5 West Coast Spring Break Road Trip Ideas
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Now that spring is just around the corner and the roads are changing from icy to dry, it’s a great time to start planning a road trip. This list looks at 5 options for road trips, from day trips to week-long trips. Even better – all of the routes listed can be traveled in reverse, allowing even more versatility for your planning needs!
1. The Pacific Coast Highway
If you’re looking for the quintessential West Coast trip, there’s no better option than cruising the Pacific Coast Highway. This iconic route begins in Menecino County in Northern California and follows the coast for 600 miles to Dana Point in Southern California. You can choose between crossing part of the highway for a shorter route or all of it. A popular segment to drive through that includes the biggest cities from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Some popular stops along the route include Big Sur and Point Lobos State Reservation.
2. Portland, Oregon to Phoenix, Arizona
If you’re looking for a longer road trip that will showcase the full range of what the West Coast has to offer, consider traveling the coast from Portland, Oregon to Phoenix, Arizona. The total direct driving time for this route is 20 hours, but you’ll want to break it up into at least 3 days – a week if possible – to allow time to enjoy all the experiences along the route. The first part of this roadtrip will take you through the lush Pacific Northwest forest, then on the Pacific Coast Highway along the California coast.
Once you arrive in Los Angeles, consider spending a day sightseeing or relaxing on one of the beaches. Then you’ll start heading inland through the deserts of California and Arizona on your way to Phoenix. While the desert can be synonymous with dry, arid and empty land, spring is one of the most amazing times to visit. Not only will the temperatures be much milder than in the summer, but you can also see the desert blooming with life as the wildflower season begins.
3. Historic Columbia River Highway
This beautiful route showcases the wonders of the Pacific Northwest beautifully. The total length of the highway is 75 miles, making it a great option for a short but enjoyable trip. However, with notable stops such as Multnomah Falls along the way, you might want to consider expanding it into a weekend to explore the weather. Multnomah Falls Lodge offers beautiful accommodations with a location that’s hard to beat – right next to the towering waterfall that bears its name – if you want to split the trip into several days.
4. Los Angeles, California to Joshua Tree National Park
Winter and spring are some of the best times to visit Joshua Tree National Park thanks to warmer temperatures. This makes it the perfect destination for a spring road trip. Best of all, this route offers a great mix of urban and outdoor adventures. Start by spending time exploring Los Angeles, then hit the road. Straight ahead, the journey takes just over two hours. If you’re up for exploring some hidden gems, consider visiting the small town of Pioneer Town along the way. This unique city looks and feels like it’s stepped out of the Old West – you can even. Once you get closer to Joshua Tree, you’ll want to decide where to stay. Take a few days to explore the park, then head back to Los Angeles or on your next trip!
5. San Diego, CA to Palm Springs, CA
If you’re looking for a shorter trip, consider this alternative route to Palm Springs, CA from San Diego, CA. Instead of heading to Los Angeles, add a visit to Anza Borrego State Park to your itinerary. This road trip is the definition of short but enjoyable – straight line driving time is approximately 3.5 hours. Although you can do the whole trip in one day, you’ll probably want to spread it out over at least a weekend to have time to explore all three locations. Anza Borrego has great hiking trails, and spring is one of the best times to visit thanks to the color temperatures and annual bloom of wildflowers. Palm Springs, on the other hand, is the perfect place to spend a relaxing afternoon (or weekend) browsing the city’s shops or many high-quality hotels.
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