Epic Drives of the World

Epic Drives of the World from Lonely Planet describes 50 of the world's most exciting road trips, including, of course, the Pacific Coast Highway.

Epic Drives of the World sample spreadEpic Drives of the World

This handsome and hefty coffee-table book isn't cheap, but it's the kind of publication that will make a great gift for someone, possibly yourself. In addition to the 50 drives covered in depth (four pages per drive), each one has three more suggestions at the end of other similar drives you might like.

Epic Drives: Pacific Coast Highway

Which leads us to the Pacific Coast Highway. This is one of nine USA drives included in the book, and to start at the end, the other suggested drives if you liked the PCH are the Okanagan Valley Tour in Canada; a Modern Art Meander in Provence, visiting the places painted and lived in by artists like Picasso, Van Gogh and Matisse; and Wonders of Ancient Sicily, taking in ancient ruins, farmland and volcanoes. I'm not sure how these are similar to the Pacific Coast Highway, but never mind.

The main drives each have two two-page spreads, following a similar format. Most have a full-page photo to really whet your appetite for the beauty of the drive, an overview map, several more inspiring photos or the occasional artwork, and about two-three pages of text. 

Epic Drives of the World sample spreadEpic Drives of the World

Each drive also has a Directions box, which doesn't actually give you the directions but instead has practical information like the start and end points, length of the drive, the best time of the year to do it, and suggestions of where to stay, where to eat and a Hot Tip. Don't expect in-depth information, though – you only get one recommended place to stay and one to eat in the whole 1050 miles from Seattle to San Francisco!

This kind of book is not about detailed information, however. You'll still need guidebooks and maps if you're going to make the drive. They're about ideas and inspiration, and for that they work well. The author of the PCH entry captures the feel of the drive well, and the book is a collection of well-written essays rather than a guidebook-style more factual approach.

Epic Drives of the World Contents

Other Epic USA Drives

If driving the Pacific Coast Highway inspires you to plan another road trip in the USA then there are plenty here to choose from, including a Napa Valley drive. That hardly counts as epic, being only 156 miles (251km), although it has novelty value as the driver tackles it using an electric vehicle.

Route 66 is included, of course, along with drives around the Southern Utah National Parks, the Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park, and a drive through the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Epic Drives of the World sample driveEpic Drives of the World Sample Drive

Drive around the World

The book covers the world, of course, and includes six drives in Australia, though only five in the whole of Asia: India, Bhutan, Vietnam, Nepal, and South Korea. So China is missing completely, as is Russia. Ireland is represented by The Wild Atlantic Way and a circular drive from Belfast that takes in the Antrim coast.

There's one drive in Scotland, which is an odd choice, from Portree on the Isle of Skye to Applecross on the mainland. This is a beautiful drive but only 74 miles (119km) in length – again, hardly epic. Why not cover the North Coast 500, which has been described as 'jaw-droppingly beautiful' and 'Scotland's answer to Route 66'?  This was introduced in 2015, two years before the book was published, and would be a much better choice if you want to justify the word 'epic' in the title.

Epic Drives of the World sample spread

The Verdict

This is an enjoyable read and a beautifully-produced book. We have a few quibbles over the choices, which is always the case with lists of any kind, but we certainly wouldn't object to receiving it as a present, and would be happy to give as one to a keen driver or armchair traveller. 

Other books pages

  • Your Insider's Guide to San Francisco

    Pacific Coast Highway Travel's book review of Insider's Guide to San Francisco guidebook by Jill Loeffler, publisher of the San Francisco Tourism Tips website.

  • When to Drive the Pacific Coast Highway

    When to Drive the Pacific Coast Highway depends on whether you want to drive in Oregon and Washington as well as California, and on the weather.

  • West Coast RV Parks

    One of the best guides to West Coast RV Parks, covering campgrounds in California, Oregon, and Washington, is West Coast RV Camping from Moon Guides.

