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(Last Updated On: May 3, 2024)

Living in Eureka California, a Northern California Oregon road trip has become quite the regular commute for me. I LOVE showing friends and family this stretch of coast line and use this exact itinerary when showing people around. It seems silly that it took me this long to share it with all of you! I’ll be covering the best sights and scenic routes as well as things to do in cities along the way!

Note: This itinerary works well in both directions, whether you’re starting in Oregon or California. Just reverse it if needed!

An epic itinerary with the best sights and scenic routes to take you to the best there is to see of a Northern California Oregon Road Trip.

All photos in collaboration with Johnathon DeSoto.

Northern California Oregon Road Trip Starting Points:

MAP VIEW

San Francisco, California

Some friends of mine from Michigan flew into San Francisco, rented a van from Travellers Autobarn and drove North where we started the road trip at Avenue of the Giants 4 hours away. San Francisco is an easy city to fly into and rent a vehicle from and starts you out right away on the California 101 Highway.

Portland, Oregon

Portland is a great city to end at or start at. Even though it’s not on the coast, it has a major airport with reasonable flight and car/van rental prices. Portland is only about an hour away from the coast where you’ll start this epic Northern California Oregon road trip.

As you can see from the map, there are a LOT of scenic spots to stop at. So, let’s get to it.

The Road Trip Route (Going North)

As mentioned in my intro, use bits and pieces of this itinerary if you can’t swing the whole thing or don’t want to! I’ve done this in sections myself, but know that it would make for an epic road trip done all at once as well.

Avenue of the Giants Epic Road shot
Photo in Collaboration with Blaine Scinta

1. Avenue of the Giants

The Avenue of the Giants is a 31 mile scenic highway in NorCal that runs adjacent to the 101 highway. This stretch of highway has been called the “Finest Forest Drive in the World”, and for good reason. I highly recommend taking the scenic byway if you have a few minutes to spare, because on this drive are some of the most scenic Redwood areas I have seen!

There are some really easy drive up spots and quick stop spots that I recommend! Check out my full blog post with all the details HERE!

Where to Stay: Scotia Lodge, Humboldt Redwoods State Park Campground

Redwood Skywalk in Eureka California
Redwood Skywalk in Eureka

2. Eureka, California

I’ve lived in Eureka now for 2.5 years and have never mentioned things to do until now! Eureka’s Old Town has some fun stops if you’re passing through or if you want to stay a bit longer.

Things to do in Eureka:

  • Samoa Dunes on the Ocean
    • Drive out to the Samoa Dunes and find so many beach pull off options. You can drive your car on the beach here too at the North Jetty. Stop in at Humboldt Bay Social Club for oysters or a hot toddy after!
  • Carson Mansion and Pink Lady Mansion
  • Dick Taylor Chocolate (if you like dark chocolate, you NEED to stop)
  • TONS of Humboldt Dispensaries (if that’s your thing!)
    • HPRC Arcata Cannabis Dispensary is our go-to when friends want to stop in
  • Sequoia Park and Sequoia Zoo Redwood Skywalk

Where to Stay:

California Oregon Road Trip Itinerary
view from Luffenholtz Beach

3. Trinidad, California

Trinidad area has some of my all-time favorite beaches in California. Lush cliff-sides with rock formations scattered along the coast make this the perfect spot for sunset or a lunch break.

I highly recommend going to Sue-Meg State Park here too for the day or to camp!

Trinidad Favorites:

  • Moonstone Beach
  • Luffenholtz Beach
  • Houda Point
  • College Cove
  • Trinidad Head
  • Wedding Rock
  • Agate Beach

Where to Stay:

4. Fern Canyon

This canyon of ferns is spectacular and a must-see in my opinion!! Grab your waterproof boots and a timed-reservation (May 1st-Sept 30th) to head down the windy dirt road to the trailhead. It is a very short hike in and camping options are available by reservation on the same road. Check out my Youtube video above for a visual of this place!

Fun Fact: Jurassic Park film ‘The Lost World’ was filmed here!

Check out my complete guide with lots of photos HERE!

Where to Stay: Gold Bluffs Beach: $35, 5 minute drive from trailhead or Elk Prairie Campground: $35, 35 minute drive from trailhead. Or Elk Meadows Cabins

Add-on: Check out Trillium Falls Trail at the beginning of the road for towering Redwoods! As well as the Newton B Drury Scenic Alternative to check out: Big Tree Wayside, and Corkscrew Tree.

Ultimate Guide to California Oregon Road Trip Itinerary

5. Damnation Creek Trail

Time and time again this ends up being my favorite Redwood Trail. It’s very close to the coast so you can get an assortment of fog and light rays here.

The trail itself is 3 miles, but this photo was taken at 0.5 miles in. You don’t have to go far for epic views and its RIGHT off of the 101 just south of Crescent City. Definitely worth a stop if you aren’t sick of Redwoods yet haha.

If you’re looking for even more Redwoods in this area I highly recommend Jedediah Smith State Park. Read about my favorite trails HERE.

