My boyfriend and I are planning a trip for my bday this July. We will be road-tripping from San Fran to Portland, and want to catch as much on the way up and back as possible. I have traveled the coast from SF to Big Sur, but haven't done much exploring north of here. I just moved out west last year, and have only visited Portland once before (for one day). My boyfriend is from LA, and hasn't done much northern exploring either.
Anyways...here are some additional details along with what I am hoping to find out:
We will be leaving on a Wednesday afternoon, and hope to travel at least halfway that day (6-7 hours). Camping would be nice but not mandatory---can anyone recommend a good drive-in campsite in the redwoods of NoCal? OR, it would be cool to stay in a quaint little town somewhere along the way for the first night. Any suggestions?
In addition to lodging- what are some must-see spots along the way? Because we live in SF and can go on shorter trips any given weekend, I assume we will take 101 up through Eureka to hit the coast, rather than taking 1 for the lower segment of the trip...so the sites to highlight should really be between Eureka and Portland. Given the time crunch, we are fine with spectacular lookouts, or quick hikes to waterfalls.
We are considering staying on 101 once we hit Oregon, at least Lincoln City, then taking 18 to Portland. Will we be missing anything spectacular by doing this...should we stay on 101 longer and take a more northern road to Portland?
Then there's Portland. We will be there for at least 2 nights. Where should we stay? We will have a car (obviously), but really prefer walkable areas. It would be nice to park it for a couple of days and wander on foot. AND...what are the best places to eat?
Finally...we will have an extra night that we haven't decided what to do with yet. We could head back Saturday and split the trip up again, and catch something different on the way home (perhaps a great spot more inland?), or we could stay an extra night in Portland and spend the extra day exploring more. What would you suggest?
Thanks for all your help!