Summer Road Trip: Oregon

Way back in August, we set out for a 3 week summer road trip down the Oregon Coast, through California and up through Las Vegas.  I’m just getting around to doing up my travel diary now and I’m going to split my travel diary into several posts, likely by state.  This post will focus on Oregon including Portland and our stops along the Coast.


We left home on a Friday afternoon and drove to Kelowna, British Columbia which is about a 6.5/7 hour drive from home.  We spent the night in Kelowna and then the next morning we drove from Kelowna to Portland which was supposed to be 7-8 hour drive.  It turned into into a 9 hour trek.  We got caught in construction traffic on the freeway in Washington and that delayed us quite a bit.  Needless to say we were exhausted once we finally arrived at our hotel.

Where we stayed

The Nines

I’ve mentioned before that we are Starwood members and we try and stay in a Starwood property whenever possible.  This is one of their luxury resorts and wow, was it beautiful!

The Nines is located in a historic building in downtown Portland; despite being a historic hotel, it has a very modern feel.  We had a standard room and it was gorgeous.  The king bed was probably one of the most comfortable I’ve ever slept in – so much so that we slept in all 3 mornings which is so not like us.  Normally we’re up and at ’em bright and squirely.

What we did

Washington Park

A beautiful park located right in the middle of the city.  We spent a good portion of the day exploring here.  We visited the Rose Garden, Japanese Garden and the World Forestry Centre.

Pearl District

A fun neighbourhood to explore, enjoy great restaurants and local and unique shops.

Portland Aerial Tram

If you’re looking for a beautiful view of Portland this is one of your best bets.  The only odd thing – the tram takes you up to a hospital and back down.  It’s a $2 fare per person for a round-trip.

Where we ate

Irving Street Kitchen

We stopped in here for dinner on our first night and had a delicious appetizer of ham, buttermilk biscuits and pepper jelly.  We then shared their Buttermilk Fried Chicken which was served with the most amazing bacon gravy I’ve ever tasted!


After we spent the day exploring Washington Park, we were exhausted and needed some protein.  We stopped in here for burgers and fries and the burger was out of this world!  The fries and tater tots were just meh but I’d go back here in a second for another burger!

Food Trucks – The Grilled Cheese Grill

Portland has the coolest set up for food trucks I’ve ever seen!  They’re all set up around the perimeter of parking lots in the downtown area and there were hundreds of them!  It was a struggle to decide what and where should we eat and ultimately settled on the Cheesus from The Grilled Cheese Grill which was basically a hamburger between two grilled cheese sandwiches.  Excessive?  Yes, but delicious.

Voodoo Donut

If you’re in Portland, you have to pay a visit to Voodoo Donut, hence the long line of people snaking around the building when we stopped in.  Thankfully we only had to wait about 20 minutes; my favourite was the Grape Ape – a GRAPE flavoured donut.  We had a couple of the cereal-topped ones (Captain my Captain and The Loop) and they were good but REALLY sweet.


International Test Rose Garden

This was located within Washington Park and may have been my favourite stop of the day.  Rows and rows of roses as far as the eye can see in every colour imaginable.  So beautiful!


After our 3 day stay in Portland, we drove west about an hour and half to the beautiful Oregon Coast, with our first stop being in Cannon Beach.  I was so excited for this leg off our trip – it was the purpose for the road trip after all!

Where we stayed

Surfsand Resort

When I started researching hotels for this area the choices were few and far between; I soon realized that these hotels are typically booked a year in advance!  Thankfully we lucked out and scored a room at the Surfsand which was our first choice for accommodations in Cannon Beach.

The resort sits ocean front, with many rooms having picture-perfect views of the famous Haystack Rock.  We booked a partial ocean view room so I wasn’t sure what to expect and I certainly didn’t expect a view like this:

Obviously no complaints there.  Our room was nicely appointed and exceptionally quiet; although we ended up sleeping with the window and patio door open at night as there was no air conditioning in the room (not uncommon in this area) and I did find the room was looking a little worn in places.  Overall though, it was a fantastic stay!

Where we ate

Pelican Brewery

This was right across the street from our hotel so had dinner here our first night.  The reviews online were somewhat mixed but we really enjoyed our meal!  I had a roasted half chicken and we shared a flatbread pizza to start.  No complaints!

What we did

Ecola Point to Indian Beach Trail (Ecola State Park)

We had time to kill prior to checking into our hotel on our first day so we did this hike.  This is probably one of, if not the most beautiful hikes we’ve ever done.  A large part of the hike is situated along the cliffs looking out to the endless ocean.  I’d rate this as a moderate hike but you need to be careful – with all the humidity the pathways can get pretty slick and I had a few near-misses.

Hug Point State Park

This was a short hike to a beautiful beach that included a cave and small waterfall.

Oswald West State Park

This was one of my favourite beaches we visited; I spent a lot of time combing the beach for shells and I just loved the cove-like quality to it, watching the surfers and the peaceful hike through the lush woods to get to it.


