The Ultimate Seattle to Los Angeles Road Trip Itinerary

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by Maggie Turansky

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The west coast of the United States is one of the most beautiful, dynamic and interesting places to visit in the entire country, and one of the best ways to see the entirety of this area is by planning a Seattle to Los Angeles road trip.

Spanning three states, there is so much to see when driving from Seattle to LA and it is the perfect way to experience some of the best places the West Coast has to offer.

While the distance from Seattle to Los Angeles is approximately 1135 miles, and 18 hours of drive time along the I-5, the route is best experienced if you take the time to get off of the interstate, hop on the PCH and see some of the highlights of one of the most iconic road trips in the world.

Planning a Seattle to Los Angeles Drive

Before I get into the day-by-day logistics of your road trip, we need to discuss a few things about planning your trip first. And more than anything, we need to discuss how you’re planning on getting around.

If you’re not driving your own vehicle while on your West Coast road trip, you’re likely going to need to rent a car.

While most major car rental companies have offices in Seattle and Los Angeles, we would suggest searching on to find your car hire. This platform aggregates prices across many major rental companies, ensuring that you can get a great deal on your car hire.

Alternatively, if you want to take this road trip with an RV or campervan, you’ll find a great range of options on Outdoorsy – one of the leading online marketplaces for motorhome rentals.

Once you’ve got your wheels sorted, you need to think about how long you have to devote to this road trip. While you can certainly just drive from Seattle to Los Angeles or San Diego in a couple of days, if you want to make a proper trip out of it, we would recommend spending a bit longer on the road.

This entire Seattle to LA road trip itinerary spans about two weeks and it actually doesn’t contain the time that you should be spending in both Los Angeles and Seattle. It also doesn’t cover even a fraction of the amazing places that you could step, however, it does cover the absolute highlights.

Of course, if some of these stops don’t interest you, you can absolutely do this road trip in a shorter period of time, it’s just important to know that you won’t be able to see and do everything on this itinerary.

2 Week Seattle to Los Angeles Road Trip Itinerary

Days 1-2: Seattle to Portland

Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

Leaving Seattle towards Portland, your first stop on your road trip to California is at the incredible Mount Rainier National Park. A true paradise for outdoor lovers, this national park is home to one of the highest peaks in the United States and is littered with incredible natural scenery and countless hiking trails.

You can easily stop off at the national park and go for a day hike before continuing further south into Oregon, or, if you have more time on your hands, you can always opt to spend longer around Mount Rainier to really do this incredible national park justice.

Cannon Beach, Oregon

From Mount Rainier, it’s time to continue further southwest into Oregon and to visit one of the most beautiful coastal towns in the state, Cannon Beach. Located close to the border with Washington, this city is known for its incredible beach and beautiful scenery.

Make sure to get out of the car and go for a long walk down the expansive beach and take in the iconic Haystack Rock, which is a massive rock formation just off of the beach and the attraction that Cannon Beach is famous for. Make sure to take the time to explore the main town of Cannon Beach, as well, as it is absolutely charming.

Cannon Beach, Oregon
Cannon Beach, Oregon

Portland, Oregon

End your first day on your Seattle to LA drive in the cool, hip city of Portland, Oregon. As Oregon’s largest city, Portland has a lot to offer visitors including interesting sites, a very cool culture, great restaurants and cool bars.

Make sure to take the time to spend at least one full day in Portland itself on this west coast road trip, however, we would suggest spending at least two or three nights here in order to use it as a base to explore the towns and sites nearby.

If you’re short on time and want to see the highlights, consider this half-day city tour.

Where to Stay in Portland

Private Rental — In Portland and really on the entirety of this drive, finding a private holiday rental is a fantastic option for accommodation. Whether you’re on a budget and looking for a private room in a local’s home or want to stay in unique lodgings like this chic house near downtown Portland, there are countless properties available.

