Husband and I just retired.. We're in no hurry. Thinking of doing a road trip to Washington and maybe Vancouver
Which is the most scenic route? What is the must see places?
And places to stay that are reasonable but nice?
If you are in no hurry, then Highway 1 is the way to go. It will take you awhile. Most of it is one lane each way and there are a lot of RV's and slow-moving vehicles because of the gorgeous scenery. If you are driving north, you will be on the land side most of the way; if you are traveling south, you will be on the ocean side. The ocean side is more harrowing to drive, but more beautiful.
Going north, Pismo Beach and Avila Beach are interesting towns to explore. The Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo is a very interesting hotel. Each room is individually decorated and there is a cave room, grotto room, and so many others. A good place to stop for a meal as well. If you go, you must go into the men's restroom - women too (men can watch guard). It is probably the most interesting restroom you will see.
North of Cambria is
Proceeding north is lots of beautiful scenery and then Big Sur. Beautiful (although there is a fire there right now).
Then you will get up into Carmel By the Sea Monterey, and Pacific Grove. Lots to do there - lodging, great restaurants, and scenery - a little pricy. There is the 17 Mile Drin Pacific Grove which is beautiful. Pebble Beach (California) and its golf course is also in that area I love lunch there.
Further north you will get into Salinasand Watsonville - both agricultural areas and the artichoke capital of the world. Then on to Santa Cruzand its historic amusement park. I was going there when I was a kid in the 40s and 50s.
Then you will finally hit San Francisco. Don't have to tell you about that.
North of SF you will see Point Reyes National Seashore Beautiful! Lots of hiking if you are into that.
Going north, you are now on the Sonoma Coast. If you want to go wine tasting it is not too far off Highway 1 to some great spots. I was born in Guerneville on the Russian River and am partial to the Korbel Winery. Free champagne tastings! Fort Ross is also an interesting spot to stop. It is a a former Russian establishment and was the hub of the southernmost Russian settlements from 1812 to 1842.
Proceeding north more beautiful scenery and you get to Little River (California), Mendocino, Fort Bragg and some other picturesque towns. Mendocino is where "Murder She Wrote" was filmed. There is a hotel there where the cast used to stay and is full of artifacts from the show. Lovely rooms and sometimes you can get a good Groupon or Living Social deal there.
If you have the time a fun thing to do is take the steam train from Fort Bragg to Willets and back.
Further north, you will get off Highway 1 (it pretty much ends) and get on Highway 101 in Leggett. Now you are getting into redwood country.
Proceeding north on 101, you will come to number of small towns, most of which were lumber towns back in the day. My Mom was born in Scotiawhich is an interesting town. It was previously a company town, but just fairly recently the company has started selling the homes to individuals. There is a gorgeous hotel there, The Scotia Hotel, which is constructed of redwood.
Going north, you will go through Fortuna and then you will see a turnoff for Ferndale (Hwy 211). This is a "must see" place. Full of Victorian architecture and fun shopping. I also enjoy going to the cemetery there.
Back on 101 you will reach Eureka (California), an interesting place. Some more great architecture. A good hotel there is The Carter Hotel which is a B&B - great breakfasts!. If you are looking for a very unique dining (and I use the word loosely), experience, Samoa Cookhouse is a great option. It has been there since 1890 and it is a vast hall where the lumberjacks used to eat. Food is served family-style. I love it as a change of pace.
Going north you are in more redwoods and will see the tiny town of TTrinidad (California)which I have always liked. Proceeding north you will be in Humboldt Redwoods State Park and The Avenue of the Giants, also a "must see." Gorgeous redwoods. There is a Drive Thru Tree Road there that is touristy but fun to do once or twice. Also, there is Trees of Mystery with its Paul Bunyan and Babe statues. Beautiful trail - I always find it interesting.
And that is as far as I have been in the recent past. I am sure I have left out some great places but I hope it helps.
Can I go?
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I just posted this for someone else so it is in reverse order, apologies.
- Walk or bike ride at Stanley Park
- Lunch and snacks at Granville Island
- Grouse Grind was kind of fun and they have a restaurant there with the most amazing view
Forks / Olympic National Park / Washington
- Make sure to go to La Push Beach "First Beach" Try to go at Sunset. It is blow-your-mind beautiful. I think this is considered Olympic National Park area as well
- Space Needle (eat a meal there)
- The original Starbucks location
- Chihuly Garden and GlassChihuly Garden and Glass
Portland / Oregon
- Haven't spend much time there but it is definitely a nice city.
- Get a donut at Voodoo Doughnuts. They are famous and the line will be down the bock, but a cool thing to do.
- Go see the smallest park in the world Mill Ends Park Google it. It's ridiculous and oh-so-Portland-weird.
- 40 minutes East of Portland is one of our nation's most scenic drives and hiking area! Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. There are so many waterfalls, and several that you literally see as you drive by.
- Have a meal at Multnomah Falls
- Stay at Skamania Lodgee if you can. It's amazing there. Sweeping views, roast marshmallows at their fire pits, treehouses, jacuzzis, golfing. They have their own on-property hiking trails. Or just go for a meal and enjoy the scenery.
- Go on one of the many, many hikes in the gorge area. There is also a steam paddler boat ride on the river
- Tillamook Cheese Factory - fun side trip, free, quick visit
- Haystack Rock - If you are in the area during low tide, definitely see this
- Tidal Raves restaurant at Depoe Bay: world's smallest harbor + the restaurant has amazing views. Also, grab some fudge from their fudge shop.
- Thor's Well - If you're in the area during high tide, this would be cool.
- Sea Lion Caves: Maybe. I went as a child and LOVED it, but reviews online are hit or miss. It really depends on if the seals are out
California Drive to San Francisco
- Make sure to drive through the redwood area
- Drive the Avenue of the Giants Southern Entrance
- If you have time, stop off at Trees of Mystery . A little touristy, but fun
- Have a meal at the
- I have been here a few times, so many attractions to note. But here are my favorites:
- See the Painted Ladies for a classic San Francisco photo opp
- If you like Ballet... see one here
Big Sur / California Coast
- They say the prettiest part of the drive is from Carmel By the Sea down to San Luis Obispo, so make sure you are hugging the coast here. This entire trip will alternate between the 1 highway and 101 freeway.
- Monterey Park, Carmel by the Sea, etc. are cute seaside towns, great for relaxing and shopping/eating.
- Along the way is Hearst Castle, but I found it to be a disappointment. They only show you like 2 rooms on the bottom floor and the magnificent pool is/was drained and might still be drained and so a BIG let down. I did not think the price and time this excursion took was worth the money at all.
- Nearby Hearst was Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery which was cool and free, and quick.
- There are lots of fun/funky hotels, inns and camping sites in Big Sur but not a lot of "attractions". Just pure God-given beauty.
- After Big Sur you can hit up Solvang, which is a cute Dutch town.
- And Santa Barbara - great scenery, wine tasting, etc.
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8/22/16 Good thing you're in no hurry since 1/2 the state along the coast is on fire: East of Santa Barbara moving west toward 101; South of San Luis Obispo; Most all of Big Sur, now threatening Hearst Castle; all the way up to Carmel Valley; north of Napa Valley at Clear Lake; and several fires up by the Oregon border. Will probably be bad the rest of the year as the "height" of fire season hasn't even started. :-(