5 of the Most Classic West Coast Drives

If you’ve ever dreamed of taking the ultimate road trip, the western coast of the United States has some of the most scenic beauty the country has to offer. From the North to the South, you can soak in majestic mountains and pristine coastlines or take in some of the histories of the area. The only problem you may encounter is in determining which route to trek. Here are a few suggestions for the ride.

1. The Pacific Coast Highway

The Pacific Coast Highway
Image via Flickr by rkramer62.

Stretching 123 miles along the central coast of California, the Pacific Coast Highway is routinely voted as the most beautiful drive in the country.  The Highway starts just south of San Jose in a town called Monterey. Be sure to visit the nearby town of Carmel which has shopping, historic buildings, and restaurants.

If you keep travelling north, you’ll arrive in Big Sur, which is where the mountains meet the sea — this is simply a stunning scene. Keep travelling and you’ll hit the other scenic points, including the much-photographed Bixby Bridge, before you finally arrive in Morro Bay.

2. Route 66

Motel at Route 66
Image via Flickr by doug_wertman

Beginning along the Arizona-California border, the final stretch of Route 66 takes you through some of the more barren stretches of the famed road but provides you with some interesting scenery. The first two steps from the Arizona border are the towns of Needles and Barstow, which are now in heavy decline, but worth checking out if you’re a photographer.

Past Barstow, you’ll finally start to emerge from the Mojave Desert towards Victorville, Pasadena, and then finally, Los Angeles and the Pacific Ocean. Ultimately, you’ll see a dramatic change of scenery and people in a short distance.

3. The 405

The 405
Image via Flickr by dsearls

Perhaps the busiest and most travelled stretch of Interstate, the San Diego Freeway, or the 405, links the northern and southern parts of the Los Angeles metropolitan area.

While the drive isn’t nearly as scenic or historic as some of the other options in the West, it has its place, particularly in music culture. So, the next time you hear Tupac talking about the 405, you’ll know exactly what he means.

4. Eastern Sierra Scenic Byway

Alabama Hills next to Eastern Sierra Scenic Byway
Image via Flickr by wanderinghome.

This stretch of road lies on the east side of the Sierra-Nevada mountain range, from the Nevada border headed north. Bordered on the west by Yosemite National Park and featuring 23 points of interest along the 250-mile byway, there’s no shortage of amazing scenery. You can also stop in the Alabama Hills, where many Westerns were filmed in the 1950s and 1960s.

5. Avenue of the Giants

Avenue of the Giants
Image via Flickr by dougtone

If you’ve ever wanted to see Giant Redwood trees up close, the Avenue of the Giants is the perfect journey. The road, which goes through Humboldt Redwoods State Park, is just a 20-mile drive through the massive Redwood forests. Along the way, be sure to stop and take one of the many hikes to stretch your legs. There is also a visitor’s centre for you to learn more about the local ecosystem or find out about other features the park has to offer.

No matter which course of travel you take on the west coast, make sure you take one of these scenic drives. Because of heavy traffic and long stretches of road, however, you may want to look at some reliable used cars for the journey. Once you have your vehicle, you’ll have one of the best road trips ever.

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