The Society Hotel — Centrally located within close proximity of all of the best sites in Portland, this hotel is an excellent option for those looking for a comfortable place to base themselves in the Oregon city. They have an array of rooms available and a tasty restaurant on site.

Travelers House — If you’re on a budget or travelling solo, then this hotel is a great option for you. They have both dorm and private rooms available, self-catering facilities, and good commons areas that make it easy to meet other travellers.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more hotels in Portland!

Portland, Oregon
Portland, Oregon

Day 3: Portland Day Trips

Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

Located just east of Portland, this makes for an excellent first stop from the Oregon city on your third day of this road trip. The Columbia River Gorge is a top sight in the state of Oregon and is absolutely beautiful and worth a stop. Make sure to take the time to go for a walk and enjoy the gorgeous scenery that you’re about to surround yourself with.

Tillamook, Oregon

If you’re a cheese-lover, then you absolutely cannot go wrong with a stop in the charming little town of Tillamook. Known for its dairy, the Tillamook Creamery makes for a great stop along the way. Sample its iconic sharp cheddar cheese or even get a scoop or two of delicious Tillamook ice cream.

Lincoln City, Oregon

If you want to experience more of Oregon’s beautiful coastal regions, then make sure to head west to lovely Lincoln City. Boasting a gorgeous beach and charming main town filled with kitschy shops, local artists studios and great food, Lincoln City makes for a great day trip from Portland while on your road trip from Seattle on the way to Los Angeles.

Coastline near Lincoln City
Coastline near Lincoln City

Days 4-5: Southern Oregon

Willamette Valley, Oregon

From Portland, it’s time to head south and experience the wonderful Willamette Valley or Oregon — the state’s premier wine-growing region!

Oregon wines are gaining renown and have achieved some critical acclaim in recent years, however, this region isn’t nearly as well-known as the California regions that you may be visiting later in this Seattle to Los Angeles road trip.

You can take the time to hop from winery to winery and do some tastings (just make sure that you have a designated driver!) or just enjoy the gorgeous scenery while driving through and maybe stop in at one of the many fantastic restaurants in the valley.

Eugene, Oregon

South on the I-5 of Portland lies the city of Eugene, a bustling university town with a hip environment and a great atmosphere.

Packed full with fantastic restaurants, cool bars and a bustling craft beer scene, there are also lots of outdoor activities near Eugene that make the city worth visiting, as well.

Bend, Oregon

And your final stop for the day on the drive from Portland — and a wonderful place to spend the night — is the charming city of Bend. Located just east of Eugene, Bend is known for being an outdoor lover’s paradise and is surrounded by countless hiking trails and beautiful natural spots to visit. The town itself is also worth exploring, with lots of cool shops an great restaurants.

Where to Stay in Bend

Hampton Inn & Suites — If you’re looking for a consistent and comfortable chain hotel in Bend, then this is a good option for you. They have myriad clean and comfortable rooms on offer, good amenities and facilities, and a central location perfect for exploring Bend.

Oxford Hotel — This boutique hotel is an excellent place to stay if you’re looking for a cute, locally run and eco-friendly place to stay in Bend. They have a range of rooms available, fantastic amenities, a central location, and a great breakfast sourced from local farmers in the morning.

Private Rental — If you value your privacy or simply would rather stay in a house than a hotel, then there are lots of private rentals to choose from in Bend. For instance, this historic Belle Millhouse within walking distance of the city centre is an excellent option.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more hotels in Bend!

Drake Park in downtown Bend
Drake Park in downtown Bend

Day 6: Crater Lake & Crescent City, CA

Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

The second of the national parks to visit on this trip, Crater Lake National Park is an incredibly beautiful natural area located in the Cascade Mountains of Southern Oregon. Surrounded by stunning forest, this lake is formed by a collapsed cinder cone volcano.

There are countless hiking trails in the national park that are great if you want to get out and stretch your legs, however, there are also viewpoints that are easy enough to access if you don’t want to go for a hike.

