Portland to SF in 10 nights

Old Jun 6th, 2021, 11:09 AM
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Portland to SF in 10 nights

Hello Fordorites, I haven't used this forum in a couple of years, but I like using it for road trips to get holes poked in my itinerary and to get suggestions on other/different places to stop. From Aug 5 - Aug 15 of this year, we will be taking a road trip from Portland to SF in 10 nights/11 days. We wanted two weeks, but kids' constraints limited us to these exact dates this year. It's my wife and I, with our two kids (daughter 20, son 14), and we are well traveled but have never been to Oregon. Must sees are Portland, Mt. Hood, Oregon coast, Redwoods National Park, Newport Aquarium, Glass Beach (Ft. Bragg, CA). We are not spending any time in SF other than to have a meal or two with my wife's brother as we've been there plenty of times for pleasure, work and family.

Below is our rough itinerary with much of the lodging booked, but we are still looking at alternatives just in case we find something better. Things are booking fast, so we at least wanted to get something reserved. Any input you have on the itinerary, stops, attractions, lodging, etc is welcome.

Aug 5, Thursday - Portland: land in PDX 1pm, pick up car from National, check into The Benson Hotel, start easy with some local sites and food (TBD)
Aug 6, Friday - Portland: day trip to Columbia River Gorge and Mt Hood, return back to hotel late evening
Aug 7, Saturday - Portland: Portland Zoo, parks, Portland Saturday Market, other local stuff
Aug 8, Sunday - Newport: leave Portland early AM, drive 1.5 hrs to Cannon Beach and spend rest of morning there and grab lunch, drive 2.5 hrs to Newport seeing the sights along the way (Tillamook creamery, 3 capes scenic loop, Pacific City beach/dune, Depoe Bay whale watching, Yaquina Head Lighthouse, etc.), eat dinner along the way, check into The Landing at Newport
Aug 9, Monday - Newport: Aquarium (must see, daughter is a Marine Biology major) in the morning, drive within 1 hr of Newport to see the sights we missed north of Newport or the sights to the south we won't have time to see on Tuesday (Cape Perpetua, Yachats, Thor's Well, Heceta Lighthouse, Sea Lion Caves, etc.)
Aug 10, Tuesday - Coos Bay: drive early AM 2 hrs to Coos Bay stopping at all the sights along the way we missed on Monday, stop at Dunes National Recreation Area and explore, check into The Mill Casino and Hotel
Aug 11, Wednesday - Trinidad, CA: drive early AM 3.5 hrs to Redwoods National Park, stopping at all the sights along the way (Bandon Beach, Gold Beach, Redwoods), check into Emerald Forest Cabins in Trinidad, spend the rest of the afternoon and evening in the park.
Aug 12, Thursday - Point Arena, CA: drive late morning 4.25 hrs to Point Arena, CA, stopping at all the sights along the way including Ft Bragg and Mendocino, check into Wildflower Boutique Motel in Point Arena, 50 min south of Mendocino (ideally we want to stay in Mendocino/Ft Bragg, but we found this cool little place and booked it before it filled up ... still looking for alternatives)
Aug 13, Friday - Point Arena, CA: Drive back to Mendocino/Ft. Bragg area and spend the day up there, including at Glass Beach (must see, wife loves beach glass)
Aug 14, Saturday - SF: drive early AM 3.5 hrs to SF, visit with brother-in-law, eat good Chinese food, check into Marriott Union Square
Aug 15, Sunday - Fly out of SFO 1:30pm

Thanks again for any input!

Paul

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Old Jun 6th, 2021, 09:20 PM
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The Oregon days look pretty good to me although I don’t think I would stay the night in Coos Bay unless you have a compelling reason to do so. The casino is okay but in general most Oregon casinos are kind of ho-hum and Coos Bay itself doesn’t have much to see. If you think you have enough time that day, drive another 2 hours to Gold Beach to spend the night; the next day do a Jerry’s Rogue Jetboat ride. They are a lot of fun and I think your kids would like it and you will still be able to drive to Trinidad for the night.
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Old Jun 7th, 2021, 05:05 AM
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We enjoyed staying at Emerald Forest Cabins, good choice. I do think your Sunday is overly ambitious, though. There will likely be lots of traffic at Cannon Beach and finding a parking spot for lunch may be challenging. Tillamook Creamery, whale watching in Depot Bay, and Yaquina Head Lighthouse are probably 2 days' worth of stuff, so you may end up dropping something. The Newport Aquarium is quite good, allow a few hours. Overall, I think you may find that driving down the coast will take longer than you are anticipating. Winding road, traffic, probable construction in spots, and spectacular views that call to you to pull over for juuuust a moment (and take longer) will add up. But keep in mind that this drive is a large part of the overall adventure, and you'll have many pictures and memories from that alone.

