From the sunny skies and the big city feel of California to the scenic views in Washington, a road trip along the Pacific West Coast of the United States makes for an excellent family vacation idea.
As you travel through the three Pacific states along the West Coast, you will have the chance to experience everything from amusement parks, rainforests, beautiful beaches, natural wonders, national parks, and more.
If you’re looking for the perfect summer vacation with the family and only have 2 weeks to explore the west coast, pack your bags and get ready for a road trip your family will never forget!
- LAX to Los Angeles, California
- Los Angeles to Yosemite National Park
- Yosemite National Park to Bend, Oregon
- Bend, Oregon to Yakima, Washington
- Yakima, Washington to Seattle, Washington
- Seattle, Washington to Portland, Oregon
- Portland, Oregon to Sacramento, California
- Sacramento, California to Los Angeles, California
- Suggested Alternate 3 Week US West Coast Itinerary
We’ve put together the best route and itinerary that will take you along the Pacific coast, with stops in California and Oregon and completing your travels in Washington.
With travel time and time to enjoy the attractions and sights along the way, we estimate that you will need approximately two weeks for this epic family road trip – though you could easily spend a month adding some of our further suggestions along the way (we share an alternate 3 week itinerary at the end!)
|Drive||Distance||Estimated Drive Time||Where to Stay|
|LAX to Los Angeles||14 miles (23 kms)||1 hour||Los Angeles|
|Los Angeles to Yosemite National Park, CA||313 miles (504 kms)||6 hours||Yosemite Village|
|Yosemite to Bend, OR||577 miles (929 kms)||10 hours||Bend, Oregon|
|Bend to Yakima, WA||218 miles (351 kms)||4 hours||Yakima, Washington|
|Yakima to Seattle, WA||142 miles (229 kms)||2 hours 15 minutes||Seattle, Washington|
|Seattle to Portland, OR||174 miles (280 kms)||2 hours 45 minutes||Portland, Oregon|
|Portland to Sacramento, CA||579 miles (932 kms)||9 hours 20 minutes||Sacramento, California|
|Sacramento to Los Angeles, CA||386 miles (621 kms)||6 hours||Los Angeles, California|
LAX to Los Angeles, California
- Distance: 14 miles
- Travel Time: 1 Hour
If you’re starting your travels from LAX Airport, it’s best to kick off your adventure in Los Angeles and visit some of its most iconic sights and attractions. While spending time in the city, you’ll get to experience its vibrant energy and check out popular landmarks and must-see spots.
How Long Should I Stay in Los Angeles?
LA is a great place to have a good time, and there is no shortage of fun activities and sights for your family to enjoy, but with so much travel ahead of you, we recommend spending no more than a couple of days in the city before continuing on your trip.
Where to Stay in Los Angeles
Los Angeles is an extremely busy city, and hundreds of hotels are available to you, ranging from value options to more luxury choices. If you are traveling by RV or motorhome, there are a couple of great RV Parks nearby, including Hollywood RV Park.
Things to Do in Los Angeles
Hollywood Walk of Fame
One of the most famous aspects of the city of Los Angeles is the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It is such a fun experience walking along Hollywood Boulevard and seeing the stars of some of the most famous celebrities, and snagging a picture with some of your personal favorites.
The Hollywood Sign
The Hollywood Sign is probably one of the most famous and recognizable landmarks in the United States, so you do not want to miss the chance to see it in person. While you are not able to travel up to the actual sign, there are a number of spots that will allow you to get a great view of this famous sign.
Pro tip: Griffith Observatory is one of the best spots to catch a good view of the sign. Not only will you have a great view, but parking at Griffith Observatory is free, making it an affordable option for a great experience.
Universal Studios Hollywood
If your family is a fan of theme parks, you won’t want to miss out on a visit to Universal Studios Hollywood.
A visit to the park gives your family a chance for a fun day of theme park rides, good eats, and references to some of the most famous blockbuster hits in history. While we love to spend a few days at Universal Studios to fully enjoy the experience, you can certainly enjoy the park and see a lot of it in just a single day.
Los Angeles to Yosemite National Park
- Distance: 313 Miles
- Travel Time: 6 hours
Yosemite National Park is one of the most recognizable national parks in the United States and truly is a can’t-miss experience when traveling through California.
- See our Los Angeles to Yosemite Road Trip itinerary for interesting stops you can make along the way – heading inland or taking the Pacific Coast Highway route.
