Thoughts on NorCal to Portland?

Hi there

My wife and I are looking at a potential trip this fall. We were thinking of flying into SF and then either spending 5-6 days around SF, Napa/Sonoma and/or tacking on some more days and driving up to see the Redwood Forest, spend time in Willamette then wind up in Portland and fly home from there.

We are fairly Type A people and move around pretty quickly (its the New Yorker in us). And given our close proximity to NYC - spending a lot of time in other major domestic cities aren’t usually high on our list. I was thinking about maybe about 36 hours in SF then headed out to Napa/Sonoma. Question is, if we want to tack on that piece driving up the coast, how many days would be sufficient?

I’d think 5-6 days may be sufficient for just SF Napa/Sonoma so we can do ~2 days in SF, 2-3 half days of wine tasting, some spas, shopping, blah blah and head home? And if we tack on the northern road trip that is where I start to lose track of time. I can count the miles and time to drive on a map but not sure how many fun stops there may be along the way other than the Redwoods.

I know time is subjective because we could go to 100’s of tasting rooms. In reality based on our previous wine tasting trips, 1 or 2 half days of 2 vineyards are usually sufficient for us. Once in NZ we did 5-6 in 1 long day which was fine too but the half days seem to work out better and we enjoy it more with less tasting fatigue.

Time of year - given a few other tentative obligations and waiting for more vax/COVID improvements in society we are thinking sometime in November - so cooler weather and post harvest season but the crowds should be minimal and the weather is fine as we are from NY so cool weather is normal for us.

I could look up some old posts on which cellars to visit but more curious about time/days/other things to do in these areas to book some flights then I’ll worry about the details. We book on points and right now there is a lot of inventory on points so wanted to book the flights soon and worry about the rest later.

Not an expert, but this was my honeymoon route a decade ago. We started in Portland and ended in SF.

Stops were Portland (a few days at the Hotel Monaco)
San Francisco

It is/was a great drive, with so much beautiful scenery along the way. Eureka seemed kind of unremarkable to a couple of tourists (nearby town Arcata had a charming town square), but the stops were generally well spaced out. If I did it again I’d make a point to check out Southern Oregon wine country. Make sure you go through the Anderson Valley as you head north from Napa/Sonoma.

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Thanks - that is somewhat what I had in mind. Given time in Portland plus adding in OR wine country this would likely be a 2 week trip if I wanted to so SF and that area too - and not sure I can pull that off this year with a new job and all. May just have to do SF and the local area and come back to the West Coast to spend proper time in Portland and the surrounding areas vs cramming it all into 1 trip.

If you do the run through Oregon, it’s worth the detour to Crater Lake National Park if you like hiking and views.

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Thanks for the tip. My wife will handle a day hike. I do enjoy a good hike or multi day backpack trip. Will make note of that for when we get to OR - either this trip or a future trip.

Got to work off the calories from the wine and food somehow!

FWIW we did our trip in ~10 days, but I am an impatient traveler and one of my flaws is prioritizing “the next place” rather than just soaking any one place in. It was an great trip, though.

If you are going to do that route you can easily visit the Avenue of the Giants from Sonoma/Napa in a day on your way further north. I have not driven further north than Arcata along the coast but you could leave Healdsburg in the morning, visit the redwoods and then stay in Eureka/Arcata or easily further north than that if your goal is to maximize miles.

yeah I used to be like that - if you ever get the chance and want a great road trip with great sights every day or two to keep you going - try the West Coast of the South Island in NZ. From glaciers to glow worms to world class hiking to amazing pinot in central otago to fjords all just basically driving 1 main highway. Was an amazing road trip.

its tempting though from Eureka/Arcata to WV would still be almost a full day at 6.5 hours (add in a bathroom/gas stop, food break or whatever). Not that I mind a day of driving, just wondering is there something worth stopping to see.

I am leaning towards having to break up the trips - starting a new job this year so I am not sure I want to take off ~2 weeks. We are even willing to totally forego SF but not sure how to do Sonoma/Napa/WV comfortably without being too rushed in ~10 days or am I over thinking it?

The drive up the Oregon coast is spectacular. There are a few places worth stopping for (Humbug Mountain and Cape Perpetua come to mind), but not many. It’s mainly just a very scenic drive, particularly between Brookings and Port Orford and then between Florence and Waldport.

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Your Bay Area agenda looks good. It depends on how much you’d like to drive (as others have said it is a beautiful trip up the coast), but to maximize time not in transit I would strongly consider flying into SF or Oakland, getting a car for Napa/Sonoma, and then catching a short flight out of Sonoma to Portland (STS-PDX). Should be well under 3 hours including time getting to/from each airport. Grab dinner in Portland (Le Pigeon is a can’t miss), and then you could spend the next 2-3 days in/around the Willamette Valley.

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