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Exploring Northern California & the Oregon Coast

Exploring Northern California &  the Oregon Coast


We recently visited Oregon for the first time over Memorial Day weekend, a trip we've been talking about for quite some time. We mulled over driving vs flying and decided on a road trip since there was so much for us to see along the way. In hindsight, even though it was a long trip (we put on over 2200 miles) we were very happy with our decision. This is by no means a complete guide, but a highlight reel of where we spent the most time and what we loved the most.

We started in Los Angeles, and took the I-5 to the 101 until finally stopping to spend the night in a tiny town north of San Francisco. Our plan was to start fresh in the morning and drive through the Avenue of the Giants in full daylight. The Redwoods were simply awesome, If we had more time, we could have easily spent the entire day exploring Humboldt Redwood state park. Worth the trip in it's own right, it really is awe-inspiring to see these beautiful giants. It's a faster route to Oregon if you take the I-5 all the way, but then we would have missed some of the best parts of the trip, the dramatic Northern California coast and the most beautiful forests we have ever seen. If you have the time, the 101 is the way to go.


Avenue of the Giants

 Avenue of the Giants shown above and below

Avenue of the Giants Redwoods


After the Redwoods, we continued north on the 101 and leisurely wound our way through several coastal towns in Oregon. We spent our second night in Manzanita, the cutest little town with 7 miles of sandy beach, amazing restaurants, cozy cottages  and a plethora of puppy dogs. Manzanita is truly a dog lovers paradise. We brought our pups on this trip and stayed at Coast Cabins, a cozy set of cottages surrounded by a lush bamboo forest within walking distant of coffee shops, restaurants and the beach. Manzanita is pure magic. I hesitate to even share it here because it's feels like a secret paradise. Off the beaten path, the 101 goes around the town and not through it, which seems to have protected it from overdevelopment. We cannot wait to go back.


Manzanita Oregon

Manzanita, Oregon (shown above)

Where we stayed:

Coast Cabins: The Bamboo covered grounds and comfy bed are the first two things that come to mind. Super clean and comfortable, every detail has been taken care of. If you arrive with pups they'll have a care package waiting for you with dog blankets, beds, bowls and even towels to dry them off with after the beach. An excellent selection of restaurants, coffee shops & pubs are within walking distance. There's even a market nearby in case you want to use the kitchenette.  These cabins are really special and private. We loved relaxing on our patio with a bottle of wine and a game of cribbage.


Coast Cabins Manzanita Oregon


Coast Cabins

 The bamboo grounds of Coast Cabins shown above

Where to eat:

Yolk - a new restaurant on the main drag that serves breakfast and lunch. We had a really good meal here where we enjoyed talking with the locals. I had the fish tacos special and he had the crispy french custard toast (he couldn't stop raving about it). The food was fresh and flavorful. We still talk about this place. It was SO good.

Neahakahnie Bistro - We had an excellent meal here our first night. A romantic spot, bring a sweater, sit on their cozy deck with your pups sleeping at your feet and share a bottle of wine. This restaurant had some of the best seafood and pasta of the trip. Definitely a memorable evening.

MacGregor's: A Whiskey bar - The perfect spot for next level cocktails, small plates, cheese boards and the best deserts. Don't miss their famous Mac's Old Fashioned.

The Winery at Manzanita: This place is really quite brilliant. They have a dog friendly patio with fire pit tables. It's a super cozy and sociable environment. They even provide blankets for your pups to lay on. We spent a lazy afternoon here just hanging out eating apps and drinking lots of wine of course. A day well spent!


Next stop...

Cannon Beach


Cannon Beach

Cannon Beach 

Coming from California where the beaches can be quite crowded and knowing that Cannon Beach was the most famous of the coastal towns in Oregon, we expected it to be busy and overdeveloped. We were pleasantly surprised to see that really isn't the case at all. The beach is just huge, so we loved walking the dogs and seeing the iconic haystack rock close up. If you look really close you might see the white chests of the nesting puffins covering it. I think the one regret we had for the trip was that we did not stay in Cannon Beach after Manzanita, but we did spend two days exploring this quaint little town.

Where to eat:

Surfcrest market: A local recommended this place for pizza, so we tried it out and it did not disappoint. Enjoy with some brews in their backyard or order take out from this popular locals spot.

Irish Table: A cozy restaurant with a dog-friendly patio. We shared a bottle of wine and both ordered their famous vegetarian shepherds pie. They have a clever deal where they share the space with Sleepy Monk Coffee Roasters, a place we definitely want to try next time. This space is a coffee shop by day, and a popular dinner spot at night. Their menu is a fusion of Pacific Northwest and popular British Isle cuisine.  This place has good vibes and really tasty food.

Sea Level Bakery: Our go to for coffee, baked goods made from scratch, acai bowls, soups and sandwiches. A very popular spot, and for good reason. Everything here was fresh and delicious.

more coming soon! Next stops Portland, Hood River, Bend and Crater Lake.

 This post is not sponsored. All opinions and recommendations are our own and are based on our own experiences. All photos by Laura Larson © 2018 Soleil Blue. All rights reserved.

1 comment


Did almost this exact same trip a few years ago. Gorgeous and serene!

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