Oregon is a state filled with lush forest greenery, calm rivers, and a laid back outdoorsy culture. Over a long weekend, we decided to take a road trip with our little pup up the Oregon Coast. We spent one of the days in Portland to explore the city in 24 hours and grub on delicious food.
June to September are the best months to visit Portland. The weather is consistently warm and sunny, allowing visitors to enjoy nature and the outdoors. Temperatures average 78 degrees fahrenheit. We were blessed with good weather when we visited over Memorial Day Weekend (late May), especially in Portland where we experienced sunny skies in 80 degree weather. However, it can get a little chilly in the early mornings and late evenings along the coast, so pack a light sweater.
There are multiple inns and hotels along the Oregon Coast that you can stay in. We decided to stay in Eugene at a wonderful Airbnb since it was halfway between the Oregon Coast and few nature spots we wanted to hit in East Oregon. However, this location was incredibly tiring to drive to and from the coastline, so we recommend you stay the first night in an inn or hotel along the Oregon Coast and stay in Eugene the last two nights. Since Eugene is almost 2 hours south of Portland, staying the last night in Eugene will help cut down driving time on your way back down to San Francisco.
A car will be your best friend for this kind of trip. Well, duh it’s road trip after all! You can use your own car or rent one.
This itinerary is good for:
We took a total of 5.5 days (including long travel days) for a road trip up the Oregon Coast from San Francisco. The first half day was spent driving up to Eureka and the last day was spent driving from Eugene to San Francisco. We spent a total of 4 full days exploring Oregon Coast and Portland, so this itinerary will cover those 4 days.
Please note: In our original itinerary, we stayed in Eugene the entire trip (minus the first night). We recommend staying in Coos Bay the second night before heading to Eugene. Our recommendations in Coos Bay (Day 1) is based solely on review. We personally did not stay at the inn ourselves but wish we did due to convenience and time saved traveling between Eugene and the coast.
We left San Francisco in the late afternoon around 3pm. Depending on traffic, the drive from SF to Eureka may take 5 to 6 hours. We stopped by Brick & Fire a Bistro for dinner. We highly recommend the Fire-Roasted Brick Bird. Warning: it’s a fairly large bird so we recommend sharing! The restaurant is a tad on the smaller side, so reservations are highly recommended.
Our first stop on the Oregon Coast going north from Eureka is the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor. This will take approximately 2.5 hours. We woke up before dawn to get an early start to the day, first stopping Los Bagels for bagel sandwiches and coffee to start off the day! All highlights from this day’s itinerary is below.
|1. Explore Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor|
|2. See Myers Creek Beach Viewpoint |
|3. Stroll around Face Rock Scenic Viewpoint|
|4. Eat lunch at Bandon Fish Market|
|5. See the Coquille River Lighthouse|
1. EXPLORE SAMUEL H. BOARDMAN STATE SCENIC COORIDOR
Stretching 12 miles long along the southern coast of Oregon, the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor features thick sections of forest, high cliffs, secret coves, and stunning back drops, with many scenic viewpoints along the coast.
2. SEE MYERS CREEK BEACH VIEWPOINT
Myers Creek Beach Viewpoint is one of the more beach-accessible viewpoints to Gold Beach. Parking is easy and plentiful, right along the 2-mile long sandy beachside featuring large haystack rocks.
3. STROLL AROUND FACE ROCK SCENIC VIEWPOINT
One of our favorite stops along the Oregon Coast is the Face Rock Scenic Viewpoint in Bandon. Dotted with plenty of large, isolated haystack rocks, this viewpoint offers a trail leading down to the shores of the beach.
4. EAT LUNCH AT BANDON FISH MARKET
The Bandon Fish Market is a great place to enjoy traditional fish and chips on a pier in Bandon, Oregon. In addition to fish and chips, Bandon Fish Market serves local bay shrimp and dungeness crab, sandwiches, chowders, oysters, and more. There are both indoor and outdoor seating, so if you have your pup, grab a seat on the patio!
