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There’s a reason they call it the Best Coast. From top to tip, you can traverse the entirety of the West Coast in under 48 hours. Take a couple of days and explore this new part of the country as you settle in, or as you consider purchasing your new West Coast Condo. Experience some of the most iconic stretches of road, see some of the most beautiful views in the country and to visit some of the best American cities. If you’re planning a road trip over summer vacation, there’s no better way to see the nation’s best sights than to follow the West Coast from Washington State down to San Diego.
The Pacific Coast Highway in California offers plenty in the way of gorgeous beach views across miles of winding roads, through state parks, forestry and, hey, even through a little wine country, but if you start further north, you’ll see coastal treasures such as Mount Ranier. Take your ride in for a tune-up—it’s time to hit the road.
Start: Seattle, WA
With how many coffee shops line the city’s streets, it’s a wonder they don’t call Seattle the city that never sleeps. Visit the iconic Pike Place Market and the Space Needle, kayak Puget Sound or just grab a grilled cheese at Beecher’s Handmade Cheese. You’ll find lots of mixed opinions on where exactly to grab Seattle’s best cup of coffee, but you can visit Starbucks’ first location and a few top spots to form your own opinion. Camp at a nearby state park, or find lodging in the city for a real Seattle adventure.
Your first stop will be the home of all things quirky. Portland’s known for keeping it weird, but there’s more to it than just quirk. Locals agree that famed bookstore Powell’s City of Books is a must-stop, along with the International Rose Test Garden (the garden that gave the City of Roses its name).
Bend has one of the most unique climates in the U.S. It’s home to high deserts, rushing rivers, forests and mountains—and, as a result, a whole lot of outdoor activities. Spend a day or two hiking the trails, or grab a beer at one of the area’s many local breweries, including Deschutes, Boneyard and 10 Barrel (or have a few at a Catholic school house-turned-brewery and hotel). Even if you’re just stopping through, you’ll find plenty of mountain views and forested retreats on the road into the town, making a short stop worth your while.
Crater Lake State Park, OR
Crater Lake doesn’t mince words—it’s exactly what it sounds like. But don’t let that make you think it’s just a hole in the ground. The deepest lake in America, Crater Lake was formed by a collapsed volcano, and it’s by far one of the nation’s most beautiful sites. Cliff jump into crystal-clear water, hike around the lake and camp for the night to fully experience this breathtaking park.
Mount Shasta & Sacramento, CA
Mount Shasta is just a 2-hour, 15-minute drive from Crater Lake, making it a perfect stop in between the state park and Sacramento. Take a short hike around the mountain for some spectacular views and a quick leg-stretch on your way to Sacramento, or take an hour or two to hike the McCloud River trail for waterfalls and craggy natural scenery. If you’re driving a convertible, now is the time to put the top down. While you’re in Sacramento, you’ll almost certainly want to walk the streets of Old Sacramento, a historic district that recalls the Gold Rush. History buffs will especially love the California State Railroad Museum and the area’s numerous historic houses.
San Francisco & Big Sur, CA
It’s only another short drive to one of California’s most beloved cities. San Francisco is only an hour and a half away from Sacramento, and Big Sur’s just another hop, skip and jump at almost three hours. Those looking for real scenic drives may decide to skip over San Fran for Big Sur’s panoramic ocean views (and treehouse lodging!) But many will want to stroll San Francisco’s scenic streets, visit Golden Gate Park or stay a day and explore the city’s bars and nightlife.
Los Angeles, CA
Rodeo Drive, Hollywood and lots and lots of great food, there’s no doubt you should make L.A. one of your stops. Los Angeles is home to stars, but plenty of great sights, such as the Hollywood sign, the Griffith observatory and, of course, the Walk of Fame. As this is the longest drive on your trek, you may consider stopping off for a few hours (or a day) in Santa Barbara, which sits just between Big Sur and L.A.
Finish: San Diego, CA
Last stop, sunny San Diego! Treat yourself to some sun, sand and maybe even a trip to the famous San Diego Zoo.