Road Trip: Pacifica, California to Northern Oregon Coast

I recently posted about my trip from Western Washington to LA, with links to photos of the spectacular coast from San Francisco to LA Road Trip ~ Western Washington to Los Angles

My initial plan was to take the Interstate (I-5) to Washington. Instead, as I love the coast, I returned to Pacifica from Los Angeles via highway 1 and from there took highway 101 north.

If you have the time, take highway 1 north thru California and explore the many small towns. The scenery is spectacular and it is a not to be missed trip.

As I have already made that incredible drive, I opted to try a new route: north on highway 101. I had read about the incredible redwood trees and decided to drive via the Avenue of the Giants in Humboldt Redwood State Park, on old highway 101.

Avenue of the Giants

Take the 31 mile detour which parallels highway 101. There are numerous places to stop, have a picnic, go hiking and explore this magical area. Walk among these majestic trees and feel their beauty. Sense the quietness of the forest.  Ave of the Giants, Northern CA ~ Photos

In northern  California, highway 1 merges into highway 101 so that highway 101 is the coast route in Oregon.

Southern Oregon Coast

Driving north you will find many places to stop and explore. The scenery is spectacular and this is not a trip to take if you are in a hurry. Take time to savor the marvelous scenery and stop off to browse shops and enjoy the local cuisine.

Pick a destination (or two) to use as a base and explore the surrounding area. In the southern part of Oregon, consider Gold Beach or Coos Bay. Check out white water rafting on the Rogue River. Trips can range from 4 hours (I highly recommend) to 4 days.

Northern California, Oregon Coast ~ Photos

Mid Oregon Coast

Heading north, about 40 miles from Coos Bay, you come upon the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. You can take a tour or rent vehicles to explore and drive on the trails or along the ocean beach,

As you continue north, you drive through many small towns with the ocean on your left. There are numerous places to stop, including state parks, enjoy the view and walk about and plan your day.

Newport, Oregon

Visit the Oregon Coast Aquarium and Yaquina Head Lighthouse. Enjoy the state parks and definitely browse the shops and explore the Nye Beach area.

Driving north, stop at Depoe Bay where you can go whale watching and visit the Depoe Bay Whale Watching Center.

The drive continues to Lincoln City where you can visit the Lincoln City Glass Center and make your own masterpiece. Stop at Mo’s (chain, along the coast) for a good seafood lunch.

Northern Oregon Coast

Tillamook, home of the century-old Tillamook Cheese Factory, is open for tours and tastings (including their ice cream).

Both Garibaldi and Rockaway Beach are small coastal towns, which are peaceful escapes and are a good base for exploring beach towns from Lincoln City to Astoria.

Cannon Beach

Cannon Beach area, Oregon ~ Photos

Cannon Beach is Oregon’s answer to Carmel, California. Enjoy the many shops, from very touristy to upscale art, and restaurants (Lazy Susan Café is terrific for breakfast and lunch) and places to stay (The Waves is one of my favorites). Haystack Rock is the focal point at the gorgeous beach which is perfect for long walks. There are many nearby places to explore, including Manzanita, Arch Cape and the beautiful Ecola State Park.


Seaside, Oregon and Area ~ Photos

The next town going north is Seaside, another good spot to use as a base. Go for long walks on the beach or promenade, visit the Seaside Aquarium, walk about the canals and browse the many shops.

Drive to the nearby Lewis and Clark National Historical Park, Oregon

Heading north is Astoria and from there either the bridge into Washington or head east on highway 30 along the Columbia River towards Portland.

Favorite Dinner Restaurants (with a view):

  • Lincoln City: Kyllo’s
  • Newport: Georgie’s Beachside Grill
  • Cannon Beach: The Wayfarer Restaurant and Lounge



Travel Tips

  • Check road conditions (for closures or heavy traffic)
  • If traveling in summer or on week-ends, expect traffic
  • There are numerous places to stop along Highway 101, in both CA and OR, to take photos or simply to stop and admire the view.
  • Have alternate routes or activities planned
  • Take your time and enjoy this glorious journey


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