How Long Should I Stay in Yosemite National Park?
Yosemite is a pretty large park, and in order to get a full experience, we recommend a minimum of two days in the park. You could easily spread your time across four days if you have extra time.
Where to Stay in Yosemite National Park
There are several great lodging options in Yosemite, including tents and cabins at the High Sierra Camps or White Wolf Lodge. If you prefer a hotel-style stay, consider a stay at Yosemite Valley Lodge or The Ahwahnee for a luxury-style room.
Things to Do in Yosemite National Park
The Grand Tour is a guided tour offered to visitors of Yosemite. This 8-hour-long tour will take you through some of the most notable sights in Yosemite, including Yosemite Valley, Glacier Point, and the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias.
The Yosemite area hosts over 165 species of birds, offering a unique and interesting experience if you choose to view and observe them.
With over 750 miles of trails throughout Yosemite National Park, hitting the hiking trails is a must. No matter your level of expertise, there are a variety of trails that will fit all levels of difficulty and makes for a fun activity that the whole family will enjoy.
- Bonus stops: Because of the limited time of two weeks traveling between three states, making as many stops as you may like is hard. If you have extra time, additional stops to consider adding to your itinerary on your way to Yosemite include Death Valley National Park and Kings Canyon Sequoia National Park. We cover these stops in more detail in our Yosemite to Death Valley itinerary.
Yosemite National Park to Bend, Oregon
- Distance: 577 Miles
- Travel Time: 10 Hours
Our next destination is a long stretch, but it brings us into our next state as we travel to Bend, Oregon. Bend offers its visitors a number of activities to enjoy, including natural sights, art, and history.
How Long Should I Stay in Bend?
After a 10-hour drive, you will likely want to take the rest of the day to relax and recuperate before getting into any activities. After your travel day, we recommend spending an additional 1.5 days, with the second half of your second day being used to head to our next destination.
- With more time, we’d recommend adding stops at two of the best national parks on the west coast, Lassen Volcanic National Park, CA, and Crater Lake National Park, OR. Although you’d be rushed, you could fit in both with an extra 24 hours, stopping overnight at Redding or Klamath Falls.
Where to Stay in Bend
The city of Bend offers several lodging options for the family. Some of the best kid-friendly hotels offer swimming pools, playgrounds, game rooms, and more. If you are looking for a hotel to book, try the Best Western Premier or the Doubletree by Hilton. If you prefer to stay in an RV park or campground, a few great options in the area include Little Fawn Campground and the Bend/Sisters Garden RV Resort.
Things to Do in Bend
High Desert Museum
The High Desert Museum shows the history and culture of the West High Desert. During your visit to the museum, you will get the opportunity to see a variety of animals, including otters, raptors, reptiles, and more, as well as beautiful art exhibits and pieces of High Desert history.
The Ultimate Scavenger Bend
What better way to see a city than to participate in a scavenger hunt that will have you traveling through the city and stopping at some of the most important landmarks and stops throughout the city of Bend? The Ultimate Scavenger Bend does just that; throughout your hunt, you will see notable sites, including murals, statues, and more.
Deschutes National Forest
The Deschutes National Forest is nearly 1.6 million acres and makes for a perfect day outdoors with the family. There are a number of beautiful sights to see and outdoor activities to enjoy, including hiking, biking, horseback riding, and ATV riding.
During this visit, you can also see the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, a natural sight featuring lakes, lava flows, and beautiful rock formations.
- Check out this detailed guide to all the best family-friendly activities in Bend
Bend, Oregon to Yakima, Washington
- Distance: 218 miles
- Travel Time: 4 hours
Yakima is a city in Central Washington that offers beautiful scenery, quiet and peaceful surroundings, and its plentiful bounty of quality agriculture products. Yakima is known for the many beautiful apple orchards and wineries featuring fresh barrelled wine in the area. The city is also rich in Native American history and is named after the Yakima Indians who resided nearby.
How Long Should I Stay in Yakima?
While Yakima is absolutely beautiful, it is not a city that you need to spend a whole lot of time in. We would recommend spending the day there and then moving on to your next destination.
Where to Stay in Yakima
The Yakima area offers a number of sleeping accommodations to fit any style/budget that you may be looking for. Some options include the Oxford Suites Yakima, the Cozy Rose Inn Bed & Breakfast, and Yakima Sportsman State Park, where you will find camping and RV accommodations.
