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Trip List by Earlydog

Oregon & Northwest California in 3 weeks(with a 2 yr old)

Aug 10, 2007  Boston Realtors (The Boston Home Team) looking for a new place to drop some roots in the West.
4.0 of 5 bubbles based on 12 votes

From Portland to San Francisco with as much in-between as possible. We could never travel more than 3-4 hrs as we are with our 2 yr old. Our trip took us from Portland through the Columbia River Gorge, south to Mount Hood and into Bend. Then southwest to Crater Lake and the Rogue River Valley. After two days we shot back up I-5 to Yachats where we will now drop down the coast to Mendocino, CA and investigate northern CA.

Our trip began in Portland, OR and will end in San Francisco, CA. The main purpose of our trip was for some rest and relaxation, but my wife Christine & I are always on the lookout for a potential new home location for our family. Due to climate, terrain, culture, acquisition costs, etc., Oregon and a few parts of northern Cali made the cut. This is our 1st real roadtrip/vacation with our 23 month old daughter, Vitoria. Therefore much of our trip was geared towards having small children, and one should consider that when reading this journal. If we had been sans ankle biter we would have been a bit more adventurous. (Not that every moment with her isn’t blissful glee.)

  • 1. Portland
    Portland, Oregon

    Portland was a lot of fun and more than enough city for a whole week of exploring. We did a lot of walking and used the public transportation a bit which is outstanding. Keep in mind that when inside the “Fareless Square” there is no fee to ride the MAX. Heck, in hindsight we even considered that it might have been a good idea to take the MAX from the airport to the hotel and save a few days on our rental car and parking.

    We visited the Japanese & Rose Test Gardens by taking the train to the station just below Washington Park, and then walking up to the gardens. The locals seemed to think this was a little odd (it’s a quite a steep climb) and had a hard time giving us directions, but we found our way. From the Rose Test Garden you can take a narrow gauge antique train to the zoo. We have a zoo membership in Boston so our zoo fare was free and the train was only $7 for the three of us.

    The Rose Test Garden didn’t do much for me, but the Japanese Garden is outstanding. Say it with me…outstanding. It’s the real thing. Amazing craftsmanship of the buildings throughout the site and the flora is mind bending. If it’s a clear day this is one of the best shots you can get of Mt. Hood.

    The zoo is definitely worth seeing. I was a big fan of the sea lions, otters and bears. Nice exhibits. Yes, my daughter liked it too. My favorite part was the subway station when you leave the park, though. It’s more than 500 ft under ground and in a tube. You can feel the train pushing air into the station long before it ever arrives and there is a core sample of earth mounted on the wall in a plexiglass tube with the chronology of mankind marked on the wall. I was really tripped out by this- did you know ketchup was around in 300 B.C.?

    The Classical Chinese Garden is a must see. Have some tea in the teahouse, and then check out the rest of Old Town. You may notice a shady character here and there but for the most part I don’t think they’ll bother you.

  • 2. The Governor Hotel
    Sentinel, Portland, Oregon

    The Governor was a pretty good deal for us. We used Quickbook (Marketplace) and got an average rate of $130/night. I was very impressed as soon as I walked through the door. If you’re on a budget beware the doormen and the schtick at the front desk. I am the type to open my own doors and not feel guilted into the extortion racket of tipping doormen. The front desk may try and scare you by saying that your car will not be secure if you use one of the local lots, but just drive around the block (two lefts) and park in the same lot the valets use. You’ll only spend about $12.00/24hrs.
    The lobby is really nice and fairly impressive. There are nice common areas and the hotel does a good job of adding nice touches like various newspapers in the morning and computers and printers, etc. There’s even a Starbucks attached to the lobby. The Historic character of the hotel is unchanged and continues on into Jake’s which is a bar and restaurant streetside on the opposite end of the lobby. We never ate there as it was always too busy.

    Our 4th flr room was fab. We had a great view up and down the street and the décor was attractive and sophisticated. Tall ceilings, big windows and a fireplace where unexpected, however, the bathroom was a little aged. It was a nice size but there was some funky rot in the corner under the tile and the shower faucetry was a little beat. Overall, we were very impressed and happy with our stay.

  • 3. The Roxy
    The Roxy, Portland, Oregon

    We had breakfast here everyday. We loved the funky décor and the good rock’n’roll to get our day started. Try the Soilent Green Omelet or the Vagitarian. You won’t be sorry. You can get church out of the way at the same time as there is a life size crucifix at one end of the restaurant.

