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Thoughts on itinerary - Portland to WIllamette to coast

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Chicago, IL
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Thoughts on itinerary - Portland to WIllamette to coast

Hi everyone -

I am wondering if you might be able to take a look at this very flexible itinerary. We are heading there in late September. I have a few questions along the way, as far as what areas to stay in and if there are any suggestions.

Fri.

Fly in to Portland in a.m., Spend day/night in Portland/explore the city

Sat.

Spend day/night in Portland

Sun.

Get up early, drive to the Columbia River Gorge/Mt. Hood area/spend the entire day in this area

I am trying to decide if we should spend Sunday night back in Portland at the same hotel, or at this point on Sunday evening make our way down to the Willamette Valley and spend the night there. How would the drive be from Columbia River Gorge to the valley?

Mon.

All day exploring Northern Willamette Valley wine region (Carlton, Newberg, McMinnville areas)

Spend a little time at the Evergreen Aviation Museum

That evening drive to the coast. Any suggestions on where to stay? Depoe Bay or another coastal town?)

Tues.

Explore the coast in the Depoe Bay area/Devil's Churn, Yaquina Head Lighthouse/Newport area all day

Spend night at Heceta Head Lighthouse in Yachats

Wed.

Explore more of the coast, Sea Lion Caves, Cape Perpetua. Spend night at Heceta Head Lighthouse

Thurs.

Drive down to Florence, explore dunes, take a dune buggy ride, explore more of coast

Spend night in Gold Beach (any suggestions?)

Fri.

Up early for a jet boat ride on the Rogue River, explore area in the afternoon, drive back to Portland late that day.

Spend night in Portland

Sat.

Fly out of Portland

It is our first time in the area and we cannot wait!!! As you can see we want to do a lot!

Thank you in advance for any help you can provide!

Berkeley, California
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1. Re: Thoughts on itinerary - Portland to WIllamette to coast

Hi -

You're picking a great time of year to visit - with any luck you'll enjoy warm days in the 70s and coolish nights in the 50s. Late Sept. is usually just about the best weather of the year in OR.

With respect to your question about your Mt Hood/Columbia Gorge loop, you could really do it either way. Best plan is to loop around Mt Hood on Hwy 26 and Hwy 97, connecting to I-84 in Hood River. You can make the loop either way - if you visit the Gorge first, then go up Mt Hood and return via Hwy 26, you will still come back into Portland. If you choose to spend that night in the wine country area, it's only another 30 minutes or so of additional driving once you get back to Portland.

So it really depends on your preference - if you have a place in Portland that you like (or if you want a greater selection of restaurants and entertainment), you might want to stay an additional night in Portland. You're going to find fewer options in wine country, which is pretty quiet and laid back for the most part. Besides, most of the wineries don't open for tasting before 10 or 11 in the morning anyway, which gives you plenty of time to get down there the following morning, if that's what you decide to do.

Speaking of wine country, here are a few recommendations for nice places to eat: Tina's in Dundee, Nick's Italian Cafe in McMinnville, or the Painted Lady in Newberg - none of these places are cheap, but all are excellent. For a great midday snack (and to soak up all that Oregon pinot you'll be tasting) try the truffled french fries at the Dundee Bistro on the main highway in Dundee.

Have a great visit - you have an admirably ambitious itinerary!

Portland, Oregon
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2. Re: Thoughts on itinerary - Portland to WIllamette to coast

Wow. That sounds like an awesome trip. Except for the drive back to Portland from Gold Beach, which--at 6 hours--seems like a long time in the car. Other than that, pretty sweet.

I'd probably spend Sunday night at your Portland hotel, just because the gorge is so awesome. But since you seem into unique places to stay (Heceta Head Lighthouse), Abbey Road Farm is pretty cool if you decide to sleep in the valley.

Depoe Bay seems like the logical place to stay for your first night on the coast. It's a little more centralized and walkable than Lincoln City, and there's no shortage of places to stay.

Tu Tu Tun is the place to be in Gold Beach. You can even point to it on your jetboat ride.

Kudos to you on planning such a fun vacation.

