Better late than never!
August 3, 2012 9:29 AM   Subscribe

Last minute honeymoon--need input on the most awesome, strange, memorable places to stay on our road-trip between Seattle to Portland, and then down the coast to San Fran. Other "must see" advice is most welcome.

Damn the torpedoes, we're going on our honeymoon!

So far our plan involves: 2 nights in Seattle, 1 night in the Cannon Beach/Seaside area (or??), 2 nights in Portland, 1 night in the Coos Bay area (or??), 1 night in Eureka, 1 night in Santa Rosa, 1 night in SF.

We've got the most flexibility in the "Oregon Coast" part of our trip.

We'd like to stay in places that are generally nice, clean, and comfortable--but also interesting and/or in an interesting area. If we end up in a Motel 6 one night, no biggie. Luxury is cool, but isnt the be-all-end-all especially considering how much people charge for the teensiest suggestion of fancy stuff.

Our priorities for the trip: beer/breweries, good food, local flavor, weird/unique scenes, nature (the "drive somewhere and take a stroll and some pictures" variety, as opposed to the "hardcore hiking" variety).

Sadly, money is indeed a consideration but if something was super out of this world amazing, we might be able to make it work for a night.

Thanks for helping! I've been googling my heart out, but there's always this feeling that I'm missing something only an experienced traveler or local would know.
posted by fillsthepews to Travel & Transportation around Vancouver, BC (21 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
In Portland -- Kennedy School! An old elementary school converted into a hotel. This is an absolute must! It has a brewery and a number of restaurants inside.

It is part of the McMenamins chain,, we'd stayed at another one of their hotels that was also awesome and unique. Kennedy school is a little ways from downtown, if that matters. If you're driving this won't be much of a problem.
posted by wats at 10:00 AM on August 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

For awesome nature that doesn't require much physical effort, swing through some redwood forests on your way from Coos Bay to Eureka. Yes they're just trees, but they have a ... presence ... that's unique.

Part of Route 101 goes through Redwood National Park and that's pretty great, but for an even better experience I recommend a detour to Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. There's an old stagecoach road through the redwoods which is unlike any other driving experience you're likely to have - the road twists and winds around the trees (unlike modern roads, which were built as straight and level as bulldozers and dynamite would allow). The road is unpaved and narrow with only a few pullouts for passing, and it's for confident drivers only, but it's an amazing experience to be in your car and sometimes literally only an arm's length away from gigantic trees in a silent forest. There's a gentle walking trail at the end of the road, but the drive was actually the best part in my opinion.

Go to the park office in Crescent City and ask a ranger for a map showing the old stagecoach road - it's a little tricky to find. Also get gas before you start out; there aren't many filling stations near the park. Prepare to be awed!
posted by Quietgal at 10:05 AM on August 3, 2012 [4 favorites]

You're planning to stop at Avenue of the Giants. Yes? I also love Agate Beach which is just a few miles North of Avenue of the Giants. (There an agate beach in Oregon too, but I haven't been there.)
posted by 26.2 at 10:09 AM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Heaven on Earth (exit 86 on I-5) makes cinnamon rolls that are literally the size of your head. And they are delicious. You really must stop there if you can!
posted by Vervain at 10:12 AM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

I can recommend an inexpensive hotel in SF, with free parking in a great neighborhood.

The Nob Hill Motor Inn. It's on Pacific between Van Ness and Polk. Lots of funky little shops and restaurants and whatnot on Polk.

A great, cheeperooni restaurant is Woey Loy Goey in Chinatown.

My family has been eating here since 1967. It's a hole in the wall, or rather the sidewalk, as you have to go downstairs. It's been refurbished, but you have to laugh because it looks pretty much the same as it ever has.

We used to get the "Wo Choi" or Daily Special. This meant that our waitress Alice would go in back, scream something at the chef and then bring out a bunch of tasty food. In 1967 the bill was $4.00. Even then that was cheap.

Order anything off the menu, it's all good. I have to recommend Pot Stickers and War Won Ton soup. The won tons are good, but the soup crammed full of every creature you can imagine. Before it got stupid expensive, my sister and I used to fight over the abalone slice on top. Seriously. That's the soup of the gods.

Bummer you can't spend more time in San Francisco.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:30 AM on August 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

Coos Bay is indeed Oregon.

