Oregon Road Trip Route

Ever since our trip to Oregon last month, I have been trying to figure out a way to share what a wonderful and worthwhile road trip Oregon is and to give some more concrete details of the routes we took (that turned out to be amazing) and the recommendable places that we stayed. If there is a recommendation missing for a particular day it is because our accommodations were just okay, but we aren’t going to suggest it. Click on the map below to see all of the our favorite landmarks in more detail, and read below for more of the nitty gritty on which route to take and hotels that we loved.

Leg 1: Fresno to Redding

We knew we had to cover quite a bit of ground on this first day, but we also didn’t have any major plans in Redding so we made sure to take our time and stop at a few fun places along the way. This is also not a scenic drive so we routed our trip based on the ease of the drive.

Day 1 route: HWY 99 north ~> HWY 120 west (in Manteca) ~> I-5 north (in Manteca)

Stop: Ghiradelli Outlet
Off I-5 in Lathrop
Lots of chocolate and ice cream sundaes!
Stop: Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park
Off: HWY 80 in Sacramento
Very cool self-guided tour of some California history. The fort is set up just as it was in the early nineteenth century. It was crazy hot when we visited but it was still a fun stop to break up a day of driving.
Visit: Sundial Bridge at Turtle Bay Exploration Park in Redding.
Off: I-5

Leg 2: Redding to Bend

This day started off very smoky as there was a fire burning in southern Oregon. Unfortunately we missed some of the beautiful scenery because of the smoke. However once we got a little ways into central Oregon it cleared and we really enjoyed the drive and the stops along the way.

Day 2 route: I-5 north ~> HWY 97 north (Weed, Ca) ~> HWY 62 north ~>HWY 138 east ~> HWY 97 north

Views from the road: A very smoky view of Mount Shasta. We also drove over Lake Shasta and could barely see it. I think this area would be gorgeous to drive through but we’ll have to catch it on another trip.
Stop: Looking for a potty stop for the kids on our way to Crater Lake on HWY 62 we happened upon Annie Creek Canyon. We were able to stretch our leg, pee behind a tree 😁, and see an awesome canyon for a quick little ten minute stop. 👍🏻
Stop: Our favorite last minute stop was Crater Lake. When mapping our trip we thought Crater Lake National Park would be too difficult to access and still get to Bend in time to enjoy the town. Thankfully, we spontaneously decided to turn off HWY 97 and side track to see this spectacular lake. (Being in the crater of a volcano, it is the deepest lake in the United States which creates the most beautiful blues.)
Stay: Riverhouse on the Deschutes
This hotel was amazing! Our room overlooked the river and we were able to sit on our balcony and enjoy listening to the river.

Leg 3: Bend to Portland

This was one of my favorite days on the road because I had no idea what to expect and was totally in awe of the ever changing landscapes. With volcanoes on the horizon the entire drive, we also passed through desert canyons, saw Smith Rock from the road (would have stopped if time permitted), and eventually made our way into lush forests as we neared Mount Hood and Portland.

Day 3 route: HWY 97 north ~> HWY 26 north (in Madras) ~> I-84 (in Gresham)

Stop: Before leaving Bend we stopped at McMennamin’s Old St. Francis School to soak in their Turkish Bath. We had the place to ourselves on a Monday around 11am. The water is warm and buoyant. We enjoyed floating, soaking and relaxing before we headed out on the next leg of our adventure.
Stop: Exiting HWY 26, we took a brief detour up to Mount Hood to check out this volcano. It was a cool little stop but if you don’t have time, driving along the 26 you’ll have plenty of awesome views that probably are enough.
Stay: The Inn at Northrupp Station
This quirky Portland hotel in the Northwest neighborhood was PERFECT for our stay in the city. The room had two queen beds, plus a living room and kitchen area. It was a great little space to settle into for a few nights. There was also an expansive continental breakfast each morning and various activities throughout the week including Movie Night Monday, Wine Down Wednesday, Hoppy Hour Thursday, and Sundae Sundays all presented in the lobby in the evening. Plus they provide tickets to the Portland Streetcar and the hotel is in walking distance to tons of amazing restaurants in NW Portland. We definitely recommend this place if you are visiting Portland!

