Traveling west is a different kind of American dream, one popularized by the initial desire to discover the other side of the continent, the mass migration during the California Gold Rush, and great American literature like Jack Kerouac’s On the Road and John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. And traveling through the west by car is perhaps the most American way to see the country.
Sure, everything is more spread out in the West, so it’s going to take a while to get to most of the hotspots, even from Eugene. But you’re still a lot closer to those hotspots than those who live on the East Coast, so it’s time to take advantage of your location. If you haven’t already taken the great American road trip, it’s time to get to it. Here are the West Coast locations you can’t miss:
Las Vegas, Nevada
Directly from Eugene, it’ll take you about 14 to 15 hours to reach Las Vegas. But that definitely won’t seem so bad with plenty of stops along the way and activities to keep you entertained on the road. But since you live out west, you can’t miss checking out Las Vegas. The city is known around the world for its incredible entertainment, casinos, restaurants, and hotels. It’s the best place to indulge in anything your heart desires. It’s a great place to play poker, see a live show or two (such as a Cirque du Soleil show), treat yourself to a nice meal, and party it up Vegas style. While in Vegas, you’re sure to have the time of your life. Out of all of the stops on this list — even Los Angeles — there’s nothing quite like it.
Grand Canyon National Park
If you thought Las Vegas was far, the Grand Canyon National Park has it beat at 17 to 18 hours from Eugene. But it’s only four to five hours from Las Vegas, so it’s a great (and necessary) stop to make while traveling south. The Grand Canyon was designated a national park in 1919, and a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1979. It is one of the most important parks to see in the United States, besides Yellowstone National Park. It is incredible in size and structure, and sure to leave you impressed. It also features the beautiful Colorado River and plenty of hiking opportunities.
Los Angeles, California
Fans of Hollywood, cinema, and Disney — this one’s for you. This city is largely considered to be the center of the global filmmaking industry. Depending on your interests, you might want to simply drive around first and get an idea of the layout, from Hollywood (and the impressive homes in the Hollywood Hills), to Venice Beach and Beverly Hills. You might want to check out the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Madame Tussauds Hollywood, Universal Studios, Disneyland, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), and more. Definitely do your research beforehand and map out your trip — traffic in L.A. is not to be taken lightly.
San Francisco, California
Roughly six hours from Los Angeles, you can’t miss this city if you’re heading up or down the coast. Driving across the Golden Gate Bridge is definitely worth the trip alone, but once you do, head to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area for some beautiful views (and photo ops)! You also must tour Alcatraz Island, which has a fascinating and infamous history. Other popular places to visit include Chinatown, Fisherman’s Wharf, and the Castro and Haight-Ashbury neighborhoods.
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Being in Eugene, you’ve probably traveled around the Oregon coast, visited Portland a few times already, and maybe even Seattle. But Vancouver is just a short trip from Seattle — roughly two to three hours — and certainly worth taking out your passport for. Like Seattle, it has beautiful views of both mountains and water, and it’s a great intro to Canada if you’ve never been before. While there, you might want to get dim sum in Chinatown, explore Gastown, head to the Richmond Night Market, go for a hike in Lynn Canyon, go kayaking in Deep Cove, or visit Stanley Park. Like with every city on this list, there’s plenty to do! No matter what you choose, you won’t be disappointed.