Following up on MoonOrb, if you do take that route, then be sure to hit Maryhill, WA (not to be confused with Marysville)

Maryhill is home to a Stonehenge replica and a terrific (free, IIRC) art museum. Some local wealthy family built a summer home overlooking the Columbia River, and that home is now the museum.

Seattle to Maryhill appears to be about 5h20m if you cut through Rainier Nat'l Park (and then Snoqualmie Nat'l Forest), to Yakima (a respectable medium-small city), and then south to Maryhill and other points. Take a couple hours in the museum, and then from there, it's about a 2 hour drive west to Portland.

Other advice: you pretty much can't buy gas at night on the Pacific Coast in Oregon, or much of rural Oregon for that matter. Fuel up with enough to get to California before you take that route. It's an unintended consequence of the jobs-expanding Oregon law in which the customer is not allowed to pump his or her own gasoline in that state.
posted by Sunburnt at 10:33 AM on August 3, 2012

It's a little out of the way, but if you took the 101 from Seattle to Portland you could stay in Astoria! Especially if you were planning to go to the coast, anyways. We love beer/breweries, good food, unique/weird, and we went to Astoria for a romantic weekend last fall and LOVED it. We stayed at the Hotel Elliott which was not only historic and lovely, with great views, but was right downtown, so we could walk everywhere (I think it was fairly inexpensive too, and probably doubly so if you end up there on a weeknight). There's a few breweries there, including Fort George and the Astoria Brewing Company. We had great food almost everywhere, and the best mac & cheese of my life at Baked Alaska. The bar scene is pretty fun, you can play chess together at the Voodoo Room. There's also a super fun dive bar/diner called the Labor Temple Bar & Diner. We would go back just for that, it was awesome late night food and a fun atmosphere. We expected to spend much more than we actually did; prices were very reasonable and there was a great range of places/experiences depending on budget, from free to pricey and everywhere in between.

You can also do touristy stuff, like visit the Goonies house, or visit the Columbia River Maritime Museum or climb the Astoria Column. Wherever you decide, have a great time and congratulations!
posted by stellaluna at 10:33 AM on August 3, 2012

Ape Caves (between Seattle and Portland) is a free and interesting bit of nature that can fit into the stroll category, but you'll want shoes that cover your feet, flashlights, and sunhats. (Shoes because if you go in further than the entrance, you'll do some scrambling over rocks, hat in case you accidentally bump the ceiling with your head, gloves are nice if you're going far, since you'll end up using your hands and the rocks are rough. Flashlights so you can get far then hold hands and switch them off :-)

[ This suggestion stolen from Previously ]
posted by -harlequin- at 10:35 AM on August 3, 2012

You really should go to the Sou'wester Lodge in Seaside and stay in a vintage trailer!

I stayed there years ago and loved it. The rather eccentric older couple who owned it back then have retired, but it looks like the new owners are definitely keeping the oddball spirit of the place intact.
posted by neroli at 10:39 AM on August 3, 2012

Was coming in here to recommend at least a few hours exploring Astoria, but stella luna beat me to it! I was completely charmed by it on my trip from Portland to Seattle two years ago and wished I had more time to poke around. In Portland, we enjoyed our stay at Hotel Fifty, and it's right in the middle of things, which is nice. We also had a lovely "fancy" dinner at Paley's Place and the best biscuits and gravy of my life at Pine State Biscuits.

I loved Portland and I'm excited to go back for a wedding this fall - which, incidentally, is taking place at the Kennedy School mentioned above. Enjoy your honeymoon!
posted by hungrybruno at 11:05 AM on August 3, 2012

If you have time in Humboldt county, check out any of these:
Fern Canyon hike
Patrick's Point rim trail and dinner at Larrupin Cafe
Ferndale and the drive to petrolia
posted by Gusaroo at 11:11 AM on August 3, 2012

Coos Bay isn't too far from Newport, where Rogue Ales is situated. Fun to stop for the night, taste many many beers, and eat some seafood. You can even sleep upstairs from the bar. And as far as local color, the occasional drunk fisherman will stumble in.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 11:15 AM on August 3, 2012

My wife and I made a very similar trip about a year ago. The highlights were really the Avenue of the Giants and all the little towns along the Oregon coast. A few other things that we enjoyed:

- If you end up in a chain hotel, I'd recommend Comfort Inn. They are in a sweet spot of being affordable with nothing fancy, but perfectly clean and not run down.