Day 4: Day in Portland

Stop: Powell’s Books is a must on a visit to Portland. The four of us had so much fun exploring the aisles and this guy was thrilled to find a one of a kind Magic Tree House Journal! Seriously, they really seem to have ALL. THE. BOOKS.
Stop: Portland Children’s Museum
If you love children’s museums like we do, Portland’s is a must. Located in Washington Park near the Portland Zoo and a handful of other museums to explore, if you have kids this is a great area to spend some time when in Portland. There is tons of parking and also access by bus and light rail. We spent a couple of hours taking in the awesome exhibits (our favorites were the outdoor water play area and the theater where the kids got to perform and do puppet shows) and then we hopped on the free Washington Park shuttle that took us to the International Rose Test Garden.
Stop: International Rose Test Garden
Such a beautiful treat for the senses. The actual garden is down below the parking, stores, and shuttle drop off, so we actually smelled the roses before we saw them. We spent our evening strolling through these gorgeous flowers on the winding paths of the garden. The kids loved it as much as we did.

Day 5: Day trip to Multnomah Falls from Portland. Route: I-84 east from Portland, exit 31 on left to access best Multnomah Falls Parking; continue on I-84 east to next turn off, East Historic Columbia River Highway (west). Return to Portland on I-84

Stop: Multnomah Falls and neighboring waterfalls.
This was one of our favorites days of the trip. The previous day in Portland had been fun but exhausting due to our choice to navigate a big city by public transit with two little ones. A day in nature was exactly what we needed, and this short drive out of Portland provided some spectacular nature! The route above is what we wish we had done to have saved a little time, however, the views are incredible and calm so even if you circle around a few times looking for parking you can still have an amazing day. Multnomah Falls is the busiest and most famous of the falls, with the bridge that can be reached on a short hike. We totally think this is worth doing! However, don’t stop there. When you are done exploring Multnomah Falls drive just a bit further (see route above) to access a few more incredible waterfalls that are much less busy and are really easy to reach.
Multnomah Falls

Leg 4: Portland to Newport

I was arguably the most excited about this travel day because of my childhood love of the Goonies and our planned stops in Astoria and Cannon Beach. Again, the views were spectacular and now we were along the Oregon Coast taking in yet another beautiful landscape. We also managed to squeeze in a stop for dinner and a self-guided tour at Tillamook. Such a full day but I wouldn’t change a thing.

Day 6 route: From Portland I-5 north ~> HWY 30 west (in Kelso) ~> Exit to Astoria (for Goonies fun ~> HWY 101 south (exit for Cannon Beach, Tillamook, then all the way to Newport)

Stop: This Goonies lover could not visit Astoria and skip the Oregon Film Museum. This museum is located in the jail where the beginning of Goonies is filmed and features a few interactive exhibits of all of the major motion pictures that have been filmed in Oregon, with a primary focus on the Goonies. We were shopping at the gift shop and the gal working the register was about our age. We got talking to her about movies of the 1980s and she made an excellent point. As a kids she said she never really like Ferris Bueller because he was ditching school and stealing cars, and was naughty… but the Goonies, they were helping save their town in a way that the adults in the film couldn’t.
Stop: Cannon Beach was a fun stop for it’s Goonies connections too, but I wish we had planned to stay here longer. It is obviously a touristy beach, as you can see in this picture, but it was huge, and there was so much the kids could have done on the beach if we had more time. It is also a darling coastal town. It reminded us a lot of Carmel. If we were doing the trip again, we would stay here for at least a night.
Stop: While on HWY 101 south you will go inland for a stretch and it will take you through the town of Tillamook and right by the factory/creamery experience. It is definitely worth a stop. The tour is self-guided, free, and really cool… and the restaurant and creamery were delicious!
All along the coastal drive, there are turnouts that reveal amazing views! Stop and enjoy the incredible scenery! (Plus, we were so grateful we had rearranged our trip to head south along the coast because it allowed for easy turn-offs without crossing traffic whenever we wanted to take a closer look.) There is a great turnout in Depoe Bay that looks out onto an area known for whale activity. We stopped in the early evening and were able to see lots of whales spouting and surfacing in the ten minutes we were there.

