Road Trip - West Coast

Old May 22nd, 2016, 08:16 AM
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Road Trip - West Coast

I am planning a road trip of the west coast for August and was wondering if it would be better to fly into Portland, OR and out of Los Angeles, CA or if the reverse is a better option. I will be renting a car and driving the coast between the two cities in 10-12 days. Would also love any suggestions/recommendations as to where to stop and sleep and points of interest to visit. Thanks.
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Old May 22nd, 2016, 11:32 AM
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What to see, where to stay? A lot depends on your interests and budgets. The experienced Fodorites wil be sure to tell you. For California, I'd certainly recommend to stay and spend some time in the Monterey, Carmel, Big Sur region. Spend some time hiking at Point Lobos, pick up treats at the Carmel Bakery if your waistline can afford it. Stay in Carmel if your budget can afford it. Spend a day at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, maybe a night down the bay in Pacific Grove.
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Old May 22nd, 2016, 11:40 AM
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That's not a lot of time, 3 days SF, 2 nights driving Highway 1, 3 nights in LA, that is 9 of your 10 days right there.
You'll need to prebook lodging along Highway 1, as you are traveling during high season and competing for the limited lodging with lots of other travelers.
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Old May 22nd, 2016, 01:55 PM
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You indicated that you want to spend 10-12 nights "between" these two cities. So I'll assume:
1. You won't be visiting Portland or LA
2. You have 12 nights.

Day 1. Land in Portland and then drive along the coast to somewhere like Coos Bay or north of Coos Bay. Actually, I have next to no experience with the Oregon coast - so I'll let others add their suggestions.

Day 2. Continue south on the coastal and stay somewhere else in Oregon.

Day 3. Enter Calif & head south on 101. Just south of Eureka, take Hwy 211 to Ferndale - one of the most perfectly preserved late 1800s cities in Calif. Stay at the Gingerbread Mansion.

Day 4. DO NOT head to the coast, but instead continue on 101 south through the "Avenue of the Giants" - which are some of the oldest living trees on earth. Redwood trees. Get off 101 at exit 663 and visit "Founder's Grove". Continue south on the Ave of the Giants road, until it connects to 101 again. At Leggett, take Hwy 1 to the coast and drive along beautiful Hwy 1 to Mendocino and explore this scenic coastal town on foot. Either stay the night in Mendocino, or a little south in Little River at the Little River Inn Dine at Wild Fish directly across the road from Little River Inn. Reserve ahead - it is VERY popular .

Day 5. Continue south on Hwy 1 - this is the most scenic section north of San Francisco. Visit Fort Ross, just south of Timber Cove. Continue south to Jenner, and Bodega Bay (lunch?). Continue on Hwy 1 where it heads inland to Valley Ford, then returns to the coast along Tomales Bay and the Pt Reyes National seashore. Walk around the village of Pt Reyes Station - it's a quick visit. Continue on Hwy 1 past Stinson Beach, connect to Hwy 101 and towards the Golden Gate Bridge.

Just before you get on the Golden Gate Bridge, take the "small exit" to your right. There will be a sign that says you are entering the Golden Gate National Recreational area. Continue up on this road. You will see what is (in my opinion) the best views of San Francisco – The GG Bridge in the foreground & The City behind it.. This area was formerly a military area that is still laced with bunkers, gun turrets, underground tunnels etc. It was opened up in the ‘70s. The views of The City, the Bridge, and the Golden Gate are breathtaking. You can see all the way down the San Mateo Coast from up here. Go all the way to the top and you hit a much smaller one-way road. On the way up, get out & enjoy the sights. The kids will love the bunkers & gun turrets. At the top where the main road ends, there is the largest gun turret, where you can climb up to for an almost 360 degree view. This view is best in the evening when the sun is in a better position to light up the bridge & highlight downtown. If you plan to pass this way again later in the day, skip this venue now & do it later. If there isn’t any fog, perhaps do it now because you never know when the fog will roll in & make viewing impossible.

Return the way you came up to this area. When you get to the "small exit" off 101 that you took before, turn left & follow the road to Sausalito. Just follow your nose (bearing right whenever possible), until you end up on Bridgeway – the main road along the bay in Sausalito. Drive along Bridgeway, enjoying the views back to the City. Sausalito has gotten a little tacky in the last few decades with all it’s mediocre art shops & cheep souvenir stands, but the setting is lovely & there’s some nice architecture.

Drive over the Golden Gate Bridge to San Francisco and stay a minimum of 4 nights/3 days.

Here are some ideas of things to do & see:

Day 9. Head out around 10am on a work day, or earlier on a Sat or Sunday on Hwy 280 heading south. This is a scenic freeway for most of the way. Take Hwy 85, Hwy 101 then follow your nose to Carmel/Monterey. Stay for 2 nights. Visit Carmel, Pacific Grove, aquarium, and Spanish Bay. I would stay in either Carmel or Pacific grove.

Day 11. Leave Carmel and visit Pt Lobos just south of Carmel - opens at 10. Said to be "the most beautiful meeting of land and sea". Plan on a 2 hr visit. Then head south along the beautiful Big Sur coast. Have lunch at Nepenthe. Visit Pfeiffer Beach, and Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. Continue south on beautiful Hwy 1 to either Cambria or San Simeon. Stay the night

Day 12. Visit Hearst Castle. Then head to LA. Stay somewhere near LAX for your flight home tomorrow.

Stu Dudley
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Old May 22nd, 2016, 04:35 PM
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The improvements to StuDudley's itin would be to stay in Reedsport for night 1. About 5 miles east of Reedsport on 38 in the morning visit the Dean's Creek Elk Viewing area. The Oregon Dunes are worth seeing as well.
On Day 2 you should be able to make it to the Gingerbread Mansion.
After leaving the Hearst Castle on Day 11, head east on 46 and 41 to Kettleman City and head north on I-5 to take the car back to PDX to avoid the drop fee.
I would drive all night on I-5 to avoid driving a rental car into LAX.
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Old May 22nd, 2016, 04:46 PM
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>>After leaving the Hearst Castle on Day 11, head east on 46 and 41 to Kettleman City and head north on I-5 to take the car back to PDX to avoid the drop fee.
I would drive all night on I-5 to avoid driving a rental car into LAX.Kettleman City and dash all the way back up I bloody 5 to Portland to avoid a possible drop off fee???

Does that seem sensible? No
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Old May 22nd, 2016, 05:38 PM
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Party of one, the person who would go back to Portland AND drive all night on I5 to get there rather than drop off a rental car at LAX.
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