  • 4. Astoria

    Cool day trip from Portland. Take Rte 30 out and Rte 26 back to get a feel for the area. Climb the hill to the Astoria Column and you’ll get to see an astounding view of where the Columbia flows into the Pacific and get a little exercise. When you come down park at the Columbia River Maritime Museum and take the trolley down the boardwalk. It’s only a dollar, what do you have to lose? There are a bunch of restaurants along the way. We chose The Cannery which was good, albeit a little more than I would have liked to pay for that level of fare. On the way out of town we stopped at Fort Stephens which was awesome. You could rent bikes and spend a whole day at Fort Stephens. Way cool, huge park that has it all.

  • 5. Gunderson's Cannery Cafe

    Good food, good service, good view, but a tiny bit pricey.

  • 6. Columbia River Gorge
    Columbia River Gorge, Hood River, Oregon

    Beautiful drive from about 16mi outside Portland to Hood River. Be careful you don’t drive off the road watching the scenery. There are a bunch of great waterfalls right off the road and a couple decent hikes

  • 7. Mount Hood National Forest
    Mount Hood National Forest, Welches, Clackamas County

    We hiked up to Mirror Lake (Vitoria was in a baby back pack). Quite a hike but well worth it. There are several switchbacks leading up to a beautiful lake that reflects Mt. Hood in it’s waters. Afterward we headed south on

  • 8. Mill Inn Bed and Breakfast
    Mill Inn Bed and Breakfast, Bend, Central Oregon

    The Mill Inn was great. The room was fair to good and had it's own bathroom. (Not all the rooms have them.) The old mill rooming house is very ecclectic. It's owner, Carol is originally from Brooklyn, NY and you can see her unique tastes throughout the B&B. We felt right at home here. Carol, the proprietor is a friendly and helpful host. She's a very interesting person if you take the time to get to know her. If you're a skiier, she's your gal. She even got us maps to help determine where we could go hiking. As we're traveling with our 23 month old daughter we needed laundry and she let us use the Inn's facilities. Breakfast was the real surprise. No fancy omelettes or gourmet plates, but damn that breakfast is good. Eggs (however you want them), fruit, thick bacon, sausage, pancakes, rocketfuel coffee, etc. Wicked good. For what we paid for this room, and all the great service The Mill Inn is an outstanding deal. It is however, ON the road, so if you're a light sleeper ask for the room on the parking lot side. The location is perfect and just a few blocks from downtown. It's a block from a great coffee, hip shopping, etc. This is the only place to stay in Bend if you're not hung up on pillow mints and white lace.

  • 9. Deschutes Brewery
    Deschutes Brewery, Bend, Central Oregon

    Average food, decor and service. Little pricey for the quality. Good beer.

  • 10. McMenamins Old St. Francis School
    McMenamins Old St. Francis School, Bend, Central Oregon

    Tres cool! Food could have been better, but it was pretty good. Prices were fair. It's the decor, service and the beer that is outstanding. The McMenamins have a design/artist team put all theor places together and it's a lot of fun to check out. You can spend your whole meal exploring the place with your eyes.

  • 11. Grants Pass
    Grants Pass, Oregon

    Decent base for exploring, but eat elsewhere.

  • 12. Motel Del Rogue
    Motel Del Rogue, Grants Pass, Oregon

    Listen, the fella who ownes this place is real nice so I feel a little bad giving it a bad review - but it could really use some work. I was born in the Ozark Mtns, so I get rustic, but this place just needs to get picked up. There are old panes of glass and piles of unused building supplies, appliances and discarded furniture right next to the room doors, a pile of broken concrete next to the hammock in the yard, cat feces, etc. The interior of the rooms is very dated and in need of a renovation. I could have put up with all this if they hadn't charged us $95 a night. To be fair though, it was great to have a room right on the river, with it's own deck and the owner did upgrade us without being asked. He's gonna be really mad if he reads this, but dude, come on, get that place together. It has wonderful potential.

  • 13. Jacksonville
    Jacksonville, Oregon

    Historic old town with shopping, restaurants and pinach.

  • 14. Williams
    Williams, Oregon

    Farmy village in the middle of nowhere. Nice place to drive around in the afternoon. Check out the General Store.

  • 15. Medford
    Medford, Oregon

    Drive thru on the way to or from Ashland. Not that interesting.

  • 16. Ashland
    Ashland, Oregon

    Cute, clean town especially great if you like Shakespear. Nice park.

  • 17. Wildlife Safari
    Wildlife Safari, Winston, Oregon

    Great family fun! See review.

  • 18. Interstate 5, Oregon

    Very scenic and twisty interstate highway that is fun to experience.

  • 19. Yachats

    Beautiful coast. No need to stay in the bigger touristy towns to the north in the summer. Too crowded.

  • 20. The Yachats Inn
    The Yachats Inn, Yachats

    Nice, fairly clean, great views. Nice pool/hottub.

