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Ultimate Portland to San Francisco Road Trip Itinerary

Planning a road trip from Oregon to San Francisco along the Pacific Coast Highway? 

Welcome to our Portland to San Francisco road trip planner. 

Planning a Pacific Northwest road trip from Portland Oregon to San Francisco is an exciting and memorable adventure.

The best part about this road trip is that you can go at your own pace, explore new places along the way, and take in a wide variety of natural wonders.

You will be tempted to spend your whole trip on the coast, but don’t. There are plenty of beautiful inland destinations along this road trip that you also need to see! 

In this trip planner, we have a detailed itinerary for a road trip from Portland to San Francisco. 

We have also included things like where to stop in Northern California and on the Oregon Coast as well as our favorite places in both the happening cities.

How long is the drive from San Francisco to Portland?

The coastal road trip San Francisco Portland is about 850 miles long and takes about 18 hours of driving time without stopping on Highway 1 and Highway 101.

Be aware that there are some areas where cell reception may be spotty or nonexistent – this could affect GPS navigation apps like Google Maps or Waze.

Similarly, if you are driving south, the Portland to San Francisco road trip itinerary takes about 20 hours, considering you begin the trip in Cannon Beach and then follow Highway 101 south to California. 

If you are looking for a faster road, then consider the I-5. Distance on the Interstate between the two cities is 635 miles and the trip takes about 10 to 12 hours non stop. 

In this planner, we have covered both these routes.

How many days to keep for Coastal Road Trip San Francisco Portland?

We recommend keeping aside at least 5 to 7 days for this road trip, whichever route / direction you chose to go. 

That will give you enough time to walk or hike and explore the fascinating attractions that you will see along the way. 

Best time for this trip is anywhere from one week to 10 days; as you can enjoy kayaking, paddleboarding, river tubing, walking tours, and other activities on the West Coast. 

Which road to take from San Francisco to Portland Oregon road trip?

There are two roads that you need to take to stay parallel to the coast: Highway 1 in California upto its northern end in Legett and Highway 101 in Oregon.

This is the Pacific Coast Highway and offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. 

Take the scenic coastal Highway One from San Francisco all the way up through the Northern California coast and into Oregon.

Stop at Point Reyes National Seashore, quaint towns, fishing villages, and many other stunning spots along the way.

Finish your trip by heading south on 101 back across Oregon and northern California and checking out the inland attractions.

For Oregon to San Francisco road trip, start near the Oregon Coast either in Astoria or Cannon Beach and then continue through central Oregon and southern Oregon coast before seeing the redwoods of northern California on Highway 101. 

At Legett in California, you can choose between Highway 101 through Sonoma and Napa Valley or Highway 1 along the Mendocino Coast and Point Reyes.

End your trip by exploring the highlights of San Francisco including the Golden Gate Bridge. 

If you want to follow the I-5: along the way, you will see Eugene, Mt. Shasta, and other attractions. 

If you are planning this road trip, then go via the route: Portland – Columbia River Gorge – Hood River – Crater Lake – Bend – Mt Shasta – San Francisco.

Portland to San Francisco Road Trip Itinerary via Pacific Coast Highway

Our ultimate Portland to San Francisco road trip itinerary includes best places to stop on the Northern California coast and in Coastal Oregon.

We have also included plenty of options to customize your road trip as per your interests. 

The route below will help make your Oregon Coast and Northern California coast scenic drive as enjoyable as possible!

Downtown Portland

If you are from Portland then feel free to skip this but – if you are flying into Portland to begin the road trip or if you are starting from San Francisco, and Portland is your destination then definitely keep some time to explore this amazing city. 

Portland is home to many attractions including museums, zoos, and art galleries. The city has a great dining scene including upscale restaurants to food trucks.

Visitors also love the city for its vibrant culture, pretty bridges, craft beer scene, parks, and natural beauty.

To see some of the best sights and attractions in this beautiful city, read our post Best Things to do in Oregon, Portland.

