Nick Wharton & Dariece Swift By
Posted 25 Nov, 2013 | 5 Comments
Posted in: Places

While many people don’t consider sitting in a car with your family for hours on end a holiday, taking a road trip across the US is one of the best ways to experience plenty in the space of one holiday. Summer is considered one of the best times to cruise the highways and as long as you do a bit of the necessary preparation in advance, your road trip holiday might just turn out to be your best yet.

Pacific Coast Highway 1

The Pacific Coast Highway Route

This route is considered a favourite amongst seasoned road trippers. Starting in Southern California, you’ll follow the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) which stretches alongside the Pacific Ocean all the way to Washington. The drive is absolutely stunning and there is plenty to keep you busy along the way. The views will ensure that the kids don’t get too antsy in the back seat, while the sea breeze will keep you nice and cool.

Pacific Coast Highway 2-001

You’ll be following the stretch of the highway from Los Angeles to San Francisco, where you’ll encounter an interesting mix of culture and scenery. From the bustling metropolis of downtown LA to the charming, misty city bay in San Francisco.

See Also: California Road Trip Itinerary at

Pacific Coast Highway 3

Stay awhile in Malibu for some time to relax on the beach and watch the surfers ride the waves. A great place to stop is Santa Barbara where the kids will love looking out to catch sight of whales. Other natural attractions along the way include Point Lobos State Reserve and Big Sur – where you’ll feel lost amongst the impressive redwood trees.


You might like to be a bit more spontaneous on your road trip and while the route along the Pacific Coast Highway certainly allows for this, it might not always work out for the best if you’re travelling with young children. If you’re taking your road trip during the summer, be aware that you might need to book your hotel rooms in advance – particularly in popular tourist destinations. Some of the best hotels on this route book up pretty fast and while you could probably sleep in the car as a solo-road tripper, having the whole family in there might feel a little crammed!

It goes without saying that kids and long journeys aren’t exactly the greatest combination, so make sure you plan for plenty of stops along the route and try to pace your drive so you’re not spending long days stuck in a hot car. Pack some food and snacks to ensure that nobody gets the hunger-grumps. Also, make sure your snacks aren’t loaded with sugar or you’ll have the kids bouncing off the walls for 6 hours a day.

Factor in roadside attractions you might see along the way which is another way to break up the journey rather than doing long stints of driving.

Pacific Coast 4

If you’re doing a particularly long journey leg one day, make sure the kids have plenty to keep themselves entertained. Games such as I-spy and memory games are a great way to get the whole family involved and this booklet of games and puzzles might be useful especially for younger kids enjoying puzzles such as Tic-Tac-Toe and hangman. Older kids might enjoy playing games that can be installed onto tablets or phones which will keep them engaged during long hours in the car.

While most holidays are expensive, a road trip holiday can cost you less than a typical resort holiday would. However, it’s still worth drawing up a budget to account for the cost of fuel as well as meals and snacks you’ll have during your trip.

So, what are you waiting for? Get out the road map, fill up the gas tank and set out on the Pacific Coast Highway! A perfect road trip for you and your family this coming year.

Have you ever done this trip? Is there anything you could share with would-be road trippers? Please tell us below.


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Nick Wharton & Dariece Swift

Written by

Nick Wharton and Dariece Swift are the owners and founders of Goats On The Road. Together they have been travelling and working abroad since 2008 and have more than 20 years of combined experience in online business, finance, travel and entrepreneurship. Their expert advice has been featured on the Lonely Planet, CNN Money, Business Insider,  WiseBread and Forbes and they also spoke at the World Tourism Forum in Istanbul about the business of travel blogging.

Learn more about Nick Wharton and Dariece Swift on their respective author archives on this site and on the Goats On The Road About Us Page.

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5 thoughts on “Taking A Family Road Trip Along The Pacific Coast Highway

  1. Yes, I have and I loved it. We took the whole family last summer and it was a blast. You MUST have something to keep the kids busy, otherwise it would be complete mayhem. Thank God for minivans with DVD players and screens in the headrest!

    1. Hey Deborah, thanks for adding to the post. We don’t travel with kids, but a dvd player is nice for adults too! I get restless on long journeys, unfortunately Dariece doesn’t drive so my only movie is the open road.

  2. Love the drive, but try to avoid the weekends! With so many beautiful views, you may encounter heavy, slow moving traffic on Saturdays and Sundays… Don’t forget to use the pullouts if you happen to be one of the more “leisurely” drivers. 🙂

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