We arrived on the Oregon Coast in Portland from Seattle by Amtrak at Union Station. It was easy to walk outside to the bus station and get on the light rail line (LRT) (with one line change) to the Portland Airport. We had rented a car and Portland was the first cheapest place to pick one up. The LRT line was relatively fast and handled baggage well, if we did have to fight with the bicycles for spots. The LRT car we were in had two vertical hangers for bikes and both were in use.
The Enterprise car rental clerk at the airport was easily able to give us our car one day early, chuckling when we said we were starting our one way down the Oregon Coast to Las Vegas. Despite David’s charm we were not able to get anything nicer than a Nissan Sentra – which we would likely complain about the whole trip. It was not my Volvo!
Our hotel the first night was at the airport, to get us quickly out of town the next day for our morning scenic tour of the Columbia Gorge before heading for the Oregon Coast. After this scenic tour we headed back towards Portland, viewing it from afar as we rolled past. Ignoring I5, we took the route that got us out to the coast thru wine country with a delightful surprise stop for lunch.
The first sight of the Oregon Coast was wild. We stopped at numerous lookout points to ooh and ahh until the view finally dulled a little. Our stop the second night was in the town of Yachats on the Oregon Coast, at the TripAdvisor recommended hotel the Fireside Motel. Dinner was at a local diner (Luna) – ok when you are tired and hungry.
We were up early, hoping to catch the whales off the shore by our hotel, but our timing was not right. We had better luck later on our drive. It was a straight run down the course with one detour thru a long stretch of redwoods, our first but not our last view of big redwood trees. We crossed into California when the produce inspection was not open, so did not have to ditch our bag of fruit. Having purchased a mini blender, the fruit had become an essential part of our morning routine.
Hotel – Radisson Airport (Portland)
With an upgrade to the executive floor, this ended up being a much nicer hotel than we thought it would be. The room was large, with great wifi and robes for lounging. The executive service included drink and appetizer tickets, so we were well fed and watered in the onsite restaurant. The free cookies in the exec lounge went quick, even if the coffee machine was broken down. There is a large mall very close, although if it was a bit of a twisted route to get to (due to access from the airport road). It was a quick mall trip for us to pick up a cooler and our smoothie blender. We plan to take advantage of Westjet Plus service on the way home which includes two bags each!
Hotel – Fireside Motel (Yachats)
When I searched for the route between Portland and San Fran, there were several recommendations that were repeated on the TripAdviser forum. Virtually all said to stay off of I-5 and to travel down Hwy 101 – the Oregon Coastal Highway. There were a lot of suggestions to stop in Yachats – a town it was hard to find on most maps – and the Fireside Motel was a common choice. I had to book with them directly but had no trouble with their website to assess the property and pick a room. I was a bit leary because it was a pet-friendly hotel, but our room had no dog smell and all the dogs in residence when we were there were well behaved.
The hotel was right on the water and our sea view room on the second floor had a balcony we could sit out on to watch the Pacific, although the wind off the water quickly chilled you down. Luckily we had booked a room with a fireplace to warm up in after we sat outside and watched the sun set over the water.
A continental breakfast included home made muffins, cereal and fruit – but no protein unless you could stomach hard boiled eggs.
Things To Do In Oregon
With only less than one day in Portland, we chose to get up early and head to the Columbia River Gorge. We left Hwy 84 at exit 22 to travel along the Oregon Scenic Byway (old Hwt 30). The highway climbed up and away from the river so that when you got to the Vista Point, you had a great view of the entire Columbia River basin. The downside of getting on the road at 7:30am was that the view was still a bit hazy in the distance, although by 10am it was all burned off. We continued along the old route, stopping at the series of waterfalls along the way, with the big one at Multnamah Falls. There wer walking paths to take you to both overlook points and to the falls directly, although the route to the falls required more up and down hill walks. We turned around after a short stop at the Bonneville Dam, to marvel at the engineering and to see an underwater view of the fish ladder.
The Pacific Coast is not a single destination but an experience to wander along. The Oregon coast is rugged, with rock shores and crashing waves. At times of the year (and times of the day), there are whales to be seen. The water is too cold and rough for all but the most hearty to enter. We saw nobody in the water until well into California.
The Redwood Highway is a short 20 mile detour off of Hwy 101 at Leggat. It gives you an early view of giant redwoods you will see as you travel down the west coast. There are numerous trail heads to stop for a walk or just slowly drive thru the park.
The Information Centre suggested that we stop at the Requa Overlook, high above the mouth of the Klamath River. She said there was arranger there because the whales were feeding at the river mouth. We hoped we would not miss this viewing. When we pulled up to see everyone with binoculars to their eyes, we knew we were in luck. It took while to zero onto the right spot and watch was surfacing whales – not really visible to the naked eye and even David only got so-so pics when he took pics even closer than the overlook. But they were whales and sea lions!
Places To Eat on the Oregon Coast
Dundee Bistro (Dundee):
The route along Hwy 18 from Portland to the Pacific Coast takes you thru Oregon wine country. There were wineries and tours everywhere. Wanting a real lunch, we stopped when we saw the Dundee Bistro, nestled beside a wine tasting bar and a glass shop. The patio was quite deserted when we arrived but filled quickly over the lunch hour. We were driving so we passed on wine, but lunch was great. The salad provided a good array of fruits and vegetables as a shared starter. The special of the day was a seafood soup that was crammed with seafood in a tasty broth. Since we had shared the appetizer and main, we could each have dessert. My creme brûlée was done just right but David’s strawberry shortcake was not the sweet delight we had hoped for after tasting the strawberries in the salad.