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Seattle to LA- Oregon coast+Redwood or Lake Tahoe+Yosemite

London, United...
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16 posts
Seattle to LA- Oregon coast+Redwood or Lake Tahoe+Yosemite

Hi, we (2 adults and 2 kids aged 2 and 4) are going on a road trip from Seattle to LA from 5th to 26th July, and our draft itinerary is as follows:

3 nights in Seattle

2 nights in Ashford by Mount Rainier

1 night in Portland

we are then undecided between

Oregon coast + Redwoods


Tahoe City + Yosemite

after that, we would like to do 3 nights in San Francisco

2 nights in Santa Barbara

3 nights in Santa Monica

We have been told that it will be too hot inland during July and that we should therefore drive along the coast, then again we have read that the Oregon coast is very windy which may lead to car sickness. Overall, we are trending towards Lake Tahoe and Yosemite, as it appears that there are more hiking and watersports opportunities- would you agree?

We like the outdoors and hope to be able to do some hiking (on easy trails with the kids), cycling (with kids in trailer, or alternatively take turns mountain biking), some watersports eg sailing, windsurfing, waterskiing, kayaking, and also yoga.

We have a decent budget and would like to avoid run-down motels, and prefer rustic cabins with character instead.

What would you advice?

Do you think the distances between the stops are do-able with 2 drivers?

Also, regarding Southern California- do you know of any activity-based resorts between San Fran and LA? We are not planning to go to any amusement parks because our children cannot really enjoy them yet, so we were hoping to find somewhere near the coast to relax- we'd be prepared to cut the number of nights in Southern California short in order to enjoy the North a bit more... (as we are going to Ohau afterwards).

Thanks so much for your help!

15 replies to this topic
Washington State
Destination Expert
for Yosemite National Park
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1. Re: Seattle to LA- Oregon coast+Redwood or Lake Tahoe+Yosemite


July 11 - 20 is available?

Things to consider:

- Yosemite lodging began booking a year ago

- Yosemite is geographically south of SF and usually 'after' SF tourism for southbound travelers

- Hwy 1 is still closed in one section just north of Cambria

I love Yosemite, but with your stated travel style and lack of lodging reservations, I'd go with the lovely Oregon Coast, Redwood National & State Parks, SF, and Monterey.

London, United...
Level Contributor
16 posts
2. Re: Seattle to LA- Oregon coast+Redwood or Lake Tahoe+Yosemite

Hi, thanks for your reply. There are places available outside of Yosemite- would you not bother at all in that case? Thanks so much!

Washington State
Destination Expert
for Yosemite National Park
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70,821 posts
123 reviews
3. Re: Seattle to LA- Oregon coast+Redwood or Lake Tahoe+Yosemite

I would plan 12 months in advance, but this isn't my trip.

The Yosemite forum has its own Top Questions on the right. The first topic is lodging. There is no kayaking, SUP, canoeing, or anything like that in the National Park. But there are plenty of fabulous hikes!

5th to 26th July ~ 21 nights

Fast Paced itinerary (too fast for me and not enough time in Yosemite)

Seattle 3 nights

Mt Rainier 2 nights

Portland 1 night

Oregon Coast 2 nights

Redwood National & State Parks 1 night

San Francisco 3 nights

Monterey 2 nights

Lake Tahoe 2 nights

Yosemite 2 nights

Los Angeles / Santa Monica 3 nights

Seattle, Washington
Destination Expert
for Seattle
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7,640 posts
4. Re: Seattle to LA- Oregon coast+Redwood or Lake Tahoe+Yosemite

Observations, opinions and recommendations:

Three nights at Ashford with two small children is either 2 or 3 nights too many. Frankly, I'd spend one night there and allocate the other two for the Columbia River Gorge/Hood River area, following this route - https://goo.gl/maps/MLAdGuMcsQD2 . The reason being, the area around Hood River, including the Columbia Gorge both east and west of the town, and especially the Hood River Valley to the south, offers an immense variety of activities and sights, with lots of options for families with little kids. You can visit Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood, watch windsurfers on the Columbia, go through "U-pick" farms and orchards in the valley... The kids can visit Herman the Sturgeon and feed the baby trout at the Bonneville fish hatchery; there are beaches and lakes for getting toes wet, there are waterfalls to visit, wineries and craft breweries to sample... in short, there's something for everyone; it's well worth a couple of days. The weather will be better than farther west, too.

