The Open Road Travel

  • May 13, 2022

Road Trip From Vancouver To San Francisco

Updated: Dec 5, 2022

A road trip from Vancouver to San Francisco takes us down North America’s Pacific coast, from Canada’s southwestern city to the heart of coastal California.

A road trip from Vancouver to San Francisco takes at least 15 hours and covers over 950 miles. See famous cities, stunning national parks, and beautiful ocean views, as you travel from British Columbia, through Washington and Oregon, to California.

Read on to find out more about this amazing journey to the Golden Gate City and discover how to plan the perfect travel itinerary.

The iconic San Francisco Street Car system on a road in San Francisco

A Road Trip From Vancouver To San Francisco: How Far Is It, How Long Will It Take To Get There & What Is The Best Route?

A road trip from Vancouver to San Francisco covers at least 950 miles (1,530 kilometres) and will take at minimum of 15 hours driving to complete. There are also two fabulous routes you can take on this journey, each of which will appeal to a different kind of traveller.

While both routes are long, they are also incredibly straightforward.

The Fastest Route

The shortest, fastest route will see you begin by heading south on British Columbia Highway 99 and following it south to the United States border. Once you pass into the U.S., you will be on I-5, which you will follow for 830 miles (1,330 kilometres), to just northwest of Sacramento.

Use Exit 553 to join I-505 where it starts and follow it for its 33 mile (53.1 kilometre) duration. Merge onto the I-80 and continue going south until you reach the roads conclusion, some 55 miles (88 kilometres) away, in your destination of San Francisco.

The Scenic Route

The other route option is admittedly much longer, at 1,090 miles (1,755 kilometres), and will take 23 hours driving to complete. However, this route will see you drive down the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), which is considered one of the most scenic roads in the entire world.

You will again begin by heading south, first on British Columbia Highway 99 and then in Interstate 5. When you reach Exit 104 in Olympia, join U.S. Route 101 and follow it a short way before exiting onto Washington State Route 8 where it begins.

Follow this for its 21 mile (33.8 kilometre) duration, then merge onto U.S. Route 12 going west. When you reach Montesano, join Washington State Route 107 where it begins and follow it for its 8 mile (13 kilometre) duration, before re-joining U.S. Route 101.

Follow this south until you reach the town of Leggett, in California, where you will join California State Route 1 at its origin and follow it to your destination in San Francisco.

The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco

Best Place To Stop On A Road Trip From Vancouver To San Francisco - Portland

While some people will be able to complete a road trip from Vancouver to San Francisco in a single day, most are going to want to break it up, to ensure the driving doesn’t get too much and they actually have time to enjoy the sights and sounds along whichever they you choose.

There may be plenty of great choices, but the best place to stop on a road trip from Vancouver to San Francisco is Portland. While it is located on the short route, it can also easily be reached by those on the scenic route with only a short detour.

Oregon’s most populous city and the second most populous in the Pacific northwest, Portland is a destination full of attractions, history, and culture. Founded in 1845, it was the western terminus of the historic Oregon Trail.

Surrounded by forests, mountains, and oceans, Portland is among the most naturally beautiful cities in the country, yet is often overlooked by tourists, because of its somewhat isolated location.

With numerous film, music, and performing arts venues, galleries, and museums, as well as breweries, bars, and restaurants offering the region’s distinctive cuisine, there is plenty in Portland to keep people of all tastes and interests entertained.

Nicknamed “Bridgetown” due to the collection of bridges across the Willamette River, a number of which are designated historic landmarks, Portland is even perfect for those just wanting to explore, appreciate the architecture, and take in the stunning views of the city and its surroundings.

Best Hotel To Stay At In Portland – The Benson, A Coast Hotel

The Benson, A Coast Hotel is a historic hotel located in the heart of Downtown Portland. Boasting décor that includes crystal chandeliers and marble floors, as well as stunning architecture, it is the epitome of style and sophistication in the city.

Rooms all offer an equally luxurious style and are filled with comfortable furniture and amenities including Wi-Fi, tea and coffee making facilities, a flat screen cable TV, free toiletries, an organic bathrobe, and slippers.

The Palm Court restaurant is situated in the hotel lobby and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, which offers cuisine including tapas and cocktails. Its entire menu can even be enjoyed as room service, for those who want to make the most of their accommodation.

Free Starbucks tea and coffee is available in the lobby every morning, while live jazz performances are held every evening from Wednesday through Saturday. Other amenities at the property include 24 hour business, conference, and fitness centres, and concierge and laundry services.

An aerial view of the bridges across the Willamette River in Portland

Best Time For A Road Trip From Vancouver To San Francisco

The best time to make a road trip from Vancouver to San Francisco is from early June to the middle of August. This is the period when San Francisco and the part of the United States we will be travelling through experiences some its warmest, driest temperatures.

Combine that with the fact that this window helps us to avoid the height of California’s notorious wildfire season, which begins at the end of August, and it ticks all the boxes to help you enjoy the most amazing road trip possible.

road trip from vancouver to california

Top Attractions On A Road Trip From Vancouver To San Francisco

With between 15 and 23 hours of driving ahead of you, a road trip from Vancouver to San Francisco is a lengthy expedition. That means you are going to want plenty of attractions along the way to keep you entertained.

While the options on a journey of this length are almost endless, we have complied a list of the top attractions on a road trip from Vancouver to San Francisco, to try and make planning your dream travel itinerary as easy as possible.

Peace Arch Park (Both Routes)

Peace Arch Park is a 42 acre park that straddles the Canada – United States border. With Peace Arch Historical State Park covering the U.S. half and Peace Arch Provincial Park on the Canadian side, the park is home to the Peace Arch monument.

Built to pay tribute to the long history of peace between the two nations and located right at the border crossing, it is a fabulous place to appreciate both of the countries you will be exploring on your road trip.

The Peace Arch flying both the Canada and United States flags in Peace Arch Park

North Cascades National Park (Both Routes)

At almost 505,000 acres, North Cascades National Park is the 12th largest national park in the contiguous United States. Best known for its collection of glaciated peaks in the North Cascades Range, it boasts a stunning range of lakes, rivers, valleys, and wilderness areas.

Home to a collection of wildlife that includes 75 species of mammals, 200 species of birds, and around 1,600 different types of plants, it is a great destination for lovers of nature, natural beauty, and stunning, panoramic views.

An aerial view of a lake in a valley in North Cascades National Park

Seattle, Washington (Both Routes)

Seattle is the largest, most populous city in both the state of Washington and the Pacific northwest.

Having become a popular destination during the 90s, due to it being the birthplace of grunge music, it has maintained its place in the cultural world as it is also the home to Starbucks Coffee.

With attractions like the Space Needle and a wide range of gardens, parks, and markets, it is the ideal stop to truly embrace the culture of this region of the United States.

The Seattle skyline with the Space Needle in the foreground and Mount Olympus in the distance

Mount Rainier National Park (Both Routes)

Mount Rainier National Park is a protected area in the Cascade Mountains that boasts a collection of at least 27 major glaciers, a volcano, and a number of beautiful meadows and waterfalls.

One of the snowiest regularly measured locations in the world during the winter, it is a popular spot for activities like skiing, snowshoe hiking, and tubing.

Then, in the summer, you can go for a hike or picnic, do some camping or climbing, and enjoy the park’s wonderful variety of animals and flowers.

A panoramic view of Mount Rainier and Mount Rainier National Park

Tacoma, Washington (Both Routes)

Washington’s third most populous city, Tacoma is most famous for being home to the University Of Washington Tacoma. A vibrant student city and hotspot for culture vultures, it is filled with wonderful art galleries and museums.

Its rich history has also earned Tacoma the nickname of the “City Of Destiny”, as it was the western terminus of the Northern Pacific Railroad, as well as the site of the largest port in Washington.

Plenty of locations throughout the city will educate visitors in depth on both of these historic locations.

The historic Tacoma port waterfront

Olympia, Washington (Both Routes)

Washington’s capital city and the south Puget Sound region’s cultural centre, Olympia’s best known attractions are the Washington State Capitol building and the 1909 Governor’s Mansion.

Add in locations like Percival Landing Park, with its boardwalk and art displays, and the Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge, which is houses a range of animals including more than 200 types of birds, and Olympia is a wonderful city that is easily one of the best places to visit in the region.

The Washington State Capitol building in Olympia

Olympic National Park & Forest (Both Routes)

The most north-western national park in the lower 48 states, Olympic National Park is named after Mount Olympus, which lies at its heart. Its forests, meadows, rivers, mountains, rainforests, and waterfalls combine to form a landscape unlike anywhere else in the U.S.

While hiking and climbing on and around Mount Olympus are Olympic National Park’s most popular activities, a wide range of wildlife that includes birds, deer, elk, goats, and various marine animals make it a great destination for photographers and nature lovers as well.

An aerial view of Mount Olympus and Olympic National Park & Forest

Salem, Oregon (Short Route)

Oregon’s second most populous city by most accounts, Salem was the original capital of Oregon, as well as the capital of the Oregon Territory from 1851 to 1859.

Attractions like the Oregon State Capitol building, historic churches, theatres, and museums paint a vibrant picture of its historic past. Those less interested in history will also be able to make the most of the city’s incredible collection of beautiful parks and natural attractions.

The Oregon State Capitol building in Salem

Siuslaw National Forest (Scenic Route)

Siuslaw National Forest is home to a collection of forests, beaches, rivers, lakes, streams, tide pools, sand dunes, and ocean vistas that span 634,000 acres of the Oregon coastline.

Boasting a diverse range of wildlife and the tallest peak in the Oregon Coast Range, the 4097 foot (1249 metre) Mary’s Peak, it is a great place to enjoy activities like hiking, cycling, camping, fishing, picnicking, horse riding, off roading, and more.

A river and beach in Siuslaw National Forest

Eugene (Short Route)

While people argue over whether Eugene is Oregon’s second or third most populous city, what isn’t debated it that it’s among the most naturally beautiful cities in the country.

Home of the University Of Oregon and their historic athletic department, it has earned the nickname “Track Town, USA”,

The founding location of Nike, the site of the 2022 Track & Field World Championships, and a popular destination for activities like running, cycling, kayaking, and rafting, it is a great destination for sports fans.

Even those not interested in sports will enjoy attractions like the Fifth Street Public Market, Jordan Schnitzer Museum Of Art, Museum Of Natural And Cultural History, and a huge number of gardens, parks, and trails.

A panoramic view of the Eugene skyline

Umpqua National Forest (Short Route)

Umpqua National Forest covers 983,000 acres of forests and of wilderness areas that are home to a collection of more than 250 species of animals, including bats, birds, black bears, cougars, deer, elk, fish, foxes, racoons, and squirrels.

It and neighbouring Crater Lake National Park are also the setting for the video game “Days Gone”. This gives fans of the game a fabulous opportunity to explore the game’s locales in the real world.

An aerial view of Umpqua National Forest

Crater Lake National Park (Short Route)

Crater Lake National Park was established in 1902, making it the 5th oldest national park in the U.S. Located in a caldera on Mount Mazama, Crater Lake itself is the deepest and one of the clearest in the country, and is home to a wide range of birds, fish, and mammals.

An endorheic lake with no inlets or outlets, a number of popular sites are located across its surface. These include Wizard island, the Phantom Ship, and “The Old Man”, a hemlock tree that has floated upright on the lake’s surface for more than a century.

The constantly changing climate of the park means it has a host of different activities on offer, depending on what time of year you visit.

Sunset over Wizard Island in Crater Lake National Park

Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest (Both Routes)

Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest is a preserved wilderness area spanning almost 1.8 million acres across the Cascade, Klamath, Oregon Coast, and Siskiyou mountain ranges.

Ranked among the most scenic national forests in America, features like old growth forests, rivers, waterfalls, and the world’s tallest ponderosa pine, which is listed at 268 feet (82 metres), make it a wonderful, if often overlooked spot for an exciting natural adventure.

The river running through Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest

Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument (Short Route)

Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument is a mountainous preserved wilderness area that spans parts of both the Siskiyou and Cascade mountain ranges.

With features including forests, grasslands, trails, meadows, and rock formations, it’s a great destination for photographers and nature lovers.

Sunset over a snow covered Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument

Redwood National Park (Scenic Route)

Redwood National Park covers 40 miles (65 kilometres) of the northern California coast and is known for its iconic old-growth coastal redwood forests.

Features like rivers, streams, canyons, prairies, tidal pools, and ocean vistas make it one of the most naturally beautiful places on Earth.

Having been featured in films like Star Wars and boasting a collection of wildlife that includes bears, deer, elk, California sea lions, and around 300 species of birds, it is a wonderful destination for people of all different interests.

A road through the old growth forests in Redwood National Park

Klamath National Forest (Both Routes)

Klamath National Forest spans 1.7 million acres across the Cascade and Klamath mountain ranges.

It is best known for natural attractions, with a fabulous collection of lakes, peaks, and old growth forests that make it a popular destination with hikers, swimmers, and nature lovers.

However, it also boasts a unique historical attraction, in the form of Sawyers Bar Catholic Church. Erected in 1855, featuring graves from 1850, and listed on the National Register Of Historic Places since 1978, it’s among the oldest and most remote mission churches in the United States.

An aerial view of Klamath National Forest

Shasta-Trinity National Forest (Short Route)

Shasta-Trinity National Forest is a pair of national forests that merged in 1954. Spanning over 2.2 million acres, the primary attractions are the forest’s namesakes, the 14,179 foot (4,322 metre) tall Mount Shasta, 30,000 acre Shasta Lake, and 165 mile (266 kilometre) long Trinity River.

With Shasta Lake being the largest man-made lake in the state and the forests containing numerous other peaks, lakes, and rivers, as well as byways, trails, forests, and wilderness areas, it is a popular stop for hiking, camping, backpacking, and climbing.

A panoramic view of Mount Shasta in Shasta-Trinity National Forest

Redding (Short Route)

Founded in 1874, Redding was the northernmost European settlement in the state at the time. One of the major boom towns of the California Gold Rush, the diversity and density of the town’s population rose and fell in line with the economy of the mines.

The largest town in California north of Sacramento to this day, and the economic centre of the Shasta Cascade region, Redding is a destination filled with cultural, historic, and natural attractions for visitors to enjoy.

One of the many museums in Redding

Lassen Volcanic National Park & Lassen National Forest (Short Route)

Founded in 1916, Lassen Volcanic National Park spans 1,700 square miles (4,300 square kilometres) and is the 11th oldest national park in the United States. Named after Peter Lassen, a pioneer who settled in the area, the park was created to protect the volcanic landscape.

Home to the largest lava dome volcano on Earth, at least one of each type of volcano, hydrothermal features like fumaroles, boiling pools, and bubbling mud pots, and a range of wildlife that includes various mammals and well over 200 species of birds, it is a great stop for all types of nature lovers.

A panoramic view of the volcanoes in Lassen Volcanic National Park

Mendocino National Forest (Both Routes)

Mendocino National Forest is a 913,000 acre national forest that is the only one in the state not to have a paved entry or exit road, making it an incredibly isolated and natural destination.

Boasting beautiful wilderness areas, rivers, and lakes, it is a popular destination for hiking, camping, fishing, hunting, biking, boating, backpacking, photography, and much more.

Sunrise over Mendocino National Forest

Sacramento (Short Route)

Sacramento is California’s 6th most populous city, the state capital, and its main hub of government and finance.

One of the fastest growing cities in the U.S., it boasts incredible Chinatown and LGBT areas, as well as the State Capitol building and a wide array of amenities.

Sacramento is best known for the Old Sacramento riverside district. With its 19th century buildings, cobblestone streets, and attractions like museums, galleries, steam train tours, and horse drawn carriage rides, it is an entertaining and educational location.

The 19th century buildings in Old Sacramento

A road trip from Vancouver to San Francisco is an incredible journey that offers so much to see and do, its immense length almost seems negligible in comparison. From iconic towns and cities to beautiful natural attractions, this is a journey that simply has it all.

You should now have all the information you need to plan your perfect travel itinerary for the trip, from when to go and how long it should take to what to see and where to stay.

That means all that’s left is to work out where to stay and what to do when you reach your destination. That Way, you can start getting things booked, so you can look forward to experiencing it all for yourself, as soon as possible.

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The ultimate pacific coast highway road trip.

Consider this your essential itinerary for an epic drive along this classic American route.

Man driving a convertible on Pacific Coast Highway.

(Getty Images) |

Take a spellbinding drive, packed with exciting twists and spectacular scenery.

Part of the Vancouver skyline, seen from Olympic Village at the end of False Creek. In the foreground is the ramp down to the watertaxi dock, with the geodesic dome of the Science Museum behind, along with some apartment buildings and offices on Quebec Street.

Vancouver to Seattle

Sunset landscape of Portland, Oregon.

Seattle to Portland, Oregon

The shore of Columbia River in Astoria, Oregon.

Portland to the Oregon Coast

Looking up at the redwood trees at Muir Woods in San Francisco.

Southern Oregon to Redwood National Park

San Francisco skyline and Bay Bridge at sunset.

Northern California Coast to San Francisco

Bixby Creek Bridge, along California 1

San Francisco to Big Sur

Sunset in Venice Beach with Santa Monica Pier in the distance.

Big Sur to Santa Monica

San Diego

Santa Monica to San Diego

Rosarito Beach- Baja California, Mexico

Bonus: Mexico

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Survivemag Stay sane, people

Road Trip to Disneyland

Road trip to Disneyland: Drive the I5 from Vancouver to California

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I’ve written an updated post for this. Take a look at my 2017 edition Road Trip to Disneyland

It’s canada to california or bust. complete with 4 kids packed into a pontiac montana minivan, we hit the open road. the goal to survive the road trip to disneyland.

Ah, road trips. Aren’t road trips really just one of those things that look good on paper? The windows open, streaming in the sunshine and the summer breeze, the music playing, and the endless open road in front of you. Sounds great doesn’t it?

Now, insert a child or two (or four in my case) into this fantasy and see what you get. Oh, but you’ll have coloring books and a DVD player. That will ensure endless hours of quiet and happiness for all, right?

Um, no. If you have even just one kid, the idea of a road trip is far more appealing on paper than it ever could be in real life. And I should know, because my last road trip was a crazy journey down the I5 from Vancouver to Anaheim, California.  If you are considering this type of excursion, even for a minute, you need to know what you are in for.

Let’s start with a list of Pros for a Road Trip to Disneyland:

  • You don’t have to fly, therefore you don’t have to pay exorbitant baggage fees or ridiculous airfare costs out of Vancouver
  • You don’t have to rent a car once you get there. You already have yours, although it will be full of MacDonalds wrappers and/or coffee cups
  • If you drive, you save more on travel and can justify staying at the Grand Californian Resort like I did
  • You get to see the California and Oregon landscape, up close and personal
  • You get to spend hours of family time whilst you are locked up in a moving vehicle. Think of all the travel games you can play (Look, another blue car. Score one for mom! ha ha!) and scenery you can share with your children

See, it looks fantastic on paper. FAN- TAS -TIC. And it is with this attitude that we departed on a blazing hot August evening in 2010.

Road trip to Disneyland Tip

Road trip to Disneyland

First things first, driving from Vancouver to Disneyland is a long haul. You can take one of two routes after you drive through Washington and bypass Seattle (Tip: Be sure to point out the Harbor in Seattle, where the Space Needle is. At night, the lights off of the buildings are beautiful).  The I5 continues straight through Oregon into California, or you can take the coastal hwy and view truly breathtaking scenery the entire way.  Because we wanted to get there and worry about the ocean on the way back, we took the I5.

