The West Coast is brimming with natural wonders, local attractions, beaches, mountain ranges, national parks, incredible architecture, and much more. So a road trip through this beautiful scenic area, at least once in your life, just makes sense. That said, the cost of travel these days has definitely gone up. So how can you get the best bang for your buck? Savvy and cost-conscious travelers will tell you it’s all in the details and your choice of destination. So to ensure you have an amazing road trip along the western seaboard, here are ten crazy affordable but scenic West Coast road trips worth considering.
10 Pacific Coast Highway, California
One West Coast road trip that's almost a no-brainer is the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH). Here, road trippers can start in San Francisco, CA, and enjoy the lovely almost 170-mile drive with the wind in their hair. Besides taking in all the stunning coastal sites for free, there are ample lodging options along the way that won't break the bank. So if you've always wanted to check out the Big Sur's Bixby Bridge, stop by sleepy little beach towns, and get lost in all the breathtaking scenery, then this is the road trip for you.
9 Los Angeles To Palm Springs, California
For travelers looking for a bit of glitz and old Hollywood glam, a road trip from Los Angeles to Palm Springs won't disappoint. The 100+ mile drive will take you out to the classically stylish desert oasis known as Palm Springs. In less than two hours, you can marvel at otherworldly granite formations, spindly yucca trees, and dreamy sunset-filled skies. Here you can find affordable Airbnbs, see stunning mid-century homes, hit up some great vintage stores, and take some amazing Instagram-worthy photos along the way.
8 The Alcan, Alaska
If you've always wanted to see every inch of the West Coast, then your journey will likely begin somewhere in British Columbia. Adventurers can head out from Dawson Creek, BC, and make their way down to Delta Junction, AK, via one of North America’s most legendary highway systems—The Alcan. This 1,000+ mile road trip is littered with frozen expansive forest land, snow-peaked mountains, renowned Alaskan scenery, and abundant wildlife. This is definitely a budget-friendly excursion with cozy forest cabin rentals, bed and breakfast joints, and more.
7 Historic Columbia River Highway, Oregon
Of course, if you happen to prefer shorter road trips, then a lovely jaunt down the Historic Columbia River Highway in Oregon is in order. Travelers can start in Troutdale (just 30 minutes east of Portland) and leisurely make their way to The Dalles or Hood River. This only 80-mile-long excursion is clearly on the cheaper side and has no shortage of things to see. Here you can marvel at the mossy stone bridges, phenomenal basalt cliffs, and gorgeous panoramic valley views. Moreover, this particular route has more than a few waterfalls to check out.
6 Highway 101, Oregon
For adventurers near the Portland, OR area, a road trip via Highway 101 is a great way to get out of the city and enjoy a fun-filled getaway. Just west of Portland, drivers can catch the 101 and embark on a roughly 380-mile adventure to the Redwood National Park, CA. Along the way, explorers can stop by windswept seaside towns, Cannon Beach, art galleries, shops, hillside paradises, coastal rain forests, and more. Here the final destination, California's stunning Redwood National Park, is just the icing on this road trip cake.
5 Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway, Oregon
Yet another Oregon to California option involves taking the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway, approximately 180 miles or so from Bend, OR. Road trippers can cruise along a windy scenic highway that runs through southern Oregon. Along the way, you can see the picturesque Crater Lake, Upper Klamath Lake, ample wildlife, and even stop at the Crater Lake National Park—if you choose. Here, travelers' final destination is just past the CA state line at the Lava Beds National Monument. A truly magnificent natural wonder, there are over 500+ lava tube caves you can explore—all for the price of one tank of gas.
4 Seattle To Whidbey Island, Washington
For travelers looking for a road trip with minimal driving, pack up the car and head out to Whidbey Island, WA, from Seattle. Only a 35-mile excursion to the Mukilteo Ferry Terminal, you can then drive onto the ferry for a short boat trip to the island. Once there, visitors can easily explore quaint island towns and villages, plus enjoy more than a few scenic vistas and a variety of roadside attractions. An added bonus here is you can opt to stay the night or even the weekend on the island at the Captain Whidbey Hotel, with rooms starting at only $269 a night.
3 Yosemite To Death Valley, California
A slightly longer road trip that should be on every wanderluster's travel bucket list is the incredibly scenic drive from Yosemite National Park to Death Valley National Park. This 230-mile road trip provides the opportunity to see all the beauty of at least four of the US famed and beloved national parks. So make sure you check out Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks during your journey. In terms of affordable lodgings, you can find several in/near Yosemite and Kings Canyon for under $200 a night. In Death Valley, weary travelers can opt for in-park accommodations for as little as $30 a night.
2 Mendocino To Napa, California
What's a West Coast excursion without a stop in wine country? Of course, driving from Mendocino to Napa means you'll have to wait a bit before you can sample the latest vintages, but this trip is definitely worth it and surprisingly budget-friendly. Just under 150 miles, this road trip allows travelers to create their own wine trail of sorts. Plus, along the way, you can stop by lovely little farms like Pennyroyal Farm, see the stunning rolling hills, and marvel at towering coastal redwoods—all before entering Wine Country (Sonoma and Napa). Upon arrival, get ready to enjoy the region's best award-winning restaurants, vineyards, and tasting rooms.
1 Los Angeles To Joshua Tree, California
Finally, for those artsy travelers, a road trip from LA to Joshua Tree might just be the inspiration you need for your next big project. Roughly a 128-mile drive, this route is brimming with untouched cacti-covered landscapes, Wild West-style attractions, and so much more. Here, desert explorers can stay in artsy accommodations like The 29 Palms Inn or bargain funky-style Airbnbs. As an added bonus, you can check out the bi-annual Joshua Tree Music Festival if you time your road trip just right. Held every May and October, visitors can enjoy this alluring desertscape with the sounds of legendary musicians playing in the distance.