It’s that time of year when the leaves begin to change and reveal a rainbow of colors throughout the PNW. It’s the perfect time for a road trip to see all the beautiful colors along the West Coast. The summer vacationers have gone home, kids are in school, and traffic has slowed down. We’ve got your itinerary planned all the way from Big Sur, California to Long Beach, WA. We’ve included things to do and see, places to eat and places to stay. As always, we hope you’ll stay with us at The Lamp Camp in Long Beach, Washington as you make your way up the coast. We’ll welcome you with arms wide open.
Big Sur to Fort Bragg
While we’re not sure where you’re starting on your trip up North, we wanted to start with a gorgeous town on the coast of California called Big Sur. We’re sure you’ve heard of it and it’s picturesque views; we encourage you to stop every time you see a place to pull over because whoever is in the driver’s seat won’t want to miss the views as he keeps his eyes on the winding roads along the cliffs.
Eat: Nepenthe is a restaurant that sits perfectly on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. With a short menu, it is perfectly curated to cater to all diets in mind. While you’ll want to sit outside on the back deck, the inside of the restaurant was built with floor to ceiling windows showing off the spectacular views.
Stay: Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park towers high above the Big Sur River Gorge, where the Big Sur River enters the park. With campsites along the river, you can fall asleep to the sound of nature or take advantage of the Big Sur Lodge located in the park.
Play: There is hiking galore in Big Sur and you can pick up a map of the area at a local general store. But, while you’re in Big Sur, you’ll want to be sure to check out McWay Falls. Follow this link to learn more about it and how to get there.
Fort Bragg to Crescent Bay
Next stop, is a town north of San Francisco where you can find towering redwoods of Russion Gulch State Park, the craggy bluffs of Glass Beach, the bustle of Noyo Harbor, and the winding path of the Coastal Trail. Filled with history, this town is one you’ll want to spend time exploring.
Eat: Stop by the North Coast Brewing Company where you can find them serving delicious and healthy fare and emphasizing the pairings of their award-winning beers with stone hearth cuisine.
Stay: Once upon a time MacKerricher State Park was part of the Mendocino Indian Reservation. Now it is home to beaches, bluffs, headlands, dunes, forests and wetlands.
Play: Ever heard and seen of sea glass? You’re just in luck. Fort Bragg is home to Glass Beach where you can walk along the beach looking for sea glass to bring home. Make sure you stop along the way and take in the expansive Pacific Ocean.
Crescent City to Newport
Coming to the end of California, Crescent City is the last stop you’ll make before entering Oregon. Located on a beautiful crescent-shaped bay, the area offers an abundance of outdoor recreational activities utilizing the proximity of the Pacific Ocean, the Smith River and Klamath River, Redwood National and State Parks, and the Smith River National Recreation Area.
Eat: Watch sea lions play and lounge from the Chart Room. If you’re in the mood for some seafood this is the place to check out. Make sure you try the clam chowder – voted the best from the Reader’s Choice Awards.
Stay: At Ramblin’ Redwoods Campground, you’ll discover the incredible majesty of the forest. They offer a terrific camping combination for lovers of dramatic natural beauty — towering forests and miles of spectacular coastline, all in one grand location.
Play: Just a couple miles west of Crescent City, an unpaved stretch of Howland Hill Road offers motorists an intimate encounter with the towering old-growth redwoods in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. The road includes numerous pull-outs and trailheads along the way.
Newport to Long Beach
Newport, Oregon is located just south of Long Beach and is the perfect stop on your road-trip if you’re looking to stay on the coast. This scenic city is home to two lighthouses — including the tallest in Oregon — and beaches prime for spotting whales, bald eagles and agates in the sand.
Eat: There is no shortage of great food in Newport, whether you want a quick bite or enjoy a multi-course gourmet feast. However, we recommend Ove Northwest. The menu consists of New American cuisine that is vegetable forward, seafood focused in season, as local and sustainable as possible, and their dishes pull together international tastes that weave elements of one culture into the whole meal.
Stay: Stay at one of the many beach camping locations in Newport. South Beach State Park in particular offers YURTS (Year-round Universal Recreational Tents), guided hikes, rental bikes, and much much more.
Play: Looking to take nature in, in its raw form? Stop at Devil’s Punchbowl to admire how the ocean has carved a beautiful arch and hole into the coast. Or, head to Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area to look across the Pacific from the point and lighthouse.
Long Beach, Washington
As your road-trip comes to an end, you’ll wind up in Long Beach, Washington. Long Beach is home to six state parks and endless adventure. Here you will find clam digging, cranberry farms, and plenty of hiking. Plus an oceanside RV park and campground.
Eat: Take the hassle out of where and what to eat, and check out Long Beach Tavern. Located downtown, it is where you’ll find all the locals and tourists alike.
Stay: Got a tent? Or an RV? Come join us at The Lamp Camp, nestled between the coastal forest and the dunes of the Pacific. Come enjoy the world’s longest beach and explore all that the Long Beach Peninsula has to offer.
Play: If you’re lucky enough to join us in the fall after the back to school rush ends, Long Beach is bustling with all kinds of events. We have our clam digging dates set, a cranberry festival, and a wild mushroom celebration where you can learn to cook mushrooms and enjoy mushroom cuisine.
PCH road trip… done! Driving the Pacific Coast Highway is a trip that’s definitely worth putting on your bucket list. As you plan your trip and stops, there are plenty of options – almost too many! However, keep in mind the length of your trip and how many days you’ll spend in each place and plan accordingly.