Exploring the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway – Oregon

When my daughter and I went on our Girls Getaway to Portland Oregon, we wanted to see more than just the city.  So I used the Oregon Scenic Byways guide to plan 2 day trip adventures for us.  A day traveling up the Pacific Coast and another day exploring waterfalls and local attractions around the Columbia River Gorge and Hood River.

 

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Link to order Guide Book

 

Because it was on our list of things we wanted to do in Portland, we started our morning with a quick stop at Voo Doo Donuts to grab a Voo Doo dozen plus 1 Voo Doo doll donut.  Eating a hearty breakfast at the Hyatt that morning didn’t stop us from scarfing down a donut immediately!  We put the rest of the donuts in their giant pink box in the back seat and headed to the coast.

Me made our plan to start our drive travelling from Portland to Tillamook.  It was actually a beautiful drive through hills and gorgeous Oregon forest land.  When we reached Tillamook, we followed signs to the State Park.

 

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We got out and hiked up a dune to get our first good view of the Pacific ocean.  Neither of us had ever been to the Pacific before so we were very excited.  Unfortunately, it was grey and cloudy, so it was hard to get much of a view.  We soon realized that there was absolutely nothing that we could do at this somewhat remote location, so we jumped back in our little rental Ford Fiesta, consulted our guidebook and scooted north toward the Cape Meares Lighthouse.

 

 

 

 

It didn’t take long to reach Cape Meares.  There were several paths there offering great vistas and of course one that took you to the lighthouse.  It was unusual that when approaching the lighthouse the path starts at the level of the light and then you wind downward to the lighthouse.  We come from Michigan and have tons of lighthouses, but I had never seen one like this.

 

 

 

 

The ocean views here were much clearer than they were at the State Park.  There were also a lot of educational signs about local wildlife and vegetation and this cool Cape Meares sign which was perfect for a quick photo backdrop.

 

 

 

 

Once we had thoroughly explored Cape Meares, we got back on the road heading north.  At this point, our end game was Astoria with plans to stop wherever something looked interesting and hoping for fresh seafood for lunch.  It was just a short drive to find a great beach.  In fact it was the first stop where we could actually get to the beach itself.

 

 

 

 

I love how rocky and rugged this part of the Pacific coast is and all the cool rock formations in the water.  I see a shark fin and a sea serpent, how about you?

 

 

 

Sadly the coastal road we wanted to take north from here was closed, so we had to head back toward Tillamook and then go north.  Along the way we saw signs for the Tillamook Creamery which stated that they were a cheese factory.  Maggie is my Cheesasaurus Rex, so we were trying to keep an eye out for it so we could stop.

What we ended up finding (I pulled the trigger just a hair too soon) was The Blue Heron French Cheese company.  Maggie started sounding the Tourist Trap alarm right away, but at this point I had already pulled in and figured we would at least see what it was about.  She warned me again as we walked past the petting zoo (when will I learn) yet in we went.  Yep, it was a real Tourist Trap filled with knick knacks, doo dads and a lot of this and that.  There was, however, a small wine tasting area.  Since we had not tasted any Oregon wine yet, we decide to put up the $5 to try a couple.

I have worked part time for a winery for over 9 years so I have a pretty good knowledge base and pallet for tasting wine.  As we tasted, I asked the young man if they grew their own grapes.  No, they don’t actually make any wine.  All the wines were from somewhere in Oregon and they just offer them for tasting. Sigh.  Needless to say the wines were between Meh and Yuck on the wine tasting scale.  We finished our stop with a visit to the real bathrooms since all the places we had been thus far had pit toilets.  That might have been the best part of the whole stop.

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Without having wasted much time here, we were back on the road headed north again when but we accidentally zipped right by the Tillamook Creamery.  It had only been a 1/2 block further down the road.  Oops.

 

 

 

We were getting pretty hangry when we finally reached Astoria around 3:30 in the afternoon.  We had been living off donuts from the back seat all day as we watched for a coastal seafood restaurant.  There is a lot happening when you drive into Astoria, roads and bridges shooting off in many directions all at once.  Trying to navigate quickly enough using the GPS was a bit tricky so we struggled a bit here before finally finding Mo’s Seafood and Chowder.  Seafood at last!

I chose a table with big windows facing out to the harbor area and with a great view of the Megler bridge (top picture).  If you took the bridge, which looked pretty intense, you crossed from Oregon to Washington State.  I was glad we were going to be heading back toward Portland and would have no need to cross the bridge.

I asked the waitress which items were locally sourced and sadly there weren’t many.  The bay shrimp and the oysters were my options for native seafood.  Most of the shrimp listed was breaded or fried which isn’t my thing, so I settled on a bay shrimp salad sandwich.  It was OK.  Maggie ordered a fish sandwich which was also OK.  Both of our sandwiches came with a cup of fresh chowder.  It was different, but fairly good.  We really just needed to eat real food at this point.  The view made up for the average food.

 

 

 

After finishing up our meal (what do you call a meal at 3:30pm?), we routed the GPS back to Portland. It was a relaxing and straight forward trip back.

This scenic drive along the Pacific coast with a handful of stops was a 7 hour adventure covering around 250 miles.  Although things didn’t go exactly as planned, it was a great way to spend one of our travel days. Exploring the city of Portland was awesome, but we really enjoyed our trip to the coast and experiencing the beautiful landscapes and beaches outside of Portand as well.  It’s fun to mix things up when you travel.

 

Dream, Plan, Save, ADVENTURE!

 

 

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