Road Trip from California to Oregon
A road trip to Oregon has been on our bucket list ever since we moved to California. I know a lot of people would probably prefer the one hour flight from San Francisco to Portland as opposed to the ten hour drive but we didn’t want to miss all of the beauty that lies between.
The first leg of the trip was relatively short thanks to us spending the night in Boonville. We finished our wonderful breakfast at the Boonville Hotel then started the hour drive towards Mendocino through Hendy Woods State Park.
Once we got to Mendocino we took in a view of the gorgeous coastline and walked around downtown for a bit. Before we left we grabbed coffee and a few tasty pastries for the road from the Goodlife Cafe & Bakery. On the way back to the car we spotted the most adorable little chihuahua puppy in the front seat of someone’s parked van. It took all I had to resist taking it with us!
The second stop we made was at Glass Beach, located about fifteen minutes north of Mendocino in Fort Bragg. There are actually three “glass beaches” in Fort Bragg that are covered with sea glass created from years of dumping garbage such as cars and appliances along the coast.
We didn’t stay for long but while we were there I saw a few people searching the beach with metal detectors. I guess the saying, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” actually holds some truth to it!
From Glass Beach we drove along Highway One until it eventually connects with Highway 101. It took us about two hours to get to the famous Avenue of the Giants in the Humboldt Redwoods State Park. Unfortunately we missed the first exit to get onto the scenic route so we only got to drive about 1/3 of the highway but the small amount we did see was gorgeous. Definitely be sure to pay attention and get off at the first exit that says “Avenue of the Giants Scenic Route” if you ever make the drive!
You could easily spend a few hours along this route if you had the time as there are lots of place to get out and explore. We took a short walk through Founders Grove which is also home to Founders Tree, a 346-foot tall redwood that’s iconic to the park.
At this point we were getting pretty hungry (I know, shocker) so we stopped off in Arcata at Los Bagels for lunch. There were a ton of great food options in Arcata but we arrived later than expected so most of them were closed.
We seriously lucked out with Los Bagels though. I ordered a thai-style whole grain bagel sandwich and it was amazing. It was toasted and layered with peanut butter, jalapeno jelly, carrots, cucumbers and green onions. Sounds strange but it was so good!
With full bellies we got back on Highway 101 and drove towards Fern Canyon in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.
I wasn’t sure if this was going to be worth the stop (or the bumpy drive to get to it) but it most definitely was. It’s a 50-foot canyon lined with lush green ferns and it’s just as enchanting as it sounds. I came prepared with my rain boots so the few inches of water that we had to hike through didn’t bother me.
The hike is a 1-mile loop but we only did a quarter-of-a-mile and turned back since we had Coco in the car (dogs are allowed in the park but not on the trails). I know that might make us sound like bad puppy parents but it was about 6pm at this point and the weather was nice and cool. Plus we had the windows halfway down. She did great! :)
We got back on the road for one more hour and drove to Brookings, Oregon where we stayed at the Best Western. The hotel is right on the beach which gives you a beautiful view, however the rooms were just okay considering the price. I also wasn’t thrilled about the tsunami warning signs everywhere. Coco woke me up a few times throughout the night and I was convinced she was predicting the arrival of an impeding earthquake. #paranoia
Later in the week a fellow traveler in Portland told us about a place nearby to Brookings called Tu Tu’ Tun Lodge which looks like an awesome place to stay. It’s about the same price as the Best Western and it’s out of tsunami zone which is always a plus. The riverside setting looks stunning too! Can you tell I’m having buyers remorse?
Anyway, if you happen to find yourself in Brookings and need a good meal, be sure to check out Zola’s Pizza. We had a veggie pizza and two salads delivered to our room and it was fantastic.
The next morning we passed up Best Western’s breakfast and got back on the road to head towards Coos Bay. We grabbed a green smoothie at the Tin Thistle Cafe then drove towards Eugene. The coastline leaving Brookings was stunning and it got even prettier once we started driving inland.
The highway goes right along the Umpqua River which is surrounded by mountains dotted with endless rows of vibrant green trees. I can imagine it’s a great vacation spot in the summertime!
There was so much that I couldn’t capture from this road trip but I am so happy we did it. If you have the opportunity to drive it yourself I highly recommend it!
You can find details from the rest of our trip here:
Aaaaaagh I LOVE the whole drive up the California and Oregon coast…the lush forest is so incredible! It looks like you had such an amazing trip. Next time I take that route, I want to stop everywhere you guys did. thanks for sharing your travels – I love reading these posts and seeing your gorgeous photos – such an inspiration!
P.S. You look GREAT in Patagucci ;)
Hahaha! Patagucci…that gave me a good chuckle! :)
Oh Sarah – Again you bring your reader right there. Your pictures are absolutely gorgeous. You make me hungry and want to take a vacation too! Also want that PUPPY!! Too cute. Thank you for sharing!!
Thanks mama! That puppy was ridiculously cute!! You would have loved it. :) <3
I need to get to that side of the country! So so beautiful!
It is even prettier in person! I hope you get a chance to visit one day, Rebecca! :)
It looks breathtaking! My boyfriend and I really want to drive up the PCH from San Diego to San Francisco, and then do this part of it, but that is a really long trip so we shall see.
That’s one drive I would love to as well. I’ve been on Highway One through Big Sur and it is absolutely stunning! You two are going to love it!
