Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > United States
Reload this Page >

Convenient layovers on drive South from Seattle to San Francisco or LA

Convenient layovers on drive South from Seattle to San Francisco or LA

Old Dec 8th, 2010, 07:35 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 764
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Convenient layovers on drive South from Seattle to San Francisco or LA

I have been following similar threads relating to road trips on the West coast, and I know that they are still on-going, but rather than jump in on those, I think that it is better that I start my own.

My wife and I have, for some years, thought that it would be interesting to drive up or down the West coast between Seattle and SF or LA, for no particular reason other than a desire to see that part of the USA and in the expectation that the coastal drive will be scenic and there will be other things to see on the way.

We are intending to visit Yellowstone N P in late June - early July next year, ending up in Rapid Falls. We have in mind flying from Rapid Falls to Seattle (looks like we would have to go via Salt Lake City for this), and then picking up a car to drive to SF or LA. We haven't yet decided which of these will be our exit port back to NZ, and that will determine where we finish up.

We are fortunate in not having a set time for this trip, and we could take 10 to 14 days over it, if that would be warranted. Ideally, we would prefer to have two or three nights at the various stops that we make, with the intention of making detours to places of interest within easy driving distance for day trips, as well as allowing us the chance to kick back, walk on the beach, visit local cafes and restaurants etc.

Assuming that we stick mainly to Highway 101 (I assume that this is the primary coastal route), could you recommend some comfortably-spaced stopover towns or other places that would have a good standard of accommodation? Last year, we stayed for a couple of nights at the Tickle Pink Inn just south of Carmel, and thoroughly enjoyed it. We will probably try to fit in another couple of nights there next year, if we can. Advice as to any similar places along our intended route would be appreciated, as would any other general information or advice that anyone may care to give.

kiwi_rob is offline  
Old Dec 8th, 2010, 08:21 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 22,328
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Given the time, I would consider seeing some of the Cascades in Oregon and then crossing over to the coast. In my mind highway 1 in California will keep you closer to the coast than 101 in Oregon, which does give coastal views but also is sometimes separated from the coast by various land formations. So whether going to SF or LA, following 1 down the coast is definitely recommended but north and south of SF.


Michael is offline  
Old Dec 8th, 2010, 09:19 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 764
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Fantastic photos, Michael. You have a real talent with the camera.
kiwi_rob is offline  
Old Dec 8th, 2010, 09:21 PM
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 11,447
Likes: 0
Received 17 Likes on 4 Posts
One of the best spots to visit on the Oregon coast is the Oregon Coast Aquarium just south of Newport.
In Northern CA you should see the Redwood NP near Crescent City.
tomfuller is offline  
Old Dec 8th, 2010, 10:26 PM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 17,106
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Have you been to Seattle before?

If not, and you seem to have no time constraints, then I'd suggest looking into the Olympic Peninsula, Mount Rainer, and even as far north as Vancouver and Victoria in Canada.

Further south you might want to visit the Columbia Gorge before heading straight down along the coast.

There are several spots along the Oregon Coast where you might want to stop: Yachats, Bandon, etc.

Yes, definitely do not miss the Redwood National Park and and the Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park. you may want to base yourself in Crescent City or somewhere along the coast for this section of your trip.

Further south you could stop off in Fort Bragg or, even better, in the town of Mendocino.

Further south, I'd suggest that you go inland on Highway 128 and visit some of the wineries in Mendocino, Sonoma and/or Napa Counties.

Past San Francisco, the next stop off area would be Monterey/Pacific Grove/Carmel.

After that you could stop off at either the "beach" towns (Pismo, Avila, Grover, etc.) or keep going south to either San Luis Obispo or Santa Barbara.

Last stop: Los Angeles.

Depending on where you are getting your car, you may have huge drop off charges in Los Angeles, so shop around for the best (lowest) drop off fees.

Have a great trip and welcome to the West Coast!
easytraveler is offline  
Old Dec 8th, 2010, 11:44 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 764
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks for your replies. We have visited Seattle, Victoria and Vancouver before, easytraveller, but only briefly. We could spend a day or so in Seattle again (we loved the fresh berries and fruit at the Pike Place Market -- sat and pigged out on raspberries strawberries and blueberries!), and that is where I had envisaged that we would pick up the car.

We would be quite prepared to zig-zag a bit on the way down the coast, alternating between coastal and inland places if need be. I have seen the recommendation on another thread that Crater Lake is worth a detour, so that is one possibility.

On our trip to California last year, we spent a few days in Healdsberg, so we won't go back to the Napa/Sonoma region, but we didn't get as far north as Mendocino.

I have had a look at the one-way rental charges, and it looks like we are going to be stuck with something in the vicinity of $300 for that. That, I'm afraid, is just part of the cost of what we are trying to do.

kiwi_rob is offline  
Old Dec 9th, 2010, 05:48 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 18,874
Received 79 Likes on 8 Posts
Re "Rapid Falls", I'm guessing you're talking about Rapid City rather than Sioux Falls? Or maybe Idaho Falls?

If it's Rapid City (for Mt. Rushmore or the Black Hills) then I'd suggest that if conditions allow you just keep whatever vehicle you're using for Yellowstone and drive out on I-90 to Seattle, rather than flying via SLC. Central and western South Dakota are among my favorite parts of the US - Badlands NP, the historic towns of Lead and Deadwood, Mt. Rushmore itself (AKA "the Faces") and wonderful old-west country.

Then you'd cross Montana, hopefully with a stop at the Little Big Horn battlefield, or the Land of Magic steakhouse between Bozeman and Butte ( http://gardyloo.us/xcountry%20160sm.jpg ) not to mention the Berkeley Pit in Butte. You can do the drive from Rapid City to Seattle over two days; we typically stop in Butte or Missoula. It's not a hard trip, and it presents a real selection of North American landscapes in rapid succession.

