Help a Reader Travel: Oregon Coast

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Welcome to another post of helping a reader travel! As I’ve mentioned before, I have not been to every destination (unfortunately), but do get questions from friends and other blog readers on all sort of travel destination questions. Thus far, we’ve been able to help other readers travel to MauiThe Greek IslandsPacific Coast HighwayArgentina /Buenos AiresCosta RicaCape Cod & The IslandsIcelandGenevaCanadian RockiesRomeIsraelPeru / Inca Trail, StockholmChicagoParisHanoiAustinPuerto RicoBrugesSalzburgIstanbulLas Vegas, Jamaica, India/Golden Triangle, Auckland, Singapore, and Moscow

So this weeks travel destination includes the Oregon Coast. I received the following email from reader Jillian:

“This Summer I am looking to do the coastal drive from Seattle to San Francisco. I know there are many different routes to take, but I am primarily interested in the Oregon Coast. I’ve heard it is absolutely beautiful. I see you’ve done the San Fran to Los Angeles coast, but was wondering if you know anything about the northern coastal drive. We are not limited on time, so I’d like to do it/see it all. Any help or suggestion about the following would be great: 1) How many days do we need? 2) Where to stop/sleep along the way? 3) Not to miss sights along the way?  Thank you so much in advance and to any readers that can help!

If you’ve ever been to the Oregon Coast or road tripped from Seattle to San Francisco, please help out reader Jillian by commenting below.

Also, if you have any upcoming travel where you need some help, feel free to email me at to be a featured “Help a Reader Travel” Monday special. Thanks!

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


  1. I’d say 2 or 3 nights should be more than enough. Definitely a must stop is Newport, OR.

    They have a good micro brewery called Rogue. Not to miss while you are there is Moe’s Seafood restaurant. One of the best clam chowders I’ve ever tried.

  2. In southern Oregon, I’d recommend Tu Tu Tun Lodge on the Rogue River as a good base from which to explore the southern coast and Crater Lake National Park.

    Further north, Canon Beach and the surrounding areas are a must-see. There’s a great hike that starts just off the coast road between Manzanitas and Canon Beach, where you can hike to Cape Falcon through a mix of temperate rain forest and coastal cliffs. I’ve only done Canon Beach as a day trip from Portland, so can’t recommend accommodations, but there are several nice resorts in the area.

  3. As someone who’s lived in the NW my whole life and traveled between the coast and the mountain I’d say your best bet is to start in Seattle (if you wanted to start there) enjoy Seattle for a day or two and then take Interstate 5 straight down to Portland because there isn’t much to see on the Washington Coast (just the Olympic Forest in NW washington). Stay in Portland for a couple days and consider driving out to the Columbia River Gorge to look around. it’s only a 25 minute drive to reach the beginning of the Gorge from downtown and it’s a beautiful area with a lot of hiking trails and waterfalls (Multnomah Falls is great!). After some time in Portland head the opposite direction on Highway 26 out toward the coast. Begin in Astoria and start making your way south on Highway 101 (scenic highway). From here you might consider stopping in Seaside, Canon Beach, Tillamook (take a tour of the Tillamook Ice Cream Factory!), and Newport. The whole feel of the Oregon coast is very uncrowded, safe, and people are super friendly. Theres some great seafood as well. There are few points/rewards properties that I’m aware of along the coast, but luckily hotels and even (beach house rentals) are pretty reasonably priced. I’m not sure of your interests but there is hiking all over the Gorge and Coast with some great viewpoints and the weather is always always pleasant in the summer. 70’s and 80’s with a breeze. I don’t know much about California’s coast but I hope that helps a little : )

  4. Keep in mind that summer along the northern California and Oregon coast is the foggiest part of the year. You can potentially drive 100 miles on the coast and not be able to see more than 1/2 mile scenery around you. The closer you are to the Pacific Ocean, the worse the fog.

    On the northcoast California 101 route the road mostly remains inland from the coast once south of Eureka until you reach Willits for the Highway 1 access to Fort Bragg.

    The Lost Coast of Humboldt County is a great wilderness hike if you have time to drive to Shelter Cove and spend a day hiking on remote beaches. You need to plan the hike with the tides since the beaches can be swallowed up at high tide.

    Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park in Orick, California is a good location to get off Highway 101 and look for Roosevelt Elk along the beach road. These are the largest elk in the USA. They are also found around Olympic National Park. Redwood State Park in Humboldt County, California is another good addition or alternative to Redwood National Park.

