Sketching road trip from Vancouver BC to the Oregon Coast
April 26, 2014 1:37 PM   Subscribe

We are planning a road trip from May 3-9 (maybe to the 10th) down to the Oregon Coast but we are not sure what to do! Our plan so far is to drive to Astoria on the first day and stay a night or two. Then what?

We don't want to spend too much time driving each day. We prefer two or three destinations rather than a new place everyday. We do want to do lots of drawing. We want some nature stuff but probably more non-nature things in terms of drawing. We like quirky, artsy and historical things. We prefer local culture to tourist destinations (and nothing that involves captive animals please!) Restaurant and hotel or B&B recommendations are also welcome. I'm veg but mr. sadtomato is not. We prefer to economize but it's not strictly necessary.
posted by sadtomato to Travel & Transportation around Oregon (11 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
The Oregon Coast is one of my favorite places on earth. I'm not sure if it's still there, but there used to be the grounded iron remains of a ship that foundered on the coast to the west of Astoria. Locals should be able to tell you if it's still there. It would be wonderful to draw, from my perspective. I wish I was drawing when I was out there.

Seaside is good if you don't mind touristy towns. Cannon Beach boasts Haystack Rock. Lincoln City is a favorite place of mine. Beautiful, somewhat touristy, but not too spoiled.

I'm not sure how far south you're going to make it, so I'm going to leave it at those. People who have more recent experience with the area will no doubt be able to give you better, more up to date ideas.
posted by Meep! Eek! at 2:05 PM on April 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

i'd like to put in a good word for the bandon dunes golf resort, just north of bandon, a world-class facility with eating and drinking sufficient to make it worthwhile even if you don't play golf, and the redfish, a restaurant attached to an art gallery at the south end of port orford. there's a chance you might run into me, and one more thing: traffic laws in port orford are strictly enforced.
posted by bruce at 3:21 PM on April 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

Honestly, there is so much to see and do it is tough.

Newport has a really extensive renowned aquariam.
Just north of Florence is the Darlingtonia garden with a HUGE number and extense of carnivorous plants.
Just about all the bridges are worth checking out all the way as they are beautiful examples of the CCC best work during the great depression.
Heceta Head lighthouse north of Florence is very picturesque and often used on books and such for rocky, windswept coast illustrations.
That is just what comes off the top of my head for the part of the coast I know well. There are awesome state beaches every so often, almost all the entire beach line is considered public ROW and open for all.
So my suggestion is to plan your trip day to day, drive slow and stop often and take your time.
posted by bartonlong at 3:47 PM on April 26, 2014 [3 favorites]

A bit north of Astoria in Seaview (on the Washington Coast) is the Sou'Wester Lodge which has funky trailers, cabins, and a lodge to stay in. I haven't been since the ownership changed but I can't imagine there's much difference. The Depot restaurant right next door is very good.

In Astoria, the Maritime Museum is very cool. And there's a neat fish and chips shop in a boat across the way called The Bowpicker.

Yaquina Head has a lighthouse and a nice interpretive center.
posted by vespabelle at 5:15 PM on April 26, 2014

The wreck of the Peter Iredale is near Astoria in Fort Stevens state park. You can stay on either side of the Columbia river for this relic (it's only 6km from the Columbia on the OR side). I suggest any of the campgrounds in the Lewis and Clark National Historic Park.
posted by seawallrunner at 6:46 PM on April 26, 2014

If you're headed to Astoria, get a copy of "Astoria: John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson's Lost Pacific Empire (A Story of Wealth, Ambition and Survival)" by Peter Stark. An amazing bit of history. I'm looking forward to going back to Astoria to visit after finishing the book.

The Oregon coast is a wonderful area, but I think you may not realize how far the distances between towns are, and how very windy the two lane road is. Google says it takes 5-1/2 hours to get from Vancouver to Astoria. I say in your dreams. Even in the best of conditions (no wind and slashing rain, for instance) it's going to take some time to get over the border. I don't know if you do it regularly, but I've found the US border to be getting more and more of a nightmare. And expect gnarly traffic from Everett to Tacoma, even at good times. Rush hour ... oy.

You don't have much time for a leisurely road trip. I agree completely with bartonlong: recover from your drive in Astoria, then take it day to day, driving slowly and stopping ofter. The coast itself is spectacular enough; any cute cafes, bookstores, art galleries, etc. are pure cream. It's one of the few places I can think of that is just as great when it's stormy as when it's sunny.

Have a wonderful time!
posted by kestralwing at 9:50 PM on April 26, 2014

The Oregon coast is beautiful - in my opinion it's better than the Big Sur area. You could plan to take in as many lighthouses as possible - there are lots of them!
posted by kbar1 at 11:06 PM on April 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

I love Manzanita, south of Cannon Beach. Chill little one-main-street town, great beach (and surf!). Check out Oswald West State Park between the two from some great short hiking trails to a beach with a waterfall dumping onto it.
posted by gottabefunky at 11:22 PM on April 26, 2014

If you want a stop on the way down to Astoria, or a excursion from staying there, check out Cape Disappointment State Park up across the bridge on the Washington side. It has great rocky cliffs, including a short/pretty easy hike along a cliff and out to a jetty. There is a lighthouse you can tour/climb if desired, and the Lewis & Clark Interpretative Center is very well done and has some great views.

You may already have it in mind as you're looking for Astoria tourist destinations/historical things, but make sure not to miss the Astoria Column.
posted by Atalanta at 7:59 AM on April 27, 2014

Some random suggestions on different parts of the coast:

Waterfront Depot is a wonderful restaurant in Florence. I'd recommend making a reservation if you plan on is very popular.

Sylvia Beach Hotel is a literary themed hotel in Nye Beach (near Newport). Haven't been myself but many friends rave. Lots of little cafes and such right around this area.

Near Astoria is Fort Stevens, a military defense that was in operation from Civil War era until the end of WW II. It is fascinating to walk the ruins.

It is fun to scramble around on the dunes in Pacific City, then go to Pelican Brew Pub for a pint (definitely recommending getting the pint afterwards, as some of those drops off the dunes are a lu-lu!)
posted by medeine at 9:40 AM on April 27, 2014

Another recommendation for Oswald State Park - the Short Sands beach there is quite lovely.
posted by rmd1023 at 4:07 PM on April 27, 2014

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