It’s that time of the year again where I’m getting a serious case of itchy feet. Don’t worry, I don’t mean because I’ve got a fungal infection or something nasty like that. I’ve got itchy feet because I want to go out there and see the world. Summer is over and with it comes routine and the need for a new adventure. An adventure I’ve been dreaming about for a long time is a road trip along Highway 101 and Interstate 5 in the USA and as the lovely people from Purple Parking have challenged me to tell you all about the road trip of my dreams as part of their #WheelsOfTheWorld campaign, I thought this would be the perfect occasion to share the stops I’d make along the route
Road trip along Highway 101 and Interstate 5
If you’ve never heard of Highway 101 or Interstate 5, they are two highways that lead along the Pacific coast of America and connect Olympia/WA and San Ysidro/CA. They lead through the states of Washington, Oregon and California and have a combined length of 1687 miles – well, that’s Route 101 and the part of Interstate 5 that I would like to travel. Interstate 5 literally connects Canada with Mexico but it doesn’t lead along the coast for big parts, so I’ve chosen the more scenic route for the first part of the journey.
Highway 101: Seattle / Olympia / Forks
Seattle might not be the starting point of highway 101 but I would make it the starting point of my road trip, simply because it has an international airport and it’s a city that has been on my bucket list for years. There’s so much to see and do here from the Space Needle to Pike Place Market, the famous Gas Works Park or Puget Sound, a small island just outside the city which is the perfect spot for those hoping to see humpback whales or Orcas.
Olympia is the capital of Washington state and the official starting point of highway 101. Before getting on the road though, I’d love to wander around Washington State Campus taking pictures, buy lots of yummy road trip snacks at the Farmers Market and watch the sunset over West Bay Park. According to locals, it offers the most beautiful views over the State Capitol, ship canal, and the peaks of the Olympic National Park.
The first official stop on my highway 101 road trip might seem like an odd one but everyone who loved the Twilight Saga as much as I did will know why Forks is an absolute must if you’re traveling along route 101. Although the movies weren’t filmed here, the little town featured in Stephanie Meyer’s bestsellers saw a massive boost in tourist numbers and now celebrates a yearly ‘Stephanie Meyer’s Day’ and offers dedicated Twilight tours for fans of the series.
Highway 101: Portland / Yachats / Eureka / Redwood Valley
After a 6h drive along the Pacific, Portland is the next stop on our not so little road trip. Over the past couple of years, the largest city of Oregon has somehow become the world’s Mecca of hipsters, so after a spot of people watching in one of the many coffee shops, I’d love to take a stroll around Portland’s Pearl District and Lovejoy Street. There are meant to be dozens of quirky shops and I love picking up bits and bobs for my home that are a little bit different. Before making our way back onto highway 101, though, I’d definitely pay a visit the Portland’s Japanese Garden on Kingston Avenue. It looks absolutely stunning and is the perfect place to recharge your batteries for the next leg of the journey.
Yachats/Siuslaw National Forest might only be a three-hour drive away from Portland but it’s a whole different world from the hipster city in the North. A small coastal town, Yachats is all about the great outdoors. With Siuslaw National Forest on its doorstep, Yachats is the perfect place to learn more about the area’s Native American origin and history while recharging your batteries.
After a 6h drive, our journey down highway 101 takes us to Eureka, our first stop in California. Eureka is a coastal town between Portland and San Francisco and famous for its historic city centre. Hundreds of Victorian houses and an old town retaining its 19th-century character make the city centre the destination for every hobby historian. Little coffee shops and bistros are scattered all over town, so stop for her a spot of lunch, before you continue exploring. If you’re traveling with kids, the Sequoia Park Zoo, California’s oldest zoo is a great place to spend the afternoon. Every first Sunday of the month, art lovers can enjoy Eureka’s ‘Art’s Alive’ – an event where business and galleries open their doors to the public and restaurants and bars invite live performances by regional bands and other performers.