Next head down to the Oregon Coast. It has some of the best beach camping in the US and plenty of fun attractions such as Thor’s Hammer and Three Capes Scenic byway. 

Portland skyline view at night with Mount Hood in the background
Portland skyline with Mount Hood in Oregon

Cannon Beach is a popular beach town on the Oregon coast. It is most famous for the 235 feet tall sea stack known as Haystack Rock.

Cannon Beach

The view of Haystack Rock with the wide expanse of the beach at Cannon Beach is also one of the most photographed places in Oregon.

The beach stretches on for miles and the waves are never too big. The sand is soft and there are innumerable tide pools and sea bird nests to explore. 

If you’re looking for something a little more active, the beaches are popular for hiking, biking, surfing, and fishing.

Try visiting the Ecola State Park for breathtaking views up the coast.

Cannon beach, Oregon
Cannon beach, Oregon

Tillamook Cheese Factory

A must visit stop near Tillamook! Visitors can tour the Tillamook Cheese Factory and sample some of its signature cheese.

The Tillamook Creamery factory tour takes you through the history of cheese-making, a behind-the-scenes look into the actual process of making cheese, and ends with lots of delicious samples.

Cape Kiwanda

Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area is a gorgeous destination on the Oregon Coast.

Located along Three Capes Scenic Route, Cape Kiwanda has beautiful waves, breathtaking views from the cliffs, and hidden sea caves.

You will find plenty of hiking trails for all difficulty levels in the natural area.

On the shore, you can discover tide pools full of sea stars, crabs, and other intertidal creatures.

You can also spot wildlife including seals and whales – so be sure to bring your binoculars!

Cape Kiwanda illumanated by the setting sun
Cape Kiwanda illumanated by the setting sun

Bandon Beach

Bandon Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Oregon and attracts plenty of visitors. 

Located on US Highway 101 at milepost 27, Bandon Beach offers its guests a great view of the Pacific Ocean as well as restrooms and a picnic area.

You can spot animals like seals and otters living near the shoreline or rent kayaks or stand-up paddleboards to explore the coastline.

After you enter northern California via Highway 101, your first stop should be Crescent City.

To know about all amazing stops on the Oregon Coast, read our post on the Ultimate Highway 101 Oregon Coast Road Trip Itinerary

Aerial shot of Coquille River Lighthouse in Bandon
Aerial shot of Coquille River Lighthouse in Bandon

Crescent City

Crescent City, located in Del Norte County, California, is known for its natural beauty. The city is home to redwood forests, coastal bluffs and abundant wildlife. 

It offers incredible views of the Pacific Ocean and is a great place to spend the night. Visitors can explore the sandy beaches and the rugged coastline and search for tide pool creatures. 

In addition to its natural beauty, Crescent City California has plenty to offer visitors year-round including fishing charters, surfing lessons and art galleries.

Drive through Redwoods National Forest on your way to Crescent City and the California Oregon border.

The lighthouse at Crescent City along the north california coast
The lighthouse at Crescent City along the north california coast

Redwood National & State Parks

Seeing the Redwood forest on this road trip is a quintessential experience. The redwoods are one of the best places to visit in the USA

Redwood National and State Parks are located in Northern California, just south of the Oregon border. 

The parks protect several last remaining acres of redwood forests – the most old-growth temperate rainforests in the world.

The parks are home to some of the tallest trees on Earth, including one that is over 380 ft tall! 

There are many other things to do here besides the trees. Visitors can enjoy hiking along the Pacific Coast Trail or explore tide pools along the shore.

See the Redwoods near San Francisco in California
See the Redwoods near San Francisco in California

Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park

Del Norte Redwoods State Park is located in Northern California and is home to one of the tallest trees on Earth. 

The tree, named Hyperion, stands at over 380 feet tall. Its location is a secret to protect and preserve it. 

But the park also has many attractions besides Hyperion. You can see several other towering redwoods on the hiking trails in the park.

