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West Coast Road Trip: A Detailed Itinerary To Make The Most Of Your Trip

Updated: Aug 11, 2021

The idea for our trip birthed over a year ago when we joked about taking an RV road trip down the West Coast. Well, the jokes turned into, “Wait. That would be so freakin’ cool.” We‘d been stocking up on our Capital One Venture points, so we decided we had to cash them in and go for our five year anniversary. Minus the kids. Minus the RV. Although that would be SO LEGIT, and we plan to take the trip with them one day. But this time it was just Justin and I.

We started looking at what it would take to travel from Washington to California. We did A LOT of research looking at places to stay, plane tickets, rental cars, places to eat, things to do, etc. AND WE BOOKED IT. AND WE WENT. AND IT WAS MAGICAL.

Before we get started, click here for $40 off your Airbnb booking.


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  • Flew to Seattle: We flew from Little Rock to DFW to Sea-Tac, picked up our rental car

  • First stop at Trader Joe’s: We bought a few snacks for the trip and bought two big jugs of water--highly recommend this! We refilled them every night and used them to refill our water bottles we brought.

  • Pike Place Market: Parking is so hard to find and it’s expensive, so park in the Pike Place Market Garage and walk everywhere. It’s only $4 an hour. We picked up our chower and explored the market! So much fresh fruit and vegetables and seafood. Also, the first Starbucks is there. We also walked down the pier!

  • Pike Place Chowder: SO OO DELICIOUS, but order ahead online. The line is at least an hour long if you don’t. We ordered ahead as soon as we left TJ’s. The salmon chowder is AHHHMAZING.

  • Ferried to Bainbridge Island: The ferry ride to Bainbridge was around $40 round trip and 40 minutes long, but so worth it. We didn’t ferry over until we were ready for dinner. Make sure to check the schedule so you don’t miss the ferry!

  • Explored Bainbridge Island: This is the cutest little area. We’re SO happy we stayed there. It was nice to stay outside the city and traffic—quiet, serene and beautiful. We ate dinner at J’amie Les Crepes on the island, followed by ice cream next door at Mora Iced Creamery. We drove around more of the island and walked through some of The Grand Forest. Definitely a MUST. It was gorgeous.

  • Airbnb on Bainbridge Island: We stayed in a beautiful space on the Puget Sound with a hot tub in the backyard overlooking the water. It was the perfect way to end a long day of travel and sight-seeing.


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  • Breakfast at Blackbird Bakery on Bainbridge: We grabbed coffee and ate a quick breakfast at this quaint little bakery before hitting the road for a long day of travel.

  • Drove to the Olympic National Forest: We traveled up the north on Hwy 305 through Poulsbo, merged onto Hwy 3 to Hwy 104, where we got on Hwy 101 South down the Hood Canal. We stopped in various places that intrigued us. Do the same! You may like different views than us, so take the liberty to stop along the way.

  • Stopped at Mt. Walker Viewpoint: This viewpoint is off Hwy 101. It’s a four mile drive up the mountain on a gravel road. And totally worth it.

  • Picnicked at Dosewallips State Park: This was a beautiful quiet area with a few picnic tables.

  • Hit the Washington coast: We cut over on Hwy 108 to Hwy 8 through Elma and Montesano, to Hwy 107 and merged back onto Hwy 101. We drove through Raymond and South Bend down to Ilwaco.

  • Lunch at Ole Bob’s Seafood Market in Ilwaco: This restaurant has fresh seafood with a waterfront view in a small fishing town. We walked around the marina after lunch and saw all the boats!

  • Cape Disappointment: After lunch, we drove to Cape Disappointment State Park, and it did not disappoint. There’s a lighthouse to see, ocean views, and giant rocks to climb on. $10 entry. So so worth it.

  • Astoria Column in Astoria, OR: It’s only $5 to park and walk up the 164 stairs for a breathtaking (literally) view of Astoria. You’ll see the river Lewis & Clark ventured down—which was pretty surreal—mountains, the ocean, and the state of Washington.

  • Astoria Coffeehouse: We fueled up for more roadtripping!

  • Seaside Beach in Oregon: We continued down Hwy 101 until we got to Seaside. It’s such a cute town! We parked and walked on the beach for a little bit, then hit the road again.

  • Cannon Beach, OR: WOW. You have to stop here. The first of many giant rocks you’ll see on the coast of Oregon.

  • Cut over to Portland: After Cannon Beach, we took Hwy 26 inland to Portland. It’s about an hour and a half drive.

  • Dinner at Pok Pok: Delicious Thai street food. Word on the street is to make a reservation ahead of time because the wait is usually pretty long. We didn’t reserve ahead of time since we got into Portland around 9:00.

