Pacific Northwest Road Trip: Winter and Summer Ideas

Our family loves traveling to the Pacific Northwest and exploring the natural areas. Washington State and Oregon are two of our favorite states to vacation in and use as a base for adventuring on a West Coast USA road trip. We have visited the area four times and are always looking for an excuse to return. If you are interested in seeing the natural beauty of this area, a Pacific Northwest road trip is a fantastic way to experience a beautiful part of the country. Here are some winter and summer ideas if you are looking for some options for a Pacific Northwest road trip itinerary.

Portland, OR

Portland, Oregon – A Must-Do on your Pacific Northwest Road Trip

Where to Start Your Pacific Northwest Road Trip?

Where to start on your West Coast USA road trip clearly depends on where you fly into or which direction you are driving from. If you plan to fly, our favorite airline, Southwest, flies to many cities out West. We make sure to book early (at least 6 months in advance) when they release their upcoming schedules. It is because of this that we have gotten cheap flights on Southwest Airlines and our family of 4 traveled with points earned by using our Chase Sapphire credit card. Check out where they fly here.

Another starting point for your West Coast USA road trip is flying to Seattle on Alaska Airlines. Seattle is one of their hub cities, which means flights are usually cheaper into this airport and many can be non-stop. Portland is also an option, but flights in/out of PDX are usually a little pricey. Frontier Airlines has some pretty good choices if you’re flying from a Western city like Denver or Phoenix.

San Francisco can also be a great staring option for your Pacific Northwest road trip as many airlines fly in/out of there. If you fly American Airlines, San Francisco is one of their hub cities, which means more flight options and non-stop routes. While it is technically not located in the Pacific Northwest, it is a great place to start/end your trip and see the northern coast of California too. If you do choose San Francisco, please note that it will require more driving, but definitely more to see on your Pacific Northwest road trip itinerary.

West Coast USA Road Trip

West Coast USA Road Trip

West Coast USA Road Trip Ideas: Pacific Northwest

Here are some ideas for stops and places to eat for your Pacific Northwest road trip itinerary. These are all based on my previous trips. I listed where we stopped, where we ate, and where we stayed on each of these trips.

Pacific Northwest Itinerary Options

Every Pacific Northwest itinerary should include stops to admire Oregon or Washington’s natural landscape. Among the national and state parks located here, these are some of the stops to include on your Pacific Northwest road trip.

  • Crater Lake National Park
  • Smith Rock State Park
  • Columbia River Gorge
  • Multnomah Falls
  • Mount Hood
  • Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area
  • Willamette Valley
  • Pacific Crest Trail
  • Olympic National Park
  • North Cascades National Park
  • Snoqualmie Falls
  • Yakima Valley
  • Mount Rainier National Park
Smith Rock State Park

Include Smith Rock State Park in your Pacific Northwest Itinerary

If you happen to be traveling with your family that includes a 4th grader, be sure to print your 4th grade national park pass for free to save money on entrance fees. If you do plan on visiting the national parks in the Pacific Northwest here is an Oregon Washington road trip itinerary.

San Francisco to Seattle Itinerary: Summer

This two week road trip itinerary starts off in San Francisco and ends in Seattle. We took the Pacific Coast Highway for a good chunk but explored inland too. While this included a California road trip, the majority of our stops were in Oregon. Click here to read our detailed account of our San Francisco to Seattle Drive.