Statistics for Road trip to Disneyland

  • Actual driving distance from Vancouver area to Disneyland: 1303 miles or 2097 km
  • Actual driving time from Vancouver to Disneyland according to Google: 21 hours, 37 minutes
  • Real driving time with 4 children in the backseat: 25 hours, not including stops
  • How many tanks of gas to get from Vancouver to Anaheim: 6 at approximately $50 USD per tank

The I5 is a long and windy road that will make you feel as though it will never end. As you pass through Washington (beautiful, green, possibly rainy, scenic) and into Oregon (beautiful, still green, only has full service gas stations and you can’t pump your own gas there), you will eventually hit the tip of California before heading into the mountains.Right around this time, if you have been driving almost all night the way we were, you will wish there was a sliding glass window developed just for minivans. Something to block out the “Are we there yet?” questions as well as the possible smell of caged up people.

One of my favorite parts of the trip was driving through the high mountain road right at the entrance to California. The California landscape is so diverse that it can range from forests to prairies and oceans.

By this point in the trip, the kids have given up the DVD player, they’ve eaten everything they can get their hands on, and they’re staring sullenly out the window wondering when they are going to see the Matterhorn looming. I don’t have the heart to tell them we are still 12 hours away.

Road Trip to Disneyland Tip

One of the best things to look forward to on a roadtrip from Canada to California is a stop at the IN-N-OUT Burger. The closest IN-N-OUT is in Grants Pass, Oregon at 1 124 NE Morgan Lane . And yes, it’s worth it.

And this is the sad part of a road trip from Canada to California. Although 21 hours doesn’t look like a lot of time and you can delude yourself into thinking it will fly by, in reality it is so long that the halfway point doesn’t even feel like an accomplishment. If you have the time, take 3 days to make the trip. Stay in a hotel and break it up. There are lots of scenic places to stop in California, and you’ll feel less crazed.

In our case, we had hotel reservations we had to get to, so we pushed it and kept going.

There are numerous rest stops on the I5. Although you might think these are for truckers and shady characters, you can be sure that the rest stops are actually really family friendly. We stopped at several that had nice grassy spots for kids and pets, along with vending machines, free coffee, and water fountains. They are a veritable oasis in the middle of the blazing hot California landscape, and I recommend you stop as many times as you need to. Its nice as a way to break up the day.

Many, many hours later (and several rounds of Disney movies or Dora the Explorer, a few iPods practically chucked out the windows, a stop at TacoBell complete with an open bathroom door and a view of an older lady using the facilities which sparked one of the most hilarious conversations I’ve ever had with my 8 year old son, and a new fun activity called “Word of the Day” with the first word being ‘Burrito’), we arrive on the outskirts of LA. The time? 10pm.

Here’s a fun fact about arriving in Los Angeles. You will be filled with euphoria. You made it! Right? Wrong. You are still at least an hour and a half away.

LA is huge. For someone coming from Vancouver who has never been there (I have, but you might not have), its mind-boggling huge. You enter near Six Flags Magic Mountain, but you still need to get through the various suburbs, freeways, and insane LA traffic (yes, even at 10pm at night) before you arrive in Anaheim. Luckily, the kids had passed out again, so we were able to stress less about sitting in a sea of headlights. I spent the time hoping I could see the Hollywood sign (no, its not lit up at night) and waiting for the Anaheim exit.

When we finally arrived, it was midnight, but we were there.

There is a wonderful little app called Mousewait that provides you with Disneyland attraction wait times. It’s highly accurate, and if you are going to invest the time to drive all the way from Canada to California you should definitely be using this app when you get there.

Tomorrow on Survive Parenthood Magazine, Part 2: The journey back from Anaheim to Canada . This time with hotels on the way. Stay tuned.

For even more Disneyland tips and secrets, visit the first installment in our guide to Disneyland

road trip from vancouver to california

Two years old and not talking? New study says not to worry

Update February 2022 – The CDC has just changed baby developmental milestones for the first …

16 comments

This is amazing! We are currently planning the same trip for spring break but are considering renting an RV. I cannot believe you did it in your van with 4 kids! Bless your heart, you are a saint!

I looked up some photos of this spot and it looks just as amazing as it sounds. I’ll have to make sure we get to stop on our way to Idaho this summer.

We traveled from Battleground to Disneyland in a rented RV in Oct 2011. 12 days on the road. wildlife safari in Winston, Or. Overnight in Grants Pass. Redwood Forest in Kalamath CA. Santa Rosa CA for the Charlie Brown Museum. Golden Gate Bridge and Downtown SAn Fran in a 32 ft Class C RV at night and then east to I 5 and South to DL. 4 days down. 7 days at DL and 2 days drive home. We did this with our daughter for her fourth birthday. Rental for the RV was about 80 per day. Mileage was at $.30 per mile and then you had gas. When our trip ended the cost for the RV ran about $4,500 including gas.Our daughter loved the trip and we are driving our mini van down at the end of April 2012. Our DL Delux Annual pass will be used for 20 days this year.Our Disneyland annual passes cost 379 for one calander year thatdo have blackout days.

Nice article. My family of 4 (2 adults, 2 kids) as well as 3 dogs are driving from Winnipeg to California in early July. Thanks for the insight!

link to part two is not working

Hi, Here’s a link to part 2. http://www.survivemag.com/driving-the-i5-to-disneyland-road-trip-from-canada-to-california/

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Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip - Big Sur

The Perfect Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip Itinerary (25 Stops + 3 Itineraries!)

Post Summary: The Ultimate Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip Itinerary + All The Stops Along The Way

The Pacific Coast Highway is easily considered to be one of the most iconic road trip routes in the world !

It’s not hard to believe either. From the moody beaches in Washington to the spectacular natural bridges in Southern Oregon to the winding roads of Big Sur, California , there is something new to see around every bend.

road trip from vancouver to california

Berty and I drove the entire route back in 2017, and have returned to deeply explore sections every year since then!

Because we know this route so well, we wanted to create this comprehensive guide for iconic stops and places to see along the entire length of the Pacific Coast Highway, all 1,700-ish miles between Seattle, Washington and Orange County, California !

In this power, we’ll share the best PCH stops in Washington, Oregon, and California to make your Pacific Coast Highway road trip your most epic trip yet.

Let’s get planning!

road trip from vancouver to california

Step By Step Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip Directions (Download)

Where is the pacific coast highway how long is it.

The Pacific Coast Highway has many names.

You can also recognize it by its abbreviation (PCH), and referred to as the California Coast road trip , Pacific Coast Highway road trip, Route 1, Highway 101 (through Washington and Oregon), or even just Highway 1 (in California).

All names aside, they all lead you down the same road, which is the route that parallels the Pacific Ocean and the western border of the contiguous United States.

The traditional Pacific Coast Highway (Route 1) is 655 miles long. The full Pacific Coast Highway (Orange County to Seattle) is just over 1,700 miles.

We’ll be talking about the entire Pacific Coast Highway itinerary in this blog post. (Seattle to Orange County)

road trip from vancouver to california

Pacific Coast Highway Map, Directions, & Best Times

Which direction to drive the pacific coast highway.

Where should you begin your Pacific Coast Highway itinerary? Northbound or Southbound?

There are two directions to do a Pacific Coast Highway road trip – driving south or driving north! Honestly, both are great options but being from Washington, Berty and I began in Seattle and made our way south.

If you are searching for the best weather conditions, here are pros of each direction:

  • Southbound (Seattle to Orange County): Driven during spring break, you can escape the Pacific Northwest rain and enjoy the warmth of Southern California.
  • Nortbound (Orange County to Seattle): Driving north will help you escape California’s hot weather in late summer and fall.

The Hoh Rainforest - Twilight Tour in Forks

Pacific Coast Highway Start and End Points

Traditionally, the Pacific Coast Highway is considered to be the entire Highway 1 of the California Coast. This spans between Capistrano Beach is Orange County to Legget in Nortoerhn California. Highway 1 is 655.84 miles.

However, we like to think of this drive spanning three Pacific Coast states: Washington, Oregon, and California.

The traditional starting point in Washington is Seattle (with a detour through the Olympic National Park). The traditional starting point in California is San Diego .

When To Drive The Pacific Coast Highway

We also began our trip in June, but this trip is good to take any time of year.

If you decided on making it a winter road trip route , that means you’ll have a lot fewer crowds to deal with! Driving along the coast, the weather is more temperate and usually doesn’t get cold enough for snow, so you won’t run into many driving issues.

However, if you’re looking for the “windows-down, sunsets every night” kind of trip, we recommend taking this drive any time between June-September for the best chance of good weather.

Pacific Coast Highway Map

Top Tips For Driving The Pacific Coast Highway

So, how can you plan a Pacific Coast Highway road trip? Here are our suggestions of things to do before your trip:

Plan Your Stops Carefully: Carefully creating an itinerary will help make reserving hotels and activies a LOT easier. However, make sure to leave just a little wiggle room for surprises! Book Accommodations In Advance: The Pacific Coast Highway is a popular road trip route. Once you know your trip dates, plan to book hotels and campgrounds ASAP. We like to split accommodations between car camping and hotels for a good mix. On a budget? Here are 20 car camping hacks to consider. Check Road Closures: Check you route for any major road closures. This actually happens a lot more often than you might think Big Sur often has landslides. Rent a Great Car (or RV!): You can rent a car and book hotels, OR you can rent a campervan and book campgrounds for a budget-friendly trip. Outdoorsy has cool recreation vehicles vans to rent – it’s like Airbnb but for RVs! Decide When To Embark: Determine when to plan your PCH trip and how many days you have. Keep scrolling to the bottom of the post for PCH itinerary examples. Use a Good Navigation App : Good navigation apps make a huge difference. Read our favorite road trip planner apps here. Get a Convertible…or a Harley! If you are driving only a small section of the PCH, rent a fun vehicle! This isn’t mandatory, but it sure is iconic to drive on the highway in one of these cool rides. Ask Great Questions: You’re in the car for a long time. Make sure to have these road trip questions ready to brighten those dull moments. Download Podcasts + Playlists : Download these road trip podcasts and personalized playlists when you have wifi. You’ll thank me later. Pack Your Car With The Essentials: Here’s a list of road trip essentials you need to be packing. Prepare To Stop Frequently: The whole point of driving the Pacific Coast Highway is to take in the sights!

Cape Kiwanda Oregon, Pacific Coast Road Trip Stops

How To Choose a Car For The Pacific Coast Highway

Choosing the right vehicle for your Pacific Coast Highway road trip is probably THE most important decision you will make.

Option 1: Drive Your Own Car Make sure your car has had a tune-up, and its oil changed. It’s worth it to get checked out now, than risk something going wrong mid-way through your trip.

Option 2: Rent a Regular Car Renting a car is a great option for a reliable drive down the Pacific Coast Highway. Personally, we like Avis becuase they have a great rewards program. You can find cheap options

Option 3: Rent a Campervan or RV Renting a campervan is an awesome way to experience a little bit of vanlife. Search for the best campervans at Outdoorsy . Just note, it may be a little tricky to drive a campervan one-way. You may have to return it at your starting point via I-5!

Option 4: Take The Public us (Kind of possible, but not recommended) Yes, it’s possible to cobble together transportation on local transit. You’ll find that you can get around easiest in Southern California and the central Oregon Coast. However, there will be stretches of road with no transporation avaiable, or you may have to leave the coast and venture inland to find a route. It’s cheap yes, but takes quite a bit of pre-planning.

Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip On A Budget

Are you hoping to plan a Pacific Coast Highway road trip route on a budget ? Here are some budgeting hacks we like to use to plan a budget PCH trip:

Use The Dyrt To Find Campgrounds: The Dyrt is the largest online campground database. We use the offline campground search feature to find spots on the go (no service needed!). The Dyrt gave us a code for you, our epic reader, to try the pro membership for 30 days free!   Click here to unlock your 30-day free trial . Find Free Campsites: Road tripping around the west coast for years, we’ve learned a thing or two about finding free campsites in the USA . Our guide includes campground searching hacks, backcountry packing guides, and tips on how to find the best camping spots on the PCH. Cook Your Own Meals: Save money on the road by making your own quick & easy camping meals . Manage Money On The Road: Learn how we travel on a budget in the Pacific Northwest .

Grab your gear and let's go! If you are like us and love to be outside, we've written this comprehensive post about the best winter coats & jackets to wear in the Pacific Northwest this season. We're covering everything from rain gear, parkas, to puffers, even utility jackets! TheMandagies.com

What To Pack For A Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip

A good Pacific Coast Highway road trip will take you through the rainy gloom of Washington, as well as the sunny beaches of California. This makes packing slighly more challenging – you’ll have to account for tons of variable weather!

Rain Jacket: You’ll need one in Washington and Oregon, especially during winter and spring. Here are our favorite rain jackets to wear in the Pacific Northwest . Light Layers: Once you reach California, it’s nice to have light, packable layers to bring on your day adventures. We like this windbreaker and this colorful fleece for easy layering. Down Jacket: Down jackets are an excellent option for extra warmth, especially when paired with a rain jacket. Get this packable one to save space in your suitcase. Sunglasses: You’ll need some, since you’ll be watchin the sunset every night! Grab this pair of inexpensive but HIGHLY rated sunglasses to knock around on your adventures. Hiking Shoes: Hiking in the PNW for over a decade, we know a thing or two about boots! Read our list on the best hiking boots , to pick the right ones for you. Walking Sandals : From walking around Huntington Pier to strolling around your campsite, walking sandals are essential to your Pacific Coast Highway packing list. Portable Phone Charger: This Goal Zero 24 is the perfect companion to charge your phone on a day trip. Camera: Here’s our guide on how to take smartphone landscape photography, or you can check out the travel photography gear as media professionals. Hiking Clothes: You’ll want to bring these highly-coveted hiking shorts , a day pack , and the 10 hiking essentials .

Here are some posts we’ve written about what to pack for certain parts of the Pacific Coast Highway:

  • 5 Essentials to Bring On The Washington Coast
  • The Ultimate Packing List For San Francisco
  • What To Pack For A Weekend in Los Angeles

The Best Pacific Coast Highway Stops (State By State)

If you’re planning to experience the entire Pacific Coast Highway (including extending it to Oregon and Washington), you probably know that there is an insane amount of beautiful stops to take.

We’re going to break locations down state by state, to give you bite-sized chunks of information for each place.

Each state provides something unique and exciting for your Pacific Coast Highway road trip itinerary, so read below for location inspiration in Washington, Oregon, and California!

Cape Flattery - Pacific Coast Road Trip Stops

Pacific Coast Highway Stops In Washington

Washington is not all rain and gloom!

While the movies portray this evergreen state in a constant shroud of clouds and moodiness (Thanks, Twilight) , its nothing farther from the truth.

Here, you can find powerful waterfalls, secret coves, and lush green forest, and amazing hikes in every corner of this beautiful state.

Keep on reading to read about some highlights along the Pacific Coast Highway in Washington!

Cities in Washington State - Seattle, Washington - TheMandagies.com

Seattle, Washington

This is where we suggest starting your Pacific Coast Highway road trip.

Seattle is a great place to stock up on all the road trip essentials , grab rental cars, and arrive by plane to stay on your journey on the Pacific Coast Highway. If you’re flying in to begin your journey, you’ll fly into Sattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA).

Have a little bit more time on your hands? Stick around for a few days and try these unique things to do in Seattle , or take these incredible day trips from Seattle .

Fun things to do in Seattle, Washington:

  • Visit Pike Place Market
  • Go to the first-ever Starbucks Coffee store
  • Visit The Museum of Pop Culture
  • Watch the sunset at Jose Rizal Park
  • See the Space Needle up close at Kerry Park
  • Have a bonfire with friends at Golden Gardens Park
  • Go to A Husky Football game in the University District

Read More: What To Pack For The Pacific Northwest

Girl overlooking Mount Storm King

Port Angeles

If you are starting in Seattle or Vancouver, chances are you’ll need to take a ferry across the Puget Sound to reach the Olympic Peninsula . It’s also possible to drive around through Olympia, if you don’t want to put your car on the ferry.

From here, you will pass the cities of Sequim and Port Angeles. Before hitting to Pacific Coast Highway, we recommend taking a stop by Lake Crescent for some classic PNW vibes and maybe a quick lunch break too.

If you want to see what the lake looks like from above, test your limits and hike Mount Storm King . The 4.7-mile round trip hike gains over 2,000 feet in elevation, including scrambling up the side of a cliff with the help of a few installed ropes.

This hike isn’t for the faint of heart, but your attempts will be rewarded with experiencing one of the most spectacular places to see in the Olympic Peninsula .

Stay Overnight: Book a stay at The Olympic Lodge in Port Angeles . It’s right in town, and central to other adventures like Hurricane Ridge, Salt Creek, and Lake Crescent.

road trip from vancouver to california

Sol Duc Falls

Sol Duc Falls is located in the Olympic National Park , and along Highway 101 on your way towards the coast.

It’s a small detour before heading to the ocean. However, the detour is worth every minute! The short trail to Sol Duc Falls leads to one of the most gorgeous waterfalls in Washington state.

If you are wanting a unique place to stay in the Olympic National Park, consider staying at the Sol Duc Hot Springs, a natural pool resort in the park.

Doing this, you can wake up early to visit the falls and beat the crowds!

Emily Mandagie standing at Cape Flattery, Makah Land - TheMandagies.com

Cape Flattery

If you’re looking for the most northwest location in the lower 48 United States, you’ve found it at Cape Flattery !

This jaw-dropping piece of coastline is owned by the Makah Tribe. It includes beautiful sea stacks just offshore and expansive views of the Pacific Ocean and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

If you are planning your Pacific Coast Highway itinerary for epic photo spots, don’t miss this place! You’ll need an entry pass ($10 per vehicle) and you can pick it up at the gas station or grocery store at Neah Bay.

Forks, Washington

Emily at La Push Second Beach - Pacific Coast Road Trip Stops

La Push Beaches (First, Second, and Third)

You may know these beaches from the movie Twilight but rest assured there are no vampires in sight. (Partly because it’s werewolf territory anyway, DUH) In fact, we’ve seen some of the most incredible sunsets right here on Second Beach.

When visiting, it’s important to note that there are three beaches to choose from. First Beach provides easy and instant beach access, so it’s a popular choice for families.

Second Beach requires a hike on a short trail to reach the beach, and you can also camp on this beach. Second Beach is also the most popular option for its beautiful rock formations and vast shoreline.

Third Beach requires a longer hike and is the least visited of all the beaches.

Any of these Washington beaches you choose, don’t forget to pack these 5 beach essentials!

Read More: La Push Beach + and Beach Camping Tips

Ocean Shores, Washington

road trip from vancouver to california

Ocean Shores is a quaint little town on the Washington Coast, just north of Grays Harbor.

Here, you will find tons of vacation rental homes, small seafood restaurants, and tons of beach activities. Berty and I came with our friends last summer and opted to rent motorbikes on the beach, eat our weight in crab, and explore the jetty!

Restaurants to try in Ocean Shores:

  • Murphy’s Candy & Ice Cream Shop
  • Galway Bay Irish Pub
  • Ocean Beach Roasters and Bistro
  • Oyhut Bay Bistro

Want more beach fun on the Washington Coast? Check out Ruby Beach and Rialto Beach !