You can also spend the night in Crater Lake after driving down from Portland instead of Bend on Day 5 if you prefer.

Crescent City, California

A Washington to California undoubtedly takes you by some of the most incredible natural scenery that the West Coast has to offer. And some of these world wonders include the incredible California Redwoods — the largest trees in the world.

While you can begin seeing these gigantic trees from this point until you reach Big Sur in California’s central coast, Crescent City is one of the best places to go for a walk amongst these giants.

The town itself also boasts a historic lighthouse, a lovely beach and charming main area filled with cute shops and great restaurants.

Where to Stay in Crescent City

Want a unique place to spend the night? Check out this deluxe cabin nestled amongst the Redwoods!

Lighthouse Inn — This quaint hotel boasts spacious rooms and a great, continental breakfast each morning, making it an ideal place to base yourself in Crescent City. They are centrally located and have numerous rooms available.

Travelodge Crescent City — Another fantastic option if you’re after a small yet basic hotel in Crescent City. Centrally located, they have clean and comfortable rooms to choose from and an option to include breakfast.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more hotels in Crescent City!

Crater Lake National Park
Crater Lake National Park

Days 7-8: Crescent City to San Francisco

Fort Bragg, California

Northern California doesn’t get near the amount of recognition that everything south of San Francisco does, however, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t areas that aren’t worth visiting in the north of the state.

Begin your day working down to San Francisco in the charming coastal city of Fort Bragg in Mendocino County. The city boasts a wonderful beach and a lovely city centre that is very much worth exploring before hitting the road and continuing south.

Napa & Sonoma, California

Next stop on this road trip is one of the premier wine regions in the world, and certainly in the United States — Napa Valley and Sonoma.

Located directly next to each other, Sonoma is known for being a bit more laid back and cool than its more well-known neighbour of Napa, however, both are very much worth visiting if you’re interested in sampling some of the best wine in the world or sampling some world-class cuisine.

This area of California is home to many Michelin-starred restaurants, including Thomas Keller’s famous The French Laundry.

Vineyards of Napa Valley
Vineyards of Napa Valley

Sausalito, California

Just north of the Golden Gate bridge before you properly enter the city of San Francisco lies Sausalito, a charming little city with a great maritime history in Marin County.

The city itself has absolutely incredible views of San Francisco itself, along with the Bay and the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. There is also a lovely town centre to explore coupled with some great restaurants.

San Francisco, California

Of course, no Los Angeles to Seattle road trip would be complete without spending time in one of the most iconic cities in the United States — San Francisco.

This dynamic metropolis has so much to offer visitors that it is very much a destination in its own right, however, on this road trip, we recommend planning to spend at least two full days exploring the city itself.

There is so much to see in the city from historic neighbourhoods to beautiful architecture to fantastic museums that you’re sure to be taken by this fantastic city by the bay,

Where to Stay in San Francisco

Orchard Hotel —  A boutique hotel in the downtown area this is a great centrally located place to stay in the city. They have great rooms available and breakfast is included in the room rate.

Green Tortoise Hostel – An excellent option for solo and budget travellers in San Francisco, this hostel has dorm and private rooms on offer and great common areas for meeting other travellers.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more hotels in San Francisco!

The beautiful Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco
The beautiful Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco

Days 9-10: San Francisco to Monterey

Half Moon Bay, California

Leaving San Francisco, you don’t have to drive far before you reach the lovely coastal town of Half Moon Bay.

Located about an hour south of the city, Half Moon Bay makes for a pleasant place to stop and wander around before hitting the road once more. There is a gorgeous beach and a lovely main street packed with cute shops and restaurants that are worth browsing.

Santa Cruz, California

Making your way to California’s central coast, you will reach one of the most iconic CA surf towns on the PCH — Santa Cruz!

Famed for its seaside boardwalk complete with a classic wooden roller coaster and other carnival games and rides, there is also a wonderful seaside promenade that you can walk along here and watch the surfers hit the waves.

