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Pacific Coast Hwy from Seattle to California

Tampa, Florida
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Pacific Coast Hwy from Seattle to California

We want to drive the Pacific Coast Hwy this May/June. Start at either Seattle or California. I need suggestions as to where to start and finish. We have 11 days counting "fly" days (we are flying infrom Florida). Dont know whether to go from south to north or visa versa. Maybe it doesnt matter. We love to drive and sightsee, and take our time. last summer we put 2500 miles on a rental car in 10 days round trip LA to Vegas, Utah parks, Grand Canyon and back to LA. We really didnt feel rushed. I doubt Seattle to LA would be as many miles as that. What I want to know, does this sound doable? And what are the "must sees" along the way? Can someone map me out a vague itinerary? Also, this is not "set in stone" yet. We could fly into Portland instead and go south, or even not go as far south as LA. We just need major airports to fly in and out of. NOW, I have to try to find a rental car that wont kill me on a ONE WAY charge!! Any help there?

San Diego...
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1. Re: Pacific Coast Hwy from Seattle to California

In my opinion, not all of the "Pacific Coast Hwy" is scenic or interesting. Also, there is no highway called the "Pacific Coast Hwy" that covers this entire route. Basically, you are probably referring to U.S.Highway 101 in Washington and Oregon and Northern California as far south as Eureka. South of Eureka, 101 goes inland until the Golden Gate Bridge., and then is inland again for most, but not all of its route to its termination in Los Angeles. Parts of the California Coast have as a coastal highway, California Highway 1. Some of this road is very scenic. The most scenic section is south of Monterey in the Big Sur area. Other interesting parts of Highway 1 are north of San Francisco to Fort Bragg, as well as between San Francisco and Monterey. Also south of Oxnard through Malibu into Los Angeles.

In my opinion, U.S. Highway 101 through Washington and Oregon is not that interesting with two notable exceptions: The Olympic Peninsula in Washington and the area around the mouth of the Columbia River at the Oregon-Washington border.

Uden, The...
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2. Re: Pacific Coast Hwy from Seattle to California

If you have never been, I recommend to drive the coastal stretch from San Diego to San Francisco first. I prefer driving from south to north, not facing the sun all day. If you want to visit cities like SD, LA and SF too you'll need your ten days between SD and SF.

If it's the coast that attracts you without cityvisits I would recommend next route:

Day 1: Los Angeles-Santa Monica-Malibu-Santa Barbara-Solvang-Morro Bay or Cambria.

Day 2: Hearst Castle-Big Sur, Point Lobos SR-Carmel-Monterey

Day 3: Santa Cruz-Half Moon Bay-San Francisco

Day 4: San Francisco

Day 5: (Inland route). San Francisco-Humboldt Redwoods SP.

Day 6: Eureka-Redwood NP-Into Oregon.

Day 7: Oregon Coastal drive. Visit to cheesy Tillamook

Day 8: Portland

Day 9: Portland-Mnt St. Helens-Seattle..

2 flighing days.

Lots of driving but you are a fan.

Many other options too.

Direct distance LA-Seattle: 1200 miles.

Tet

Fox Island...
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3. Re: Pacific Coast Hwy from Seattle to California

As a Pacific Northwesterner I think you should allow a little more time for our fantastic and beautiful part of the country! You will be burned out on California after a week anyway. I would drive along the coast starting in LA, stop at Santa Barbara, Morro Bay, Cambria and Hearst Castle, Monterey, Carmel, San Francisco, Redwoods. Then stay along the coast to see the beautiful dunes in Oregon, see the stinky Sea Lion Caves, stop at all the lighthouses along the cliffs, then head in to Portland and visit the vital Pearl District for food and shopping. Continue north on I-5 to Mt. St. Helens to the observation areas and take some short hikes to view our country's only active volcano. Then you can take a side trip to the Hoh Rain Forest, the only temperate rain forest in the US, continue up to Port Angeles and catch a day ferry to see Victoria B.C., then travel to Bainbridge Island to catch a ferry to Seattle. Or travel straight from Mt. St. Helens up I-5 to Seattle to visit Pike Place Market, eat at some fantastic restaurants, take a ferry ride, or walk the waterfront. I would start in the south because the later in the season the better the weather in the NW.

Tampa, Florida
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4. Re: Pacific Coast Hwy from Seattle to California

Can ALL this be done in 9 "travel" days?

5. Re: Pacific Coast Hwy from Seattle to California

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Ljubljana, Slovenia
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6. Re: Pacific Coast Hwy from Seattle to California

I agree with Tet - it's more convenient driving to the North and not need to face the sun all the time. The road along the coast is not very frequented so you won't have any problems pulling across the road to the ocean view points.

I would not want to do all the coast (LA-Seattle) in just 9 days. I would either do SF-Seattle or LA-Portland. It's such a wonderful stretch and there's so much to do and see it's really not worth just driving. Have in mind this is coastal, in some places narrow and very winding road, so it slows down your travel considerably. Don't just look at the map and compare the distances to the straight desert highway stretches to Vegas and Utah. It might also get foggy and when fog really settles in it even further slows you down.

I agree that all sections of the 101 are not scenic (or you just get bored of the same scenic landscape) and on those section an inland deviations with some inland sightseeing seem very practical.

Fox Island...
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7. Re: Pacific Coast Hwy from Seattle to California

They have a history of being big travellers - they did 2500 miles in 10 days so I think they can handle 1500 in 11 days. I would add a few hundred miles on to the previous estimate because driving along the coast is much more winding than going straight down I-5. A lot of the places along the coast are 'fly-by's' where you take a quick look as you going by. You don't need to get out of a car to see Morro Rock - it's right there as you drive past. You can see Hearst Castle in a couple of hours, Big Sur is worth a viewpoint, The Oregon Dunes are a fly-by, take in a few viewpoints on the Oregon Coast. Mt. St. Helens will be a half-day. Skip the Hoh Rainforest if you must, see how your schedule is at that point. Or skip Washington altogether, fly out of Portland, and come spend 11 days seeing Washington next time!

Ljubljana, Slovenia
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8. Re: Pacific Coast Hwy from Seattle to California

Well, after all you could book a window seat on a San Diego-Seattle flight and say you've seen the Pacific coastline. That would certainly be the most compressed fly-by experience, why bother with the drive. :-)

Fox Island...
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9. Re: Pacific Coast Hwy from Seattle to California

Just trying to fit in what they wanted to do in their allotted time.

Calgary, Canada
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10. Re: Pacific Coast Hwy from Seattle to California

We drove from Portland to LA summer 2005 in our RV in 3 long days. You can easily do it in 9 in a car.

And I have to disagree with a previous poster about the northern part of the trip. We found the Oregon coastline to be every bit as spectacular as the California coastline. You will love it all, I'm sure.

Be sure to check out a couple of the historic lighthouses along the Oregon coast - Heceta Head was our favorite - as well as the sand dunes between Florence and Coos Bay and also a detour into the Redwoods when you hit northern California.

I'm jealous! I wish I was back there right now!