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Two Days to Sightsee, Eat, and Drink Our Way from SF to Vancouver

We are so excited: Oregon and Washington are virgin territory as far as DH and I are concerned, though we've been up the California coast and flown to Vancouver several times. I've tried searching this board, but most inquiries have been pretty focused on restaurants in specific towns or cities, or the hounds in question have had more time--or just enough time to grab a quick bite along I-5. We want to see (and eat) as much as possible of the Pacific Northwest in the couple of days we have to and from Vancouver.

We are hoping to arrive in the Medford area from SF late Friday night, and leave Saturday morning in time to arrive in Vancouver for dinner on Sunday. What is the best way to spend the time (and the meals!) between the those two places? We'd love to see the coast and eat some fresh seafood along the way--picturesque lighthouses serving freshly caught seafood would be ideal, though they probably only exist in my imagination. But we've loved the few wines we've tried from the Willamette Valley, too, and would enjoy seeing how it differs from Napa and the Anderson Valley.

Since we will be staying two days in Tofino in Vancouver Island, should we skip the Olympic National Park and spend the time exploring Seattle instead? Would Mt. St. Helens or Mt. Rainier be worth the detour from a food and scenery perspective?

Sorry if I sound giddy, but the prospect of interesting new food in a beautiful new region has that effect on me.

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  1. Have you given thought to the mileage you will be covering in 2 days? I'm not sure how you will have time to eat! Medford to Vancouver BC is a LONG way, especially if you do some sight seeing.

    Mt St Helens and Mt Ranier are good sights, but not from a foodie point of view. The Willamette Valley wineries are a good stop. Touring Oregon wineries is much different than Napa Valley, and well worth a stop, but I don't see how you will make it to Vancouver if you make a stop in Oregon, especially since you want to explore the coast.

    Are you sure you want to do all this in 2 days?

    1. Have a great drive. If you do make it to Ashland/Medford on your first night I recommend the Black Sheep in Ashland for a late night bite. http://www.theblacksheep.com/enter.html They are open until at least 1 am and have excellent food.

      1 Reply
      1. re: PaqpIn

        Thank you, Paqpin! That's the sort thing we (and all traveling hounds) need to know: where to get good food late at night, after a long drive.

      2. Jane is right, of course. A lot of territory in very little time. So I tried to focus my needs and wants and, after a lot more time on the computer, we may have a workable route, which I see as more of a "sampler plate" of Oregonian delights.

        Please let me know if this plan is a good idea, or how best to modify it, giving a premium to food and scenery not available in the SF Bay Area. (Googlemaps shows my driving time between Ashland and Florence as 4 hours, and between Florence and Dundee as just over 3 hours, plus 46 minutes to Portland. Portland to Seattle, under 3 hours, Seattle to Vancouver, 2 1/2 hours. Total driving time: 13 hours, 6 minutes.)

        Arrive in Ashland late Friday night. Dinner at the Black Sheep.
        Saturday mid-morning head for Florence and drive along the coast to see the lighthouses. In the afternoon, head inland at Lincoln City passing through McMinville and Dundee, perhaps having dinner at the Dundee Bistro?
        Spend the night in or around Portland.
        Sunday morning, head for Seattle, visit Pike's Place, dessert at Pix, and on to Richmond in Vancouver for dinner!

        Any suggestions for where to have lunch along the coast between Florence and Lincoln would be very much appreciated!

        3 Replies
        1. re: pilinut

          Here are some recommendations between Florence and Lincoln City. I have not been to all of them, but they are on my list of places to eat.

          Yachats River Inn
          Saffron Salmon Newport
          Local Ocean Seafood Newport
          Blackfish Cafe Lincoln City

          1. re: pilinut

            These drive times reflect best conditions. You aren't likely to make it from Seattle to Vancouver in 2.5 hours when you include traffic and border wait times. I live in Bellingham, which is almost at the BC border and we would allow 2 hours to get into Vancouver if we had to arrive at a specific time. You never know about the border wait and the Vancouver traffic. Make sure you have your passport to get across the border! Also, be aware that the traffic between Portland and Seattle can be slow. It can be done, you'll just spend more time in your car than you will eating or sightseeing.

            1. re: laurachow

              Thank you for the warning. We'll try to make allowances, which (in my case anyway) means bringing plenty of stuff to munch on while waiting in traffic, or at the border. It's really helpful to have people who know the area give me a reality check!

          2. I personally would get up early and drive to Eugene from SF. Not that far, have done it many times. Get a reservation at nice B&B Campbell House in Eugene by Skinners Butte. Two blocks from good restaurants (Marche', Belly or Lucky Noodle), also Steelehead Brewery. You can walk, no worry about drinking and driving!!!!

            Then you are about almost two hours from Florence from Eugene, no great eats at the coast, you can find something to eat in Old Town Florence or up the highway. Drive to Lincoln City and then head west to the Valley, you can hit 2-3 wineries and dinner at Dundee Bistro or head into Portland and get great eats there. check Portlandfood.org for specifics. I love staying in Hotel Monaco or Vintage downtown (both Kimpton Hotels). Lots of good eats in the Pearl or just across the river.

            Seattle will be about three hours from Portland so time your visit for lunch at the market.

            1 Reply
            1. re: duck833

              Agree Duck833. Drive to Eugene. I once did Eugene to Vallejo in 8 hours, with just quick pitstops for gas/bathroom. (Someone mentioned they have a limit of 65 in Oregon? I probably was doing 70, no faster.) Traffic from SF going north on I5 shouldn't be bad early in the AM, and Eugene not only has better eating options than Medford, it is closer to your destinations. I don't think it takes 2 hours to get to Florence on the coast. Isn't it only about an hour? It's been a while since I did that. Anyway, the rest of your plan will work out much better if you make it to Eugene the first night!

            2. I think you'll have a great trip if you don't need to sleep. Someone once said, in a poem, that it's next to impossible to have a career, a family, and good friends, and meet the needs of them all. So riffing on that, I say it's next to impossible to do SF to Vancouver BC, in 48 hours, driving, eating&drinking, sightseeing, and sleeping! Then again, maybe that's just me!