Monterey & Carmel, California

Your final stop on this day of driving is in the city of Monterey and the nearby charming town of Carmel. These central coast towns are the perfect jumping-off point for exploring the wonders of Big Sur, however, they have a lot to offer as destinations in and of themselves, as well.

Monterey is famed for its world-renowned aquarium and the iconic Cannery Row — it was also the hometown of legendary American writer John Steinbeck!

Carmel has an incredible charm and a small-town feel. It is packed with great restaurants, lovely shops and countless wine-tasting rooms showcasing vintages from nearby wineries.

It is also worth it to explore the state parks near Carmel, particularly the Point Lobos State Natural Reserve and, of course, going for the scenic 17 Mile Drive in Pebble Beach.

Where to Stay in Monterey & Carmel

Carmel Green Lantern Inn — If you want to stay in Carmel, this boutique bed and breakfast is a great option for you. They have a handful of cosy rooms with private entrances and a fantastic location close to Carmel Beach. 

The Stevenson Monterey – If you’re looking to stay in Monterey, then this budget motel is a fantastic choice for you. Situated just off the Pacific Coast Highway, they have several rooms available that are fantastic for those looking to explore the splendours of the area.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more hotels in Monterey or Carmel!

Cannery Row in Monterey
Cannery Row in Monterey

Day 11: Big Sur

Big Sur, California

On day 11 of your Seattle to LA road trip, spend the entirety of it exploring the absolute jaw-dropping beauty of Big Sur.

This is definitely one of the highlights of this drive and it may truly be one of the most beautiful places on earth. Big Sur boasts incredible coastal vistas, stunning Redwood forests, interesting waterfalls and iconic feats of architecture.

Make sure to stop off at any of the countless vista points along the road and take in the beauty — you’re sure to see some otters floating around in the surf! If you’re up for it, we would also readily recommend that you go for a day hike in the surrounding area to really garner a great appreciation for just how lovely this land can be.

Viewpoint from a coastal walk at Big Sur
Viewpoint from a coastal walk at Big Sur

Days 12-13: California’s Central Coast

Pismo Beach, California

The drive between Monterey and Santa Barbara is one of the prettiest stretches of this California to Washington road trip as it takes you past some truly incredible landscapes along with some quintessential beach towns. And one of these such towns is Pismo Beach.

If you’ve ever wanted to see what an iconic California surfer town looks like, then Pismo is the perfect place for you. The town has a charming centre and a wonderful pier that makes it ideal for observing the countless surfers vying to catch the perfect wave.

A bit further north, you can also take in the lovely town and scenery of Morro Bay. This coastal town is known for Morro Rock Beach and its own lovely state park.

Solvang, California

A bit of a detour from the coastal highway but a great stop on the drive between San Francisco and LA nonetheless, the town of Solvang lies in the Santa Inez Valley and the road there will take you through hills of farmland and wine country that will have you thinking that you’ve been transported to Tuscany. However, the town of Solvang will leave you thinking that you’re in an old version of Copenhagen.

This town was incorporated by Danish settlers and it still holds onto some odd Danish charms that seem a bit out of place in the hills of central California — especially with the mild climate!

However, Solvang is filled with cute shops and restaurants and, as it’s situated in the heart of central coast wine country, there are lots of tasting rooms, as well.

Santa Barbara, California

Santa Barbara is a small city in southern California and it is well-known for being one of the premier destinations for Los Angelenos looking for a weekend getaway — and it’s not hard to see why! Santa Barbara is incredibly charming, has a great laid-back vibe and is filled with interesting things to see and do.

Known for its beautiful beach, there are also myriad wine tasting rooms in the city that the tourism office has put together something known as the Urban Wine Trails that can help you walk between them — no designated driver necessary!

The iconic Stearns Wharf also has some great restaurants and shops to browse and, because it is a student city, Santa Barbara boasts a vibrant nightlife.

