Wednesday, June 6, 2018

O is for: Oregon Coast & where to stop on Highway 101

When Justin and I began mapping out our route for our Great Northwest Roadtrip, he had two simple requests (well, technically a third that wasn’t as simple.) Two of them I will reveal in later posts, and the other was simply “to visit Goonie Beach.” For those of you who are familiar with the Oregon Coast, this means Cannon Beach in Astoria, Oregon.

Since we had planned to stay a night in Portland with my high school friend Dustin and his family, Astoria wasn’t exactly on the way to our next destination (the Redwoods), but it wasn’t too far out of the way either. And being that he only had a few specific bucket list items for the road trip, I felt it was worth the extra effort.

That also sparked the idea to take Highway 101 all the way down the Oregon coast. And while that would generally be a gorgeous idea, we spent most of the day driving in the rain. We still saw some beautiful sights and made a few stops along the way, so I figured I would still share them with you! Hopefully if you ever attempt it, you will have better weather and more time to explore (we did this all in one day, but I would suggest splitting it into at least two days.) Moving North to South, here’s where we stopped:

Astoria & Cannon Beach (aka Goonie Beach):
Astoria is the backdrop for the movie Goonies and Haystack Rock is the starting point for the boys' famous treasure map. The rock is adjacent to the beach, shooting up 235 feet into the air and accessible by foot at low tide. 

During our one-hour visit to Cannon Beach happened to be about the only window of our day when it was not raining, so we had a wonderful time taking photos and walking the beach. Astoria is actually an adorable little town, so if you have extra time, it would be fun to explore it more and even stay overnight in one of the Bed & Breakfasts.

When I saw that Tillamook was on this route, you just knew I was going to stop here. For cheese lovers, it’s like you’ve died and gone to heaven. When we visited, it was actually housed in a temporary space while they complete a brand new visitors center (opening later this month actually), but we still got to sample all the cheese, which is really the only thing I cared about. They also have a store on site, where we picked up some squeaky cheese curds for our cooler, as well as some Oregon beer & cider for when we reached our final destination later that night. If you are hungry, they also sell Tillamook ice cream, as well as some hot food items like grilled cheese sandwiches loaded with Tillamook cheese. We were still pretty full from breakfast, so we mostly just ate the samples and continued on our way, but it would be a great lunch stop if you time it correctly. 

Lincoln City: Hwy 101 Burger
Another 45 miles down the road, you will come to Lincoln City, Oregon. Hwy 101 Burger is conveniently located right on Highway 101 (go figure), so it’s the perfect place to stop if you are hungry and don’t have a ton of time on your hands. It was also one of the cheapest meals on our trip. As the sign indicates, you can get a burger, fries and a soda for seven bucks! The burgers are fresh (never frozen) and served pretty simply, but I sort of loved that. The fries also come with their special fry sauce, which they will write your name in with ketchup, a fun touch (even if they totally botched my name.) It's also walking distance from Siletz Bay if you want to make it a longer stop (but alas... it was raining, so we got in the car and continued on our way.)

Supposedly, this is the most photographed lighthouse in the country, so we figured it was definitely worth a stop and a photo op. It is a working lighthouse, and it, along with the Inn Keeper's home are circa 1894 and listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. Again, it was pretty cold and rainy, so it was a fairly quick stop for us, but in better conditions, a great place to stretch your legs and stroll down the beach. (This photo was actually taken further up the road from a lookout.) You can also stay on the property in the lightkeepers cottages (complete with a 7-course breakfast!), so if you are needing a good stopping point for the day, this seems like a wonderful B&B to wake up to crashing waves and delicious breakfast. 

From there, the rain really started coming down, and we didn't really stop for another 160 miles, except for a few photo ops like the one above. I love this photo because it really captures what the drive looked like for much of the day. Somehow, we made it all the way to Brookings, OR in one day (thanks Justin for the expert driving). (Brookings is the final town before you get to California, so yes, needless to say, it was a very very long day.)

Brookings: Mermaid's Muse
During the drive, I stumbled across a small bed and breakfast that was listed on Air Bnb called The Mermaid's Muse. I really wish I had taken more photos. It was... unique... to say the least, with mermaids everywhere. But the big selling factor for me was a saltwater hot tub overlooking the ocean. My back was bothering me and Justin had been white knuckle driving most of the evening in the rain, so as quirky as the place was, that hot tub made it all worth it. We ended up using it both that evening before passing out in the four-poster bed, and also in the morning before setting off for the Redwoods. The owners are very sweet and even make you breakfast in the morning. (Side note: they also offer a second room called the Captain's Quarters, which also has its own hot tub.)

In retrospect, it would've been nice to break this drive into two days, but we had places to be and Redwoods to see! Stay tuned for my next post from our Great Northwest Roadtrip of 2017! (And click here if you missed my first post on Lake Louise, Canada.)

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