SF to Portland Roadtrip
September 4, 2009 12:21 AM   Subscribe

Pacific Northwest Roadtrip: SF to Portland and back. 6 days. Which roads to take? Which towns and parks do we have to see? Your favorite spots along 1? We're interested in anything and everything. Thanks!
posted by mrunderhill to Travel & Transportation around Portland, OR (11 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I'd highly recommend spending a night in Sea Ranch -- landscape of some of my most vivid and powerful childhood experiences, cliffs and tidepools and landscapes out of a dream. if it fits your schedule. See more here. And try to stay in one of the funky houses.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 12:25 AM on September 4, 2009

I really liked short sands beach at oswold west state park.
posted by rmd1023 at 4:01 AM on September 4, 2009

Go north (or south) on Hwy. 1 and the other direction on I-5. That way you can enjoy the coast one direction and the woods/volcanoes on the other. I personally have a fear of driving at cliff's edge so I would go north on the coast to avoid all the cliff driving but that's just me.
posted by eleslie at 6:16 AM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

Oregon Caves National Monument
posted by bengarland at 7:20 AM on September 4, 2009

I second Oswald West State Park. One of my favorite little nooks on the Oregon coast. Yachats is lovely (and a nice place to spend a night. We used to stay at the Shamrock Lodgettes when I was a kid; I couldn't honestly tell you how nice they are for adults, but the smell of the cabins there is one of my most cherished memories). Astoria's reasonably neat, especially the mouth of the Columbia River. Fort Clatsop is an interesting historic site.
Do not miss Crater Lake. I grew up in Oregon, saw it once as a kid, then largely ignored it until 5 or 6 years ago. What a mistake! Just breathtaking on a clear day. Take the boat tour. Also, the drive in from Roseburg along the North Umpqua River is gorgeous. Toketee Falls is neat.
The Oregon Shakespeare Festival is pretty cool, and Ashland is a nifty little town. It's not ridiculously far from Crater Lake, so if you came back that way, you could do both. Cute B&B's there, if that's your cup of tea, or plenty of camping to be had in the surrounding area.
The Santiam Pass (Hwy 22 & 20) is a nice drive between Salem and Bend and unique in the number of ecosystems represented along the way, from the high desert on the east side of the mountains to the lush valley on the west. Speaking of the high desert, The High Desert Museum outside of Bend is neat if you like that sort of thing. If you ask me, the otters alone are worth the price of admission.
If you took hwy 1 on the way up, saw the coast, spent some time in Portland, then took I-5 down to Salem, the Santiam Pass to Bend, hwy 97 down to Crater Lake, 138 over to Roseburg, then I-5 back down to Ashland, you could catch all of those. I'd recommend against spending much time in Roseburg; as towns go, it's kind of a dud. Ditto Salem. Bend's alright, but it's better if you're going to spend enough time there to do something outdoorsy. Ditto Sunriver.
Good luck! Have fun.
posted by willpie at 8:25 AM on September 4, 2009

In Oregon, take 99 instead of I-5 when possible. Stop in McMinnville and go to the Golden Valley Brewery and Pub. Besides having consistently great beer, the beef is incredible (from the owner's own cattle!) Plus the street it's on is leafy and beautiful in a really nice old downtown.

Corvallis is a nice town, a couple of good restaurants (Big River, Nearly Normal's) and a lot of really nice Craftsman-style houses around the university. Some nice parks, too. Not really a tourist destination, though.

In Portland, make sure you get to Powell's. But you probably already knew that.