Things to Do in Yakima
Yakima Valley Museum
This museum offers a look into the history and culture of Yakima Valley. With everything from wooden wagons, Indiana arts & artifacts, natural history exhibits, and even a fully operational soda fountain from the 1930s!
Yakima Valley U-Pick Farms
As we mentioned above, Yakima is known for its plentiful and quality produce so it is only right that you see what we’re talking about and even have the chance to try some fruits and vegetables to taste the quality. At Yakima Valley U-Pick Farms, you will be able to pick a variety of produce, including berries, apricots, and eggplant, plus get the chance to see and pet the farm animals.
There are a number of outdoor activities for visitors to enjoy including hiking and biking trails, water sports such as fishing and paddle boating, and horseback riding adventures.
Yakima, Washington to Seattle, Washington
- Distance: 142 miles
- Travel Time: 2 hours and 15 minutes
As we continue to travel through Washington state, our next stop is one of the most recognizable cities in both the state and the United States, Seattle, and is the largest city in the state of Washington. Seattle is a beautiful city, surrounded by water, mountains, and forests.
How Long Should I Stay in Seattle?
Seattle is a beautiful city, and there is so much to see and do. If time allows it, we recommend spending at least two full days in the city to get a full experience during your stay.
Where to Stay in Seattle
There are a variety of lodging options in Seattle, varying from family-friendly hotels, luxury resorts, and even private cabins and campgrounds. Some popular choices for lodging in the area include Courtyard by Marriott Seattle/Northgate, Crystal Mountain Hotels, and Lake Pleasant RV Park.
Things to Do in Seattle
The Seattle Space Needle is the most recognizable landmark in Seattle. The Space Needle stands at 605 feet tall and is definitely a sight you don’t want to miss when visiting Seattle. Hop on the elevator and ride up to the observation level, where you will experience the sights of Seattle from up above; the views are breathtaking!
Pike Place Market
Pike Place Market is another can’t-miss attraction in Seattle. As you walk through the market, you will enjoy live music, street performers, art, and of course, a variety of fresh market foods. If you can stand the ick factor, seek out the nearby ‘gum wall’. Fun fact: Did you know that the original Starbucks cafe is located at Pike Place Market? If you are a coffee drinker, this is a can’t-miss experience for you!
Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP)
If you or your kids are a fan of pop culture, this is an attraction you will want to have on your agenda. As you walk through the museum, you will have the chance to see exhibits on some of the most famous concepts, people, and movies throughout pop culture history. Outside you’ll also find one of the best playgrounds in Seattle!
Pro tip: Seattle is known for its rainy weather conditions. If you are visiting the area, you can expect rain at least part of the time you are there, be sure to pack your rain gear essentials!
- More time on your itinerary? Drive the complete Olympic Peninsula and explore Olympic National Park, one of the most diverse and fascinating parks to explore with kids on the west coast.
Seattle, Washington to Portland, Oregon
- Distance: 174 miles
- Travel Time: 2 hours and 43 minutes
As we head back down the coast, our next destination is Portland, Oregon. Portland is the largest city in Oregon and a stop you don’t want to miss when traveling through the state. Portland is known as an eco-friendly city due to the number of parks, bridges, and bicycle paths there are in the city to encourage gas-less travel.
How Long Should I Stay in Portland?
The good news is that Portland is just a short drive from Seattle, giving you plenty of time to explore the city. We recommend spending at least a day and a half in the city to ensure you see the can’t-miss stops; however, there is plenty to see if you choose to dedicate more time to your stay.
Where to Stay in Portland
The area that you choose to stay in Portland will determine the types of lodging available. For example, if you stay in Downtown Portland, you may consider Residence Inn by Marriott Portland Downtown/Riverplace. Other popular areas in the city include the Pearl District and Rose City Park.
If you are traveling by RV, you may want to check out Jantzen Beach RV Park for accommodations.
Things to Do in Portland
Powell’s City of Books
If you are a fan of books and reading, you cannot miss a chance to see Powell’s, the largest new and used bookstore in the world. There are over a million books in the store, and simply traveling through the 10 rooms is a great way to spend a few hours. The store has quickly become a popular Portland landmark and tourist stop for visitors, covering an entire city block.
Local zoos are always a family favorite attraction for us. It seems to be an activity that every member of the family equally enjoys. The Oregon Zoo ranks in the top 20 in the US, featuring nearly 1,800 animals spanning over 200 unique species.