My 2 cents.
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Old Jun 7th, 2021, 05:27 AM
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tracilee, thanks for the recommendation. I was thinking this exact same thing. There is nothing special about Coos Bay or the casino for us, it was simply a stopover and available lodging. I wanted to find something in Bandon or slightly further south to split the driving up a bit more, but didn't consider going all the way to Gold Beach. But I like this idea because then it gives us more time to explore the Redwoods on the way to and in the national park. Any suggested lodging in Gold Beach?

sludick, yes, that's the problem as always. This is why we wanted two weeks originally. The drive times quoted are just the Google Maps A-B times, but we will be taking much longer to cover that ground as we'll be stopping all along the way. I don't anticipate checking into the lodging until evening in most cases. Do you have a recommendation to improve Sunday?

Last edited by paulg; Jun 7th, 2021 at 05:29 AM.
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Old Jun 7th, 2021, 06:43 AM
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So much to see on the Oregon Coast.
In Depoe Bay the Tidal Raves is good spot for lunch or dinner. You likely would need a reservation.
One of my favorite stops is the beach at Heceta Head- also called Devils Elbow. Its a nice little cove and an easy trail up to the lighthouse. Many times, when weather not good at the coast, this sheltered cove is less windy or foggy.

In Florence one my favorite stops is the Krab Kettle. Its just a little fish market but they have crab cocktails- spendy at $15 each- but big pieces of fresh crab to go and they also have clam chowder. No inside dining, just a picnic table outside.
In the town of Florence, the Bridgewater is a good stop. We always get the steamer clams.
The Jerry's Jet Boat ride in Goldbeach is fun- we take the longest trip ending up at Paradise Lodge.
Sounds like a great trip.
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Old Jun 7th, 2021, 09:16 AM
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Well, Tillamook has a cafe, but you'd be too early for lunch. But it's vacation, so in your place we'd certainly get an ice cream and call it "breakfast." We've spent a couple of hours touring the cheese making area (from above and watching/learning all about how it's done. But you can cut that short and just take a quick look, if you're in a rush. You might consider not eating in a restaurant at Cannon Beach and just picking up something picnic-y to eat wherever. Or, consider the ice cream good enough to last to Newport. There's some good restaurants there.

Do you have a whale watching tour in mind at Depoe Bay? We've stayed there a few times (timeshare weeks) and so were able to watch the whales from our balcony. Depoe Bay is small, and I really wasn't all that impressed with the restaurants there. But if you do spend some time, look for the spouting horn that will spray up - it's right downtown by the seawall along the road.
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Old Jun 7th, 2021, 10:17 AM
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sunbum1944, thanks for the recommendations, I'll make note of them. Jet boating is definitely a consideration as my wife and I have enjoyed it, but the kids haven't experienced it yet.

sludick, I like your thinking w.r.t. food ... we are very much the same. I like to say that we eat-to-travel, not travel-to-eat (meaning that food is a bit further down on our list of priorities than other sites and activities), so we will make work whatever we need to. That said, coming from in-land Texas, we will take every advantage of getting good seafood on this trip. No plans yet for whale watching as I still need to research it. At a minimum it would be watching from the Whale Watching Center (is it good?) and at a maximum it would be booking a boat tour. We've enjoyed whale boat tours in many places around the country and world. Thanks for the help.
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Old Jun 7th, 2021, 10:53 AM
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One thing on Jetboating . . . if it's hot in Portland when you go, something your entire family will love is the Willamette Jetboat Excursions. So much fun and a different take on Portland, and you will get wet! Last time we were in Portland (maybe 4 years ago) was almost exactly the dates of your trip, and it was close to 100 degrees. We did the Jetboat on my son's birthday (he was about 25 at the time).

