San Francisco to Seattle Drive: Our Ten Year Anniversary Road Trip

Road trip San Francisco to Seattle – sounded a little crazy, but we were up for the challenge! For our ten year wedding anniversary, my husband and I flew to San Francisco and drove up to Seattle in 13 days. We have visited the Pacific Northwest several times, yet our San Francisco to Seattle road trip has been one of my favorite U.S. road trips so far. Our drive to Seattle was filled with outdoor adventures, great food, and natural beauty. Here are the highlights of what we did on our San Francisco to Seattle drive in two weeks.

Hiking Smith Rock State Park

Our family has made a travel bucket list goal to visit all 50 states and document them on our travel photo map. Ideally, I would like to road trip across America. We have been able to do this by flying to a destination and then road tripping from there. We started this practice a few years ago in order to check off as many states as possible when we travel. Our San Francisco to Seattle road trip was our first big one!

San Francisco to Seattle Road Trip

Click on the link below for a list of the West Coast USA road trip itinerary. This was a 13 day road trip to the Pacific Northwest starting in San Francisco. Our original plan was to a San Francisco to Portland drive, but we found a cheaper one-way fare coming back from Seattle. We decided, instead, to do a San Francisco to Seattle drive. Click below for the San Francisco to Seattle road trip itinerary.

San Francisco to Seattle Itinerary 

Seattle to San Francisco road trip map

West Coast USA Road Trip Itinerary

Day 1 ­- San Francisco to Mendocino

We had already been to San Francisco before on a separate trip but used this as our starting off point since we had never explored northern California. Driving north would complete our California bucket list of driving the entire coast. We stopped in for lunch at a great oceanfront restaurant, Beach Chalet Brewery, and then headed for Golden Gate Park to take pictures with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background.

Golden Gate Bridge

Besides our lunch and pictures at the Golden Gate Bridge, we did not allow time for much sightseeing. If you have not been to San Francisco, then I suggest staying at least 2 nights and explore the many sights. Check out some places to stay in San Francisco, city tours, and things to do:

Check out: Guide to Monterey Peninsula

From San Francisco, we drove about 3 hours to Mendocino in Northern California. The drive up the Pacific Coast Highway and into the Redwoods was spectacular, but be warned that for about an hour the road turns inland and has many twists and turns. We stopped along the way at Simi Winery for a tasting before heading to our hotel in Mendocino.

The bed and breakfast, Glendeven Inn, has been one of my favorite places to stay! The surroundings were beautiful, our room was well decorated with ocean and forest views, there was an on-site farm, and there was a hiking trail to the shore. We stayed at Glendeven Inn for two nights. Each morning we received a tasty breakfast delivered to our room, and afterward, we would hike 1/2 a mile on Cobbler’s Walk Trail to the Pacific Ocean. Each evening we enjoyed a free wine happy hour and a delicious dinner in town. Although on the pricier side, I highly recommend staying at Glendeven Inn for a couples getaway.


Day 2 ­ – Mendocino and Fort Bragg

Today we kayaked. It was actually my first time kayaking, and I didn’t realize how much of a workout it would be. Our Kayak Mendocino Cave Tour ­was fantastic! As the tour name implies, we took off from the beach and kayaked along the shore into some sea caves. The tour was not very long and perfect for beginners. Kids are more than welcome here, and there are other options for outdoor activities in Van Damme State Park in Little River.

After eating lunch, we decided to rent bikes and ride around the Mendocino Coast where the Little River meets the Pacific Ocean. The bike ride was gentle, yet challenging enough for us. We also took a nice stroll along the river bank. Our San Francisco to Seattle road trip was starting off quite active!

Check out: Best Fishing Kayaks

We then drove up the Pacific Coast Highway for 5 minutes to Fort Bragg and walked on Glass Beach before sunset. Glass Beach is a beautiful beach that got its’ name from the trash that turned to glass due to the power of the waves crashing into them for so long. I highly recommend a quick visit to find some unique pieces. If you’ve never driven up the Pacific Coast, I urge you to plan a Coastal California road trip and see firsthand rocky cliffs meeting the ocean.

