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Driving from Portland to San Francisco

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Driving from Portland to San Francisco

As part of a whole West Coast trip, my wife and son (age 9) and I will be driving down from Portland to San Francisco at the end of July '08.

We're going all the way from Seattle to San Diego to celebrate my 40th birthday next year. We're still planning at the moment and need some help, please.

I am allowing for 2 overnight stays on the way and had thought about Coos Bay and then perhaps a longer drive to somewhere on the coast near San Luis Obispo to leave a shorter final drive to SF.

We'd like to stick fairly close to the coast and maybe drive through some redwoods?

Can you please advise me if you think this is a reasonable itinerary?

Florence, Oregon
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1. Re: Driving from Portland to San Francisco

Two days is doable, but three would allow more time to take in the sights.

I'm assuming you would be taking hwy 26 from Portland to the coast?? If this is that case, once you reach Seasdie, you'll need to make a decision whether or not to drive the ~15 miles north to Astoria, or just head south from there. With only two days, I'd head south, stopping at Cannon Beach first.

Cannon Beach to Coos Bay, without stopping, is ~ a 5 hr drive!! Even just taking in a few sights will easily push that to 8-9 hrs.

I'd recommend you spend your first night a little further north if you are going to allow 3 days for a couple of reasons. Coos Bay, while a nice town, is 8 miles from the coast. There are a few decent places to stay, but nothing to write home about. I most often recommend people consider Yachats for a true coastal experience. Beautiful small town right on the ocean with plenty of lodging from $ to $$$$.

If two days is all you can allow, then you might consider Bandon, 30 miles south of Coos Bay. It's a nice coastal town as well, however there are fewer loding options than Yachats.

Portland, Oregon
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2. Re: Driving from Portland to San Francisco

I'm a little confused... Are you planning two nights between Portland and San Francisco, or Seattle and San Diego? San Luis Obispo is a couple hundred miles south of San Francisco.

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3. Re: Driving from Portland to San Francisco

Sorry mistletoe - I did mean 2 nights (3 days) from Portland to SF.

I've been confusing myself over the geography of the West Coast - I really do need help :-)

Of course, San Luis Obispo is on a later leg of the trip.

I was looking for somewhere that would leave 3-4 hours at most from SF for the last day - any suggestions would be gratefully received.

Eugene, Oregon
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4. Re: Driving from Portland to San Francisco

I'm also somewhat confused. It's about 6-7 hours from the Oregon border to SF along the Redwood Hwy (101). Continuing on 101 to San Luis Obispo is at least 3-4 hours (add a couple more hours if you think you'll go down Hwy 1 via Big Sur and Hearst Castle!). San Luis Obispo to San Diego (through the L.A./Orange County obstacle course) can take 8-10 hours...or more, depending on the time of day and situation when you hit L.A. And this stretch is all on I-5 and I-405. Get off the freeways and try to follow the coast through LA and you'll have to add lots more time (with a lot of unpleasant driving if you're not familiar with the area).

And I haven't dealt with the driving times in Oregon because they will be totally dependent on what you want to see and do. If it were up to me I'd plan for more than just 2 overnight breaks. To do it your way, you'll be spending a lot more hours in your car than I think most 9 year olds would sit still for. Plus, it would mean seeing everything enroute through your windshield and having no time to explore and experience. Coos Bay and San Luis Obispo are nice towns, but wouldn't be my choices for the two best stopovers.

It's not clear how many days you have planned for the trip, but I would certainly suggest making at least three or four overnight stops.

Oregon Coast
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5. Re: Driving from Portland to San Francisco

Hi, acciesfan ~~ Hmmm, I think you are going to want to add at least one more night between Portland and SF, maybe two. It's a pretty long drive. Here are the approximate driving times in hours, without *any* stops, driving at or about the speed limit here:

Portland to the coast -- Hwy 101 = 1.5 to 2 (near Cannon Beach)

Cannon Beach to the California border = 8

California border to downtown SF = 7.5

Since you are coming in July, add about 20% to these times to allow for traffic. So you can see if you add any stops at all, even for the usual toilets, lunch and gas (petrol) you are getting a lot of hours driving. And to add in some stops to see a few attractions ..... well, you can estimate how long it will take.

The road is good along Hwy 101 (although our paving is not as nice as yours at home!), but the distances here are long.

Farther south, from SF to the north LA area is a nice two day/one night drive down Hwy 1 along the coast (highly recommended), or Hwy 101 partial coast, partial inland route. Many visitors stop overnight in the Pismo Beach, Cambria or San Luis Obispo area.