At that time, we also went to a couple of concerts, one being at the Portland Zoo . . . they have a summer concert series there, although I suspect it may be again canceled this year. When they are up and running, they have really good line-ups (we saw one of my favorite bands, Echo & the Bunnymen, and Violent Femmes) and the next night we went to the Moda and saw Green Day.
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Old Jun 7th, 2021, 12:13 PM
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Just quick -- I personally think your plan for the 11th/12th/13th/ are more than ambitious. Just the drive from Gold Beach to Trinidad/Ft Bragg/Mendocino/Pt Arena and back and forth between Mendocino/Ft Bragg/Pt Arena is more than 9 hours. Now, 9 hours over 3 days isn't so bad - but that is without several hours for the various Redwood parks, and exploring Mendocino, Glass Beach, Ferndale, Avenue of the Giants, lighthouses, etc. Because you mention Trinidad to Pt Arena takes 4.25 hrs, my guess is you used googlemap or something similar to do your calculations. Nope -- they are almost always hugely optimistic. Count on 5 - 5.5 hours Trinidad to Pt Arena and closer to 7 if you drive the Avenue of the Giants.
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Old Jun 7th, 2021, 03:44 PM
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Great input, keep it coming!

We were already looking for something closer to Mendocino, which is consistent with janinj's feedback, so we changed lodging to the Sweetwater Inn and Spa near Mendocindo now. We also took tracilee's advice and changed Aug 10 lodging to Pacific Reef Hotel (still looking for other alternatives) in Gold Beach.

So now our itinerary looks like this:
Portland - 3 nights
Newport - 2 nights
Gold Beach - 1 night
Trinidad - 1 night
Mendocino - 2 nights
SF - 1 night

Janisj, thanks for the travel time feedback ... we'll definitely adjust accordingly as we get into the trip. You and I have had this discussion before for Scotland/Ireland. Google Maps is my base for all travel times and it has served me well all over the world. And then of course we take much longer between destinations as we stop along the way, but the Google Maps time give me a guide for how to space out the lodging stops. That said, I do like changing out the Point Arena stop as you suggested ... getting to SF on the last night has no time constraint, so we can get there as late as we want. In fact, if it doesn't anger my brother-in-law, I may even add one more night outside SF and just drive straight to SFO on the last day.
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Old Jun 7th, 2021, 06:11 PM
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I love Mendocino but in August and with so many Californians planning local/nearby vacations this year, it will be very crowded. Check out https://www.littleriverinn.com It is about 3 miles south of Mendocino right on the coast.

Another site not to miss is the Botanic Gardens https://www.gardenbythesea.org
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Old Jun 7th, 2021, 07:46 PM
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I love the botanic garden in Ft. Bragg. Here's my visit for a peek:

https://www.travelgumbo.com/blog/roa...nical-garden-1
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Old Jun 7th, 2021, 08:58 PM
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Paulg, I’ve stayed in Gold Beach many times as my brother used to live there. The Pacific Reef is good, they have an older section and a newer one that has views of the ocean. The Best Western is fine, too. Jots was a bit “tired” and needed a refresh but but that was several years ago. One of the highest rated lodging in the state is just outside of Gold Beach, TuTuTon Lodge. It’s pretty spendy and fills up fast but if it’s in your budget it’s a great choice.

The Port is a good casual restaurant and Spinners is nice if you want a more upscale (for GB) place. Sunset Pizza is also very good.
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Old Jun 8th, 2021, 05:01 AM
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We love seafood as well - I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, although we live in Florida nowadays. IMO you'll do better for seafood in Newport than Cannon Beach. For sure, try the tiny bay shrimp. Oh, just in case in comes up - for me, growing up, "shrimp salad" meant tossed green with little bay shrimp piled on it, not the mayo'd up concoction I later experienced on the East Coast. So you might find both. Here's a couple of sites that might help - https://www.oregoncoasttravel.net/89...estaurants.htm and https://visittheoregoncoast.com/trav...chowder-trail/

