Roadside attractions along the Pacific Coast Highway

I just completed a whirlwind tour of the Pacific coastline this past week and within a few days I got a taste of some pretty eye-popping roadside attractions along Route 101. While most of the sights I discovered were pretty kitschy, there were other natural wonders that inspired at least one or two ooo’s and ahh’s. While I’d like to say I drove the whole thing, I have to admit that I was only able to run the stretch between San Francisco, CA through Aberdeen, WA. Here’s a little taste of the roadside wonders waiting for you along the Pacific coastline:

Northern California

  • Golden Gate Bridge: A trip to NorCal wouldn’t be complete without seeing San Francisco’s iconic Golden Gate Bridge. While the building of the bridge itself is enough to place it firmly in national lore, many are sadly inspired to jump from the bridge to their death into the frigid bay waters below.
  • Redwood National Park: The towering redwood trees in Humboldt county along California’s “Lost Coast” are truly a sight to behold. At one point, the cars along 101 weave amid the trees.
  • Bigfoot country: While my friend may claim Bigfoot lives in her small town of Ada, Oklahoma, northern California also claims Bigfoot lives here, and the locals immortalize him by making lots of wooden statues of him.
  • Trees of Mystery: If you’re into tall tales like stories about Paul Bunyan (that giant lumberjack of a man), the audio tour along the “Tall Tales Trail” in the Trees of Mystery park should inform you of all you need to know about big country legends. Enjoy a ride on the Sky Trail gondola if you want to travel amid the big trees in the park.


  • Oregon Dunes: The sci-fi saga, Dune, was inspired by these sandy dunes in southern Oregon. The beach along this stretch of coast seems to go on forever. Sandy tumbling down a rolling dune is a must.
  • Prehistoric Gardens: A popular tourist trap right off the 101 is the dinosaur-filled park better known as the Prehistoric Gardens. Apparently, someone thought it was a great idea to create life-sized dinosaurs and place them throughout a forested park for tourists to stumble upon as they strolled amid the trees. A little scary, if you ask me, but the Gardens draw quite the crowd.
  • Tillamook Cheese Factory: The famous cheddar cheese company has a large amusement park-like factory complete with an ice cream shop that features over 30 original flavors. This place tops even Ben and Jerry’s as a must-see.

Southern Washington

  • The world’s largest frying pan: Once you cross the state border into Washington, the roadside pickings get a bit slim. Take a slight detour along the Long Beach Peninsula and you will find the world’s largest frying pan, which is a 10-foot tall specimen of shiny iron.
  • Oysters: The Willapa Bay just north of the peninsula is home to lots of oysters. As you drive into South Bend, you’ll see a sign declaring it’s the “Oyster Capital of the World.”