West Coast Road Trip – 3 week itinerary and the highlights

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Here are the highlights from our three week trip to the Western States covering Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada and Arizona. This post contains our full itinerary and a summary of what we did, and where we ate, at each location. The title of each section is a link to the more detailed post about that place if you want to know more!

2 Nights in Hollywood

Transport

  • Flight from Manchester to Los Angeles with Thomas Cook
  • Transfers to and from Hollywood from LAX using Flyaway Bus
  • Red Metro line to access Universal Studios from Hollywood
  • Uber to and from Sunset Strip from Hollywood

Hotel

We stayed at the Redbury @ Hollywood and Vine for our two night stay, one of the best hotels we stayed in during the entire trip.

 

Sights and Attractions

  • Universal Studios
  • Walk of Fame
  • Grauman’s Chinese Theatre
  • Sunset Strip
  • Capitol Records Building

 

2 Nights in Seattle

Transport

  • Flight from Los Angeles to Seattle with Alaska Airlines
  • Transfers between hotel and airport using hotel car service and Uber
  • D-Line Rapid Transit to access Fisherman’s Terminal

Hotel

We stayed at the Edgewater for our two night stay, where the Beatles were photographed fishing from their balcony during their stay.

 

Sights and Attractions

  • Pikes Place Market
  • Columbia Center – Sky View Observatory
  • Space Needle
  • Pioneer Square

 

Where to eat

There are lots of great places to eat in Seattle but there were our highlights;

  • The Pink Door
  • The Crumpet Shop
  • Lowell’s Restaurant

 

Seattle to Port Angeles

For the journey from Seattle onwards we hired a Mustang convertible from Alamo with pick up at the Seattle Tacoma airport.

Route

Campsite

We stayed at the Heart O the Hills campsite for this night, it doesn’t take reservations but in the middle of September we found there was plenty of space.

Sights and Attractions

  • Port Townsend
  • Hurricane Ridge
  • Hurricane Hill Trail

 

Where to eat

  • Quench in Port Townsend

 

Port Angeles to Kalaloch

Route

Campsite

We stayed at the Kalaloch campsite for this night, it doesn’t take reservations outside of peak season which ended before we arrived, we found it was busier than Heart O the Hills but there was plenty of space.

Sights and Attractions

  • Sea Kayaking from Freshwater Bay with Adventures Through Kayaking
  • Lake Crescent
  • Rialto Beach
  • Hoh Rainforest

 

Where to eat

  • Granny’s Cafe in Port Angeles

Kalaloch to Portland

Route

Hotel

We stayed at the McMenamins Kennedy School for this night, the most unique hotel of our trip, we loved it so much we’ve already got a return visit booked!

Sights and Attractions

  • McMenamins Kennedy School
  • Powell’s Books

Where to eat and drink

  • The Whole Bowl
  • Grilled Cheese Grill
  • Multnomah Whiskey Library
  • Henry’s 12th Street Tavern
  • Fat Head’s
  • McMenamins Kennedy School

 

Portland to Florence

Route

Hotel

We stayed at the River House Inn for this night, our first experience staying in a motel where the room opens right onto the car park. Would recommend if you’re in the area, breakfast included in the room rate as well.

Sights and Attractions

  • Portland Saturday Market
  • Oregon Coast
  • Sea Lion Caves
  • Heceta Head Lighthouse

 

Where to eat

  • Voodoo Doughnut Too
  • Mo’s Restaurant
  • 1285 Restobar

 

Florence to Crescent City

Route

Campsite

We stayed at the KOA Crescent City/Redwoods this night, it’s located just outside of town but you get to camp surrounded by huge redwood trees!

Sights and Attractions

  • Oregon Sand Dunes
  • Bandon
  • Gold Beach
  • Oregon Coast

 

Where to eat

  • Bandon Bait Shop
  • the Chart Room

 

Crescent City to Santa Rosa

Route

For some reason the map won’t show the route taking the Avenue of the Giants which we did as part of this route. Leave highway 101 at the north entrance to the Avenue of the Giants just past Stafford then continue to the end where the south entrance rejoins highway 101 just after Phillipsville.

Hotel

We stayed at the Hotel Azura this night. A motel style property but has been given a more modern look inside the rooms. Clean hotel and in a good location, we would stay here again.

Sights and Attractions

  • Redwood National and State Parks
  • Avenue of the Giants
  • Drive through Trees

 

2 Nights in San Francisco

Route

Hotel

We stayed at the Pier 2620 Hotel for our two night stay, right in the heart of Fisherman’s Wharf with easy access to muni transport to get around the very hilly city.