Spending at least one day in Santa Barbara is an excellent last stop on your drive before you reach Los Angeles.

Where to Stay in Santa Barbara

The Presidio Hotel — A lovely boutique hotel, this is a great place to stay for couples in Santa Barbara. Centrally located, they have clean and comfortable rooms to choose from and a great location to explore the majority of the city on foot.

Cheshire Cat Inn — A charming B&B in central, downtown Santa Barbara, this is another great choice to rest your head in the city. They have many fantastic rooms available and a hearty and healthy breakfast available each morning.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more hotels in Santa Barbara!

Santa Barbara day trip itinerary
The lovely Santa Barbara waterfront

Day 14: Santa Barbara to LA

Malibu, California

Located just north of Los Angeles and the last stop on your road trip (or your first stop if you’re doing a LA to Seattle drive!), Malibu is one of the most iconic Southern California beach settlements in the world.

Known for its dramatic scenery, beautiful beaches and million-dollar homes, Malibu is really an interesting place to drive through on your route down south.

Some of the best beaches in LA County are in Malibu and, if you’re up for it, I would recommend stopping at one or two, squinching your toes in the sand and watching the surfers come and go.

Los Angeles, California

And that’s it — you’ve reached your final destination! Los Angeles is the United State’s second-largest city and it is eclectic and incredibly dynamic.

There are lots of cool things to see and do in LA including taking in some of the main sites like the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Santa Monica Pier, or browsing the designer shops on Rodeo Drive.

If you want to experience something kitschy and weird, make sure to head to Venice Beach for some of the best people-watching in the city or if you want to get active, take a hike in Griffith Park or Runyon Canyon for incredible views of the city. LA can be a difficult city for tourists to digest, however, it is worth spending the time to get to know it.

Where to Stay in Los Angeles

Hollywood Inn Suites Hotel — Located in Hollywood, this hotel is a perfect place to stay in LA. They have a number of great rooms available and fantastic amenities to ensure that your stay is a great one. 

Freehand Los Angeles — If you’re on a tight budget while in Los Angeles, then this hostel is a fantastic option. Perfect for both budget and solo travellers, they have both dorm and private rooms available and good common areas for meeting other travellers. 

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more hotels in Los Angeles!

Iconic Santa Monica Pier

Have more time?

If you want to make your road trip an entire drive down the west coast of the United States, then you’re going to have to continue down south from Los Angeles to San Diego. This Southern California city has a completely different vibe to LA and there are lots of things to see and do on the drive from Los Angeles to San Diego.

Make sure to take in the sites in Orange County like Huntington Beach and Laguna Beach, the historic mission in San Juan Capistrano or even the pier in San Clemente. In San Diego County before you hit the city proper, make sure to take in the beauty of La Jolla — one of the most expensive areas in the USA.

The cliffs and scenery in this posh town is second to none and there are lots of cool shops, restaurants, and outdoor activities to enjoy.

All in all, embarking on a Seattle to San Diego road trip is one of the most epic drives that you could do in the entirety of the US!

For those who want to go a bit inland rather than staying along the coast, you can opt to drive to Yosemite National Park from San Francisco if that interests you, as well.

Alternatively, if you’re driving to Seattle, consider visiting stop of the stops on the Seattle to Vancouver drive!

Where to Stay in San Diego

Urban Boutique Hotel — A cool boutique hotel located in Little Italy, this is ideally situated to exploring the best of Downtown San Diego. They have a number of stylish and comfortable rooms and a number of amenities to make your stay fantastic. 

Private Rental — A private holiday rental is a very popular option in San Diego. There are tons of great properties available, like this charming studio in Pacific Beach right on the oceanfront.

California Dreams Hostel — Located in the cool, hip area of Pacific Beach, this hostel is a great option if you’re trying to stick to a tighter budget while on your road trip. Perfect for both budget and solo travellers, they have both dorm and private rooms available and great common areas and self-catering facilities. 

