Pacific Coast Highway Moon Guide

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

Sample pages from the Moon Guide to the Pacific Coast HighwaySample Pages from the Moon Guide to the Pacific Coast Highway

We're big fans of the Moon Handbooks and have reviewed their Napa and Sonoma guide, their Santa Barbara guide, their Spotlight Guide to the Olympic Peninsula, and their monumental West Coast RV Camping guide, which we recommend to anyone driving the Pacific coast, whether they're driving an RV or not. So how will their first guide devoted to the Pacific Coast Highway measure up?

For a start it weighs in at a hefty 376 pages and like all Moon Handbooks it's packed with practical information. That doesn't mean it looks dull, though, as it also has 48 maps (see below) and hundreds of attractive color photos. There are also tinted boxes on things like Best Beaches, Best Views and, in all the major places, Best Hotels and Best Restaurants. It all helps to break up the text and make the book look visually appealing, but not at the expense of including information.

The Author

This Moon guide to a Pacific Coast Highway road trip is written by Victoriah Arsenian, who grew up in Los Angeles, vacationed in the Pacific Northwest, went to college in Oregon and has traveled along the USA's Pacific coast many times. She has a special interest in Native American culture and has also written A Travel Guide to Indian Country, Explore Pacific Northwest Tribes, and an audio tour guide to the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway.

Cambria

One thing we like to do when reviewing a book is pick out a place we know reasonably well ourselves and see what we make of the entry. While flipping through the book, the name of one of our favorite places caught our eye: the delightful little town of Cambria. We've had so many pleasant visits there and have never been disappointed either by our accommodation or where we've eaten, even when it's been somewhere inexpensive. 

What do we think of Moon's entry, then? Well, we're definitely impressed. We wouldn't have thought there was enough in Cambria to fill the almost four pages it gets, but that shows how thorough it is. It covers everything from the nearest Amtrak station (even if it is 35 miles away) and how to get there by bus to the Cambria Scarecrow Festival. There are sections on where to eat and stay, plus shopping, nightlife, recreation, information, and so on. 

It's definitely 10/10 for Cambria, and we won't go over the other places we checked out but they were all equally comprehensively covered. We're starting to think this is the Pacific Coast Highway road trip guide.

Sample pages from the Moon Guide to the Pacific Coast Highway

Maps

The book has 48 maps in its 376 pages, which is an impressive number, and we were pleased with how clear and readable they were. Four maps at the front cover the entire coast for a bit of overview planning. The Washington section, for example, then has maps for the whole route (in more detail than the map at the front), and maps for Downtown Seattle, Port Townsend, Port Angeles, the Olympic peninsula, and the Olympic National Park.

Plan the Right Trip

One thing we know from publishing this website and answering readers' queries is that everyone's trip is different. Some people definitely want to drive every last mile of the coast, no matter how long it takes. A large number simply want to explore Southern California and might have anything from two days to a week to do it. Some might be driving from Seattle to San Francisco, while others are based in one city for a conference and have a couple of days to drive before flying home.

"This is the best Pacific Coast Highway road trip guide we've seen so far."

Sample map from the Moon Guide to the Pacific Coast HighwaySample Map

This Moon guide suggests several itineraries to try to appeal to all these different needs. Even if the suggested itinerary doesn't exactly match your requirements they're very good at giving you an idea of what is achievable. The itineraries are:

  • Washington in 4 Days
  • Oregon in 5 Days
  • Northern California in 5 Days
  • Central California in 3 Days
  • Southern California in 4 Days

Add all those together and you've got the entire Pacific Coast in 21 days, which is usually the minimum amount of time we suggest that you need in order to really do the drive justice. Longer is always better, of course, and you can do it in less if you push it, but three weeks is a comfortable length of time.

In addition to these itineraries, the author also suggests the ideal way to spend two days in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego. Yes, we know Portland isn't on the Pacific Coast Highway but we're not quibbling about that. We know people might want to make the slight diversion there for a visit, and people write to us who are starting their road trip in Portland for family or business reasons, and want to know the best way to drive to the coast.

The Verdict

This is the best Pacific Coast Highway road trip guide we've seen so far. Others are good, but this pulls everything together and is incredibly comprehensive.

As long as it's updated reasonably often, it will be the go-to guide we'll be recommending. You can find the latest edition on Amazon.

Other book pages

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

    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.

