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Toni
Los Angeles

Los Angeles, Portland, San Francisco, San Luis Obispo, Ashland (Oregon)

Driving from LA to Portland for Xmas. Any must see stops/food/views?

Hello!  Driving from LA to Portland end of December and not sure which route will have the best experience.  We will have two dogs with us so things like Hearst Castle are out (I've been once though) and with the weather not sure which would be most worth the drive.

Would love to know if anyone has suggestions on stops/views/towns/restaurants/sights that are a must see.

Thanks! :-)


8 Answers

top answer by
Matthew from San Francisco

Big Sur is incredible. Take your time driving up the coast. Book ahead for a massage/hot tub at Esalen (expensive and worth it), eat/stay at Deetjen's Big Sur Inn, or Nepenthe Restaurant. Visit Point Lobos.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Big Sur (city)
  2. Esalen (attraction)
  3. Deetjen's Big Sur Inn (hotel)
  4. Nepenthe Restaurant (restaurant)
  5. Point Lobos (attraction)
3 thankscomments (1)


answered first by
Nick from San Francisco

Lunch at Ventana Grill in Pismo Beach is delicious and views are spectacular. Stop in San Francisco for dinner on The Embarcadero then hit Sebastiani Vineyards & Winery in Sonoma as you head north.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Ventana Grill (restaurant)
  2. Pismo Beach (city)
  3. San Francisco (city)
  4. The Embarcadero (attraction)
  5. Sebastiani Vineyards & Winery (attraction)
  6. Sonoma (city)
3 thankscomments (1)


answered by
Stephanie from Camarillo

Definitely stop in Big Sur, it's gorgeous!! 


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Big Sur (city)
2 thanks


answered by
Kelly from Sunnyvale

Be sure to stop in Carmel and have brunch at Clint Eastwood's restaurant in the Mission Ranch Hotel, the Cliff House in SF is absolutely gorgeous. Not to mention the Sutro Baths that it overlooks. 


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Carmel (city)
  2. Mission Ranch Hotel (hotel)
  3. Cliff House (attraction)
  4. Sutro Baths (attraction)
2 thanks


answered by
Tiffany from Corvallis

If you have the luxury of time, I'd opt for the coastal route all the way up as you'll have gorgeous views, hiking, and dog-friendly beach play. It takes longer, but there's just more to see than on the faster I5. Stop and do some hiking in the Redwood National Park, peruse the beaches all the way up the coast, spending a bit of time in southern Oregon.

Stop at the Cream Cafe in Brookings for a really great lunch with great owners. One Lump or Two in Port Orford has really phenomenal coffee that the owner has roasted especially for his shop. (Try the peanut butter mocha.)

The dunes at Reedsport or gorgeous and you'll enjoy the hiking/walking trails and miles of beaches all along this stretch from Brookings north to Waldport. This is where, if you need to cut in to save time, you won't miss as much. North is more touristy and less rugged. 

Along the coast you don't really need a map or guide - just stop when you see something amazing. You'll be stopping a lot, but it's beautiful. Even in the winter, you'll see more sun along the "Banana Belt" of Oregon's southern coast.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Redwood National Park (park)
  2. Cream Cafe (restaurant)
  3. One Lump or Two (restaurant)
  4. Port Orford (city)
  5. Reedsport (city)
  6. Waldport (city)
2 thanks


answered by
Eric from Rocklin

Downtown San Luis Obispo is highly recommended.  Cool little downtown with some great spots to grab a bite.  The Firestone Grill is legendary in the area and its tri tip sandwich is not to be missed.  There is a large outdoor patio and a good selection of craft beers, some from the nearby Firestone Walker Brewing Company.  I know the Cliff House and Sutro Baths in San Francisco were mentioned earlier.  Great to combine them with a hike along the Lands End trail.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Firestone Grill (restaurant)
  2. Firestone Walker Brewing Company (attraction)
  3. Lands End (attraction)
1 thanks


answered by
Andy from San Francisco

Wow, there are just WAY too many awesome stops along the way to list. I'll just limit myself to the top 4. 

I would take the Pacific Coast Highway and drive through Big Sur. The views from there up to San Francisco are simply breathtaking. I had to stop every 10 minutes or so just to enjoy the views. You can also stop by Pfeiffer Beach Day Use Area to watch a gorgeous sunset. 

Make sure to have lunch at Pebble Beach golf course in 17 Mile Dr. It's has one of the best views and the club house is fantastic to simply walk around in. Felt like a millionaire just being there. 

Of course you'll have to stop in San Francisco, but I won't list everything you should do there. You can get some ideas from my blog. I wrote a few full day tours of San Francisco that you can use as a resource. 

Another nice pit stop along the way is Ashland. It's a cute town with a nice downtown where you can stop for a bite and a coffee. There's a great park in town and some shops to keep you entertained. 


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Big Sur (city)
  2. Pfeiffer Beach Day Use Area (attraction)
  3. 17 Mile Dr (attraction)
  4. San Francisco (city)
  5. Ashland (attraction)
  6. Pebble Beach (attraction)
1 thanks


answered by
Gil from Corona

Azalea, Oregon. Biggest and best cinnabons in the west. Don't blink or you'll drive right by.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Azalea (city)
1 thanks




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