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San Francisco to Seattle - too much to do and not enough tim

Auckland, New...
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San Francisco to Seattle - too much to do and not enough tim

We are planning to drive between San Francisco and Seattle in July. We have 7 days and want to spend some time in the wine regions and also sightseeing - redwoods, coast, Mt St Helens. We'd like to avoid the major highways if possible. I've ben reading the forums and it seems like 7 days isn't long enough but it is all we have! What routes / sights are must dos in the short time we have?Should we stop off in Portland? Should we do just one wine region eg Napa or can we fit in the Oregon ones as well?

Many thanks in advance for your ideas.

Edited: 4:51 am, December 28, 2013
Portland, Oregon
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1. Re: San Francisco to Seattle - too much to do and not enough tim

Agree that 7 days will not be enough time to see everything you have on your list unfortunetly. If you are going to Napa, I would probably skip the Oregon wine country- just because too many other great things to see and do.

From Seattle I would drive down 1-5 with detour to Mt St Helens(day 1). You could either spent the night in Portland or travel west to Astoria. Since you wont have a lot of time, I would probably opt for staying in Astoria. It takes about 3 days to comfortably drive the Oregon Coast(nights in Astoria, Newport/yachats, Bandon), but could do it in about 2 days.(2-3 days) One day exploring redwoods(day 4 Trinidad area). Either take hwy 101 in California down to Napa/SF(1 day) or hwy 1(2 days if you take 2 days to drive the Oregon coastline) and then 1 day in SF/Napa.

Personally if you are winery buffs I would go to a winery region, but if not if you are not(like me) I'd skip- too many other things to do.

2. Re: San Francisco to Seattle - too much to do and not enough tim

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Oregon Coast
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for Crescent City, Oregon Coast, Oregon, Redwood National Park
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3. Re: San Francisco to Seattle - too much to do and not enough tim

Chinookgrrl gave you a possible itinerary - except reverse it ;-) Depending upon your personal interests, you could tweak it here and there. You'll see lots of great scenery!

Does your 7 days exclude the big cities at each end? If so, you have a bit more room. Are you flying in to SF and hitting the road - or do you have some flexibility when leaving SF?

Day 1 - Hwy 1 to Mendocino area

Day 2 - Mendocino to redwoods (Crescent City)

Day 3 - Crescent City to Yachats

Day 4 - Yachats to Astoria

Day 5 - Astoria to Mt St Helens area

Day 6 - Mt St Helens, then to Seattle

Extra day or maybe even two for winery visits and tasting can be fitted in. Route can be adjusted to spend more time in some areas that may interest you more.

It sounds as if you are quite interested in wine - what kind(s)? The wine country near Portland is well known mostly for Pinot Noir. Oregon has several other wine regions as well, although none on the coast as it's not sunny enough.

Auckland, New...
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4. Re: San Francisco to Seattle - too much to do and not enough tim

Yes we are interested in wine, we're from New Zealand so Pinot Noir is definitely on our tasting list. The 7 days excludes SF and Seattle

This is what I've come up with so far, would appreciate suggestions on places to stay. It's become 8 days but that's OK, though if there is room to squeeze things into 1 day, please let me know.

Day 1 - San Francisco to Napa Valley

Stay - Napa / Sonoma

Day 2 - Sonoma to Mendocino

Sonoma wineries

Day 3 Mendocino to Crescent City

Redwoods

Day 4- Crescent City to Eugene

Drive coast road to Reedsport then HWY 38 to Eugene

Day 5 - Eugene to McMinnville

Via Willamette wineries 

Day 6- McMinnville to Hood River

Willamette wineries

Day 7 - Hood River to Portland

Drive to Portland - drive part of Columbia River Gorge Route to see Multnomah Falls

Portland breweries 

Day 8 - Portland to Seattle via Mt St Helens

Thanks for all the suggestions

Troutdale, Oregon
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for Hood River, Troutdale, Cascade Locks, The Dalles, Portland, Oregon
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5. Re: San Francisco to Seattle - too much to do and not enough tim

You will find wineries in and around Hood River too. Surprise!

MrsO

Eugene, Oregon
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6. Re: San Francisco to Seattle - too much to do and not enough tim

Adding my 2cents worth of advice.

A couple of days in Napa/Sonoma should satisfy for that area. Mendocino adds quite a bit of driving for not so great a payoff. I'd go right from Sonoma up 101 to Crescent City, stopping here and there to absorb all the redwoods have to offer.

Then, although Eugene is where I live and think it is too often overlooked on this forum, I must in all honesty question why it is on your itinerary. I'd continue up the coast to Yachats or Newport instead. The coastline between Florence and Newport is some of the most beautiful on the coast. By then continuing to Lincoln City and turning inland #18 will take you right into the heart of the Willamette Valley wine district on your way toward Portland.

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7. Re: San Francisco to Seattle - too much to do and not enough tim

I agree with oregonpoppa

I have driven the road north of Mendocino a few times and want to scream. I love Mendocino and it is great if you are just visiting from the south and returning. North- the road is so curvy and it is not worth the precious time if you have spent time in Sonoma Area- I love Healdsburg. Don't miss the redwoods-Inspiring and the Pacific has done great things with the Oregon coast- so rugged. Not to be missed! I again agree- go up to at least Newport or Lincoln City. I do this trip- Pdx- SF trip every other summer. Love it!

Oregon Coast
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for Crescent City, Oregon Coast, Oregon, Redwood National Park
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8. Re: San Francisco to Seattle - too much to do and not enough tim

I would not go inland to Eugene. Unless you have family or friends there? Nothing against it (we were there today - admit I hate that cold winter fog) but for scenery, I'd also suggest you stay on the coast.

The northern Calif coast is more "wild" than the Oregon one, and you will wind along more cliffs. True, Highway 1 to Mendocino is slow, but it honestly is one of the most spectacular roads in the USA.

Be sure to take the Newton Drury scenic route north of Orick. It is well worth it and you bypass one of only two freeway sections between Eureka Calif and the northern border of Oregon :-)

Lafayette, Indiana
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9. Re: San Francisco to Seattle - too much to do and not enough tim

We are planning to attend a wedding in May in Portland, couple it with some sightseeing, then end up in San Francisco for a few days. With the exception of SF, we have never visited that part of the country. Our group will consist of a newly graduated HS student with bohemian interests, 2 married oldies (1 ex-hippie, one former musician/recovering alcoholic) and the wife's fit little sis (mid 50s). We are considering driving or perhaps partial train travel. Time is not really a concern but money is. Do you have any suggestions? (I noticed that Seattle is only a few hours drive away from Portland, is it a "must see"? )

Troutdale, Oregon
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for Hood River, Troutdale, Cascade Locks, The Dalles, Portland, Oregon
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10. Re: San Francisco to Seattle - too much to do and not enough tim

Seattle is only about a 4 hour drive.

It's only worth it if you are into 8 hour round trip drives but if you are, it's beautiful.

There's Victoria BC too. You could take a ferry over.

It can blossom when you really start looking and forming a plan for your trip..

I would plan a mapquest trip on paper before confirming this vacation. (and be reasonable about the driving times to see what you are willing to do to see this area,) and maybe comeback again to visit other areas of the PNW. It can be addictive.

Enjoy your trip however you do it.

Best regards,

MrsO