Drive times - Highway 101 is what will get ya. It's very windy and narrow in spots, with steep dropoffs at scenic locations that will demand you keep your eyes on the road and not at the glorious ocean view. Intermittent road repair due to slides and the like will also be a good possibility, as well as northbound cars trying to make a quick left turn in your path to get to a viewpoint. That's not the whole road, by any means, but it bears mentioning. So allow yourself plenty of time to enjoy the drive and avoid the stress. It's a great coastline.
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Old Jun 8th, 2021, 05:22 AM
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tracilee, we opted for the slightly pricier top-floor ocean view room at the Pacific Reef ... but it's still very affordable. The TuTuTun has a two-night minimum in the summer. Thanks for the restaurant recommendations.

janisj and MmePerdu, thanks for the Botanic Garden recommendation ... we'll definitely try to check it out.

janisj, the Little River Inn looked nice as well and is still on our short list, though a bit pricier (but not out of budget) than some of the others. I suspect we'll make a few more changes over the next couple of days. And I was already wrong about our lodging there ... my wife booked The Colonial Inn in Ft. Bragg, walking distance to Glass Beach.

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Old Jun 8th, 2021, 07:31 AM
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"my wife booked The Colonial Inn in Ft. Bragg,"

That is certainly a different vibe than Mendocino. If I was staying in that part of Mendocino County I'd personally rather be on the water or at least with panoramic water views - not a mile away. But that's me.
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Old Jun 8th, 2021, 07:36 AM
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Paul, I have to run out, but here are a couple of things. We just returned fro a trip down the Oregon Coast. We stayed in Cannon Beach, Yachats and Gold Beach. In Gold Beach, we stayed at the Pacific Reef, which was the worst hotel of our vacation, and truthfully one of the worst on any of our trips. The room was filthy, there were no towels and the entire filthiness of the room made us wonder about the bedding. Our friends room was in the same shape. They even sent the hotel a "nastygram" showing their disappointment. It's the first time in our 20 years that any of us considered doing such. There is also a"light show" at 9 pm that consists of a 15 minute film about wildlife with lights and 15 minutes of scenes from Mamma Mia.

More importantly, a little south of Crescent City, the 101 collapsed earlier this year. There are major delays. Construction starts at 9 a.m. We barely made it through, however our friends who were ten minutes behind us got stuck for nearly two hours. I see it is still going on, and the way the road looked it could still that way when you go in early August.. Be sure and check on that. I'd get out of Gold Beach very early.

I'm doing a trip report currently and will get to Oregon Coast section soon. I have another couple of suggestions but it has to wait til I get back home today.
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Old Jun 8th, 2021, 09:05 AM
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I would have spent more time in different areas, such as on the way from POrtland down south. Some of the things I liked best in that area were going west from Portland and in Astoria. I really liked their Maritime Museum
https://www.crmm.org/

And then just a bit farther is the Lewis and Clark National Park. I was very interested in the history of Lewis and Clark, though, think I had just read a book on it when I was in that area. I stayed in Cannon Beach 2-3 nights probably (if I recall, many hotels there have minimum stays at least in summer) and did Astoria as a day trip, as I recall. Anyway, your call, but I liked it better than Mendocino which I did not find particularly interesting. It's too touristy and if I recall, expensive. I don't know why, there isn't a lot there in particular.

If your daughter is so interested in marine biology, I would think she might find some of the exhibits at the Martime Museum in Astoria interesting, about crossing the bar there (Columbia River entrance) and storms, but it is more focused on shipping, of course.
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Old Jun 8th, 2021, 09:19 AM
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Paul. let me add to my above post. The front desk did bring us towels, however the fact there weren't any towels to begin with, plus the dirtiness of the room (s), including sticky floors in both rooms, gave us all the feeling the rooms hadn't even been cleaned. A really bad experience, especially for a room that cost north of $200.
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Old Jun 8th, 2021, 11:30 AM
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maitaitom, wow, not a very glowing review at all! I did read some negative reviews like that, but also some very good ones about the section that we are in (top floor condo unit, beach front). Can you tell me what section/rooms you were in? I look forward to reading your trip report for more details. And also thanks for the tip about the 101 construction ... will keep an eye and ear open.

sludick, thanks for the restaurant recommendations ... we'll definitely be seeking out the best seafood places.

janisj, thanks, I don't know much about the place yet, but it looks like there are still some other options available to us for those dates, so I'll do some more research.
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