Day 3 ­- Mendocino, Arcata, Medford

After breakfast, we drove 3 hours to a little town called Arcata and ate lunch at Redwood Curtain Brewing. We then drove about another hour to Redwood Park to do a short mile hike called the Lady Bird Trail. There are many hikes in this area, but we chose a quick yet scenic option.

Lady Bird Trail

We then drove 3 more hours to stay in Medford, OR and get ready for another busy day tomorrow filled with outdoor activities. Because we had Marriott points, we were able to save money and get a free hotel stay.

Day 4 ­- Medford to Ashland

After a quick breakfast at Buttercloud Bakery, we drove 10 minutes to Central Point to do our day-long activity – a zip line, rafting and wine tour with the Rogue Rafting Company. You can customize the tour if you are traveling with your kids and skip the wine tour, but we opted for the whole day. It is called the Zip, Dip & Zip Tour.

After a thrilling, yet exhausting day, we drove 20 minutes to Ashland. Ashland is a quaint little town in Central Oregon, which is famous for a Shakespearean festival in the summer. We had dinner at Standing Stone Brewery and stayed at a lovely bed and breakfast – ­Chanticleer Inn.

Day 5 ­- Crater Lake and Bend

Today we headed for Crater Lake, the deepest lake in the U.S. We drove 2 hours to get to Crater Lake, and sadly it was raining. There were a few Oregon hiking trails located here that were in our plans, but the rain did not let up. The visibility was not great, so we decided to head to the Crater Lake Lodge, walk around a bit and take some pictures. Hopefully, we can visit Oregon again and see the famous blue color of Crater Lake.

Crater Lake

Camping is quite popular here, but there are also places to stay near Crater Lake. If we had more time, we would have enjoyed staying here and exploring more of the national park. Although there are plenty of Crater Lake hikes, there are also other things to do at Crater Lake.


Since we had some extra time, we drove along the Rogue River and stopped to take pictures on our way to Bend. The two hour drive through the Oregon forests were beautiful. Driving through the Oregon back roads and stopping along the way was quite nice. This is an area I would love to return to since there are so many things to do in Central Oregon.

Rogue River

We arrived in Bend around dinner time and decided to walk to a neighborhood restaurant, Jackson’s Corner. After our fantastic meal, we walked back to our boutique bed and breakfast, The Mill Inn. If you are visiting Bend, be sure to stay in downtown Bend, as everything is within walking distance.

Day 6 – Bend

We started the day with a short 10 minute drive to Sun River, Oregon to do some mountain biking and sliding down waterfalls. Well, that was the intention at least. The tour was called The Paulina Plunge, and it involved riding a bike through some narrow trails and stopping along the way to slide down natural rock waterfalls. The problem was that when we woke up it was 65 degrees and rainy. Needless to say, the water was frigid and I was not going all the way in! The mountain biking part was quite fun. I had never ridden a bike at such inclines nor through trees. I was mentally drained from trying to stay focused on the trail and not cause a bike jam with the people following me. Overall, I highly recommend this tour; however, hopefully when you go it will be a hot, sunny day!

We loved our stay in Bend. In fact, I think it was our favorite part of the San Francisco to Seattle road trip. The downtown was filled with breweries, local shops, great restaurants, and an overall positive vibe. Again, we walked to dinner (this time at Drake) from our inn. Since the restaurant was a little farther, we were able to see more of the city. We walked through beautiful river neighborhoods, a couple of parks and the historic area. Bend is a great home base for many outdoor activities, both in the winter and summer. We cannot wait to go back, bring the kids, and explore some areas again.

