Starbucks Summer Road Trip to the Best U.S. Parks and Beaches

Starbucks Summer Road Trip to the Best U.S. Parks and Beaches

There are as many road trip destinations for the summer as there are sunny days. But we’re fortunate to have a plethora of amazing beaches and parks around this beautiful country. We know that’s where a lot of you are planning to go – in a recent survey, 54 percent of people said they like heading to the beach on their road trips, and 44 percent like to check out national or state parks. It’s difficult to choose a favorite, but I’ve curated a list of some of my top choices as you prep to hit the road.

1. Mendocino County, California

Photo Credit: Robert Landau

Photo Credit: Robert Landau

If you’re looking to mix a little outdoor adventure with a scenic drive, don’t miss California’s “Pacific Coast Highway” (known to the locals as “PCH” or State Route 1), which hugs the coastline all the way from the north of the state near San Francisco to almost San Diego county line in the southern part of the state. With beautiful views all along the way, the highway is a destination in itself and is a great option for road trippers who are looking forward to seeing some fabulous scenery during the drive.

There are several places to visit along this coastline, but possibly the most picturesque is a piece of Route 1 on the Mendocino Coast in Mendocino County, approximately 3-hours north of San Francisco. With 13 coastal state parks, road trippers can easily add outdoor adventure to their itinerary. A handful of inland parks also offer some wonderful sightseeing for those looking to veer off the beaten path. Here are a few of my favorites:

Coastal Parks

  • Point Cabrillo: Enjoy the historic Lighthouse, visit the Lightkeepers Museum, and view a beautiful tide pool aquarium.
  • Jug Handle State Reserve: Check out a 2.5-mile self-guided nature trail called The Ecological Staircase. Bring your camera to capture photos of the stunning scenery.
  • Greenwood State Beach: Great for picnicking and an overnight stop. Above Greenwood Beach is the town of Elk, with a visitor center, shops, and inns.

Inland Parks

  • Hendy Woods: Known for old-growth coast redwoods, with camping facilities near the wineries of the Anderson Valley.
  • Mallard (day use) and Navarro (overnight): Protected Redwood forests and wildlife habitat along the Garcia River are perfect for exploring. Camp Navarro offers a family campground with festivals and events.

As you travel the PCH, make sure to stop and enjoy delicious Oysters at Tomales Bay, visit Bodega Bay where Alfred Hitchcock filmed the movie “The Birds,” or grab lunch and do some shopping in the quaint town of Jenner.

Travel Tip: The cliffs above the Pacific Ocean south of Mendocino offer the perfect view points and photo opps. A series of hairpin turns wind across the bluff-tops, providing amazing, Instagram-worthy shots from the strategically positioned turnouts.

Did You Know? Make the most of your pit stop. While you’re filling up with gas or grabbing supplies, you can also stock up on some of your favorite Starbucks beverages which are available in grab-and-go options at local grocery and convenience stores. Pick up a Starbucks® Bottled Frappuccino® Coffee Drink, Iced Coffee or can of Refreshers™ to enjoy while traveling the PCH, or any other long stretches of road.