Help us plan our June road trip from San Francisco to Seattle.
March 12, 2012 10:32 AM   Subscribe

Help us plan our June road trip from San Francisco to Seattle.

My husband and I will be renting a car to drive up highway 101 from San Francisco to Seattle in the end of May/ early June. We're in our mid-20's, and both into beaches, dive bars, great cheap food, and flea markets, and we'd like to see plenty of parks and wildlife while we're out there.

Where should we go, and what should we do? I'm especially interested in eating/drinking recommendations, but quirky fun activities and hotel/ camping recommendations are welcome, too!

Side note: Does anyone know about cheap one-way rental options we haven't found yet? We've settled on National for now, but it's still pretty pricey. Thanks!
posted by picapica to Travel & Transportation (15 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
(Ms. Vegetable commenting):

- check out the solar living institute
- dive bar - shanachie pub in willits
- good beer - north coast brewing in ft. bragg
- I went camping on a beach that we got to via Ft. Bragg and then a logging road, but I have no idea what it was called. Saw lots of seals and had a wonderful time. Beautiful beach.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 10:51 AM on March 12, 2012

Consider Bear Republic Brewing in Healdsburg, CA, and Mendocino Brewing in Ukiah, CA.

In Oregon, spend a night in Newport and a night in Astoria, and do all your eating in those towns.

Newport, OR, has a lot of great stuff. Local Ocean is wonderful local seafood. Cafe Mundo has hit-or-miss "world" music, good cheap food, good beer, and a great vibe.

Astoria, OR, has the excellent Fort George brewery and a couple others. Astoria Coffee has good food, coffee, and beer. Several other good eateries. The Goonies was filmed there -- the Lighthouse Lounge would have been located on some fantasy version of Indian Beach in Ecola State Park. Whether or not you care about The Goonies, the beach is wonderful.
posted by gurple at 11:01 AM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Full Sail Brewing in Hood River, Oregon! My favorite beer in all the land is brewed right there (Full Sail India Pale Ale). I have it shipped east for Christmas :).

Beyond that, the drive is absolutely beautiful. Take scenic byways when you can, go to the Oregon coast. It's really, really an incredible piece of America. Take side trips to Olympic and Mt. Rainier National Parks if you can.

I second the Astoria stop - lots of good food, beach.
posted by eenagy at 11:05 AM on March 12, 2012

Oh, and, unless you're totally dedicated to doing the whole trip on the coast, or you're considering a trip up the Olympic Peninsula as part of your route, you can cut east at Astoria and hit Portland on the way to Seattle. Apologies to anyone who disagrees, but Aberdeen and Westport are entirely missable.

If you do go up the Peninsula, Port Townsend is the best beer city, and there are a couple cideries just south of there. Finn River is nice; they have a hopped cider.
posted by gurple at 11:06 AM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh, and I can't say enough good about Sleepy Monk Coffee in Cannon Beach. The town of Cannon Beach is fairly missable, though there may be some good food I don't know about (there are a lot of nice-looking restaurants in the otherwise bland and crowded touristy area), but the scenery is unbelievable.
posted by gurple at 11:13 AM on March 12, 2012

I just did a short road trip up 101 from SF to Humboldt county. If you like beer, there are hella breweries up there. One off the beaten track that we visited was Six Rivers Brewery in Mckinkeyville, CA; highly recommend it.

Also, DEFINITELY take the Avenue of the Giants scenic route of 101, its not that much longer than taking the freeway and the redwood scenery is absolutely amazing.
posted by CTORourke at 11:19 AM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Crater Lake.

And John Day Fossil Beds if you love rocks as much as we do. Unearthly place, that.
posted by gingerbeer at 11:28 AM on March 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

I would go to Portland from Astoria, even though it is backtracking some. 101 on the Washington coast, while very pretty, is a small sample of infinity.

On the Oregon coast, Yachats is about the nicest (to me) town. The Yachats Inn has some cheap and funky rooms and some expensive and unfunky rooms and the beach coming is first class.

Or just south of there, Cape Perpetua is a great camping/scenic area.
posted by Danf at 11:32 AM on March 12, 2012

If you are any kind of reader, you should try to stay at the Sylvia Beach Hotel in Newport. My favorite is the Mark Twain room. Also, the Rogue Brewery is nearby. Here are some photos from when I took Mrs. Fleebnork for a weekend a few years ago. (The last few photos were taken in the Redwood Forest, and I just kind of threw them in the same photoset)
posted by Fleebnork at 11:50 AM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Hello from Port Townsend.

If you do end up here, check out the newly opened Pourhouse with 12 taps and a huge wall of coolers with craft beer and cider from all over.

One way rentals are expensive. I've not found an option to that. If possible, can you drive north to south? That way you have a better view of the ocean and pull-offs are much easier.