- Mt. St Helens.

- Seconding (oh, thirding) Astoria if you can make it. Really cool town. The Astoria Column is worth winding your way up the hill.

- We really enjoyed Piazza Italia in Portland.

- Tillamook Cheese Factory. Experience the miracle of mechanization as blocks of cheese wind their way through various machines on conveyer belt. We ate way too much cheese and ice cream after 8am tour.

- The Crazy Norwegian Cafe, in Port Orford, OR (westernmost city in contiguous US), will justifiably be jammed with locals getting fish and chips.

- Don't neglect the espesso kiosks in random parking lots on the Oregon coast. These are great.

- Ferndale, CA south of Eureka, has lots of brightly colored Victorian houses, the whole town is a State Historic Landmark. It's worth a stop even if you don't stay at the awesome looking Gingerbread Mansion Inn or Victorian Inn.
posted by gimletbiggles at 11:23 AM on August 3, 2012

The Sylvia Beach Hotel in Newport, OR, was named in honor of the owner of Shakespeare and Co. Each room is decorated in honor of a different author. The Collette room might make a great honeymoon stop?
posted by pickypicky at 1:00 PM on August 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: WOW! Thank you everyone! I'm looking forward to checking all this good info out during my lunch break!
posted by fillsthepews at 1:24 PM on August 3, 2012

Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa is one of the best breweries in the country, home of the famous Pliny the Elder.

I made this map of alternate routes around Sonoma County in the Santa Rosa sort of area because I find myself CONSTANTLY recommending that people get off 101 and explore this beautiful area. You mention that you don't have as much flexibility in this part of your trip but these routes are beautiful classic California if only slightly slower, so you might consider it on your way down to San Fran. Also, maybe you're tied to Santa Rosa for a particular reason (like a free bed in someones house!), but a night in Guerneville, Occidental, Sebastopol or Freestone is going to be so much more charming and interesting. Santa Rosa is a bit flavorless.

My favorite and probably the best choice for just a quick overnight stop is Occidental, tucked away in the redwoods. The Occidental Hotel is nice but not too fancy, looks like around $129 a night for 2 people so maybe not THE cheapest. The Union Hotel (a confusingly named restaurant) has fantastic pizza, Barley and Hops Tavern has Russian River Co. beers on tap plus others and really delicious food, run by a really nice couple. The town overall has cute little shoppies and low-key local hippies. Nearby Freestone has an awesome bakery and a couple lodging options. This website has good info about the whole area (connected by the Bohemian Highway). I always recommend a free tasting at Taft Street Winery, on a back road between Occidental and Sebastopol.
posted by dahliachewswell at 1:30 PM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

You should be sure to stop in Fort Bragg for North Coast brewing and the Glass Beach. In Oregon, the coast is spectacular around Depoe Bay.
posted by tau_ceti at 2:23 PM on August 3, 2012

I also love the ape caves. Just be sure to bring flashlights, because there isn't any light at all. And the temp inside would probably feel glorious on a hot day.

If you have a bit of time before you hit San Fran, the Jelly Belly factory is pretty cool. You can take a free tour, try a sample of their newest flavor, and buy a huge bag of "belly flops" (beans that came out misshapen so they're quite cheap). It will only take a couple of hours, and it's pretty close to the highway you'll probably be on anyway.
posted by tacodave at 3:46 PM on August 3, 2012

I love the Oregon Coast, but I spit (ptui) on Seaside. Astoria or Depoe Bay are more beautiful, varied and quaint by far.
posted by Sallyfur at 3:50 PM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh, and down the coast in California is Arcata. You will find more unique restaurants, shops, and hotels there than anywhere else of similar size due to chain-business restricting city bylaws.
posted by Sallyfur at 3:51 PM on August 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

If passing through the little town of Point Arena in southern Mendocino county, California, (and I recommend you do: beautiful scenery and a cool lighthouse nearby), be sure to stop for a nibble at Franny's Cup & Saucer.

Fabulous pastries and wonderful local products including amazing smoked salt. (Seriously, astonishingly delicious salt.)

For lovely spots to stay, check out Serenisea. Vacation rentals with hot tubs on the sea!
posted by MetaGrrrl at 1:57 PM on August 7, 2012

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