[Travel Advice] Pacific Northwest roadtrip

Random Observation/Comment #560: Honeymoon Roadtrip was the best choice ever. A lot of car tunes, audiobooks, podcasts, and funny discussions that brought us closer.

see lemons love bridges

Things Pacific Northwest Does Well

  • Pure nature bliss – National parks are sprinkled throughout this magical place.
  • Clouds – When you get the non-rainy ones, they’re really something #cloudporn
  • Hospitality – Super friendly people with a lot of smiles. It was easy to strike up a conversation. People were eager to share their favorite trails or places to eat.
  • Scenic byways – The 101 drive was mind blowing. Driving through national parks is a new favorite tourist activity.
  • Little to no traffic and great parking – Despite visiting during peak season, there were no issues with parking (even in Portland).
  • Local IPAs – Consistently a great choice. A must for IPA lovers.
  • Pour over coffees –  These are the real deal coffee shops that brew coffee for the single serving. Stumptown is based here and didn’t disappoint.
  • Doughnuts – What Oregon lacks in bagels, they make up for in doughnuts (mini doughnuts are a must)
  • Drive through coffee spots – Ubiquitous across the Oregon “highways.”  They are all so sloooow. Undeniably slower than regular coffee places. Not sure how they deal with rush hour. Bonus points for the cute themes and accessibility. Vinessa accidentally chose a bikini themed one …awkward.
  • Pinot Noir – The climate of Willamette Valley makes for delicious grapes and flourishes beautifully. These rival their more famous California neighbors in Sonoma.

Things Pacific Northwest Can Improve

  • Diversity – We noticed the majority of people we came across were either Asian or white, and found ourselves missing the diversity from back home.
  • Mixed food scenes – Perhaps we had too high of expectations, but we found the average place in Oregon was meh and the good places were swarming with lines. Oregon wine country and Seattle saved the day.
  • Homeless population in Portland –  This is by no means singular to Oregon, but was particularly noticeable in Portland. Heartbreaking.
  • Employment – Job opportunities appear to be very limited (unless you want to sell yoga accessories).

So, how does the Pacific Northwest stack up?  We loved the laid back energy and flannel. If it didn’t freeze over the winter, we’d consider moving here.

Our Roadtrip Approach

Roadtrips are fun because the road becomes your guide. You are led by your adventure. We only booked 3 nights of our 8:

  • night of arrival near the Portland airport,
  • Abbey Road Farmhouse for our wine excursion, and
  • night in Seattle before the cruise.

Everything else was basically picking random Airbnbs the morning of.  Most Airbnbs were happy to rent on a weekday and had a fairly self-sustaining method of picking up and dropping off keys. Landmarks were mainly discovered by asking the wait staff at restaurants. It worked out pretty well. Plus, it keeps things spontaneous.

We started driving east to Mount Hood, then south to Crater Lake National Park/Bend, next to the Redwoods, then north up 101 to Willamette Valley, with the final leg towards Washington through Mount St. Helens. Whew

Our Itinerary

Friday – The necessary day

Overnight at an airport hotel

Saturday – Let’s be tourists in Portland for a day. 

Stumptown Coffee Roasters – Conveniently located near Voodoo Doughnuts. Grabbed a cup to keep us company on line. It is also served pretty much everywhere.

see lemons stumptown

Voodoo Doughnuts – Informing Oregonians of our visit immediately prompted eye rolls but this staple is a cute introduction to the doughnut scene.

see lemons voodoo

Walked to Saturday market by the water front – We lucked out with perfect weather so had fun checking out the local vendor scene.

International Rose Test Garden (free) and Portland Japanese Garden (about $10) – So beautiful you may confuse the parking lot as part of the gardens.

see lemons flowers

Drove to Multnomah Falls and then hiked to the top through the switchbacks – This is a major hike for a limited view of the falls.

see lemons falls

Drove to our Airbnb, a house on a stick

house on a stick

Saw the sunset from the top (note that you can drive here and you don’t need to hike up like we did)

see lemons sunset

Baan-Thai – Decent local Thai place

Wine and relaxing

Sunday – Mount Hood and Sheepwagon, aka, Clemens and Vinessa barely escape being attached by evil deer 

Woke up to pink sunrise

see lemons sunrise

Drove from South Portland to Breakfast halfway by Trout

Mount Hood hike

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Timberline Lodge – Hit the bar for a drink and lunch

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Shaniko ghost town – The ice cream shop is still open and decent. Grab a cone and explore.

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Crazy drive in the middle of nowhere

crazydrive

Dinner in The Porch (Sisters, OR) – great sweet potato strips like bacon

Stayed near Sisters in a sheepwagon – a bit too remote for us

sheepwagon

Monday – Crater Lake National Park day

Breakfast at the Breakfast Club in Bend – Get your dose of Portland pancakes

Crater Lake National Park – Amazing park. Wish we could have spent even more time there.

