Portland is more than nine hours driving from El Cerrito, so when my family and I wanted to explore the area, I did some research and settled on this itinerary for visiting the Oregon Coast with kids.
Driving to Portland from the Bay Area
Night 1: Mendocino
We headed up 101 for a few hours then cut over to Highway 1 via 128 to stay in Mendocino for our first night. (Here’s a glamping option, if you’re into that.) This drive was all about the Redwoods and we all loved the stops we chose.
We drove through The Chandelier Tree in Legget — something I think every California kid should do. (There are other drive-thru trees along this route, too.) A little farther up the road, we stopped at the One Log House which is absolutely worth the $1 entry fee and 15 minutes of your time. Another highlight was exiting the freeway to drive along the Avenue of the Giants.
We stopped for an easy one-hour loop hike in the Founder’s Grove and when our vacation was over, all four of us listed this among the highlights. The trees are amazing and fill you with awe.
Places to stay in Eureka, CA, about 4 hours north of Berkeley >
Night 2: Eureka
The next day we drove from Eureka to Coos Bay, stopping for several hours at The Trees of Mystery — a super kitschy, roadside attraction with a tram ride that takes you through the treetops. We had fun there, but we enjoyed stopping to look at the trees at the more low-key state and national parks more than at this man-made attraction center, so if I had it to do over again we would take pictures with the humongous Paul Bunyon and Babe statues and move on up the road.
Paul Bunyon photo courtesy of The Trees of Mystery website
Another highlight, shortly after crossing into Oregon was the breathtaking stops we took to view the Oregon coast in Boardman State Park.
Nights 3-4: Coos Bay
We stayed in Coos Bay for a few days which was fine, but on the industrial side. In retrospect, we would have preferred to make our base in a cuter town like Newport or Florence. While we were in Coos Bay we took day trips to the beach and to the Oregon Dunes. We took a dune buggy ride for a thrill at Sandland Adventures in Florence and wished we could have spent even more time enjoying the amazing dunes.
VRBO houses in Coos Bay, OR for those who want to stay a few nights >
Nights 5-6: Portland
Then we were off to Portland. Despite what the map shows above, we took a detour, stopping at the Tillamook factory for a free tour (fun!). Tillamook is farther north on Highway 1. So we headed up there, then turned right (okay, maybe it wasn’t literally “right”, but drove East) to get to Portland.
We spent the next day eating Blue Star donuts, shopping, and browsing at Powell’s bookstore.
Raspberry buttermilk, Meyer lemon curd, marionberry jam with peanut dust, almond chocolate ganache, maple bacon, buttermilk old-fashioned.
We drove home straight down I-5 the next day in one very long day on the road.
All photos belong to Wendy Copley, except where mentioned. Pin this post to remember it later!
1 thought on “Vacation Inspiration: Oregon Coast with Kids”
Great tips! Totally second Founders Grove and the dune buggy rides 🙂