  • Ice cream at Salt & Straw: We didn’t get to go to Salt & Straw in Portland since it was so late, BUT we did go in San Francisco. IT IS SO GOOD.

  • Mississippi Loft Airbnb in Portland: It was a quaint little loft in Portland. Super clean, friendly host and everything we needed. Great location, too. Follow them on Instagram!

**A quicker alternate, less scenic route to Portland is down Hwy 5**


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  • Blue Star Donuts for breakfast: I know, I know. Everyone says Voodoo Donuts, but all the locals said Blue Star. And they did. not. disappoint.

  • Drive to the Columbia River Gorge: This is a MUST. It‘s about 30 minutes outside of Portland the opposite way of the west coast, but it is worth every extra minute. I cannot express this enough! This was one of our favorite things we did.

  • Wahkeena Falls: The first waterfall we came across driving in the gorge. The trail to walk to it was closed, but you can still see it from the drive.

  • Multnomah Falls: The biggest, most beautiful waterfall. The hike to the bridge is pretty easy.The hike to the top of the falls is about a mile, and it’s not for the faint of heart. Ha! There’s a gift shop, restrooms, and restaurant at the base of the waterfall.

  • Lunch at Multnomah Falls restaurant: It was so delicious! I got the salmon chowder in a sourdough bread bowl and I ate every bite. Every. bite. It’s the cutest little restaurant with big windows so you can see outside.

  • Horsetail Falls: Another beautiful one. You can walk on the rocks in the pool at the base of the waterfall!

  • Crown Point Vista House: On our way out of the Columbia River Gorge, we went up to the Vista House. It overlooks the entire gorge, and it is so beautiful!

  • Tillamook Creamery: We gassed up in Portland and drove west on Hwy 8 to Hwy 6 and ended at the Tillamook Cheese Factory! It was so fun, and we ate so much cheese. You can learn the history of the company and see how they make their products. Oh, and, free samples.

  • Lincoln City: We stopped at all of these places along the coast from Tillamook to Newport. Everything is so beautiful! There are probably more, but these were the most memorable:

  • Siletz Bay

  • Fogarty State Park

  • Boiler Bay State Wayside

  • Depoe Bay

  • Cape Foulweather

  • Yaquina Bay Lighthouse

  • Agate Beach State Wayside

  • Oceanfront Airbnb in Newport, OR: Search "Oceanfront in Newport! Spectacular Ocean Views." If you stay in Newport, THIS is the place you need to stay! The house is on an oceanside cliff, and the deck overlooks the water. It also has windows perfectly positioned so you can see the ocean from anywhere in the house, even from the bed!


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  • Coffee at the Human Bean: Delicious coffee, and we definitely needed it! Another full day of travel. We slowed down to drink the coffee on the deck and watched the ocean do its thing. Then we got on the road.

  • Seal Rock: We saw so many seals on this trip!

  • Yachats: The views around this area are absolutely tremendous. I was blown away by every view. We stopped in so many random places to see all it had to offer. We encourage you to do the same!

  • Devil’s Churn: The water is so tumultuous! You can get down on the rocks and climb pretty much wherever you want to in that area. So, we took the liberty to do just that, and it was so much fun.

  • Cape Perpetua: I cannot even begin to describe how amazing this are. Bring good shoes for climbing on rocks! It'll be hard to leave once you start.

  • Thor’s Well: We passed it the first time because there isn’t any signage for it, but it's in the Cape Perpetual area. We had to pull it up on GPS and find it. it was so cool to see; if you hit it at the right time when the tide is high, it's even more amazing.

  • Cook’s Chasm: These are all around the same area. That whole area is amazing.

  • Heceta Head: Cute lighthouse. So. many. lighthouses.

  • Sea Lion Caves: We stopped and checked it out but didn’t end up doing it due to time. It seemed pretty cool, though! You ride down in an elevator to a sea cave where sea lions are.

  • Lunch at Hukilau in Florence, CA: SO. TASTY. It’s a Hawaiian Pacific fusion, hole-in-the-wall type restaurant that has some seriously good flavor.

  • Umpqua Lighthouse: Another lighthouse on the route.

  • Coos Bay: This had some pretty stunning views, including the following point.

  • Sunset Bay, Shore Acres and Cape Arago State Parks: These are right next to each other in the same area in Coos Ba We saw nearly one hundred seals and sea lions on the rocks from these viewpoints. Amazing.

  • Port Orford: Once again, another beautiful view.

  • Humbug Mountain State Park: If you have time, this is pretty.

  • Sisters Rock State Park: This was so much fun. We spent at least an hour out there hiking down to the big rocks, then hiking UP the big rocks. There were super cute, wild succulents! Definitely stop here.