All right, back to Oregon .... suggest you drive to the coast, drive south to about Yachats or Newport for your first night; the next night stop in Gold Beach or Brookings; the next night in Eureka; then from there drive to SF. That still is a lot of driving day after day, between 4 and 6 hours. So you might want to think about adding another night into this stretch to make it more comfortable and allow yourselves to see things along the way!

Redwoods: As you drive down 101, you will go straight through a lot of redwoods between Crescent City and Eureka, California. Then about 50 miles south of Eureka, there is another patch of redwoods, and be sure to take time to drive through the Avenue of the Giants, a 30 mile bit of "old 101".

Here are some websites that may help, and feel free to keep asking questions -- it's great that you are planning ahead :-))

www.101milebymile.com

www.avenueofthegiants.net

traveloregon.com/Explore-Oregon/Oregon-Coast…

We can also assist you with your choices as to lodging, tourist activities and even restaurants!

Oregon Coast
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6. Re: Driving from Portland to San Francisco

Hi again ~~ To carry over from the California forum, here is what I would suggest for Oregon. Since your time is so limited, but you still want to see some of our beautiful coastline, here are two options:

1) Drive south from Portland on I-5 to Salem. Then you'd take Hwy 22 (Salem Parkway) toward the beaches and Lincoln City. Follow Hwy 22 westbound until you reach Hwy 18, and then continue westbound on Hwy 18. When you reach Lincoln City, go south on Hwy 101 to Newport. It will take about 3 hours to get to Newport.

On the way, you will drive past a couple of vineyards, rolling farmland, an Indian gaming casino, through a preserved forest, and through one of the few privately owned towns in the US. Lincoln City itself is a long stretch of a town, but then south of it you'll see the ocean and go through a community with the world's smallest harbour, up over scenic Cape Foulweather and into Newport.

2) Drive south from Portland on I-5 until you reach Exit #228, which is Hwy 34, toward Corvallis and ocean beaches. Continue westbound about 10 miles and there will be a well-marked left turn toward the ocean beaches. (You are then on Hwy 34/20) Continue onward and stay straight on Hwy 20 toward Newport. You will drive through young forests, some recently logged areas, remnants of old logging towns. There is a covered bridge just to the south of the Hwy about 35 miles along. Then you will end up in Newport. This route also takes about 3 hours.

Okay, in Newport, there are two lighthouses, both open for tours; an excellent aquarium; a marine science center (free); the bayfront with sea lions on the docks; a nice beach, etc. After seeing Newport, drive south on Hwy 101 to Yachats, about 25 miles. This is a nice place to spend the night. There are motels in all price ranges, several restaurants and it's a lovely little seaside town.

Next day, continue south on your journey to Eureka, Calif. You'll go through spectacular scenery, and it will take about 6 hours. Then from Eureka, the drive to SF will take about 5-6 hours. It's a lot of driving in this segment, but then you'll have your SF days where you'll not need to drive in the city!

Portland, Oregon
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7. Re: Driving from Portland to San Francisco

Geez, half-Brit, hard to compete! You know your stuff. ;-) If you're still with us, acciesfan, and have only two nights between Portland and San Francisco, I'd pick option 2 of half-Brit's most recent post. And if it fits the budget (and why shouldn't it with the $$ so weak) stay at the Overleaf Lodge in Yachats. The setting there is unsurpassed on the Oregon coast. Really! Or, at least in my opinion. :-)

If you can somehow manage another night on the Oregon coast, I think I'd still recommend half-Brit's option 2; at least for the first day/night. Where you'd spend the next two would depend on whether you'd prefer a dune buggy ride or a jetboat trip up the Rogue River.

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8. Re: Driving from Portland to San Francisco

Hi mistletoe - still here:-)

I've taken the advice and squeezed in another night between Portland and SF (it means one night less in Seattle, though!)

Thanks for the advice. The jet boat trip sounds awesome!

My wife likes the look of the Benbow Inn at the end of the Avenue of Giants and would like to have one night there.

If we have the first night at Yachats, would you recommend Benbow for the second,or third night?

Eugene, Oregon
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9. Re: Driving from Portland to San Francisco

The Benbow Inn is a true delight. Try and get there early enough for afternoon tea if you can. Dinner is elegant and breakfast also special (my New York cousin still claims they served the best oatmeal he's ever had). In the summer, they often have evening concerts or Shakespeare in the gardens by the water. It's a fine follow-up to your drive through the nearby Avenue of the Giants.

Portland, Oregon
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10. Re: Driving from Portland to San Francisco

The jetboats run from Gold Beach, so that's where I suggest for the second night. Do the half day trip the next morning before heading down to Benbow Inn.