prioritize. Lot of driving in 10 days, but I am excited. Sounds like it will be well worth it. Thank you again. Appreciate you sharing your experience and advice.

  • Lynda Sue Lahm

    Hi Valerie, we are planning a trip from Crescent city back home to Phoenix traveling along PCH. We are going to go the middle of September 2022 and take a flight from Phx to somewhere around Crescent city. I have one question – where is the best place to fly into? We definitely want to visit the redwood forest, which is the main reason we want to go so far north. Also, how many days should we take for the one-way trip back. We both have a lot of vacation all the time, so 10 days or more would be fine. I think once we hit Los Angeles we will just take the I10 home to Phoenix. We stay in San Diego on Pacific/Mission Beach a lot so no need to travel this far south for us. We are thinking Crescent City to Santa Barbara? Thank you so much for passing on your wisdom and experience. Can’t say enough how appreciative we are.

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      Are you hoping to do a one-way rental car for your PCH drive? This will be tricky as there are no rental cars in Crescent City – or anywhere near it. You’d need to fly into…. Portland? maybe to get a car, which adds about 6 hours of driving time. Basically, you can’t start/end in Crescent City if you want to rent a car.

  • Judy Long

    I am going to drive PCH 1 this summer and was going to drive from North to South but my son has driven it and suggested going South to North. I will be driving alone and he thought I would be able to enjoy the view better looking to my left than to my right while driving. Did you drive it alone and what do you think about being able to see well driving north to south?

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      Great question, Judy. I did drive it alone – and I still recommend heading southbound. You’ll have less distance (just the car and shoulder) instead of an entire lane of the road plus the shoulder. I hope that helps!

  • Thomas

    Thanks for putting this fantastic guide together! In a few weeks, we intend to start a 10-ish day loop from San Jose, drive up on the “inland” route to Seattle, and do a southbound coastal drive. I’m driving with our 5 kids (ages 1 -13) and my wife.

    My question is: how to best use our time? We want a mix of National/State Parks, cities, and coasts. I was considering driving from San Jose with overnight stops at Mt Shasta or Lassen NP, Crater Lake, Portland, and Seattle (maybe a few nights in the cities). I’m not sure how to prioritize the rest of our time. I’d like to include Olympic NP, Mt. Rainier, plenty of coastlines, and Redwoods. We can skip Napa and SF.

    Thoughts? What to cut? What not to miss?

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      Thanks for reading, Thomas. As this post is over 6,000 words long, I typically don’t provide extra additional itinerary services for free. My best advice is to take a look at the app Roadtrippers and start plugging in where you might want to go to get a sense of travel time – then you can decide what’s must-do, what extra you have time for, and what needs to be cut.I hope that helps!

  • michelle blount

    Hi! I was reading for the road trip from Seattle to San Diego. Do you have a version that is just typed up not with pictures?


  • Alice

    Amazingly great article. Thank you. Just one small thing, it’s not ‘the PCH’, it’s just PCH. Please drop the ‘the’. lol. It’s a small detail, but totally uncalifornian to say ‘the PCH’. haha.

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      Thanks for your feedback, Alice, but I lived in California for several years and never heard anyone say “I’m going to drive PCH…” I’ll be keeping the “the” if only because it’s proper English – if Californians want to abandon that elsewhere, that’s up to them 😉

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        P.S. I did a bit of research into this – seems like it’s a Los Angeles thing to drop the “the” – but as I lived up in Northern California, we use the “the.” Since my post is referring to a much larger area than just SoCal, I’m still going to keep the “the.” Thanks for providing me this opportunity to learn about a quirky bit of California lingo!

  • Dale Callahan

    This is great information and very helpful! I’m planning on doing the PCH from Seattle to SF next Sept. (We did SF to SD in 2019). Taking your advice, flying into Seattle (from KC), and heading south. Question, if we were to add a stop, possible one night stay at Crater Lake, where would you suggest doing this from without missing much, (or any?) of the PCH? Thank you!

  • Oleg

    Hi Valerie,

    Wifey and I did the PCH trip a while ago, shortly after we got married. Now we want to take our girls on the same trip. Thank you very much for providing a road map!
    We are planning our trip for the first half of April, SF to LA. Do you happen to know or can you suggest a source with info about the road conditoin in the light of recent terrible weather in California.
    Thank you in advance!