Regarding the "big" question, coast v. inland, here's what I'll tell you. I've taken several sets of British pals on drives up and down the Pacific coast, and to a person - one hundred percent - they all felt the redwoods were the highlight of the trip. Now most of my friends are Scottish, and they're no strangers to beautiful, rugged coastline, but they felt that the combination of the southern Oregon coast (roughly from Bandon to the California line) and the redwoods that start shortly after that... well, most of them used the word "gobsmacked."

As others have mentioned, the Tahoe/Yosemite option is probably something of a non-starter if you don't have accommodation booked in Yosemite already. And frankly, if you're concerned about the kids being uncomfortable in the car, high altitude and twisty mountain roads are no picnic.

So I'd pick a (mainly) coastal route and be good with it. Come back some year when the kids are older and do Yosemite (May or June is ideal) along with a tour of the California gold rush country along CA Hwy 49 (named in honor of the 1849 gold rush) with its string of picturesque and historic little fowns - a superb way to spend a week in the late spring.

Now everybody (correctly) praises the Oregon coast for its scenery, and it IS quite scenic. In places. In other places it's not so wonderful - the main highway (US 101) travels far enough inland that most of the way your view of the ocean is obstructed by hills or hedgerows, and particularly with little kids, it can become quite boring. So my suggestion is to "swap" a couple of days along the Oregon coast for two days later, around the Monterey Bay area a couple of hours south of San Francisco.

In the same way the Hood River/Gorge area is extraordinary because of its variety, the Monterey Bay area is similar. At Santa Cruz on the north side of the bay, there's a very cool old-fashioned amusement park set right on a (pretty terrific) beach. On the south side of the bay, on the Monterey Peninsula, are the towns of Monterey, Pacific Grove and Carmel. Monterey's aquarium is one of the best in the world, or you can go whale watching from the town's own Fishermen's Wharf. In Carmel, there's a lovely old Spanish mission, and a lovely (if a bit twee) shopping district. But the piece de resistance is the coast south of Carmel. Just a few miles down the road (CA Hwy 1) is the Point Lobos nature reserve. This is a stunningly beautiful area, full of hidden coves and sensational views, but also teeming with marine wildlife - seals, otters... It's a blast for the kids (and their parents.)

Then a bit farther south you hit the Big Sur coastline. This is deservedly famous for its scenery, but it's also historically important, particularly for Hollywood fans. Have lunch on the terrace at Nepenthe restaurant overlooking the sea, and pretend (along with everybody else present) that you're Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth, or maybe Dick and Liz.

For the time being, the coast road (CA 1) south from Big Sur is closed for roadworks, so to continue south you need to return a bit inland to US 101, but it's not a terrible detour. And from there it's an easy drive down to Pismo Beach, Santa Barbara, and into LA.

Here's a composite map showing my suggested route. https://goo.gl/maps/stzMUv1tXtr (Note Google maps only allows 10 map points; so a number of suggested stops are skimmed over in order to "fit" the whole route in one go.)

Note it doesn't reach the Oregon coast until Reedsport, using Oregon Hwy 38 from the I-5 motorway out to the coast. This is a very scenic and quick route. People will say, and rightly, that you'll be missing some beautiful coast farther north, but in my view the time saved by cutting through the coast mountains farther south will pay dividends by giving you more time on the California coast later.

Places I'd google because they're not shown on the map, but are nevertheless worth mentioning, are (north to south) Maryhill Stonehenge and Maryhill Museum, Bonneville fish hatchery, Bandon beach, Trees of Mystery, Samoa Cookhouse, Avenue of the Giants, Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Carmel Mission, Nepenthe, Refugio Beach, Mission Santa Barbara.

If this appeals, a more detailed time budget can be suggested.

Renton, WA
Level Contributor
5,125 posts
5. Re: Seattle to LA- Oregon coast+Redwood or Lake Tahoe+Yosemite

Oregon coast + wind + car sickness does not compute. I have driven the coast dozens of times and never experienced winds that affected the car. Too beautiful to pass up for such a sketchy reason.