Bonfire on the Beach

Our hotel offered a bonfire on the beach kit that included a bonfire set up, chairs, blankets, a smores kit and roasting sticks.  Neither of us had ever experienced a campfire on a beach before so doing this was a no-brainer.  And it was so worth it.  It was a chilly night so we bundled up, enjoyed a bottle of wine with warm and gooey smores and listened to the waves crashing against the shore while the fire crackled.  It was one of my favourite memories and experiences from our entire trip.


After a 2 night stay in Cannon Beach, we made our way approximately 3 hours south to Newport.

Where we stayed

Hallmark Resort Newport

We spent 2 nights at the Hallmark Resort; this resort is situated right on Nye Beach.  Every room has an ocean-view and ours was ocean-front.  The view from our room was incredible; the room itself – average.  The bathroom was in need of an upgrade and again, there was no air conditioning so we slept with the patio door open (thank goodness for patio screens!)  The service at this resort was really fantastic however.

What we ate

Georgie’s Beachside Grill

This was the hotel’s on-site restaurant and we were a little skeptical going there – how often are hotel restaurants anything memorable?  However we took a chance and I was really glad we did – our meals of fish and chips and parmesan-crusted halibut were delicious.  In addition they had great cocktails, the service was fantastic, and we had a fantastic sunset view from our table at the lounge.

Nana’s Irish Pub

After a particularly exhausting day of sightseeing, we just wanted to grab a light dinner, a few drinks and crawl into bed.  This pub was a short walk from our hotel and had rave reviews online.  Unfortunately I was really looking forward to their Steak & Guiness Pie but it was sold out by the time we arrived; I ordered the Sausage Rolls instead and they were so good!  D had the meatloaf and equally enjoyed his as well.  The only drawback was that the service was seriously lacking, however the food was so good that I’d return.

Clearwater Restaurant

We stopped in here for brunch prior to leaving Newport; you can literally sit on their deck and enjoy views of the ports AND the sea lions below.  Although if you’re not into hearing relentless sea lion barking, sitting outside might not be for you. 😉  We sat inside as it was a chilly morning and enjoyed an omlet and a plate of fish and chips.  Both were delicious – we’d return!

What we did

Devil’s Churn

This was an incredible stop just off the highway with spectacular views (sensing a theme yet?).  The waves roll in and out of the cove and crash against the rocks with an impressive force – it was mesmerizing.

Cape Meares Lighthouse and Wildlife Refuge

There was no shortage of lighthouses along the Oregon Coast and this was just one of many that we experienced.  I believe it’s possible to tour the actual lighthouse but it wasn’t open when we visited; the views from this point were again spectacular, and we paid a visit to the Octopus Tree and and the largest living Sitka Spruce tree while we were here as well.

Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area

You know what’s not enjoyable?  Hiking in sand.  Particularly when it’s hot. I’m not sure I’ve ever been so miserable.  We hiked in it for about an hour before I basically refused to go any further.  My shoes were filled with sand, my calves were aching and I was sweating like crazy.  If you want to experience the sand dunes, do a dune buggy tour.

Cape Lookout State Park

In addition to exploring the beautiful beach, we did a hike here as well.  After hiking for about an hour and a half, we had to turn back because the trail conditions were becoming unsafe.  We were hiking uphill and alongside cliffs that were covered in mangled tree roots – at first that was fine but the more elevation we gained, the more rainforest-like (aka humid) it became, which caused the trails to become really slick so we turned around.

Sea Lion Caves

This is 100% a tourist trap but I’m glad we did it.  Even though the sea lions weren’t in the caves, it was cool to see the caves themselves.  We were able to witness the sea lions in their natural habitat from a distance as well; it was amazing watching them trying to catapault themselves up on to the cliffs, only to fail miserably and try, try again.  I could have easily stood there and watched them all day!

Tilamook Cheese Factory

I love cheese.  So of course we had to visit the Tillamook Cheese Factory and do a tour.  I wasn’t expecting it to be so busy – there were piles of people lined up to take the tour.  Thankfully it moved quickly and we were in and out within an hour.  It was definitely cool to see how they make the cheese and I definitely won’t complain about the free samples!


The Sea Lions: I can literally sit and watch these guys all day!  They’re so entertaining!  I had to be pulled away from watching them at both the docks in downtown Newport and on the cliffs by the Sea Lion Caves.


This was our last stop on the Oregon Coast and we probably could have done without it. Gold Beach is a very small little town and there isn’t a ton to do, nor eat.  So we picked up Subway and retired to our room for the night.

One thing that drove me nuts was the fact that the town uses loud sirens to notify their volunteer fire department that they’re needed.  But they also use the same siren system to warm of an impending tsnuami (I think it was something like 5 rounds for a tsunami, 3 for the firefighters).  Thankfully the front desk agent notified us of this when we checked in, otherwise I would have been panicking every hour – because that’s how often the siren went off.  Thankfully no sirens seem to go off after around 10:00 pm but every time it went off I was counting the number of sirens nervously.  I feel like there should be a better way to notify the firefighters that their services are needed but what do I know?

