What are the best places to stop (for great PHOTO ops and delicious FOOD) along Hwy 101 from San Francisco to Seattle?
October 2, 2008 1:16 PM   Subscribe

Please recommend the best places to stop for PHOTO opportunities and delicious FOOD along the 101 from San Francisco to Seattle on a 3-day road trip?

I have search some previous posts like this. But I have more specific criteria.

We leave San Francisco early on a Monday (maybe 7-8am), and we want to get to Seattle by 9-10pm on a Wednesday.

Like I mentioned, my friend and I are avid photographers and looking for some great landscape and nature photo opportunities. We also LOVE food, so unique and DELICIOUS places are requested (cheap doesn't hurt, either).

We're planning to camp out, so we need 2 different parks/forests to camp at.

Right now we're thinking about:

-Redwood National Forest
-Eureka, CA
-Mendocino, CA
-Oregon Dunes

We live in Seattle, so we prefer places that would be tougher to get to from Seattle since we could do those another time.

We know that 3 days isn't very long, so we will have to be pretty selective, but just wanted lots of suggestions to choose from.

Any links to photo/travel blogs, especially ones with photos are welcome!

posted by dcruzin to Travel & Transportation (14 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I haven't traveled north of SF too much, but I'm a fan of stopping when something grabs your eye. It sucks for over-all trip-time, may annoy other drivers if you veer to the side too suddenly, and probably decreases your fuel efficiency for the trip, but I'm usually happier when I've taken the detour or pit-stop to capture what I find.

One last general tip - Google Earth has some keen landmark and other identification features lacking from Google Maps, so you could check those points of interest along any possible routes.

Good luck, and have fun!
posted by filthy light thief at 1:36 PM on October 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

Sol Food in San Rafael
Luchessis's in Petaluma
Mikes at the Crossroads or Redwood Cafe in Cotati
Lost Coast Brewery in Eureka
posted by iamabot at 1:41 PM on October 2, 2008

Don't take 101, take HWY 1 through Pt Reyes and stay on it through Fort Bragg, much prettier scenery. You can easily drive from SF to Portland in 2 days, making Seattle in 3 is pretty easy, so you've got time. I've made both drives (101 vs HWY1) and you'll miss some really amazing scenery.
posted by doctor_negative at 1:52 PM on October 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

If you're a goonie's fan, there's always astoria, oregon...I guess even if you aren't a goonies fan, the rest of the town is quaint.

these are closer to i-5 than the 101, but I think well worth the detour...

Mt Shasta in Northern Cali
Crater Lake in Oregon
posted by nomisxid at 1:58 PM on October 2, 2008

As already mentioned: take 1 instead. Then stop at as many beaches as you can along the way. Low tide is a good time to visit rocky beaches.
posted by treeshade at 2:16 PM on October 2, 2008

Ashland is a gorgeous little town with lots to see. Lithia Park, for example. I hear there's a restaurant called Porter's, I want to say it's in Medford, that's really known for outstanding food and a great, warm guest experience. (Haven't been there myself but my family loves it.) It's in some funky historic building--maybe an old firehouse? Worth looking up!
posted by Neofelis at 2:17 PM on October 2, 2008

We recently took a drive from San Francisco up to Eugene, Oregon -- using 101 primarily. The advice above to take HWY 1 is a matter of preference. We loved the redwoods, the views were very nice. Taking HWY 1 the whole way can be pretty depressing in bad weather and fog, also adds 2 hours to your trip. More if there's significant traffic along the way. There's enough coastline to see from Eureka northward.

One of the stops we liked the most was Chapman's Gem & Mineral in Fortuna.

We also found the Benbow Inn to be a great overnight stop, as well. It's a bit early into the trip, but really helped us break up the drive and enjoy ourselves.

We didn't get a chance to go, but Vichy Springs looks interesting.
posted by cior at 2:25 PM on October 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

I make a point to stop at Wiley's World for pasta whenever I'm near Ashland, Oregon.
posted by oneirodynia at 4:13 PM on October 2, 2008

Just made a drive from Seattle to Eureka on 101 (except for a side-trip to Oregon Caves -- recommended) a month ago. Here are some things I recall.

Frankly disappointed in Eureka. Redwoods, yes. Include Fern Canyon in that stop. Its about five miles of dirt road and a short walk but very nice.

In Oregon there is a place called Devil's Churn where the waves do some very nice crashing on the rocks. You can get as close as you dare. I got some terrific audio recordings there, too.

Plenty of lighthouses along the way, pick whichever are conveninet. The Oregon Dunes is huge, with spots you can go without getting run over by an ATV.

There's a tiny fish 'n chips place called the Bowpicker across the road from the Maritime Museum (also recommended) in Astoria. Pretty good eats.

Tillamook has an air museum in an old WWII blimp hanger. Oh, and something about a dairy....Speaking of Tillamook, for some reason our Garmin GPS took us on a little detour off 101 just north of the town, through some farms and valleys. Nice but we were unsure the reason for the re-route. We just went along since we weren't on a schedule.

Had a terrific sandwich at a little coffe shop near the (High?) school just off the highway in Reedsport.

Hwy 101 in Washington doesn't spend much time along the coast and I find it frankly unphotogenic, but maybe that's because I see that type of scenery every day.

Canon Beach is famous for the haystack rocks.

Between Tillamook and Rockaway Beach is a high viewpoint that's a nice stop.

We really enjoyed the drive and would definitely do it again.
posted by trinity8-director at 5:40 PM on October 2, 2008

Seconding the bowpicker in Astoria, go past the main downtown and it's on the right hand side, around 13th or 15th street.

I lived in Humboldt County for several years, and the best food you'll find is to the north of Eureka, in Arcata. Check out Smugs pizza, Japhey's soup or Renata's Creperie for excellent eats at reasonable costs. However, if you're into local beer, lost coast brewery is a fine choice.

If you're there near the evening, you simply must relax at the Finnish Country Hot Tub and Sauna.

As far as photos go, it depends on what you're interested in! Drop me a line, and I'll point you well. You got beaches, forests, rivers, urban and rural environments.
posted by emptyinside at 8:09 PM on October 2, 2008

Here, I located the coffee shop in Reedsport. Its not easy to spot, especially coming from the south. We found it on accident while turning around. Sorry I don't recall the name of the place.
posted by trinity8-director at 3:47 PM on October 3, 2008

Don't miss Cape Perpetua, near Yachats, OR. Drive to the top for a jaw-dropping vista and some lovely WPA stone work.

An hour's detour up and back on 199 out of Crescent City will give you the easiest-ever taste of giant redwoods and the spectacular Smith River gorge.
posted by dpcoffin at 7:29 AM on October 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

You might consider the well-kept campgrounds of the Siskiyou National Forest, about 8 miles down the Winchuck River Road in Brookings, OR, off 101 about a mile north of the CA/OR border. It's delightfully under-appreciated and easy access. We walk there daily; some recent pix.
posted by dpcoffin at 11:30 AM on October 4, 2008

A few more links in the CA/OR border zone:

A lovely lookout point and short hike into the woods along the coast just south of Crescent City.

Some good info about the area, including this blurb on the woods up 199:
Visit Highway 199 - Smith River Scenic Byway,
For a natural wonder of the non-beach kind, take Howland Hill Road, which leads to Stout Grove in Jedediah Smith State Park. This narrow dirt road winds between the massive trunks of ancient redwood trees as it follows the south fork of the Smith River. The San Francisco Chronicle included the trail through Stout Grove in an article entitled "Ten Great Hikes in California."

A photo blogger visits OR
posted by dpcoffin at 12:57 PM on October 4, 2008

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