  • Dinner at Spinner’s in Gold Beach: We were so hungry, so we stopped before Brookings and ate some dinner here. It was very delicious, and a nice restaurant, too.

  • Samuel H. Board State Scenic Corridor: The Natural Bridges are in this area, and they are pretty neat. Although you can’t really hike down to them (we were so bummed), they are a really nice view.

  • Airbnb in Brookings, OR: The hosts were AMAZING. This is the first Airbnb we’ve ever stayed in that our hosts interacted with us. We sat around a campfire that night and talked and listened to the ocean. It was amazing. Plus, our guesthouse was niiiiiiiiiiicccceeeee. A MUST in Brookings.


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  • Start on Hwy 101

  • Enter California! Make sure to eat all your fresh produce you bought along the way before you enter California. There is a check point at the state border asking if you have fresh fruit.

  • Battery Point Lighthouse Beach in Crescent City, CA: This has a lighthouse and the cutest little ground squirrels that will come up to you (!!!!!!!)

  • Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park: We took a slight detour to go through this, but it was totally worth it. Biggest trees we’ve ever seen in our entire life. Get ready to pick your jaw up off the floor.

  • Avenue of the Giants: This is a must. We got on the highway just south of Stanford. There will be signs, so you’ll see how to get on! There are several points to get on and off, but the longer you drive on it, the prettier your drive! It takes you through the giant redwood trees...hence the name. Stop along the way and explore! We got off Avenue of the Giants at Myers Flat.

  • Hank and Florence Saddler Grove: This beautiful grove off Avenue of the Giants is full of more redwoods and fallen, hollowed out trees you can climb in!

  • Drive-Thru Tree Park: Around where you get off in Myers Flat, this gem exists--a redwood tree you can drive your car through. Not going to lie...I was stressed because it’s pretty tight, but it was quite the experience!

  • Merge onto Hwy 1 in Leggett, CA: Beware! Take it slow and pay attention. Highway 1 is curvy and along steep cliffs, but this is THE BEST WAY TO SEE THE COAST. We said “wow” over and over again. You do NOT want to miss this drive.

  • Glass beach at Fort Bragg: We went the wrong way and didn’t get to see the glass beach, but if you go down and go to the left path, it’s down there. It’s a beautiful area!

  • Point Cabrillo: We didn’t stop here because of time, but if you have time, this is a great one!

  • Stay at Heritage House in Little River, CA: We ate dinner at the restaurant on the property and it was delicious. It sits on 37 acres, has its own private beach, and stunning views of the ocean and cliffs. Oh, AND HEATED BATHROOM FLOORS. We loved staying here.


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  • Breakfast at the Heritage House: Both dinner and breakfast at the Heritage House were excellent. Great service, great view, great food. Highly recommended.

  • Navarro Point: This was our first stop, I think, on our way to Mill Valley. Beautiful oceanside view with large cliffs and rocks.

  • Point Arena: Another beautiful stop along the way.

  • Lunch at the Fishetarian in Bodega Bay: Yummm. They have fish tacos. Enough said.

  • Point Reyes: Although the lighthouse was closed, the town is very cute to walk around. It’s full of little shops with organic produce and ice cream.

  • Checked into Airstream Airbnb: Yes, you read that right. It’s the coolest renovated airstream in the host’s backyard in Mill Valley.

  • Took an Uber to Oakland: Traffic and parking is crazy is the San Francisco area, so we definitely recommend an Uber or Lyft when it makes sense.

  • Dinner at Itami Ramen: This ramen restaurant is soooo good (like, I’m still dreaming about it) and it’s in Oakland right across from the Fox Theater.

  • Coffee at Tierra Mia: I’m also still dreaming about this coffee. Get the blended drinks (frappe...?) Oh dear, so amazing.

  • Concert at Fox Theater: We saw Penny & Sparrow for the 7th time. And they were incredible. As always.

  • Uber back to Airbnb: We took an Uber back to our airstream, and it was lovely.


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  • Quick snack at Airbnb: Our host had a few snacks in the fridge for the morning—amazing yogurt, too.

  • Marin Headlands (Golden Gate overlook): This is an easy on/off coming from Mill Valley. It’s the last exit before you reach the bridge, and it’s called the Marin Headlands. Follow signs around (we were detoured, but you might not be) and reach the top for a beautiful, close overlook of the famous bridge!

  • Drive over the Golden Gate: It’s pretty spectacular. Take it slow and marvel in it.

  • Baker Beach and Battery Chamberlain: This was a neat stop. This is an additional view of the GG bridge, but from underneath. This beach is historical, too, with the “disappearing gun” as a defense for the west coast built in 1904.