This park has a variety of ecosystems including old-growth redwood forests, prairies, oak woodlands, and coastal scrubs. 

It’s a perfect place for outdoor enthusiasts to explore, and it’s also close enough to Highway 101 so you can take a break from driving and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park
Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park

Prairie Creek State Park

One of the most spectacular natural wonders in Northern California is Prairie Creek State Park. 

The park features a lush forest, with many waterfalls and creeks that flow into the Russian River.

Tall trees provide shade to visitors as they explore this beautiful state park. One of the highlights here is the Fern Canyon hiking trail. 

The canyon was a filming locale for the movie Jurassic Park, making it popular with visitors. 

This easy hike takes you through a forest of tall, old growth redwoods into the Fern Canyon. 

The scenic trail winds down through the towering fern walls and along the creek bed. 

The trail is great for the entire family. 

Fern Canyon California
Fern Canyon, California

Eureka

Eureka, located in Humboldt County, is known as “The Redwood Capital” because of its stunning coastal location amongst towering ancient Redwood trees. 

The area offers visitors plenty of outdoor activities including fishing, hiking, kayaking and more!

Downtown Eureka is also home to many landmarks and tourist attractions. 

In the Old Town district you will find historic Victorians including the Carson Mansion. Kids love seeing the big cats, monkeys, and pandas at the Sequoia Park Zoo.

You can also take a cruise around Humboldt Bay to spot marine life.

The Carson Mansion in Eureka, California
The Carson Mansion in Eureka, California

Avenue of the Giants

The Avenue of the Giants in Humboldt County, Northern California is a scenic two-lane roadway that winds through some of the tallest redwood trees on Earth.

The scenic highway stretches on for 45 miles and takes about two hours to drive.  

The area has some of the oldest trees on earth – about 3,500 years old! The towering giants are one of the most iconic natural wonders in the world.

The byway has several trailheads where visitors can get down and walk up to the redwood groves.

Avenue of the Giants

Chandelier Drive-Through Tree, Legett

Located in Leggett, California on Highway 101, this is the perfect place to stop for photos of your family.

This drive-through tree has been around since decades and is a quintessential PCH road trip stop. 

Visitors can see the natural beauty of this tree as they drive through it, a memorable experience!

Chandelier Drive-Through Tree
Chandelier Drive-Through Tree

Mendocino

Mendocino is a small town in Northern California. It is known for its breweries, restaurants, and laid back atmosphere. 

The best way to explore Mendocino is by car or bike. You can also take a walking tour of the Victorian buildings downtown and check out the art galleries and boutiques on Main Street. 

This quaint seaside village has been featured in many films and TV series including Forever Young, The Majestic, and Murder She Wrote. 

Mendocino is also a popular tourist destination for those who love the outdoors, nature and wildlife.

For outdoor lovers, Mendocino has 3 state parks: Mendocino Headlands State Park, Van Damme State Park, and Russian Gulch State Park.

Also Read our post on Northern California Road Trip to plan this leg of the journey

Mendocino

Fort Bragg

Fort Bragg is located on the Mendocino Coast of Northern California.  

Fort Bragg offers more than 100 acres of beaches, forests and wetlands to visitors who come to explore the natural beauty of this beautiful area.

The most popular attraction here is the Glass beach, located in the MacKerricher State Park.

The shoreline at Glass Beach consists of smooth, naturally rounded glass pebbles that sparkle in the sunlight and provide for stunning photos.

Remember: It is illegal to remove the sea glass from the beach. 

Glass beach Fort Bragg California

Bodega Bay and Tomales Bay

The quaint town of Bodega Bay is located in Sonoma County, California. 

A favorite destination for tourists and locals alike, the town is home to beautiful beaches, scenic views, and a variety of wildlife.

It is also popular for ‘The Birds’ filming locales including the schoolhouse.

Tomales Bay is located about two miles away from Point Reyes. It is known for its oysters, crabs, shrimp, and other seafood.