  5. My trip a few years back consisted of 3 days in the Portland area (including Multnomah Falls), followed by a drive down the Oregon coast to San Francisco. If you can, find a bed and breakfast facing the ocean. Make sure you stop in Newport and Canon Beach as others have already stated. Drive through the redwoods and stop for a while – very surreal. Finally, if you are a foodie, stop in Tillamook and tour the cheese factory.

  6. Also a Portlander, I definitely second everything that William wrote. My favorite spot of all is the undiscovered (as yet) little town of Pacific City. There are dunes you can climb nearby and a nice brew pub right on the beach for afterwards. Enjoy!

  7. One more bit of advice is to sign up for all of the Groupon-ish sites for the Portland area. They very frequently have deals for hotel stays on the Oregon coast.

  8. I just got back from a trip up the coast from SFO to SEA, and it was stellar. It was my second time making the trip. I stopped in Seaside/Astoria area, and also cut inland to Grants Pass for a night. In California I stopped off in Ukiah (Mendocino county, wine country) and then finish it all off with a trip through Napa/Sonoma. The coast is not to be missed, just be careful! The curves on those roads are wicked. Two places of fun note on the coast are the Sea Lion caves in Mid/South oregon and my FAVORITE drive is through the Smith River NRA in Northern California on route 99 from Grants Pass to Crescent City. PLEASE do not miss the “Avenue of the Giants” just north of San Francisco. It’s one of the drives I think everyone should take. Windows down, take in the scents and sounds.

  9. If you can, take a detour to Crater Lake. It is truly extraordinary. You can hike down to the lake level and take a boat ride on the lake – not to be missed! Lots of short and longer hikes to do; many drive around the lake in a day or so, stopping for the views and hikes. The Stephanie Inn outside of Cannon Beach is wonderful but pricey. And be sure to bring warm clothes, even in the summer! The towns of Newport, Cannon and Seaside are all pretty touristy. Consider Astoria as well as some of the smaller towns along the coast for a less touristy experience.

  10. Ecola State Park by Cannon Beach has amazing views of the coast and the ocean. The dairy in Tilamook has great ice cream. Newport has a couple of interesting lighthouses and an impressive aquarium. The seal caves in Florence are really touristy but offer views of hundreds of seals in an underground cave. For an unforgettable (but expensive) experience, consider staying at the Heceta Head lighthouse. It is an old lighthouse keepers home that has been converted into a B&B. Crater Lake is only worth seeing if you go in late July or August. It will be snowed in until then. It is also quite a drive from the coast.

  11. This is right in my wheelhouse, we have a 2nd home in South Beach, OR and absolutely love the central Oregon coast. We go there to get away from the Arizona heat. Actually, we go there because it’s awesome.

    1)If you’re in decent shape, go up the Astoria Column. Absolutely breath-taking views of the Columbia river and surrounding area.
    2)If you can plan it this way, be in Astoria on Sunday. I’m a big fan of farmer’s markets and Astoria has, by far, the best farmer’s market I’ve ever been to. I have no idea where all these people come from.
    3)Heading south avoid everything in Seaside. Do get off the 101 and take-in the 3 Capes Scenic Drive (you still go south but on a much more scenic route). The scenery is off the charts. Don’t miss the Octopus tree at Cape Mears.
    4)I wouldn’t bother stopping in Lincoln City, it’s too touristy. I’d go right to Depoe Bay and definitely do a whale watching tour. These boats get you right next to migrating whales, which are very close to the shore.
    5)Next stop Newport. Whatever you do, don’t go to the Underseas Garden, huge rip-off. Do go to the Yaquina Head Lighthouse. Walk up the lighthouse, check-out the tide pools and view some incredible bird watching on the huge rock west of the lighthouse. Last year we watched a bald eagle snag a seagull egg, with a hundred+ seagulls trying to chase away the bald eagle. I’ll never forget that. Also, walk the Newport bayfront and check out the sea lions lounging all over the piers.
    6)Just before going to Seal Rock, turn into the little parking area on Curtis. Walk west about half a mile and if the tide is out, you’ll see the most amazing tide pools. Starfish are everywhere.
    7)Snap a photo at Yuzen Sushi restaurant. You definitely can’t miss this guy:
    8)Do not go to the Sea Lion caves in the summer. There are no Sea Lions that time of year, just caves. They’re still very happy to take your money.
    8)My absolutely favorite place on the coast is just before Yachats. Stop and take the short walk to Devil’s Churn in the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area.
    9)I’m not real familiar further south of Yachats, until you get to Redwoods National Park. Redwoods should be at least a full day of exploring.

    Have fun!

