Do you live on the west coast and looking for an adventure? Looking to get away for weeks at a time or even a month? If you’re adventurous and you like the open road, then a road trip along the west coast will be an unforgettable vacation. Wherever you begin your journey, whether it’s California, Oregon or Washington, a car ride along the coast comes with majestic views, quaint little towns, and wonderful places to stop and appreciate the moment with friends or family.
The best route to travel along is HWY 101, as it runs north and south, from Mexico to Canada, along the west coast. There are several places that you’ll want to stop and enjoy for a day or two on your extended journey. We compiled a list of cities that we think are must stops off of HWY 101.
Big Sur is one of the most popular places for a photo opportunity. Big Sur is home to Bixby Bridge, which is one of the tallest single span bridges in the whole world. You’ll have a chance to drive over Bixby Bridge when stopping in Big Sur. Riding over this bridge on a clear day is one the best views you’ll ever witness as it overlooks the shoreline of the Pacific Ocean. Big Sur is a quiet little town known for camping, hiking and the great outdoors. This stop is definitely a one-two night stop.
Riding in the right lane on HWY 101 heading south will make for breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean. Santa Barbara is a small town but has a lot of life. You can enjoy the warm weather on the beach, or walk down state street with street lights and find dining on both sides. The Santa Barbara Zoo is also popular for tourists who love wildlife and animals. Santa Barbara has almost everything you need that can be packed into a few nights of entertainment and fun.
Driving on the 101 will lead you right to Monterey Bay. Monterey is a wondeful city that is known for the most popular Aquarium in the country, if not the world. Many celebrities go incognito when in Monterey to check out the Aquarium and see what the ocean life has to offer. After a day spent at the aquarium, you can also head down to Cannery Row or Fisherman’s Wharf which has plenty of dining options and endless views of the Pacific Ocean. You can also enjoy kayaking with the nomadic whales, sailing, golfing, road biking, and hiking in Monterey.
San Francisco, also known as Fog City is one of the most visited city in the whole United States. San Francisco is located just off Highway 101. The first place you might want to visit is the Golden Gate Park to get the perfect selfie with the Golden Gate Bridge as your background. You can also visit Fisherman’s Wharf, Alcatraz, Chinatown, and give in to your sweet tooth at Ghirardelli headquarters. There is so many options in San Francisco, that you might want to make this your longest stay of the road trip.
Just north of the Oregon-California border is where Gold Beach resides. You will love this drive as you stroll into this small town of just a few thousand people. The tall Douglass firs will welcome you as you head north to Gold beach along the 101. Here is a small town that has beautiful views of the ocean and the different boats that doc near the shorelines. This is a great place to take a night and wind down from hours of driving. Just relax and enjoy this beautiful city and the views that it has to offer
Continuing north on HWY 101 will take you through Oregon and dump you off into the small town of Florence, Oregon. This coastal city is foggy and has a cool climate throughout most of the year. Here you can enjoy a wide variety of activities like riding quads on the san dunes, hiking on nearby trails, visiting the oldest lighthouse in the country, and taking a gamble at the Three Rivers Casino & Hotel. If you want to get away from the coastline you can drive a few miles down the road and rent a lake house while you stay.
Highway 101 is a great road trip for those who love to seek adventure and to try different things. The 101 will take you past other wonderful cities that were left out of this list. Wherever you decide to stay, you will love your vacation along the 101 and the memories that come with it!