Tomales Bay California

Optional: Santa Rosa and Sonoma County Wineries

From Bodega Bay, consider a detour inland to Highway 101. 

This stretch of Highway 101 passes through Sonoma County wineries and the city of Santa Rosa. 

The City of Santa Rosa is a place with lots to do and see. There are over 25 wineries in the area, many of which offer wine tasting tours and other activities for tourists wanting to enjoy the beautiful scenery. 

Also Read: Best Road Trips in California

Vineyard and Winnery in Sonoma Valley
Vineyard and Winnery in Sonoma Valley

Point Reyes National Seashore

Point Reyes National Seashore is a beautiful place to visit. 

With its sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean, this destination offers some of the best hiking trails and camping spots in all of California.

Point Reyes has an extensive coastline with over 70 miles worth of cliffs, beaches, tide pools and estuaries. 

In addition to its spectacular scenery and abundant wildlife (including elk), Point Reyes offers many family friendly activities such as kayaking, hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding.

Although there are many visitors during the summer months due to its proximity to San Francisco, Point Reyes can be enjoyed year round for those who want to experience nature without too much distraction. 

Waves crashing at the Point Reyes National seashore in Californi
Waves crashing at the Point Reyes National seashore in California.

Downtown San Francisco

San Francisco is one of the most beautiful and vibrant cities in the world. It has something to offer for everyone. 

It is home to iconic landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, and Alcatraz Island. 

History buffs love the San Francisco Museum and Library while families enjoy the fun and games in Fisherman’s Wharf.

Take a stroll in the Golden Gate Park or the Presidio or eat chocolate in Ghirardelli Square, there are endless adventures waiting for you in this great city.

There are plenty of activities that you can take part in while visiting this wonderful city- from kayaking down the bay to taking a stroll through Union Square or a day trip to Muir Woods National Monument.

San Francisco

Road Trip to Portland from San Francisco via I-5

You can also use this planner to plan a road trip to Portland, Oregon from San Francisco along the Interstate. These are the stops you will see:

San Francisco

San Francisco is a city that never sleeps. It’s filled with history, culture and some of the world’s best food.

From the stunning views, to the Golden Gate Bridge, and  riding the cable cars, there are plenty of things for tourists to enjoy while visiting San Francisco.

You can go on a wine tour, visit the museum or take in an opera performance.

From Fisherman’s Wharf to Lombard Street, enjoy the highlights of San Francisco before heading north towards Portland.

Also Read: San Francisco Itinerary Ideas

Optional: Sacramento

Take a little detour and you can visit the city of Sacramento.

Sacramento is a wonderful place to visit. Located on the eastern side of the Sacramento River delta, it is California’s capital city.  

The city has a rich history, with many attractions for visitors to enjoy while you’re here.

The first stop on any Sacramento tour should be Old Town where you can find plenty of historic buildings and shops to explore.

Other attractions include the State Capitol Building, the Tower Bridge, and the world-famous California State Railroad Museum!

Also Read: Best Things to do in California

Leland Stanford Mansion Sacramento California

Redding

Redding is a city in Northern California, about 200 miles north of San Francisco. 

It was once the home of the largest sawmill in North America. 

Today, it’s known for its beautiful natural scenery and proximity to some of California’s best fishing spots.

It’s located right on Interstate 5 and a great place to take a stop on your road trip to Oregon. 

Redding has many tourist attractions including museums, parks and the Sundial Bridge.

Redding is also the gateway to the nearby Lassen National Park. 

The park offers visitors breathtaking views of the volcanic features and terrain that make up the landscape in Northern California.

Sun dial Bridge in Redding, California
Sun dial Bridge in Redding, California

Optional: Lassen Volcanic National Park

Lassen Volcanic National Park is located in Northern California, and is home to the active volcano of Mount Lassen. 

The park was established as a place to see volcanic features, fumaroles, hot springs, mud pots and other geothermal sites in Northern California.

