18 Dec 6 Tips for Your Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip
The ocean views, rolling hills and redwood forests of the Pacific Coast Highway are hard to beat when it comes to scenic road trips in the United States. There’s no one right way to enjoy this popular route, but these six tips will help you get the most out of your journey.
- Choose the Right Car
It is difficult to get a reliable cell phone signal on parts of the Pacific Coast Highway, so if you are renting a car, look for one with a good satellite-based GPS. The Pacific Coast Highway isn’t difficult to navigate, but you will be passing through some big cities, such as Los Angeles and San Diego and you don’t want to get lost. A built-in charger for your phone is also a nice thing to have. If you’re in the market to buy a car, shop around for competitive auto loan rates before you buy.
- Drive North to South
Driving North to South will give you the best view of the ocean. If you go the other direction, you will be on the opposite side of the road and will need to cross over if you want to stop to take pictures. San Francisco makes for a good starting point. If you’re flying in and renting a car, the city has lots of public transportation options, so you can save some cash by waiting until you are ready to depart to pick up your rental.
- Pack Some Gadgets To Keep the Kids Happy
Family road trips can be a lot of fun, but bored kids can sour the experience. Bring a portable DVD player or a tablet loaded with some movies or TV shows that they can watch offline. Handheld video game systems, such as the Nintendo Switch, can also be a good option to keep the kids occupied. A lot of people get car sick when they try to read in the car, but if your kids like to read, consider downloading some audiobooks for them. Be sure to research some kid-friendly stops along the way.
- Plan Your Stops Before You Go
You will get more out of your trip if you plot out your stops before you leave, rather than just stopping randomly as you go along. It isn’t always easy to see what attractions are coming up while you are driving. It may also help to plan your food and lodging stops around the attractions you most want to see. Online resources, such as TripAdvisor and Roadtrippers.com can be a big help. You can also download apps for your smartphone that will tell you what attractions are in the area. Plan some wiggle time into your itinerary to allow for photo ops and other unplanned stops.
- Pick a Route That Fits Your Schedule
The Pacific Coast Highway goes a long way and there’s a lot to see, so plan out your trip based on how many days you have. There are lots of good plans online for 5, 7 and 10-day trips, or you can come up with your own. Make sure you factor in plenty of time to stop and enjoy the journey.
- Consider the Weather
Because the weather varies so much along the route, you will want to take it into account when planning your trip. You will encounter the best weather conditions in Washington and Oregon during the summer months and early fall. For Northern California, the weather is ideal in the fall. Southern California has nice weather year-round. If you want to give yourself the best shot of having good weather for your whole trip, September is a good time to make the drive.
The over 1,600 miles of the Pacific Coast Highway offers breathtaking views, some of America’s most exciting cities and lots of amazing things to see and do. These six tips can help you get the most out of your road trip.