Pacific Northwest Road Trip
Pacific Northwest Road Trip

Day 1 ­- San Francisco to Mendocino
Fly into San Francisco
Lunch ­- Beach Chalet Brewery
Drive 3h to Mendocino
Stop at Navarro or Simi Winery
Stay at Glendeven Inn 
Hike beach area ­Cobbler’s Walk take the trail
Dinner – Trillium Cafe
Day 2 ­ – Mendocino and Fort Bragg
Breakfast at inn
Hike Van Damme Park Pygmy Forest (1 mi)
Kayak Mendocino Cave Tour ­11:30
Lunch – Mendocino Market (take with us for a picnic)
Headlands Park and hike loop trail (5 mi)
Drive to Ft Bragg and walk Glass Beach
Dinner North Coast Brewery
Stay second night at Glendeven Inn
Day 3 ­- Mendocino, Arcata, Medford
Breakfast at inn
Lunch – ­Redwood Curtain Brewery in Arcata, CA ­
Drive 52m to Hike Lady Bird Trail (1.4 mi) at Redwood Park
Drive 3h to Medford, OR
Dinner ­- Kaleidoscope Pizza and Pub
Stay in Courtyard Medford Airport (free with points)
Day 4 ­- Medford to Ashland
Breakfast – Buttercloud Bakery
Central Point – zip line, raft and wine tour
Drive 20m to Ashland
Dinner – ­Standing Stone Brewery
Stay ­Chanticleer B&B 
Day 5 ­- Crater Lake and Bend
Breakfast at B&B
Grab sandwich for hike ­at Market of Choice
Drive 2h to Crater Lake
Hiking in Crater Lake (Garfield Peak and Cleetwood Cove Trail)
Drive 2h to Bend and stay­ Mill Inn 
Dinner at Brother Jon’s Public House
Day 6 – Bend
Breakfast at Inn
Drive 10m to Sun River to do Paulina’s Plunge Bike Tour lunch provided
Stay in Bend – ­Mill Inn
Dinner -­ Drake
Day 7 -­ Bend
Breakfast at Inn
Sparrow bakery to grab lunch for the hike
Drive to Smith Rock State Park and hike Misery Ridge ­
30 min drive to Redmond at ­Wild Ride Brewery
Dinner ­- Jackson’s Corner
Stay in Bend ­- Mill Inn
Day 8 ­- Drive to Eugene
Breakfast at inn
Stop to pick up lunch at Seasons Cafe and Wine Shop (30 min)
Drive 1h to McKenzie River
Hike part of the Mckenzie River trail ­
Sahalie and Koosah Falls (2.5 miles)
Drive 5 min to hike Tamolitch Pool (2 miles)
Drive 1h to Eugene
Stay at Residence Inn ­Eugene  (free with points)
Dinner – Oakshire Brewing Public House
Day 9 ­- Eugene to the Coast
Pick up Voodoo Doughnuts
Drive 45m to hike Sweet Creek Trail (3 mi)
Drive 45m to Florence
Lunch – Homegrown
Sandland ATV dune buggy tour ½ hr 
Hike Cape Perpetua Park in Yachats
Stay in Overleaf Lodge B&B 
Dinner ­- Drift Inn 
Day 10 – ­Coast to Wine Country
Breakfast at B&B
Drive 2h 30m to McMinnville/Newberg area
Visit Patricia Green Winery ­
Drive 25m to Big Table Farm
Lunch in Red Hills Market
Stay in Tuscan Estate in McMinnville
4pm ­tasting at Heater Allen Brewery
Elizabeth Chambers and Eyrie Tasting Rooms
Dinner ­- Thistle
Day 11 – Columbia Gorge and Portland
Breakfast at B&B
Pickup lunch at Red Fox Bakery to take on hike
Drive 1h 45m to Oneonta Gorge and hike
Drive 45m to Columbia outlet ­in Sellwood
SE Wine Collective
Dinner -­ Cibo
Dessert at Salt and Straw
Stay -­ Fairfield Inn Portland West (free with points)
Day 12 -­ Portland to Seattle
Breakfast at hotel
Beaverton -­ Nike Employee Store
Lunch ­- Pine State Biscuits
Drive 2h 30m to Boeing Museum of Flight
Stay near Sea Tac -­ TownePlace Suites Seattle South/Renton (free with points)
Dinner -­ Airways Brewing Bistro
Day 13 – Fly Home

Oregon Washington Road Trip Itinerary

These next two Pacific Northwest road trip suggestions are considered an Oregon Washington road trip itinerary. We happened to find better flight deals in/out of Seattle, so Washington was thrown into our Oregon itinerary. Don’t get me wrong, Washington is a beautiful state, but I wish flights were cheaper to Portland from the East Coast so that I could explore more of the countryside and drive less down I5 (the main highway between Seattle and Portland).

Seattle Roundtrip (Including Oregon) Itinerary: Winter

Another Pacific Northwest road trip itinerary option is our recent trip in 2017. This was a 10 day west coast road trip starting and ending in Seattle, where we including a stop to ski in Mount Hood. As an option, you could skip the Oregon skiing and ski closer to Seattle.