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Random stops along the East Rim

crater lake national park

Stayed in Crater Lake area by Chiloquin at an A-frame house with some great VHS movies

A frame house

Tuesday – Beautiful 101 drive and Redwood National Park

Breakfast on the road

Drive to the Redwoods

cow family

Stout Grove trailhead for Redwoods

redwoods

Beautiful beach stops

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Secret Beach – You can only walk out during low tide

beautiful beach

Got Chinese take-out (because why not?)

Stayed in Eugene in a tiny house / studio cottage in great part of town

Wednesday – Continuing our drive through national forests. Pregaming for wine tour day. 

Wake up to some flowers and a great little studio in the backyard

Breakfast at Studio One cafe – Get your fill of Oregon pancakes

Drive towards Florence to get to the 101

Drive through Heceta Head Lighthouse

beach houses

Brief stop at Flounder Inn Tavern

Drive through national forest towards McMinnville

Left Coast Cellars tasting – white pinot. On Sundays they serve pizza.

R Stuart & Co Wine Bar – Elegant and cozy

Thistle – Farm-to-fork goodness and drink some cocktails

thistle

Staying near Carlton in a fairly large house next to the farm – we loved the old school record player

Thursday – Oregon Wine Tour

Breakfast at Community Plate

community-plate

Wine tour with Oregon Wine Tours – Ron was a great guide who taught us so much about Oregon pinot

oregon wine tours

WillaKenzie Estate – great pinot noir

Lemelson Vineyards – decent grapes

Lunch at Subterra

Owen Roe – great selections and knowledge staff

Caravan Coffee – pour over specialty

pour-over-coffee

Lenne great wine and chat with Rob

Stayed at Abbey Road Farmhouse BNB – yes, those are old silos converted to bedroom suites

abbey road farmhouse

Dinner at Agrivino – Farm-to-table Italian food paired with Italian wine

Friday – Towards Washington with a stop in Ape Cave

Bed and breakfast delicious breakfast

Drive through Oregon into Washington

Portland for Pips Original Doughnuts – Best mini-doughnuts ever. Also try the Chai.

pips donuts

Ape Cave – Spooky but worth it. For $5, rent an old school lamp at the visitor center.

ape caves

Chinese restaurant in Kalama (because someone said this was the best place in town) – it may have been, but Clemens is a Chinese restaurant snob.

Drive to Olympia staying in University Place Airbnb – one of the best Airbnbs we’ve stayed in (below is the view from our room)

airbnb room

Saturday – Last day of roadtrip

Brunch in Tacoma at Renaissance Cafe

Drive to Seattle – fairly easy since we were staying an hour away

Explore Seattle walking around Pike Place – tried to avoid the crowd

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Seattle Great Wheel – touristy, but not a bad way to spend an hour

great-wheel

Antique stores – a few places to poke around while walking towards the public market

Public market flowers – $5 is a pretty good deal. Happy anniversary!

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Lunch at Hudson – a little place out of the way, but we had a car

Visited a few malls to buy stuff

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Dinner at the Cheesecake Factory – It was that or wait over 2 hours somewhere else. That being said, super tasty comfort food is always a roadtrip special meal.  

Stayed in Bellevue coast hotel – we would have rather stay closer to the city, but this worked out pretty well.

Sunday – #cruiselife

Say goodbye to our car, Buckley.

Walk around pier 66

Board cruise

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Sunday (1 week later) – #FatCruiseLife

Disembark cruise 10lbs heavier 🙁

Drop off bags at Concierge of the cruise ($3 per piece up to 3:30pm) – if you go to the airport and drop it off to come back for a full day, it would have been $19 for 2 hours. Airport robbery.

Biscuit Bitch – get the “gritty scrambled cheesy bitch” – nom nom nom

biscuit-bitch

Chihuly Garden & Glass – Buy a package ticket to save wait time at the Space Needle. All the reviews say to go here for a reason. A great place for a date, if you ask me.

chiluya

Seattle Needle – A bit expensive for a hit/miss view, but have fun at the top with their fancy timelapse screens that records photos every 10 minutes of every day.

space-needle-view

Hawaiian cultural week festival

Drink at Cyclops

Hawaiian lunch at ‘Ohana – Eat all the Poke and Spam Masubi

masubi

Bought coffee and beans at Cherry Street Coffee House

Walk around and enjoy the rare sunny Seattle afternoon

Arrive to airport early to write this blogpost

~See Lemons Love Roadtripping Honeymoon with Vnessawithaneye

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