Read More: 7 Fun Things To Do In Ocean Shores, Washington

Pierce County Area (Gig Harbor, Tacoma, and Puyallup)

road trip from vancouver to california

If you’re looking to spend a little extra for a comfortable room and some great food, spend some time exploring Gig Harbor and boating around the South Puget Sound . You will be able to spot wildlife all around you, whether it’s jellyfish or a pod of orcas!

Some of our favorite cities in Pierce County to explore: Puyallup (Washington State Fair), Tacoma, and Gig Harbor!

Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier National Park - On The Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip

Take your journey slightly inland to explore Mount Rainier National Park. Here, you can test your limits and backpack up to the summit (training required!) or simply take a nice stroll at the base of the mountain like on Nisqually Loop Trail .

Mount Rainier is best explored if you spend 2-3 days in the park! There are so many different areas to cover (Paradise Area and Sunrise Area are the most popular), so give yourself time to enjoy the beautiful outdoors here in the Pacific Northwest.

Most Popular Activities To Do At Mount Rainier:

  • Hike the Grove of the Patriarchs Trail
  • See Silver Falls
  • Hike the Skyline Divide Trail
  • Visit the Longmire Museum

Cape Disappointment State Park

road trip from vancouver to california

Cape Disappointment is located in the far southwestern corner of Washington State. Here, you can discover miles of trails, play on the beaches, and maybe even spot an orca offshore!

For a memorable photo opportunity on your Pacific Coast Highway road trip, take the trail down to Deadman’s Cove and capture this hidden beach at sunset!

Read More: Cape Disappointment + Deadman’s Cove

Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip Stops In Oregon

Emily Mandagie at Secret Beach on the Oregon Coast

The Oregon Coast itself is worthy of its own road trip but lucky you – you get to see it all and more!

We’re sharing all the best stops along this part of the Pacific Coast Highway and what you can expect in this beautiful state.

Not enough time for the whole thing? Take an Oregon Coast Road Trip instead!

Cannon Beach

Emily sitting at Cannon Beach, Oregon - TheMandagies.com

Cannon Beach is a family and dog-friendly beach located 1.5 hours west of Portland. Here, you can explore the many quaint seaside shops, take a walk on the beach, and explore the many tide pools.

There are many services available here, so it’s a great stop for camping, resting, or even getting a seaside Airbnb! (By the way, y ou can get $40 off your first reservation at this link! )

Read More: Spending The Day At Cannon Beach

Cape Kiwanda

road trip from vancouver to california

Cape Kiwanda  is a popular beach on the Oregon Coast. Here, you can walk along the beach and enjoy Pacific City’s own “Haystack Rock”, or climb the nearby sand dunes to discover incredible views, coves, and rock formations!

Too busy for you? Venture just a 5-minute drive south to Bob Straub State Park, where you can walk along the less-traveled and peaceful beachfront.

The area of Oregon can be rainy and cloudy year-round, but if you’re lucky you can experience one of its gorgeous sunsets (that is if the weather cooperates!). Make sure to pack a rain jacket!

Read More:  10 Epic Adventures To Take Aroun Cape Kiwanda

God’s Thumb Hike, Lincoln City

road trip from vancouver to california

The hike to God’s Thumb is a moderately difficult hike along the Oregon Coast. A 4.6-mile round trip hike will bring you to a curved landscape on an oceanside cliff. 

It gets its name “God’s Thumb” because it slightly resembles a thumb… but we think it kind of looks like a soft-serve ice cream swirl!

Located in Lincoln City, Oregon , this is a perfect place to get out of the car, stretch your legs, and see a beautiful area of the Oregon Coast.

Read More: Hike To God’s Thumb in Lincoln City On The Oregon Coast

Devil’s Punchbowl

road trip from vancouver to california

Devil’s Punchbowl State Natural Area is a perfect stop on your Pacific Coast Highway road trip. Here, you can experience the power of the ocean slamming and swirling into a carved-out bowl.

From the top, you can see down inside the “punchbowl”. During high tide, the waves swirl and crash around inside, but during low tide, you can walk down on the beach and explore inside.

Stay a while for a roadside picnic, to explore tide pools, or climb around on the rocks on the shore.

Thor’s Well

road trip from vancouver to california

Thor’s Well in another one of the Oregon Coast’s amazing natural phenomena. You can experience the most dramatic sights at high tide, but beware – it’s the most dangerous time to visit too.

Similar to the Spouting Horn in Kauai , this sinkhole looks like water is just draining into a huge abyss, but it’s actually a natural rock tube that sucks and shoots water our according to the adjacent waves.

Don’t get too close to it though, it pushes and pulls water with a powerful force , meaning if you get too close you risk being swept off your feet into the hole!

This area is located just south of the Cape Perpetua Visitor’s Cente r, with lots of wheelchair accessible walkways AND walk-at-your-own-risk paths too.

Cape Perpetua Scenic Area

road trip from vancouver to california

Cape Perpetua Scenic Area is an amazing spot on the Pacific Coast Highway, and probably home to one of the best photo spots on the PCH!

For a quick side trip, take the drive up to Cape Perpetua Lookout , where you can see the Oregon Coast meet the winding highway below. It’s an incredible view – make sure to bring your camera!

This is also a great stop for some camping on the Oregon Coast, as well as exploring the many ocean features and scenic trails in the area.

Read More: 10 Epic Things To Do In Cape Perpetua Area Of The Oregon Coast

(Bonus Side Trip!) Umpqua Hot Springs + Toketee Falls

road trip from vancouver to california

Got an extra day to spare?

Since you’re already in Oregon, consider taking a side trip east to the Cascade Mountains. The Umpqua National Forest has a lot to see, but it’s shining stars have got to be Toketee Falls and the Umpqua Hot Springs.

Both of the trails to Toketee Falls and Umpqua Hot Springs are nearby one another, short, and easy to follow.

They can be accomplished in a morning or afternoon trip. If you haven’t visited a Pacific Northwest hot springs  yet, this is the perfect chance to do it!

We would suggest that you Visit Toketee Falls first, so you can save your soak for last!

Read More: 5 Essential Tips For Soaking at Upmqua Hot Springs

Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor

Samuel H Boardman Scenic Corridor - Oregon Coast Road Trip Route

Of all the stops on the Oregon Coast, Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor is a MUST visit. Offshore rock formations, dramatic cliffs, and crashing waves make this place a magical stop on the Pacific Coast Highway.

To fully experience this area, we suggest scheduling your visit for sunset. The sun sets over the Pacific Ocean, and on a clear day the skies light up with beautiful colors. Don’t forget to stop at other iconic spots in the park including Secret Beach, Natural Bridges, Arch Rock, and Indian Sands Trail!

Located on the Southern Oregon Coast , Samuel H Boardman spans around 10-miles of rugged, scenic coastline. There are many hikes to choose from around Samuel H Boardman Scenic Corridor . Take some time to explore a few (many trails are short) , and pick your favorite spots for sunset.

Pacific Coast Highway Stops In California

Congratulations! You’ve made it to California!

This is technically the beginning of the official Pacific Coast Highway (also called Highway 1) , but we all know you’ve put in too many miles on your car and see too much epic-ness for it to be just starting.

While you’ll be encountering a lot more sunshine in this section of the road trip, the Northern California coast can be a little temperamental! Don’t put away your rain coast just yet.

California road trip stops on the Pacific Coast Highway are some of the most breathtaking and beautiful areas of the whole trip. Read on to discover where to go and what to see below in the sunshine state.

Redwood National and State Parks

road trip from vancouver to california

If your Pacific Coast Highway road rrip is taking you southbound, your first California stop will be at the Redwood National and State Parks.

The Redwoods are known for their spectacularly tall and beautiful trees. Furthermore, this area is home to some of the tallest trees on earth!

There are several scenic drives to take here, but the prettiest Northern California drives are through the Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park (the scenic route) and the Avenue of The Giants at Humbolt Redwoods State Park. For a lot of stops and viewpoints of the ocean, consider stopping at Patrick’s Point State Park !

Read More: 10 Things To Do In The Redwood National Park

Fern Canyon

Emily Mandagie in Fern Canyon Trail, Redwoods California

Wait, did we just travel through time? You’re not far off if you felt like you just stepped foot into Jurassic Park. In fact, scenes from the movie were filmed right here in Fern Canyon!

Fern Canyon Trail in the Redwoods is a very short route – just 1.1-miles to revel in the 50-foot tall fern-covered walls and lush surrounding forest. The hike is easy, but getting there is a different story. The trip requires a few creek crossings and winding, narrow dirt roads to reach the trailhead. We’ve got everything you need to know about Fern Canyon right here !

Black Sand Beach

road trip from vancouver to california

Have you been looking at thos e famous black sand beaches in Iceland ? Get a taste of the beauty (without the price of a plane ticket) and come visit a look-alike on the California Coast.

Shelter Cove is a little town located in the King Range National Conversation Area. Here, there are craggy coastlines, dramatic scenery, and a black sand beach. The waves are tall and powerful here.

Warning: The road is winding and treacherous, which can be dangerous in bad weather.

This is also an extremely out-of-the-way detour, with one route going in and out from the beach. Make sure to have a full tank of gas, and be prepared to drive on narrow roads and near tall cliff edges!

Read More:   How To Get To California’s Iconic Black Sands Beach

Point Reyes National Seashore

road trip from vancouver to california

Love the California beach? Explore the Point Reyes National Seashore , a protected coastline of rolling pastures, historic landmarks, and even a secret docked ship!

Start your journey in the town of Inverness, where you can stock up on food, gas, and even camping gear if you choose to spend the night in one of their many campgrounds .

Some of the best things to do in Point Reyes National Seashore are visiting the historic lighthouse (make sure to pay attention to its hours of operation! ), driving down the canopy of Cypress trees , and even whale watching if you come at the right time of year!

Read More: Spending The Day At Point Reyes National Seashore

Bolinas Ridge

road trip from vancouver to california

If you have a scheduled stop in San Francisco on your Pacific Coast Highway itinerary, make sure to make a sunset stop just north of the city , on Bolinas Ridge .

This area of golden, glimmering rolling hills is located on the edge of Mount Tamalpais State Park in Marin County, California.

Our favorite scenic road to drive is Ridgecrest Boulevard , which includes pullouts ever so often to quickly park your car and enjoy the beautiful and consistent sunsets on this piece of the California coast.

Read More: A Golden Sunset At Bolinas Ridge

Mount Tamalpais

road trip from vancouver to california

Keep the spirit of adventure alive , even in a bustling city like San Francisco !

If you’ve got a pit stop in the Golden City, journey just north of the Golden Gate Bridge and experience Mount Tamalpais State Park for a quick break from city life.

Here, you can take many amazing trails with stunning views of big city buildings across the bay. Some of our favorite trails for city views are the East Peak Hike  (to a stone lookout tower) and the Verna Dunshee Trail. 

Going when it’s cold outside? Read our San Francisco Winter Packing List .

Read More: 10 Adventurous Things To Do Outside of San Francisco

Golden Gate Bridge

road trip from vancouver to california

No trip along the Pacific Coast Highway is complete without seeing the iconic Golden Gate Bridge!

On either side of the bridge, there are several incredible viewpoints to check out. Some of the best places to view the Golden Gate Bridge are from Battery Spencer, Kirby Cove, and the North Vista Point.

Remember: The Golden Gate Bridge is a toll bridge . Motorcycles and regular cars will get through and be billed $8.00 to the address your car is registered at.

San Francisco, California

Pacific Coast Road Trip Itinerary - San Francisco Stop

If you’ve been driving southbound on your Pacific Coast Highway road trip, San Francisco will be the first large city you will encounter. 

Here, you can experience many iconic and famous landmarks. Here are some places to see while in San Francisco :

  • See the sunrise at the Golden Gate Bridge
  • Visit Fisherman’s Wharf
  • Stop By The Painted Ladies
  • Wander through the neighborhoods and see the beautiful Victorian-era houses

Need a place to stay in San Francisco? Click here and get $40 off your first booking on Airbnb!

Shark Fin Cove

road trip from vancouver to california

Click here to see more amazing pictures from our visit to Shark Fin Cove.

Shark Fin Cove is a beautiful California coast beach located south of San Francisco – in Davenport, California. It’s named for its rock formation just off the shore that resembling a shark’s top fin. 

You aren’t able to see this cove from the road, which makes finding access a little difficult . There are no signs indicating the location, so you must rely on Google Maps to help guide to you the parking lot off the California Coast Highway 1.

This place provides absolutely stunning views from above AND below. Start your visit at the top and walk along the trails near the cliffs (but be careful!). Finally, climb down into the cove via a steep trail to find beach access.

On a weekday, it’s very likely you will get this beach all to yourself! 

Read More: What To Expect At California’s Shark Fin Cove

Big Sur State Park

road trip from vancouver to california

When you think of driving down the California Coast , Big Sur is what Pacific Coast Highway dreams are made of. Sunny coastline, winding roads, dramatic cliffs, and beautiful bridges are scattered along 90 miles of this beautiful West Coast drive.

Some of the highlights on this part of the PCH include:

  • Pfeiffer Beach
  • McWay Falls
  • Bixby Creek Bridge
  • Pebble Beach
  • 17-Mile Drive (Monterey/Pacific Grove)

Pro Tip: A day trip to Big Sur, California is absolutely the most quintessential activity  of any good Pacific Coast Highway road trip. Don’t miss this.

Read More: How To Pull Off A Day Trip To Big Sur, California

(Detour Off Highway 1) Yosemite National Park

road trip from vancouver to california

While you’re in the area, might as well take a little detour to one of the greatest national parks in America!

Yosemite is home to the tallest waterfall in North America, home to giant Sequoia trees, and has more than 800 miles of trails for hikers to enjoy.

Only have 24 extra hours to spare for Yosemite? Click here for our 24-hour guide to Yosemite National Park.

Pro Tip: If you are hoping to spend a few days in the park, make camping reservations extremely early in advance.

Camping spots generally get full six months before the reservation date. A trip to Yosemite National Park requires a lot of pre-planning.

Los Angeles, California

Pacific Coast Road Trip Stops - Los Angeles

Another major city on your Pacific Coast Highway road trip will be Los Angeles California. For many going northbound, this is a common starting point (as well as San Diego).

If you’re like us and coming to LA on a southbound Pacific Coast Highway trip, this is a fun pit stop to take a few days and recharge from all that driving.

Again, if you are looking to book a place on Airbnb, click here to get $40 off your first booking!

Here are some fun things to do in Los Angeles:

  • Santa Monica Pier + the Amusement Park on the boardwalk.
  • Venice Beach
  • Griffith Observatory
  • The Getty Museum
  • Hollywood Boulevard
  • Hike to the Hollywood Sign

Read More: How To Spend a Fun Weekend in West Hollywood, California

Orange County, California

road trip from vancouver to california

Orange County California is just south of the city of Los Angeles. With a slower lifestyle, less traffic, and a lot more beach space, this place is a perfect getaway for sunshine lovers and surfers alike.

There are a few opportunities to camp on the coast, like RV sites in Huntington Beach and tent sites at Crystal Cove State Park. Either way, it’s definitely worth it to spend a few days in Orange County and experience all it has to offer!

Must-see spots to visit in Orange County:

  • La Tour (Secret Oceanside Castle in the cliff)
  • Huntington Beach (Sur City, USA)
  • Newport Beach Harbor and Balboa Island
  • Laguna Beach
  • Here are our favorite restaurants in Orange County to try!

Looking to travel to the OC on a budget? Check out our list of free things to do in Orange County to have maximum fun, with money still left in your pocket!

Read More: 10 Amazing Outdoor Activities in Orange County, California

San Diego, California

You did it!

San Diego will be the likely the end (or the beginning!) to your Pacific Coast Highway itinerary.

However, it’s still worth visiting for a few days. There are so many amazing things to do in San Diego that this city is an excellent way to kick off or wrap up any Pacific Coast Highway road trip.

Don’t miss out of Torrey Pines State Reserve! This network of outdoor trails have some of the best views in the entire city. Spend some time exploring the trails during sunset for a magical stay in San Diego.

Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip Itinerary Examples

Wondering if you can see all these iconic landmarks in one trip?

To accommodate different trip lengths, we’re sharing some example itineraries for a five-day trip , one-week trip , and two-week trip down the Pacific Coast Highway.

Read below to find your perfect one!

5 Day Pacific Coast Highway Itinerary

Five Day Pacific Coast Highway Itinerary

Five days to drive down the Pacific Coast is absolutely doable! During these days, you have time to experience the highlights of the coast, and whet your appetite for another future trip!

  • Day 1: Seattle, WA to Coos Bay, OR
  • Day 2: Coos Bay OR, to Redwood National Park, CA
  • Day 3: Redwood National Park, CA to San Francisco, CA
  • Day 4: San Francisco, CA to Los Angeles, CA
  • Day 5: Los Angeles, CA to San Diego, CA

7 Day Pacific Coast Highway Itinerary

One Week Pacific Coast Highway Itinerary

One week on the Pacific Coast Highway will allow you to see the most iconic locations. One week is great for travelers who want to fit in the entire trip during a school break, or only have so many days to take off of work.

A one-week Pacific Coast Highway road trip itinerary will allow you to see the highlights without feeling rushed. Here’s an example PCH itinerary:

  • Day 1: Seattle WA, to Forks, WA
  • Day 2: Forks, WA to Cape Kiwanda, OR
  • Day 3: Cape Kiwanda, OR to Redwood State Park, CA
  • Day 4: Redwood State Park, CA to San Francisco, CA
  • Day 5: San Francisco CA, to Big Sur, CA
  • Day 6: Big Sur, CA, to Orange County, CA
  • Day 7: Los Angeles, CA to San Diego, CA

10 Day Pacific Coast Highway Itinerary

Two-week pacific coast highway road trip itinerary.

Two Week Pacific Coast Highway Itinerary

If you have two weeks to spare, this is the ideal amount of time for a Pacific Coast Highway road trip!

Two weeks gives you ample time to see all the highlights, take some day hikes, and even some off-coast detours like Yosemite or Toketee Falls! You will be able to see everything you want and more, and not feel rushed in your process.

  • Day 1: Seattle, WA to Port Angeles, WA
  • Day 2: Port Angeles, to Forks, WA
  • Day 3: Forks, WA to Astoria, OR
  • Day 4: Astoria OR, to Cape Kiwanda, OR
  • Day 5:  Cape Kiwanda OR , to Brookings, OR
  • Day 6: Brooking OR, to Redwood State Park, CA
  • Day 7:  Redwood State Park, CA to Mendocino, CA
  • Day 8: Mendocino, CA to San Francisco, CA
  • Day 9:  San Francisco, CA to Santa Cruz, CA
  • Day 10: Santa Cruz, CA to Big Sur, CA
  • Day 11:  Big Sur, CA to Santa Barbara, CA
  • Day 12: Santa Barbara, CA to Los Angeles, CA
  • Day 13: Los Angeles, CA to San Diego, CA
  • Day 14: End in San Diego

Some of our Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip Inspiration

Creating this Pacific Coast Highway road trip itinerary was quite the workload! Lucky for us, this is the kind of work we live for, and it was fun, inspiring, and most of all helpful!

We hope this helps in your own Pacific Coast Highway road trip and makes planning a little bit easier for you.

Here are some of the pins we’ve created to share with our followers on Pinterest. Feel free to save some too for your own inspirational road trip!

Pinterest ( Find us at @themandagies )

Have you taken a pacific coast highway road trip what were some of your favorite stops, ready to plan your own pacific coast highway road trip read these helpful posts:.