West Coast USA Road Trip Seattle roundtrip

West Coast USA Road Trip


Day 1 – Seattle
Drive to Pike’s Place Market to have lunch
Visit CenturyLink and Safeco Field
Check in to Airbnb (2 nights)
Visit playgrounds
Dinner  – Ma’Ono
Day 2 – Seattle 
Fishing in the morning
Lunch – Bakery Nouveau
Afternoon Options Seattle Aquarium or Space Needle
Ice Skating – Winterfest Seattle Center
Dinner – Matt’s in the Market
Day 3 – Portland and Hood River
Drive 3h towards Portland
Stop for lunch – Nongs Kao Man Gai 
Portland Children’s Museum visit
Drive 1h to Hood River
Stay at Airbnb for 4 nights
Dinner – Sixth Street Bistro and Pub
Day 4 – Hood River
Drive 40 min to Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Area
Snow Tubing
Day 5 – Hood River
Drive 40 min. to Mt. Hood Meadows to ski
Dinner- Solstice Pizza
Day 6 – Hood River
Snowmobiling ($249 double, $189 single)
Dinner – pFriem Family Brewers
Day 7 – Cannon Beach
Drive 2h 30m to Cannon Beach
Drive an hour to Multnomah Falls
Stop in Portland to have lunch
Stop in Beaverton – Nike Employee Store
Airbnb – 2 nights (Arch Cape)
Dinner – Pelican Brewing
Day 8 – Oregon Coast
Tillamook Bay Lighthouse
45m drive – Tillamook Cheese Factory
Lunch – Tom’s Fish and Chips
Haystack Rock, Ecola State Park, Hug Point State Park
Day 9 – Seattle
Drive 15m to Seaside
Drive 2h lunch in Olympia (visit the Hands on Kids Museum)  
Drive 1h- Boeing Museum
Stay at Airbnb

Washington State and Oregon Wine Valley Itinerary: Summer

If you enjoy wine tasting, this Pacific Northwest road trip could be for you. We drove through Washington and Oregon’s wine valleys (Yakima and Willamette) and then explored the coastal towns in Oregon.

Washington and oregon road trip

Pacific Northwest Road Trip Itinerary

Day 1 – Arrive in Seattle
Lunch at Pike Place Chowder
Drive 2h 45m to Yakima Wine Valley
Dinner (pick up something at market and cook outdoors)
Day 2 – Washington to Oregon
Breakfast – B&B
Wineries – Bon Air Winery and Two Mountain Winery
Drive 2h to see Mt. Hood/Columbia Gorge area
Lunch – Full Sail Brewery and Pub
Drive to Portland Hotel – Portland Marriott Courtyard City Center
Dinner – Whiskey Soda Lounge/Pok Pok
Day 3 – Portland and Willamette Valley
Brunch – Tasty and Sons
Drive 1h to Penner Ash Winery
Drive 15m to Dobbes Family Estate Winery
McMinnville area visit
Lunch – Community Plate
Carlton – Carlton Wine maker’s Studio, Republic of Jam
Drive 1h to Hotel – Feller B&B
Newberg Area visit
Dinner – Subterra
Day 3 – Willamette Valley
Salem area visit – Melting Pot Candy
Cubanisimo Vineyards
Drive an hour to Eugene
Lunch – Not Your Mama’s Sandwich Shop
Visit the University of Oregon
Drive 30m to Sweet Cheeks Winery
Drive 1h to Corvallis
Hotel – Harrison B&B
Dinner – Les Caves Bier and Kitchen
Day 4 – Drive to Coast
Breakfast – B&B
Visit Oregon State University, Corvallis Farmer’s Market
Drive 1h to Newport
Lunch – Local Ocean Seafood
Stop at Yaquina Bay, Whale Cove to sightsee
Drive 40m to Lincoln City
Hotel – SalmonBerry Inn
Dinner – Blackfish Cafe
Day 5 – Coast and drive back to Portland
Breakfast – B&B
Drive 1h to Tillamook Cheese Factory
Drive 1h to Cannon Beach, have coffee at the Stephanie Inn
Lunch – Sweet Basil’s Cafe
Drive 1h 30m to Beaverton/ Nike Headquarters
Drive 20m to Portland
Hotel – Park Lane Suites
Dinner – Pine State Biscuits
Day 6 – Portland all day
Breakfast – Screen Door
Powell Books, Mississippi Street walk around, Waterfront Bike Rental
Lunch – Food trucks
Cacao (drinking chocolate)
Blue Star Donuts
Cork Wine Shop 
Dinner – Pacific Pie Co
Day 7 – Fly Home
Breakfast – Waffle Window
Leave back home


