OR to SF coast drive with kids

May 1st, 2005, 01:02 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 6
OR to SF coast drive with kids

We are driving south from Gold Beach in So. OR to San Francisco in early July with our daughters 10 and 12. We get back from a river trip on the Rogue River at 4:00pm Thursday June 30th and want to be in SF by Wednesday, July 6th, or so. We've found lots of info on things to do and places to stay, but most are adult oriented. Here's my plan, but I need some more suggestions/advice:

Leave Gold Beach and head south a few hours, spend Thur night in Brookings, Cresent City or maybe as far as Eureka. Or maybe stay the night at Tu Tu Tun Lodge and drive all the way to Mendocino on Friday. Is it worth the price? Is that too far?(Yahoo maps: Gld Bch to Mendo: 280mi/6.5 hrs)

Friday morning head down to Mendoncino. Spend the weekend there. Monday drive to Healdsburg. Spend two nights there. Some ideas: hot air balloon ride, rent bikes (does anyone know if there are some nice bike paths for non-serious bikers?), wine tour (can kids tag along?), canoe rental (where?), picnic.

Tuesday afternoon drive to SF. We leave for home Sunday, so that will give us four full days in the city. Any advice there would be welcome: where to stay, eat, etc.

We have an open budget, ie. value is more important than price. We'll consider any place: cheap to expensive if it offers a good experience.

One note: We are spending 4 days on the Oregon coast before starting this part of the trip, and we may have had our fill of coast vistas and cliff-side driving, so any advice on our route or things to do to break up the trip would be welcome.

Thanks in advance!
aermo is offline  
May 1st, 2005, 01:15 PM
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Sounds like fun (even though I remember some very carsick rides on the PCH as a kid!)

For canoes, Burke's in Forestville is great. You canoe down, take a bus back. Plan to spend most of the day. Stop and swim, picnic, play, and then continue on.

In that area you can also visit Armstrong Redwoods and Korbel Cellars has a good tour and lovely grounds. I've also done canoeing from Healdsburg but it was a little rougher. Can't say why for sure but there were many capsizes on that run and none from Forestville.


You can rent bikes in Healdsburg and head out on any of the back roads. Be careful, the roads are narrow and who knows how much tasting the drivers have done.
Grasshopper is offline  
May 1st, 2005, 02:39 PM
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I think that is sort of far and pushing it for a one day drive (to Mendocino), especially with kids in tow. You say 'coast' drive. Do you plan to drive Hwy 1 to Mendocino? It could be slow going if you are taking Hwy 1. I've done it, beautiful drive, and a little scary in areas if you are afraid of heights, especially since you would be driving in the outer lane next to the cliffs.

Sesamee is offline  
May 2nd, 2005, 05:52 PM
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Thanks for the ideas. You suggested a wine tour. Is there a problem bringing kids along?

Are there any bike trails as opposed to riding on roads? I don't trust the kids on the street.

aermo is offline  
May 2nd, 2005, 09:29 PM
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aermo, The kids would probably enjoy the champagne cellar tour. It's interesting. I'm sorry, I don't know of any bike paths. I've done a lot of riding around there and it's all been on roads. While you can find back roads they still are narrow and have cars. I hope you do try the canoe. My kids loved that when they were younger.
Grasshopper is offline  
May 4th, 2005, 04:36 PM
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We drove south on the Oregon coast, and the northern CA coast on the way back from Seattle in October and can hardly wait to do it again. The OR coast is certainly rugged and beautiful. We only spent two days driving the OR coast though (it seemed like plenty of time), preferring to spend some time up in the Columbia River Gorge (Multnomah Falls), and The Pearl District in Portland, before heading south. You can do both of the latter in a good day. We drove the gorge, saw most of the falls (Multnomah Falls is especially scenic and makes a great lunch stop), and then headed into Portland and had dinner at the Blue Moon Tavern (a cool sidewalk caf&eacute on 21st street in Portland. They make a great gyro that rivals those from back east! I’m thinking you would love walking 21st and 22nd streets as they are scenic and full of shops and restaurants. It’s a great walking district in Portland.

The owners of the Blue Moon Tavern (McMenamins), also own the Grand Lodge in Forrest Grove and McMenamins Hotel Oregon in McMinnville. I picked up brochures on these, and they appear to be as much an event as they are hotels! You may want to do some research on these for a fun lodging place as you head west towards the coast if you decide on Portland.

You didn't state your point of origin so I don't know if you are familiar with these already. If you’re new to that area, I would highly recommend driving the historic Columbia River Highway (hiway 84, east of Portland) and shorten the Oregon Coastal drive a bit. Weather was clear for us in October, but I can’t vouch for June. It may be foggy or rainy, and in that case just make for a long drive. Perhaps someone else can add to that?

After the Rogue River adventure, and for a little bit of history, stop and visit Azalea City Park on the north end of Brookings. We were just mind-boggled to see azaleas that were 150 years old and standing 10 feet tall! It’s a small park and you need very little time to view it.

Brookings also has a beautiful little harbor with a couple of nice hotels on Boat Basin Road at the harbor. They were booked full when we arrived, but we would have loved to stay there. One was the Best Western Beach Front Inn (800)468-4081, and the other was the Harbor Inn. We found an available room on the main hiway through town that was suitable, but not as nice, so you might want to book in advance if you decide to stay in Brookings.

