Pacific Coast Explorer
Location: Washington, Oregon, California
Distance: 2,616 kilometres
The Pacific Coast of the United States is a veritable playground for those that crave the wind in their hair and nothing but an open stretch of road ahead. Criss-crossing the upper western portion of the country, the Pacific Coast Explorer cuts through majestic forests to take in some of the most impressive natural beauty in the United States. Between the stunning scenic views, chic cities such as Seattle, Portland and San Francisco inject a major dose of urban excitement to this inspiring itinerary.
- Pike Place Market is not only a Seattle staple, but a must for any visitor to the city. Be sure to stick around to see the Flying Fish of the Fish Market.
- While in the 'City of Roses' it only makes sense to visit the International Rose Test Garden. Portland's green thumb is on full display at this garden, which was started to preserve species of European roses that might have been otherwise destroyed in World War I.
- You may want to consider a ride on San Francisco's famous trams while exploring the city.
- Hearst Castle on California's Central Coast is a National Historical Landmark.
- If you want to escape the usual sights in Los Angeles, a trip to the Griffith Observatory is a great way to spend a few hours.
Day 1 – Seattle
Upon arrival in Seattle, the afternoon is yours to explore the city. Make time to journey to the top of the Space Needle for amazing panoramic views, or explore the reaches of the vast and comprehensive Experience Music Project before enjoying dinner and coffee at one of Seattle's excellent restaurants.
Day 2 – Seattle to Mount Rainer National Park to Mount St Helens to Portland
Depart Seattle today for a 269 mile (430km) trek to Portland. En route, stop off at the Mount Rainer National Park, which is one of the most outstanding scenic wonders of the Northwest. Just across the Colombia River, the Mount St Helens National Park is another worthy stop, where you can learn about the devastation created by the 1980 eruption of this active volcano. Continue on to Portland for the evening.
Day 3 – Portland to Oregon Dunes to Redwood National Park
Day three is filled with dramatic coastline views as you travel 350 miles (560kms) through Oregon. The peaceful drive through this ever-changing terrain will take you through small towns that reflect the essence of Oregon and the American spirit. Should you wish to pull off along the way, the Oregon Dunes provide a perfect backdrop for a picnic. Continue to California and the Redwood National Park where you can walk amongst some of the tallest trees on earth. These giant redwoods are protected in state and national parks, and are collectively recognised as a World Heritage site.
Day 4 – Redwood National Park to Eureka
On the road for day four, you will drive 230 miles (380kms) to Eureka, California. Passing through former Russian fishing settlements, this drive takes in more views of the spectacular redwood forests. Arriving in Eureka, you can pay a visit to Humboldt Bay (California's second largest bay) or stroll through the 'Old Town' for a glimpse into the city's history. It is also home to California's oldest zoo, the Sequoia Park Zoo.
Day 5 – Eureka to San Francisco
Follow the coastline of California 170 miles (280kms) north to the village of Mendocino. The town of Mendocino is a Historic Preservation District on the National Register of Historic Places with a superb coastal setting – the perfect place to linger before continuing south to San Francisco. There will be time to explore the city this evening.
Day 6 – San Francisco
The day is yours to spend at your leisure. Enjoy a wonderful day touring the city. Iconic neighbourhoods, such as Chinatown, Golden Gate Park and Embarcadero are around every corner. You can also stroll through Fisherman's Wharf or take a short boat trip to tour infamous Alcatraz Island.
Day 7 – San Francisco to Monterey/Carmel
Today's drive will take you 124 miles (200kms) down the California coast to Monterey. This quaint seaside city is known for its laid back coastal vibe, counting Fisherman's Wharf and Cannery Row among its highlights. Be sure to make time to venture beyond Monterey to neighbouring Carmel, taking the picturesque 17-Mile Drive to soak up all the scenery.
Day 8 – Monterey/Carmel to Big Sur to Central Coast
Follow Pacific Coast Highway south along the Big Sur Peninsula, travelling 240 miles (390kms) to California's Central Coast. On the way enjoy views of the Pacific Ocean pounding the cliffs and rocks below. Why not take time to visit Hearst Castle and learn about its fascinating history? Spend the night in the heart of the central coast, where you can soak up the easy going sophistication of this scenic section of the Golden State.
Day 9 – Central Coast to Santa Barbara to Malibu to Santa Monica to Los Angeles
Continuing south, this 234 mile (376km) leg to Los Angeles passes through such exemplary cities as Santa Barbara, Malibu and Santa Monica. All are known for their temperate weather and beautiful beaches.
Day 10 & 11 – Los Angeles
After making your way to Los Angeles, you will have a full day to explore the city before your departure. No matter what type of traveller you are, there is plenty to keep you entertained in LA. Shoppers should head straight to Beverley Hills and Rodeo Drive, while families can spend the day at Universal Studios or the original Disneyland Theme Park. Hollywood is another popular option with the Walk of Fame and the TCL Chinese Theatre. Day 11 will see you boarding your flight back home with a camera full of pictures from your Pacific Coast road trip.