The park has many trails, such as Manzanita Lake Trail, Cinder Cone Trail, and Juniper Lake Loop Trail that offer hikers different routes with varying degrees of difficulty.

The spectacular scenery makes this destination worth visiting for anyone who wants to experience nature at its finest.

Lassen Volcanic National Park California

Mount Shasta

Standing at 14,179 feet, Mount Shasta is one of the highest peaks in California. 

Located in Northern California, Mount Shasta is a dormant volcano and has been an important spiritual center for many Native American tribes of North America. 

With its towering height, snow-capped peaks and beautiful forests, it is a popular tourist attraction and visited by several people year round.

The city of Mount Shasta is located at the base of the mountain. 

Mount Shasta City has a variety of things to do for visitors such as shopping at local stores and art galleries or taking a scenic drive through the surrounding mountain scenery.

Visitors can stay in one of the many hotels or motels in town or camp near Lake Siskiyou to explore the beauty of the area.

Mount Shasta

Optional: Burney Falls

Burney Falls is a waterfall that flows from the Burney Creek into the McCloud River about 8 miles southeast of Mount Shasta in northern California.

One of the most spectacular waterfalls in California, Burney Falls is a highlight for any trip to Northern California. 

The waterfall drops 240 feet and can be seen right from the parking area off Highway 89.

However, we recommend the scenic 1.3 mile loop hiking trail that will take you to the base of the falls.

Visitors are advised to bring plenty of water, food, and sunscreen with them when they visit this beautiful spot!

Also Read: Best Places to Visit on the West Coast USA

MacArthur-Burney Falls California

Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake National Park, located in southern Oregon, is well worth the detour from the coast.

Crater Lake was formed due to the collapsed caldera of Mount Mazama. The lake has a stunning blue color and is one of the best places to visit in Oregon.

The paved rim road circles the crater rim and is the best way to explore the park. Along the road, you will find trailheads and scenic lookouts. 

Other volcanic peaks in the area include Mount Bachelor, Three Sisters, Broken Top and Newberry Peak.

Crater Lake Reflection Blue Lake Morning Oregon
Crater Lake Reflection Blue Lake Morning Oregon

Optional: Eugene

Eugene is a hip, artsy college town with plenty of coffee shops and breweries. You’ll also find several Yamhill County wineries in Eugene.

For those interested in history: The H.J Sorenson Memorial Museum features interesting exhibits on the culture of Native Americans, Northwest’s early settlers and pioneers, and logging activities.

Also Read: Best Things to do in Oregon

Eugene, Oregon skyline
Eugene, Oregon skyline

Bend

Bend has developed into one of Pacific Northwest’s most popular tourist destinations.

Its unparalleled scenic beauty and opportunities for outdoor adventure make it a great place to stop on a Portland San Francisco road trip.

Visitors can go skiing at Mt Bachelor or hiking in the Cascade Mountains or explore the Ale trail in town.

Mount Bachelor in Bend
Mount Bachelor in Bend

Willamette Valley

Located in Oregon, Willamette Valley is a region that encompasses the state’s coastal lowlands and river valleys. 

The valley extends from Eugene to Portland with an average width of about 10 miles.

The Willamette Valley has an abundance of wineries and it continues to be one of the most popular wine regions in the country.

You will find over 50 wineries dotting the landscape and can see them on winery tours.

Residents and visitors can enjoy a variety of wines from some of Oregon’s top producers, including Sokol Blosser Winery, Domaine Drouhin Oregon, and Eyrie Vineyards.

Tourists will also find many other attractions in the region: riverside hikes, breweries – including Full Sail Brewing Co., Deschutes Brewery and Ninkasi Brewing, and even a few ghost towns!

Willamette Valley

Mount Hood National Forest

If you have time, Mount Hood National Forest, located along the byway offers incredible natural scenery and relaxing hot springs.

