In October last year, me and my OH took the trip of a lifetime: a 3-week long road trip along the West Coast of America. It was INCREDIBLE and something that I feel so lucky to have been able to do. We made some amazing memories and got to experience so many incredible places – and of course we took about 4,000 photos (not even kidding!) to document our time away.
Typically, since we came home, things have been so busy that we’ve not had to chance to go through out photos, or write up any blog posts, which has been frustrating, because this is something I’ve been dying to do. But I’m finally getting round to it and cannot wait to share all of our experiences with you!
West Coast road trip itinerary
To start with, in this post I thought I would share with you the route that we decided to take for our road trip, as well as why we chose the route and stops that we did. This was the basic itinerary we planned out:
- Fly in to San Francisco
- San Francisco – 3 nights
- Yosemite National Park – 2 nights
- Las Vegas – 3 nights
- San Diego – 3 nights
- Los Angeles – 2 nights
- Santa Barbara – 2 nights
- Pismo Beach – 1 night
- Monterey – 1 night
- Half Moon Bay – 1 night
- Fly home from San Francisco
Below is a (very very basic) map to show you the general route. I’ve not mapped out the exact roads that we took, but this gives you a general idea of our trip.
Planning out our road trip route
Now, to be really honest, the thing that first helped us form some form of route plan, was finding an amazing offer on flights from London to San Francisco. We managed to find return flights for a really great offer, but what this meant was that we would need to fly into and out of the same airport, meaning that we would need to loop back on our road trip at some point.
With this in mind, we looked at getting internal flights back to San Francisco from another area, or flying into and out of different airports, but cost-wise, the return flights made much more sense. If you’re planning a similar trip, I would recommend looking for offers on flights, and also consider using internal flights if you don’t want to set yourself up for lots of driving. Although we didn’t go down this route, internal flights can be found at really good prices and could save you from paying more for flights into/out of different airports.
We had quite a few places we were keen to visit, having seen friends go on various road trips through the West Coast of America. So we started to map out places we wanted to visit, and were able to form a route that would loop back to San Francisco, whilst visiting all of the places we wanted to see along the way. We knew we wanted to do Yosemite and Las Vegas, and we also wanted to drive along the Pacific Coast Highway, so we needed to work out which way we would drive and how long we wanted to spend in each place. We decided on Yosemite and Las Vegas first, as we would be stopping for a couple of days in each place, so would be able to have a break from driving, while the Pacific Coast Highway would involve a lot of driving each day.
Research, research, research
After booking our flights, we spent a lot of time researching the places we wanted to visit online before we booked hotels or made a proper plan.
Researching took a lot of time, but it was definitely worth it, as it ensured that we made the most of our 3 weeks, spending enough time in each place and getting the best experience. I read a lot of travel threads and road trip blogs, as well as reading lots of travel books. Three weeks sounds like a long time, but with the amount of places we wanted to visit, we needed to make sure we made the most of our time. Planning also made it easier when we got there, as we had a really firm idea of each place we were visiting and could plan out our itinerary accordingly.
Planning a road trip is a lot of work, but at the end of the trip, we were both so in awe of the places we had visited in just three weeks, and the memories we made will last a lifetime.
If you’re considering visiting the West Coast of America, I would recommend it in a heartbeat. You won’t regret it.