Road tripping has long been part of American vacations -- especially Northwest road trips. I decided it was high time to try it myself.
Could there be a more picturesque place to embark upon a road trip than the Pacific Northwest?
Living in Seattle, the closest and arguably most scenic road trip takes you along the Oregon and Washington coastline.
The best part about traveling along the coast is that it would allow me to visit several of our most popular timeshare rentals.
I couldn’t have asked for better weather to begin my Northwest road trip – a beautiful, warm spring day. Knowing how fickle spring in the northwest can be, I am certainly taking my chances. However, being a true Seattleite, a little rain wouldn’t have fazed me and it certainly makes for fewer crowds and better resort availability.
Strategically departing mid-week, after the morning rush hour has long since dissipated, makes my drive south along the I-5 corridor from Seattle to Portland traffic free and enjoyable, just like a Northwest road trip should be.
Just past Portland, down Highway 99 and later Highway 18, I pass through the manicured vineyards of the Willamette Valley. Signs directing you to area wineries dot the roadside.
Since one of the benefits of a Northwest road trip vacation is that you can stop along the way and enjoy sights that you would otherwise drive past, I pull off the road to procure a bottle of Willamette Valley’s famous Pinot Noir to enjoy later.
Shortly after I leave Highway 18 for Highway 101, making my way south out of Lincoln City, the dazzling coastline comes into view.
As I wind closer to my destination I pass tiny towns featuring the most eclectic of shops — a fully decked out Christmas Shop (including a monster-sized Santa greeting visitors on the roof top), souvenir shops overflowing with densely packed merchandise and more antique shops than I’ve seen anywhere.
The scenery continues to shift along my Northwest road trip as I make my way to Depoe Bay, vacillating between small town shopping areas and lush greenery flanked by the ocean vistas.
Approximately 6 hours into my Northwest road trip, I pull into WorldMark Depoe Bay and am greeted by the friendly WorldMark resort staff.
Stepping into my unit, I am blown away by the incredible coastal view (Ask about availability). No wonder this is one of the most popular WorldMark resort destinations — Depoe Bay is spectacular!
Situated atop a jaw-dropping cliff line, the balcony from my room provides mesmerizing vistas of the turbulent coast, inviting me to pour a glass of wine, curl-up in a chair and simply stare out at the sea in search of resident whale pods that have delighted owners visiting Depoe Bay for years. Such a lovely reprieve from the day’s drive.
Depoe Bay has 171 two- and three-bedroom, beautifully appointed units with the standard amenities you've come to expect, most offering partial to full ocean views. The units are housed in a series of buildings lining the cliff and the resort offers indoor and outdoor pool and spa areas, a basketball court, a tennis court and a children’s play area. Ask about availability now.
Although my stay brought me to Depoe Bay, it’s hard not to mention WorldMark Gleneden when you visit the central Oregon coast as it is just under six miles away, providing an equally enchanting resort experience for all of you Northwest road trippers out there.
The Gleneden resort is situated on the sandy Gleneden Beach just north of Depoe Bay. According to Marta Cearley at the Depoe Bay front desk, Gleneden Beach is a must see regardless of which resort you choose to stay.
“Gleneden is one of the prettiest local beaches. The Gleneden Beach State Park is located right before the WorldMark Gleneden resort and it provides seven miles of beautiful beach walking — a nice, long, straight stretch.”
Vacationers staying at the Gleneden resort have the option to make a splash in the large beach-front pool or to walk just a few steps further and play in the waves at the family-friendly beach located right off the resort property.
A selection of 80 one-, two- and three-bedroom WorldMark standard units provide the comforts of home at this beachside destination. Gleneden’s Guest Services Manager, Myrna Souply, spent time explaining to me the benefits of each resort.
Be sure to read her Best of Both Worlds descriptions when making your choice between these two remarkable resorts.
Of course, you can ask about availability at both and just book at whichever one has your preferred dates available.
In an effort to take full advantage of my days here on the central Oregon coast, I spend some time with Marta Cearley and Myrna Souply, getting a rundown of the area attractions and not to be missed dining experiences. Almost too numerous to mention, I suggest you spend some time talking with the front desk staff at either resort before planning your leisure time to ensure you don’t miss a thing.
Armed with information, I continue my Northwest road trip south from Depoe Bay on an essential day trip to the town of Newport, OR, approximately 15 miles away. Along the drive I notice that around every bend in the road another beach, Oregon State Park or scenic lookout point appears. I begin to realize that if I plan on getting to Newport I’ll have to quit stopping, however the scenery is so fantastic that I just can’t help myself. The road ahead curves in and out of beautifully lush tree canopies before opening up into yet another magnificent stretch of coastline.
Upon arrival in Newport, I spend my day exploring the Oregon Coast Aquarium, famous for having housed Keiko, the orca whale featured in the movie "Free Willy."
I visited the Hatfield Marine Science Center for a hands-on marine experience and the Yaquina Head Lighthouse along with the historic Nye Beach shopping area where I grabbed a quick bite to eat.
Besides the abundance of activities you’ll find here, Newport is also home to the WorldMark resort, Schooner Landing, offering Northwest road trippers yet another Oregon coast resort option. Ask about availability.
Following my day at Newport, I decide to explore closer to the resort and visit the town of Depoe Bay, Gleneden Beach State Park, and one of the local area hiking trails (be sure to ask the front desk for your area hiking packet — complete with maps and trail information).
It is also a chance for me to do some Geocaching — a free activity similar to a treasure hunt that often takes you to unexpected locations. It is great fun when exploring a new area. You might be surprised just how many hidden treasures you unknowingly walk by every day.
Depoe Bay provides a quintessential small coastal-town feeling. The town is lined with little shops overflowing with inventory, candy shops filled with salt water taffy and leisurely restaurants.
