The Ultimate Pacific Coast Road Trip (2023)

Driving along the Pacific Coast of the U.S. is already a fantasy road trip for many, but being able to do it in the comfort of an RV only adds to the delight. This scenic route begins in San Diego, California, and brings travelers up to Seattle, Washington, traveling nearly the entire length of the country from the southern border with Mexico to the northern border with Canada.

Although you can complete the drive in under 20 hours by taking Interstate 5 through the interiors of California, Oregon, and Washington, these recommended stops require driving primarily on Highway 101 and Highway 1 along the coast. It adds about six or seven hours to the total driving time, but the spectacular views more than make up for the extra time behind the wheel.

Any time of year is fantastic for visiting Southern California, but if you're traveling in winter, the weather will get much colder and wetter as you travel farther north. Summer is a great time for sunny weather from start to finish, but it's also the most popular time for travel and Highway 101 can quickly get congested. Spring or fall is the best time for enjoying some sunshine with fewer crowds.

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First Stop: San Diego

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Where to Stay in San Diego

There are several great RV parks around and in San Diego, but one of the best all-around parks isCampland on the Bay. There are severalfull utility sitesand even “super sites,” which are private and come with several upgraded amenities such as a full-size washer and dryer and private whirlpool spa. Regardless of if you’re staying in a super site or not, there are plenty of features and amenities at Campland on the Bay including a dog park, game room, fitness center, laundry, and a marina available for use. Whether you're starting your trip in San Diego or ending it, Campland on the Bay is an RV park you'll want to stay at.

What to Do in San Diego

San Diego features many kid-friendly parks and activities such asSea World,Legoland, and the famousSan Diego Zoo. If you want to explore the city’s views and scenery try Balboa Park, Torrey Pines State Reserve, or La Jolla Cove for some of the area's best beaches. Whether you want to hike around the coast, catch a Padres baseball game, or get some fabulous food, San Diego has it.

Distance to Big Sur: 7 hours; 415 miles (668 kilometers)

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Second Stop: Big Sur, California

Where to Stay in Big Sur

Big Sur Campgroundis only a few miles from the magnificent coastline that makes Big Sur so alluring. The RV grounds are nestled right in aCalifornia Redwood Forestand sites come with electrical and water utility hookups with adump stationlocated within the park. The campground also comes with washrooms, laundry facilities, a camp store, playground, and more.Kids can rent inflatable tubes to bring to the nearby river for a rafting adventure.

What to Do in Big Sur

Big Suris all about taking in the majestic views. You'll see many of these vistas from the road as you're driving up the Pacific Coast Highway, but if you want to explore nearby parks you have your options of Andrew Molera State Park, Pfeiffer State Park, and Burns State Park. You can also try venturing down to the actual coast to spot marine life such as elephant seals and whales. If the weather isn't ideal, venture into nearbyMontereyfor the award-winning Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Distance to San Francisco: 2 hours, 45 minutes; 145 miles (233 kilometers)

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Third Stop: San Francisco

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Where to Stay in San Francisco

San Francisco RV Resortis technically found in Pacifica, but it’s only a 20-minute drive to travel into the heart ofSan Francisco. This park is all about some great scenery as it is located right on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean for some great sunsets, wildlife viewing, and even surfing. The park itself comes with 150 great full utility hookup sites to go along with the views. Other amenities and features at San Francisco RV Resort include restrooms and showers, picnic areas, playgrounds, laundry facilities, a clubhouse, and more.

What to Do in San Francisco

Few cities have so many attractions packed into such a tiny area as San Francisco does, and you could easily spend a week or longer exploring the City by the Bay. The iconic Golden Gate Bridge is a must-see site, although you'll be driving across it to the next stop so you can focus your time on other places. Take a cruise to Alcatraz and tour the infamous prison that still sits on this eerie island, and then head back to the city for a walk around Pier 39 and the nearby Ghiradelli Square for a chocolatey energy boost. If you're feeling overwhelmed by all there is to see, try a guided walking or bus tour to see as many places as you can before continuing on your road trip.

Distance to Crescent City: 6 hours; 356 miles (574 kilometers)

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Fourth Stop: Crescent City, California

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Where to Stay in Crescent City

Redwoods RV Resortsis one of the best RV parks in all California due not only to its stellar amenities and features but also because it's literally surrounded by the gorgeous and towering California redwoods. The amenities include Wi-Fi, immaculate bathrooms, and hot showers, plus on-site features including a playground, horseshoes, a dog park, and countless hiking trails.

What to Do in Crescent City

You won’t be in Crescent City so much as you will be in the surrounding forests of theRedwood National and State Park. Journey through this incredible land by foot or vehicle to get a glimpse at some of the largest living organisms on Earth. Popular spots in Redwood National and State Park include Howland Hill Road, Crescent Beach Overlook, and the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway. If you plan on staying a while you can also venture into Klamath National Forest.

