This is probably the worst time to travel in decades due to COVID-19. Too much anxiety and uncertainty for many people to fly during the pandemic because you just don’t know if you are willing to stay in such a small space for hours. What can be a safer solution if you still want to take a vacation? A road trip with your own vehicle! This doesn’t guarantee you are 100% safe from the virus, but at least it can lower the risk. You still have to make sure you are fully prepared before the trip:
- Take enough masks, sanitizers, wipes, and even alcohol with you and put them in your car and your carry bags for reach-out anytime;
- Always remember to clean and wipe your hands and wear masks in public. Always! We want to take care of ourselves and be responsible for other people around us;
- Always keep social distance and be far away from large groups of people;
- Try to do take-out meals only. If you really want to eat in a restaurant, sit outside and make sure there are enough space between tables;
- Bring some Airborne tablets with you. During our trip from California to Oregon, we take one tablet with water daily to help boost our immunity;
- Don’t get exhausted, and have enough sleep daily. Remember the purpose of your trip is to relax and get some fresh air. A tiring trip and less sleep can easily reduce your immunity;
- Quarantine yourself for 2 weeks if possible after the trip. Make sure you are healthy before meeting families or friends.
If you own an RV and want to use that for your road trip, you may need to check if all RV parks are open these days. As we saw, some RV parks are closed due to COVID-19 and some were a little packed, which means you may park very close to someone’s vehicle. Check if you are comfortable about that before the trip.
No matter what, we should be always cautious and responsible. That’s the first thing we need to do to keep us safe and healthy. The rest of the time? Just enjoy the views and have some fresh air! We had a lot of fun from this road trip along the west coast and want to share our itinerary if you are planning a road trip from California to Oregon very soon.
DAY 1 – Redding
Redding is our first stop. It’s about 4-hour drive from where we live in Central Valley California. Since we left in the late afternoon, we didn’t have much time to explore the city. Redding is very hot in summer and can be above 100F for weeks. If you are not a heat resistant person like me, just do an evening walk on Sundial Bridge or in Turtle Bay Exploration Park which is next to it.
Place To Go
Sundial Bridge – The deck of the bridge is made of thick glass and Sacramento River runs through under it. In the late evening time, there are many swallows flying above the river to catch food and feed their babies. You can find some nests under the bridge. You will also see tons of spider webs on the bridge. Check the bridge and find out why.
Botanical Gardens – After you walk through the bridge, you will see a few botanical gardens nearby the river inside Turtle Bay Exploration Park. It’s a free entrance and you can do a 20-30 minute walk.
There are some museums next to the bridge but closed due to coronavirus at this moment.
Champa Garden – they serve Thai, Laotian, and Vietnamese food. Pick-up only for now.
DAY 2 & 3 – Bend
From Redding to Bend, it’s about 4.5-hour drive if you follow US-97. You will drive through Mountain Shasta and see snow covers the top of the mountain. There are a few scenic spots on the way you can stop by and take photos. Don’t be fooled by the snow. Shasta is still an active volcano.
Once you pass the desert area and enter Oregon state, the view will change quickly from dry grass to all green. You will drive along Upper Klamath Lake and start seeing forests.
Place To Go
Downtown Bend – many boutique shops, galleries, restaurants, coffee shops, etc. If you like fresh brewed beer, you are in the right place now. Because that’s what Oregon is famous for, and it has over 200 breweries.
Drake Park – you can kayak in Mirror Pond, rest on the lawn with ducks and geese, or walk along the river to enjoy the water view.
Whitewater Park – you can paddle Deschutes River, take a walk or ride a bicycle along the river. The best part of it? You will see people surf in the big river waves during hot days! This is not something you see very often in other places.
Riverhouse on the Deschutes – if you book a room facing to the river, try to not close the door at night. That water sound will make you sleep even better! Some rooms come with a fireplace. Ask for a fire log at the front desk and light it up at night! You wouldn’t even realize this is summer. It does get a little chilly at night in Bend, so take a jacket with you if outside.