Oregon Road Trip Itineraries

Oregon Itinerary: Possible Stops

There are so many places to visit if you are planning on exploring Oregon. It is a state filled with outdoor adventure and so much natural beauty. If you fly into Portland, it is a very quick drive to the Willamette Valley for some delicious pinot noir and adorable towns. The Columbia River Gorge, about an hour away from Portland, has some epic hikes and gorgeous scenery. Bend is another great city filled with farm to table restaurants, hiking opportunities, and a world class beer trail. If you’re interested in only doing a coastal drive, check out this complete Oregon Coast road trip itinerary and add the PNW as a family beach vacation destination. This Oregon itinerary below will highlight some worthwhile stops while exploring Oregon.

Planning a West Coast USA Road Trip

Our family loves going on road trips, but for me, planning a road trip is almost as important as the actual trip itself. As the family vacation planner, I make sure that our stops involve great, local food, at least one museum, some scenic views, hiking trails or walking around the city, and road trip activities for kids to keep them entertained on some of the longer drives.

For most of our vacations, as with each Pacific Northwest road trip, I used the app Roadtrippers to help us find unique places to stop along the way, calculate miles and get a general sense of gas expenses. I also use Google Docs to organize the day to day activities and use Google Maps and Yelp to find possible restaurant choices in advance.

Check out: Road Trip Through Olympic National Park

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25 thoughts on “Pacific Northwest Road Trip: Winter and Summer Ideas”

  1. Thanks for some great itineraries. I love the Pacific Northwest. We have not yet traveled there as a family. I love Ashland, Oregon. It’s one of my favorite place on earth.

  2. I am so bookmarking this! I went from Portland down to the CA boarder, but that’s as far as I got. Yes to the Sandland ATV dune buggy tour in Oregon. So much fun.

  3. This is perfect! I was just thinking we should get out to the Pacific Northwest and you answered every one of my questions hah. Thanks for sharing!!

  4. This sounds so great. I bet the scenery along this road trip is beautiful. I am saving this one for future reference.

  5. I love roadtrips! And staying at Inns every night is great way to support community tourism. Plus, with this whole social distancing going on, a vacation spent in your own vehicle will probably be one the first things people will be comfortable doing again.

  6. I still need to visit the Pacific Northwest! I love how you provided options for both the summer and winter. Thanks for sharing!

  7. madhu sharma

    I was in USA last October and we covered Grand canyon ,this time when I visit we will surely do this one

  8. There are so many places I’d like to see up there! Would love to take a road trip at some point.

  9. Love Oregon so much…so much outdoor adventuring to be had! We have such fond memories of our trip up there, especially Bend. I was expecting to be more wowed by the coasts, but Oregon is just gorgeous wherever you go.

  10. I’ve been wanting to visit Oregon for the longest time, have heard great things about the wine in Willamette Valley. Saving this post!

  11. I LOVE the PNW. I still need to make it to the Oregon Coast and Washington Wine Country but Seattle and Portland are such fun cities!

  12. These are such thorough Pacific Northwest road trip ideas! I totally agree that an Oregon road trip should include a stop at Smith Rock SP and Bend – I love Central Oregon!

  13. How do you pick? I love the Pacific Northwest! So many great road trips! I’m pinning for later!

  14. Hi Margie

    Some really great ideas on here, some great itineraries. Always fancied a US roadtrip!


  15. Ashlee Fechino

    Outstanding post! I LOVE how organized it is. Great ideas. Definitely saving for when we make it to the West Coast!

  16. Great route suggestions! We live in the kind of out of the way Willamette Valley of Oregon and love the PNW!

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