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more hotels in San Diego!

Downtown San Diego
Downtown San Diego

Planning a Seattle to LA drive is one of the best ways to see the highlights and beauty of the American West. Taking you through countless different landscapes and incredible towns and cities, there really is no other road trip quite like it.

Are you planning on driving between Seattle and Los Angeles? Have any questions? Let us know in the comments!

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Maggie is a co-founder and writer for The World Was Here First. Originally from the US, she has lived in five different countries and has travelled to dozens more, both solo and with her partner, Michael. She particularly loves exploring Spain and spending time in the Caucasus and the Baltics. Read more about Maggie


  1. Hi. Thank you so much for all the information. I’m from Shreveport LA ( But don’t hold that against me). My girlfriend and I are planning to make this trip between Seattle Washington and San Diego California between the 2nd September through the 10th is through the 10th of September. Planning This is daunting. We are somewhat on a budget as far as hotel stays what would you estimate the cost would be asked would be for hotel stays during this 8 or 9 day. And where would you stay

  2. Hi Maggie

    We are planning a west coast trip from Seattle to Los Angeles in late September to October 2022, about 21 nights – was thinking of going via San Francisco on route also to Olympic Park, Oregon , Portland, Florence or Crater Lake – Redwood, Nappa Valley, Monterey/Carmel, Big Sur, Santa Barbara and maybe Yosemite or Death Valley, though not sure how many nights to stay in each, was thinking of 3 in Seattle, San Francisco and LA but not sure if they are enough or could combine some of the other places, what do you suggest. Cheers

  3. Hi

    It is an interesting itinerary. However, at our age of early 70s, is driving from Seattle to LA possible ? Plus we are in a country of right-hand drive?
    I have been driving for years (50 years) and has driven in Australia, Hong Kong (long time ago) but not in USA.
    Would like to concentrate on coastal drive and avoid cities like San Francisco and San Diego – had been there many years old.

    Would love to hear your comments if possible.

    Appreciate very much!

    Thanks & cheers

    • Hi Sue, it really depends on your comfort level with driving whether you feel confident doing this road trip. I will say that the driving conditions are generally fine, with perhaps the exception of the Los Angeles area. Having driven both left- and right-hand drive throughout the world, it isn’t all that difficult to adapt to surprisingly! Especially if there are other motorists on the road whose lead you can follow.

  4. Hi we are coming from the uk to do Seattle to la but only have 9 days on the road. We’re doing the coast road so do u think that will be ok time wise? There’s 2 of us driving
    Thanks nick

    • Hi Nick, 9 days should be enough, however, I wouldn’t expect to make all of these stops and plan for a couple of days with longer driving times. Just prioritise what you want to visit and you should have a great time!

  5. Hi Rene
    I have booked 3 nights Seattle
    3 nights Anaheim ca
    And 3 nights San Diego ca
    I am driving the pch only have 14 days which leaves me 5
    days left my plans are not to stay in Napa or San Francisco any suggestions would be appreciated

  6. Hi, I’m planning a round trip road trip from LA to Portland orWashington at the end of july. July 27- Aug 7. What car rental do you recommend? I arrive at Union Station at 6 am in La, maybe picking the rental car at the airport since it is cheaper.

    I am coming all the way from Texas.Taking the train from Texas to LA then renting a car to drive up the coast then back down, to take the train back to Texas.

    Do you have any additional suggestions?

    • Sounds like you’ve got a great trip planned! I would recommend browsing to find the best deal on a car rental – you may find a good option from Union Station there Hope you have a great time!

    • Hi Rene, I’ll be driving from LA to Seattle in a couple weeks. Now that you’ve made a similar trip, I’m wondering if you have any additional must-sees or things you wished you knew before your trip?

  7. I would stay in Mendocino over a Fort Bragg, but that’s just me! It’s only a few more miles south. Macallum House, Mendocino Hotel or renting an AirBnB or camping are all great options.


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