Mount Hood National Forest is located in Oregon, just north of the Columbia River. 

This beautiful area offers many recreational activities as well as scenic views. It is also home to the tallest mountain in Oregon.

It offers a variety of activities such as hiking trails, mountain biking trails, fishing streams and lakes. 

From snowshoeing to camping, there are plenty of things you can do here all year long!

Tourists love exploring Mount Hood National Forest because it’s just a short drive from Portland!

Mount Hood National Forest
Mount Hood National Forest

Hood River

At the end of the road, you will find the outdoor destination of Hood River. 

Hood River is a quaint town on the banks of the Columbia River in Oregon, known for its stunning beauty. 

The town’s proximity to Mount Hood and the Columbia River means that it has an excellent climate year-round with mild winter temperatures and cool summers.

It is often called the “Windsurfing Capital” as it offers some of the most ideal conditions for windsurfing. 

It is a great place to visit for outdoor enthusiasts, foodies and those looking to explore one of America’s most scenic areas.

Tourists can enjoy activities such as kayaking, hiking and biking while also taking in some of the best scenery around.

The city also boasts some amazing restaurants as well as wineries and breweries.

Mt. Hood and Hood River Valley
Mt. Hood and Hood River Valley

The Columbia River Gorge

The Columbia River Gorge is a must-stop while you are visiting Portland, Oregon.

The Columbia River Gorge is a steep, narrow gorge carved through the Cascade Mountains in Oregon. 

The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area is stunningly beautiful, with its rocky cliffs and deep crevices. 

The gorge offers pristine hiking and biking trails with jaw dropping views of both Oregon and Washington states from above the river.

It’s the perfect place for outdoor enthusiasts to hike, bike, camp, fish or just enjoy nature.

There are plenty of scenic viewpoints along the Historic Columbia River Highway including the breathtaking Multnomah Falls!

Multnomah Falls is the tallest waterfall in Oregon. The falls drops 643 feet in two stages and looks stunning especially in the fall. 

Vista-House-crown-Point-Columbia-River-Gorge-Oregon

Portland

Portland is a city of incredible food, trendy neighborhoods, and scenic beauty.  

From the mossy forests to the iconic bridges that span the Willamette River and from the bustling waterfront to hipster hangouts and locally-owned coffee shops, there’s plenty to see in this amazing city.

Iconic attractions include Pioneer Courthouse Square, Powell’s City of Books, Pittock Mansion, Washington Park, Portland Japanese Garden, Oregon Historical Society Museum & Library, and more!

aerial tram in portland oregon, view of the city from the top

More West Coast Road Trip Ideas

Your Portland to San Francisco road trip need not end in San Fran. Here are a few ideas to extend your trip:

California Road Trip

Continue your way from San Francisco to Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada. End your trip at the enchanting Lake Tahoe. Read this 10 Days in California Road trip Itinerary now. 

Also Read: California Packing List

Portland Seattle Drive

If you are driving north for an Oregon road trip from San Francisco, then consider extending your trip to Seattle and the Olympic peninsula.

Bridge Seattle Mercer Island Highway Cars Snowy Cascade Mountains Bellevue, Seattle Washington
Bridge Seattle Mercer Island Highway Cars Snowy Cascade Mountains Bellevue, Seattle Washington

San Francisco San Diego road trip

You can also drive south from San Fransisco along the coast to San Diego. Along the way you will see charming Big Sur, the hip college town of San Luis Obispo, and amazing Los Angeles

To plan this road trip along the California coast, read our post on 5 Days Pacific Coast Highway road trip

Also Read: Los Angeles Itinerary Ideas for First Time Visitors

San Francisco Vegas Grand Canyon

If you have more time, you can extend your West Coast trip to the American southwest and see the majestic Grand Canyon National Park too. 

Also Read: West Coast Road Trip Itinerary Ideas

We hope that we have inspired you to dream about the Pacific Coast Highway and coastal highlights on this road trip from San Francisco to Portland.

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