Day 7 -­ Bend

Today we drove about 40 minutes to Smith Rock State Park. ­This was one of our favorite parts of the Oregon vacation. This Pacific Northwest road trip was filled with plenty of outdoor activities, yet the scenery at Smith Rock State Park was unlike anything I had seen before. Since this area is known as the high desert, the topography is more arid and rocky.

Smith Rock State Park

Smith Rock State Park is known for its rock climbing paths, yet has plenty of hiking trails. Originally we had planned to do the scenic river loop, which was a gentle 3 mile path around the Crooked River. We changed plans and decided to challenge ourselves on the most strenuous hike at Smith Rock, Misery Ridge. Aptly named, Misery Ridge Trail has been the most difficult hike of my life.

We have done family hikes in Acadia, Yellowstone, Glacier, the Smoky Mountains, Grand Teton, northern Georgia, South Carolina, and northern California, but nothing as physically demanding as this hike. It is a 4 mile loop hike with steep inclines, beautiful views, and a 1,000 foot elevation gain.

Check Out: Why Couples Should Backpack Together

After that exhausting hike, we rewarded ourselves with some lunch at ­Wild Ride Brewery in Redmond. After a much needed shower and some rest, we walked to dinner at Barrio, and enjoyed our last evening in Bend.

Day 8 ­- Drive to Eugene

Today was a much slower day. We had a 4 hour drive to Eugene and decided to break it up by stopping along the way at various trailheads along the McKenzie River Trail. We did short hikes to Sahalie, Koosah, and Proxy Falls.

Since my husband is a huge college football fan, we went to visit the University of Oregon campus. We explored the city of Eugene and picked up some famous Voodoo Doughnuts for snacking. Tonight’s accommodations at the Residence Inn were also booked with hotel reward points. Eugene is another great city for wine and beer tours. Check out some options below:

Oregon Campus

Day 9 ­- Eugene to the Coast

This morning we did a beautiful hike on the way to the Oregon coast. The Sweet Creek Trail is a gentle 3 mile hike with plenty of small waterfalls, creeks and rivers. Since we arrived early, we had the trail mostly to ourselves. It was such a nice, peaceful stroll in the forest. On the way back, we saw a few children wading in the cool water, and it reminded us of how much our kids would have enjoyed this little hike.

We arrived in Florence on the Oregon coast. After a delicious Hawaiian food truck lunch and a beer at Homegrown Public House, we were ready for our ATV ride on the Oregon sand dunes. Our Sandland dune buggy tour was a blast! It was a small group tour of about 6-8 people with a guide. You are provided goggles and a helmet if you choose. We had read that you should wear a jacket with a hood so that you are covering your neck and hair from the sand particles. They were not kidding! I had sand in my mouth, my hair, and my neck. Next time, I will bring a bandana to cover my face.

This ATV tour on the sand dunes was so much fun. Our guide did tricks and drove us around the dunes for half an hour. I think any more time than that would be too long. There are other options along the coast where you can rent smaller ones and drive on your own; however, since we were rookies, we choose the safer guided version. Check out other things to do in Florence, Oregon.

Sandland Tours

We then drove 30 minutes to do a short hike at Cape Perpetua Park in Yachats. The landscape on this Oregon coast hike was beautiful. Being from Miami, I am accustomed to flat, white sand beaches. The Oregon beaches are nothing like that. The beauty of the Oregon coast cliffs and dark blue water amaze me. We found an access point called Hobbit Beach Trail and walked on the beach for a while before checking in to our hotel for the evening.

We stayed at the Overleaf Lodge B&B, in a room overlooking the Pacific Ocean. What a delight it was to have my morning coffee on my ocean view balcony. The inn had nice ocean walking trails, and a spa I would have liked to take advantage of. I wish we would have stayed here an extra night.