After lunch explore the pier right next to Bandon Fish Market. Mia had a great time! She even made a new friend 🙂
5. SEE THE COQUILLE RIVER LIGHTHOUSE
Coquille River Lighthouse is located in Bullards Beach State Park, a large, family-oriented park with 191 campsites for tents, trailers, and RVs. The 40-foot tall lighthouse was built in 1895 to help guide mariners across the dangerous bar at the entrance of the Coquille river. There are two parking lots available at the lighthouse. There is also a pier you can walk along as well as a long stretch of beach. Pets are allowed on leash! Bathrooms available.
After exploring the Coquilla River Lighthouse, head to Coos Bay to spend the night.
After a good night’s sleep in Coos Bay, it’s time to continue our way up north along the beautiful Oregon Coast. Our first stop is the Umpqua Lighthouse State Park, approximately 30 minutes from Coos Bay.
|1. See Umpqua Lighthouse State Park|
|2. AV across the Oregon Dunes|
|3. View Heceta Head Lighthouse|
|4. Chill out at Seal Rock|
|5. See water blast from Thor's Well|
|6. Eat lunch at Luna Fish Sea House|
|7. Go to Devils Punchbowl State Natural Area at low tide|
1. SEE THE UMPQUA LIGHTHOUSE STATE PARK
Located in the center of towering sand dunes protected by the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area is the Umpqua Lighthouse State Park. At this state park, you will find the Umpqua River Lighthouse and Lake Marie. There is also a small sandy beach for swimming or relaxing. If you wish to camp here, the quality campground makes it comfortable for longer stays as well.
2. AV ACROSS THE OREGON DUNES
The Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area is one of the largest expanses of coastal sand dunes in the world. One of the most popular activities is ATV. So, let’s stretch those legs and get ready to roar across the dunes in an ATV!
3. VIEW HECETA HEAD LIGHTHOUSE
Standing 205 foot above the ocean, Heceta Head Lighthouse is one of the most photographed on the Oregon coast. This working lighthouse beams light 21 miles out to the seas, making it the brightest light on the Oregon coast. The lighthouse also offers bed and breakfast rentals and facilities for group events.
A daily parking permit, 12-month or 24-month permit, an Oregon Coast Passport, or a valid state park camping receipt is required to park at Heceta Head Lighthouse State Scenic Viewpoint. You can purchase daily permits from a machine at the park.
4. CHILL OUT AT SEAL ROCK
Seal Rock is located on central Oregon coast, 10 miles south of Newport. This coast community features large rock formations and a habitat of seals, sea lions, sea birds, and other marine life.
5. SEE WATER BLAST FROM THOR’S WELL
Located in the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area, Thor’s Well is a circular-shaped hole that was carved out of the basalt shoreline. During high time, water will fill up the hole, resulting in sprays of mist and water.
The best time to visit is during high time when the waves are bursting through the hole, spraying the surrounding rocks and potential visitors. This is also a great time for photographers to get the dramatic shots of overflowing water on the shoreline. However, please proceed with caution and avoid standing too close to the hole as people have been swept away from large sneaky waves crashing against the rocks.
To find Thor’s Well, navigate to the Cape Cove Trailhead. You will find an abundant amount of cars and signs leading down to the Spouting Horn.
6. EAT LUNCH AT LUNA HOUSE
Luna Fish Sea House is an old-school seafood cafe serving fish and chips, steamers, seafood sandwiches, chowder, and more. This was one of the most delicious places we’ve eaten along the coast!
We highly recommend the sea scallops and chips and the house salad with fresh ling cod. There is also a covered patio with live music, providing a relaxing and kick back vibe to the restaurant. Dogs are allowed on the patio!
7. GO TO DEVILS PUNCHBOWL STATE NATURAL AREA AT LOW TIDE
Unlike Thor’s Well, the Devils Punchbowl State Natural Area is great to visit at low tide since you can climb into the bowl to get a grand photo of the collapsed sea cave. Please proceed with extreme caution when entering the punch bowl. Make sure the tide is low enough for you to climb in without getting swept away by the ocean. At high tide, you can view the Devils Punchbowl from above but it’s even cooler from within the hollow formation.
We’ll end the day driving to Eugene from the Devils Punchbowl. Eugene is where you’ll stay for the next three nights. The drive will take approximately 2 hours. When you arrive to Eugene, head to Makoto Japanese Restaurant for dinner. Makoto is Eugene’s newest sushi restaurant and, surprisingly, serve delicious sushi. We recommend their chirasu bowl.