Notice: Because of coronavirus, no room service in Riverhouse during your stay unless you request it at the front desk when you check in.
Lemon Tree – Super delicious brunch! They let you dine in, but we did take-out. We were surprised that food still came with a great presentation. The staff will check your body temperature at the front door before letting you in.
Bonta Natural Artisan Gelato – Fresh ice cream! No need to say much. Try it!
Planker Sandwiches – A good option for lunch.
Spork – Mexican, Asian Fusion and Soul Food. This is a very popular place in Bend and they serve different menus once a while. At this moment, you have to go back of the restaurant and order from their food truck. They have tables set outside for you to enjoy the meals.
Deschutes Brewery Bend Public House – We ordered pizza, german sausages and salads for dinner one night. They were all great.
Notice: Always remember to ask for utensils these days from restaurants!! Some restaurant may not realize you are a traveler, so they may not put those in the bag. Or you may ask for utensils from your hotel’s restaurant as an option.
DAY 4 – Portland
We left Bend early in the morning and drove through US-97, US-26 and US-35 towards to Washington State, and then stopped by Hood River, a small town 1-hour drive to Portland. You can take a break, get some snacks, use the public restroom, and walk around the downtown area. There are some restaurants, galleries and boutique shops around. You will see Mount Hood Railroad next to Columbia River, which divides Washington and Oregon in front of you.
When we got to Portland, the city didn’t feel very active compared to Bend and it felt more like a shut-down place. Some people were running and jogging on the street, but we didn’t see too many travelers. A lot of restaurants were still closed.
Place To Go
Japanese Garden – This is a must-see place if you love Asian gardens. Remember to buy your ticket online in advance because the garden is limiting the number of visitors these days. There are volunteers in the park guiding you along the routes.
Portland international rose test garden – It’s close to Japanese Garden and free to public. There are thousands of varieties of roses in the garden. If you need some keepsake, there is a little shop next to it where you can get rose tea, soap, or body spray stuff.
AFURI Ramen Dumplings – The restaurant only does take-out orders these days, and their ramen and pork dumplings are both delicious. They have a small dinning area outside with tables and benches if you want to eat there.
Voodoo Doughnut Old Town – We accidentally found the donut shop next to AFURI Ramen because many people were waiting in line that day. We went there before it’s almost closed and only two more groups behind us. Guess what? We got free donuts! Because once the clock hit 8PM, the store gave all leftover donuts in a bag to people in line for free. You don’t get to pick, although.
Kimpton Riverplace Hotel – The hotel is next to Willamette River with great views. You can walk to waterfront park and many places in downtown without driving.
DAY 5 & 6 – Cannon Beach
We drove on Columbia River Highway the next day towards to Astoria as our first stop. The highway goes along the river so you would see many bridges, boats, and water scenes. The route also goes through some mountains and forests.
You can park close by Columbia River Maritime Museum once arriving in Astoria, walk to the dock and check the ships – US Lightship Columbia and Coast Guard Cutter Steadfast WMEC-623. The museum is open these days but we skipped it. Astoria Riverwalk is a fun walk and many cafes, restaurants, and antique shops are around. If you like clam chowder, Mo’s Seafood & Chowder is a good one to go.
After Astoria, we drove to Seaside. If you have been Monterey in California before, I would say Astoria feels similar to Monterey but a little smaller. It attracts a lot of travelers and have many keepsake shops and galleries you can go. I’m not a fan of those commercial stores, but I do like one of them called Oregon Gallery because they carry art stuff from local artists. The store has another location in Cannon Beach.
We didn’t stop too long in Seaside before heading to Cannon Beach. It rained a little that day and was cloudy, but it felt good! Just like Seaside similar to Monterey, Cannon Beach is similar to Carmel but again, smaller. The town has a lot of characters and the landscaping is just stunning. It attracts many travelers too but doesn’t quite feel like a crowded hot spot. It’s quiet, clean, and calm – a place you are dreaming of for retirement for sure.