After a good night’s sleep, we’re heading further south along highway 101. Today, we’ve only got a two and a half hour drive ahead of us. Redwood Valley is located a little further up-country and is probably not the first place that comes to your mind when you think of road tripping through California, but Redwood Valley is famous for its little vineyards and wineries as the Americans call them and it would be rude not to try some of their wines before making our next big stop. There is also a Buddhist monastery in Redwood Valley and it looks absolutely stunning. Called Abhayagiri (Fearless Mountain), it is teaching all about Buddhist ethics, meditation, stress relief and concentration and hey, who couldn’t do with less stress and more focus?
Highland 101: San Francisco / San Jose
On the next leg of our journey, I predict a lot of singing. I mean it’s practically an unwritten law that you have to drive to San Francisco singing Scott McKenzie’s world-famous song or belt out the Full House theme tune, don’t you think? I know I’d definitely be singing and humming those classics while driving across the Golden Gate Bridge or looking for 1709 Broderick Street, the filming location of the 80s/90s sitcom Full House, following the Tanner family. As I love everything colourful, Frisco’s favourite Dancing Houses would be an absolute must-see for me. I adore their architecture and once I’ve pushed all the tourists aside, I could take photo after photo. Instagram loves colour just as much as I do! Don’t be fooled, though, I also have a soft spot for everything dark and mysterious which is why I absolutely couldn’t skip a visit to Alcatraz, the notorious prison and former home to Al Capone. As I can’t stand steep hills, a ride in a traditional cable car will definitely be in the cards as well as checking out some street art and trying to find the filming locations of Princess Diaries – why were so many cool movies filmed in San Francisco?
Before we’re getting carried away, let’s head down highway 101 towards San Jose, the unofficial ‘capital’ of Silicone Valley. Walk around town trying to spot the headquarters of global enterprises like IBM, Adobe, eBay or Cisco or hike one of the many trails surrounding the city. San Jose’s trail network spans around 60 miles, so make sure to bring your hiking boots and a water bottle. The great outdoors aren’t your cup of tea? Wander around the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library, one the biggest libraries in the United States or check out the Winchester Mystery House, a Victorian villa with staircases that lead nowhere and other odd features added to confuse ghosts.
Highway 101 / Interstate 4: Los Angeles / San Diego
Another kind of spiritual being, namely angels, is what gave Los Angeles its name. Famous as the City of Angels or LA, the home of Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Venice Beach, it is the second largest city in the United States and the official end of highway 101. As there’s just so much to see in LA, I would definitely plan a couple of days to explore. Do a tour of the Hollywood Hills and check out where the rich and famous live, walk along the Walk of Fame and take a snap for your holiday album in front of the world-famous Hollywood sign. If you fancy chilling out on the beach after the hustle and bustle of the city, pop down the Venice Beach and watch the locals workout on Muscle Beach or the different sports courts along the promenade. If you’re so inclined, you could even join yourself. I’d definitely prefer a spot of people watching while sipping on a fresh juice or smoothie before having a splash in the ocean before leaving for the last leg of our road trip.
As highway 101 ends in Los Angeles, we’re popping onto interstate 5 for our trip to San Diego. San Diego is the most southern city of California and shares a border with Mexico’s Tijuana. There are heaps of museums in the city, such as the Museum of Photographic Arts, the Mormon Battalion Historic Site or the San Diego Natural History Museum. One of the most popular attractions, however, is San Diego Zoo. It’s the second largest zoo in the world and houses over 3,700 animals of more than 650 species and makes a great day out. If you can’t get enough of animals but you want to get to know the city a little better at the same time, book a Seal Tour in an Amphi vehicle and discover San Diego via land and water. You’ll fly back home with so many new impressions and
And this is it – 1687 miles and 11 cities later, our road trip along highway 101 and interstate 5 comes to an end. What do you think? Would this be a road trip you’d like to go on or would you like to start with something a little smaller? Either way, keep your eyes people for my upcoming road trip tips!
Before you leave, though, let me know in the comments below what your ultimate road trip destination would be. I’d love to know!
This is a collaborative post