This is the continuation of a previous post about our family’s summer road trip along the West Coast of the United States. A road trip so epic, we just couldn’t share all the highlights in one post!
With its breathtaking scenery and quirky roadside attractions it was no surprise that Oregon turned out to be the perfect family destination. Having grown up in the Pacific Northwest this wouldn’t be our first trip to Oregon, but it would include a lot of unknown territory, and we’re always up for new adventures.
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The Ultimate West Coast Family Road Trip Part 1: Northern California
Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor State Park
The Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor is a coastal park which stretches 12 miles along Highway 101 in Southern Oregon. Even with cloudy skies it was one of the most visually stunning areas we visited on the entire trip. Given the opportunity one could easily spend 12 days exploring this area, but as it was we had only one.
Having seen photos of Natural Bridges on Instagram, I had some idea of what to expect. Even better in person our first view of this beautiful spot with its emerald green waters took our breath away. Feeling adventurous? There is a steep trail leading down to the bridges, but watch your step.
Accessing the Secret Beach requires hiking down a steep rocky trail, but once you arrive I promise you won’t be disappointed. Had time and tides permitted we could/would have stayed at Secret Beach all day. After parking you’ll want to head to the right, look for a smaller trail heading down.
What can I say we love roadside attractions! If you have any dinosaur lovers in your group, you won’t want to miss a visit to The Prehistoric Gardens, located directly on Highway 101.
Attracting road trippers since 1955 there are 23 life-size dinosaurs located in this perfectly kept beautiful forest setting. There are restrooms and a gift shop onsite as well.
Face Rock Scenic Viewpoint
We loved exploring the beaches in Bandon, caves, wide swaths of sand, a friendly seal and a setting sun made for a truly magical experience.
The Coquille River Lighthouse
The Coquille River Lighthouse can easily be seen across the river from Old Town Bandon, and makes for a very pretty picture.
If you’re interested in a closer look head over to Bullards Beach State Park where you’ll also find a wonderful driftwood beach.
Sea Lion Caves
The Sea Lion Caves where Roadside America meets natures wonders! How could we miss the opportunity to take an elevator down into America’s largest sea cave? I was fascinated by all those sea lions, frolicking in the water, fighting for territory, napping all over one another. They made quite a racket and oh the smell!
My boys however, were more fascinated by a giant yellow slug on the wall. Go figure. I guess they haven’t seen many slugs before…
Heceta Head Lighthouse and Beach
Heceta Head Lighthouse claims to be the most photographed lighthouse in the United States, and I believe it. Its sits 200 feet above the sea, surrounded by breathtakingly beautiful scenery and I know I certainly took my fair share of photos during our visit.
A short hike from Heceta Head Beach will take you up to the lighthouse where you’ll be treated to amazing views. Along the way you’ll find a gift shop, which also sells ice cream.
Heceta Head Beach with its many tide pools and rock formations is a fabulous place to go exploring. Do be mindful of the tides, especially if you decide to venture further out.
Jessie M. Honeyman Memorial State Park
The giant mountains of shifting golden sand were begging to be conquered, so we set about climbing, but within moments our shoes were filled with burning hot sand, and the struggle was real. Just over the crest was the river, and we were rewarded with a dip in the cool water.
Formed by wind, water, and time Oregon’s sand dunes stretch 40 miles along the coastline inland as far as 2.5 miles and rise as high as 500 feet! They are truly a sight to behold!
Honeyman Memorial State Park was the perfect place to stop and explore. The Park offers sand board and boat rentals, swimming, picnic areas, and even camping.
You’ll find, Thor’s Well, a collapsed sea cave on the edge of a rocky shore just outside of the city of Yachats. Nothing is stopping you from walking right up to what looks and smells like a gaping maw, but beware!
This is popular place for photographers, especially at low tide when the water churns and froths angrily in and out of the cave with extreme force, I shudder to think what might happen if one fell in…
Yaquina Head Outstanding Area
Our visit to Yaquina Head, an Outstanding Area of Natural Beauty, was easily my favorite day of the entire trip! We saw gray whales, seals, bald eagles and countless other wild creatures.
Planning our visit around the tide tables (finally) we spent hours peering into the water at the Cobble Beach marine garden. Brightly colored sea lemons, purple urchins, California muscles, giant sea stars, and chitons were just a few of the sea creatures we saw and touched.
A tour of the Yaquina Head Lighthouse, Oregon’s tallest, will take you back in time. You’ll climb to the top and learn about what it was like to be a lighthouse keeper in 1875.
I LOVE cheese, so there was no question as to whether or not we’d be visiting the Tillamook Creamery. I’ve been enjoying Tillamook products my entire life, and in fact I visited the Creamery when I was just 8 years old. The idea of bringing my kids to a place I had such fond memories of really appealed to me.
We really enjoyed our visit to the brand new visitor center, which opened only a few weeks prior to our visit!
After the tour we enjoyed a delicious lunch of Grilled Cheese, Mac & Cheese, and creamy Tillamook Ice Cream.
Cape Meares Lighthouse
You’ll find the Cape Meares Lighthouse Just 10 miles down the road, from the Tillamook Creamery! A bright and sunny day over in Tillamook, by the time we arrived at the lighthouse we were completely fogged in.