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Want more Pacific Coast Highway road trip inspiration? Follow our curated board on Pinterest!

Looking for the best route to take on the Pacific Coast Highway? We're sharing the complete PCH route, including the best stops in Washington, Oregon, and California for the ultimate west coast road trip! #westcoast #PNW #california #oregon #washington #roadtrip #PCH #pacificcoasthighway #Pacificcoastroadtrip

So excited for you guys! My hubby and I did a similar (but quicker, so we didn’t see everything) trip in the summer of 2010 (a LONG time ago!). It was amazing. There is an amazing hike in Redwood National Park (Gold Bluffs Beach Section) that leads down to this secret beach. Even in summer (August) there wasn’t anyone on the trail. We were pretty new to the “planning” travel business so didn’t really plan anything when we went, but this hike was a highlight of our trip. I’m dying to go to the Painted Hills and Hot springs so excited to see what you guys think. Have so much fun!!! We’re secretly living through both of your photographs and blogs dreaming of our move one day back to this beautiful region of the world. We love Ireland, but the PNW truly can’t be beat.

Hi Danielle! I’m so glad you like our photographs and blog! That means so much to us 🙂 I’m so intrigued about the Gold Bluffs Beach Hike in the Redwoods. Now we need to go back and do that one!!!

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Home / Pacific Coast

Pacific Coast

The Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip

Pacific Coast Highway road trip driving distance map from California to Oregon and Washington

For some reason, when people elsewhere in the country refer to the Pacific Coast, particularly California, it’s apparent that they think it’s a land of kooks, an overbuilt suburban desert supporting only shopping malls, freeways, and body-obsessed airheads. All this may be true in small pockets, but the amazing thing about the Pacific Coast—from the dense green forests of western Washington to the gorgeous beaches of Southern California—is that it is still mostly wild, open, and astoundingly beautiful country, where you can drive for miles and miles and have the scenery all to yourself.

Planning a West Coast Road Trip

Road Trip USA’s Pacific Coast route begins at the northwest tip of the United States at Port Townsend near Olympic National Park, and remains within sight of the ocean almost all the way south to the Mexican border. This 1,650-mile (2,655 km), mostly two-lane route takes in everything from temperate rainforest to near-desert. Most of the Pacific Coast is in the public domain, accessible, and protected from development within national, state, and local parks, which provide habitat for such rare creatures as mountain lions, condors, and gray whales.

A misty day at rocky Cape Flattery on Washington's Olympic Peninsula.

Heading south, after the rough-and-tumble logging and fishing communities of Washington State, you cross the mouth of the Columbia River and follow the comparatively peaceful and quiet Oregon coastline, where recreation has by and large replaced industry, and where dozens of quaint and not-so-quaint communities line the ever-changing shoreline. At the midway point, you pass through the great redwood forests of Northern California, where the tallest and most majestic living things on earth line the Avenue of the Giants, home also to some of the best (meaning gloriously kitsch) remnants of the golden age of car-borne tourism: drive-through trees, drive-on trees, houses carved out of trees, and much more. The phenomenally beautiful coast-line of Northern California is rivaled only by the incredible coast of Big Sur farther south, beyond which stretches the beachfronts of Southern California. The land of palm trees, beach boys, and surfer girls of popular lore really does exist, though only in the southernmost quarter of the state.

Along with the overwhelming scale of its natural beauty, the West Coast is remarkable for the abundance of well-preserved historic sites—most of which haven’t been torn down, built on, or even built around—that stand as vivid evocations of life on what was once the most distant frontier of a new nation. While rarely as old as places on the East Coast, or as impressive as those in Europe, these diverse sites include the Spanish colonial missions of California, Russian and English fur-trading outposts, and the place where Lewis and Clark first sighted the Pacific after their long slog across the continent.

Last but certainly not least are the energizing cities— Seattle and Portland in the north, San Francisco in the middle, and Los Angeles and San Diego to the south—that serve as gateways to (or civilized respites from) the landscapes between them. Add to these the dozens of small and not-so-small towns along the coast, with alternating blue-collar ports and up-scale vacation retreats, and you have a great range of food, drink, and accommodations options. Local cafés, seafood grills, and bijou restaurants abound, as do places to stay—from youth hostels in old lighthouses to roadside motels (including the world’s first, which still stands in lovely San Luis Obispo, California) to homespun B&Bs in old farmhouses.

10 Best Pacific Coast Highway Stops

For more insight into each stop along a West Coast road trip, our content is arranged by state, with California’s coastline broken into its northern, central, and southern sections. Here are ten major sights along the Pacific Coast Highway where travelers aiming to follow only a section of the full cross-country route may wish to use to plan their drive:

Sunset at McWay falls in Big Sur along the Pacific Coast Highway

  • Olympic National Park, Washington – Combines the features of Maine’s rocky coast, the snowy peaks of the Rocky Mountains, and the unique rainforests of the Pacific Northwest
  • Astoria & Fort Clatsop, Oregon – Part of the extensive Lewis and Clark National Historic Park, Fort Clatsop is just outside the oldest American city west of the Rockies
  • “Dune Country,” Oregon – Hop out of the car and into a dune buggy to travel through some of the tallest sand dunes in the world
  • Redwood National Park, California – Stretch your legs with a walk through Lady Bird Johnson Grove
  • Mendocino, California – One of the prettiest towns on the California coast, and extra fun for fans of the TV show Murder, She Wrote
  • San Francisco, California – Easily one of the most enjoyable cities in the US and a great place to start, end, or spend a weekend along the Pacific Coast Highway
  • Monterey, California – Home to the excellent Monterey Bay Aquarium and the internationally famous Monterey Jazz Festival
  • San Simeon, California (Hearst Castle) – One of the truly unique attractions to see on a classic Highway 1 road trip
  • San Luis Obispo, California – A lively college town with a beautiful 18th-century Spanish mission to tour, and the Madonna Inn, one of the quirkiest places to spend a night
  • Los Angeles, California – Hollywood, Sunset Boulevard, and an intersection with another storied road trip: Route 66
  • San Diego, California – Beautiful beaches, grand buildings, and home to the San Diego Zoo, one of the largest and most popular zoos in the world

Related Travel Guides

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Mom, 3 Kids, 5 Days – Los Angeles To Vancouver Family Road Trip

Article By: Martha Bissell

road trip from vancouver to california

Follow my advice on how to avoid a bumpy ride — or should we say mom’s worst nightmare ever? — on a roadtrip from Los Angeles through Oregon, Washington state and Vancouver.

There’s a lot to remember when you’re traveling alone with kids: passports and parent permission letters, emergency meds and favorite snacks. We loaded our Windstar up with eight 12-gallon Akro-Mils toteboxes, three bikes, one tricycle, a backpack and jogger, assorted umbrellas, our ‘earthquake kit,’ a cooler, and little rolling activity suitcases for each child, for our winter trip from Los Angeles to Vancouver.

Our journey was going to be as short as I dared make it; I was traveling with two little kids (3 and 1) and an impatient, very long legged, non-driving teenager, getting the family to our new temporary home in Vancouver…

We ended up taking almost five days – I was laid out by food poisoning for two of them, and we had to make up for lost time, losing our treasured reservations at the Sylvia Beach Hotel.

Our return home a couple of months later was very relaxed; the same distance took us nine golden days. The extent of our planning was to call ahead for lodging as we saw what town we would end our day’s drive in. We used the AAA travel book as a rough guide for planning. We stayed in a couple of truly marvelous places and only had two bad experiences.

We were fortunate – we had enough money to travel in comfort, eat what we chose, stay where we wished. Our decisions were made by what was available (lots, in the off season) and what looked interesting. Of the places that we stayed on our trip from Los Angeles to Vancouver and back again, the most expensive one was a depressing bust and one of our two favorites was the cheapest. Here’s our story…

Starting Out, North through California

Our first night was spent at our Nana Lizzy’s house in Los Osos, halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. It was great having a place to readjust our packing and seating after the first 250-mile shakedown cruise, as well as a fine fridge to ransack to improve our provisions cooler.

We spent most of the following day at the Monterey Bay Aquarium (831/648-4800.) The kids loved it. In early January, with everyone just back in school, the aquarium was almost deserted and we were able to see and touch everything we wanted to. Afterwards, we struck out over a couple of San Francisco’s bridges, deciding to drive as long as the kids were okay and we were still having some fun.

That night we checked into Granzella’s Inn (800/643-8614, 530/473-3310) to the side of Interstate 5. We took the presidential suite for a very low nightly rate. It wasn’t palatial, but it did have enough beds for everyone in two separate rooms. The staff couldn’t have been friendlier, or more honest, as I discovered later. Sometime that evening, I dropped a beloved (and very precious) necklace that my husband had given me. It wasn’t ’til days later that I realized that it was gone. I called the Inn, with little hope, and discovered that it had been turned in by a woman in the cleaning crew, and would be returned to me forthwith.

Granzella’s also has a large, very comfortable, family-friendly restaurant and deli where we enjoyed great Italian food – I loved the gnocchi, and even more loved that our tired little party was bumped to the front of the busy line waiting to get in.

After a visit to friends on Mount Shasta, we left California and at Grant’s Pass, cut westward from Rte. 5 to visit Out n’About Treehouses. I can’t imagine a more perfect place to be deathly ill.

The Ups & Downs of Tree Living

High in the branches of an oak grove in Takilma, a pretty little valley in the rolling gold and cave filled Siskiyou Mountains, 10 miles from the small town of Cave Junction is a quirky magical family-friendly treasure. Michael Garnier and Peggy Malone have built a community of 13 different tree houses ranging from a tented aerie 30 feet in the air (big people only please) to an immaculately detailed suite with stained glass windows and a claw bathtub luxuriously housing an entire family.

Kid-Safe Tree House From June through Labor Day, the Out ‘n’About Treesort (541/592-2208) is dominated by children and new and repeating families, and during the off-season (when we were traveling), they specialize in romantic interludes. We had the resort to ourselves and were able to explore everywhere. The tree houses are astonishingly beautiful and thoughtfully designed with kids in mind. After an eight year battle, the county recognized the built-in safety features of the tree houses and has grudgingly come to respect the Resort’s successes. Michael, the architect and master builder says, “the main thing is the foundation, you need a healthy tree and then it’s how you attach everything to the tree.” Attached to the oak trees are elegantly constructed tree houses like the Swiss Family Complex (with a separate small-doored unit for the kids attached to the adults with a swinging bridge), the two-story Cabin Tree (sleeping five comfortably) and the 20-foot-high Peacock Perch with its gracefully hand carved door.

We had very wide, safe stairs sweeping up to the stained glass windows and sophisticated joinery of the Schoolhouse Suite. Inside, we had a kitchenette (fridge, microwave, coffeemaker and toaster) with dining area, a master bedroom with plenty of drawer space, a double futon in the sitting area and a loft that accommodates two children.

Self Catered With Help Nearby We had been advised beforehand that (off-season) it would be a good idea to bring food in to eat or cook. After a long day of driving with the kids I didn’t feel like braving dark country roads back to town for dinner, so we had stopped at a supermarket in Cave Junction and picked up a precooked chicken and some other supplies.

During our first night in our tree house something I’d eaten during the day came back to haunt me. Before dawn I was vomiting precociously, unable to walk even as far as the bathroom. Eventually I was able to rouse the teenager and when light came he dressed the little ones and headed to the Innkeeper at the big house with a short list of instructions:

  • Tell Michael that I am very sick and we need to stay here another night
  • See if there is anyone who we could hire for the day to watch the kids
  • Cancel our reservations at the Sylvia Beach
  • Tell my husband that we had a little problem but not to worry

I had a nasty fever, too, and wandered in and out of consciousness. I remember looking through the big glass doors at the foot of my bed at the ponies in their winter coats grazing below us.

Every now and then the teenager or the Innkeeper would come in and check on me. By twilight I could sit up and eventually coaxed myself out of bed, down the big wide safe stairs, and over to the big house.

Outside I found the teenager rappelling up and down trees, preparing to walk across a sky bridge that the guys were constructing. Inside, I found the little kids happily watching TV. They had spent the day feeding the horses, and playing with the dogs, were well fed and full of stories. Later that night Michael even picked up a pizza for my hungry brood. It wasn’t ’til a couple of days later that I could keep food down.

Speaking of food, a continental breakfast with homemade pastries is provided (in season) for all guests, and families are on their own for the other meals. There are good restaurants within seven miles and to prepare your own food there are supermarkets in town 12 miles away.

Activities for all Ages

While the entire resort is designed with children of all ages in mind, there are few amenities for infants or very young toddlers. A playpen/crib, a child-gate and an extensive toy box are available on request. Guests have complete run of the resort: there are barbeques, picnic tables, a dirt basketball court and a river-fed (cool and refreshing) stone-lined swimming pool.

Horseback riding was available for an additional cost. Guests pick mounts from the herd that roams the grounds. At 4 or 5 years, the children are led around the yard on the ponies and by 6-10; the kids are big enough to go on a hill and dale trail ride, crossing the river on horseback. Advanced equestrians can enjoy a rigorous mountain ride. All the children (including mine) are taught how to behave around the good-natured horses and how to feed them with open hands. Michael says that no food is allowed in the pasture, not because of nipped fingers but because the horses might crowd around the little people and tip them over. This June or July the children can even welcome a new foal!

Ropes courses are conducted for kids 4 – 73. It was thrilling to see the teenager high up in the oaks, safe in his rappelling gear! This year the staff is building a sky-trail, 30 feet up in the old oak trees. Craft classes vary by the year. Apparently some years there is a lot of tie-dying, other years lots of tile work. Other free activities include swimming, hiking, biking and question asking.

Needless to say, there are tree house classes for parents and interested older kids offering vocational instruction in basic engineering, design and construction methods (as well as the tricks involved in getting these very safe tree houses approved by building departments.) The staff is experienced in arranging all manner of outdoor educational activities including whitewater rafting, hiking, bicycling, and horseback riding. Please be aware that infants and small toddlers aren’t welcome in the local caves.

Rates: tree houses run $110/N to $220/N. One signed and dated “Out N’About” T-shirt came free with each night’s tree house stay.

Sylvia Beach – One of these Days

It was with great regret that I cancelled our reservations at the beautiful and romantic Sylvia Beach Hotel (541/265-5428). My husband and I, on our courting trip, had been unable to secure a bed for the night there. We’d been able to have a wonderful Trencherman’s Breakfast with the guests, though, and promised ourselves that we would make it back to stay in one of the literary themed rooms.

This trip I had arranged for the teenager to stay in the Dr. Suess suite (I had thought that he would pick Poe or Hemingway) and I had booked myself and the little ones, into Collette, all frills and lace, with a fireplace and typewriter, and endless views of the Pacific. The two rooms were adjoining – perfection I hoped.

We’re still hoping to make it back to this “Oceanfront Bed and Breakfast for Booklovers.” The hotel, built between 1910 and 1913, has 20 guest rooms, a gift shop, an oceanfront library ascending into the attic and of course, the restaurant “Tables of Content” where delicious fixed price breakfasts and dinners are served family style. Every night at 10, hot wine is served in the library. Other themed rooms include Mark Twain, Agatha Christie, Tennesse Williams and Oscar Wilde. Although the hotel is not designed with kids in mind (except for Dr. Seuss, of course) the owners were very welcoming of our young brood, especially during mid-week, off-season. The hotel fills quickly and rooms are often reserved a year, or years ahead for specific dates.

So, after our unplanned extra night in the tree house we had to head quickly for Vancouver. We woke up in the dark, packed the car and high-tailed it north for a grueling 550-mile drive. That’s a long way with little kids, especially with a sick driver. We arrived in Vancouver, to pouring rain, just in time to put the kids to sleep. Mommy had a hot bath and went to bed.

Vancouver to Victoria to Washington: By Ferry

Our trip south, this time with my husband and little kids (the teenage was at school) was much more leisurely; our top mileage for the day was 200 miles. We stopped often and ate very, very well. There was even a lot more space in the car as I had inexpensively shipped most of our household boxes (and somehow there were many more) back to Los Angeles via Air Canada Cargo.

Kid-Friendly Victoria We took the ferry from Vancouver (actually Tswassan) to Victoria and spent a comfortable night in a two level suite (with kitchenette) at what was the   Ramada Huntingdon Manor Inn (800/663-7557) on Victoria’s Inner Harbor, which is currently called the Hundingdon Hotel and Suites at Belleville Park. Victoria is a great kid town, there is so much to do: even from our hotel room we watched sea planes land and take off. During the day we took the kids to a marvelous museum, to have tea (well, hot chocolate, really) and scones with clotted cream and jam at Murchie’s, and to a duck pond by the ocean. Among the things we missed were seeing the monkeys in the crystal palace next to the Empress Hotel, a children’s farm, many other child-friendly gardens and a glass-bottomed boat tour.

Mid-afternoon we took the international car ferry from a dock right across the street from the hotel. We cleared customs in Canada and in the crisp, clean Olympic Mountains of Port Angeles WA, drove right off the boat. The Olympic peninsula is a whole ‘nother vacation trip; besides the mountains and lakes there are glorious ocean-front parks, trout streams and even a retirement home for Hollywood stunt animals!

The Salishan is a Bust

Our big disappointment was the Salishan Spa and Golf Resort (800/452-2300) in Gleneden Beach, Oregon. We called the Westin from the car to arrange accommodations for ourselves and our tired and cranky kids. My husband checked in and was handed thoughtful little bags for the kids (age appropriate cups, a very nice night-light, and some of those socket plugs, which might hamper less ingenious kids) by the friendly staff. He was also given (and paid for) a ‘special’ price for the night because of our platinum AmEx that was actually higher than the price given to me over the phone as we were driving in to look at the resort.

Promises, Promises When I had called the lodge I specifically asked for a suite with a separate bedroom in which we could tuck our soon-to-be-sleeping, very photosensitive children. When we got to the promised suite, there was no separate room. We were all to sleep together, the kids on a fold-out couch. I was angry at being misled and called to complain but no more suitable rooms were apparently available at the nearly empty resort. The room was large and attractive with a fireplace and comfortable bed, but as the kids have lights out at 8:30 we were unable to enjoy the room or any adult time together. I spent part of the night reading in the bathroom, utterly miserable; the extensive Westin toiletry package just didn’t compensate for my distress.

Although we aren’t a TV kind of family we tried to plug in the kids while we set up for the night. There were very limited channels and none were remotely interesting (much less appropriate) for little kids. We tried ordering kid videos but none were available. The woman at the desk seemed surprised that the resort brochures even mentioned having them.

Dining Let-Down We didn’t eat at the Salishan’s renowned dining room but did have a very mediocre (not very good, not very bad) meal at the Cedar Tree grill [Editor’s Note: Now this restaurant is just called The Grill ], served by a cheerily discombobulated staff. The presentation was a little late 80’s (like the kiwi salsa that was pretty but weirdly incompatible – it made me think that Hilton was using an executive chef back in New York or Miami, or somewhere, to decide on menus, rather than relying on the good common sense of the local chef.) I don’t think that the meal would have bothered me as much if we hadn’t been eating so splendidly to this point – we had spent days devouring freshest crab at least once a day, delicious fishes, Tillamook cheeses on artisan breads, great honest soups of locally grown vegetables. What a let-down this pretentious food was! Who cared that the kids ate free?