It’s time to spend time exploring Umpqua National Forest! The forest is about a 2.5 hours drive from Eugene so start bright and early to get the most out of today. This day’s highlights will be filled with hiking, soaking in natural hot springs, and enjoying the gushing sound of waterfalls.
|1. Soak in Umpqua Hot Springs|
|2. Climb down to the base of Toketee Falls|
|3. See Tumalo Falls|
|4. Grab a bite to eat in Bend, Oregon|
|5. Soak in yet another natural hot springs - Terwilliger Hot Springs|
|6. Enjoy the mist of Proxy Falls|
1. SOAK IN UMPQUA HOT SPRINGS
Located in the central Oregon Cascades, Umpqua Hot Springs is a natural hot springs featuring 3 hot pools (one covered) that sit above the North Umpqua River. The water is the hottest on the top of the pools and slowly gets cooler as you go to the bottom pool. Getting to the springs requires a short 10-minute hike and is dog-friendly. Clothing is optional here. There is a parking fee of $5 (cash only) to be deposited in a small, wooden bin located on the park sign.
2. CLIMB DOWN THE BASE OF TOKETEE FALLS
A short distance from the Umpqua Hot Springs is the Toketee Falls. There is a well-maintained 0.8 mile hiking trail that leads to a viewing platform of Toketee Falls, a 113-foot high waterfall that plunges into a pool flanked by a deep alcove. However, the best view of the falls is when you climb down to the base of it. On the right side of the platform, you will see a large gaping hole that leads down to the base. There are two ropes to help you get down. I am extremely afraid of heights and wouldn’t have gone all the way down without the help of the ropes.
3. SEE TUMALO FALLS
Take a short walk to the viewpoint at Tumalo Falls, a 98-foot waterfall in Bend, Oregon. You also have the option of hiking to the waterfall itself via the Tumalo Creek Trail, a 7-mile roundtrip loop trail.
4. GRAB A BITE TO EAT IN BEND, OREGON
On the way to Tumalo Falls, you will hit Bend, a small city on the Deschutes River. Stop by here to grab something to eat before hitting up the rest of the spots below.
5. SOAK IN YET ANOTHER HOT SPRINGS – TERWILLIGER HOT SPRINGS
Terwilliger Hot Springs, also known as Cougar Hot Springs, are geothermal pools in the Willamette National Forest in the U.S. state of Oregon, 53 miles east of Eugene. Unfortunately, due to massive landslides, the roads to reach this hot springs has been closed as of July 2018. However, you can visit the USDA site to see the latest update on the road closure.
6. ENJOY THE MIST OF PROXY FALLS
Proxy Falls is an impressingly stunning waterfall located near Blue River, Oregon. To reach the waterfall, you will need to hike an easy 1.6 mile loop trail. Climb over the rocks and logs to stand right underneath the waterfall and be prepared for a misty shower! However, proceed with caution when crossing the rocks and logs to reach the falls as they can be slippery.
After Proxy Falls, get ready for the 2.5 hour trip back to Eugene. Since today was filled with adventure and long drives, we were craving something unhealthy and greasy, so we said hello to McDonald’s 🙂
We spent our last day in Oregon taking a day trip up to Portland which is a ~2-hour drive from Eugene. Because we had such a short amount of time here, we packed all the main highlights into ~12 hours. Here is what we saw.
|1. Grub on mini donuts at Pip’s Original Doughnuts & Chai|
|2. Visit the popular Multnomah Falls|
|3. Eat the world famous Vietnamese Fish Sauce Chicken Wings at Pok Pok|
|4. See the historic Portland White Stag sign|
|5. Take photos at the Keep Portland Weird sign|
|6. Cruise through Powell’s City of Books|
|7. Stop and smell the roses at International Rose Test Garden|
|8. Head over to the Japanese Garden|
|9. Hang out at Keller Fountain Park|
|10. See Mill End Park, the world’s smallest park|
1. GRUB ON MINI DONUTS AT PIP’S ORIGINAL DOUGHNUTS & CHAIR
Start your day early by grubbing on the world’s best mini donuts at Pip’s Original Doughnuts & Chai, a hip, casual coffee cafe specializing in fried-to-order mini-donuts, chai & espresso drinks.
