Oregon Coast Road Trip: A 10-Day Itinerary

Fora travel agent Ana Santos
Curated By

Ana Santos

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  • Portland, Oregon

  • USA

  • Oregon

  • Active Travel

  • Adventure Travel

  • Domestic Travel

  • Nature Escapes

  • Road Trip Travel

  • Outdoors

  • Mountains

  • Coastal

rocky coastline next to body of water during daytime
Curator’s statement

There’s just something about the Pacific Northwest – moody forests, adventurous hikes, gorgeous waterfalls, a rugged coast and a “vibe” that’s easy to identify but near-impossible to describe. Western Oregon is the perfect dichotomy between the vibrant urban scenes of Portland and Eugene, and the quiet nature retreat of its many state parks. Grab your hiking boots and favorite camera, it’s time to make some memories.

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Where to stay

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Kimpton Hotel Vintage Portland

Trendy hotel with chic rooms and an Italian restaurant in Portland.

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Graduate Eugene

Vibrant hotel with college-inspired decor near the University of Oregon.

Headlands Coastal Lodge & Spa

Lodge-style hotel on Oregon's Pacific City Beach with rustic-chic rooms, a spa and a gym.

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Fora travel agent Ana Santos

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Day 1: Arrive in Portland

city skyline with trees and mountains

Depending on your arrival time at PDX, you may be right in time for a quick lunch in downtown Portland before checking into your hotel. Travel days can be exhausting, so take some time to relax before venturing out – a walking tour would be a great way to get acquainted with downtown Portland. For those of you with a sweet tooth, check out Voodoo Donuts. Bookworms can cross the street and get lost at Powell’s Books. And if you’re in the mood for incredible eats and cocktails with an Eastern European flavor, check out Kachka.

Days 2 & 3: Start Chasing Waterfalls

large waterfall during daytime

Your first stop of the day will be at Abiqua Falls. Depending on your fitness level, this hike could be a little strenuous due to the incline one of the trail. Pro tip: 4x4 rental vehicle will get you closer to the trail. Silver Falls State Park is a short drive away, and a much more leisurely walk that will take you behind the cascading water.

Drive on to Eugene and check into your hotel. Eugene is a college town with a ton of restaurant offerings to refuel you after the long day. Check out Sabai Café & Bar for delicious Asian Fusion and The Bier Stein for a wealth of beer selections and German food.
My favorite thing about road trips is the opportunity to drive interesting roads, the windier and moodier the better. On day 3, set your sights on the McKenzie Highway. The road is known to close due to the weather, so I would recommend late spring as an ideal time to go. A longer itinerary would allow you to take the highway all the way into Sisters, but on this trip, you’ll go as far as the Proxy Falls trailhead.

Be sure to stop at the Ranger Station at the entrance to the park as that will be the only facility for a while. Proxy Falls consists of two separate trails and two completely different waterfall experiences. The hike isn’t so much a hike as a walk through lush vegetation. In both cases, should weather and river levels permit, don’t skip on the opportunity to get up close to the falls (but please exercise caution!). It’s a life-changing experience.

If there’s still time in your day, backtrack and visit Moon Falls and Spirit Falls. It’s a bit of a loop back to Eugene, but worth the drive if the weather is good. Return to your hotel in Eugene for some R&R before the next long drive.

Day 4: Onto Crater Lake

island in a body of water during daytime

Most guides will have you drive right to Toketee Falls, which is worth the visit. But for something less crowded and much more relaxing – check out Falls Creek right off 138. The trail isn’t nearly as popular as Toketee, which sees large groups and only offers a viewing platform. Falls Creek’s trail will lead you right to the waterfall, which will feel incredible on a hot day.

Continue on toward Crater Lake National Park. Depending on the time of year, you may have to swing around to the south entrance and be prepared to pay a ~$30 fee to get in. But since it isn’t every day that you can stand on the edge of a volcanic crater, I’d say it’s worth it. Keep a jacket handy, because you might just need it. It wouldn’t be unheard of to leave 80° behind and step out onto several feet of snow upon reaching Crater Lake. Here you’ll find a number of hiking trails, viewpoints and lake tours.

There are lodging options at Crater Lake if you’d like to make the most of your stay and I would recommend it if you’re looking to take some time to hike the crater or visit Wizard Island. Otherwise, head on toward your accommodations in Medford.

Day 5: Visit the Sequoias

road next to large trees during daytime

With the Redwoods so nearby, it’s almost a no-brainer to dip into Northern California just a bit on our way to the Oregon Coast. From Medford head southwest toward Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park and enjoy the slow, meandering road toward the coast. Even if you try to rush it, it’s not really possible. The often-times one car lanes weave between giant sequoias, with several spots to pull over and walk into the forest. The road will eventually bring you right to the first view of the Pacific Ocean at Crescent City. Check into your hotel and enjoy the sunset on the beach.

Days 6-8: Onto the Oregon Coast

large rock in body of water next to beach

From Crescent City, your first stop should be Harris Beach State Park in Brookings and Samuel Boardman State Park. For the adventurous at heart, follow the trails and walk the natural bridges before descending down to the secret beach.
The Oregon Coast is an endless source of inspiration for photographers and as such, my recommended stops would be: Bandon Beach, Coos Bay, Sea Lion Caves near Heceta Head Lighthouse, Neptune State Scenic Viewpoint, Thor’s Well, Yachats, Yaquina Head Lighthouse, Devil’s Punchbowl, Devi’s Creek Falls and Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area. All found before reaching the iconic Cannon Beach. While it’s possible to do the coast in two days, it’s not recommended without having to rush.
I’d recommend stays in Bandon, Lincoln City and Cannon Beach or Astoria before returning to Portland.

Days 9 & 10: Return to Portland & unwind

mountain with snowy peak during daytime

Check out your hotel spa or take a walk through Portland’s Japanese Gardens. Take a drive out to Columbia River Gorge and check out one more waterfall, and perhaps the most famous in the area: Multnomah Falls. This area will definitely be bopping, being the closest to Portland, but the views are unrivaled.

Horror movie lovers won’t want to miss a drive up Mt. Hood to take a walk around the Timberline Lodge. If you’ve seen “The Shining,” you’ll recognize the outside of the lodge as the Overlook Hotel. While the interiors are completely different, the Timberline certainly has a vibe of its own. I highly recommend having lunch at the restaurant.

Need to Know

For more outdoor travel tips, check out Outdoor Adventure and Dining in Iceland. This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Oregon, and part of our larger series on road trip travel.

Fora travel agent Ana Santos

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Ana Santos

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Oregon, and part of our larger series on road trip travel.