The resort is a collection of low wooden buildings with pretty wooded walkways (even over a waterfall.) If we had stayed for longer we would have golfed and swam, but after the first hideous night, a second was out of the question. In addition, the resort is too far from the ocean to be much fun (there is beach access through the golf course and private homes), and the resort is too close to the highway. In exchange for our limited view we had the unlimited roar of the highway.

Would I bring the family back again? Absolutely not. Would I recommend it to someone else? No. Our overall experience was rotten. I don’t mind paying well for something that provides great memories but I begrudge that our most expensive night of the trip was this middling middle-class resort.

Oceanside Beauty, Next Time… the Temple of Isis

On a happier note, just a few miles away from the Salishan Resort in Gleneden Beach, for $50/N (firewood included) we stayed at in an immaculate, three-bedroom cabin right by the ocean. We were thrilled by our very cozy time-warped cabin with stone fireplace and original 40’s decor. All cottages have open fireplaces with the wood furnished, and electric heat. Some of the newer (less rustic) cabins have ocean views, but all are a two-minute stroll from one of the prettiest wild beaches you’ve ever seen.

Nearby are great unpretentious restaurants. Our family was given seats of honor right by the picture window at Jot’s Rod’n Reel (‘you’re a stranger here but once’) before being fed a really great meal of local catch. Other local activities include horseback riding (we didn’t this time), and beachcombing for agates and driftwood. Ireland’s Rustic Cottages (541/247-7718) is a comfortable place that we could imagine staying for a week or so in the summer, exploring the area and coming back at night. There are no special provisions for children, except for the lovely little swing out front, but it is still a very happy place for them.

We loved each mile of Washington and Oregon beaches, we loved being nestled into oceanside hotel rooms during winter storms. On our next trip we hope to spend more time at a couple of places we just looked in on. Besides the entire Olympic Peninsula (which we circumnavigated in the dark), there is a Museum of Flight in a couple of enormous Zeppelin hangers in Tillamook, Oregon, and we would love to go back and send more balsawood gliders off of the Astoria Column in Astoria, OR (although it is better for older children; I was terrified my toddler would slip through the very unchild-proof stair railings to the tower floor 120 feet below), I would eat again at the Chinese restaurant (recommended to us by the Syvlia Beach Hotel) on the harbor in Newport, Oregon, where we were serenaded by sea lions and where the chef stepped down to the ocean to retrieve the crabs that we would eat for lunch.

We would like to go back to Real Goods’ Solar Living Center ( 707-744-2017), in Hopland, California, for a morning or afternoon and enjoy their inspiring and very child-friendly sanctuary of gardens, waterfalls and ponds. Real Goods is a public company which demonstrates examples of sustainable living. They have a very interesting shop (which you may know by their catalogue) but the Center alone is well worth a visit.

Not too far away are the Temple of Isis and the Isis Oasis ( 707/857-4747). I had originally read about the place in a book of spiritual retreats and had wanted to see what it looked like. The main attraction for kids is, far and away, the Temple’s compact zoo. There are many exotic birds in the oasis (including white peacocks, one of Isis’s special creatures) and there is a collection of endangered cats, as well as llamas, goats and a living unicorn that guests have an opportunity to feed. On the 10-acre grounds are a spa, a large, lovely pool, a swan pond, and waterfalls.

Accommodations range from a 100-year-old farm house which will sleep up to 15, a tiny charming tower for two (with a huge tiled shower room), an enchanted cottage with private hot tub, king size bed and four twins, assorted yurts, a geodesic dome (really!), and even more exotic lodging including a wine barrel, teepees, and a pyramid. All guests enjoy a complimentary healthy country breakfast, and other meals are provided at reasonable cost. Massages, past life readings, and weddings are extra. The place looks a little faded in the off season but I can imagine what it would be like in the summertime and would like to add it to another family journey.

Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.

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California to Vancouver drive

California to vancouver road trip planner.

Here's a sample itinerary for a drive from California to Vancouver. If you're planning a road trip to Vancouver, you can research locations to stop along the way. Make sure you check road conditions to double check the weather. Traveling with a dog or cat? Find pet-friendly stops . Camping along the way? Search for RV campgrounds . Find the best hotels, restaurants, and attractions based on the most talked about places recommended by Trippy members.

8:00 am  start at California drive for about 41 hours

day 1 driving ≈ 41 hours

11:00 am  leave from Sacramento drive for about 2.5 hours

day 2 driving ≈ 2.5 hours

10:00 am  leave from Redding drive for about 2.5 hours

12:19 pm   Ashland (Oregon) stay for about 1 hour and leave at 1:19 pm drive for about 3 hours

4:11 pm   Eugene stay for about 1 hour and leave at 5:11 pm drive for about 2 hours

day 3 driving ≈ 7 hours

10:00 am  leave from Ace Hotel Portland drive for about 2.5 hours

12:27 pm   Tacoma eat at Duke's Chowder House stay for about 1 hour and leave at 1:27 pm drive for about 3 hours

4:25 pm  arrive in Vancouver stay at Yaletown

day 4 driving ≈ 5.5 hours

Where should I stop along the way?

Sacramento   (73 answers)     California State Railroad Museum   (6 mentions)     California State Capitol Museum   (3 mentions)     58 Degrees & Holding Co.   (2 mentions)     restaurants around Sacramento:         Ella Dining Room & Bar         Rick's Dessert Diner         Delta King Hotel         The Rind         Mulvaney's B&L     questions about Sacramento:         What is your favorite restaurant in Sacramento?         Things to do and see in Sacramento         Hidden gems in Sacramento?         Me want food in Sacramento!         Question about location for USA Outdoor Nationals Redding   (16 answers)     restaurants around Redding:         Wilda's Grill         Market Street Steakhouse     questions about Redding:         Best free things to do in Redding?         What is your favorite restaurant in Redding? Ashland (Oregon)   (31 answers)     Ashland   (15 mentions)     Oregon Shakespeare Festival   (3 mentions)     Lithia Park   (2 mentions)     questions about Ashland (Oregon):         Best free things to do in Ashland (Oregon)?         Spas in the Ashland area? Eugene   (24 answers)     questions about Eugene:         What is your favorite restaurant in Eugene? Portland   (275 answers)     International Rose Test Garden   (20 mentions)     Powell's City of Books   (17 mentions)     Japanese Gardens   (15 mentions)     Portland Saturday Market   (13 mentions)     Timberline Lodge   (12 mentions)     restaurants around Portland:         Voodoo Doughnuts         Tasty N Sons         Lardo         Potato Champion         Pok Pok Restaurant     hotels around Portland:         Ace Hotel Portland         The Nines, Portland         Hotel Monaco Portland         The Heathman Hotel         Inn At Northrup Station     questions about Portland:         What is your favorite restaurant in Portland?         Mid July: 1 week with wife and kid - what should we prioritize?         Best coffee shops in Portland         Visiting in July for 5 days with my boyfriend, where and what must we do?         Artsy area with fun little shops Tacoma   (20 answers)     Museum of Glass   (5 mentions)     LeMay - America's Car Museum   (3 mentions)     Tacoma Art Museum   (2 mentions)     The Swiss   (2 mentions)     restaurants around Tacoma:         Duke's Chowder House         The Lobster Shop     questions about Tacoma:         What is your favorite restaurant in Tacoma?         What is Tacoma weather like in the summer?

Where's the best place to stay in Vancouver?

Are you going straight to a hotel, or looking for a vacation rental or Airbnb?

The best resource on neighborhoods, areas, and hotels is the Trippy page on where to stay in Vancouver .

If you're looking for a quick answer, you can check out Yaletown , which was mentioned 7 times on Trippy.

Here are some more hotels people talk about:

Want to research more popular hotels in Vancouver? Click the blue button below.

Where's the best place to eat in Vancouver?

Need some recommendations on somewhere to get food?

Trippy members suggest Vij’s , which was mentioned 10 times.

Here are some more restaurants people talk about:

Want to research more popular restaurants in Vancouver? Click the blue button below.

What are some things to do in Vancouver?

This section could be endless, so rather than trying to suggest every local activity or attraction, we'll leave it open-ended.

These are some of the places people talk about on Trippy:

Of course, Trippy is the perfect place to ask questions because there's an entire community of travelers talking to each other and sharing tips and advice. Trippy is where you can get answers personalized for your tastes, budgets, trip dates & more!

For example, here are some questions people have asked about Vancouver. Click on any question to see answers from the community!

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Click the button below to explore more questions and answers related to Vancouver.

Do I really have to go back home?

Yes, even this step is optional, because if you're on vacation who wants the trip to end? It's okay, you can start planning your next trip!

Want to plan the trip back? Get the reverse directions for a Vancouver to California drive , or go to the main page to plan a new road trip .

You can also compare the travel time if you're flying or driving by calculating the distance from California to Vancouver . Or get a full California to Vancouver flight plan .

Don't forget about exploring your own hometown with a staycation. You can also find some cool day trips or get away for a weekend.

And if you know California well, please help your fellow travelers and answer their questions about California!

More info on this route:

road conditions from California to Vancouver

places to eat

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Google driving directions

Travelmath

The cost of driving (USD) from Vancouver, British Columbia to Los Angeles, California is:

$223.13 one-way / $446.26 round trip.

  • $223.13 USD to CAD
  • Vancouver to Los Angeles drive
  • trips from Vancouver to Los Angeles

Route to drive from Vancouver, Canada to Los Angeles, CA

View a map with driving directions using your preferred map provider: Google Maps , Bing Maps , or MapQuest . You can use CostDrive.com to get the cost to drive from Vancouver to Los Angeles .

More trip calculations

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Road trip planner

The total cost of driving from Vancouver, Canada to Los Angeles, CA (one-way) is $223.13 at current gas prices.

The round trip cost would be $446.26 to go from Vancouver, Canada to Los Angeles, CA and back to Vancouver, Canada again.

Regular fuel costs are around $4.38 per gallon for your trip. This calculation assumes that your vehicle gets an average gas mileage of 25 mpg for a mix of city and highway driving.

All currency units are U.S. Dollars. If you prefer international units, the equivalent petrol pump price is 115.6 cents/litre . This assumes a typical fuel economy of 9.4 L/100 km .

You'll go through 51.0 gallons of gas during this trip. This is equal to 193.1 litres .

If you fill your tank with unleaded gasoline, the carbon emissions will be around 998 lbs CO2 . This is equivalent to 453 kg CO2e or 0.45 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents. These numbers may change depending on the exact make and model of your car. If your vehicle uses diesel instead, the CO2 emissions will be around 1,168 lbs CO2 , which is equivalent to 530 kg CO2e or 0.53 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents.

These results are based on the actual driving distance from Vancouver, Canada to Los Angeles, CA, which is 1,275 miles or 2 052 kilometers .

Your trip begins in Vancouver, Canada. Our data is primarily for U.S. gas prices, but rough estimates show that fuel prices in Canada are around 1.3 times U.S. prices, so we estimated an average gas price of $4.19 in Canada .

Your trip ends in Los Angeles, California. The price of regular gas is around $4.56 in California .

Currently, we only have exact data for locations in the United States. To improve the accuracy of your fuel cost estimate, you can enter the actual price you pay for gas or petrol at the local pump in the table above.

The following chart displays the difference in total cost of driving given varying fuel grades. If your car requires higher octane gas, you can find out how much more it will cost you to drive between Vancouver, Canada and Los Angeles, CA.

Vancouver, British Columbia

Related links.

  • airlines serving Vancouver, Canada
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  • cities near Vancouver, Canada

Los Angeles, California

  • airlines serving Los Angeles, CA
  • hotels near Los Angeles, CA
  • airports near Los Angeles, CA
  • cities near Los Angeles, CA

Cost of driving

Travelmath provides an online driving cost calculator to help you determine how much you'll spend on gas for your next road trip. You can enter airports, cities, states, countries, or zip codes to compute the cost of driving between locations. Driving distances are calculated using actual driving directions if they are available, or a GPS-accurate method for the straight line distance. Automatic estimates are provided for local gas prices and vehicle fuel efficiency in miles per gallon (mpg) or liters per 100 kilometers (L/100 km), based on the make and model of your car, SUV, or minivan. Don't let the economy and rising oil prices stop you from taking your next trip. You can use this tool to find out if it's cheaper to fly or drive to your destination.

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Dotted Globe

Ultimate California Road Trip Itinerary: From the Pacific to the Redwoods!

road trip from vancouver to california

Are you looking for the best California road trip itinerary to explore the most beautiful places in the Golden State? Our 10 days in California itinerary will take you from the rugged coast and beautiful beaches to the snow-capped peaks of the Sierra Nevadas. Hike the Mojave desert, sleep underneath a yucca tree, and visit the lowest place on the continent while you road trip in California. Read our 10 day California Road Trip guide now. You may also like our post on 20 Best Road Trips in the USA .

Welcome to our ultimate California road trip planner!

We created this planner to help you plan the perfect road trip around California and it contains all the essential information you need to plan your trip today including budget and costs, what to eat, where to stay, etc.

Here you will find recommendations for a variety of California itineraries as well as get more information on California road trip must-see attractions including the Golden Gate Bridge, Big Sur, Yosemite, and Los Angeles.

Our mission? To make sure you have a blast in California!

Pacific Coast Highway near Big Sur is the most scenic drive in the world

Also Read: Portland to San Francisco Road Trip Itinerary California To Texas road trip planner Best Things to do in Washington State

California is our favorite destination ever.

I have been enamored with California long before I visited it.

California, San Jose, and the West coast are randomly thrown around in conversations in India – because everyone knows someone working in Silicon Valley – and you can’t help but know about this slice of America.

Growing up, I knew more about Cisco, Apple, Google, and Yahoo (remember when everyone used Yahoo?!) than San Francisco, Yosemite, and Big Sur.

And Disney – because everyone knows Disney!

road trip from vancouver to california

California has such a unique history.

The oldest, tallest, and widest trees live here and guess what, they have been around since prehistoric times – yes, even dinosaurs lived among the redwood trees!

One of the lowest, aridest, and hottest places on earth is right here in California in Badwater Basin.

And as for scenic places: California has so many of them!

We love Big Sur and its rocky coast, the wildflower super blooms, blue Lake Tahoe, Mono Lake and its tufas, unique shapes of Joshua trees!

There are so many things to see in California road trip that the list just goes on!

General Sherman Tree in Sequoia National Park during the winter

Also Read: 24 Best Places to Visit in California in winter

Dotted Globe contains affiliate links. If you click one of them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Read my full  Disclosure  here. Thank you!

And that’s why in our California road trip itinerary of 10 days, we take you around all these unique and beautiful places in the Golden State.

Our California 10 day road trip itinerary is perfect for driving around dreamy landscapes of yellow poppies, orange orchards, purple foliage, and lush green vineyards.

We have divided this California roadtrip itinerary into 4 essential stretches as per the geographic features of the state – yepp, we are that geeky – and you can customize it as you want. 

Best waterproof walking shoes for California beaches

If you are a beach person like me, then extend the Pacific Coast Highway Itinerary to 10 days.

If you are a mountain lover like my hubby, then take a 10 day road trip from San Francisco to Yosemite.

Yosemite Valley Tunnel View in the winter

Pick your favorite area and stay there as long as you want. Or follow our California in 10 days itinerary exactly as described!

As always, we have also included suggestions for if you have more or less time.

Whatever you chose, you are going to have the time of your lives – because this is California!

Balboa Park's Casa de Balboa Building in San Diego, California

“Every time I come, I’m still amazed at the breadth California has. Big Sur, Yosemite, the desert… I love it.” – Theo James, the English actor

Best of California Road Trip 10 Days Itinerary

We, like most people, have seen California in bits and pieces rather than in one go.

We first visited California almost a decade ago and did San Francisco, Los Angeles, and the theme parks.

Second time around, we visited Death Valley National Park on a road trip from Vegas.

Then I lived and worked in the Bay area in tech (oh, the irony!) and that’s when we explored the California National Parks, North Coast, and the Sierra Nevada side of the state.

Our most popular posts: 22 Best City Breaks in the USA The Best Things to do in New York on your first visit Ultimate List of Best Places to visit in the USA

The Napa Valley Sign in Napa California

Most recently, we did the San Francisco to Los Angeles road trip along the gorgeous Pacific Coast Highway – oh and also road-tripped Southern California and Disney with the kids.

On our next trip – we plan to do the North Coast and Redwoods Scenic Highway AGAIN.

Yeah – that’s how much we love California – have been to many destinations several times and still can’t have enough.

The best way to tour California is obviously by driving. The state is beautiful but huge and it’s not easy planning California trip that covers all the major attractions with limited time in hand.

Huntington Beach, California is sunny and warm in winter

And planning a California road trip with kids is even more difficult – how do you prioritize between theme parks and natural attractions?

And that’s where we rush in – your knights in shining armor – delivering the ultimate 10 day California road trip itinerary. 

Our California trip planner is more like going on a series of best California road trips – each more gorgeous than the previous.

Also, we follow this road trip along two of California’s most popular routes: south on the SR1 or Pacific Coast Highway and then back north along the scenic SR 395 through Eastern California .

That’s what makes our itinerary the absolute best California driving trip planner!

You can also call it the California National Parks road trip because we will be visiting the most popular of them on an epic road trip.

We hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

road trip from vancouver to california

Stretch 1: Down The Pacific Coast – 4 Days

Often enough, when someone talks about a California driving holiday, this stretch along the Pacific Coast Highway is the one they actually mean.

Constantly ranked among the top scenic drives in the world, the coastal drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles is the best of both worlds.

It combines the urban getaways of California’s two largest cities with the natural panoramas of Big Sur and the Pacific. 

If you have limited time, we would recommend spending 3 to 4 days along this route.

If you want to focus only on this coastal road trip, then just drive south on a road trip from San Francisco on SR1.

Take your own time to enjoy roadside stops like Carmel-By-The-Sea, Morro Bay, and the stunning Big Sur.

Hike or camp and explore nature.

Here’s our suggestion for this stretch of 10 day California itinerary planner.

Union Square is the heart of Christmas festivities in San Francisco

San Francisco – 1 Day

Start with our San Francisco road trip planner.

San Francisco is our favorite city to start a 10 day California trip.

The city is quite easy to fly into; the 3 airports of San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland are located close by and many airlines have deals to the Bay area.

We would recommend spending a minimum of one day in San Francisco before picking up your rental car and driving south.

Or you can rent a car before, see SF, and then drive the PCH.

You can also start your 10 day road trip from Los Angeles, in that case, adjust your plans accordingly.

San Francisco street cars look charming during the holidays

Read this now! Whatever you do – don’t casually park your car at an empty garage in San Francisco. Car Break-ins in San Francisco are very common, as we discovered to our ill-fortune . On our latest trip to San Francisco, we had parked in a garage two blocks away from Pier 39 and came back to find the rear glass broken and both our children’s suitcases gone!  We had to spend quite some time to sort the issue and it left a sad memory on an otherwise awesome road trip around California in 10 days. We would recommend parking at your hotel while taking a cab or the tram to explore the city. 

San Francisco has many names – SF, San Fran, Fog City, the City by the Bay, Frisco (though don’t say that in front of locals) or simply, the City – going back to the days of the Wild West when there was nothing much in Northern California but the city.

San Francisco is colorful, vibrant, and bohemian.

It’s amongst our favorite US cities – right there at the top along with New York , Chicago , and New Orleans.

San Francisco City Hall decorated for Christmas

There are quite a few things to do in San Francisco: unsurprisingly most of them begin at or near the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, San Francisco’s gigantic urban park.

Begin your visit at the Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center near the southern end of the bridge.

