San Diego to Washington and Back - Road Trip

Old Apr 20th, 2016, 08:09 AM
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San Diego to Washington and Back - Road Trip

Hi!

We live in Carlsbad, CA but are originally from the East Coast. We are still trying, after 8 years, to see this side of the world! A few years ago we did an amazing trip up the coast from Orange County to San Francisco (with stops in Santa Barbara, Monterey, Hearst Castle, Big Sur, Pebble Beach and finally San Francisco over the course of a week. It was absolutely amazing! However, since that trip I've been dying to complete the trip - and also possibly be doing it while we drive south on the 101 with the coast on our right!

We are planning a trip for this summer and I am thinking of a VERY rough route right now and would love input! We have done a great job of exploring here to San Francisco (including Napa/Sonoma) as well as Yosemite. Because of this I am thinking we drive north to San Francisco, from Carlsbad, in a long one day trip up the 5 - just to get there. From there I would love to take in the "inland" sights (all recommendations welcomed!) and then make our way up to Washington, and then begin going south.

We want to make sure we can do the Redwoods this time, as well as stop in Portland and Seattle. We would love to stop in some small towns for our overnights and stay in interesting places. We are in our early 30's and love adventure, good food and wine and hate tourist traps!

Would love all recommendations you have for routes/must sees. Also an opinion on my idea of the route.

Thank you so much!
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Old Apr 20th, 2016, 08:25 AM
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How long do you have for the trip? It can make a big difference on "side trips" that might be of interest.

Basically ignoring everything south of SF and Yosemite, here's a rough outline map of what you could do given enough time. https://goo.gl/maps/u7SDctKFRV82

This involves heading inland from I-5 to visit Crater Lake on your way north, then swinging past Mount Hood and the Columbia River Gorge en route to Seattle.

From Seattle you cross Puget Sound and visit Olympic National Park, then stay on US 101 all the way back down the Oregon coast, through the redwoods and Napa/Sonoma wine country to the SF Bay Area, then back down the racetrack to Carlsbad.

Use the Google time estimates with a grain of salt.

Side trips not shown would include Mount Rainier, any islands in Puget Sound, the Willamette Valley wine country, CA 1 north of SF, etc.
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Old Apr 20th, 2016, 08:30 AM
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Thank you so much! I am expecting we will take 7 days for the trip. Thanks!
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Old Apr 20th, 2016, 09:17 AM
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Thank you so much! I am expecting we will take 7 days for the trip

I was afraid of something like that. In my opinion that's not nearly enough time; you'll just be doing drive-bys, if that. For example, when I drive between Seattle and SF via (part of) the coast, it takes me 2 1/2 days of pretty continuous driving. If I wanted to stop and enjoy something like a couple of redwood groves, it would take 3+ days.

With the above route, and even going with Google's overly optimistic time estimates, you'd be looking at 7 days with 7+ hours "wheels turning" each. (For example Google doesn't add traffic delays through LA county, and we both know how realistic that is. Add in time for meals, fuel and rest stops, road construction holdups... and you're probably talking around 9-10 hours per day before counting any recreational activities.

With just a week I'd seriously consider flying to Portland, renting a car, and doing a loop like this - https://goo.gl/maps/Sr349vhmP2y . You'll see the redwoods, Oregon coast, Seattle and the Columbia Gorge, and actually be able to see things.
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Old Apr 21st, 2016, 07:07 PM
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Gardyloo is right on, as usual. We just returned to the Seattle area after a trip to the Bay area and can say with confidence that California's motto should be "Flagger ahead. Be prepared to stop."
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Old Jul 18th, 2016, 10:20 AM
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Okay, a few months have passed and with some suggestions from my original post we have decided to fly to Seattle and take a total of 9 nights to do a trip, eventually flying home from San Francisco.

We are going the Friday before Thanksgiving (November 18th), flying home the Sunday following Thanksgiving (November 27th). Knowing that, how does that help you all change my recommendations for the itinerary?

Places to stay, things to do, maybe even a recommendation of a place we should eat Thanksgiving dinner?

Would love all ideas you have!
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Old Jul 18th, 2016, 01:11 PM
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November is the rainiest month in Seattle, And with the short hours of daylight, it is perhaps the month I would least recommend in this area. I live here and we always go away for three or four weeks in November. And you may get the occasional ice storm in the Portland area.

The coast can be interesting - watching the waves crashing on the shore, seeing the storms come in. So I'd suggest spending a few days at a really nice place on the Oregon coast or alternatively, making this a city trip - spend a few days in Seattle and Portland. I'd fly to Seattle, drive to Portland, then go out to the coast, drive back to Portland and fly home. Another option would be the Columbia Gorge.
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Old Jul 18th, 2016, 04:37 PM
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I personally would not pre-plan a road trip down the coast in late November. Have I taken road trips that time of year -- yes, many. But I live in northern CA and can plan at the last minute -- so if the weather goes pear shaped I can just make other plans. Mainly because I'm not flying anywhere - just hopping in the car and heading out.

It could be totally fine or there could be awful winter weather. I'd probably do what kathie suggests -- a city-centric, non-long-distance road trip.
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