If you’re planning a 101 coastal road trip, I deeply recommend doing it right. That means starting from the 101 no one thinks about, right off the coastal road.
I’ve done this 101 road trip, and took my sweet time along the process. Not only this but I quiet literally live right off highway 101 in southern Washington, so I know the famous highway well!
Here are the must stop visits while traveling this amazing highway, from north Washington to California.
This area often goes overlooked, it is not the 101 right next to the ocean, though it is close, this area is beautiful! It is right next to the Olympic Rainforest and some small towns by the bay. The famous Vance Creek Bridge is hidden in this area. A partial amount of this bridge has been torn down now but if your feeling reckless, you may still be able to explore part of it.
This area also is covered with amazing hikes and waterfalls and is one of the only places on the coast where you can harvest your own oysters! Stop at Hama Hama to get the beginning of your seafood experience and enjoy some wine and music by the bay in Hoodsport.
Some of my favorite waterfalls include Rocky Brook Falls, Murhut Falls, Hama Hama Falls and Vincent Creek Falls (High Steel Bridge). Read all about this area here.
This area is the northern tip of the U. S but not very popular, which is good for us! The trail is well maintained and the views are gorgeous. Read more about it here.
This is the most stunning beach in Washington, right off 101, the drive to this place is covered with spectacular beaches, but this is the one you’ll want to stop at. There’s tide pools to explore and the beach goes on forever. This beach is most famous for it’s large rock on the beach with a hole in the middle that I didn’t manage to get a picture of. You can read more about it in the link above as well.
Quinault is a special, quaint place where you can experience the world’s only temperate rainforest that is completely untouched. There are many nature trails in the area from quarter mile hikes to backpacking trips and waterfalls right along side them. There is also the world’s largest Spruce Tree here as well and the Hoh Rainforest is also close by if you can’t get enough of the luscious greenery.
Fort Stevens State Park
Fort Stevens is located right outside of the beautiful small city of Astoria, OR, most famous for the movie The Goonies. What makes this park so special is the ship wreck of Peter Iredale, where you can see the iron remains of this ancient ship right on the beach, accessible to the public. It’s quiet the site, see more about it here
I think when people are planning 101 trips, their first destination is Canon Beach, so I hope all the posts above have caught your interest to see before northern Oregon. Canon beach is a small beach town with an open bottle policy, meaning you can drink beer wherever you’d please. Most famous for Haystack rock on it’s beach, where you can climb around it and view the tide pools. It also has a lot of puffins at the top of the rock.
It’s a popular destination spot, but also not incredibly crowded.
This place was one of my favorite experiences along our 101 travels. Located in the middle of Oregon in the town of Pacific City, Cape Kiwanda is what it means to travel 101. You show up at this beach, to a Haystack Rock way in the distance, you are able to climb a sand hill to your right which leads you to Cape Kiwanda. You can walk all along this Cape and experience amazing views. There are some dangerous areas but they will give you the best Instagram shot! Many wander past the warning signs to get the best photo, but because of the Oregon Beach Bill, I do not believe you can get fined for it.
You can also take the Three Capes Scenic Route before Cape Kiwanda to experience even better views, but we missed the turn, so keep a look out! Devil’s Punchbowl is nearby as well, though we didn’t go there. More on Cape Kiwanda here.
Samuel H. Boardman’s State Scenic Cooridor
This is located in southern Oregon in a small city called Brookings, right before you hit California. It is several different stops off the side of the Highway, all absolutely gorgeous. They meet up with the Oregon Coast Trail, the scenic points that I thought were most amazing was Natural Bridges, where you can hike your way to the top of these magnificent arches and Arch Rock Point.
More on this area here.
The Redwood Forest
Of course, the Redwood Forest is a must-see along 101. It is located in northern California and is quiet the enchanting adventure. There is so much to see here, there are several different areas to go, we went to the Jedidiah Forest, which was amazing, but simply driving through these areas is worth the drive.
Unfortunately, we were not able to experience Big Sur, California, as when we went they had an enormous landslide right before Big Sur on Highway 101, but it is still on my bucket list! I recommend stopping at Pfieffer Beach. I’ve heard that the sand turns purple on some sunsets and it is quiet magical!
Simply driving down this highway is spectacular! There are views of the ocean right on the side of the road so pull over as much as you can and enjoy the views! There are of course many more places of interest, but these are my top ten. So pull over as much as you can and maybe spot some whales in Oregon!