International Rose Test Garden
As soon as you walk up toward the International Rose Garden, the smell of fresh roses will hit you. Walking through the garden creates a sense of relaxation and freshness that your family will love, particularly with the stress of travel! It is free to enter the garden, making it a great affordable activity for the family to enjoy.
Bonus tip (Adults Only!): Portland is known for having some of the greatest wineries, coffee shops, and microbreweries in the US. If you are looking for an adult beverage you may consider checking out some local options.
Portland, Oregon to Sacramento, California
- Distance: 579 miles
- Travel Time: 9 hours and 22 minutes
Traveling from Portland to Sacramento will be another long stretch of travel time that may be tiring and long, but this will bring us full circle back into the state of California and heading back to our origin point of LA.
Being the capital of California, we thought Sacramento would be a great final stop on our road trip. There is plenty to see and do in Sacramento that will make for your family vacation’s perfect ending.
- For the alternate route along Highway 101 and the beautiful Oregon Coast, follow along with this Portland to San Francisco itinerary – you need at least an extra day to capture even the highlights, including the coastal Redwoods National & State Parks
How Long Should I Stay in Sacramento?
Because of your long travel time, you will likely want to spend your arrival day resting and recharging to hit the city the following day. You can wrap up your trip heading back to LA in just a few hours, so we would recommend spending whatever days you have left to spare in Sacramento exploring the area, at least one full day, but there is room for additional days if you have them.
Where to Stay in Sacramento
There are a couple of areas we recommend staying in Sacramento, depending on the type of stay you are looking for. If you would prefer to be in the heart of the city, we recommend finding lodging in Downtown Sacramento.
Comparatively, if you prefer a more low-key, family-friendly environment, you will want to look for something on the west side of the city near Davis, about 20 miles away from downtown.
Things to Do in Sacramento
California State Capitol Museum
The California State Capitol Museum showcases the state’s history in a variety of exhibits. As you make your way through the museum, you will learn so much about California and how it has evolved over the years.
Exhibits do rotate regularly, so you never know what you may learn during your visit. Popular exhibits in the past have included Iconic California: The State Symbols that Represent California and The Road Ahead: The Automobiles Impact on California.
If you’re looking for a day of fun, a visit to Fairytale Town is highly recommended. Fairytale Town is a non-profit amusement park dedicated to bringing kids joy.
The park hosts attractions that feature some of the most famous storybook characters through time. Plus, kiddos will get the chance to learn during their visit and pet real-life animals.
Old Sacramento Waterfront
If you want to enjoy all that Sacramento has to offer in one spot, spending the day at Old Sacramento Waterfront is the perfect way to do so. This historic district features attractions, entertainment, shopping, and dining experiences that embody the culture and vibe of Sacramento. There is something for everyone at the waterfront, and your family will be sure to have a great time!
Sacramento, California to Los Angeles, California
- Distance: 386 miles
- Travel Time: 6 hours
As our trip comes to a close, we will travel from Sacramento back to Los Angeles, and it is safe to say that you will be worn out and tired of traveling! Your route back to LA opens a great opportunity to make quick stops and travel through popular cities in California, including San Francisco and San Jose, if you have any additional time to spare.
You will add an additional hour and a half taking the more scenic Higwhay 101 back to LA. Or, if you’re prepared for the dramatic winds and bends of Highway 1, your journey will take closer to 10 hours (but will encompass Big Sur and some of the most epic coastal scenery in North America!).
Suggested Alternate 3 Week US West Coast Itinerary
We have summarised for you here our highlights tour of the US West Coast in 2 weeks.
However, if you can extend your west coast vacation to 3 weeks, there are so many more highlights you can fit in. Remembering just how long driving distances can be with kids in the car, these additional stops will break up your daily drives and encompass more of the natural beauty the west coast has to offer:
|Los Angeles||LA||2 nights|
|Sequoia & Kings Canyon NP||Kings Canyon||1 night|
|Yosemite NP||Yosemite||2 nights|
|Lassen Volcanic NP||Redding||1 night|
|Bend – Via Crater Lake NP||Bend||2 nights|
|Olympic Peninsula||Forks||1 night|
|Highway 101 Oregon Coast||Newport||1 night|
|Redwoods NP||Eureka||1 night|
|Northern California||Sacramento||2 nights|
|San Fran & Bay Area||Monterey||1 night|
|PCH incl. Big Sur||Santa Monica||1 night|
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