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Seattle to SanFrancisco/Your Favorite "Don't Misses"?

Seattle to SanFrancisco/Your Favorite "Don't Misses"?

Old Mar 5th, 2000, 10:46 AM
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Seattle to SanFrancisco/Your Favorite "Don't Misses"?

My husband and I are taking our two teenagers, 14 & 16, on a vacation this summer and we plan to fly into Seattle and rent a car and head to San Francisco, stopping wherever our hearts desire. So, I need help from all you wonderful people who don't mind sharing your favorite places to see, eat and stay. Thanks in advance for your help!
Old Mar 5th, 2000, 01:06 PM
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Dear Jean:
The problem with your trip is that there’s almost too much to do. But here are a few highlights:
Since you are traveling with teenagers, you’re obviously looking for different sights and activities than adults might.
Seattle itself is a fascinating place fore teenagers, especially Seattle Center where there’s a cool science center with all sorts of things to look at and manipulate. Nearby, Paul Allen’s new Experience Music Project complex is finally expected to open this summer. You can ride the monorail from Seattle Center downtown for a walk to the Pike Place Market (which is always exciting) and to the waterfront. Check out Odyssey, an interactive marine science learning center, and the Seattle aquarium. There’s also an omni dome theater where you can watch Mt. St. Helens blow up all around you.
You next stop should be Tacoma’s Point Defiance Park, with an old Hudson’s Bay Company fort, a logging camp, a zoo, and an aquarium.
The state capitol of Olympia is also worth a stop, to visit the state capitol, the waterfront, and to watch the teenage skateboarders downtown. They’re good—some of the best in the West—and they have a funny habit of zipping down office building ramps or flying out of the landscaping.
Don’t miss Washington’s Long Beach peninsula with its very long beaches where the kids can fly kites or ride mopeds.
Just to the south, at the mouth of the Columbia, you can visit several abandoned US Army forts, plus a reconstruction of Fort Clatsop, near the site where Lewis & Clark wintered (on the Oregon side of the river). Astoria has a cool marine museum, with an old light ship moored out front.
The Oregon Coast is one seemingly endless (and often congested) stretch of beaches, cliffs, small towns, and lighthouses. Again, there’s too much to d here for just one trip.
Be sure to drop in at he Oregon Aquarium in Newport, where Keiko (“Free Willy”) lived before he was exiled to Iceland. Take a day or two for the Oregon dunes, where you can hike or take dune buggy rides.
Near Florence, stop at the Darlingtonia wayside to visit a bog where carnivorous “cobra lilies” thrive (I once had a pet Darlingtonia that thrived on bits of hamburger).
I’d also stop at the Sea Lion Caves—some people think they’re too “sophisticated” to stop here, but it’s actually a fun experience—I mean how often can you go spelunking for sea lions? On Oregon’s Rogue River and on Northern California’s Klamath River you can take jet boat trips upriver through the rapids (some come with picnics or barbecues).
You must see the Redwoods, of course. They’re absolutely colossal and awe-inspiring. Stop at the National Park visitor center in Crescent City on the way down, get directions to the trees.
Also plan to visit the reconstructed Yurok Indian village at Patrick’s Point State Park, north of Trinidad: here you can actually climb inside the Indian houses. It’s both fun and educational.
There isn’t much to do in Eureka, unless you want to shop at the malls, but you get more redwoods south of town.
Ride the “Skunk Train” into the redwoods at Fort Bragg. This trip is a lot of fun on those days when the steam train runs. It has a platform excursion car that gets you really close to the woods.
Or you could go for a horseback ride along the beach at McKerricher State Park. At Van Damme State Park south of Mendocino you can explore sea caves by kayak. This stretch of coast has more beautiful beaches than I can enumerate. Plan to hike, clamber over rocks, or just hang out and watch the birds, seals, and sea lions do their thing.
There are also lots of interesting small towns on this stretch of coast: Mendocino, Point Arena (and Arena Cove), Gualala, Jenner, Bodega Bay, Marshall, Point Reyes Station, Inverness, Bolinas, Stinson Beach. . . . Just stop at those places that look interesting. It’s hard to go wrong.
At Fort Ross you should visit the reconstructed Imperial Russian fort—the only Russian colony in the contiguous forty-eight states. If you’re lucky you’ll get there when they’re shooting off the cannons.
Great hikes on the coast include the Yurok Loop Trail and Klamath Overlook south of Crescent City, numerous trails into the redwoods, the Mendocino Headlands, Salt Point State Park, Bodega Head, and Point Reyes.
There’s just too much to do, but this should get you off to a start.