London, United...
Level Contributor
16 posts
6. Re: Seattle to LA- Oregon coast+Redwood or Lake Tahoe+Yosemite

Wowsers, this is super-helpful, thank you so much! Makes a lot of sense! Which towns would you stop in for the sleepovers on the Oregon coast, and do you have any suggestions for where to stay in the Redwoods and San Francisco?

Washington State
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for Yosemite National Park
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7. Re: Seattle to LA- Oregon coast+Redwood or Lake Tahoe+Yosemite

Hi again

Each forum has its own page. Some have Top Questions on the right.

The SF forum page has topics about where to stay with free parking, about neighborhoods, about what to do with kids, and more.

Seattle, Washington
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for Seattle
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7,640 posts
8. Re: Seattle to LA- Oregon coast+Redwood or Lake Tahoe+Yosemite

If it was me I'd look at something like this for overnight locations. Note this is VERY personal.

5-Jul Seattle Do you have accommodations booked? Be prepared for shocking hotel prices.

6-Jul Seattle

7-Jul Seattle

8-Jul Ashford

9-Jul Yakima Yakima isn't going to win any beauty contests, but find a place with a pool and get some terrific local Mexican food, and call it good.

10-Jul Hood River This day will be terrific - "old west" scenery along US 97, Stonehenge and the Maryhill museum. I'd recommend the Hood River Best Western hotel. Stay on the north bank of the Columbia between Maryhill and Hood River (better views.)

11-Jul Hood River Spend the day touring the Hood River Valley, up to Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood.

12-Jul Salem/Eugene/? Drive along the (available) part of the Historic Columbia River Highway past vista points and waterfalls. Spend the afternoon in Portland, then head south, in order to shorten the drive time the next day. You could also stay the night in Portland but then you'd need an early start to make it to Bandon comfortably (around 4 hours wheels turning.)

13-Jul Bandon Follow OR 38 through a pretty canyon (Umpqua River) to the coast. Look for Roosevelt elk in a meadow to the south of the highway just before the junction with US 101 at Reedsport.

14-Jul Bandon Chill, explore the beach - tidepools, etc. and eat good fish and drink good beer.

15-Jul Klamath Take your time on the south coast and the northern redwoods. Visit the Trees of Mystery before spending the night in Klamath. Or if you feel energized, spend the night in Arcata (north of Eureka) and have dinner at the Samoa Cookhouse, a former lumber mill mess hall with comfort food served family-style by grannies with attitude.

16-Jul San Francisco Follow the Avenue of the Giants byway which parallels US 101 south of Eureka.

17-Jul San Francisco

18-Jul San Francisco

19-Jul Monterey Stop at the Santa Cruz boardwalk en route.

20-Jul Monterey - Aquarium, Point Lobos, Nepenthe. Long day.

21-Jul Santa Barbara

22-Jul Santa Barbara

23-Jul LA area

24-Jul LA area

25-Jul LA area

26-Jul Depart

As for where to stay in SF, it depends on budget and hassle tolerance. My own (very personal) view is that SF with little kids is a hassle. Driving is tough, parking too, hotels are pricey (not as bad as Seattle but close) and logistics becomes an issue. Just me, but I'd give consideration to reducing the number of nights in SF and reallocating it/them to other places along your route.

Vancouver, Canada
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62 reviews
9. Re: Seattle to LA- Oregon coast+Redwood or Lake Tahoe+Yosemite

LOL Bob!! Windy as in WINDING, not windy as in WIND. Long I.

My daughter suffered with car sickness. We started using natural ginger pills (Gravol makes some, but you don't have to use that brand) and that helped a lot. If car sickness is a bit of an issue, then plan shorter driving days and allow time for frequent walks and breaks in the fresh air. You will get winding roads in the mountains as well as the coast, so that's not going to avoid that issue.

Vestal, New York
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10. Re: Seattle to LA- Oregon coast+Redwood or Lake Tahoe+Yosemite

I would pick the OR coast/Redwoods route.

For the OR coast, consider Yachats and Bandon for overnights though with kids Seaside or Newport may be better options. There is a nice aquarium in Newport.

For the Redwoods, Ferndale or Trinidad would make good overnights. Patricks Point State Park in Trinidad is lovely.

I would not stay in Yakima.

Santa Cruz and Monterey are great stops south of SF. Point Lobos State Park near Carmel (south of Monterey) is worth checking out. There is a wonderful aquarium in Monterey.

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