There’s a reason they call it the Best Coast. From top to tip, you can traverse the entirety of the West Coast in just under 24 hours. Why, you might ask? Well, to experience some of the most iconic stretches of road, see some of the most beautiful views in the country and to visit some of the best American cities. If you’re planning a road trip over spring vacation, there’s no better way to see the nation’s best sights than to follow the West Coast from Washington State down to San Diego.
The Pacific Coast Highway in California offers plenty in the way of gorgeous beach views across miles of winding roads, through state parks, forestry and, hey, even through a little wine country, but if you start further north, you’ll see coastal treasures such as Mount Ranier. Take your ride in for a tune-up and grab everything you need, it’s time to hit the road.
Start: Seattle, WA
With how many coffee shops line the city’s streets, it’s a wonder they don’t call Seattle the city that never sleeps. Visit the iconic Pike Place Market and the Space Needle, kayak Puget Sound or just grab a grilled cheese at Beecher’s Handmade Cheese.
The city is extremely accessible with few hills and good public transportation. There is also a map of the city detailing accessibility road blocks like hills and construction.
You’ll find lots of mixed opinions on where exactly to grab Seattle’s best cup of coffee, but you can visit Starbucks’ first location and a few top spots to form your own opinion. Camp at a nearby state park, or find lodging in the city for a real Seattle adventure.
Portland, OR (4 hr drive)
Your first stop will be the home of all things quirky. Portland’s known for keeping it weird, but there’s more to it than just quirk. Locals agree that famed bookstore Powell’s City of Books is a must-stop, along with the International Rose Test Garden (the garden that gave the City of Roses its name).
The city also has an amazing selection of great places to eat. Lots of these places also put on live music, which adds to the area’s already great music scene. Here is a great guide to more things to do while in Portland.
Bend, OR (3 hr drive)
Bend has one of the most unique climates in the U.S. It’s home to high deserts, rushing rivers, forests and mountains—and, as a result, a whole lot of outdoor activities. Spend a day or two hiking some of the wheelchair accessible trails, or grab a beer at one of the area’s many local breweries, including Deschutes, Boneyard and 10 Barrel (or have a few at a Catholic school house-turned-brewery and hotel). Even if you’re just stopping through, you’ll find plenty of mountain views and forested retreats on the road into the town, making a short stop worth your while.
Mount Shasta & Sacramento, CA (7 hr drive)
Mount Shasta is just a 3 hour, 45 minute drive from Bend, making it a perfect stop in between the state park and Sacramento. The park is a great place to stop and see some amazing natural scenery including rivers and waterfalls.
While you’re in Sacramento, you’ll almost certainly want to roll the streets of Old Sacramento, a historic district that recalls the Gold Rush. History buffs will especially love the California State Railroad Museum and the area’s numerous historic houses.
Sacramento has recently been making great strides in increasing their accessibility. There are new ramps across the city and most intersections now have updated crosswalks. The city is also pretty compact so it is easy to get to different locations.
San Francisco & Big Sur, CA (5 hr drive)
It’s only another short drive to one of California’s most beloved cities. San Francisco is only an hour and a half away from Sacramento, and Big Sur’s just another hop, skip and jump at almost three hours. San Francisco has something for almost anyone and although it is known for its hills, it has great public transportation to get you to different destinations.
Those looking for real scenic drives may decide to skip over San Fran for Big Sur’s panoramic ocean views (and treehouse lodging!) But many will want to stroll San Francisco’s scenic streets, visit Golden Gate Park or stay a day and explore the city’s bars and nightlife.
Los Angeles, CA (7 hr drive)
Rodeo Drive, Hollywood and lots and lots of great food, there’s no doubt you should make L.A. one of your stops. Los Angeles is home to stars, but plenty of great sights, such as the Hollywood sign, the Griffith observatory and, of course, the Walk of Fame.
As this is the longest drive on your trek, you may consider stopping off for a few hours (or a day) in Santa Barbara, which sits just between Big Sur and L.A. Discover Los Angeles has a great guide for the best wheelchair accessible attractions throughout the city.
Finish: San Diego, CA (5 hr drive)
Last stop, sunny San Diego! Treat yourself to some sun, sand and maybe even a trip to the famous San Diego Zoo. America’s Finest City has a lot to offer everyone who visits and it is also one of the most accessible destinations in the world!
There are tons of beaches with accessible parking and wheelchairs specifically designed to travel over sand. Mission Beach even has wheelchairs with tracks instead of wheels to make traversing the beach even easier.
As you can see, this road trip is jammed packed with accessible things to see and do. You’ll want to plan to spend a little extra time on this road trip as there is just so much to take in. Traveling the length of the west coast is sure to give you things to look back on for the rest of your life.