Thursday, October 13, 2016

Pacific Coast Highway Vacation Highlights - Best Food, Lodging, Towns, and more

Having recently completed a thousand-mile coastal road trip from Lincoln City, OR to South Pasadena, CA, I thought I'd post about some of the highlights.  The Pacific Coast Highway, as it's sometimes called, is basically a combination of US-101 in Oregon and CA-1 in California.  (The two meet in Leggett, CA).  You're not constantly in view of the Pacific, but significant portions of it are the idyllic, winding, ocean-kissed wonderland that have given this roadway such a poetic place in American culture.  

Best Stretch of Highway
There are many contenders for this, but the best I saw has to be the 140 mile stretch from Port Orford, OR to Trinidad, CA.  It is quintessential West Coast.  In the Oregon portion you've got Battle Rock in Port Orford and the unbelievable Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor farther south.  Into California there's Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park and Patrick's Point State Park, to name a few attractions.  (I'm leaving out a bunch in between).  It seems like this entire section is either impressive ocean vistas or redwood groves.  The 75 miles from Lincoln City to Florence was pretty striking as well.
Samuel H. Boarman State Scenic Corridor
Best Food
Small town West Coast dining is a notch or two above what you might expect.  Many communities have at least one exceptional restaurant ready to meet the needs of the foodie.  The most surprisingly stellar consumption happened at the Trinidad Bay Eatery and Gallery in the town of Trinidad, CA - a diner-like experience until the sumptuous food comes out!  Also great were Redfish in Port Orford (what a view), the North Coast Brewing Taproom in Fort Bragg (excellent beer too), River's End in Jenner, CA (out of the way gem) and The Raymond in Pasadena (world-class cocktails).
Conde B. McCullough bridge near Depoe Bay, OR
Best Lodging
The Inn at Arch Rock in Depoe Bay was the first place we stayed on this journey, and it was perfect!  Our cozy and comfortable room featured a panoramic view of the cove below - where whales could be seen out in the water.  The decanter of cherry waiting as we arrived at the room was a nice touch.  It's walking distance to town.  Equally deserving of the title of best lodging was Castaway By the Sea in Port Orford, OR, which has to be one of the better values on the whole Oregon coast.  Our room featured a kitchen, bedroom, living room and porch with a dramatic, unobstructed ocean-side view.  Our final spot, The Bissell House in South Pasadena, CA, was easily the best bed and breakfast I have ever stayed at.  This beautiful Victorian house wasn't too much of a splurge when you factor in the quality of the breakfast, the pool, and the overall ambiance.
View from inside room at Inn at Arch Rock
Best Town
My favorite place is still Trinidad, CA.  We stayed there 15 years ago, and again 13 years ago, so it was nice to return and see that it hadn't changed that much.  Of the places I've seen in California (and elsewhere in the world), nothing tops Trinidad in terms of visual charm.  I should also mention Yachats, OR.  We didn't stay overnight there, but it did look like a place to spend more time on a future visit.
Late evening view in Trinidad, CA
Best Hike
We tried to do some kind of hike every day but by no means even began to scratch the surface of the hiking opportunities along coastal Oregon and California. That said, the best walk we did was the St. Perpetua Trail at Cape Perpetua Scenic Area, just south of Yachats, OR. From the visitors’ center, it’s a winding and somewhat difficult 1.5 miles to the lookout shelter at the top. The views are spectacular and the walk back down was a piece of cake. That was one of many hikes in the area. Another very enjoyable hike was the Prairie Creek Trail through the redwood forest at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park near Orick, CA. Options abound there was well.
Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park
Can't wait to go back!

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