There's a reason they say 'West is best'...

Nothing says "my life is a movie" more than embarking on a classic American road trip, especially if you're taking the West Coast route. From California's sundrenched coastline to the all-night parties in Vegas, the perpetually green forests of the Pacific Northwest to the Mars-like landscapes of Utah, and some of the country's most iconic national parks, the US has no shortage of incredible drives. Throw in some funky roadside stops, quaint restaurants with classic American fare and, of course, an epic playlist, and you've got a road trip for the ages. So buckle up and get ready to explore the best of the West.

Our West Coast Road Trips & Tours

13 Days From 2385

Take an adventure through California, Arizona, Utah and Nevada past Joshua Tree, Grand...

10 Days From 4010

From the famed LA streets to the glitz of the Vegas strip, travel through the hush of...

6 Days From 1025

Hit the road from Las Vegas to San Francisco on a six-day adventure, stopping by...

18 Days From 4145

Travel for 18 days from Los Angeles to San Francisco, passing through Las Vegas, the...

5 Days From 1140

Take a five-day road trip from Los Angeles to Vegas, stopping by Joshua Tree National...

Tailor-Made trips

Take four or more on an exclusive trip and tailor your itinerary

17 Days From 7215

From Los Angeles to San Francisco, take a trip through the USA’s best National Parks....

14 Days From 2945

Beginning in Las Vegas, see Zion, Moab and Bryce Canyon, Monument Valley, Yosemite, the...

Highlights of the West Coast

Yellow flowers stand out against the bright blue coastline of California's Pacific Coast Highway

Cruise down the PCH

The Pacific Coast Highway, or PCH, is hands down one of the country's best drives. Hugging the coast all the way from the beaches of SoCal's Orange County through Sonoma's wine country, past San Fran and up to Northern Cali's iconic redwoods, the PCH is like a collection of California's greatest hits. Pick a section and hit the road... with this much natural beauty, you can't go wrong.

Shades of red, orange and yellow are on display in a view across the Grand Canyon

See Grand Canyon grandeur

If you're road-tripping the West Coast, adding a stop at the Grand Canyon is an absolute must. Recognised as one of the world's Seven Natural Wonders, the mile-deep Grand Canyon has no shortage of epic aerial viewpoints and lookouts. If you want a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience, try arriving at the South Rim at dawn for one of the most unforgettable sunrises on earth.

A traveller poses in front of Yosemite's famous Half Dome

Get some fresh air in Yosemite

With incredible towering rock formations (hello Half Dome!), massive waterfalls, crystal clear alpine lakes and the famous grove of Giant Sequoias, it's no wonder that Yosemite is one of the most popular national parks in the US. Mother Nature is on full display all over the park, but check out Glacier Point for the best scenic views, or hike the Mist Trail if you've got a little room for adventure on the agenda.

Travelers ride one of San Francisco's famous cable cars up a hill

Get your snack on in San Fran

Not only is San Francisco an ideal starting (or finishing) point for a California road trip, the city is a treasure trove of foodie delights. You'll need fuel to conquer the notoriously steep hills and the options are endless. Think: burritos in the Mission District, bread bowls of chowder on Pier 39, pizza in North Beach and BBQ pork buns in the country's oldest Chinatown neighbourhood. Cue stomach grumbles...

West Coast tour reviews

West Coast FAQs

Trips from 1 January 2023 onwards

From 1 January 2023, Intrepid will no longer require travellers to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 (excluding all Polar trips and select adventure cruises).

However, we continue to strongly recommend that all Intrepid travellers and leaders get vaccinated to protect themselves and others.

Specific proof of testing or vaccination may still be required by your destination or airline. Please ensure you check travel and entry requirements carefully.

Learn more about Intrepid’s COVID-19 policy

The answer is maybe – depending on where you’re from. Many countries now operate under the United States Visa Waiver Program, meaning a visa isn't required for stays of up to 90 days for travel purposes. There are 40 participating countries, including the United KingdomAustralia, New Zealand, Germany and Spain.

If you are eligible for the Visa Waiver Program, you will need to obtain an authorization letter that confirms you have been approved to travel. Authorisation letters can be obtained by submitting an application through the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation, also known as ESTA. It takes roughly 20 minutes to apply, and you'll need to complete the application before you travel to the States.

Learn more about visa requirements for the United States

Tipping is very much a part of the culture in the US. Tips are expected at restaurants, cafes and diners, as well as by taxi drivers, valet attendants, porters and hotel maids. People working in the service industry generally receive the minimum wage, which is quite low and therefore rely upon tips as a major source of their income. In general, leave 15-20% of the bill at restaurants or bars and a few dollars for hotel staff who provide a personal service like carrying bags or cleaning your room.

Learn more about tipping in America

Internet access is excellent in the US, and internet cafes and Wi-Fi hot spots are easily found in most cities and major towns.

Mobile phone coverage is excellent in most parts of the US, although coverage may be patchy in remote, mountainous areas like national parks and canyons. Ensure global roaming is activated before you arrive.

Yes, all Intrepid trips support the Intrepid Foundation. In fact, we make a donation on behalf of every traveller. Trips to the United States directly support our foundation partners, the Cultural Heritage Economic Alliance (CHEA) and the Grand Canyon Conservancy.

Cultural Heritage Economic Alliance (CHEA) create inclusive, equitable opportunities for small Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) tourism businesses in the USA. Donations from our trips help CHEA provide access to industry-specific technical assistance, capacity building, and industry networks for small BIPOC travel and tourism businesses through their Diversity Tourism Academy (DTA).  

Find out more or make a donation

The Grand Canyon Conservancy is on a mission to protect the Grand Canyon National Park for future generations. With almost 6 million visitors to the park annually, the Grand Canyon Conservancy runs educational programs and immersive experiences that teach people about the park's cultural and environmental significance. Donations from our trips support trail restoration and maintenance, conservation and preservation of native vegetation and wildlife, and educational programs.  

Find out more or make a donation

Being such a large country, the weather in the US is different depending on which area you are in. This means that it’s always a good time to visit, as the sun is always shining somewhere in the United States. Summer (June to August) is the peak travel season due to school holidays, but it can be uncomfortably hot in the desert areas and the south. Winter can be cold in the northern states but quiet in other areas, which can make it a pleasant time to visit.

Read more about the best time to visit the United States

Read more about travel on the West Coast