Old Mar 5th, 2000, 08:37 PM
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John has given you tons of great suggestions, and he's right, there's way too much to see, so you'll need to make some choices and set some priorities. How long are you allocating for your trip? If you have longer than about 10 days (including the time in Seattle and SF), you might consider including the northern Olympic Peninsula on your trip as well (so you can see the temperate rainforest and the Pacific coast that is part of Olympic National Park, as well as get up into the mountains).

One thing that jumped out at me from your post is that you want to stop wherever your hearts desire. If you are referring to where you stay overnight rather than stopping for activities, I urge you to reconsider and make advance reservations for most if not every night. Summertime is the high season, and you could spend way too much of your time every day looking for places with vacancies. Unless you truly do not care about the quality and price of your lodging, it's worth the effort to make at least some advance reservations.

If you are not on a tight budget, I highly recommend a couple of nights at Tu Tu Tun Lodge in Gold Beach (southern Oregon coast). Actually, I think their rates are reasonable for the quality of the accommodation, but it's not inexpensive. It's a lovely base for exploring the mouth of the Rogue River.

I just have one comment on John's suggestions: I really did not think much of the sea lion caves--smelly and claustrophobic was my reaction. But then, I've seen quite a few large haulouts of sea lions in other places in the NW and Alaska, so it wasn't a new experience for me. If you've never seen anything like that before, it's probably worth the stop, but if you have, I'd skip it.

Old Mar 7th, 2000, 02:10 PM
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Dear Jean:
Here's one thing I forgot to mention: Since you are traveling with teenagers, you might want to stop at TREES OF MYSTERY south of Crescent City to visit Paul Bunyan and his Blue Ox and other sculptures carved from giant redwoods. You'll find more human-sized chain saw sculptures further south, in Orick. It's quite a spectacle.
Old Mar 7th, 2000, 02:57 PM
Bob Brown
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There are several great places to visit.
The rose test gardens in Portland in the big park on the side of the mountain overlooking down town is marvellous. You will never see finer roses. Farther down,and in land, is Crater Lake National Park.
As several people have suggested, the redwood groves are spectacular.
If you can detour inland, go by Mount Lassen National Park in California and upon leaving Seattle, go by Ranier.
Then right before Portland, take in the Mount St. Helens View Point.
There is a lot to see and do. Others have already described the Oregon Coast, so I will not say more.
But if you have time to zig zag your way down, there is a lot to see between the mountains and the ocean.
Old Mar 7th, 2000, 07:11 PM
Bob Brown
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PS. I do have one suggestion for a place to stay on your journey along the Oregon Coast. We were in a little place called Yachats south of Newport, but north of Florence, near Cape Perpetua. We found a motel called the Fireside. (It was at one time listed in the AAA tour book.)
The motel is located on a rocky headland within a few yards of the pounding surf.
We had an upstairs room that provided a nice view of the ocean. We built a fire in the little stove, sat by the fire, and listened to the waves pound on the shore. Then the moon came up almost full and we could see the bigger crests smash agains the rocks and send up a shower of spray.

Cape Perpetua towers almost 1,000 feet straight up out of the ocean it seems.
You can drive most of the way to the top. A short walk takes you to a wonderful view of the whole coast. So I think is worth a stop.
Old Mar 7th, 2000, 07:19 PM
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Dear Bob:
Thanks for the recommendation. I'll save it for my files and plan to stay there on my next trip.
Old Mar 8th, 2000, 09:02 AM
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For two teenagers, you all might get a kick out of the Underground Seattle tour in Pioneer Square. Actors and Actresses are your tourguides for a hilarious journey under the city. Seattle's history is quite fascinating and scandalous.
Pioneer Square is also famous for the Seattle music scene.
Old Mar 8th, 2000, 10:49 AM
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Hi, Jean,
The southern Oregon coast is fabulous, but if your kids like old west history and/or plays, a detour over to Ashland might be an interesting alternative for a day and a night. This year the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (www.orshakes.org) has a lot of good offerings indoor and out (like Hamlet, Henry V, and The Man Who Came to Dinner) and generations of NW kids have had their first encounter with the Bard in this wonderful manner. During the day you can visit a real bit of the old west at Jacksonville (great cemetery), or hang by the pool at one of the many motels catering to the region. Then, if you want, back to US 199 in Grants Pass and back to the coast and the redwoods.
Also, if you or one or more of your teenagers have hollow legs, don't miss the Samoa Cookhouse near Eureka CA for family-style (if your family are 19th C. loggers) meals. Great fun.
Old Mar 8th, 2000, 11:19 AM
Bob Brown
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When a thread like this one comes up, I re-read it because I get many new ideas, too. Some of these suggestions are absolutely fabulous!! There is so much to see and do out there that it is a source of much enjoyment in life.
I tend too much at times to concentrate on natural wonders. So suggestions for other things to see and do are very helpful to me. It is a win/win situation. Everybody benefits.

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