Local people told us July and August were the busiest months of the year, but because of COVID-19, it had fewer people this year. The downtown area is full of cute shops, seafood restaurants, cafes, coffee shops, bakeries, and galleries that you would never feel bored. If you want to be far away from people, you can walk on the beach and wait for sunset, check Haystack Rock or do a short beach mountain trail. It’s very relaxing.
Driftwood Restaurant – It doesn’t have a 5-star on Yelp but their food and service are great. We tried their fried oysters, clam chowder, halibut and salad for dinner one night. Delicious!
Crepe Neptune – If you like crepes, this is a must-try place. They serve sweet/salty crepes and even boba tea, which surprised me. The place opens at 9AM and their smoked salmon crepe is perfect for breakfast with some coffee. They are closed on Monday although.
The Waves Cannon Beach – This is the best hotel we stayed during the entire trip. Most of their rooms face to the ocean, with a kitchen and dishware included. The carpet had a very nice scent when we entered the room, so we thought the staff probably deep clean it every time after the previous customers left. The bed is super comfortable, and the gas fireplace in the room will keep you warm at night. It also comes with a balcony where you can enjoy the ocean view with a lot of privacy.
Notice: Because of COVID-19, no room service during your entire stay in Waves.
DAY 7 – Brookings
We planned to stay in Crescent City in day 7 before the trip, but because it’s a July 4 weekend, we couldn’t find any hotels in this area except Brookings. It’s still a 6.5-hour drive from Cannon Beach, meaning you may not be able to check too many things on the way in day 7. This was also the last stop in Oregon.
Place To Go
Harris Beach State Park – The park is in the north of Brookings and about 10-minute drive. You can take a walk on the beach. There are tons of driftwood. Not many people.
Pancho’s – Brookings is not quite big so you don’t have too many options for restaurants. We ordered Mexican food from Pancho’s for dinner and food are great.
Beachfront Inn – All of their rooms are facing the ocean and you can see many boats fishing in the morning.
DAY 8 – Crescent City
We planned to spend half a day to visit our uncle and aunt in Trinidad, so we only checked a few spots in day 8. If you want to take a few extra days and enjoy the nature here, there are a lot of places you can go to explore. Also, welcome back to California!
Place To Go
Battery Point Lighthouse – This was one of the first lighthouses on the California coast, and it’s only open when low tide permits access. So plan ahead before your visit.
Trees of Mystery – We only stopped by here and checked the statues without entering the park. It’s funny to see that Paul Bunyan and the ox even have their masks on these days, so don’t forget about yours! The park is open these days. We saw many large groups of people visiting it that day.
Lagoons and Parks – There are 4 lagoons from north to south: Freshwater Lagoon, Stone Lagoon, Dry Lagoon & Big Lagoon. We only checked a few spots here and they are so pretty. We will definitely come back again and spend more time in this area in the future!
Sally’s by the Sea – It’s a quick stop where you can grab a morning sandwich and coffee before jumping back to the road. You can park at a designated spot and the staff will bring you the food once it’s ready. Super friendly people.
DAY 9 – Mendocino
Mendocino is our last stop before heading back home. It’s such a cute little town reminding me Half-Moon Bay. You will see many water towers in the town which were built at the end of the 19th century. You can walk around the downtown area and check local shops and galleries, or do the Point Mendocino Trail along the coast with the ocean view. The trail will guide you back to the town, eventually. Just remember to bring a jacket with you because it’s very windy by walking along the cliff.
Many high-end restaurants are in the town like French or Italian cuisine, but some are closed these days. You can still do tacos in Garden Bakery, or get pizza from Frankie’s and kombucha from Harvest Market for dinner while watching sunset. That’s actually what we did to celebrate July 4th! Frankie’s also serves ice-cream if you want some dessert, and Harvest Market has everything you need, including fresh fruits and vegetables, baking goods or even medicines.
Seafoam Lodge – All of their rooms have ocean views for you to watch sunset. Some Rooms can be a little small but you will feel comfortable.