12 Days on our West Coast Road Trip

09 Mar 12 Days on our West Coast Road Trip

We loaded up the family, plus Emily’s parents and sister, and headed out for the West Coast of the United States. What a great adventure we had! We started in the Northern part of Washington, even making it into parts of Canada on our Whale-watching tour, and ended down the coast in San Francisco. Here is our 12-day itinerary with our recommendations and things we want to do next time. This is “How We” did the West Coast!

Day 1 – Travel Day

We left Salt Lake City early Friday morning with a quick stop in Boise, Idaho (Panera!), and then on to our final destination of day one, which was Tri-Cities area of Washington State. We stayed at a Holiday Inn Express in Richland, Washington, after traveling roughly 11 hours.

Hotel: Holiday Inn Express in Richland, Washington; Breakfast included with stay

Day 2 – Snoqualmie Falls then Downtown Seattle

Snoqualmie Falls

We left Richland bright and early and drove approximately 3 hours to Snoqualmie Falls. The drive was GORGEOUS through the Snoqualmie Pass, and we were greeted with green trees everywhere with a little snow even. Snoqualmie Falls is a must and a stop that can be as quick or as long as you like. Oh, and this started our fascination and “belief” in Big Foot!

Our next stop was the Seattle LDS Temple which is located in Bellevue, 20 minutes outside of downtown.

Seattle LDS Temple

Then on to Pike Place Market for the rest of the day.


Pike Place Market is the ultimate farmer’s market – fresh flowers, food, veggies, fruits, seafood, etc. We spent about 3 hours here before starting the Seattle Underground Tour.

Seattle Underground

Last stop of the day was to Kerry Park that offers beautiful views of the Seattle Skyline. Looking for the perfect photo op of Seattle? This is it.

Hotel: Holiday Inn Express North Seattle Shoreline;  Breakfast included with stay

DAY 3 – Ferry to Bainbridge Island

We had hoped to visit Vancouver, British Columbia, but our passports did not come in time, so off to Bainbridge Island we went. While we were sad not to be able to go to Canada, we fell in love with Bainbridge. What a gem!

Bainbridge Island

We took the 30-minute ferry ride from Seattle to Bainbridge and then walked to shops and restaurants. From Mora’s iced creamery to a fun toy story, we thoroughly enjoyed this charming island. You can take your car on the ferry, but we opted to explore by foot.


This was our view coming back into Seattle on the ferry.

Hotel: Holiday Inn Express North Seattle Shoreline; Breakfast: Yes, included with stay.

Day 4 – San Juan Islands

We got up early and headed for the Port at Anacortes. The ?-minute ride was amazing. Such fun and such great views. We opted to drive the van onto the ferry, which we were able to drive around the ?-mile island.

 San Juan Islands

Hotel: Holiday Inn Express Burlington; Breakfast included with stay

DAY 5 – Whale-Watching Tour

We jumped on a small boat and headed out past the San Juan Island into Canada in search of our orca friends. It was AMAZING!!

Whale Watching  Whale Watching


Orca Orca

Hotel: Holiday Inn Express Burlington; Breakfast included with stay

DAY 6 – Seaside, Oregon

Next we spent the day in Seaside, Oregon, which was a charming and bustling town on the 4th of July. People come from all over the coast to enjoy the fireworks over the ocean.


Seaside Beach

Hotel: Best Western …. Breakfast not included.

DAY 7 – Cannon Beach, Oregon to Tillamook to Depot Bay to Lighthouses

One of our favorite stops along the trip were the Tide pools at Haystack Rock.

 Tide pools at Cannon Beach

Haystack Rock

Then on to Tillamook for a factory tour and some yummy cheese and ice cream!

Tillamook Ice Cream


On our way to the lighthouses we literally saw Whales from the roadway, so we pulled off for an hour to watch. We are becoming obsessed with whale-watching and could do it for hours.


Orca Whale Depot Bay Oregon


And then on down the coast to the Yaquina Head Lighthouse.


Yaquina Head Lighthouse


And then to the Heceta Beach just short of the lighthouse.



Oregon Coast  Lighthouse


DAY 8 – Wildlife Safari to the Redwoods

Wildlife Safari Wildlife Safari

 Wildlife Safari

Our first time at the Redwoods was amazing. We started with the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway. We highly recommend getting off the freeway and taking this scenic drive. It will only add 30 minutes to an hour to your drive. It’s hard to explain the Redwoods and the pictures just don’t do justice to the size of these gigantic trees. Notice the picture with our van below. Incredible.

DAY 9 – Redwoods to San Francisco

We got up early and were super excited to explore the Redwoods some more. We enjoyed hiking around the Avenues of the Giants.

Then we drove about four hours to San Francisco for the rest of the day. We didn’t have a lot of time here, but enjoyed every second of seeing the city from the Golden Gate Bridge to Lombard Street and Fisherman’s Wharf.


Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge

Lombard Street

Gotta ride a cable car when in San Francisco.

And a stop to Ghiradelli Square? Yes, please!


Fisherman’s Wharf of San Francisco is pretty cool, as were the views of Alcatraz (from a distance!).

 San Francisco























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