Summers are back and it is that time of the year when most of you are looking for suggestions for that ultimate vacation. This time, do something different; get set for a road trip. But not just any road trip; this one’s set across the West Coast of the United States, considered to be among the most beautiful places on Earth. Here’s a route that offers the best of West Coast and its attractions. While on this road trip, be prepared to be charmed by natural wonders, rich national parks, incredible cities and mesmerising coastlines.
This West Coast road trip itinerary will take you from Seattle in the north towards Nevada and its surrounds. And that’s not all! There’s a lot in and around California too that is waiting for you to discover it.
Starting in Seattle: Start your American Road Trip on US Route 101, which runs on the West Coast of the United States through Washington, Oregon and California. Seattle in Washington is a great starting point courtesy its location. Take in views of the city from the Space Needle or go around exploring the many neighbourhoods here. Did you know that the first outlet of Starbucks opened in Seattle in 1971? Do stop by to sip the famous frappuccinos and cappuccinos at the original store at 1912 Pike Place.
Standing Tall: The Space Needle in Seattle
Bainbridge Island Day Trip: After all the local exploration, get set for a day trip to the nearby Bainbridge Island. Board the Washington State Ferry from Pier 52 on Seattle’s waterfront to get to the island which is at a mere distance of 35 minutes from here. The ferry ride offers spectacular views of the Seattle skyline. Once you reach your destination, there’s a lot to keep you occupied. Bainbridge is known for its boutiques, cafes and galleries which are a great reflection of life in the northwest.
Bainbridge Island is dotted with many pretty little boutique shops |Photo Credit: Sue Manus/flickr
Exploring Oregon Coast: Once you get back to Seattle, drive down south on US Route 101 along the Oregon Coast. Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area is worth a stop for its 200 feet tall sand dunes situated right on the coastline. Adventure enthusiasts can hit the dunes in a monstrous 4×4 SUV or opt for quad biking.
Adventure enthusiasts are in for a treat at the Oregon Dunes!
Off to Redwood National Park: After the Oregon adventure, gear up for a 6.5-hour drive on Route 101 to Redwood National Park. Highway 101 will take you to all parks of Redwood Forest where you can set out for a hike. Feel dwarfed as you pass through the many Redwood trees, some of which are five times the size of the Statue of Liberty and more than 2,000 years old. The Lady Bird Johnson Grove and Big Tree are two famous tourist spots you must cover as you walk through the tall redwoods.
Make a beeline for the Avenue of the Giants, a 31-mile stretch on Highway 101 covering the Humboldt Redwoods State Park. This scenic drive promises to be a very rewarding experience, with countless giant trees from the California Redwood Belt surrounding you.
Don’t miss a drive through the scenic Avenue of the Giants
Cruising on Pacific Coast Highway: After crossing the Redwood Belt, continue onto Pacific Coast Highway (also known as Highway 1). This is one of the most charming drives and you should not rush through it. Since it is a long drive, we recommend you stop at Fort Bragg, located on the picturesque Mendocino Coast of California along Highway 1. The Glass Beach is the highlight of any visit to Mendocino and offers an out-of-the-box experience to all travellers. If you happen to visit during the Memorial Day weekend in May, make sure to attend the annual Glass Festival.
Something unique…the Glass Beach on Mendocino Coast, California
Get Set for SFO: Stay overnight at Mendocino and begin your journey to San Francisco on the Pacific Coast Highway the next morning. Dig out your Janis Joplinor and Grateful Dead music collections and follow the hippie trail in San Francisco. As Scott McKenzie puts it, “If you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair.” Spend your day exploring the historic neighbourhood of Fisherman’s Wharf and go on to discover the happiness quotient of Haight Street. Food lovers, delight! The range of exotic seafood delicacies you will find at Fisherman’s Wharf is hard to find anywhere else in the world.
The posh localities of San Francisco have been a favourite among filmmakers. The popular Shahrukh Khan and Kajol starrer My Name Is Khan was shot here, along with other Bollywood films like Love Aaj Kal and Biwi No. 1.
A beautiful neighbourhood in San Francisco
The Golden Gate Bridge: Yet another unmissable attraction when visiting San Francisco, this engineering marvel stands on two towers which extend 700 feet in to the sky and about 100 feet beneath sea level. Its impressive location, graceful Art Deco detailing and characteristic orange colour make it one of the most striking bridges in the world. This 1.2 mile long stretch is best covered on foot or by bike. The Bridge Walk is open from 7 am to 7 pm.