Enjoy. Don't short-change the redwoods.
posted by humboldt32 at 12:00 PM on March 12, 2012

We went the opposite way last fall. Here was my very similar AskMe.

High points, going from south to north in your case:

We took a ride on a catamaran from Pier 31 under the Golden Gate Bridge at sunset.

We camped in Humboldt Redwoods State Park and took a (day) side trip to the Lost Coast.
This restaurant in Gold Beach, OR was one of the best meals I've ever had in my life, no lie. (If you're vegetarian, probably not.)

We rented ATVs and explored the Oregon Sand Dunes
We camped at Cape Perpetua, which is shockingly beautfiul.
The Devils Punchbowl is worth pulling off the road to see - as are most of the scenic spots.
Cape Disappointment in Washington was busy and noisy, but the sunset on the beach is not to be missed.

There was a really good Mexican place in the hipster area of Seattle, north of REI, but I can't remember what it's called. It was brightly colored, had 50 billion kinds of tequila, and wasn't cheap, so maybe someone else here can help you out.
posted by desjardins at 3:26 PM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh, and if you do go to the redwoods, the Brass Rail Inn in Redway, CA is surprisingly excellent and weird. (Again, probably not for vegetarians).
posted by desjardins at 3:35 PM on March 12, 2012

One more thing... we used National for a one-way rental. We got a good deal through our credit union. If you go off the beaten path, be aware that some roads that are marked as "gravel" or "paved" are actually not and we nearly got ourselves stuck overnight on a dirt road we couldn't turn around on.

Also, also.. how much time are you allowing? Seven days was NOT ENOUGH. Driving on 101 is slow and I imagine there will be a lot more people on vacation in May/June than there were in late September. I would honestly take two weeks if you can so you can relax, especially if you're camping. Putting up/taking down camp took a lot more time than we thought it would, and we spent way too much of the day driving. All that time in the car together was ... taxing, so in retrospect we would have either camped more days in each spot, or gotten hotels.
posted by desjardins at 3:41 PM on March 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

Hey, we just drove from Seattle to SF this week. We took the scenic route - 101 most of the way, jumping off onto Route 1 in Mendocino County to follow the coast (great fun if you enjoy slalom-course driving, not recommended if you're prone to carsickness).

The highlight for us was the old-growth redwood forest of Stout Grove in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park near Crescent City, CA. The road to the grove is an old stagecoach route, narrow and twisty and unpaved, completely unlike a modern road. (Ask for a map at the park headquarters in Crescent City). There are lovely walking trails in the grove, but somehow the drive was more remarkable. Walking a winding trail among redwood trees seems right and proper, but driving in and out of these massive trees, close enough to reach out and touch them, is surreal.
posted by Quietgal at 8:38 PM on March 16, 2012

Try Fox Car Rentals out of Oakland for your car rental. It is on the way to wine country and cheaper to get there by BART than to SFO. With Fox Car Rental you can save about $150 by renting a covetable from Oakland Airport rather than SFO (based on a 10 day rental). if you enter code cznv000004 you may be able to save and additional 10% on a convertible car rental. If you tinker around a bit you will be able to find some relatively affordable accommodation.

I really liked the look of this Flipkey vacation rental in SanFrancisco which seemed like a good price to me but we ended up staying at The Donatello. I do recommend booking with them directly. They were very helpful on the phone. Sadly we booked through Agoda - which I do not recommend due to their inflexibility.

I had a very pleasant experience booking Cottages on River Road in Guerniville which was my second choice to the near by Creekside Inn which was full for my dates of travel.

We had a few goals for our trip: take in the two main cities of SanFrancisco and Seattle, enjoy a bit of wine county and luxuriate in the redwoods and the pacific coast. This meant we had to make a few choices along the way and forgo a couple of things to concentrate on what was most important to us. We wanted to stay in accommodation that gave us direct access to the beach wherever possible and had a a budget of not more than $185 per night but preferable less than $150 per night. This turned out to be easier than we expected even in the high season. This was for 2 adults and 2 children travelling and we always insisted on larger rooms with plenty of sleeping room for all four of us.

On the coast we found these 3 gems:
Crescent Beach Motel in Crescent Beach City CA - right next to Stout Grove (mentioned above)

Bandon Beach Motel in Bandon, OR.

Moolack Shores Hotel in Newport OR.

We ended up booking The Maxwell Hotel in Seattle but also really liked the look of The MarQueen

We had to forgo Portland on this trip but we'll catch it next time. Check out the food network website for reviews of great restaurants along the way - Diners, Drive Ins and Dives has reviewed food places extensively along that route. Guy bugs me and the show turns me off a bit but the places he finds tend to have reasonably priced food with good choices and variety.

Good luck
posted by YukonQuirm at 8:37 AM on March 18, 2012

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