Stephanie is a cherished member of the Sampling America writing team, dedicated to crafting captivating narratives that transport readers to thrilling adventures across the country and beyond.
The Pacific Northwest is one of the most beautiful locations to make a cross-country road trip. Following our ultimate road trip guide, you will see several gorgeous National Parks and unique destinations.
From the stunning wet forests and beaches in Washington to the breathtaking Waterfalls and wildlife in Oregon, consider the Pacific Northwest for your next family vacation.
Seattle is the perfect big city to begin a cross-country road trip. Here, you can visit the Pike Place Market to stock up on fresh coffee beans and baked goods.
You can visit the space needle to see an iconic Seattle landmark from the 1962 World’s Fair or hike at the base of Mt. Rainier in the rain to feel like a real Seattleite.
Consider visiting the iconic Beth’s Cafe for their legendary 12-egg omelet and coloring on the walls before heading out for your next destination.
San Juan Islands, Washington
After exploring the electric downtown core in Seattle, take a ferry to the San Juan Islands to explore the ocean and the forest.
This is the perfect place to kick back and relax. You can enjoy swimming, kayaking, and biking, and you’ll often see killer whales just off shore.
If you’re not traveling in a camper, consider renting a cabin on the beach for a few days to enjoy all Washington offers on the coast.
Olympic National Park, Washington
Washington’s Olympic National Park covers several different eco-systems to offer a completely unique destination.
Be sure to hike through the old-growth forests on your way to Ruby Beach; it’s known for the enormous rock formations that sit along the beach.
You’ll see a lot of different wildlife here. The beach is known for its healthy bald eagle population and passing dolphins, whales, and seals. Keep an eye on the water for little bald heads; you might find a pair of seal eyes staring back at you.
Astoria is known as being home to the classic 1980s movie Goonies, be sure to visit the iconic house if you’re a fan of the movie.
The seaside town is also famous for its huge population of sea lions. Visit the beaches to see these fantastic creatures. But be sure not to get too close, as respecting wildlife is vital to keeping the animals happy and healthy.
Cannon Beach, Oregon
Cannon Beach is famous for Haystack Rock, a goliath that stands more than 230 feet above sea level.
The beaches on the west coast might not be great for sun-tanning or building sand castles, but they host a diverse group of bugs, animals, and sea life. If you have small kids, they’ll love picking up purple starfish and sand dollars, poking at crabs in tide pools, and squishing the wet sand.
This charming seaside town is famous for its dairy production. You can take a self-guided tour of the Tillamook Cheese factory to see how cheese and ice cream are made. They make some of the country’s best ice cream, so grab a cone before heading back to the beach.
Tillamook Light House Rock is a perfect camping ground for sea lions and seals. Visit the beach to experience even more sea life in this charming town.
After spending a few days in nature, Portland is the perfect place to stop for a slice of pizza and a locally-made craft beer.
The city is known for being electric and vibrant; you’ll see signs proclaiming to “keep Portland weird” throughout the city.
Line up at VooDoo Doughnuts to try some of their famous flavors. The city has a thriving culinary and food truck scene, so you will be able to find a new and exciting place to eat.
Multnomah Falls, Oregon
Multnomah Falls is a stunning waterfall near the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area near Portland.
At almost 600 feet and two tiers, this fantastic piece of the Pacific Northwest is the perfect place to end your road trip.
Several hiking trails accommodate all skill levels here. Be sure to cross over the picturesque bridge to get the perfect Instagram selfie.
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