The majestic Golden Gate Bridge awaits you
Unveiling Secrets: The Coast Highway between San Francisco and Los Angeles takes you through many pleasant landscapes and reveals some lesser known California secrets. Even though it’s a day long drive, the variety you will come across will make you love every bit of it. A leisurely drive on this route will acquaint you with the offbeat and quaint town of Carmel, Santa Barbara and the popular Big Sur coastline. Here’s a quick tip for you: Head to Nepenthe Restaurant at Big Sur, which is not just famous for its American cuisine but also for the commanding views of the coast it offers.
Take a pitstop at the Big Sur Nepenthe Restaurant | Photo Credit: Roy Montgomery/flickr
Welcome to LA: Greater Los Angeles area is a 100 mile drive from Santa Barbara. Los Angeles is your gateway to all that’s hip and happening. Be welcomed to one of the busiest movie studios in the world, Universal Studios. A walk on the Hollywood Boulevard and a souvenir photo with the famed Hollywood sign in the backdrop is a must when in LA. If you’d like, you can take a Celebrity And Movie Stars Homes Tour.
The 1971 Bond Film Diamonds Are Forever was shot in Los Angeles. Some other famous Hollywood films shot here are City Of Angels, Gone In 60 Seconds (1974 and 2000), Father Of The Bride (I and II) and Iron man (I, II and III).
Hollywood sign on Mount Lee in the Hollywood Hills area, LA
Vegas Baby!: A 4-hour drive from Los Angeles will take you to Nevada’s Sin City, Las Vegas. Tantalizing, enticing and electrifying – that’s how Las Vegas is. It welcomes you with a dramatic backdrop of brightly lit casinos, enthralling nightclubs and some really exciting gourmet options. On reaching Las Vegas, head straight to the Strip for a true essence of the city. Don’t leave Vegas without visiting the world famous Tryst Nightclub at Wynn Las Vegas and we promise that your tryst with Tryst will be one to remember!
Vegas has also been the shooting location for Bollywood films like Pardes, Kites and Anjaana Anjaani. Hollywood films shot in Vegas are What Happens In Vegas, The Hangover, Ocean’s Eleven, Iron Man and Rush Hour II, to name a few.
The dazzling Las Vegas Strip at night | Photo Credit: Marco Verch/flickr
‘Grand’ Canyon: There are many more adventures planned for you ahead. The 5-hour driving distance from Vegas to the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona will seem nothing in front of the excitement to see the natural wonder. If you can plan your visit to see the sunrise and/or sunset, there’s nothing like it. Those views from the National Park are simply brilliant. Hiking through the mighty canyon and seeing the famous Horseshoe Bend are a must if you wish to experience the grandeur of Grand Canyon.
The Horse Shoe Bend at Grand Canyon is a must-not-miss
You can also include the nearby Hoover Dam, built on the Colorado River, on your getaway to the Canyon. It is one of the largest dams in the world and has been featured in the 1964 Elvis Presley movie Viva Las Vegas. The drive to Hoover and Grand Canyon will take you through a desert landscape.
Hoover Dam built on Colorado River is one of the largest dams in the world
Viva Las Vegas and Beyond: Get back to Vegas and catch an evening live show if you can. Cirque du Soleil plays host to some great art and entertainment shows regularly. Next morning, make a start for Death Valley National Park which is 2.5 hours away by road. Brave the hot and dry climate at Death Valley, marvel at the salt flats that are 282 feet below sea level and witness the kaleidoscope of colours that is created as sun sets here. Despite its name, a great diversity of life can be found at Death Valley. If the weather allows, take a walk in the sands to see how life survives here.
The many hues of Death Valley National Park at sunset
San Diego Calling: The last (but definitely not the least) stop of your road trip is 5 hours away from Las Vegas. The sandy California beaches are at their best in San Diego, a must-visit destination for all beach bums. While it has many other extremely popular attractions like San Diego Zoo, Sea World and more, a visit to the beaches here will make your trip worthwhile. Be prepared to be mesmerized by the beauty of Mission Beach or La Jolla Cove and the sunset views these beaches offer. Movie buffs, here’s a trivia for you: San Diego was the shooting location for the 1997 Hollywood filmThe Lost World: Jurassic Park.
Romantic La Jolla Cove at sunset
The roadside attractions, ever-changing landscapes and picturesque pit stops are some things that will keep you hooked throughout the West Coast route, making you longing for more. Adventurous and calm, vibrant and pristine – the US West Coast has all that you could ask for. So, are you prepared for the next big journey of your life?