Crescent Beach Overlook

6. Crescent City

Crescent City is often overlooked. Many people drive around it to get to Brookings or to head straight to the Redwoods. But there are many gems here that I love to visit whenever I pass through.

  • Crescent Beach Overlook
  • Enderts Beach
  • Battery Point Lighthouse
  • Seaquake Brewing
  • Kin Khao Thai Eatery
  • Howland Hill Road

Where to stay:

Samuel H Boardman Secret Beach Photo spot on Northern California Oregon Road Trip
Secret Beach Photo by @jhamilbader

7. Samuel H Boardman Scenic Corridor

This 12 mile stretch of highway includes some of the most scenic coastal landscapes I’ve seen. From natural bridges and unique rock formations in the ocean, you do not want to miss this stop.

  • Natural Bridges viewing platform and hike
  • Secret Beach Trail
  • Myers Creek Beach
  • Whaleshead Beach

Where to stay:

More details in my guide:

Blacklock point Photo spot on California Oregon Road Trip
Photo by Jhamil Bader

8. Floras Lake State Natural Area

Floras Lake State Natural Area has forested trails that lead to rugged coastal views and more sea stacks! It is more remote than other coastal areas in Oregon, so if you’re looking for time away from other people, this might be the area for you.

Check out this INCREDIBLE Treehouse Airbnb nearby

Bandon Oregon Sea stacks
Face Rock State Scenic Viewpoint – photo by me

9. Bandon, Oregon

Sea stacks GALORE at this Northern California Oregon Road Trip Stop. These rocks come in…uh… all different sizes.

Bandon has a super cute old town full of waterfront shops and restaurants. If you’re into seafood, this is a great stop.

Check out my full guide on Bandon HERE:

Oregon Dunes
photo by me

10. Oregon Dunes

I visited John Dellenback Dunes Trailhead halfway between Bandon and Florence Oregon and my mind was BLOWN by how large these dunes are. These dunes stretch for about 40 miles and have scenic views of the ocean.

11. Florence, Oregon

Florence, Oregon is one of the dreamier places I’ve visited on the coast. The Heceta Head Lighthouse overlooking a stunning coast line really sets the tone. Enjoy beaches, forest hiking, sand boarding and more here.

  • Heceta Head Lighthouse State Scenic VIewpoint
  • Cape Creek Bridge
  • Sea Lion Caves
  • Sand Master Sandboarding
  • South Jetty Beaches

Where to Stay:

Adobe Stock: Neskowin Beach

12. Neskowin Beach

This beach area is on my list as this massive sea rock with trees atop looks absolutely magical. If you make it there, let me know how it is in real life!! I bet sunrise or sunset here would be incredible.

Mcphillips Beach – photo in collaboration with Emilie Hofferber

13. Cape Kiwanda & Pacific City

Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area is a gorgeous sandstone headland in Pacific City that offers incredible ocean views. The sand here has orange hues and you can even climb a dune to get a better view at the sea stack in the distance!

  • Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area
  • Pelican Brewing (beers/food with ocean views!)

On your way North be sure to stop at Tillamook Creamery for some famous Oregon Dairy products!

Where to Stay:

Oswald West State Park

14. Oswald West State Park

This part of the Oregon coast is known for it’s dramatic cliffs and good surf spots!

Check out:

  • Cape Falcon Hike
  • Elk Flats Trail

And nearby is Hug Point State Recreation Area that is on my list!

Photo of Cannon Beach in Collaboration with Disa Wold

15. Cannon Beach

The first time I went to Cannon Beach I had NEVER seen a rock formation like this in the ocean. It really blew me away and I still think of it as one of the more romantic places you can visit on the Oregon Coast. Just a little over an hour away from Portland, this is the last stop on our Northern California Oregon Road Trip Itinerary.

  • Sunset at Haystack Rock
  • Local Shops
  • Tidepools
  • Breweries

Where to Stay:

Northern California Oregon Road Trip Coast Itineraries

Here I’ll break down different itinerary options and how many days you should budget for each!

San Francisco Start and End Itinerary

This is the exact itinerary my friends and I just did.

Day 1:

  • Rent Van or Car from San Francisco
  • Avenue of the Giants
  • Stay at Scotia Lodge or Camp at Humboldt Redwoods State Park Campground

Day 2:

  • Eureka
  • Trinidad Beaches
  • Fern Canyon
  • Stay at Gold Bluff Beach or Elk Prairie Campground

Road Trip Day 3

  • Trillium Falls
  • Big Tree Wayside
  • Damnation Creek
  • Dinner at Seaquake
  • Crescent Beach Overlook for sunset
  • Stay at Ramblin Redwoods Campground or Treehouse Airbnb

Day 4

  • Samuel H Boardman Trails and Pull offs
  • Sushi in Brookings
  • Drive back south to Avenue of the Giants for last night

Full San Francisco to Portland Itinerary

If you are wanting to do the complete itinerary with all 15 stops, I would budget no less than 1 week to complete the whole route.

FULL SAN FRANCISCO TO PORTLAND ITINERARY HERE

Have itinerary questions?? Drop a comment below!

