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Best Places to Visit on a Road Trip (West Coast Edition)

Posted by Roam Often on
Best Places to Visit on a Road Trip (West Coast Edition)

They say the West Coast is the best coast. We’ve rounded up ten of the best road stops that prove it.

Whether you’re traveling up or down the Golden State Freeway, here are ten places you don’t want to miss.

1. San Diego, CA

San Diego is one of those cities that’s got something for every type of vibe. Downtown gals will love the Gaslamp District scene while nature lovers will find their happy place with the zoos, parks, and museums of Balboa Park. And of course, you’ve got the beachside cities of Oceanside and La Jolla. 

Instagrammable Spot: You’ll find a gorgeous background with the historic buildings of Balboa park, or anywhere along the shores of La Jolla or Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve.

2. Los Angeles, CA

No West Coast road trip would be complete without a stop in the City of Angels! Walk like a star down Rodeo Drive, take in the thrills at the Santa Monica pier, or tap into your inner hippie on the wacky boardwalk of Venice Beach.

Instagrammable Spot: Everyone loves the Hollywood sign, but we’ll let you in on a secret: Griffith Park is just as picturesque and quintessentially L.A.

Girl sitting on a California Beach

3. Santa Barbara, CA

Santa Barbara puts the chill in California. This hipster-friendly beach town is just sleepy enough that it doesn’t feel crowded. You can walk around like a local, drink a craft beer, and simply watch the waves crash with the wind in your hair.

Instagrammable Spot: Hikers can take in the views from Inspiration Point or Lizard’s Mouth. Hiking not your thing? Check out Chromatic Gate for a pop of color.

4. Ojai. CA

Oh hi, Ojai! If you thought Santa Barbara was chill, it doesn’t get more Zen than Ojai, a small town that still feels in touch with its spiritual beginnings. Go for a bike ride, relax at the spa, and take some time to meditate.

Instagrammable Spot: Speaking of meditation, there’s a spot just for it! Breathe in the scent of California mountains, lavender, and olive trees at Meditation Mount. And don’t miss Bart’s Books, an outdoor book store!

5. Napa/Sonoma, CA

Napa and Sonoma are both worthy stops, so it’s really a matter of finding the right winery (or, let’s be real, wineries) for you. But if you’re wondering where to spend a day walking around, you can think of Sonoma as the more relaxed little sister to Napa. There’s a little bit less to do in Sonoma, but it’s still just as beautiful. 

Instagrammable Spot: You know what to do. Pop open that bottle of Rose, Chardonnay, or Pinot, and pose it in all bubbly glory against a backdrop of beautiful Wine Country. 

6. San Francisco, CA

There is so much to do in San Francisco, prepare to be exhausted! Wind through Lombard Street, grab a bite in Chinatown, or take a trolley ride down to the wharf and breathe in the sea air while you chow down on some sourdough and Ghirardelli chocolate (maybe not at the same time). 

Instagrammable Spot: Presidio Park is the place to go for that classic Golden Gate Bridge shot. Full House stans can’t leave without taking a stroll in front of the Painted Ladies. 

7. Santa Cruz, CA

We hope you didn’t leave your heart in San Francisco, because this West Coast road trip isn’t done just yet! Another top place to visit is Santa Cruz, an ultra-cool beach town along Monterey Bay. You can go for a spin on the old-school Giant Dipper roller coaster and browse the vintage shops downtown. 

Instagrammable Spot: Let your inner kid shine on the boardwalk with ice cream and roller coasters. Then you can get artsy on Capitola Beach (we’d call it the Venice of California if there wasn’t already Venice Beach).

8. Portland, OR

We can’t let California have all the fun. Portland, with its promises of “Keep Portland Weird,” is everything you imagine it would be if you watched an episode of Portlandia. This fabulously funky city got’s something for every kind of foodie, coffee lover, or bibliophile. Just walk around and you’ll see what we mean!

Instagrammable Spot: Once you’re done Instagramming your food, snap a selfie in front of Portland’s many Portland signs. There’s the Broadway-style marquee of Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, and the neon-lit White Stag sign on Couch Street.

Girl on a roadtrip in Portland Oregon

9. Seattle, WA

Even if you’re a local coffee girl, you’ve gotta stop at the place that started it all: the Starbucks Coffee in Pike Place Market. Go for a run along the Sound, walk through a Japanese Garden, and don’t leave without eating some amazing sushi.

Instagrammable Spot: The Space Needle. Need we say more?

10. Vancouver, BC

If you’ve got a passport, why not use it and head over the border into Vancouver, British Columbia? This easygoing Canadian town has flower-lined streets, big city hills, and a beautiful coast framed by the North Shore Mountains.  

Instagrammable Spot: Bike along Stanley Park for jaw-dropping views of the English Bay, or lounge like a local at Kitsilano Beach. 

Ready to head out to the coast? Read our tips for what to pack and wear on a road trip, and you’ll be all set!

Roam often, stay stylish.

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