I vote for an overnighter in Brookings, then head south. We pulled off to see a bit of the “old town” in Eureka, and then shot for the small gingerbread town of Ferndale, just before Fortuna. There is a small loop (hiway 211), off the 101 to get to Ferndale. It is perhaps the most restored Victorian town on the west coast, with blocks and blocks of gingerbread homes and Inns. We asked for the best lunch in town and were told by several to try Curley’s Grill at the old Victorian Inn. It was a great lunch and we were glad we took their advice!
From Ferndale, we took the 101 south to The Avenue of the Giants (2500 year old redwoods) in Humboldt State Park. The avenue parallels 101 with many chances to exit back to the 101, so you can adjust your drive to your timing. The Avenue starts at about Pepperwood, and ends at about Phillipsville, and is breath-taking in scenery. You can make it to Fort Bragg and Mendocino that same evening.

You mentioned a couple of days at Healdsburg afterwards which sounds like fun, we haven’t done that yet. We stood in Santa Rosa which is also near wine country. Resuming from either location and heading south to SF, you may want to pull off in historic Petaluma where they filmed American Graffiti. We also made stops in Mill Valley, where as a teen, I used to run the Dipsey Trail (a marathon race through John Muir Woods and The Enchanted Forest) to Stinson Beach. Most people drive by Mill Valley and never stop. It is absolutely gorgeous! The next stop before the GG Bridge is Sausalito, another must see town. Once settled in SF, you may want to drive back across the bridge and visit the small town of Tiburon. It is very East Coast looking in appearance with quaint shops and places to eat

You and your daughters would love Golden Gate Park, with the Arboretum, Planetarium, and Japanese Tea Gardens. The restored Haight-Ashbury district is near the park. We made several trips to SF this last year and always see the Arboretum in GG Park, it is so serene! There is also a free tram service that will take you throughout the park. You can get off at the beach, have lunch, and catch another tram back.

We enjoy eating downtown SF at The Tadich Grill on California Street heading towards the Embarcadero (no reservations, get there early), and also at Calzone’s in Little Italy, which serves great food at reasonable prices. We try to walk as much as possible to absorb the city and discover. You can also buy a City Pass that is good for 3 days and ride any transit including cable cars. If you haven’t seen Alcatraz, that should be on your list too. Be sure to order tickets for Alcatraz in advance. It is worthwhile taking the audio tour. Have fun!

~ ben
bear900 is offline  
May 4th, 2005, 06:07 PM
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Just got back from Boston for 5 day
EH."Art and Architecture of Boston" & Harvard
It was wonderful...
Lectures in AM at our motel by retired professor from Harvard..Then bused to various museums and historic city area . then "escorted" back to site via "T"
Accommodation were at Constitution Inn (formerly YMCA for service people at Charleston Navy Yard - Where "Old Ironsides" is moored and open for visitors) All Renovated rooms, all with refrig,microwave and coffee pot.**great fitness center with indoor Olympic size pool and laundry facilities..
great breakfast next door in cafeteria in building renovated by Mass. Gen. Hospital (for their imaging department and offices)
--three blocks to passenger ferry that goes to waterfront adjacent to
Aquarium .
Average age of the 40 people was 70.. and about 1/2 group were couples.. I travel solo and felt very safe and at ease with the program and the people...
Planning another EH in Oct. near Richmond VA...
traveler24 is offline  
May 4th, 2005, 06:24 PM
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OOPS previous note meant for another post.. must have pressed wrong button.....
Here is "real" one..
In my opinion Gold Beach to Mendo is too much!!!! for one day..
Also down 101 out of Eureka -- over to highway one at Leggitt needs to be reconsidered...This road is narrow, curvy and 40 MPH is max..( With my kids it also meant one stop to throw-up !!)
We just continue down 101 to Willits and the take highway 20 over to the coast,,this road is well paved,lots of turn outs and even though does have curvesnly 11 miles are "hair-pins"
good luck...

traveler24 is offline  
May 5th, 2005, 09:17 AM
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I have to agree with traveler24 on the hiway 1 turn-off from Leggett. That part of the drive was very slow going and difficult. My wife and I traded off driving every few hours, and she lasted just a half hour into that stretch.

If I had it to do over again, I would have written the Fort Bragg loop out of our itinerary, and remained on hiway 101. The return to 101 on hiway 20 was easier as traveler24 mentioned, but I also noticed a lot of drivers going exceedingly fast on that stretch as if in a hurry to get out of there? {shrugs}

We had been to Mendocino on an earlier trip up the coast and so skipped that this second time after wearing ourselves out of that particular stretch of hiway 1.

I highly recommend Ferndale and Avenue of the Giants, as that was our second tour of each, and for us was one of the highlights of our Oregon, northern CA drive. I inquire of people if they have been to Ferndale, and most have never heard of it. We only discovered it by stopping to ask a CHP for directions years ago on our first trip and asked for places of interest to sightsee. I wouldn’t pass it now.

Curiously, as we stopped in Fortuna for gas, I asked several people how long the drive through the Avenue of the Giants would take, as it had been some time for us. All but one person took a deep breath before answering pensively. But the drive was breath-taking with the Eel River on one side and hiway 101 on the other. There are ample opportunities to exit the avenue and re-enter 101 after you have satisfied your senses. It’s also a great place to pull over and picnic.

Speaking of gas, be sure to fill up one last time in OR as the gas prices in CA are much higher!

Ride on!

~ ben
bear900 is offline  

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