  • Ways to Go

    Here are links to the different ways you can go along the Pacific Coast Highway, one of the most popular drives in the world but you can also cycle it.

  • Washington State Travel Guide

    The Washington State travel guide from Frommer's covers hotels in Seattle, driving the Pacific Coast Highway, Olympic National Park, where to eat and more.

  • Vintage Hollywood

    Vintage Hollywood in Los Angeles is an extract from the Lonely Planets book Culture Trails.

  • Cycling the USA West Coast

    Lonely Planet's Guide to Cycling the USA West Coast is a bicycling guidebook for anyone touring California, Oregon and Washington by bike.

  • California Camping Book Review

    Pacific Coast Highway Travel's California Camping book review rates the 20th anniversary edition of Moon's complete guide to over 1400 tent and RV campgrounds.

  • The Best Coast Book Review

    The Best Coast is a west coast travel guide, sub-titled A Road Trip Atlas it doesn't use photos but instead has hundreds of beautiful illustrations.

  • Soul of Los Angeles

    Soul of Los Angeles from French publishers Jonglez is a travel guide to 30 Exceptional Experiences in California's largest city.

  • Santa Barbara Guidebook

    The Santa Barbara Guidebook from Moon Handbooks also covers California’s Central Coast with Ventura, San Luis Obispo, wine country, and Hearst Castle.

  • San Francisco to San Diego

    Driving from San Francisco to San Diego has two main options, the fast way on I-5 or the scenic route along the Pacific Coast Highway.

  • The 17-Mile Drive between Carmel, Pacific Grove, and Monterey

    Pacific Coast Highway Travel takes the 17-Mile Drive from Carmel to Pacific Grove and Monterey, stopping to see the Lone Cypress and beautiful coastline views.

  • Route 66 Meets the Pacific Coast Highway

    Historic Route 66 winds from Chicago to LA, going through Los Angeles, meeting the Pacific Coast Highway in Santa Monica, California, at the Santa Monica Pier.

  • Road Food Guide

    West Coast Road Eats is a road food guide covering the Pacific Coast from California through Oregon to Washington, giving the best road trip food stops.

  • Books About the Pacific Coast Highway

    Books About the Pacific Coast Highway in California, Oregon and Washington including travel guidebooks, route guides, restaurant guides, and many more.

  • Pacific Coast Highway Stops

    Pacific Coast Highway stops include big city vacation destinations like Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego, and smaller places like Monterey.

  • Pacific Coast Highway Road Trips: Lonely Planet Guidebook Review

    Review of the Pacific Coast Highway Road Trips book from Lonely Planet, which includes a California Driving Guide, by the Pacific Coast Highway Travel website.

  • Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip Guide

    Pacific Coast Highway Travel reviews the Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip Guide book covering the drive from Vancouver to San Diego.

  • Pacific Coast Highway Moon Guide

    Pacific Coast Highway Travel reviews the Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip guide from Moon covering California, Oregon and Washington

  • Pacific Coast Highway in California

    The Pacific Coast Highway in California book shows in historic photos the building of the Pacific Coast Highway from its earliest beginnings in 1911.

  • Pacific Coast Highway Guides. Book and ebook hotel guides to PCH

    Pacific Coast Highway guides include our own printed book and ebook guides to the best hotels along the PCH, available in paperback, PDF and Kindle formats.

  • Pacific Coast Highway Driving Tips

    Pacific Coast Highway driving tips for this great American road trip include finding cheap gas, watching the speed limits, and allowing plenty of travel time.

  • Pacific Coast Highway Drive Times and Distances

    Drive times and distances on the Pacific Coast Highway or the quickest routes from Seattle to San Francisco to Los Angeles to San Diego.

  • Olympic Peninsula Travel Guide

    Pacific Coast Highway Travel reviews an Olympic Peninsula Travel Guide published by the Beautiful Pacific Northwest website.



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