Best Stops Along California’s Scenic Route 101

California Highway 101 Travel Tips

Discover The Best of California’s Scenic Route Down Highway 101

Some say the best way to travel is by train, but I’ll always favor the good old-fashioned road trip. The long stretch of highway, the changing scenery, the road trip playlists, singing and talking, even the long pauses of quiet contemplation — that all spells many happy memories for me.

California Highway 101 Travel Tips
Photo by Cristofer Jeschke on Unsplash

One of my all-time favorite road trips takes you down along the Pacific Coast through Washington, Oregon, and California along scenic Highway 101. It’s a trip I’ve done as a child and one I hope to do with my own family soon. These are my tips for a great family road trip and where to stop along Highway 101.

Road Tripping Tips

Traveling with family will create memories that last lifetimes, but not without a few road bumps along the way. Here are a few tips for a successful road trip with the family:

  • Load up on snacks. Food on the road is notoriously unhealthy and managing your family’s diet can be impossible in a pinch. Stocking up on healthy snacks before you leave will save money and hassle. Get your kids to pick their favorite snack to bring along too.
  • Have your kids pack one or two of their favorite toys to keep them entertained on long stretches. Just remember, toys often get dirty or left behind at a stop along the way, so it’s best to bring something that’s easy to clean and doesn’t hold sentimental value.
  • Plan some road games or bring a deck of cards. A few toys will only entertain for so long. A portable DVD player or family iPad for movies is a good idea too.
  • Get your kids involved in the trip plan. Ask them to pick out an activity or even help plan meals for the day.
  • Assign a few chores to each traveler to help keep things running smoothly and ensure all the cooking and cleaning doesn’t land on you.
  • Keep a positive attitude. Every road trip hits a few bumps and everyone will feel the tension when things go wrong. Remember, it’s all a part of the journey.

Road trips are a great way to travel with kids because you don’t have to worry about catching your flight or finding and booking affordable hotels if you tow your accommodations with you. If you’re planning to travel in an RV or by towing the camper, be sure to know the rules of the road before taking off. Now let’s get to a few must-see spots along your Highway 101 road trip.

Public Market
Photo by David Izquierdo on Unsplash


If you want to go from north to south, a great place to start your Highway 101 road trip is right up in Seattle, Washington. If you love the city, you have to check out Pike Place Market. Or, if you’re looking for more outdoor attractions to start your road trip, begin your trek a little more north in Mount Vernon where you can visit one of the most beautiful parks in the U.S. National Park System. The incredible scenery and abundant RV park options can’t be beat.


If you’re an admirer of the weird and quirky, Portland, Oregon is a must-stop. “Keeping it weird” is the common theme you’ll see across this city. The city is also quite RV friendly, with many parking options along the Columbia River.

In light of keeping it weird — who doesn’t love some cheese? Unless you’re lactose-intolerant, you’ll want to stop at the Tillamook Creamery with the family. Tour the factory, taste samples to your heart’s desire, and learn how cheese, ice cream, and other products are made. The Tillamook Forest Center is also a popular spot for road tripping families. It’s one of my most memorable attractions.

Golden Gate Bridge San Francisco
Photo by Sammy Schuckert on Unsplash


Last, but certainly not least, you’ll find yourself in sunny California. Anyone who’s taken the Highway 101 road trip will tell you to stop in Redwoods National Park. This is a great spot to stop and rest for a few days. Rent a cabin, pitch a tent, or park your RV in one of the many sites. Take some time to relax and enjoy the fresh air before heading off to the bustling cities of California.

San Francisco is on top of the list for cities to see during your trek down the Pacific Coast. Hopefully you’re lucky enough to avoid the fog. Not far from here lies more adventure and fun in National Bridges State Park or the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk with California’s oldest surviving amusement park.

Finish up your trip however you like, heading on down to San Diego or Los Angeles. Maybe you’re ready for a few sunny beach days after your time in the woods. Or maybe your soul needs more wide-open spaces and you want to explore more national parks. It’s all up to you and your fellow travelers.

While planning your trip, don’t forget to make the most of it by using the best travel credit card you can find. Using a credit card to book travel accommodations and rack up rewards points is a great way to help fuel your adventures. I often use the reward points I earned from my last trip to pay for future trips.

Brooke Faulkner is a writer and mom in the Pacific Northwest. You can follow her travels and writing on twitter, @faulknercreek

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