For the coast, I totally recommend the Sea Lion Caves north of Florence, really cool. Farther north you can walk in a shark tunnel at the Oregon Coast Aquarium...it's really, really cool. You can rent it for sleepovers apparently.
posted by 5ean at 8:28 AM on September 4, 2009

Oh! If you take the valley going one way and the coast the other, try and make Hwy 26 part of your loop so you can visit Camp 18. I think it's safe to say it would be impossible to regret that.
posted by 5ean at 8:32 AM on September 4, 2009

If it's not too far out of your way, we had a great time recently driving 97 through Central Oregon. Lots of volcanoes, both views of the snow-covered Cascade peaks, and actual ones--Newberry, Lava Butte--and the indescribably amazing Crater Lake. The Deschutes Brewery in Bend was a highlight. The John Day Fossil Beds National Monument is even further out of your way, but highly recommended if you like rocks, fossils, or unearthly landscapes. Taking 97 also means you drive through the Columbia River gorge, and can stop at Multonomah Falls.

Of all of those, Crater Lake would be the don't-miss spot.

We drove up the Oregon coast, and some of the best spots were the Sylvia Beach hotel in Newport, and Fort Clatsop near Astoria. The Oregon coast is full of beaches and overlooks, and you can't really go wrong with any of them, as best I can tell.

We did the volcanoes and beer tour of Oregon, so if you want more recommendations on either of those topics, let me know.
posted by gingerbeer at 8:45 AM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

I just did a bike tour that covered the whole coast. Let's see... There are a lot of cute towns and beautiful scenery along 1 from north of SF all the way to where it meets 101 at Leggett. Nothing in particular stands out. Actually, Jenner is really nice, there's a beautiful river where you can go kayaking, and a beach where seals hang out.

North of Leggett, you'll be in the redwoods, which are awesome. Take the Avenue of the Giants, it's a scenic road that parallels the highway. Spend some time in Eureka and Arcata, very cool towns, which are kind of like San Fransisco and Oakland in an alternate reality where they stayed small and out of the way. Oh, and consider driving the lost coast through Petrolia (not for the faint of heart, from what I've heard). Definitely spend some time in some of the redwood parks. When I went through this area in a car and had only a few hours to stop, I was directed to Stout Grove in Jedediah Smith Park, which was fantastic.

Soon you'll be crossing into Oregon, there is not much for quite a while as the coast is quite rugged and the towns small and sparse and kind of poor. When you get to Central Oregon you'll start to see the pattern where every town has an old village, a 1930s Art Deco bridge, a river, and some suburban sprawl around it. Sometimes there is a historic lighthouse nearby, but these are often near coastal headlands.

Just north of Florence is a restaurant called Kathleen and Nina's country kitchen, it is delicious, all homemade bread and pie, definitely eat there.

In Lincoln City there is the Pelican Brewery which is supposedly world famous; we found the beer pretty good but didn't know what the fuss was about.

We really enjoyed Newport, home of Rogue Beer; they have a big pub where they have all of the beers on tap. There is also a great seafood restaurant nearby called Local Ocean which is on the expensive side but probably half the price of what you would pay in the city, and really high quality.

You could visit the cheese factory in Tillamook; it was kind of meh, but they have good ice cream and cheese for sale, and (limited) free samples of cheese.

Definitely stop in Astoria if you're going that far north. Go to the Columbia Cafe for brunch and order the Chef's Mercy (he will make you a dish of his choosing). Astoria's a really cool town, it's like a mini-Portland mixed in with a fishing village. Also reminds me of San Francisco in its aesthetic (coastal, bright Victorians, very hilly).

That's all that comes to mind off the top of my head, happy to provide more detail if you want.
posted by PercussivePaul at 10:42 AM on September 4, 2009

If you're on the I-5 north of the Cal/Ore border make sure you stop at Rice Hill Ice Cream. It's on the west side of Interstate 5, exit 148. 150 flavors to choose from all the excellent Umpqua brand.
posted by IndigoSkye at 2:04 PM on September 5, 2009

Take atleast some part of the scenic route (US 101). I love the part in Portland. If you are into ATV riding, check out Sand Dune Frontiers near Florence, OR which is just too cool! I love that.

You could also head to Crater lake which is absolutely heavenly. the water seems fake and painted !!!
posted by bbyboi at 3:45 PM on September 13, 2009

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