San Francisco to Seattle Road Trip: Where to stop and what to see!

June 13, 2021

Are you looking to plan a San Francisco to Seattle road trip? If so keep reading!

So, you’ve got a San Francisco to Seattle road trip planned – but the question is – where should you stay? What should you see? How long should it take? If you’re asking yourself those questions, then this guide to organising a San Francisco to Seattle road trip should be helpful!

A San Francisco to Seattle road trip is so much fun, and there are so many things to see along the way. In this guide, we’ll go through the different places to stay and see, so you can make the most of your amazing San Francisco to Seattle road trip!

So let’s begin… A guide to your San Francisco to Seattle road trip!

San Francisco to Seattle road trip

Start at San Francisco

The obvious first stop on any San Francisco to Seattle road trip is San Francisco! If you’ve previously been to this city, then you can probably cover your favorite parts in a day. However, if you’re new to San Francisco, then you’ll want to allocate up to three days for exploring.

While you’re here, pay a visit to the Golden Gate Bridge (here are some of the best Golden Gate Bridge vista points!), Twin Peaks, Lombard Street, and the notorious Alcatraz. In addition to these tourist hotspots, there are also a plethora of incredible restaurants and bars to visit in the city in neighbourhoods such as Haight Ashbury (which we love!). If you’re looking to experience the best food on your San Francisco to Seattle Road Trip, then be sure to grab a sourdough bread bowl from Boudin Bakery. Trust us, they’re life-changing. 


Wine County

As you might expect, most people undertaking the famous San Francisco to Seattle Road Trip route want to have a pitstop in Wine Country. Around 1.5 hours from San Francisco, Napa and Sonoma are both must-visit spots if you’re even remotely interested in good wine.

There is a surplus of family-run vineyards here, and each one should give you plenty of options for tasting. If you visit the vineyards in wine country, be sure to take the opportunity to stomp grapes; it’s always interesting to see how your favorite wines are made – this is a great place to stop overnight on your San Francisco to Seattle Road Trip.

A word to the wise though – it can get tiring, so be sure to grab some hearty food afterwards! Even if you’re not a fan of wine, you’ll love the peaceful atmosphere in wine country. Unlike some of the other stops on the San Francisco to Seattle Road Trip route, this place is all about hiking, farmers markets, and relaxation. 


Mendocino

After exploring Wine Country, you’ll want to start exploring those gorgeous coastal areas on your San Francisco to Seattle Road Trip. This old-world town is packed with things to do, and although it’s small, Mendocino’s charm will truly blow you away.

Artists absolutely love Mendocino, so expect galleries and art shops galore. If you’re a beach buff, then you’ll want to head to Mendocino’s beaches and the Headlands State Park. Both spots are great for wildlife spotting and relaxation, so they’re a great place to recharge before heading back on the road. If you’re looking for a place to enjoy dinner on your stop, then don’t miss Café Beaujolais. Offering everything from light seasonal salads to wood-fired pizzas and strip steaks, there’s something for everyone here. This is a must-visit on your San Francisco to Seattle road trip.


Jackson State Forest and Fort Bragg

Another coastal spot that shouldn’t be missed on your San Francisco to Seattle Road Trip is Fort Bragg and Jackson State Forest. Located only 170 miles from San Francisco, this lovely coastal town is well worth a visit. With incredible public beaches, this is a great place to spend the day exploring.

If you do nothing else here, be sure to spend some time on Glass Beach. It gets its name from the sea glass that you can find littered over the beach from the erosion years-old glass bottles. You probably only need to allocate 1 or 2 days to exploring both Mendocino and Fort Bragg on your San Francisco to Seattle Road Trip, as both towns are incredibly small! 


Shasta Lake

On your San Francisco to Seattle Road Trip, you’ll pass plenty of beauty spots. However, we believe that Shasta Lake is one of the most stunning spots in California to visit. This enormous lake makes for beautiful pictures, and you can hire boats, water skis, and fishing rods to make the most of your trip to the lake.