I adore your travel posts especially because I have never been to US my self. What a great photos of a beautiful country
Thank you, Laura! We are lucky to live in such a beautiful world! :)
Love all the photos. You crack me up “so no one thinks we’re bad dog parents” — haha, YA RIGHT! A quarter mile with the windows down in that mild/cold weather? You guys are great dog parents for bringing her along! She’s a lucky girl to travel all over with you two.
You’d be surprised how sensitive some people are about leaving dogs in the car! But thank you, I like to think we do our best to give her a good life. It’s nice to have her be a part of those memories too! :)
I cannot get enough of those gorgeous coastline views. I feel like a roadtrip like yours needs to find its way onto my bucket list. So many beautiful places to visit!!
I would definitely recommend a road trip if you’re ever on the west coast. There is so much to see in between the major cities!
It was so fun to read about my HOME! Ah, this made me a wee bit homesick. I miss the coast.
How lucky you are to have lived in such a beautiful place! On the way back we drove through Whiskeytown and I thought of you. :)
Really beautiful pictures that you have shared here. I am glad you took Coco with you so you had the opportunity to experience new adventures and now great memories of your road trip all together. :)
Thank you, Jerilyn! I’m glad we took Coco too. :)
I remember that puppy! And I remember totally dying over all your shots on SnapChat. It’s been years since I’ve taken a road trip down the Pacific Coast Highway, but oh man… seriously my favourite drive of all time. I’d love to make it again some day.
Also, your pictures are absolutely gorgeous!
Coco!! I absolutely love seeing pictures of her!!
And so so pretty!! I can’t get over all that gorgeous scenery… Now I want to take a trip haha :) Too bad that won’t be happening soon!
Beautiful shots, Sarah! I did the road trip thing up to Oregon with my family years ago but don’t remember it very well, and my husband and I really want to do it. When we go, I’m referring back to this post! Looks like a fabulous time full of beautiful scenery and great food!
So many beautiful photos and delicious looking food! I absolutely love road trips, and this looks like it was a good one! I find it so fun to do my research and plan where to stop along the way. I feel like there are endless road trip options to do throughout California and the Pacific Northwest!
Deciding where to stop was definitely the tough part! But Arcata had the best options for food so I knew that was a must. :)
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I’m from PA and visit and stay with friends in Oregon often. This year we did a CA Pacific Coast Highway road trip on a motorcycle going south from San Francisco and back. Need I say that it was wonderful?
We are now talking about taking another motorcycle trip UP the coast from San Francisco next year. I have been up and down the Oregon coast several times, and it was fantastic, but I’ve never been from San Francisco to the Oregon border. We are planning to go as far as Bandon, and stay with my friends who live about an hour or so inland. My question is: What is the best time of the year to do this? That is, when can we expect somewhat clear weather and minimal fog?
I think the best time would be spring, but we do luck out with some nice days in fall as well!
I was wondering how long this trip took you? Did you do anything on the way back? I have a 7 day campervan rental and we were trying to decide where we should loop out of, San Fran and go North, San Fran and go East or Seattle South. I am just not sure what is doable in 7 days with so much to see! Your route seems perfect.
Hey Nicole! The road trip itself took us about 3 days (total) on the way there and back. Here is the recap of the trip back: https://www.makingthymeforhealth.com/road-trip-oregon-california-bend-crater-lake/
We spent 3 days in Portland as that was the main goal of the trip. If you’re not wanting to spend a lot of time in one place I would think you could make it from SF to Seattle in 7 days with time to see things in between. I hope you have an awesome time!
You’re road trip looks awesome! Pretty sure my boyfriend and I will be following it step by step :)
Quick question, we are thinking of either starting the coastal drive from Mendocino or Eureka since we will be camping at Shasta Lake for a few days. So I was wondering, would you recommend starting the coastal drive from Mendocino or Eureka? If we started from Mendocino, we would then head inland after founders grove and head straight to Eugene.
Hi Leili! I’m sorry, I’m a little confused by your question. Where is your starting point on the drive?
Hi, how much in total did this trip cost you ?
Hi Dianne! I’m sorry but I didn’t calculate the total cost. If you are hoping to estimate for yourself then it will depend on where you want to stay, if you rent a car, what type of food you like to eat, etc. Also what time of year. Summer and fall tend to be more expensive. I hope that helps a little!
Hi Sarah, I’m planning to make this drive and am loving all of your recommendations! I have a dog too and wanted to find out if everywhere you stayed was pet friendly or if you have suggestions. Thanks!
Yes! Everywhere we stayed was pet friendly. There are more posts under my travel tab from this trip and I link to everywhere we stayed. :)
Thanks so much for this! I will be using this guide all thanks to you!
You’re so welcome, Stephanie! I hope you have an awesome trip!
Sounds like a great trip.
In June my wife and I will be moving up from Southern California. We will be driving up. Stopping up for a day or two at my parent’s house in the Bay Area then making our way up to Orgeon
That will be a fun move! :)
As a NW native, your comments about the tsunami signs cracked me up there are more coastal areas than not that have them and for good reason! But you’d getting plenty of warning to get to higher ground. Last time we visited Brooking we ate at Pacific Sushi. It’s worth a visit.
Those signs scared the crap out of me, lol! Thanks for the suggestion, Erin. :)
What kind of car did you guys drive? My husband and I want to take this drive but have a Honda Civic and a Dodge Van
We drove a Honda Accord and it was fine!