We chose this location because it was on our planned route, and we wanted to stay oceanfront. We also looked at a few Oregon coast rentals on Airbnb. Since it was only the two of us, it wasn’t worthwhile. If you are traveling with a larger group, oftentimes renting a house is more economical and convenient. If you’ve never used Airbnb before, sign up here and get $40 off your first booked rental. There are many Oregon beach rentals along the coast. Further up, Cannon Beach, is one of the best beaches in Oregon and a fantastic stop on an Oregon coast road trip. It was a little too north for us this trip, but is a great Portland day trip option.

Oregon Coast

Day 10 – ­Oregon Coast to Wine Country

Today we were headed to the Willamette Valley, Oregon wine country. We both love Oregon pinot noir. So whenever we venture out here, we make sure to take a day to taste wine. After a 2 hour drive from the coast, we headed towards Newberg. We went to my favorite winery, Patricia Green Cellars, for a barrel tasting and then to Penner Ash and Adelsheim Vineyards.

Barrel Tasting at Patricia Green Cellars

Lunch at Red Hills Market was another favorite. It was followed by some more wine tasting at Stoller Family Estate. There are over 500 Oregon wineries located in this area of the Pacific Northwest. Willamette Valley wineries offer a variety of tasting options and there are plenty of Oregon wine tours in the area.

We then drove towards downtown McMinnville and walked into the Elizabeth Chambers and Eyrie Tasting Rooms. We checked into our gorgeous bed and breakfast, A’Tuscan Estate, and walked to dinner ­at Thistle. Check out other places to stay in the Willamette Valley.

Stoller Vineyards View

Day 11 – Columbia Gorge and Portland

After a day of wine tasting, a hike was in order. We drove north towards the Columbia River Gorge to take in some natural beauty. The first stop was at Multnomah Falls, just off the highway. You can take a 5 minute walk to see the splendor of this 611 foot waterfall from the viewpoint or bridge.

Our next stop was a hike I had been looking forward to, Oneonta Gorge. A good part of this hike was walking through the water in between a narrow canyon. The first part of the hike was a bit of a challenge. We had to scramble up logs and watch our footing very carefully.

Oneonta Gorge log jam

Once we conquered the log jam, the walk through the water was breathtaking. I could not stop taking pictures. I wish we had been better prepared, but we carried our backpack with us and did not bring a waterproof bag. We ventured almost to the end of the trail where the waterfall was but had to turn back once the water depth reached 2 feet.

It was a fantastic hike, nonetheless! There is so much to explore around the Columbia River Gorge. I highly recommend hiking the area and stopping at Hood River or Mount Hood to check out its beauty.

We dried off and headed into Portland to have lunch from the food trucks. We drove around and toured parts of the city and went shopping at the Columbia Sportswear headquarters downtown. After picking up some Blue Star donuts, sipping some Cacao drinking chocolate and having a drink at the SE Wine Collective, we checked into our Marriott Fairfield Inn hotel (for another free night). If you haven’t visited before, I do recommend staying at a downtown Portland hotel. If you’re here with the kids, check out some quirky things to do in Portland with kids.

Our San Francisco to Portland drive had taken us 11 days, and we were nearing the end of our West Coast USA road trip. Since we had visited the city before, so we were not in a rush to visit all of the Portland attractions. Most of the things to do in Portland are located downtown. If you have never been to Portland, you may want to check out some tours. Portland is known for its’ food and beer scene, so you will find many of those types of tours offered.

Day 12 -­ Portland to Seattle

Onto our last full day of our San Francisco to Seattle road trip… We visited the Portland Rose Garden and ate a fantastic lunch at Pine State Biscuits. Luckily, we knew someone who worked at Nike and we were able to get friends/family access to their employee store. After a couple of hours in Nike heaven, we began our 2 hour drive north towards Seattle. We had originally planned to visit Olympic National Park before we made it to Seattle, but chose to do more city adventures instead.

Check out: Two Days in Portland: Budget Itinerary

We made it in time to explore some of the Seattle downtown area. Naturally, we stopped at Pike Place Market to have some chowder and seafood. We saw the Space Needle and Rode the Ducks on Lake Union to get a unique city tour.

