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  1. Default September road trip. Portland to Los Angeles

    Hello,

    I'm trying to put together a road trip to go visit a friend in LA. I believe that it will just be myself and it will basically be starting from Portland (I'm actually from Vancouver and have been to Seattle a few times before so will be skipping on down to Portland after work in the evening and then starting in the morning out of Portland). I have read that driving the coast is so much better as well as highway 101 rather than the I-5. I would imagine it would also take a little longer as well. I was thinking of splitting up the trip there into 3 days, stay in LA for a couple days and come back maybe up the I-5 for the quicker return. It would be nice to somehow split it up the coast drive between the way there and the way back though so that it would also make for a nicer trip back.

    Does anyone have any suggestions on any good routes to take? Is 3 days taking on a little too much? When I fooled around with google maps it was about 8-9 hours a day.

    Any recomondations of where to stop for the night? Motels/Truck stops? Any must see places (I just went to SF last year so no big deal if I don't stop in) or any great food stops along the way would be a plus, I have a love for local diners/mom and pop places. I am however going to be on a budget since it is just me.

    Thanks in advance for any advice given! :)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default In that time frame...

    Hi, and Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum.

    If you want to drive the Pacific Coast Highway (1) between SF and LA (highly recommended) you are looking at two days, for that section alone. The Oregon coast scenic route 101 would similarly take time, and you would be looking at much more than your three day allowance. Maybe with the time available, you could pick and choose, though it is quite some distance from the coast back and forth to I-5. In northern CA Just off 101 is the Avenue of Giants in the Humboldt Redwoods SP. Definitely worth checking that out.

    As far as where to stop, have you checked out the reservations tab on the green bar above? There can be some good bargans to be had. The other choice could be hostels. I have stayed in a few in Northern California and Oregon, though it is a decade ago. When you say truck stops, do you mean sleeping in the car? If so, I would recommend against that, unless you have a mattress and good sleeping facility in your vehicle and you have checked at reception that it is ok to stay overnight. Just stopping and sleeping in your car is not going to give you the sleep and rest you need to be alert for every eventualiity you may face on the road the following day. The risks are not worth the savings.

    Lifey

  3. Default

    Thanks Lifey, I have done a little more researching since and I definitely need atleast 4 days.

    I did mean sleeping in the car but is only for last resort situations. I'd much rather sleep in a bed! Budgeting with hostels I've come up with this plan:

    -Portland up to Cannon Beach and onto Gold Beach
    - Down to Point Reyes (avenue of giants for sure)
    - Down to San Luis Obispo
    - Down to Laguna Beach and then back up to my friends in Burbank

    It is a little lopsided with more driving the first 2 days but I couldn't find any cheap accommodations in the Bandon, OR or Mendocino, CA area. Does this look achievable?

    It does rush me through the Oregon part of my journey but I thought I could do a separate Oregon Coast road trip at a later date.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    I think you're still probably trying to do too much on your first two days. A good rule of thumb is that the coast highway takes about twice as long as a freeway, and both of those first two days are 400 miles drives. That's likely going to mean that you'll need to be on the road for about 15 hours each of those days - before you do any additional stops or detours like Avenue of the Giants.

    I really wouldn't try to get from Portland to SF in any less than 3 days if you're going to follow the coast.

    Since you're open to doing the Oregon Coast at a later date, I'd look closely at just taking I-5 down to Grants Pass and then cutting over to Crescent City, giving you some time to actually explore and enjoy the Northern California Coast. Perhaps spend a little time in Redwood NP and stop around Eureka on night one.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default It takes longer than you think.

    Point Reynes to SLO is too far if you want to take the PCH. I suggest that you stop at the HI in Monterey. This will give you the time to pick up CA1 around Santa Cruz. Leave Monterey early, drive down - and enjoy - the PCH to Cambria, by which time you will have seen by far the best of the coast, and cut across to Lost Hills on I-5. This will take you into LA, but it will be a long day.

    Have you checked out this site for hostels?

    Lifey

  6. Default So much harder to plan than I thought!

    Thank you for your advice. I have taken out the Oregon section and changed my starting point to Eugene, OR. (I can stop in Portland on my way back) I also added an extra day which makes it 6 days in total on the road.

    This is what I have revised it to:

    -Eugene to Eureka
    -Eureka to Point Reyes Station
    -Point Reyes to Monterey
    -Monterey to Cambria
    -Cambria to Santa Monica and onto Burbank.

    Does this look like a better more acheivable plan?

    I have been using the hostez site to look up hostels, it has been a great resource :)

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default A nice trip

    That looks like a really great trip, with time to enjoy most attractions along the way. And yes, it is a great hostel resource, isn't it. I have been using it for many years.

    Enjoy your trip. Drive safely.

    Lifey

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    I think the shorter distance and the extra day will make all the difference in the world. This plan should be much better and you should have a great time with it!

  9. Default YAY! now to really start planning....

    Thank you guys so much! If you couldn't tell, this will be my first *big* road trip. I'm so glad I found this forum :)

    Now that I have the driving plan set are there any other places of interest that are a must stop on the way? Other than the Avenue of Giants? I was told to go to pebble beach and the Mendocino area. I also read that you could get the best pics at Half Moon Bay.I'm obviously going to drive over the Golden Gate and hopefully when I pass through San Fran Tartine will be open so I can duck in and get a couple pastries I've been dreaming about since I was there last year.

    Is Hearst Castle really worth checking out? I also heard that Slovang is a cute little town, is it worth doing a little detour to?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Mendocino

    Mendocino is a lovely detour. It is over a decade since I was there, and it was a gravel road for a lot of it. On the approach, there are some great views of the ocean. It is slow going for most of the way, but well worth it in my books. Enjoy its remoteness.

    Get an early start from Eureka. Turn off 101 before you get to Fortuna. Take exit 692 onto 211, through Ferndale and Capetown to Mendocino. At Honeydew, make sure you take the road which takes you to the Redwoods and The Avenue of Giants. This is a great place to do a few short walks and just ponder our insignificance in the scheme of things. Most of those trees have seen generations come and go for many centuries. One can only wonder at what stories they could tell. If you are anything like me, you will have just enough time now, to get to Point Reynes. lol

    Hearst Castle is not my choice of attraction. But whether it is worth seeing, only you can decide.

    Lifey

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