 

Sights and Attractions

  • Musée Mécanique
  • Pier 39
  • AT&T Park
  • Alcatraz
  • Golden Gate Bridge
  • Lombard Street
  • Union Square
  • China Town
  • North Beach
  • Ghirardelli Square

 

Where to eat

There are lots of great places to eat in San Francisco, some of our favourites from our short stay are;

  • North Beach Restaurant
  • Baked Bear
  • Boudin Bakery

 

San Francisco to Monterey

Route

Hotel

We stayed at The Stevenson Monterey for one night, the only hotel we wouldn’t recommend on our trip.

Sights and Attractions

  • Whale Watching in Monterey Bay
  • Cannery Row, Monterey
  • Carmel by the Sea
  • Point Lobos State Natural Reserve

 

Where to eat

One place we would recommend in this area is Pepe’s Little Napoli which was featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. We eat Italian food regularly and this place was great. It’s only a small place really in Carmel but worth checking out if you’re nearby.

Monterey to Bakersfield

Route

There was a storm not long after our trip which caused a lot of damage to highway 1 through California. So much damage was caused that the road remains unpassible in the Big Sur area and is not due to reopen until well into 2018. Google maps is navigating around the closure so there is no map included here from Monterey to Bakersfield but we just followed highway 1 to San Simeon before heading east to Bakersfield.

Hotel

We stayed at The Holiday Inn & Suites Bakersfield for one night, large rooms with Jacuzzi tubs in some, breakfast was included as well and there was plenty of choice.

Sights and Attractions

  • Big Sur
  • Bixby Creek Bridge
  • California Coast
  • Ragged Point
  • Elephant Seal Rookery at San Simeon
  • Kern County Fair
  • PRCA Rodeo

 

Bakersfield to Venice

Route

Hotel

We stayed at The Hotel Erwin. This trendy hotel is right on the boardwalk in Venice and you can take in views of the Pacific and Muscle Beach from the hotel’s rooftop bar. It’s very busy on weekends, if you’re looking for a quiet place to relax this area is not for you.

Sights and Attractions

  • Muscle Beach
  • Venice Boardwalk
  • Santa Monica Pier
  • Venice Beach Freak Show
  • Abbot Kinney Boulevard

 

Where to eat

Don’t miss out on ice cream from Salt and Straw on Abbot Kinney, there might be a queue but it’s worth the wait! You will need time to decide which flavour you want anyway…

Venice to Laughlin

Route

Hotel

We stayed at Harrah’s Hotel & Casino, this place is a bargain! Great choice of restaurants, pools and access to the Colorado via the hotel’s private beach. Highly recommend a stay here if you’re driving Route 66.

 

Sights and Attractions

  • Colorado River
  • Casinos

Where to eat

One of our best meals of the trip was had in Harrah’s Laughlin at Guy Fieri’s El Burro Borracho – excellent service as well as great food, try the flight of tequila.

 

Laughlin to Grand Canyon National Park

Route

Campsite

We stayed at Mather Campground which is at the south rim of the Grand Canyon National Park. It has easy access to all the areas you will want to check out, view points, the village etc. great place if you’re tent camping.

Sights and Attractions

  • Hackberry General Store
  • Grand Canyon Caverns
  • Route 66
  • The Grand Canyon

 

Grand Canyon National Park to Las Vegas

Route

Hotel

We stayed at the Vdara, a non-casino property but within steps of both the Aria and the Bellagio. We had a fountain view room which we could watch the Bellagio fountains from, we also had a great view of the strip and Paris’s Eiffel Tower.

 

Sights and Attractions

  • The Grand Canyon
  • Route 66
  • Sitgreaves Pass
  • Oatman
  • Driving the Las Vegas Strip
  • Cirque du Soleil’s Ka

 

Where to eat

If you’re going to see Ka you can’t go wrong with Wolfgang Puck which is opposite the theater entrance. Food was great and we could see when the theater opened – avoiding a queue.

3 Nights in Las Vegas

Transport

We arrived by car but after our first nights stay we returned the car to Alamo at the Las Vegas airport. To get back from the car drop off point we used a taxi but at the end of our trip we returned to the airport using Uber – Uber was a lot cheaper.

Return flight from Las Vegas to Manchester with Thomas Cook.

Sights and Attractions

  • Driving the Las Vegas Strip
  • Cirque du Soleil’s Ka
  • Harley Davidson Garage
  • Huge casino hotels – Bellagio, MGM Grand, New York New York, Luxor, Caesar’s Palace, Paris, the Venetian…
  • Lockdown at the Pioneer Saloon in Goodsprings with transport from Las Vegas

 

Where to eat

  • Harley Davidson Cafe
  • Carlo’s Bakery
  • Aria Buffet
  • Wolfgang Puck
  • Javier’s

 

 

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