The largest city in the Pacific Northwest, is the natural place to start your West Coast road trip. Check out Pike Place Market, an epicentre for fresh produce, specialty foods and independent restaurants, then explore the tree-lined Pioneer Square nearby. Take part in one of the square's short art walks then browse the quirky alternative boutiques for souvenirs.
Next, enjoy a well-earned break from your excursions in the majestic Waterfall Garden Park – a secluded, urban oasis that’s easy to miss. A short journey south will take you to Seattle’s sports hub – the Seahawks (the city’s American football team) play at CenturyLink Field, while the adjacent Safeco Field hosts the Mariners of Major League Baseball. Finish your day with an elevator ride up the Space Needle for glorious panoramic views all the way to Mount Rainier.
There’s a reason why creatives gravitate towards Oregon's largest city of , where independent coffee shops sit comfortably alongside vegan-friendly eateries and craft breweries. It’s a place that truly marches to its own beat, and is well known both for its entrepreneurship and for fostering a do-it-yourself spirit.
Spend a few hours McMenamins Bagdad Theater, a cinema-brewery hybrid (what a fantastic idea), before sampling Portland Creams at Voodoo Doughnut. Or try something from Portland's burgeoning food truck scene – Pastrami Zombie on North Mississippi Avenue and Potato Champion on Hawthorne Blvd have both earned their legendary reputation among locals.
Crater Lake, Oregon
Surrounded by steep cliffs, Oregon’s Crater Lake is entirely fed by rain and snow, and as such, is considered to be one of the world’s clearest natural reservoirs. It’s also one of the most beautiful, with its intense blue hue testament to its sheer depth, which is said to measure in at almost 2000ft.
Housed as it is in a dormant volcano (don’t worry – it last erupted almost 5,000 years ago), the lake’s surrounding park is full of fascinating igneous formations, while its terrain, which varies from thickly wooded forests to powder-snow covered slopes, is perfect for both trekking and skiing.
Redwood National Park, California
The tallest trees in California's Redwood National Park are well over 100m high, and some, like the colossal Klamath Tree on Route 169, are wide enough to drive through. Start off at the Thomas H. Kuchel Visitor Center (the largest of the park’s five) to view artefacts and video guides, and gain beach access.
From here, hop into your and head a few miles north to the Klamath River Overlook, where fresh water flows into the ocean after a 257-mile (414-km) journey. From this vantage point, 650 feet above sea level, you might spot migrating gray whales passing the foamy surf – particularly between the months of December and April. As well as its famous Redwoods, the parks also boast oak forests, wild waterways, vast prairies and almost 40 miles of craggy coastline.
Big Sur, California
Towards the end of your West Coast road trip, be sure to visit Big Sur, a remote retreat found just south of San Francisco. A rugged coastline filled with hidden coves and secluded beaches; like a treasured book, it’s somewhere you’ll want to revisit time and time again.
Big Sur has long served as a source of inspiration for authors, musicians and artists; the great Henry Miller called the town home for almost two decades, while everyone from Alanis Morissette to the Thrills and the Red Hot Chili Peppers has venerated it in their works. After a day discovering the area, spend the evening at Nepenthe, a restaurant that was once a favourite haunt of A-listers such as Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.
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