Where we stayed

Pacific Reef Hotel

This is a small hotel located right on the ocean.  We stayed in the newer section of the hotel and based on the reviews, that was a good decision.  The older section of the hotel is apparently not very nice at all.   Our room was on the second story and had a ocean view.  It had everything we needed for a one night stay but the room smelled like the carpets had just been cleaned or sprayed with Pledge or something – it made my nose burn.


Oregon is exceptionally dog friendly – dogs and pets are welcome pretty much anywhere! Most hotels have rooms dedicated for those with pooches and our hotel had a chalkboard that welcomed all of their furry guests by name!

You couldn’t visit a beach without encountering someone strolling the beach with their furball in tow; the beaches are so long and stretch on for miles.  I would love to take Maggie there some day, if only so she can run wild and free on one of their many beaches. By the way – the water is not really warm enough to swim in.  So their beaches are mainly for strolling, building sand castles and relaxing!

If you like having good hair I’m not sure living on the Oregon Coast is for you.  Just kidding!  Sorta.  The humidity and fog is like nothing I’ve ever seen before!  One morning we walked along Newport Beach and the fog was so thick I could barely see ten feet in front of me.  I had stuck my hair up in a pony tail and my hair was completely soaked by the time we got back to our hotel room.  Let’s just say that I had my hair in a lot of braids and messy buns on this leg of the trip!

Be careful when hiking!  As mentioned the humidity really does a number on the trails, particularly if they are covered in tree roots and rocks (and many of them were!), which is why we cut our hikes short a few times (and I’m a huge klutz under normal conditions).  I was wearing regular running shoes but I think hiking boots is probably a better option.

We stopped at the Safeway in Seaside prior to checking into our hotel in Cannon Beach and loaded up on things like Nutri-Grain bars, individual yogurts, bananas, and lunchable-like packs to take with us while we were out exploring and most times these items served as our breakfast and lunch.

Prepare yourself for the cost of parking in the bigger cities.  We had to fork over $40/night in Portland and Huntington Beach!

In Summary

We really enjoyed our time in Oregon, with the highlight being the Coast.  The scenery was unlike anything we’d ever experienced before.  I think we spent the right number of days in each spot, although if we had wanted to, I felt we could have done the Coast in a day or two less.  We whipped through many of the attractions faster than expected.  Not because they weren’t beautiful, but because there was a limit as to how many beaches you could walk or trails you could hike in a day.  I think if we were spending the week stationary in a condo or rental home it would be different.

My next travel diary will focus on California – specifically the National Redwood Forest, Napa and Yosemite.  I’m going to try and pare that one down A LOT as this post took me days to do up.  Plus I’m sure you’d appreciate shorter posts.

Thanks for reading!


  1. Polished and Inspired says

    Fantastic post! I am left salivating from all of the food pictures/descriptions! We’ve had a few friends who have done this road trip (more or less) and they really loved it too.
    You saw some pretty beautiful views here – I especially love the view from your hotel room at Surfsand Resort! The picture of the fog on the beach is stunning. The bonfire on the beach sounds so awesome! Beaches in general are such a novelty for us, lol.
    Looking forward to hearing about National Redwood Forest and Napa! Napa is so beautiful, and I’ve always wanted to visit National Redwood Forest 🙂

    • prettyrufflife says

      Haha – food is like my favourite part of traveling! In life if I’m being honest.

      You’re so right, beaches are such a novelty! Being able to walk Maggie on the beach everyday just sounds like such an amazing thing!

      Napa was one of my favourite spots on the entire trip and I’m not even a big wine drinker. I’d go back there in a second!

  2. fivezero says

    It is so beautiful in that part of the country! Looks like you had a wonderful vacation. Loved looking at all your pics and reading through your diary.

    I spent part of my childhood near Portland, but I barely remember it (though the Sea Lion caves definitely ring a bell! Wow) and haven’t gone back since. Probably should someday…

    • prettyrufflife says

      How cool that you lived in Portland – even if you don’t remember it much! I really like that section of the US, it’s so nice being so close to the water. We’re miles away from it here so it’s such a novelty.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  3. lipstickonthelake says

    Wow, everything looks so beautiful! The bonfire on the beach looks amazing! I really wanted to at least make it down to Portland when I was on my road trip around the same time but time just wasn’t permitting. Looks lovely and a road trip like what you did is on my list of things I’d love to do! Can’t wait to read more about your trip!!

    • prettyrufflife says

      Totally recommend this road trip if you get a chance – it was beautiful! Although I’ve heard that Tofino is even more magical than Cannon Beach, and you don’t have to worry about the exchange rate! We might attempt that trip next summer.

      Thanks for reading! 🙂

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