Learn interesting facts and see construction relics from the building of the Golden Gate Bridge before visiting the bridge itself.

Next walk across all 1.7 miles of this engineering marvel and icon of America.

The views of the bay from the bridge are beautiful and you feel an indescribable thrill while walking across it.

Definitely the highlight of your California travel itinerary!

road trip from vancouver to california

Up for more adventure?

Bike the Golden Gate!

We have done it twice – most recently with our 3 yrs and 6 months old kids – it is a superb experience.

We love biking across to Sausalito, exploring the quaint town, and taking the ferry back to San Francisco.

You can also bike to the redwoods if you have more time.

Read our ultimate guide to biking the bridge here.

If not biking, then use the rest of your day to explore San Francisco’s highlights: Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39, Lombard Street, and Ghirardelli Square.

If you want to spend more time in San Francisco, see the Painted Ladies – those famous SF houses shown in Full House!

You can also check out the city from the Twin Peaks.

The Golden Gate Park is perfect for a stroll.

Ride the cable car to Chinatown and have some dumplings and noodles for lunch.

Spend an afternoon admiring the beautiful architecture of the Palace of Fine Arts or visit the prison of Alcatraz Island.

Visit the beautiful redwood trees at Muir Woods National Monument or whale watch and hike at Point Reyes.

San Francisco is a beautiful city and you can easily spend a couple of days there as a part of your 10 day trip to California.

Read our San Francisco posts now to plan this part of the trip: San Francisco 3 to 5-day itinerary ideas 17 Best Things to do in San Francisco on your first visit

The area around San Francisco is also full of activities and tourist attractions.

Here are some suggestions if you want to spend a few more days exploring around the Bay Area during your California itinerary of 10 days:

Napa & Sonoma 

Take a day trip from San Francisco to Napa Valley along the Silverado Trail.

Sonoma County is also a great place to visit for wine lovers.

You can tour the many vineyards, taste local wines, dine at Michelin starred restaurants, and visit famous tasting rooms.

If you happen to visit in the fall, you will see beautiful fall colors in the vineyards and be able to attend grape stomping. 

San Jose is popular with millennials and those working in Silicon Valley.

You will find plenty of trendy nightclubs and bars in San Jose.

If you enjoy shopping, check out the high fashion brands on Santana Row.

For outdoor lovers, a hike to Mission Peak is a must while families will love the Winchester Mystery House.

Silicon Valley

If you love tech then you need to visit Silicon Valley.

It boasts the largest concentration of geeks and nerds – and as a fellow geek, I say it quite fondly!

Start your visit at the Computer History Museum to know everything about the machine that changed our lives.

Then see Google’s Android lawn sculptures in Mountain View or the garage where Hewlett Packard began in Palo Alto.

Visit Stanford University’s sprawling campus as well as Facebook and Apple!

McWay Falls, Big Sur, California

Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip – 2 Days

On to the next part of the 10 day road trip in California.

After seeing San Francisco, drive south along the SR1 or Pacific Coast Highway.

Over the next 2 days, you will follow the coastal route to Los Angeles while making plenty of stops along the way.

Check the coastal communities of Half Moon Bay and Davenport before reaching Santa Cruz.

If you have kids, spend some time at the Santa Cruz Beach and Boardwalk.

Next visit Monterey and Carmel by the Sea. Hike in Point Lobos or walk the coastal bluffs at Garrapata State Park.

On the way, you will see secret beaches, hidden coves, and beautiful views. 

Wineries near paso Robles in Central California

As you begin driving PCH1 while following our 10 days in California itinerary, you understand why artists settle here, photographers and writers both wax lyrical about this region, and why the drive is called the most beautiful in the world.

We recommend staying somewhere in the vicinity of Carmel Highlands for the night.

The next day, rise early for the star attraction of the drive: the 90-mile long rugged, wild Big Sur.

Big Sur is 6 hours from Los Angeles and you have a big day ahead.

It is really hard to describe Big Sur.

Rocky cliffs, foaming waves, spring wildflowers, lighthouses, migrating whales, turquoise water, redwood trees: Big Sur has everything.

December in California is the perfect time to go whale watching near Monterey

It is gorgeous in a wild way.

In Big Sur, you will find amazing state parks, some of California’s best hiking trails, iconic beaches, and tons of marine life, including otters, elephant seals, and dolphins.

Some areas of Big Sur can be closed at any given time of the year due to floods or landslides – so we recommend checking out the PCH status before your 10 days road trip California.

Beach hiking trails in Monterey California

Read more about all the attractions including the beautiful McWay Falls in our post One day in Big Sur . 

Other attractions of the Pacific Coast Highway drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles include Monterey’s famous 17-mile drive, the seaside towns of Pismo Beach and Morro Bay, the famous Hearst Castle, Santa Barbara, and the beaches of Malibu.

For the purposes of this California Itinerary of 10 days, we would suggest 2 to 3 days on PCH.

However, if you have more time then the PCH is easily a 4 day to week-long road trip in itself.

To read more about all the awesome stops on PCH and planning a detailed itinerary, check out our article on Planning a road trip along the Pacific Coast Highway . 

Also Read: Top 10 Convertible drives in the USA

road trip from vancouver to california

Los Angeles – 1 Day

While San Francisco and Silicon Valley are for tech lovers, Los Angeles is for Hollywood fans.

How long to stay in Los Angeles is a tricky question.

If you only have one day in Los Angeles, start by seeing the famous Hollywood sign and then visit the Hollywood Walk of Fame to take selfies with your favorite stars.

Also, see the Kodak Theatre (now Dolby Theatre) which hosts the Oscars and tour the movie star homes on Rodeo Drive.

Venice canals at Christmas in Los Angeles

If you have more time to explore Los Angeles, we suggest starting with lunch at the Santa Monica Pier.

Then visit the Griffith Observatory and see Los Angeles from above.

Or you can take a behind the scenes VIP studio tour at one of your favorite studios: pick from Warner Brothers, Paramount Pictures or Sony!

You can also check out the beautiful exhibits at the Getty Center or the beautiful modern art at the Broad.

LA also has many other top museums and a large number of attractions – read our post on Best Things to do in Los Angeles for more ideas.

For more help in planning your day, read our Los Angeles itinerary for first-time visitors .

road trip from vancouver to california

Here are some suggestions to explore the area beyond Downtown Los Angeles:

No California family road trip is complete without a trip to Disney.

Both of California’s Disney Parks are located close to Los Angeles in Anaheim.

On the best California vacation itinerary, you have to meet Mickey, Goofy and other beloved cartoon characters!

Kids also get to meet Disney’s princesses in full attire at the parks.

To plan a California family vacation itinerary including a trip to Disney, read our Disney posts .

Universal Studios

To understand all about movie-making, see movie sets, and enjoy thrilling rides visit Universal Studios.

This theme park has really cool attractions and the Studio Tour will take you through sets based on Shutter Island, Jaws, King Kong, and more.

Harry Potter fans will love visiting Hogwarts and taking thrilling rides based on the books and movies – and is a must-visit if you are spending 10 days in California.

Colorful houses near Santa Cruz, California

Channel Islands National Park

For a unique experience, customize our itinerary for California 10 days and visit the remote Channel Islands.

Comprised of 5 islands, the park has excellent wildlife, sea caves, and lots of natural beauty.

You can take a ferry to the park from Ventura.

Optional: San Diego – 1 Day

From Los Angeles, you can venture on the next part of California 10 day itinerary or extend your trip down the coast by visiting San Diego.

Not many people know that San Diego is the oldest city on the West Coast.

It has beautiful Spanish Colonial architecture and lots of history. 

San Diego, California, downtown skyline

Read our post 22 Best Things to do in San Diego now to know more about this beautiful city.

If you have one day, you can visit the Historic Old Town and understand the Mexican and Wild West roots of the city.

Next, visit the famous Balboa Park with its beautiful architecture, renowned museums, and the San Diego Zoo.

Round off your time in the city by exploring the historic Gaslamp Quarter and its Victorian architecture and trendy eateries, hotels, and pubs.

This area is perfect for ending the day with dinner and drinks.

road trip from vancouver to california

If you have more than a day, visit the famous San Diego Sea World and see the dolphins in action.

San Diego is home to many beautiful beaches; the Mission Beach boardwalk is very popular.

Other things to see include Mission San Diego, Sunset Cliffs Park, and the bustling waterfront area of Seaport Village.

If you have more time on 10 day itinerary California, check out the dramatic sculptures in the desert city of Borrego Springs.

Related: For more California road trip ideas, check out our post on 12 Best California road trips

Christmas decorations in Old San Diego Town California

Stretch 2: Through The Arid Californian Desert – 2 Days

Continue on the California road trip route planner through deserts of southern California.

While most people associate California primarily with the coast and then with the dense redwood forests, the state is also renowned for its unique desert landscapes.

Most of these parts of southern California have a desolate beauty.

It is full of desert cities like Palm Springs which offer unique tourist attractions for visitors.

In this post, we focus our California 10 days itinerary on exploring two of the region’s national parks: Joshua Tree National Park and Death Valley National Park.

Joshua Tree Landscape

Joshua Tree National Park – 1 Day

Located partly over the Colorado desert and the Mojave desert, Joshua Tree National Park is named after the iconic Joshua tree.

This is a type of Yucca tree that is twisted, scraggly, and found only in the Mojave desert of California.

The easily recognizable tree looks even more dramatic in the desert landscape and bare rock formations of Joshua Tree National Park.

The national park is one of the most underrated California road trip destinations.

Its unique vistas have drawn photographers and artists to the park for decades.

Read our post on One Day in Joshua Tree to plan your trip.

road trip from vancouver to california

There are many things to do in Joshua Tree and its otherworldly landscape.

One of the best ways to see Joshua Tree is by driving around the paved road in the park.

Campsites in Joshua Tree are spectacular and hikes through Yucca trees and cacti adventurous.

The Hidden Valley Trail is a short mile-long trail that offers great desert landscape views.

The park has many popular geological rock formations that are used for rock climbing.

The park also has a dark night sky and is good for stargazers, astronomy enthusiasts, and night sky photographers.

Wildlife and birding opportunities around the park are also numerous.

Barker Dam in Joshua Tree National Park at sunrise

Read more in our post 24 Best Things to do in Joshua Tree National Park .

While deciding how to plan a trip to California, we recommend keeping more time aside to explore the many attractions surrounding Joshua Tree.

You can easily include them on a South California road trip from San Diego to Joshua Tree in this order: San Diego – Anza Borrego – Galleta Meadows – Salton Sea – Palm Springs – Joshua Tree.

Here’s some more information about these desert experiences that are worth adding to your itinerary if you have the time.

Salton Sea 

The Salton Sea is an inland lake created by flooding from an irrigation canal of the Colorado River that carries water to the Imperial Valley in 1905.

Several resort communities were built along the new lake.

However, the lake has no discharge and as a result, the water became unusually saline causing the death of marine life.

As a result, the communities were abandoned and are extremely popular with ruin photographers.

If you have teens, then definitely include Bombay Beach ruins in your California vacation itinerary – they will love to see random objects lying on the beach.

Today, the Salton Sea shoreline is filled with deteriorating structures and RV communities.

The Salton Sea is also located directly on top of the San Andreas fault and geothermal activity including mud pools are present along the coast.

The Salton Sea State Recreation Area is popular for birding, boating, picnicking, and camping. 

Beautiful interior of the church at the Santa Barbara Mission in California near Christmas

Palm Springs

Palm Springs, located in the Colorado desert region, is one of the biggest Californian desert cities.

If you want a relaxing vacation, then Palm Springs is one of the best California ideas.

One of its main attractions is the Palm Springs aerial tramway which takes you up Mount San Jacinto and offers great views of the surrounding area.

Palm Springs also has many great museums, boutique stores, restaurants, and resorts.

It is one of the most popular winter vacation destinations in the USA.

If you plan to visit Palm Springs, then check out our post on 30 Best Things to do in Palm Springs, California.

Palm Springs California in amazing to visit in December

Anza Borrego and Galleta Meadows Sculptures in Borrego Springs

While California has many beautiful state parks, few know about its largest – Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

This park is at its most beautiful in the spring when the cacti flower and the desert landscape comes alive with colors.

Anza Borrego Desert State Park is just two hours away from San Diego and can be seen on a San Diego Joshua Valley road trip.

In nearby Borrego Springs, you can see the unusual Galleta Meadows Estate sculptures.

These sculptures created by artist Ricardo Breceda are free to visit and beautiful works of art.

By driving all over the land you can spot dragons, serpents, wooly mammoths, and other fantastic creatures.  

Also, read our post on Planning the ultimate Southern California itinerary.

road trip from vancouver to california

Coachella Valley Preserve 

Coachella’s Thousand Palms Oasis is a unique chance to see the oasis environment in the middle of the desert.

The oases directly sit on fault lines and the water seeping through the faults has given life to California Fan Palms and other big palms in the arid desert.

Wildlife including sheep, goats, bobcats, etc, also can be spotted at the oasis.

Entry to the reserve is free and it has many hiking trails plus offers excellent wildlife viewing opportunities.

There are also other hiking areas close to Coachella Valley Preserve including Indian Canyons where you can hike through slot canyons. 

Scenic road to Death Valley National park, California

Death Valley National Park – 1 Day

Comprising of areas of the Mojave desert and the Great Basin desert, Death Valley is vastly different than Joshua Tree National Park.

For the most part, Death Valley is devoid of vegetation and is home to a variety of geological formations including the badlands, sand dunes, and the famous salt flats.

Death Valley also has the distinction of being the lowest point in North America and is also one of the hottest and driest places in the country.

road trip from vancouver to california

No trip to Death Valley National Park is complete without visiting the Badwater Basin salt flats.

The salt flats, at 282 feet below sea level, are the lowest place in North America.

Death Valley National Park has many scenic drives that are perfect for exploring around the park.

Mesquite Flats Sand Dunes are good for taking a stroll, exploring the desert plants, viewing animal tracks, and sunrise/sunset photography.

The park has many interesting geological formations.

Death Valley also has a dark night sky and is great for stargazing and photographing the Milky Way.

Read our post on 14 Best Things to do in Death Valley National Park for more information.

Badlands view from Zabriskie Point in Death Valley National Park at Dusk, California

We know you are planning to roadtrip California, but we can’t talk about Death Valley without mentioning Las Vegas.

Las Vegas is also a great city to begin your road trip to California.

The distance between Vegas and Death Valley is just over 2 hours and the route is quite scenic.

In fact, it is one of our favorite road trips from Las Vegas.

You can see the Sin City and then go on a road trip through California – an epic Las Vegas Los Angeles San Francisco trip, if you will!

Or you can also go on a memorable Las Vegas Grand Canyon road trip from California.

For Las Vegas travel inspiration, read our post on 52 Best Things to do in Las Vegas .

Frozen Convict Lake surrounded by mountains on a winter day;

Stretch 3: Up Through The Sierra Nevada – 4 Days

After seeing Death Valley, take a road trip on California’s Scenic Highway 395.

This road trip is scenic whether you do it from north to south or like we recommend here, from south to north.

The best time to see the aspens turn yellow here is in fall.

The total distance from Death Valley to your final destination of Yosemite is 4 hours when the Lee Vining road to Yosemite is open in the summer.

However, we recommend keeping aside 4 days for this road trip as it has some of the most underrated road trip destinations in California including the Manzanar National Historic Site, Alabama Hills, Ancient Bristlecone pine forest, Bodie Ghost Town, etc.

For more information on these Route 395 stops, see this article .

Roads in Kings Canyon National Park in winter

For the purposes of this itinerary, we focus on the popular attractions of Mammoth Lakes, Yosemite, and Lake Tahoe. 

Route 395 will take you high up into the Sierra Nevada mountains, known for their spectacular beauty.

The Sierra Nevadas are home to many national and state parks including the mighty Yosemite and crystal clear high mountain lakes.

For the rest of your Californian road trip, you will be exploring the High Sierras and its many breathtaking attractions.

This is a welcome respite after the desert landscapes of Death Valley and Joshua Tree and depending on when you visit you will be able to see beautiful meadows, wildflowers, fall foliage, and even snow!

Lake Tahoe looks spectacular even in the winter

Mammoth Lakes And Mono Lake – 1 Day

Contrary to their name, Mammoth Lakes is not a lake but a winter ski town in the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Mammoth Mountain is the main winter skiing area with a variety of ski runs.

In summer, it is a favorite with mountain bikers and hikers.

The town does have several beautiful lakes that are accessible only in the summer but none of them are named Mammoth.

The area has beautiful alpine meadows with wildflowers in spring and natural hot springs for some R&R.

In one day, we recommend taking the roughly one hour drive around the Lakes Basin and visiting all the lakes.

You can hike, picnic, kayak, and fish in whichever lake you like.

Or maybe just hang up a hammock and read a book by the lake.

road trip from vancouver to california

Nearby Mono Lake is a saltwater lake surrounded by unique towering limestone formations called the tufa.

The lake visitor center has great information about the formation of the lake and the tufa while the short South Tufa trail is great for exploring the surrounding area.

The trail takes you along the lakeshore and among the tufas.

We suggest stopping here for an hour or so; Mono Lake accepts National Park Pass for entry.

On the way from Mammoth Lakes to Mono Lake, you will pass by June Lake and Devils Postpile Monument.

Enjoy snowshoeing on Lake Tahoe in winter

June Lake Loop Road is a great place to see the fall colors while the Devils Postpile National Monument is a unique geological formation of basalt columns.

Rainbow Falls, a 31m plunging waterfall, is another popular attraction of the monument.

Past Mono Lake, take the Lee Vining Road into Yosemite.

The official name of the road is Tioga Pass Road and it is closed in winter and spring (usually November to May) due to snow.

In that case, you can’t really visit Yosemite from the eastern side.

To know alternative routes in winter, check here . 

road trip from vancouver to california

Yosemite National Park – 2 Days

Best known for its giant sequoia trees, bald granite cliffs, and spectacular waterfalls, Yosemite National Park is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Yosemite along with Yellowstone National Park and Grand Canyon National Park is known as the ‘Big Three’ and receives over 4 million visitors each year.

Yosemite is a must-stop on any Ca road trip itinerary.

The best time to visit Yosemite National Park is from the summer to fall when Tioga Pass Road is open.

Beautiful winter scenery in Yosemite National Park, California

We suggest spending 2 days in Yosemite National Park to hike, drive along scenic roads, and see the major attractions. 

On your first day, start by taking a Yosemite Valley Tour.

The Yosemite Valley is surrounded by the bald granite cliffs of El Capitan and Half Dome.

Most of the waterfalls including Yosemite Falls are also located in the valley.

The Valley is also where most of the park services including accommodations, shuttle buses, etc are located.

The Valley has hiking trails for all difficulty levels that lead to stunning views of Yosemite.

Lower Yosemite Falls hike is a short and easy trail that goes to the base of the falls.

road trip from vancouver to california

Touring the Yosemite Valley via the free shuttle bus is the easiest way to see the national park.

However, if you are visiting in summer (especially long weekends) it can get very crowded – so plan to start early in the morning.

The Valley Visitor Center has great information and exhibits about the history and geology of Yosemite, plus it is a good place to get souvenirs, postcards, and magnets.

The aptly-named Mirror Lake reflects Half Dome peak and is beautiful to visit.

However, it dries up towards the end of summer and is best seen in spring/summer. 

Another must in the Valley if you’re visiting in summer is Glacier Point.

Located along the valley rim, it can be reached only by car or private tour.

