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a VirtualTourist member from San Francisco


West Coast Road Trip Lodging

I am doing a roadtrip up and down the coast (LA to Seattle and back) for 2 months this summer with some friends and am wondering what the lodging is like. We plan on going slow and taking our time, spending multiple nights in a row at places. We also plan on having most nights outside of major cities, exploring small towns and things.
What do you think would be a good way to organize the lodging? Just doing it on the fly, or because we will there at some places for a few nights book most in advance , or what?
We are considering everything from normal hotels to Airbnb to home rentals like VRBO and Zaranga.
Prices aren't a big deal, we are more looking for the best experience to have as much fun as possible.

5 Answers

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Sacramento

Once you get north of San Francisco, it quickly becomes more rural and wild. There are fewer towns and hence, fewer places to stay. My suggestion is to study Google Maps and find out where these places are, which ones you might like to visit for a bit of time and then start looking for accommodation. There are some lovely old Inns, historic hotels and B&Bs on the way.

I'm assuming you are using the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) which is route 1 as far as you can?

Here's the link for Google Maps. Type San Francisco into it, tap the little minus button to zoom out and then follow rout 1 north. If you need distances, use the "Directions" function and it will give you distances.

We love Fort Ross and it's worth a stop. Great views and very interesting history. Lots of accommodation in Gualala north of there. Further north is Mendocino and it is definitely worth a stop. There is a lovely old historic hotel that you might enjoy.

North of that you'll be routed onto 101 and be away from the coast for a while, but just keep going. The ocean returns at Humboldt Bay and Eureka.

I'm not much help with hotels because we usually camp and there are lots of really nice campgrounds along the route. There are some very nice resorts on the ocean in Oregon. You might want to check those and see what's available.

Have a great trip and enjoy my home state, California.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Albuquerque

If you want to stay anywhere along scenic highway 1, especially in the big sur area, book in advance. The rooms will likely be sold out if you wait until the last minute.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Sacramento

Brett, you look young. Have you thought of camping? It's a great camping trip. There are campgrounds right on the ocean and if you have a tent, they'll almost always make room for you even if they're full. Just a thought, but if you're interested, check state parks and beaches along the route.

Have fun.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Chula Vista

Since you seem to be based in SF and will be starting in LA you might consider some stops on the southbound trip before the Northbound trip.

Much depends on what you want to experience. I personally would consider doing it little village to little village, and tracing CA's historic locations. Hwy 1 (check You Tube for references to the Baja trek) is a great drive.

Skirt SF a bit but continue from Sausalito and it's wonderful. Little River Inn in Mendocino is a favorite in that area.

I'd just do 1 and slowly.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Lents

Even some of the campgrounds (naturally the best ones are the most popular) in Oregon and Washington sell out very early on during key weekends. During weekdays it is a different matter mostly, but keep in mind that empty camp sites and empty hotel rooms don't pay the bills, and you are looking at traveling during peak periods. Thus, this is the season they plan around when deciding how many hotel rooms they can have in a place and still make money.

Sometimes, big events will take a lot of rooms. For example, Long Beach, Washington has a huge kite festival every August and if you hit that area during that thing the nearest hotel rooms may be as much as an hour away.

So, the idea of making some reservations and then canceling them as you find other places to stay is certainly appealing. Some of the most interesting small hotels will have a more restrictive cancellation policy because they operate on a very limited budget.

From Seattle I highly suggest going straight west and then north around the Olympic Peninsula, rather than trying to go south to Tacoma or Olympia. You'll probably want to spend a little time exploring Olympic National Park while you are up there. Highway 12 west from Olympia has few redeeming features and while the area on highway 101 along the North Coast area (Port Angeles, Sequim, etc.) is rapidly becoming suburban sprawl type wasteland it is far better than what you see along Highway 12.

You might want to consider going north to Seattle up to Anacortes and Deception Pass State Park, and cross at the Coupville - Port Townsend ferry. Port Townsend is a neat old town, but due to its age it is best seen on foot. Deception Pass is a scenic state park and is best explored a bit - but do it on foot.

Be sure to explore all the stuff we have written about these various places. VT already has quite a lot of stuff. Here are a few of mine you might want to read (but I have only listed a few relevant to the various places along the route you plan):

[original VT link]
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[original VT link]

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