  • California Living and Eating by Eleanor Maidment is a handsome coffee table book celebrating the food and lifestyle of the Golden State with 80 tasty recipes.

    California Living and Eating

    California Living and Eating by Eleanor Maidment is a handsome coffee table book celebrating the food and lifestyle of the Golden State with 80 tasty recipes.

  • The Los Angeles travel guide book from Lonely Planet also covers San Diego and Southern California, including Palm Springs, Santa Barbara, and Disneyland.

    Los Angeles Travel Guide

    The Los Angeles travel guide book from Lonely Planet also covers San Diego and Southern California, including Palm Springs, Santa Barbara, and Disneyland.

  • Lighthouses of the Pacific Coast, published by Voyageur Press, is a guide in words and pictures to historic lighthouses along the Pacific Coast Highway.

    Lighthouses of the Pacific Coast

    Lighthouses of the Pacific Coast, published by Voyageur Press, is a guide in words and pictures to historic lighthouses along the Pacific Coast Highway.

  • 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.

    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.

  • To John Steinbeck Monterey's Cannery Row was a place of sardine canneries, bums and honky tonks, but today the Monterey Aquarium attracts visitors.

    Cannery Row in Monterey

    To John Steinbeck Monterey's Cannery Row was a place of sardine canneries, bums and honky tonks, but today the Monterey Aquarium attracts visitors.

  • 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.

    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.

  • 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 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.

  • 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.

    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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

    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.

  • 101 free San Francisco attractions and things to do are in the Kindle guide, 101 Free Things to Do in San Francisco, in the Travel Free eGuidebooks series.

    Free San Francisco Kindle Guide to Free Attractions

    101 free San Francisco attractions and things to do are in the Kindle guide, 101 Free Things to Do in San Francisco, in the Travel Free eGuidebooks series.

  • 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

    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.

  • The Frommer's Guide to Seattle has good information about the city and side excursions to the Olympic National Park and elsewhere, plus free city and area map.

    Frommer's Guide to Seattle

    The Frommer's Guide to Seattle has good information about the city and side excursions to the Olympic National Park and elsewhere, plus free city and area map.

  • One of the best California coast guides is the California Coastal Access Guide, describing the coast’s beaches, National Parks, State Parks, with many maps.

    California Coast Guide

    One of the best California coast guides is the California Coastal Access Guide, describing the coast’s beaches, National Parks, State Parks, with many maps.

  • Plant lovers can visit hundreds of gardens along or near the Pacific Coast Highway,ranging from lush gardens in the Pacific North-West to southern California.

    Gardens Of the Pacific Coast Highway

    Plant lovers can visit hundreds of gardens along or near the Pacific Coast Highway,ranging from lush gardens in the Pacific North-West to southern California.

  • The Green Guide to the USA West from Michelin covers California, the Pacific North West, the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, New Mexico, and even Kansas and Alaska.

    Green Guide USA West

    The Green Guide to the USA West from Michelin covers California, the Pacific North West, the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, New Mexico, and even Kansas and Alaska.

  • Moon's Spotlight Guide to the Olympic Peninsula covers hotels, restaurants, and sights, including Forks, the Olympic National Park and other places.

    Guide to the Olympic Peninsula

    Moon's Spotlight Guide to the Olympic Peninsula covers hotels, restaurants, and sights, including Forks, the Olympic National Park and other places.

  • 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.

    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 Napa and Sonoma Guidebook to California Wine Country is from the Moon Handbooks’ travel guide series with reviews of wineries,vineyards, and wine tastings.

    Napa and Sonoma Guidebook

    The Napa and Sonoma Guidebook to California Wine Country is from the Moon Handbooks’ travel guide series with reviews of wineries,vineyards, and wine tastings.

  • Pacific Coast Highway Travel reviews the book Culture Trails by Lonely Planet, which has a section on Vintage Hollywood alongside 51 other perfect weekends.

    Culture Trails

    Pacific Coast Highway Travel reviews the book Culture Trails by Lonely Planet, which has a section on Vintage Hollywood alongside 51 other perfect weekends.

  • 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.

    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.

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

    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.

  • Some of the best California Backroads are included in Backroads of the California Coast, with 24 highly recommended driving tours off the Pacific Coast Highway.

    California Backroads

    Some of the best California Backroads are included in Backroads of the California Coast, with 24 highly recommended driving tours off the Pacific Coast Highway.

  • 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 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.



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