Best Scenic Views on the Pacific Coast Highway

There’s no arguing that wonderfully scenic views abound on the West Coast. From Washington to California, these locales offer the absolute best of the best scenic views on the Pacific Coast Highway.

Seattle's Space Needle. Photo © Lisa Robinson/The Department of Creativity.
Seattle’s Space Needle. Photo © Lisa Robinson/The Department of Creativity.

Best Scenic Views in Washington

  • The Space Needle in Seattle was built for 360-degree views of Puget Sound, while the Seattle Great Wheel offers views of the city skyline that include the Space Needle.
  • Hurricane Ridge rises over 5,757 feet from the Strait of Juan de Fuca, with views stretching from the Cascades to the Olympic Peninsula and beyond.
  • Neah Bay offers the most dramatic shoreline drive in the state.
Crescent Beach at Ecola State Park, Oregon.
Crescent Beach at Ecola State Park, Oregon. Photo © Royce Bair/123rf.

Best Scenic Views in Oregon

  • Ecola State Park has the most photographed view on the Oregon coast, featuring iconic Haystack Rock.
  • Cape Perpetua yields 150-mile views of the coast from a rustic, WPA-built observation point.

Best Scenic Views in California

Northern California

  • Crescent Beach Overlook in Redwood National Park offers views of the seascape that are hard to beat.
  • Bodega Head offers views of Pacific gray whales along their migration route.
  • The Marin Headlands have the best views of the San Francisco skyline and the Golden Gate Bridge, while the city’s Baker Beach offers the same view—bridge and headlands—from the opposite side.
California's Big Sur coastline. Photo © Dreamstime.
California’s Big Sur coastline. Photo © Dreamstime.

Central California

  • Pfeiffer Beach showcases the best sunsets on the Big Sur coastline.
  • Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park’s Overlook Trail ends with a stunning view of McWay Falls cascading down the cliffside to a remote cove.
  • Gaviota Peak is at the end of a rugged three-mile trail that climaxes with stunning views of the Channel Islands.

Southern California

  • Point Dume State Beach has the best views of the Malibu coastline outside of a movie star’s mega-mansion.
  • The Getty Center is a hilltop museum with unmatched views of the L.A. skyline and coastline.
  • The Hotel del Coronado capitalizes on some of the best seaside views in San Diego.

Victoriah Arsenian

About the Author

Victoriah Arsenian is a writer, mountain climber, backwoods meandering tree hugger, an all-around adventure seeker, and a habitual coffee drinker. Raised most of her life in Los Angeles, Victoriah caught the itch for travel from her family’s yearly summer explorations of the Pacific Northwest. She grew up reading adventure novels by authors like Mark Twain, and Jack London, dreaming of finding her own adventures. After reading Scott’s Island of the Blue Dolphins she became fascinated by Native American culture. While attending college in Oregon, she’d often travel solo up the coast, exploring trails and mountains, and learning about local Native American legends.
Victoriah has since contributed to and authored several culturally-based travel publications including, the award-winning A Travel Guide to Indian Country (Washington & Oregon), Explore Pacific Northwest Tribes, an audio tour guide of the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway, and numerous itineraries, and articles on cultural immersion travel. She has also traveled to and explored unique places across the globe, following her feet to every destination with a giant-sized box of band-aids.

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