  • David Whitmore

    Thank you for the article. Regarding “I recommend an automatic car with a low center of gravity – but skip the convertible! I drove one and I hardly ever got to enjoy it!”….why were you hardly ever able to enjoy driving a convertible????

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      Thanks for asking! A couple of reasons:
      1. It was actually quite a lot colder than I expected so I usually ended up too cold with the top down.
      2. The weather also wasn’t great for most of the route; after moving up out of SoCal, you’re much more likely to experience clouds and/or the marine layer on the PCH.
      I’d be happy to save the money and just drive with the windows down when I want some fresh air.

  • Heather Robinson

    My husband are I are planning 20 days to do the PCH(starting in Seattle and ending in San Diego) We are using your “the ultimate pacific coast road trip itinerary” as a guide. In the Santa Barbara area of the article you mentioned that you had an article about Santa Barbara and what to do, I am not able to locate this article. Can you please give me a list of must sees in Santa Barbara (we could have two full days there).

    Thank you!

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      Thanks for reading, Heather! Unfortunately, I don’t have suggestions for Santa Barbara as I haven’t been there in nearly a decade.

  • Laura Molinaro

    Just found your article – have always wanted to do the PCH drive. What are your recommendations / suggestions for towing a travel trailer? I’m retired and can take a few months to do this drive. Would start in San Diego, do the entire trip north to Washington, then turn around and do the drive south.

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      Hi, Laura. I honestly wouldn’t do it while towing a travel trailer. It’s going to slow you down A LOT. I remember being stuck behind a similar setup on my drive for about an hour, going 25mph because that was the most their rig could handle with the hairpins and hills.

  • Tina

    My husband and I are recently retired and planning this trip. Thank you so much for this itinerary. We are from the Midwest so are not familiar at all with any of these locations. My question is, when is the best time of year to do this trip? We will be doing the whole trip from Seattle to San Diego

  • Mark Bowling

    Thank you for the great blog and recommended itinerary. My wife and I are doing this trip for the first time for our 30th anniversary. I see the update concerning the road closures. Does this mean if we are traveling south the only way to see Big Sur is to backtrack north after we visit it?

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      That’s correct. I highly recommend keeping an eye on the CADOT site as things are changing so often along that route.

  • Bryon


    I”m planning a trip from Palm Springs CA to Seattle WA and want to try and do most of it on the PCH in 6 days/5 nights. I’ve looked at your information on the website and it’s been very helpful. If possible, can you suggest locations/cities to stop and sleep each night to maximize my time to see things along the way given I’d like to do it in 6 days. I’m flexible on hotel accomodations. Thank you in advance.

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      Byron, hi. Sorry but I don’t provide personalized advice to everyone – it would take up a lot of my time. This article should help you plan it yourself 🙂

  • Susan

    My daughter and I are planning this trip in August, Seattle-San Diego. Would you recommend booking hotels before we leave or can we book as we go? We are not sure if we are following the 7 day or 10 day and hate to book and then not want to stay in that town. Thank you!

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      I would definitely book in advance – these are lots of smaller towns where you won’t have options if you don’t have something arranged in advance and everything is sold out.

  • Tena Mason

    Hiiii! We’re planning a trip up the pch (unfortunately it just didn’t work out to go down the pch due to the timing of hitting the national parks in montana and wyoming) and i found this amazing blog!!

    you mentioned an article you wrote about santa barbara, which will be our first stop on the pch (we’re hopping on at santa monica after driving route 66 out to cali). i’ve searched and can’t find it. can you shoot me the link?

    muchas gracias~!

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      Tena, hi! Unfortunately, I don’t have that Santa Barbara article anymore – it was quite outdated and I haven’t been able to find time to schedule a return visit to ensure my article is updated and high quality.

  • Tim

    Hello, I am trying to access the trip map you have embedded via the roadtrippers app, but when I click on the map and the app opens, all of the destinations you have pinned on the map embedded on your site do not appear. I am planning on doing this trip within the next few weeks and that map would be incredibly helpful

  • Matt

    Hi Valerie. Thanks so very much for all of your work on this site. I was wondering if you would have a PDF or other document to send of the Pacific Coast Highway 7 and 10 day trips? Printing from the site does does not format well. Many thanks!

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