By all means take the time to explore the Olympic Peninsula and/or San Juan Islands while you're in the Seattle area, then I'm a big fan of the eastern approach to Portland - visit Mt. Rainier, then continue eastward on US 12 to Yakima, then south on US 97 to the Columbia River, thence west through the Columbia Gorge to Portland (and on to the coast if that's your intent.) The Seattle - (Rainier) - Yakima - Portland drive takes around 4 or 5 hours more than the straight shot down I-5 to Portland, but is infinitely more scenic and interesting.
Gardyloo is online now  
Old Dec 9th, 2010, 06:35 AM
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 455
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
There should be no one-way drop charges for New Zealanders. The car companies don't slap you like they do U.S. citizens.

Hertz or National probably have the best rates, check to see that collision, liability are included in the quote, and don't forget to click that you are from New Zealand. Or click Australia if the rates are better, the rental clerk won't blink.
divineMissM is offline  
Old Dec 9th, 2010, 09:39 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 764
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
You are correct, Gardyloo. It is Rapid City. I don't know where "Rapid Falls" came from, other than brain fade. We are doing that bit as a guided tour immediately on our arrival from NZ. We prefer to do this to allow ourselves a bit of time to acclimatise to the local time before driving. That tour will end in Rapid City. I looked at the possibility of picking up a car there, but couldn't find an outlet that would allow a one-way hire to SF or LA. That may yet be possible if I do a bit more investigation.

I have been showing our NZ origin in my rental car enquiries, divineMissM, but it hasn't made any difference so far. You are right about passing ourselves off as Aussies. I doubt that the difference would be detected or understood by most people outside the South Pacific region. I would probably need couselling after doing it, though!

kiwi_rob is offline  
Old Dec 9th, 2010, 09:49 AM
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 10,966
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Our favorite places to stay on the coast are Cannon Beach, Yachats, Newport, Bandon, and Brookings (in Oregon) and Mendocino or nearby in California.

Interesting places between Seattle and San Francisco include Mt. Rainier, the Columbia River Gorge, Crater Lake, the Redwoods, and the Napa & Sonoma valleys.

happytrailstoyou is offline  
Old Dec 10th, 2010, 10:30 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,830
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
For an unusual route that really takes out into some beautiful country, look at the "Lost Coast" ...CA Route 211 that runs from Ferndale south along the coast and back to 101 at South Fork. Some of the most rugged part of the coast. Check out the link below or just goggle "lost coast."
http://www.openroad.tv/index.php?cat...d=16&p25_id=13 -
boom_boom is offline  
Old Dec 11th, 2010, 01:23 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 764
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thank you. Some good ideas here. The "lost coast" sounds interesting, boom boom. I am now sorting out a tentative route, without being too inflexible.
kiwi_rob is offline  
Old Dec 12th, 2010, 06:21 PM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 824
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
The route that boom_boom describes is actually called Mattole Road. Highway 211 goes only from Fernbridge to Ferndale and is a much better road than Mattole. If you have the time to drive it, the Mattole Road is an excellent suggestion. That area is quite desolate and parts are very similar to portions of New Zealand that we visited. The drive though, is slow going and you can't really get on the beach since it's all private property. Here's someone's trip report about it with some interesting pictures:


There's also a great campground on this stretch of coast but it sounds like you will be lodging it during your trip.

If you want to get on the beach that was shown in the video, you have to drive out to Shelter Cove. There's a couple of places to stay there and they have a very unique golf course:


Shelter Cove is somewhat out of your way if you are driving US 101 but it is an interesting diversion and a place that not too many Californians visit.

There's also the Sinkyone Wilderness State Park near Shelter Cove that also was mentioned in the video. This is a very special place that almost no one visits because of the rugged road leading into it. You would need a truck or 4 wheel drive vehicle to explore it.

You asked about places similar to the Tickle Pink. One place that you might consider is the Tu Tu Tun Lodge in Gold Beach, Oregon:


Gold Beach is a place you will want to stay in if you take the jetboats up the Rogue River:


These trips are one of the top things to do on the Oregon Coast.
Otis_B_Driftwood is offline  
Old Dec 13th, 2010, 06:37 AM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 2,051
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Here are some of our favorites:

Seattle of course& then
http://www.portludlowresort.com/ for a base on Olympic Penninsula Port Townsend great pizza and Sequim lavender farms and wineries, great little areas to visit.

Olympic NAtional PArk
Quinault Lodge

Drive south and visit Long Beach Washington & for a unique stay in a light housekepers quarters (or Fort Columbia is fun too,has a great flat beach are just north and a cranberry bog.. you can actually drive on the beach, very rare in the US, bring food though as isolated...)

Portland and then go to the coast

Cannon Beach Orgeon
http://www.stephanie-inn.com/ be sure to get a ocean side room right on the beach...

Crescent Beach for sure in No CA
beach on one side and q quick 10 minute drive lad side giat redwoods..they filmed Star Wars movies w/ Ewoks here)

South then to Sonoma & Napa CA
lots of lodging choices, we like Four Sisters Inns in Sonoma

(in fact you could folow them down the coast;they offer a frequest stay card w/free nights)
1JAR is offline  
Old Dec 14th, 2010, 07:07 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 764
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks once again, everyone. I'm having fun researching all of the places being suggested.
kiwi_rob is offline  
Related Topics
Original Poster
Last Post
United States
Jun 15th, 2018 09:26 AM
United States
Mar 1st, 2017 01:23 PM
United States
Dec 18th, 2015 07:15 PM
United States
Jul 8th, 2014 04:16 PM
Road Trips
Jul 10th, 2005 02:25 PM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information