Portland, Oregon
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3. Re: Thoughts on itinerary - Portland to WIllamette to coast

Substitute "35" with "97" in sundog99's reply above, methinks.

Portland, Oregon
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4. Re: Thoughts on itinerary - Portland to WIllamette to coast

And substitute "for" for "with" in my post above.

Chicago, IL
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5. Re: Thoughts on itinerary - Portland to WIllamette to coast

Thank you to both of you for your thoughts and recommendations! I really appreciate it! I have been doing a lot of reading on these forums and I think I finally am making headway as to what our best plan of action should be.

That said, is there anything else that I may be missing out on along the coast? Points of interest that are not to be missed other than the ones I already listed? Would you stay in Depoe Bay over another coastal town in the area - Newport perhaps? It sounds like Newport is on the busier side of things and I'm thinking a quaint coastal town might be nice, with a day stop in Newport.

I will definitely look into that Abby Farms and those restaurant suggestions sound great!

Berkeley, California
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6. Re: Thoughts on itinerary - Portland to WIllamette to coast

Ack! I suffered a (hopefully temporary) brain fade in my earlier post... as Oregone correctly points out, the highways that loop around Mount Hood are indeed Hwy 26 and Hwy 35.

Longview, Washington
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7. Re: Thoughts on itinerary - Portland to WIllamette to coast

Oregone is correct. It's Hwy 35 from Mt. Hood to Hood River, thru Parkdale. Beautiful drive.

Agree with the others who suggest staying Sunday night and starting the wine country tours in the morning. You will also want to spend more than a little time at Evergreen Aviation Museum. We were just down there last week, it is very interesting. Try and get on a tour with one of the docents. You will learn so much more about all the planes.

Depoe Bay would be a great place to spend the night. It is about halfway between Lincoln City and Newport, so it is a easy drive to either place.

It's been a while since we did the jet boat ride from Gold Beach, but as I recall we left early in the morning, had lunch in Agness and returned mid-afternoon. You will probably need to backtrack to Reedsport and then hwy 38 across to Cottage Grove.

Most of the trip up I-5 to Portland will be after dark. Although we have very long days in June, by September they are getting considerably shorter.

All in all, it looks like great trip and September is usually reasonably good weather. Have fun!

Portland, Oregon
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8. Re: Thoughts on itinerary - Portland to WIllamette to coast

I'm thinking you should stick with Depoe Bay for Monday night. It's not as cool as it used to be since the time-shares have stretched north half way to Boiler Bay, but it's still a nice little town. I like hanging out on that little walkway that goes under 101 and watching the fishermen filet their catch and throw the guts to the waiting sea lions. I like that crazy bookstore just south of the bridge with all the cats. I like sitting down at Gracie's Sea Hag and having some totally overcooked scallops. I like walking down to the docks and pretending I'm R.P. MacMurphy--commandeering a vacant fishing trawler. I like the secret beach that you can't get to without using the cable to help you rappel down to the sand. Depoe Bay is a good spot.

Portland, OR
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9. Re: Thoughts on itinerary - Portland to WIllamette to coast

This looks like a well thought out itinerary.

Rather than spend the night in Portland on the way back from The Gorge/Mt Hood, you could head straight to the wine country and then stay the night there after tasting. Saves you from having to drive a long distance after drinking wine.

If you stay the night in the wine country you could pass through Depot Bay in the morning and then instead of staying the night there, head on down to Yachats for the night.

Depot Bay is nice but there aren't any beaches, just rocky shoreline. I like the town, though. Laid back and quaint.

A nice quiet beach to spend some time on is Southbeach, which is just south of Newport after you cross the Yaquina Bay bridge. Every time I have been there I have almost had the beach to myself! Great for a long walk before heading further south.

Enjoy your trip! Oregon is beautiful in late Sept.

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10. Re: Thoughts on itinerary - Portland to WIllamette to coast

Try to have a meal at the Dundee Bistro in Dundee, very good food, service and nice ambiance, I have a review posted of our time there this past October during our grape picking trip to the wine country.

In Carlton, don't miss the Winemaker's Studio and a visit to Scott Paul who produces some very nice Pinot Noir. Looks like a great trip! :)