  • Park at Pier 39: We parked in the parking garage with rates at $12 per hour.

  • Explore Pier 39: There’s a lot to see and do on the pier. We had lunch at Chowder’s, got mini donuts from Trish’s, saw seals on the dock, at cookie dough at Doughp (we saw it on Shark Tank and had to try it! So good), and people watched.

  • Uber to Coit Tower: This is a great overlook of the city of San Francisco. The line was pretty long for tickets and riding the elevator to the top, so we opted out, but the view from the base of the tower was still beautiful!

  • Trolley/Bus to Market Street: We walked down Market Street—great people watching if you’re into the sort of thing. Ha! So different than Arkansas, but we loved getting to experience the different perspectives and cultures.

  • Philz Coffee on Market Street: Justin’s favorite coffee place of the trip.

  • Lombard Street: The “crookedest“ street in the world! It’s so steep, and the speed limit is 5 mph. Beautiful views of San Francisco.

  • Painted Ladies in Alamo Square Park: Although these aren’t the actual Full House houses, they’re featured in the show and still bring some wonderful nostalgia. You gotta listen to the Full House theme song while in San Francisco! (P.S—The Full House White House with the red door is on 1709 Broderick)

  • Park car at Trinity Place Garage: $45 for 12-24 hour parking. This is where we left our car overnight because our Airbnb didn’t have its own parking, as most do not.

  • Dinner at Trattoria Contadina: We took an Uber from our parking garage to dinner. This amazing restaurant is in “Little Italy” in the North Beach area.

  • Ice cream at Salt & Straw: A must. It ’s hand-crafted, locally-sourced ice cream.

  • Uber to Twin Peaks overlook: Another overlook of the city. SO WINDY.

  • Uber to our Airbnb: Housing was really hard to find in San Francisco, but this house was neat. It was built in 1903, has the original wood floors, and it’s close to downtown (SoMa area). The house has four bedrooms, and arch are rented out for the night. Here's where we stayed.


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  • Breakfast and coffee at Kizler Coffee: We stopped at this coffee shop outside of San Francisco on our way to Monterey. It’s an easy off, easy on right off Hwy 1 with delicious bagels, pastries and breakfast sandwiches

  • Cowell Ranch Beach at Half Moon Bay: This amazing view started on a dirt road through a farm field and farmhouse. It’s a little bit of a walk, but it is so peaceful, and at the end of the trail you are greeted with a spectacular view of Half Moon Bay

  • Monterey Bay Aquarium: We went straight to the aquarium when we got to Monterey, and it didn’t disappoint. Adult tickets are $50. There are several exhibits, programs, a “cafeteria” with lunch and drink options. It’s one of the best aquariums I’ve been to.

  • Checked into the Marriott hotel: This is the only night we stayed in a hotel, and it was pretty nice to end the trip. We were able to have lots of space to repack out bags for the flight home, and it also had a nice view of the bay

  • Beach at Lover’s Point: This is where we saw sea otters in the water! They were so stinkin’ adorable. Lover’s Point has beautiful views with a small beach and rocks to climb on. There’s also a cafe for a quick snack or coffee.

  • 17 Mile Drive through Pebble Beach: If you’re a golf lover, you gotta do this! If you’re not a golf lover like us, you still gotta do this. It’s beautiful, and this road runs through the famous Pebble Beach golf course where the U.S. Open is held. There are several stopping points along the way like the Lone Cypress, Restless Sea, Point Joe and China Rock, just to name a few.

  • Carmel-by-the-sea: We took 17 Mile Drive on our way to Carmel, so it worked out nicely. Carmel is a beautiful little town with a precious downtown area full of shops, art and food. We stopped to sit on one of the beaches an enjoy the view.

  • Pre-dinner at Flaherty's Seafood Grill & Oyster Bar: So. Good. I ordered the crab chowder (we at a lot of chowder on this trip), and it was extremely filling and delicious.

  • Dessert at Cottage of Sweets: Walk downtown not more than five minutes to this little cottage of goodies. They have Turkish Delight, fudge, gummy candy, etc. Plus, it's in the cutest little building.

  • Actual dinner at Domenico's on the Wharf: I had Alaskan king crab legs basically the size of my arm. Enough said.

  • Called it a night: We went back to our hotel and got ready for our flight back to Arkansas! The next morning before our flight, we walked across the street for coffee and breakfast at Cafe Lumiere. It was was a wonderful way to end our trip.

If you like this post and think it’s helpful for your future West Coast road trip, I’d love for you to share! Tag me on IG if you go! @kristennicoleyoung

With joy,

Kristen Young

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