Following a delicious lunch at Gracie’s Sea Hag restaurant, I take a seat at the whale watching platform, armed with my camera and once again hope for a glimpse of whales dancing just off the shoreline.
A quick hike and several geocaches later, I’m beat and ready for a fantastic and scenic dinner at Tidal Raves — which happens to be something to “rave” about!
I bid farewell to the whales and the friendly staff at Depoe Bay and begin my Northwest road trip north to Long Beach, Washington. En route, I pass through a few areas that would also be considered great day trips from either the Depoe Bay or Gleneden resort.
Just north of Gleneden I enter the much larger town of Lincoln City, known as the Kite Capital of the World, as well as home to a large outlet mall just begging me to stop, especially since the Gleneden resort front desk gave me a coupon book — don’t forget to ask for yours!
My Northwest road trip takes me through the town of Tillamook and the famous Tillamook Cheese Visitors Center. If only I could spare the time I would stop for a self guided tour and tasting.
Shortly past the cheese factory, I stop at Bear Creek Artichokes, because you never know what amazing things you’ll find at a roadside stand. Turns out to be a worthy stop … especially if you like artichokes or need a good cup of coffee.
Today started out cloudy with fog covering most of the coastline. However the weather clears as I make my way inland, providing a view of picturesque rivers and inlets, rural towns and dairy farms.
Once I reach Nehalem, I continue north, pausing only briefly in Cannon Beach, Seaside, and finally Astoria.
With Long Beach, WA, as my next home base on my Northwest road trip, I know I’ll be back to spend some time exploring these nearby towns over the next few days.
I cross the Columbia River into Washington and know I am within minutes of reaching my final destination. Photo stops, lookout points and dining have turned this 150-mile stretch into an almost five hour journey — something that really should have taken just over three hours! Needless to say I am exhausted and yearning for the comforts of my unit in the WorldMark Long Beach resort.
From one impressive resort to another – WorldMark Long Beach does not disappoint! This fantastic resort features 98 units comprised of studios, one-, two- and three-bedroom units as well as a collection of presidential units. (Ask about availability. )
In addition to the spacious units, the resort houses a game room, recreation center, fitness center, business center and a gift shop. The building surrounds a pool area that includes one spa, a children’s pool and a large main pool.
Facing out over sand dunes, complete with an elevated boardwalk offering interpretive displays and an immense sand beach, this resort just begs me to head outdoors and explore.
I am absolutely captivated by the endless expanse of swaying grass blanketing the dunes and the cars driving on the beach near the water (Long Beach is one of the few beaches on which you can actually drive).
I am up early and ready for a morning run along the boardwalk. This half-mile elevated boardwalk ends quickly, but turns into a paved path snaking its way through the grasses for quite a bit further, allowing me to get a decent run in before I start my day.
My first full day in Long Beach and I am already headed back into Oregon to visit the nearby towns of Astoria, Seaside, and Cannon Beach. I decide to head to the town furthest south and make my way back, stopping first in the lovely town of Cannon Beach.
Slightly more upscale than its neighboring communities, Cannon Beach offers a wonderful array of shops and restaurants which seem to cater to a more adult clientele. Known for being both an art town and a romantic destination, Cannon Beach invites you to stroll through the art inspired main street out onto the soft, sandy beach for some stunning views of the iconic Hay Stack Rock, rising 235 feet above the panoramic shoreline.
North of Cannon Beach, I pull off into the vast Ecola State Park which along with some incredible view points and picnic areas, is home to Indian Beach where I catch sight of some surfers in action despite the cool spring weather.
Back on the road again I enter the well-known town of Seaside, also home to the popular WorldMark Seaside resort. Seaside immediately strikes me as a family friendly tourist town. Oh, the fun to be had here!
The incredibly accessible promenade is already teeming with families. Swing sets line the beach and as I wander through town, I pass a carnival-style arcade along with numerous ice cream, candy and toy shops. I am tempted by the mopeds and various flashy beach bicycles that can be rented. Seaside has a variety of leisure options with everything from bowling to boogie boarding, from kites to kayaks — boredom is not an option in this town.
From Seaside I’m off to my last Northwest road trip stop of the day, Astoria. Before arriving in town, I turn into Fort Stevens State Park and realize immediately that I must come back and spend time exploring this huge and diverse park.
Offering expansive beaches, a freshwater lake, miles of trails, wildlife, and a shipwreck, the park is home to a historic military fort. I manage to visit the shipwreck and take a quick walk on the beach before making my way out of the park and into the town of Astoria.
Having been informed that no trip to Astoria is complete without a stop at the Astoria Column, I stop in the gift shop to purchase the requisite wooden gliders to launch from the top of the Column viewing platform. Attractions, shopping and dining are plentiful here, which leaves me knowing full well I’ll be back to explore Astoria.
On my last day prior to heading home, I spend my time in and around Long Beach, enjoying a much more leisurely pace.
I give in to the temptation to rent a moped and proceed out to Cape Disappointment State Park and the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse, one of two in the park.
This is also a great time to seek out another geocache before heading back into town for some Long Beach dining. I follow dinner with a peaceful walk along the beach at sunset, bidding a quiet adieu to the Pacific.
Be sure to check out:
Oregon Beach Vacation Rentals
Gleneden or Depoe Bay – choose the resort that’s right for you.
Oregon Coast Restaurants
Sink your teeth into these worthy dining establishments.
A treasure hunting activity using a GPS that takes sightseeing to a whole new level. Explore the unexpected.
This article was adapted from an article that appeared in our timeshare owner's magazine.
Inquire about availability at the Depoe Bay, Gleneden, Seaside, or Long Beach timeshare rentals for your OWN Northwest road trip!
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