We are, by no means, donut people, so we thought 4 mini donuts between the two of us was going to be enough. WE WERE WRONG. So much regret not getting a dozen. Don’t make the same mistake we did. Get at least a dozen!
P.S. These are way better than Blue Star and way, WAY better than Voodoo Donuts.
2. VISIT THE POPULAR MULTNOMAH FALLS
After Pip’s, head to one of Oregon’s most popular waterfalls, Multnomah Falls. Located 30 minutes from Portland, Multnomah Falls is a 611-foot tall roaring waterfall. Parking is free but can get crowded, so come right away grabbing donuts from Pip’s!
3. EAT THE WORLD FAMOUS VIETNAMESE FISH SAUCE CHICKEN WINGS AT POK POK
Pok Pok serves Thai food and is famous for their Vietnamese Fish Sauce Chicken Wings. This was our second visit to the restaurant in Portland (the first time being 5+ years ago), and though it does have an abundant amount of strong but delicious flavors, we could taste the severe sweetness of the wings. This is probably because we’ve been cutting sugar out of our diet so any inclusion of sugar in any food is easily noticeable on our palettes! Regardless, it is a favorite amongst visitors so it doesn’t hurt to try. Just know that the prices are a bit high for what is served and everything else we tried was not great or just okay.
4. SEE THE HISTORIC PORTLAND WHITE STAG SIGN
Located on the near the Burnside Bridge along the waterfront is the historic Portland white stag sign. This iconic sign was originally made by the White Stag Sportswear Company but is now owned by the city of Portland.
5. TAKE PHOTOS AT THE “KEEP PORTLAND WEIRD” SIGN
Yet another iconic sign is the Keep Portland Weird sign located near Voodoo Donuts. The exact address is 350 West Burnside St.
6. CRUISE THROUGH POWELL’S CITY OF BOOKS
If you’re a bookworm like I am, you might be enticed to check out Powell’s City of Books. The bookstore is the largest independent chain of bookstores in the world that sells new, used, rare, and out-of-print books. The space is massive, taking over 1.6 acres of retail floor space in downtown Portland. Cruise the aisles, grab some coffee, and enjoy getting lost in the world of fiction and nonfiction.
7. STOP AND SMELL THE ROSES AT THE INTERNATIONAL ROSE TEST GARDEN
Covering 4.5 acres of land, the International Rose Test Garden draws in 700,000 visitors annually. The garden holds over 10,000 bushes of roses and approximately 650 varieties. The garden is opened daily from 7:30am – 9pm and admission is free.
8. HEAD OVER TO THE JAPANESE GARDEN
Just across from the International Rose Test Garden is the Japanese Garden. The garden occupies over 12 acres and offers opportunities for experiential learning about a variety of lessons. The garden also has a culture village, an exhibition, a cafe, and more. To see opening hours and admission prices, visit japanesegarden.org/hours-admission.
9. HANG OUT AT KELLER FOUNTAIN PARK
The Keller Fountain Park is a public open space in downtown Portland, Oregon. 13,000 gallons of water per minute cascade through the fountain’s terraces and platforms.
On a hot day, you will see kids using the fountain as a swimming pool. However, it was not created nor is it meant to be a swimming pool as harmful bacteria can be present and the water is not cleaned or filtered out for such. Please be responsible and don’t engage in such activity!
10. SEE MILL END PARK, THE WORLD’S SMALLEST PARK
Deemed the world’s smallest city park in 1972 by the Guinness Book of World Records, Mill End Park is only two feet wide and lies in the middle of a heavily trafficked street. The park was dedicated in 1948 as the only colony for leprechauns west of Ireland.
End your day in Portland by having a delicious dinner at Tasty n Alder.Tasty n Alder is part of the Toro Bravo Inc Restaurant Group that also owns popular restaurants such as Toro Bravo and Tasty n Sons. Specfically, Tasty n Alder is a modern steakhouse featuring a variety of meat, seafood, and salad dishes. The environment encourages the plates to be shared amongst your lovely dinner companions. Though this place is expensive, the food was amazing and of high quality. We highly recommend Dungeness Crab Dip and Waygu Skirt Steak. After dinner, head back to Eugene.