A road trip along the U.S. West Coast offers countless opportunities for exploration. Whether you’re searching for metropolitan amenities or nature’s beauty, there’s a destination worth visiting along the West Coast. Plus, with the Pacific Ocean always nearby, enjoying the beauty of the coastline and its white, sandy beaches is always achievable. So, before you secure your RV rental, create an itinerary for your West Coast road trip. Let these five destinations inspire you as you plan your RV getaway.
Seattle, Washington, is one of America’s most iconic cities, offering a wealth of activities during your road trip. Seattle first-timers might opt for the city’s classic tourist attractions, including the Space Needle, Pike Place Market, and the Museum of Flight. Nature lovers have plenty to explore in Seattle. Puget Sound is a Pacific Ocean inlet and estuary that’s home to the city’s port and features plenty of wildlife. Lake Washington, the state’s second-largest lake, provides boating and fishing opportunities. Finally, check out some of Seattle’s cultural attractions during your visit. You can see the Chihuly Garden and Glass art museum, home to the famous artist’s sculptural masterpieces. Check out modern and historic exhibits at the Seattle Art Museum. Finally, the Pacific Science Center features plenty of exhibits, plus a tropical butterfly house. Simply put, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in Seattle.
Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
Oregon’s Crater Lake National Park is a must-see on your West Coast road trip. Crater Lake developed 7,700 years ago after an eruption brought down a tall peak. Today, what remains is the deepest lake in the United States and a surrounding national park that is open for exploration. The park offers year-round activities, so what you can do depends on when you visit. During the summer and fall, you will discover plenty of spots for backcountry camping, as 95% of the park is designated as wilderness. Enjoy biking and fishing opportunities throughout the park. Keep an eye out for wildlife, including elk, foxes, black bears, and porcupines.
Between November and April, park activities focus on snow. After all, Crater Lake National Park is one of the snowiest spots in America, averaging a whopping 43 feet of snowfall every year. It’s no surprise, then, that snow sports abound during the winter and early spring. Try skiing, snowshoeing, snowboarding, and sledding in the park.
One word of caution when visiting Crater Lake: Check conditions before you arrive. At times, the lake cannot be seen due to cloud cover. So, the weather forecast may inhibit your view of this spectacular lake.
Redwood National Park, California
Located in Crescent City, Redwood National Park is home to the tallest trees on Earth. That fact alone makes this national park a must-see during your West Coast road trip. Those towering trees are just the start of your exploration of Redwood, however. The park boasts an impressive 40 miles of rugged coastline. You can meander through open prairies, check out woodlands filled with oak trees, or traverse riverways.
You’ll probably encounter wildlife as you traverse through Redwood National Park as well. Wildlife range from black bears and banana slugs to majestic gray whales. Redwood National Park also offers an array of hiking opportunities. Experienced hikers might enjoy backcountry hiking and camping in the forest. However, there’s a trail for every experience level in this national park. In total, there are 200 miles of well-maintained trails made of compacted gravel that weave through the park, ready for exploration.
San Francisco, California
After some time spent taking in nature, it’s time to shift gears and visit one of the West Coast’s most notable big cities. Road trip to San Francisco, where you’ll find an array of metropolitan activities to keep you and your travel companions entertained. If you’ve never been to the city, then its classic landmarks are a must visit. Check out the Golden Gate Bridge, which you can navigate by RV, bike, or foot. Visit Alcatraz Island, located about a mile offshore, to explore the one-time prison and lighthouse. For entertainment, Pier 39 is your best bet. Here, you can dine, shop, and even catch a street performance. Be sure to check out Lombard Street, an iconic San Francisco street noted for its steep hills. You might want to keep the RV rental parked for that journey, though.
Santa Monica, California
A visit to the West Coast is not complete without some time soaking up the California sunshine and dipping your toes in the Pacific Ocean. Located on the outskirts on Los Angeles, Santa Monica is an ideal spot to unwind. It offers a long beach that spans about 3.5 miles, giving you plenty of space to set up and spread out. Its soft, sandy beaches are well maintained, allowing you to get comfortable as the Pacific Ocean crashes at your feet.
There’s no shortage of beach-related activities in Santa Monica, either. Sitting in the middle of the beach is Santa Monica Pier, which is home to plenty of attractions and activities. This well-known pier is a hotbed for tourists, thanks to its amusement park, aquarium, and restaurants. South of the pier, you can visit the famous Muscle Beach, complete with gym equipment, as well as nearby hotels and restaurants. For a quintessential California beach day, look no further than Santa Monica.
As you drive your RV rental up and down the West Coast, enjoy the area’s beauty, big-city amenities, and national parks. These five must-see spots on the West Coast are worth a pit stop, allowing you to explore everything the region has to offer.