What to do/see/eat on an Oregon/NoCal coastal roadtrip?
August 14, 2017 9:52 AM   Subscribe

I will be driving from Seattle to Monterey, CA. I've already got plans set up for the Oregon Coast as far as Newport, and also have plans for San Francisco and Monterey on the other end, but I have a block of about 6 days between Newport and SF that is unplanned and open to suggestion. See inside for details.

Solo traveler, female, 50s, purple hair. The broad bones of my itinerary include something redwood-related, Avenue of the Giants, Mendocino, and maybe a mud bath at Calistoga. I like nature but have creaky joints so prefer gentle strolls over strenuous hikes. I like good, multi-ethnic food from street to cuisine-y. I like art and museums and chamber music. I like quirky record stores and indie bookstores. I like LGBTQ+ spaces. I don't like big crowds or staying out late at night. I'll probably want to see a movie at a cool historic movie theater if I can find one. I like wine but will be driving alone, so if I go wine-tasting, I need to be within walking distance to a sub-$150-night place to stay or at least a town I can wander around in on foot for a couple hours while I sober up. I'm 420-friendly but will be abstaining while on this trip because reasons. I'm an introverted extrovert so will probably want to interact with a small number of people in a controlled environment after a few days on the road alone.
posted by matildaben to Travel & Transportation around California (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Maybe stop a bit north if you can in Astoria and visit the Columbian Cafe? Weird hours, so depends on timing; they have a funky bar and second-run movie theater attached as well. Carruther's can also be great there. Go up to the Astoria Column if you stop - you don't need to hike up the steps to get sweeping views of the mouth of the Columbia.

The Pickled Fish in Long Beach, WA was recommended to me but I didn't love it; Rediviva in Aberdeen, WA is a total gem, however. There is the Oregon Film museum and a great maritime museum in Astoria. Marsh's Free Museum in Long Beach is a great tourist trap place with quirky old coin-op machines.

Otherwise think about a detour to Portland for day or two?

Pescadero is a lovely little town; you'd like the general store in San Gregorio and probably love Santa Cruz, so maybe leave time for that, too - not far from SF.

Oregon Caves are neat and not too far off; if the fires are controlled, Crater Lake could be good. Or stop off at Ashland for some theatre and cool bookstores.
posted by OneSmartMonkey at 10:29 AM on August 14, 2017

Check out the Yachats Inn and stay in one of the older, rustic, rooms. Not the new suites. Stay in the North Front or South Front rooms if possible. Enjoy the view and walk by the beach on the paved path. Or clamber over the rocks if you are able. Watch for the blow hole.

Visit Sea Lion Caves once in your life. No need for twice, but it's pretty cool once.

Spend some time at the Oregon Dunes. If possible, spend the time to rent an ATV for a couple of hours. It's a blast. Or find some other way to get out onto the sand dunes. They are incredible.

Oregon Caves are pretty cool if you are into that.

Jed Smith redwoods is a stunning place to see redwoods. In the campground you can get down to the river. Experience some of the redwood forest, not just the famous, biggest trees.

Allow more time than you think you need. The coast is slow driving. Have a relaxing wonderful trip. (I'm a little jealous.)
posted by SLC Mom at 10:31 AM on August 14, 2017

The Charles Schulz museum in Santa Rosa
posted by brujita at 11:25 AM on August 14, 2017

How much time do you have? Because Salt Point/Fort Ross is pretty cool. Salt Point is an easy walk to some really need rock formations and giant tide pools (you just look down at them from a height, but the star fish and whatnot are so big you can see them fine.)

posted by small_ruminant at 12:24 PM on August 14, 2017

The Sea Lion Caves are fun to see once. They have a mass of sea lions writing on rocks. It's freaky and smells horrible, but I love to stop there for some weird reason.

Another fun roadside attraction is the Prehistoric Gardens. It's an easy walk around a forest with a bunch of fake dinosaurs. I loved it.

My favourite roadside attraction around there is Trees of Mystery with a giant Paul Bunyan. It's cheesy but totally worth a stop. The tour is an easy walk - I think it's all paved.

Around Arcata there are some cute little towns that can be a nice easy stroll. My favourite is Ferndale.
posted by kendrak at 4:02 PM on August 14, 2017

To repeat myself from a previous thread:

If you take 101, stop in Orick and visit The Palm Cafe for lunch and pie. Or just pie. Or pie for lunch, with a slice of pie.

If you go through Arcata and Eureka, I've enjoyed browsing the books at The Tin Can Mailman and Eureka Books.
posted by kristi at 4:44 PM on August 23, 2017

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