More Nearby Destinations:

If you are looking to extend your trip, check out these other nearby destinations:

Conclusion: Northern California Oregon Road Trip Itinerary

No matter how you break up this itinerary to work for you, I know you’ll see some incredible views. I’m finishing up renovations on my 1999 chevy express van and am really itching to do this full road trip myself! What destination would you be most excited to see from this list? Let me know in the comments below!

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An epic itinerary with the best sights and scenic routes to take you to the best there is to see of a Northern California Oregon Road Trip.

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20 Comments

  1. Deirdre on August 22, 2022 at 6:04 pm

    Awesome itinerary. The John Dellenback Dunes look like alot of fun.

  2. […] Mount Rainier National Park Oregon Coast […]

  3. Charles Krim on March 21, 2024 at 7:55 pm

    “Wow, this article really got me excited to plan my next road trip! The diversity of landscapes and destinations mentioned here is truly inspiring. I’ve been to a few of these places, but there are definitely some hidden gems I can’t wait to explore. Thanks for putting together such a comprehensive guide with helpful tips and recommendations. Can’t wait to hit the road and create some unforgettable memories!” Now I’m exploring: https://wildkamp.ph/blog/blogs/unveiling-the-reasons-that-make-bacolod-the-city-of-smiles/

  4. Stephanie Collins on April 4, 2024 at 6:41 pm

    Hi, I am unable to see the full San Francisco to portland itinerary, can you send it to me via email?

    • Miss Rover on April 4, 2024 at 8:40 pm

      Just emailed you!

      • Ashley on April 15, 2024 at 5:50 pm

        I would also like a link to the full itinerary. This looks INCREDIBLE!

        • Miss Rover on April 17, 2024 at 11:21 am

          Heck yeah!! So I’m understanding the confusion now and the entire post is the itinerary. But I’m going to work on a day by day one for the full itinerary and get it posted asap!! But in the meantime if you have any specific questions while planning your trip I’d be happy to answer those via email!

        • Miss Rover on May 3, 2024 at 10:49 pm

          Hello!! following up! I finally finished a more extensive full itinerary per request! Its linked under the Full Itinerary in this post! https://missrover.com/san-francisco-to-portland-road-trip/

      • Lynn Miano on May 29, 2024 at 8:07 pm

        Hi there! Just thinking of a roadtrip. we live in San Jose, ca. my husband has terminal cancer (sry to be a buzzkill) but we are actually living our best lives. We would like to leave this month and take our two dogs. Drive north using your itinerary. Can you send the full itinerary please. After I read more of your posts, then I’d love to ask you some questions. My husband David is in a wheelchair so I guess we have to have a game plan of where to stay along the route and not wing it too much as what if I can’t find a place to stay that can accommodate us.

        thanks for your beautiful website and wonderful photos and information.

        Lynn and David

    • Mariah on April 16, 2024 at 9:53 am

      Hello! Is there any way you could send it to me too? I just see the 4 day one on this post. Thanks!

      • Miss Rover on April 17, 2024 at 11:18 am

        Hi!!! I’m realizing the confusion now haha. The entire post is the full itinerary, but I’ll absolutely work out a day by day one to add!! The email I sent to the other person just included the map link that’s earlier in the post. If you have any specific questions in the meantime while planning your trip I’d be happy to answer them by email!

    • Miss Rover on May 3, 2024 at 10:48 pm

      Hello!! following up! I finally finished a more extensive full itinerary per request! Its linked under the Full Itinerary in this post! https://missrover.com/san-francisco-to-portland-road-trip/

  5. Beth G on April 6, 2024 at 4:12 pm

    We were thrilled to discover your amazing post as we meandered our way down the Oregon coast from Eugene to Berkeley this week! We followed much of your itinerary and loved every stop we made. Spot on recommendations! Thank you!

    • Miss Rover on April 17, 2024 at 11:19 am

      That makes me so happy! The Oregon coast is such a special place

  6. Nenad on April 25, 2024 at 11:50 am

    Thank you a wonderful descriptions.
    I am still not sure whether to go to a road trip from Portland to San Francisco.
    Could you please advise the safest and cheapest car rental in Portland. I am coming from Europe and have never driven automatic.
    Also, is it feasible to arrive to San Francisco in 24 hours from departure in Portland?
    I would appreciate any advice and/or itineraries.

    Finally, is there any paid tours from Portland to San Francisco via highway 101, so I don’t need to rent a car.

    Sorry, so many questions and doubts, but I just want to be sure before I rent a car in Portland.

    Many thanks for your help.

  7. Ariana Raphael on April 30, 2024 at 8:30 am

    Hi! This is a really wonderful itinerary I would love to follow this summer, is there any way you’d be willing to send it to my email? I appreciate all the work you’ve put in so many of us don’t have to! 🙂
    @ arianaraphael738@gmail.com (if you don’t mind! Thanks again)

  8. Haderin on April 30, 2024 at 6:20 pm

    Hi, I am unable to see the full San Francisco to portland itinerary, can you send it to me via email?

  9. McCall Nelson on June 5, 2024 at 11:55 am

    I would also love the full itinerary

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