Hi! First time writing on this forum after some weeks reading getting tons of good advice. I need help with planning the last leg of a five week train/roatrip from NY to Seattle. The itinerary is as follows:
July 9 Arrive LA (evening) night at airbnb in echo park, LA
July 10-11 LA
July 12 Leave LA for Big Sur, 2 overnight stops already booked
July 14 evening arrive motel SF
July 15-17 SF
July 18 drive north, have to arrive in Seattle evening of
July 25 flying out from Seattle midday July 26.
Before this we will have visited NY and then by train to SLC where we rent a car and drive through grand Tetons (only one night here) and on to Yellowstone for three nights. After this we drive south through some of the national parks of Utah and North rim of grand canyon before going to LA via Las Vegas and Palm Springs.
We are a family of five (three kids 7, 11, 14) We live in Stockholm, Sweden. We are used to roadtripping since we’ve done it through Europe every summer the last few years, but never been to the US other than New York a couple of times. The kids are happy spending a lot of time in the car an even more so if the scenery is nice. We usually follow up one or two long driving days with a few more easy ones. The longest distances we usually drive when when road tripping is around 800 km, or 500 miles, usually the first day driving after a longer break but that only if the roads are nice and fast. We are used to driving in the mountains and on smaller roads (have a lot of them in Sweden) and we are used to driving in snow but i guess this won’t be an issue this time of year.
We like the outdoors and the kids are good hikers and can do 10 km (6 miles) in one day but time is limited so i guess we will have to stick to shorter hikes. We have plenty of wildlife at home so that is not really a big draw except maybe see whales but i guess summer is the wrong time of year. We are not that much in to big cities but would like to see the highlights of LA and SF (according to the kids that is Hollywood and Golden gate bridge and maybe Alcatraz). We are not interested in shopping or theme parks like Disneyworld but like nice museums, but most of all we are looking for great scenery, nice short hikes and quaint small towns and maybe some historical sights. We will not bring any camping gear so no camping on this trip staying at a mix of hotels/motels/airbnb. We do not need fancy lodging or lots of amenities though an occasional pool/swimmable beach would make the kids happy.
The thing I now need help with is planning the last leg of this trip. At first we thought of driving along the 1/101 all the way to Astoria and then cutting over to Portland but this is too time-consuming and i am also thinking we might want to see something else than the coast or at least a mix of inland/coast since we already been to Big Sur.
Right now i am thinking of driving 101 from SF and then 128 (is this a scenic drive?) to Mendocino to go through some nice vineyards (not into wine at least not with the kids around so no longer stops here needed) and visit the Anderson valley brewery (my husband is a big fan of craft beer) and then continue north for a bit to stop for the night as close to the Oregon border as possible (any suggestions). After this i can’t get my itinerary straight (probably because i try to squeeze in a lot). Things that we are considering seeing is:
Part of the oregon coast
Portland, preferably for more than one night
Columbia river gorge (maybe a day trip from portland)
Crater lake (probably too far)
Mt st Helens
Astoria (looks like a nice town and we are big fans of the Goonies)
And i would really like to see just a little part of Olympic National park (i know i’m not doing this area justice but would really like to see the Hoh rainforest and maybe Ruby beach) and got so crazy about his idea that i booked an overnight in the Forks area on july 24, can be cancelled though). IF we go to the Olympic national park we would like to end that trip by taking the ferry into Seattle (good idea?)
I don’t want to drive the interstate all the way up but maybe a good mix of smaller roads, scenic byways and interstate to save us some time in-between sights. Could maybe cut one day from SF if necessary but are meeting friends on the evening of the 17:th so will have to see if that can be rescheduled. Also, any advise on nice clean unfancy lodging is appreciated!
Sorry for the massive amount of text! Thanks!