The shortest lighthouse in Oregon, the approach from above is unique and picturesque, even with the ever present fog.
Take a short walk from the through the Sitka Spruce trees, and you’ll find the Octopus Tree. The 105 foot tree, thought to be 300 years old, has no central trunk, but instead many trunks some stretching outward as far as 16 feet before growing upward. No one knows if the tree grew this way naturally, or if it was trained by the Native Americans, but either way it’s impressive.
It’s hard to sum up our visit to Portland in just a few sentences, but believe me we made the most of our two and a half days there!
We took tours, visited multiple gardens and museums, ate delicious food and lost ourselves in the world’s largest bookstore!
Read more about our visit to The Rose City…
Crater Lake National Park
Crater Lake, famous for the clarity and deep blue color of it’s water, has to be seen to be believed. Our mouths dropped open at first sight. Sitting in the caldera of what was once Mount Mazama, Crater Lake is 2000 feet deep, and the deepest lake in the United States.
The caldera was created 7,700 years ago with the eruption and subsequent collapse of Mount Mazama, which allowed centuries of rainwater to collect. There are no rivers or streams flowing into the lake, but as much as 43′ of snowfall each year help to replenish and keep the lake full.
There are two islands in the Lake, Wizards Island and the Phantom Ship, both were created during subsequent eruptions.
Should one desire, swimming is allowed in the Lake, but the hike down to the water’s edge is considered strenuous and the water is cold, so we satisfied ourselves with visiting some of the more than 30 view points along the Rim Road.
Though we didn’t have time for a real visit to Mount Shasta, the second tallest mountain in the Cascade Range, we did make time to stop at a view point.
So there you have it! Our epic road trip from Los Angeles to Portland and back again! Two weeks, over 2300 miles, 15 lighthouses and countless other highlights. Stay tuned for more details, tips, and advice about all these places and more in future posts.
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Great post! Been wanting to do this for a while
No problem 🙂 check out my blog when you get the chance 🙂
Are We Adults Yet
So many beautiful photos! I have not been to that part of Oregon since I was a kid and your photos make me want to go back. I finally went to Portland for the first time a few weeks ago and loved everything about it!
You are pulling all my heart strings with this post. Oregon – she seeps under your skin green and mossy and beautiful. So glad you had an amazing road trip through my home state. Yachats is a special place for our family and of course – BANANA SLUGS. Eeeuw. Beautiful images. #FarawayFiles
So glad you enjoyed! Was feeling some pressure to do right by you.😊
I grew up in Oregon and your post had me smiling with nostalgia. I love the Tillamook cheese factory! My dad and I used to go fishing there when I was younger. He knew a farmer in the area and we’d sleep in under the stars in a field (in summer of course!) to get to the river by 4:30 to fish. Oregon is such a beautiful and special place and I’m glad your family gets to share a bit of your home state with you!
I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. We love the Tillamook factory! Sounds like a magical time with your dad!
Last year or the year before we seriously talked about doing the whole west coast road trip from SD up to (at least the Redwoods) but I wouldn’t have minded going all the way up to Oregon! I once visited as a teen and I remember how beautiful it was and one of those lighthouses I am sure I visited! Pinned for later!
I hope you make it back to this part of the world again soon, it’s a wonderful place to explore!
I am getting more and more tuned in on the northwestern states, like Oregon and Washington. Apparently I have a lot of US road trips ahead 😀 #farawayfiles
This looks like such a fantastic road trip; the coastline is incredible. I’m really going to have to add this to my USA road trip list. looking forward to your further posts with tips.
I’d have to visit the Tillamook creamery as well, two of my favourite foods, cheese and ice cream.
Thanks for sharing #farawayfiles
It was such a lovely time! There is so much to see! Tillamook was a definite highlight!
Agness of eTramping
I consider the West Coast of the United States a perfect road trip destination and your posts are convincing me to cross it off my bucket list soon. The scenery looks so picturesque and breathtaking, Hilary!
With so much beauty we could have spent another two weeks and still not seen everything! I hope you get there soon!
Oh wow! I loved reading this post! My family are moving to the states for a couple of years and I have my eye on the west coast for just such a road trip. Crater Lake looks absolutely amazing, I can’t wait to see it! Thanks for all the great ideas #FarawayFiles
I’m so glad you enjoyed it! The West Coast is a beautiful place I hope you find your way here!!
Ah, Oregon – I can feel it calling to me! There seems to be so much to see and do here. I still can’t get over those photos of Crater Lake – it’s absolutely stunning. I really do have to go there one day. Tell your boys we have plenty of slugs in our garden, just not giant yellow ones.
Ha ha! As if they need a reason to come back and visit! Yes, Oregon is a lovely place and I admit to enjoying our journey so much more than I thought I would!
Caity Pfohl | The Pamplemousse Papers
I have been loving following along on your adventures via Instagram! The whole trip has looked so epic and beautiful. I’m blown away by how many beautiful places the West Coast has to offer – it just doesn’t quit!
Thank you!! You’re so right! We are spoiled for beauty here on the West Coast! I remind myself of that when I suffer from wanderlust wish I could be somewhere new…
Wow , What a nice place ..
such exquisite beauty! wow! I definitely need to arrange a trip along the oregon coast.
Oregon is really something special.