Day 7: Day in Newport

After some yummy seafood in the seaside village of Newport, we decided to drive the coast a bit more because the drizzly weather was too wet for a day at the beach.
Stop: One of the coolest landforms to checkout in the area is Devil’s Punchbowl, just north of Newport. There is a large parking lot and the walk to the site is very easy and accessible. We read that it is best at sunset, but it was still worth the visit at midday.
Stay: While in Newport we stayed at The Landing at Newport. It was a private condo that was managed through a rental company. It was quaint, had a cool view of the harbor, and was in a good location. It wasn’t our favorite place to stay but it worked out nicely for our family and is worth recommending. Note: Newport is a working fishing village and it does smell like one. We loved that the kids were able to see various parts of the fishing industry on our visit here, but consider yourself warned. 🙂

Leg 5: Newport to Brookings

Though we were starting to feel the ware of the driving and the trip at this point, we still were absolutely loving the amazing stops and time together exploring Oregon. We made sure to focus on the journey rather than trying to get to our destination early. There is so much to stop and see along the way and we were grateful that we took the time to see so much of it (though not nearly all of the things that were there). We also were thrilled with our hotel in Brookings. It was the perfect calm end to a long day of driving. The kids played on the beach while we waited for a pizza to be delivered for dinner. This was another fantastic day.

Day 8 route: From Newport ~> HWY 101 south (exit for all of the amazing coastal views and sites – see below) all the way to Brookings

Stop: Thor’s Well and the surrounding area provide gorgeous views and decent tide pools. Just be careful to avoid going at high tide.
Area near Thor’s Well.
Tide pools near Thor’s Well.
Thor’s Well. We got here near high tide and so we couldn’t get at close as we wanted but it was still really cool.
Stop: Heceta Head Lighthouse. The lighthouse itself is very cool with lots to learn about, but my favorite were the views on the hike to and from the lighthouse. Parking was $5 and there was a place to pay by credit card but cash would have been easier.
Hiking to Heceta Head Lighthouse. It was a little bit of a trek but good to stretch our legs with all of the driving.
A view from the hike to Heceta Head Lighthouse.
Stay: Beachfront Inn in Brookings. This hotel was right on the beach. The rooms were lovely. It had a heated pool and a really great continental breakfast! We loved our stay here!
View from our hotel room in Brookings.

Leg 6: Brooking to Fort Bragg

Day 9 route: From Brookings ~> HWY 101 south ~> HWY 1 south (in Leggett) ~> HWY 271 to Drive Through Tree ~> HWY 1 south to Fort Bragg

Hanging out with Paul Bunyan at Trees of Mystery in North Klamath, CA.
Stop: Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.
We enjoyed getting out of the car to walk around through the giant redwoods.
Stop: Now this might be the biggest gimmick we have ever fallen for, but it is cool to say we drove through the Chandelier Tree. $10 to drive through the tree… but be sure your car will fit when you pay!
Stay: For the final night of our trip we were treated to an amazing upgrade at the Surf and Sand Lodge. We were supposed to get one of the standard rooms but were hooked up with the Owner’s Suite. It was amazing! We cannot speak to the standard rooms, but the quality of the owner’s suite suggests that the other rooms would also be very nice. And who knows, you might get the upgrade too! (We were there on a Sunday night.)

Leg 7: Fort Bragg to Fresno

Day 10 route: Use Google Maps to find your best option for the day you are traveling.

Get home safely and on a route that is least crowded. We used Google Maps to determine which route was our best bet to get us home as quickly as possible. This 8 hour drive was the longest of the trip. We were all tired, sad that the trip was over, and not ready for work the next day. Nevertheless, we would do it again tomorrow if given the chance! 😉 I hope this helps plan a trip to Oregon or just inspires you to go somewhere new! Happy travels!

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