If the lakeside scenery wasn’t stunning enough, you’ll also find a bunch of forestry and wilderness just behind the lake. There isn’t that much to do here aside from water-based activities, but Shasta Lake a gorgeous, picturesque spot that everyone should stop at on their San Francisco to Seattle Road Trip. 


Redwood State Park

Are you looking to explore the best of Northern California’s coast? Well, you’ll certainly need to add Redwood National Park to your list of places to stop on your San Francisco to Seattle Road Trip.

Featuring amazing grasslands and some of the tallest redwoods we’ve ever seen, it’s certainly a spot that’s not to be missed. The South Grove Trail, Circle Trail and Yurok Loop Trail are all short walks which will get your muscles moving after a long drive without tiring you out. For those just looking to relax, why not pack a picnic to eat amongst the trees? This is such a beautiful location to see during your San Francisco to Seattle road trip!


Crater Lake

Another lake which has made it onto our list of places to stop on a San Francisco to Seattle Road Trip is Crater Lake. Now, you may have noticed that we’re out of California now, and we’ve moved securely into Oregon territory! Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States, and we genuinely can’t find a single fault in this area’s natural landscape.

The water here is crystal clear, and the total drive around the lake comes in at a whopping 33 miles. Despite being rather untouched by man, the roads here are well paved, so you shouldn’t feel as though you’re performing death-defying stunts each time you turn a corner. While you’re here, be sure to check out Wizard Island, Merriam Point, Watchman Overlook and Pinnacles Overlook as each spot offers a unique view. You definitely won’t want to miss this amazing destination on your San Francisco to Seattle road trip.


Portland

Next on our list of the best places to stop on a San Francisco to Seattle Road Trip is Portland, Oregon. If you’ve never visited Oregon before, then you’ll want to spend at least 2 or 3 days exploring. There so much to do here, with the Portland Japanese Gardens and Aerial Tram being tourist favorites.

However, what keeps people coming back to Portland is its amazing food and coffee. Donuts from Blue Star are a must-buy, and the wings on offer in the city are truly next-level. Whatever you choose to do, be sure to take your time with it all – Portland is one of those cities on your San Francisco to Seattle Road Trip that is not to be rushed. 

Read more: 24 fun things to do in Portland


Cannon Beach

You’ll only need to allocate a day or so to Cannon Beach on your San Francisco to Seattle Road Trip. It’s quite a small town on the Oregon Coast, so you should be able to squeeze your activities into a single day. While you’re here, be sure to check out Haystack Rock. It’s one of the world’s more bizarre natural structures, but it’s possibly the most impressive rock you’ll ever see! This stunning beach is a must-visit for your San Francisco to Seattle road trip.

Read more: 10 beautiful waterfalls near Seattle


Mount Rainier

We’re nearly at the end of our San Francisco to Seattle Road Trip, folks! Mount Rainier is 85 miles from Seattle, and it is one of the most impressive peaks in the US. Home to beautiful glaciers, plenty of forests, and even a couple of waterfalls, you certainly won’t be short of natural wonders to explore. 


Seattle

The final stop on your San Francisco to Seattle Road Trip is, of course, Seattle itself! Woohoo – what a long drive that was. Seattle has so much to offer, and whether you’re a massive foodie and coffee lover or just love sightseeing, you should find something here that you’ll love.

Read more: 22 fun date ideas in Seattle

Read more: 60+ things to do in Seattle (the ULTIMATE list!)

The Space Needle should be at the top of your list of things to do once you reach Seattle; it’s one of the best ways to experience the skyline, and who doesn’t love seeing a place from a bird’s eye view? Once you’ve done that, head down to Pike Place Market. Oh, and don’t leave without checking out Capitol Hill. Home to the best food and drink in the city, it shouldn’t be missed by any visitor. And that’s the end – your San Francisco to Seattle road trip has finished!

Hopefully this guide to a San Francisco to Seattle Road Trip has given you loads of ideas!

As you can see there’s so much to experience on your San Francisco to Seattle Road Trip! These are only the highlights, and we’re sure you’ll find plenty of other places along the way to explore too! But using these locations as a guide for your San Francisco to Seattle Road Trip can make sure you check off all the best locations!

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