The views from Glacier Point are stellar. It is also the base for many of Yosemite’s rim hikes.

We suggest spending one day exploring the valley. Yosemite also offers paid guided tours if you prefer them.

road trip from vancouver to california

On the next day, you can go up the Tioga Pass road if it is clear of snow.

This is your chance to experience Yosemite devoid of the crowds.

The shuttle bus will take you up the Tioga Pass road to Tuolumne Meadows.

To see Yosemite’s giant sequoia trees, visit the Mariposa Grove.

This area is also accessible by the park shuttle.

End your day by visiting Ansel Adams Gallery in Yosemite Village.

Photographer Ansel Adams’s stunning black and white photos of Yosemite are a great reminder of how Yosemite looked over half a century ago.

Lake Tahoe And Emerald Bay – 1 Day

If you continue along Route 395 from Yosemite, you will reach lake Tahoe.

Note: Route 395 itself does not reach Lake Tahoe, so you will be following 207 from the Nevada side. 

The deep blue water of Lake Tahoe surrounded by snow-clad mountain peaks of the Sierra Nevadas is one of California’s iconic images.

Located on the California-Nevada border, Lake Tahoe is a popular travel destination for Californians throughout the year.

In winter it is popular for snowshoeing, skiing, and sledding.

Summer in Lake Tahoe is made for biking and camping.

In fall, the area around Lake Tahoe comes alive with spectacular fall foliage and is one of the top fall drives in the country .

South Lake Tahoe or the California side is best for enjoying the outdoors and nature with family while the Nevada side has lots of casinos and is more touristy.

road trip from vancouver to california

Crystal clear waters of Lake Tahoe (CC 2.0 – Christian Abend )

The drive around Lake Tahoe is 72 miles long and takes about three hours.

It is highly scenic and one of the best road trips in California.

Much of the shoreline of Lake Tahoe is public and the views of the lake from the drive are stunning.

The lake looks a pretty shade of blue during the day and taking a beautiful picture of the water is a highlight of your visit.

An essential stop along the drive is the Emerald Bay State Park.

The drive here is spectacular and the views of the turquoise lake are lovely.

There are many other ways to enjoy Lake Tahoe.

You can take a helicopter tour or enjoy watersports on the lake.

The Sierra Nevada mountain ranges are an absolute delight for outdoor and nature lovers.

What you will see in these 4 days is just the tip of the iceberg.

The High Sierras have many beautiful alpine valleys, lakes, ghost towns, waterfalls, and hiking trails worth exploring.

If you can spend more time in the Sierra Nevada, then here are some other must attractions:

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks 

These are the two other national parks located in the High Sierras.

The giant sequoias surround you as you drive the park roads creating a surreal and unique experience.

The twisting and turning roads here are not for the faint-hearted (hint: carry some Dramamine!).

Both national parks have great hiking trails and lots of wildlife.

John Muir Trail

While it is not possible to hike in a short time, John Muir Trail deserves a special mention.

This is a long-distance trail in the Sierra Nevada and passes through Yosemite, Sequoia, and Kings Canyon National Parks.

It is as renowned as the Appalachian or the Pacific Crest Trail. 

Bodie Ghost Town

The old mining ghost town of Bodie is an hour away from Mammoth Lakes.

Preserved as a state park, the town is full of historic saloons and deserted buildings.

While Sacramento is not in the Sierra Nevada mountain ranges, the city is on the way while returning to San Francisco from Lake Tahoe and makes for a great addition to our California road trip itinerary recommendations.

One of the top attractions in Sacramento is the California State Railroad Museum.

road trip from vancouver to california

Stretch 4: Along The Wild North Coast

There are many things to do in Northern California including national parks, scenic drives, beautiful coastal towns, and more.

You will need another 5 days minimum to fully explore the Northern part of the state.

Hence, we do not recommend covering the North Coast if you are following this California Road Trip Itinerary for 10 Days – you simply won’t have time.

The best way to explore this region is to plan a separate road trip in the northern part of the state, the details of which you can read here in our post, Ultimate Northern California road trip itinerary .

California’s North Coast is less visited, unspoiled, and partially unexplored compared to the famous central Coast and the crowded southern coast.

The prehistoric coastal redwood trees grow in groves along the road all the way up to Oregon.

Hwy 1 ends at Leggett where it joins Hwy 101.

While the road follows the coast, for the most part, it turns inward in the area of the Lost Coast.

The remote Lost Coast as the name suggests is devoid of major highways and remains the ultimate adventure for a 10 day trip to California.

road trip from vancouver to california

However, the coast is not the only unique thing about Northern California.

The northern part of the state is also home to geothermal activity.

You can climb lava tunnels at Lava Beds National Monument and see volcanic craters, domes, mud pools, etc at Lassen Volcanic National Park.

Here are a few attractions of the region:

Redwoods National and State Park

The Redwoods National and State Parks were created to preserve the old-growth redwood forests.

The Redwoods are the tallest living trees on Earth and also among the oldest.

The National Park and state parks are also home to a number of endangered animals including spotted owl, species of sea lions, etc.

The unique environment of the dense redwood forests by the coast has resulted in the park being designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Seeing the Redwoods covered in fog during winter or spring is a surreal experience.

Point Reyes

Point Reyes National Seashore, located in Marin County, preserves a large swath of northern California’s coastal wilderness.

Most popular attractions at Point Reyes include Alamere Falls on Wildcat Beach and Point Reyes Lighthouse.

Other attractions include the endangered tule elk herd that can be seen around Tomales Point, Native American redwood houses, earthquake trail, and dramatic cliffside beaches.

road trip from vancouver to california

Avenue of the Giants

Avenue of the Giants is an over 30 miles long scenic highway that passes through the Humboldt Redwoods State Park and its mighty coastal redwood trees.

Roadside attractions include tunnels cut into redwood trees, giant groves, and unique roadside attractions like a house created from a single redwood log and a Redwood RV.

We suggest hiking in the Redwood groves to experience the truly gigantic trees.

The quaint seaside town of Mendocino is quite different from the coastal towns on the Central Coast.

It reminded me of Maine and the coastal upper East coast due to its Victorian mansions painted in pretty pastel colors.

The town is a historical landmark and very pretty to wander and explore.

Nearby Mendocino Headlands State Park and Russian Gulch State Park are worth a visit.

Nearby Fort Bragg is no fort but a lumber town on the North Coast.

The famous ‘Glass Beach’ of which I’m sure you have seen pics floating around on social media is in Fort Bragg.

The beach is a part of MacKerricher State Park, a state park with amazing views of the undeveloped headlands, beaches, and tide pools.

Another popular attraction in Fort Bragg is the Skunk Train – a railroad built to haul timber logs from the redwood forests.

Other attractions on the North Coast include the pretty Victorian towns of Ferndale and Eureka, Del Norte Redwood State Park, and the seaport community of Crescent City.

More 10 Day California itinerary ideas for slow travelers

You can use our California road trip planner to customize your itinerary based on your interests. 

If you can only spend 10 days in California, then seeing all the above attractions can be overwhelming; here are a few suggestions for those who like slow travel.

California coast road trip itinerary

One great option is to go on a 10 day pacific coast highway trip or 10 day west coast road trip.

That way you can spend more time in the cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles while seeing Big Sur at a leisurely pace. 

On this San Francisco to Los Angeles road trip in 10 days, you can tour the lighthouses, hike the trails, picnic on the beach, visit the wineries of the Central Coast, and enjoy nature – seriously the best road trip in California. 

You can even do the San Francisco to San Diego road trip in 10 days.

In that case, we would recommend keeping aside 2 days each for the 3 major cities and spending the rest of the time in the Big Sur region. 

This San Francisco 10 days trip lets you enjoy the beauty of the coast while visiting the Sierra Nevadas and the desert later.

California National Parks itinerary

California has 9 national parks – all of them are unique and make for an exciting California National park road trip. 

You can visit either the most popular ones or all of them, depending on how much time you want to spend in each park. 

We would suggest starting from Los Angeles, then seeing Joshua Tree and Death Valley before visiting Kings Canyon and Sequoia. 

Then see the beautiful Yosemite Valley. From Yosemite, head north to Lassen and then finally see Redwoods parks before returning to San Francisco. 

You can also see Pinnacles and Channel Islands if you have the time, to complete the national parks in California road trip. 

You can also use this route for creating your own California RV trip itinerary, since most national parks have RV campgrounds. 

Northern California road trip itinerary

Another great option for those who like slow travel is to plan a Northern California itinerary for 10 days. 

Start your road trip from San Francisco and drive along the less visited North Coast and see the majestic redwood trees. 

Drive along the Redwoods Scenic Byway before turning towards the mountains and exploring the caves at Lava Tubes National Monument. 

Visit Mount Shasta on your way to Lassen Volcanic National Park and end your trip in Sacramento, a couple of hours away from San Francisco. 

For more information on how to plan a California road trip focusing on the northern part of the state, read our in-depth post on Northern California road trip .

If you have less time: California itinerary 7 days

If you can’t spare 10 days, then we also have suggestions for 7 day California road trip routes. 

With only 7 days in california, we would recommend focusing on one region and exploring it at a leisurely pace. 

Of course, you can opt for a 7 day southern California itinerary or a 7 day California coast road trip along the PCH, but you can also consider some unique road trip ideas in California which explore its most popular attractions. 

Here are our favorites if you want to see the best of California in a week:

7 day road trip from San Francisco to Yosemite

If you are wondering how to spend a week in California but still see the most popular attractions, then this itinerary is for you. 

Start your road trip in San Francisco, see the Golden Gate Bridge, Chinatown, Mission District, Fisherman’s Wharf etc in two days. 

Then spend a day in Napa Valley and nearby Calistoga before seeing Sacramento.

In Sacramento, see the state capitol and the railroad museum then make your way to Yosemite National Park. 

Take a tour of the Yosemite Valley and see the famous El Capitan as well as the many waterfalls.

Enjoy the panoramic view from the Tunnel View Outlook. 

Then depending on the season, visit the Tuolumne Meadows area.

Return to San Francisco to complete 7 day road trip in California.

North California coast road trip

This California 1 week itinerary is perfect for slow travel. 

Land in San Francisco and take a day or two to explore it’s many attractions.

Then rent a car and drive north. 

Part of this road trip is on the Pacific Coast Highway 1 till Legett, after which you will be driving along the famous Redwood scenic byway. 

For your first stop, explore the beautiful Point Reyes.

See the lighthouse and the shipwreck, then eat oysters in Tomales Bay. 

Drive along the Avenue of the Giants and pass through the Redwood tunnels. 

Hike in the prehistoric Fern Canyon and visit the glass beach at Fort Bragg, then last stop at Eureka or Crescent City to finish the California coast 7 day itinerary.

7 Day Southern California trip itinerary

For this ca road trip planner, begin your trip with a day or two in San Diego or Los Angeles and then wind your way around Southern California’s desert attractions. 

See famous Joshua Tree and Palm Springs.

Enjoy the fantastic landscape of the Mojave desert and drink a delicious date shake.

See the sculptures in Borrego Springs. 

Then visit Anaheim and enjoy the theme parks.

There are also many things to do in Anaheim besides Disney. 

7 Day California Coast Road Trip

This is one of the most popular california driving holidays itineraries.

Follow this California road trip itinerary 7 days along the world famous Pacific Coast Highway. 

See the major cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Explore the charming mountain side towns of Pismo Beach and Morro Bay. Learn to surf and spot the elephant seals. 

Spend some time hiking and enjoying the wild, rugged vibe of Big Sur.

Take a tour of the Point Sur Lighthouse and hike down to Keyhole Rock. Go whale watching. 

If you have more time: California road trip itinerary 14 days

This two week california driving itinerary is perfect for long summer vacations, when most parts of the state including the High Sierras are completely accessible. 

Just use our main California trip planner, but add in all optional ideas including San Diego and the beautiful northern coast. 

Then see the Lassen Volcanic National Park area and visit the beautiful Burney Falls from Redding.

Spend some time in Mount Shasta and head back to San Francisco to complete California 2 week itinerary.

We hope you liked our California road trip blog.

Now you have everything ready to plan your perfect California trip itinerary, so make the most of it.

Did we miss any hidden gems in the Golden State?

Which part of the road trip did you enjoy the most? Let us know in the comments!

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Passing Thru Travel

Passing Thru Travel

The Ultimate California Road Trip: From Coastlines to Mountains

Posted: February 13, 2024 | Last updated: February 13, 2024

<p><strong>Embark on a quintessential Californian adventure that takes you through the state’s most iconic and breathtaking landscapes. California, known for its diverse terrain and scenic beauty, offers roadtrippers a chance to experience its enchanting coastlines, ancient forests, and awe-inspiring national parks.</strong></p> <p><span>Each route in this sun-kissed state presents a unique story, a different vista, and an unforgettable journey. Here’s an in-depth look at three iconic road trip routes showcasing the best of California’s natural wonders.</span></p>

Embark on a quintessential Californian adventure that takes you through the state’s most iconic and breathtaking landscapes. California, known for its diverse terrain and scenic beauty, offers roadtrippers a chance to experience its enchanting coastlines, ancient forests, and awe-inspiring national parks.

Each route in this sun-kissed state presents a unique story, a different vista, and an unforgettable journey. Here’s an in-depth look at three iconic road trip routes showcasing the best of California’s natural wonders.

<p><span>The Pacific Coast Highway, a legendary route that stretches along California’s coastline, is a mesmerizing journey through some of the most picturesque landscapes in the state. This 85-mile stretch between San Francisco and Los Angeles is more than just a road; it’s a journey through diverse coastal ecosystems, charming towns, and stunning ocean vistas. As you drive, you’ll encounter dramatic cliffs, expansive beaches, and the untamed beauty of the Pacific Ocean. The route is dotted with must-see landmarks like the Bixby Bridge and McWay Falls, offering spectacular photo opportunities. For a luxurious stay, the Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur provides an idyllic retreat amidst this natural splendor, making it a perfect stop to soak in the breathtaking views and rejuvenate.</span></p> <p><b>Insider’s Tip: </b><span>Plan stops at iconic spots like Bixby Bridge and McWay Falls for unforgettable photo opportunities or take a detour to visit the charming town of Carmel-by-the-Sea, known for its fairy-tale cottages and art galleries.</span></p> <p><b>Lodging: </b><span>The Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur offers luxurious accommodations amidst nature. Post Ranch Inn</span></p>

The Pacific Coast Highway

The Pacific Coast Highway, a legendary route that stretches along California’s coastline, is a mesmerizing journey through some of the most picturesque landscapes in the state. This 85-mile stretch between San Francisco and Los Angeles is more than just a road; it’s a journey through diverse coastal ecosystems, charming towns, and stunning ocean vistas. As you drive, you’ll encounter dramatic cliffs, expansive beaches, and the untamed beauty of the Pacific Ocean. The route is dotted with must-see landmarks like the Bixby Bridge and McWay Falls, offering spectacular photo opportunities. For a luxurious stay, the Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur provides an idyllic retreat amidst this natural splendor, making it a perfect stop to soak in the breathtaking views and rejuvenate.

Insider’s Tip: Plan stops at iconic spots like Bixby Bridge and McWay Falls for unforgettable photo opportunities or take a detour to visit the charming town of Carmel-by-the-Sea, known for its fairy-tale cottages and art galleries.

Lodging: The Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur offers luxurious accommodations amidst nature. Post Ranch Inn

<p><span>Journey through the Redwood Highway, where you’ll be enveloped by the grandeur of the world’s tallest trees. This route, particularly the Avenue of Giants, offers a 31-mile scenic drive through ancient redwood groves that stand as silent sentinels to centuries of history. The drive is a serene experience, with the morning mist weaving through these towering giants, creating a mystical ambiance. It’s an opportunity to connect with nature and marvel at these trees’ sheer size and age. The Ventana Big Sur, located along this route, offers a peaceful haven where luxury meets the wild, unspoiled beauty of the redwood forests.</span></p> <p><b>Insider’s Tip: </b><span>Visit early in the morning for a mystical experience as the mist weaves through the towering trees. Explore the lesser-known Humboldt Redwoods State Park for a more secluded experience amidst the redwoods.</span></p> <p><b>Lodging: </b><span>Stay at the Ventana Big Sur, a serene retreat amidst the redwoods. Ventana Big Sur</span></p>

Redwood Highway

Journey through the Redwood Highway, where you’ll be enveloped by the grandeur of the world’s tallest trees. This route, particularly the Avenue of Giants, offers a 31-mile scenic drive through ancient redwood groves that stand as silent sentinels to centuries of history. The drive is a serene experience, with the morning mist weaving through these towering giants, creating a mystical ambiance. It’s an opportunity to connect with nature and marvel at these trees’ sheer size and age. The Ventana Big Sur, located along this route, offers a peaceful haven where luxury meets the wild, unspoiled beauty of the redwood forests.

Insider’s Tip: Visit early in the morning for a mystical experience as the mist weaves through the towering trees. Explore the lesser-known Humboldt Redwoods State Park for a more secluded experience amidst the redwoods.

Lodging: Stay at the Ventana Big Sur, a serene retreat amidst the redwoods. Ventana Big Sur

<p><span>No California road trip is complete without a visit to Yosemite National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site renowned for its stunning natural beauty. From the iconic granite cliffs of Half Dome and El Capitan to the tranquil meadows and towering sequoias, Yosemite is a testament to nature’s splendor. The park offers a range of activities, from hiking and rock climbing to simply enjoying the breathtaking views. For those seeking a luxurious stay near the park, Château du Sureau provides an elegant and comfortable base to explore the natural wonders of Yosemite.</span></p> <p><b>Insider’s Tip: </b><span>Visit the base of Yosemite Falls for an awe-inspiring view and hike some of the less-traveled trails for a unique experience. Take a guided moonlight tour to see Yosemite’s landmarks under the stars for a different perspective of the park.</span></p> <p><b>Lodging: </b><span>Château du Sureau offers a luxurious stay near Yosemite, perfect for unwinding after a day of exploration. Château du Sureau</span></p>

Yosemite National Park

No California road trip is complete without a visit to Yosemite National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site renowned for its stunning natural beauty. From the iconic granite cliffs of Half Dome and El Capitan to the tranquil meadows and towering sequoias, Yosemite is a testament to nature’s splendor. The park offers a range of activities, from hiking and rock climbing to simply enjoying the breathtaking views. For those seeking a luxurious stay near the park, Château du Sureau provides an elegant and comfortable base to explore the natural wonders of Yosemite.

Insider’s Tip: Visit the base of Yosemite Falls for an awe-inspiring view and hike some of the less-traveled trails for a unique experience. Take a guided moonlight tour to see Yosemite’s landmarks under the stars for a different perspective of the park.