  • 21. Roca Mar

    Decent Mexican

  • 22. The Landmark

    They should call this place El Crapola.

  • 23. Yachats Ocean Road State Natural Site

    Gorgeous state park with a tough hike to a promintory point as well as Devil's Churn and an easy hike along the seashore.

  • 24. Blue Heron Bistro
    Blue Heron Bistro, Coos Bay

    Fantastic! Go for the German cuisine.

  • 25. Port Orford
    Port Orford

    Pretty boring town. Keep going if you're checking out the coast. Decent place to crash, but don't hang out. Go to the Paradise for breakfast.

  • 26. Castaway By the Sea
    Castaway By the Sea, Port Orford

    Decent room, but the windows on the deck don't open. Weird.

  • 27. Paradise Cafe, Port Orford, OR

    Great value, great food, awnry waitress.

  • 28. Cape Sebastian State Park

    Awesome hike from south parking lot with gorgeous vistas. If it is foggy you get to experience walking through an inversion layer, if not you get awesome views. Good switchback trail leads to great seashore. The tour books make one feel like there are just a few places hike here, but there are trails that lead for miles through this park with surprises around every corner. Bring water, a camera and I found some low powered binoculors where invaluable. Pack some snacks and kick back at the bottom. You could easily kill a whole day exploring here.

  • 29. Arcata
    Arcata, Humboldt County

    Just passed thru, but would have liked to stay and check more out.

  • 30. Eureka
    Eureka, Humboldt County

    Good and bad. Old part of town is cute.

  • 31. Chapala Mexican Restaurant, Eureka, CA

    Awesome authentic food, good prices, GREAT service, entertaining live music.

  • 32. Redding
    Redding, California

    Nice enough place, but my wife and I looked forward to moving on right away.

  • 33. Weaverville
    Weaverville, California

    Very cool. See review.

  • 34. Redding Travelodge
    Travelodge Redding CA, Redding, California

    Clean, nice pool, room smelled a little musty from AC.

  • 35. Cool Hand Luke's, Redding , OR

    Horrible. Basically it's a T.G.I.Friday's or a Chili's in costume.

  • 36. Hayfork
    Hayfork, California

    Great place to stop for a break if you're taking the curvy rte 3/36 out of Redding and returning to the coast. There is a natural food store/deli here that is fantastic. The owners are wonderful and the sandwich was amazing. So was the coffee and yogurt covered raisins.

  • 37. Fort Bragg
    Fort Bragg, Mendocino County

    Decent town. You can get good deals south of Mendocino too. Daughter and wife had fun at glass beach.

  • 38. Glass Beach
    Glass Beach, Fort Bragg, Mendocino County

    Girls had fun rooting around for little glass pieces that will inevitably end up all over my house, but oh well.

  • 39. North Coast Brewing Company
    North Coast Brewing Company, Fort Bragg, Mendocino County

    Great beer! Good food.

  • 40. The Andiron -- Seaside Inn & Cabins
    The Andiron -- Seaside Inn & Cabins, Little River, Mendocino County

    A little dated, but actually very cool if you are in to Mid-Century Modern meets rustic cabin. No one bothers you here. See review.

  • 41. Mendocino
    Mendocino, Mendocino County

    Very cool. Don't miss it.

  • 42. Philo
    Philo, Mendocino County

    Philo, Booneville and Navarro are beautiful country. Nice drive.

  • 43. Philo Apple Farm
    Philo Apple Farm, Philo, Mendocino County

    Fantastic farm. My daughter made us bring her back 2 days. See review.

  • 44. Sebastopol
    Sebastopol, Sonoma County

    Very interesting town. Try and use as a base for exploring the area, but ended up in Rohnert Park on the cheap. It's a cool town though, with lots to do.

  • 45. Good Nite Inn Rohnert Park
    Good Nite Inn Rohnert Park, Rohnert Park, Sonoma County

  • 46. Bodega Bay
    Bodega Bay, Sonoma County

    Beautiful town. Go thru as part of a scenic loop from Sebastopol, Bodega Bay, Jenner, Cazadero, Geurneville, etc.

  • 47. Sonoma
    Sonoma, Sonoma County

    You like wine?

  • 48. Juanita Juanita - Mexican Cuisine, Sonoma, CA

    Wow. See review.

  • 49. San Francisco
    San Francisco, California

  • 50. Phoenix Hotel
    Phoenix Hotel, a Joie de Vivre hotel, San Francisco, California

    Worth a stay. See review.

  • 51. Suppenkuche
    Suppenkuche, San Francisco, California

    WOW! See review.

Explore locations featured in this Trip List: Little River, Mendocino, Philo, Sebastopol, Rohnert Park, Bodega Bay, Sonoma, San Francisco