Distance to Port Orford: 1 hour, 30 minutes; 82 miles (132 kilometers)

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Fifth Stop: Port Orford, Oregon

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Where to Stay in Port Orford

Port Orford is a sleepy southernOregontown known for its artistry where the mountains and forests meet up with the vast Pacific Ocean. Your best place to stay is at the Port Orford RV Village. This lovelyRV parkoffers the full utility of hookups along withcable TV and wireless internet accessright at your campsite. You also get washrooms and showers, laundry facilities, a recreation room with exercise and kitchen equipment, horseshoes, basketball, and more.

What to Do in Port Orford

The number one destination should be theCape Blanco Lighthouse. Make your way over to the beautiful Cape Blanco State Park for some great hiking and sightseeing and, of course, to take a view of the lighthouse itself. The Port Orford area is full of several great parks like Humbug Mountain State Park and Port Orford Heads State Park. The area is also known for being quite artistic, so make sure to check out some of the great art scenes at the Hawthorne Gallery and other local creative hot spots.

Distance to Cannon Beach: 5 hours, 30 minutes; 257 miles (414 kilometers).

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Sixth Stop: Cannon Beach, Oregon

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Where to Stay in Cannon Beach

What better way to explore the United States than to be near some of the most famous spots of Lewis and Clark’s western expedition, like Cannon Beach.Cannon Beach RV Resortwill be a good place to rest and recharge for the final stops of your adventure with their gorgeous park situated right on the beach. A hundred paved and full-hookup sites give you the basics along with Cannon Beach’scomplimentary cableandwireless internet. Cannon Beach RV Resort also houses laundry and bath facilities, an indoor pool and spa, a game room, gift shop, camp store, and more.

What to Do in Cannon Beach

Cannon Beach is all about the breathtaking coastline. Your ​first stop should be at Ecola State Park to explore the beaches all the way up to Seaside, Oregon. You can then set your sightsto Tillamook Head, with its haunting lighthouse out on the Pacific Ocean. Other great areas of Cannon Beach to explore can be found at Haystack Rock, Hug Point State Park, and Oswald West State Park. If you’re looking for something different, try gazing at the artwork at Icefire Glassworks or sampling some spirits at the Cannon Beach Distillery.

Distance to Seattle: 3 hours, 30 minutes; 206 miles (332 kilometers)

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Seventh Stop: The Seattle Area

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Where to Stay in the Seattle Area

The last (or first) stop on your Pacific coast road trip takes you through the Seattle area and the surrounding bounty of outdoors hot spots. Two RV parks in the local area are both outstanding, so choose depending on what area you prefer to be in.Elwha Dam RV Parklies west of Seattle and is the perfect spot to start on exploring one of the most biodiverse regions in the world at Olympic National Park.Mounthaven Resortis found east of Seattle and is a great starting spot if you want to focus onMount Rainier National Park. Both RV parks are packed with great features and amenities for your Seattle adventures.

What to Do in the Seattle Area

From the Space Needle to Pike Place Market to the Chihuly Garden and Glass, there are plenty of things to keep you busy in Seattle. This trendy city is known for its amazing seafood, microbreweries, and unparalleled coffee culture, so you'll have plenty to indulge in while you're there. If you're already aching again for the rich beauty of the Pacific Northwest, there are an endless number of options for day trips around Seattle to revel in its natural splendor, such as Bainbridge Island and Mt. Ranier National Park.


The Ultimate Pacific Coast Road Trip? ›

How long does it take to drive the Pacific Coast Highway? To drive the entire coastal Highway 1 California takes 10-12 hours without stops. But this road trip is all about the stops! Plan on a minimum of 3 days and 2 nights.

How long does it take to drive the entire Pacific coast? ›

How long does it take to drive the Pacific Coast Highway? To drive the entire coastal Highway 1 California takes 10-12 hours without stops. But this road trip is all about the stops! Plan on a minimum of 3 days and 2 nights.

What is the best month to drive the Pacific Coast Highway? ›

For us, the best times to drive the Pacific Coast Highway are from late spring, through summer, to early fall. In July and August you have the best chance of almost-perfect weather, but you also have the busiest crowds and high-season hotel prices.

Is Pacific Coast Highway worth it? ›

It's one of the world's most iconic road trips, and one of my all-time favourites. I could never tire of the views and sensations as you wind your way along the coast, driving the PCH, taking in those epic views, and discovering everything from cute towns to wine regions and international cities along the way.

How much does it cost to road trip the Pacific Coast Highway? ›

Pacific Coast Highway can be one of the more expensive road trips in the United States since California is a vast tourist state, and prices are higher there. California gas is frequently some of the highest priced in the country, so you also have to consider that. The trip ended up being right around $2,500 dollars.

