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(Last Updated On: October 19, 2022)

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:


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
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

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.

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: Ramblin Redwoods Campground, Redwood Treehouse Airbnb

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: Harris Beach State Park Campground, Blue Bird Treehouse Airbnb

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
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!

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

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.

Have itinerary questions?? Drop a comment below!

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

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

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