If you are planning to be in Seattle for more than a day, I would advise on purchasing the Seattle City Pass to save on entrance fees to many attractions. You could also book a sightseeing tour to check out the major attractions in Seattle.

If you enjoy sampling local food, check out these tours/activities for a unique visit to Seattle:

Our West Coast USA Road Trip had come to an end here in Seattle. Since we had a flight the next day, we stayed right by SeaTac airport at TownePlace Suites Seattle South/Renton (again for free with points), and visited the Boeing Museum right next to the airport.

Road Trip San Francisco to Seattle

As wonderful as our road trip from San Francisco to Seattle was, it was limited by time. We were fortunate enough to have our parents stay with our kids while we took this anniversary trip, but as always, we wish we had more time to explore. We love visiting small towns and enjoying the outdoors, so the Pacific Northwest was perfect for us. Since we had already visited the major cities of San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle, we only spent one night in each of those cites. Our San Francisco to Seattle road trip was an adventure of a lifetime! We cannot wait to take our kids to this area. For people visiting the Pacific Northwest for the first time, the itinerary may be different. Click here to check out our 2 other Pacific Northwest road trip itineraries.

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26 thoughts on “San Francisco to Seattle Drive: Our Ten Year Anniversary Road Trip”

  1. Stephanie W.

    O.M.G. This looks like the road trip of a lifetime!!! I can’t wait to hit the West Coast- those views are stunning! Happy anniversary <3 glad you guys had such a great time!

  2. What a dream trip! I have family in Bend and am very familiar with the whole area. I’m so glad you went to Smith Rock, it is a favorite for sure! And isn’t the Oregon coast straight up dreamy?! If I was ever to relocate, it would be to Oregon!

  3. Wow! The pictures from your road trip look absolutely gorgeous!!! So scenic and beautiful!! Great itinerary and tips!

  4. I’m trying to convince my other half to move to Seattle, but he’s got Portland on the brain at the moment. Either way, I’d LOVE to do this drive up from San Francisco! Especially for all the kayaking.

  5. I love the combination of outdoor activities and relaxing ones! This sounds like so much fun, I hope I can do some of this sometime since a few are on my personal bucket list. I’ll be saving this for later 🙂

  6. This would be a dream of a road trip for us! I’ve been to most of these places but not by car! How awesome!

  7. I would LOVE to do this road trip!! We love the entire west coast but haven’t made it to Crater Lake which is high on my bucket list. Definitely saving this for future planning!

  8. This is the absolute perfect road trip! I have been wanting to drive this route for years! Saving for when I do 🙂 thank you for the inspiration and tips.

  9. This looks so amazing! I totally want to do this trip at some point. Definitely keeping this article handy.

  10. What a great idea to do a long road trip for your anniversary! And to fly to a location and road trip out. Happy Anniversary!

  11. You sure packed a ton of outdoor activities into your road trip. I’ve driven the coast before and it’s beautiful. Lots of great ideas for things to do here.

  12. Wow, what a fun trip and great post! So many amazing sights and things to do. Adding a lot of these to my bucket list.

  13. Andrea Cannon

    I have a 50 states goal too! 4 more to go for me. This sounds like a wonderful anniversary trip!

  14. Wow. You did it all! So fun to see all the outdoor activities you did along the way. Crater Lake is a favorite.

  15. Wow! that’s actually a unique way to celebrate your anniversary, it is full of adventure. It’s actually a plus too when you also get to see great view during the roadtrip.

  16. Amanda OBrien

    What a brilliant trip! I have visited several of the spots on the itinerary but not Portland – would love to visit them all in one trip!

  17. Babu Kaji Sitaula

    Great itinerary, route map, and pictures. look like a brilliant celebration of your anniversary, Thanks for sharing this helpful information. it’s really helpful to new visitors.

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