Lodging: Château du Sureau offers a luxurious stay near Yosemite, perfect for unwinding after a day of exploration. Château du Sureau

<p><span>California’s road trips are an exploration of natural beauty and adventure. Whether cruising along the Pacific Coast Highway, meandering through the Redwood Highway, or exploring the majestic landscapes of Yosemite National Park, each journey offers unique experiences and memories. These routes showcase California’s scenic beauty and offer a chance to connect with nature and create lasting memories. So, rev up your engines, hit the open road, and let the diverse landscapes of California lead you on an unforgettable road trip adventure.</span></p> <p><span>More Articles Like This…</span></p> <p>Barcelona: Discover the Top 10 Beach Clubs</p> <p>2024 Global City Travel Guide – Your Passport to the World’s Top Destination Cities</p> <p>Exploring Khao Yai 2024 – A Hidden Gem of Thailand</p> <p><span>The post The Ultimate California Road Trip: From Coastlines to Mountains republished on </span><span>Passing Thru</span><span> with permission from The Green Voyage.</span></p> <p>Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Monkey Business Images.</p> <p><span>For transparency, this content was partly developed with AI assistance and carefully curated by an experienced editor to be informative and ensure accuracy.</span></p>

The Bottom Line

California’s road trips are an exploration of natural beauty and adventure. Whether cruising along the Pacific Coast Highway, meandering through the Redwood Highway, or exploring the majestic landscapes of Yosemite National Park, each journey offers unique experiences and memories. These routes showcase California’s scenic beauty and offer a chance to connect with nature and create lasting memories. So, rev up your engines, hit the open road, and let the diverse landscapes of California lead you on an unforgettable road trip adventure.

More Articles Like This…

Barcelona: Discover the Top 10 Beach Clubs

2024 Global City Travel Guide – Your Passport to the World’s Top Destination Cities

Exploring Khao Yai 2024 – A Hidden Gem of Thailand

The post The Ultimate California Road Trip: From Coastlines to Mountains republished on Passing Thru with permission from The Green Voyage.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Monkey Business Images.

For transparency, this content was partly developed with AI assistance and carefully curated by an experienced editor to be informative and ensure accuracy.

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Mount Rainier National Park, Vancouver taken at Reflection Lake trail at summer with wildflowers in the foreground, trees and the snow-capped mountain in the background on a sunny day.

Road Trip From San Francisco To Vancouver

The Pacific Northwest is bursting with incredible landscapes and a huge array of vibrant wildlife, so to see the best of California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia, consider doing the road trip from San Francisco to Vancouver.

The 950-mile road trip from San Francisco to Vancouver takes 15 hours 30 minutes to drive. Key stops include Crater Lake, Mt Rainier, and Olympic National Parks, Lake Tahoe and Mt Hood, Golden Ears Provincial Park, as well as Portland and Seattle.

To help with the planning of your amazing road trip, check out all the information below for great inspiration, information and things to do along the way.

How far is Vancouver from San Francisco and how long will the road trip take?

The journey from San Francisco to Vancouver is approximately 950 miles and has a minimum drive time of 15 hours without any stops. However, you should consider breaking up the drive into a few days at the very least to make the most of the amazing attractions.

To fully appreciate the innumerable parks, forests and fantastic cities, we would recommend doing the journey over the course of at least 3 days. This gives an average of 5 hours driving per day (depending on your route choice) and plenty of free time to soak up the views.

There are two options of routes for this road trip. The more direct, Inland Route, makes the most of the national parks and vast lakes. Alternatively our Coastal Route takes you along the Pacific Coast Highway and offers some of the most stunning coastal views.

It's important to note that both of our routes involve crossing the border from the US to Canada, therefore be prepared and remember to bring any documents and proof of identity you will need for a smooth crossover.

Vancouver,BC/Canada taken at night at the scene of Gastown in Vancouver with the Iconic old steam clock and rows of buildings lit by street lamps.

Best road trip route from San Francisco to Vancouver

The most direct route from San Francisco to Vancouver will take you through Northern California, Oregon, Washington and eventually into Canada. This route is so diverse that you will be able to take in various different landscapes and experiences.

Meanwhile, the Coastal Route will take you to Santa Rosa and then along the coast through some of Oregon's most popular beaches and towns, before joining the route above at Seattle and onwards to Vancouver.

While not a huge difference in milage, the Coastal Route takes 1,037 miles but just under 20 hours to complete, so if you are stretched for time, you might want to consider the Inland Route on this occasion.

How to drive from San Francisco to Vancouver

The map above shows our suggestions for the best road trip routes between San Francisco and Vancouver. Keep reading for detailed descriptions of both routes, where to stay on either, and the best things to do on the way.

The Inland Route

Cross the San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge followed by the Casquinez Bridge and past Briones Regional Park. Head east on Interstate 80 through Vallejo before following it to Vacaville.

From here, you can either stay on Interstate 80 to detour to Sacramento and Lake Tahoe, or take Interstate 505 past Putah Creek State Wildlife Area. Just north of Madison, connect to Interstate 5 and follow it to Redding, passing Mendocino and Lassen National Forests.

After a short break in Redding, continue north through Shasta-Trinity National Forest, and consider detouring to Klamath National Forest before reaching Medford. Explore the city, then go off-roading to see Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest by the Pacific Coast.

Back on the interstate heading north, drive through Wolf Creek Park before paying a visit to Umpqua National Forest and Crater Lake. When you arrive at Eugene, you'll drive between Siuslaw and Willamette National Forests - both great options for a detour to explore.

Continue north past Salem on I-5 and consider a stop at Portland where you can visit Mount Hood National Forest.

From Portland, continue past Gifford Pinchot National Forest and Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, then pull into Capitol State Forest before reaching Olympia. Once you're there, be sure to detour to Olympic National Park before continuing along the interstate.

At Tacoma, make sure you visit Mount Rainier National Park before continuing through to Seattle - another great option for an overnight stop.

Not long after passing Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest and North Cascades National Park, you'll cross over into Canada and get on Route 99. Follow this road or consider one final detour to Golden Ears Provincial Park, before pulling into Vancouver.

Sacramento River, California taken after a storm with the sun about to set, trees on the edge of the river and mountains faint in the background.

The Coastal Route

Leave San Francisco and head north on US-101 (more famously known as the Pacific Coast Highway, or PCH for short) - one of the most scenic roads in the world - until you reach Santa Rosa.

Leave Santa Rosa and continue slightly inland while passing Mendocino National Forest. Eventually this road will lead to Eureka, an old port town and worth a stop to explore nearby Sequoia Park. You could also detour from here to visit Lassen National Forest or Shasta-Trinity National Forest.

Continue heading north on the PCH through Crescent City before passing Gold Beach and arriving at Coos Bay, where you can explore the sand dunes or Sunset Bay State Park, amongst other things.

A short drive north and you'll pass Siuslaw National Forest and through lots of pretty coastal towns including Pacific City. If you wanted to, you could divert here and head towards Portland, otherwise you'll continue along the coast before heading inland through Olympia and joining the Inland Route on Interstate 5 for the rest of the journey to Vancouver.

Sunset Bay State Park, Oregon with the sun setting behind a rocky point creating a silhouette and calm water in the foreground.

Best places to stop between San Francisco and Vancouver

The road trip from San Francisco and Vancouver has countless amazing places for you to stay for a night or two - if you can devote a couple of weeks to the drive, you're guaranteed to have an unforgettable time at these resorts:

Explore the resort town of Medford

Located in the Rogue Valley, in the southern part of Oregon, Medford is an excellent place to rest before continuing your epic road trip. About a third of the way along our Inland Route, Medford is surrounded by stunning forests and parks, making it an ideal overnight stop.

Rogue Valley, Oregon with a vineyard in the foreground and tree covered mountains in the distance on a sunny day.

As well as being ideal for long hikes, Medford is also a fantastic city known for its theater, which hosts musicals and concerts. There are also plenty of wineries locally, and Medford's Crater Rock Museum is well worth a visit for its gems and fossils.

When it comes to finding a special place to stay over, the Resort at Eagle Point Golf Club is a superb choice . Surrounded by exquisite grounds and yet close to Crater Lake, this resort is every bit of luxury.

The Resort at Eagle Point provides sizeable, elegant rooms with stylish furniture from which you can enjoy the amazing outdoor view. As a guest of the hotel, you can even take advantage of the amazing scenery and enjoy a hiking trip in and around the premises of the resort.

With free parking, an onsite restaurant and cosy lounge area, you could easily just stay at the resort for several days and really make the most of the surrounding attractions.

As arguably the best hotel in the area, Resort at Eagle point's prices are reasonable. Best of all, with so many natural vistas to check out, you won't have any trouble finding a beautiful spot to explore in the immediate area.

Relax on the beach at Eureka

If you have decided on the Coastal Route, then an overnight stop at Eureka - about a day's drive from San Francisco along the Coastal Route - is an excellent option. This city in Northern California is set right on the shoreline and is the perfect stop to enjoy the beach.

Eureka, California at sunset with a yellow hue and the shoreline surrounded by rocks and trees.

This pretty port town, famed for its rugged coast, has so much to offer. Take a walk through Sequoia Park and discover its iconic redwood trees - the world's tallest trees, or pay a visit to the Sequoia Park Zoo which features a walk-through aviary.

After relaxing on one of its beautiful beaches, you can take a drive to Six Rivers National Forest or Klamath National Forest. After all that exploring, a stay at Carter House Inns is a must .

Just a short walk away from Old Town Eureka on Humboldt Bay, this hotel is ideally located, while giving you the experience of historical Eureka. This beautiful hotel has an organic garden for cooking and proudly houses horticultural education seminars.

We highly recommend booking a reservation for the on-site eatery, Restaurant 301 to sample the products grown there. The wine is also produced here, so you will be in for a treat!

Discover the bright lights at Seattle

Before arriving at your final destination (via either route), a great option would be an overnight stop in Seattle. Just a few hours' drive from Vancouver, this city is the main hub of the Pacific Northwest, and it boasts some spectacular urban views.

Seattle, Washington, USA with the cityscape and Mt. Rainier in the background on a sunny day with a clear blue sky.

While in Seattle, make sure you visit the iconic Space Needle tower - the observation deck makes for an incredible panorama of the city. Afterwards why not take a walk around the acres of parkland, before enjoying its vibrant nightlife and top restaurants.

In keeping with the city's stunning architecture and impeccable standards, Fairmont Olympic Hotel is a fantastic choice . Boasting the most beautiful rooms in all of Washington State, this place will recharge your batteries like no other.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this downtown Seattle hotel features multiple onsite award-winning dining options well as a fabulous indoor swimming pool - the perfect way to unwind after a long drive.

The rooms, as you would expect, are well-designed, modern and comfortable, while the bar and lounge area give a nod to the hotel's historic heritage.

On top of all that, Seattle's swankiest resort also benefits from its amazing location. Positioned right by The Washington State Convention Center and just about everything else you could want to see in town, the place couldn't be better situated.

Things to see on a road trip from San Francisco to Vancouver

The journey between San Francisco and Vancouver is jam-packed with things to do and places to stay. It's practically impossible to list all the major stops along the way, but if you can, try to visit as many of the following places:

Both Routes

  • Seattle –The largest city in Washington is known for its amazing nightlife scene and the Space Needle's 360-degree urban views.
  • Portland –Also known as the City of Roses, Oregon's largest city is home to breathtaking architecture and numerous scenic parks.
  • Olympic National Park - Combining the sweeping Pacific Coast with rugged beaches and mountains, this is one of the most geologically interesting parks in all of the States.
  • Mount Rainier – Boasting an iconic view of Washington State, this place is a haven for photographers and nature enthusiasts.
  • Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest - If skiing isn't your scene and you like your mountain treks green and sunny, this is one of the very best hiking spots in all of Washington.
  • Richmond - Located just south of Vancouver, this Asian-influenced city is home to beautiful beaches, lush-green gardens, and the famous Night Market.
  • Golden Ears Provincial Park - The beautiful riverside campsites at this park make it an amazing place to spend a few nights if you need a break from the city.

Mount Rainer, Vancouver taken at Sunrise with a clear blue sky, rocks in the foreground and the snow-covered mountain dominating the view.

  • Vallejo - Home to beautiful beaches and the iconic Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, this city is one you won't want to miss out on.
  • Sacramento –The state capital of California is home to an abundance of museums and beautiful parks just waiting to be explored.
  • Yosemite National Park –Although it's a bit out of the way, the jaw-dropping landscapes that dominate Yosemite National Park make it a detour worth considering no matter the season.
  • Lake Tahoe – The shores of Lake Tahoe are a beautiful place to unwind in the summertime, although the general area is also very popular among skiers.
  • Plumas, Lassen, Shasta-Trinity, and Umpqua National Forests - This beautiful chain of forests gives a number of nearby cities their iconic natural backdrops.
  • Medford – Surrounded by beautiful nature from all sides, this city lets you enjoy the countless trails are scattered all round or take a river cruise down the Rogue River.
  • Crater Lake National Park - This park houses the deepest lake in all of America, not to mention innumerable scenic picnic and campout spots.
  • Willamette and Mt Hood National Forests - Two of Oregon's crowning attractions, these forests are the state's quintessential outdoor activity hubs - the latter is even popular in the winter thanks to its ski slopes!

Sand Harbor, Lake Tahoe, USA with rocks and trees in the foreground, a stunning turquoise sea and mountains in the distance covered in trees on a clear sunny day.

  • Cannon Beach – This coastal attraction is best known for the stunning Haystack Rock and its tranquil beaches.
  • Six Rivers National Forest - Explore over a million acres of wild rivers and mountain wilderness, ideal for camping, fishing and hiking.

Siuslaw National Forest - Not far from Eugene, discover a national forest with coastal mountains and beautiful sand dunes. Stop here for a scenic place to go hiking or paddling.

Cannon Beach, Oregon, USA with driftwood on the beach in the foreground and rocky formations and the sea in the distance on a sunny day.

Best time to go on a road trip from San Francisco to Vancouver

The road trip from San Francisco to Vancouver is best enjoyed in the warmer months, between May and September - with the majority of the Pacific Northwest focused on the great outdoors, it's ideal to visit when the temperatures are high.

Summer temperatures tend to peak at around 70 degrees Fahrenheit, perfect for spending time exploring. The American portion of the drive should be significantly warmer in July and August, and the forests and parks along the way will be at their most beautiful too.

A definite benefit to traveling in the spring or fall is that the hotel prices start to go down these times of year. Be warned that Vancouver's temperature can dip to the low 50s, though, so don't go easy on the warm clothes when packing.

One thing that Canada and the Northwestern States have in common is that they make for fantastic winter hubs - with various provincial parks just north of Vancouver and iconic Washington stopovers like Mt Rainier, you'll find no shortage of ski slopes and snowy hiking trails.

If you are looking to plan your trip around some key events, Vancouver has plenty of all-year round festivals from its International Wine Festival in February to its huge Jazz Festival in late June and July. June also sees Seattle light up for PrideFest, the largest free pride festival in the country.

Plan ahead if you are planning to incorporate a festival or two into your trip as hotels are likely to be busy and at their most expensive.

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Phillip Danault hat trick lifts Kings to victory over slumping Devils

Kings center Phillip Danault celebrates with defenseman Matt Roy against the New Jersey Devils at Crypto.com Arena.

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Phillip Danault had a hat trick, Kevin Fiala had a goal and two assists, and the Kings defeated the New Jersey Devils 5-1 on Sunday at Crypto.com Arena.

Alex Laferriere also scored, Cam Talbot made 30 saves, and the Kings won for the eighth time in 12 games under interim coach Jim Hiller .

“Obviously, we’re playing way better now,” Fiala said. “Had a two- or three-month slump or whatever, and we have been playing better after the All-Star break. ... We are playing for each other, we love each other, and you can really feel it right now.”

Nico Daws was replaced in the second period after giving up four goals in 13 shots for the Devils, who have lost five of seven. Timo Meier scored, and Akira Schmid made nine saves in relief.

“I don’t think it’s about effort, it’s more between the ears,” New Jersey forward Erik Haula said. “We keep kind of shooting ourselves in the foot, we keep making similar mistakes, and at this time of the year it’s gonna hurt you.”

VANCOUVER, CANADA - FEBRUARY 29: Kevin Fiala #22 of the Los Angeles Kings is congratulated.

Kings salvage road trip with victory over the Vancouver Canucks

Anze Kopitar and Trevor Moore both had a goal and an assist for the Kings in their victory over Vancouver.

March 1, 2024

Aside from an unexpected deflection off the stanchion to help give the Devils an early lead seconds into the game, the Kings delivered one of their most complete performances since Hiller replaced Todd McLellan on Feb. 2.

Danault tied it at 7:56 on a breakaway set up by Fiala’s alert stretch pass, which was the winger’s fourth assist during a three-game span.

Laferriere, who was born in Chatham, N.J., and grew up attending Devils games, fired in his ninth goal of the season with 5:11 left in the first to put Kings up 2-1.

“We talked from the start about getting back to our identity, and I think we’re pretty close right now,” Hiller said.

A longtime nemesis of the Kings during his time with the San José Sharks, Meier got his 15th goal in 31 career games against them 15 seconds into the game.

Quinton Byfield’s pass in his own zone took an awkward redirection right to Nico Hischier, leading to his fifth assist in three games for setting up Meier.

“We just took a breath, and from that point on we dominated the game,” Fiala said of the Kings’ response.

road trip from vancouver to california

The Kings kept up the pressure in the second period, with Danault scoring into an open net with 7:37 left and Fiala burying a power-play goal 34 seconds later to send Daws to the bench early.

“We got the start we wanted, came out and scored a goal,” Devils coach Lindy Ruff said. “You can do a lot of great things in the game, and then you can beat yourself. I thought we beat ourselves.”

Danault, who hadn’t scored at home in the first 27 games of the season, got an empty-netter with 2:13 remaining. It was Danault’s first hat trick for the Kings and second of his career.

“He has done so many good things the whole season, and he deserves it, and today was his day,” Fiala said.

It has been Fiala’s week, picking up three goals and five assists in the three games since leading scorer Adrian Kempe hurt his wrist against the Edmonton Oilers on Monday. But Fiala said his increased production has come from focusing on playing a complete game instead of pushing to generate more offense.

“I don’t try to chase the game, which maybe I did a little bit in the start of the year,” he said. “I just try to be calm, patient, and it will come.”

Up next for the Kings: vs. the Vancouver Canucks at Crypto.com Arena on Tuesday night.

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Kings bounce back from blowout loss with hard-fought win over Devils

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FILE - Fans cheer as Vancouver Canucks right wing Derek Dorsett (51) fights with New Jersey Devils defenseman Seth Helgeson (25) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014, in Vancouver, British Columbia. Don't expect a fighting ban, like the ejection and suspension policies that exist in college and internationally to make it punitive to drop the gloves, in the NHL any time soon. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jonathan Hayward, File)

20 years since NHL’s record-setting brawl, fighting is down but not going anywhere

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Calgary Flames center Yegor Sharangovich, front, reacts after a tripping penalty called on the Flames during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Minnesota Wild, Thursday, Dec. 14, 2023, in St. Paul, Minn. (AP Photo/Abbie Parr)

Kings lose another game on the road, this time to Calgary

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EDMONTON, CANADA - FEBRUARY 26: Leon Draisaitl #29 of the Edmonton Oilers celebrates.

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    Wild Waves Theme Park. Located a scant 2 hours from Vancouver (in good traffic) is Wild Waves Theme Park. Formerly a Six Flags and also known as Enchanted Village, this water/amusement park is set on some seriously hilly and extremely fun terrain. The water side of things covers huge waterslides, tube slides, a massive wave pool, kids area, and ...

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    stay for about 4 hours. and leave at 7:21 pm. drive for about 2.5 hours. 9:37 pm arrive in Anaheim. stay at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. day 3 driving ≈ 8.5 hours. find more stops.

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    8:00 am start at California. drive for about 41 hours. 1:00 am (past midnight) Sacramento. stay overnight and leave the next day around 11:00 am. day 1 driving ≈ 41 hours. Day 2. 11:00 am leave from Sacramento. drive for about 2.5 hours. 1:28 pm Redding.

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