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Northern California and Oregon Coast road trip questions
August 22, 2012 7:41 AM   Subscribe

Northern California and Oregon Coast road trip questions: specifically a place to stay on the coast within 2 hours North of San Francisco, advice on Sonoma and where to camp on South and Central Oregon Coast!

I'm doing another Northern California road trip during the first week of September. A friend and I (we are 30ish, girl and a guy) will be camping a few nights in the Redwoods and the Lost Coast, spending a night in San Francisco, a night in Sonoma, and then up the Oregon Coast, a night in Portland and then back home.

Looking for assistance with a few things:

- place to stay on the coast, North of San Francisco. Ideally this would be within about 2 hours of SF, with ocean view. Seems like something in the Bodega Bay area might make sense? Willing to pay in the $250/night range. Don't mind a hotel but wouldn't mind a vacation rental, but it's only for one (weekday) night.
- advice on Sonoma. We're looking at Sonoma as an alternative to Napa which seems like wine Disneyland. Specific wineries to visit? Low key tours without a massive coach bus and 60 other people? Neither of us is particularly knowledgeable about wine, and are looking more to enjoy the general experience.Also a place to stay, again in the up to $250/night (but hopefully lower) range? Mid to high end interesting place for dinner?
- Camping on the Oregon Coast? This will be my third trip to the Coast and while I've camped before I've never been awed by the campgrounds. Likely planning one night in the vicinity of Brookings and another around Lincoln City/Tillamook. Would like to be close to or on the water but would sacrifice that for an alternate neat location.

Bonus tips on San Francisco or Portland also welcome.
posted by sinical to Travel & Transportation around Medford, NY (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
I planned a similar trip two years ago, and ended up opting to drive one more hour north of SF to St. Orres in Gualala, CA ($135 / night for a room with an ocean view). I don't regret it.
posted by ryanshepard at 7:53 AM on August 22, 2012


On the Central Oregon coast, Cape Perpetua would be the place, I think. There is a pretty forest service campground along a creek (run by a contractor, which sucks) for which you would need reservations (online) most likely. If you can, get space # 14.

But the place has a lot of history, from shell middens to some WPA ruins. There is a stone lookout, on a high cliff, which is pretty spectacular. And just a few miles north, is Yachats, which is arguably the nicest (most unspoiled) town on the coast. Yachats has a great beach and a few great eateries (Ona and Heidi's).
posted by Danf at 8:01 AM on August 22, 2012


I was going to recommend St. Orres in Gualala too! Get the Wildflower cabin if you can...we went last January and I am still daydreaming about it...
posted by lovableiago at 8:51 AM on August 22, 2012


I did a somewhat similar trip and got lots of recommendations previously. I strongly agree with Danf, since we stayed there on his recommendation.
posted by desjardins at 9:38 AM on August 22, 2012


This is (in part) a road trip we've done a lot, from SF to Sea Ranch and back again. I don't have Sonoma wineries to recommend, but the Anderson Valley in Mendocino is home to our favorite, Navarro. They make a dry Gewurz so good it'll make you cry, and their reds and other whites are also fantastic. As an added bonus, you can't get their wine in shops; you either have to drink it in a restaurant, get it through the mail, or go to their vineyard. Bring a picnic lunch, as their grounds are lovely and have picnic tables and such. They do sell cheese and crackers and things if you don't want to bring your own.

We've stopped there on the way to Sea Ranch; we take 101 north to Cloverdale, and then take 128 through the Anderson Valley - a gorgeous drive, especially when going through the Navarro River redwoods state (county?) park - that spills you out onto 1, where you'll turn south to get to Gualala (about an hour and half, I think, if memory serves).

So on the one hand, you miss the coast drive all the way up 1, but you get to see a bit of inland Mendocino and enjoy some not-yet-on-the-list-of-giant-tours-wineries that mostly don't have tasting fees (Navarro doesn't), and it's all just gorgeous. Have fun!
posted by rtha at 10:10 AM on August 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Iron Horse winery is between Sebastopol and Forestville; it's one of the most low-key, beautiful places to visit. The tasting bar is outdoors; their whites and sparkling wines are highly regarded.
posted by gyusan at 10:20 AM on August 22, 2012


Check out Carter Lake, a small quiet USFS campground on the Oregon Coast near the sand dunes. It's about a mile from the ocean on an amazing hike through the different types of vegetation and terrain around the dunes.

I've found camping right on the water in Oregon to be generally unpleasant as well as very crowded in the summer. If you can find something where you hike in, or something on a cliff overlooking the water, that might help with those issues.
posted by yohko at 10:43 AM on August 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


For camping on the central/north Oregon coast, my favorite is Cape Lookout State Park near Tillamook. Do NOT stay at Sand Lake.
posted by SpecialK at 10:49 AM on August 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you're willing to stretch the drive to 3.5 hours, Mendocino has lots of awesome places. And on the drive up on 128 there's a lot of little wineries. Not the state's best wineries, but good and fun. Sea Ranch has a lot of vacation rentals and Gualala has good hotel options. But it's so slow getting to the coast and going up 1 that it's almost as much time as going to Mendocino.

I always recommend Sonoma over Napa for wine tasting; Napa's just too crazy. I particularly like the wineries along W Dry Creek Rd, like Raymond Burr Vineyards (good wine!) and Lambert Bridge.
posted by Nelson at 1:44 PM on August 22, 2012


We like the Anderson Valley (Boonville) area -- esp. Sheep Dung Properties' Buckeye cottage. It's just above the Anderson Valley Brewery.

Also, we've stayed at many cottages in Sonoma and Mendocino counties that we found on VRBO. For an ocean view try looking on VRBO for cottages around Albion and Jenner. (I'm not a fan of Gualala/Sea Ranch, it's a bit too built-up and ritzy for me.)
posted by phliar at 4:31 PM on August 22, 2012


I was coming in to recommend Florence for the sand dunes, but I see that yohko beat me to it.
posted by Meep! Eek! at 10:48 PM on August 22, 2012


I've always liked Gundlach Bundschu - they have a definite family vibe and also a (dry) sense of humor, which is nice.
posted by kristi at 6:47 PM on August 25, 2012


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