Amazing Pacific Coast Road Trip: The Ultimate Guide

If you’re anything like me, the idea of packing up and hitting the open road is incredibly appealing. There’s something about being on your own schedule, seeing new places, and meeting new people that just feels freeing. And what could be a better way to explore North America than by taking a road trip down the Pacific Coast? Here are some answers to common questions about planning a Pacific Coast road trip. Enjoy!

What to Pack

packing backpacking for hiking

One of the most common questions I get asked is what to pack for a Pacific Coast road trip. My number one piece of advice is to pack light! You’ll be doing a lot of driving, and you don’t want your car to be so full that it’s uncomfortable or unsafe. With that in mind, here are some essential items to pack:

  • A map of the route you’ll be taking (I like to have a physical copy as well as a digital one on my phone)
  • A first aid kit
  • Snacks and drinks for the road
  • Clothes for all weather conditions- remember, it can get cold at night even in the summer!
  • Sunscreen and hats
  • Bug spray
  • Towels and swimsuits (if you’re planning to do any swimming)
  • An extra set of car keys
  • A camera!

Of course, you’ll also want to make sure you have your driver’s license and registration/insurance information handy. And if you’re crossing any borders, don’t forget your passport.

How to Plan Your Route

map pacific coast

One of the great things about a Pacific Coast road trip is that there’s no wrong way to do it. You can start in either Vancouver or Seattle and head south, or start in San Diego and head north. Personally, I think the best time to take a road trip is in the summer when you can enjoy all of the beautiful beaches along the way.

That said, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind when planning your route: the distance you’re comfortable driving each day- remember, you’ll want to have time to explore your surroundings, not just drive!

Learn more about how to plan an epic road trip on Theoutbound

Which attractions are most important to you?

There’s a lot to see along the Pacific Coast, so make sure you map out which ones you don’t want to miss.

atlas closeup

What types of weather you’re comfortable driving in?

The Pacific Coast can be incredibly windy and foggy, so if you’re not used to those conditions it might be best to avoid coastal routes.

The availability of campsites and other accommodation- camping is a great way to save money on accommodation, but make sure you know where you’ll be able to camp before you head out.

Once you’ve considered all of these factors, you can start mapping out your route. I like to use Google Maps for this, but there are plenty of other options out there. Just make sure you have a clear idea of where you’ll be stopping each day before you hit the road.

What to See and Do Along the Way

There’s so much to see and do on a Pacific Coast road trip that it’s impossible to list everything here. But, I’ll give you a few of my personal favorites:

In California: The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles, and Hearst Castle in San Simeon

hearst castle
Hearst Castle in San Simeon

In Oregon: The Columbia River Gorge, Multnomah Falls, and Crater Lake

multnomah falls
Multnomah Falls

In Washington: Crater Lake, Puget Sound, and Olympic National Park

crater lake

And finally, in British Columbia: Stanley Park in Vancouver, Whistler Village, and the Capilano Suspension Bridge

whistler village
Whistler Village

These are just a few of the many amazing places you’ll be able to see on your trip. So get out there and explore!

Tips for Driving in California

california driving tips

Here are a few tips to help you make the most of your driving time:

  • Set aside sometime each day to plan your route for the following day- this will help you avoid getting lost
  • Stop frequently to take breaks- driving for long periods of time can be tiring, so make sure you give yourself time to rest
  • Make sure you have plenty of gas in your tank- it’s always better to be safe than sorry!
  • Pack snacks and drinks for the road- this will help you avoid stopping at fast food places

And finally, remember to enjoy the ride! A Pacific Coast road trip is an amazing experience, so make sure you take the time to soak it all in.

Where to Stay

where to stay

There are a few different options for accommodation on a Pacific Coast road trip. You can camp, stay in hotels/motels, or rent an RV.

  • Camping is a great option if you’re looking to save money, but it’s important to make sure you know where you’ll be able to camp before you head out
  • Hotels and motels are a good option if you’re looking for a more comfortable place to stay, but they can be expensive
  • Renting an RV is a great way to have your own space on the road, but it’s important to make sure you’re familiar with how to operate one before you rent

No matter which option you choose, make sure you book your accommodation in advance to avoid being stuck without a place to stay.

What to Eat

what to eat

There’s no shortage of amazing food options on a Pacific Coast road trip. Here are a few of my favorites:

California: The In-N-Out Burger, the fish tacos in San Diego, and the pizza in Napa Valley

Oregon: The clam chowder in Portland, the ice cream in Bend, and the donuts in Eugene

Washington: The coffee in Seattle, the huckleberries in Spokane, and the salmon in Tacoma

And finally, in British Columbia: The sushi in Vancouver, the smoked meat sandwiches in Whistler, and the Nanaimo bars

These are just a few of the many amazing food options you’ll have on your trip. So get out there and explore!

So, now you know everything you need to know about taking a Pacific Coast road trip. Make sure you pack accordingly, plan your route well, and enjoy the amazing scenery along the way! Happy travels!

More ideas in our guide to California

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Hi, I'm Carol Ortiz. I'm a travel blogger and a bookworm, from Phoenix, Arizona.
I love to read, write, and travel - in that order! I've always been an avid reader, it's my escape and my hobby. When I'm not reading or writing, I'm probably up into some adventure, while travelling.

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