What is the best time of year to drive the Pacific coast highway? ›

The best time of the year to drive the Pacific Coast Highway is in mid-to-late February through April. California's rainy season typically ends in early February, turning its golden hills bright green and covering the coast with colorful wildflowers which last through April and into early May.

Is it better to drive up or down the Pacific coast highway? ›

As a general rule, it's better to start your Pacific Coast Highway road trip in the north and head south so your car is always in the lane closest to the ocean. That way, there's nothing blocking your view of the cliffs during your drive down and you can really enjoy the sights.

What is the most scenic California coast drive? ›

The Highway 1, aka Pacific Coast Highway, road trip that passes through Big Sur on California's Central Coast is perhaps the most famous scenic drive in the Golden State.

What is the safest day to drive on highway? ›

Best Day of the Week to Start a Road Trip

In terms of safety, Tuesday is statistically the safest day of the week to drive and is a great day to start your road trip. According to data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Tuesday has the fewest traffic fatalities.

Is the Million Dollar Highway worth it? ›

Everyone has different preferences, of course, but we'd highly recommend driving the Million Dollar Highway in Colorado if you get the chance. The 25-mile stretch of highway between Silverton and Ouray is one of the most gorgeous drives in the United States and features plenty of places to stop along the way.

Can you sleep on Pacific Coast Highway? ›

If you are driving along a road or highway that is not considered to be a freeway, then technically it's legal to park along the side and get some sleep.

What is the prettiest part of Highway 1 in California? ›

Big Sur. At Big Sur, the most spectacular portion of the Pacific Coast Highway 1 begins, where huge, rugged cliffs and forested inlets overlook the pounding surf below. Whale-watching is popular here at certain times of year; depending on the season you can see blue, gray or humpback species breeching off the coast.

How many cars drive off Pacific Coast Highway? ›

The highway carries about 71,000 cars on an average day in Santa Monica and about 37,000 near the Malibu Civic Center, with numbers in the summer increasing by 3,000 to 5,000 a day.

How much would the perfect road trip cost? ›

“In general, people should budget around $1,000 for a long road trip,” said Kyle Kroeger, the founder and CEO of the travel website ViaTravelers. “This will ensure that you have enough money to cover all your expenses and have some leftover in the budget for souvenirs.”

How fast can you drive the Pacific Coast Highway? ›

What is the speed limit on Pacific Coast Highway? The posted speed limit on the Pacific Coast Highway between Carmel and San Simeon ie in Big Sur is 55 mph. However, for the several hairpin turns in this region, you might need to go even slower.

Can you drive the Pacific coast highway in one day? ›

If you want to drive the Pacific Coast Highway then you can do it in half a day. Officially it's less than 130 miles long, running between Dana Point and Oxnard in southern California. This is the stretch of Highway 1 which has been legally designated the Pacific Coast Highway by the California state legislature.

How many hours does it take to drive from coast to coast? ›

It takes about 45 hours, or six 8-hour days, to drive coast-to-coast. You will need to decide if you want to take one of four coast-to-coast interstates or traverse the country as the old-timers did on U.S. highways. If you have about three months to travel, you can even see all 48 continental states.

Can you drive the entire California coast? ›

Also known as Route 1 or Highway 1, the Pacific Coast Highway is the road of the American Dream, a U.S. route that offers beautiful views of the coast along the 620-mile road from Orange County (near Dana Point, south of Los Angeles) to Mendocino County (just above San Francisco, in Leggett), that covers almost the ...

How long does it take to drive the Pacific coast highway from LA to Portland? ›

The road trip from Los Angeles to Portland can be done in about 15 hours of non-stop driving. The scenic route along the Pacific Coast Highway will take a week allowing for time to explore the beautiful scenery throughout California and Oregon.

Can you sleep on Highway 1 in California? ›

You may also be served with a parking violation from law enforcement. Camping, camp fires, and sleeping overnight in vehicles are not allowed along Highway 1.

Can you Boondock on the Pacific Coast Highway? ›

While boondocking in California on the Pacific Coast Highway is prohibited, you will find state parks and campgrounds along the way. You'll want to book a spot in advance if you plan to stay in a campground on the coast, as they're very popular.

What is the best time of day to leave for a road trip? ›

If you are trying to decide the best time to leave for a road trip, it is early in the morning between 5:00 am and 6:00 am. This is because there is less traffic on the roads and statistically the fewest amount of accidents during this time frame.

What is the best month to drive cross-country? ›

The off-peak seasons of spring and fall tend to be the best times to drive, providing mild temperatures and perfect weather for both sightseeing and cruising. Still, check the weather daily during your cross-country road trip.

Is Pacific Coast Highway difficult to drive? ›

Is It Hard to Drive the Pacific Coast Highway? Driving the Pacific Coast Highway can be very challenging. The road is windy, and traffic can be overwhelming in some areas, especially during the peak tourist season.


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