  12. Hi Jillian,

    I’m Travel Oregon’s ambassador for the Oregon Coast for their Ask Oregon program. I answer similar questions quite often. You can drive the 363-mile Oregon Coast in two or three days if you limit your stops. Of course, you could spend two weeks, or a lifetime exploring like me. If you had 5-7 days, the top attractions I would recommend include (north to south):

    Seaside’s automobile turnaround and oceanfront promenade, famous landmarks dating from the 1920s.

    Ecola State Park and Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach.

    Three Capes Scenic Drive southwest of Tillamook (Cape Meares, Cape Lookout and Cape Kiwanda).

    Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area in Newport (lighthouse, views, bird watching and beautiful tidepool area).

    Cape Perpetua Scenic Area (rainforest hiking trails, views of dramatic coastline formations like Spouting Horn, Devil’s Churn, Cook’s Chasm and Thor’s Well).

    Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area (Honeyman State Park and Oregon Dunes Overlook near Florence or hike the John Dellenback Trail south of Reedsport).

    Cape Arago (three spectacular State Parks southwest of Coos Bay).

    Beach Loop Drive in Bandon (beautiful beach with many rock formations at the edge of the shore).

    Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor (lots of viewpoints and beaches south of Gold Beach).

    Obviously I could offer many more recommendations based on your particular preferences, but this is my short list. Feel free to ask more specifics at:

    or check out our website at:

    … and happy exploring! – Gary

  13. I am not an authority on Crater Lake, but we were there in mid September and the roads open sometimes as early as April. It totally depends on the weather. So anyone thinking of a Crater Lake trip needs to look into what is possible. Please don’t write off Crater Lake except in late July or August. We did a PDX-Ashland-Crater Lake-Ashland-PDX trip in mid September and the timing was ideal: great weather and the crowds were far less than in the summer. It took us a week. I realize this is not the coast, but anyone thinking through an Oregon trip might want to consider such a routing or how such side trips might enhance a coast visit. Happy trails.

  14. We drove Hwy 101 starting in Washington State down to No California connecting to Hwy 1 to the San Francisco area. It was an amazing trip. The following summer we went back to WA/OR and went to Mt Ranier, Crater Lake, and Lincoln City. A few thoughts: we loved both the Olympic National Park and Mt Ranier National Park. If you have time, it is definitely worth doing both. Mt Ranier has a shuttle to the pass where you can get out and hike down – gorgeous! Also, if you have enough time, drive to Anacortes, WA and take the ferry to the San Juan Islands prior to starting your trip south. We went to both Friday Harbor and Orcas Island. Just the ferry ride is worth going for! Definitely drive North to South on Hwy 101 for the best views — and not having to cross traffic every time you want to pull off. Do not miss Avenue of the Giants in Northern California. Lincoln City is touristy, however, we enjoyed it enough to go back the following year. If you go to Crater Lake, I highly recommend staying in the Lodge. We didnt — hotels are a ways from the park, and were very disappointing. Definitely fill up/top-off with gas on the Oregon border as CA gas prices are significantly higher.

  15. I second Honeyman State Park. Beautiful forest right next to giant sand dunes. When I was there, you could hire a driver for a ride down the sand dunes. Definitely worth it!

  16. Definitely spend some time in Cannon Beach. The town is cute, and the beaches are just amazing. Particularly around sunset — some of the most beautiful scenery in the world — I have one photo of the beach there and people swear it looks like Thailand.
    I’d also suggest you head a little north, just barely into Washington, and stop by Cape Disappointment. My wife and I were just roaming the area, and came across a road sign for it. It’s the northwest tip where the Columbia river meets the Pacific — and it too is just beautiful. I mean, with a name like “Cape Disappointment”, how can you go wrong?

  17. Last October I had to travel from Seattle to Eugene, OR (as part of a larger business trip to the Pacific NW) and elected to make the trip with a co-worker by car, as we had a weekend to do it. We rented a car at SeaTac and took I-5 to Olympia, then cut over to the coast on WA 8 and US 12 to pick up 101 (unfortunately, not enough time to visit the Olympic Peninsula).

    We spent the Saturday night in Astoria, which was outstanding; a simple Holiday Inn Express is located right on the water with a great view of the US 101 bridge across the mouth of the Columbia. Astoria itself was a nice enough town, and I can strongly recommend the Fort George Brewery (and its Belgian style “Quick Wit”!).

    We continued down 101 to Newport and then turned inland. I did think it was worth a quick stop in Seaside to step onto the beach, and would have stopped at the cheese factory tour in Tillamook if there had been enough time!

  18. I think it was mentioned already to check out groupon and living social deals. Here’s a local groupon-type link that often has hotel and attraction deals in Portland, in the wine country and on the coast:
    Check it out if you are heading to the Pacific NW. I am posting the link on a day when there is a deal at a winery in Depoe Bay.

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