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Traveling across the northern West Coast, from the San Francisco Bay area to Oregon is a fun and exciting adventure for the whole family. We drove the RV up this way a couple of years ago and I love the Pacific Coast Highway. The region is full of things to see and do, beginning in San Francisco and ending at the Northern Oregon coastal town of Astoria.

Driving along the Pacific Coast Highway is nothing less than spectacular. Let me take you to the amazing places on our Oregon road trip from San Francisco!

Based on my experience, the most special part of RVing in this area are all the different campgrounds.  Some places we found you can camp right on the beach with an RV. Plus, RV travel can help you save on food and lodging costs, especially if you are traveling with a large party (or lots of kids).

We built so many memories on our trip so I came up with a suggested itinerary for you to follow our trip. However, I’ll give you a quick overview of the stops that will take on our San Francisco to Oregon Road Trip

  • San Francisco

First Stop: San Francisco

A view of San Francisco bridge with a sunset
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San Francisco is located West Coast of central-northern California, on the tip of the San Francisco Peninsula. The city of San Francisco was founded in 1850 and is centered around San Francisco Bay.

Fun fact: A part of the Pacific Ocean is officially incorporated into the location.

Today it is a major cultural, financial, commercial center in California. It is so much more than just the iconic bridge

What to do in San Francisco

With so many things to do in San Francisco, it can be hard to know where to begin. And you don’t want to miss some of the best highlights. 

The most popular must-sees which are the Golden Gate Bridge and the nearby Golden Gate Park. When you go visit the city, the famous cable cars aren’t just for public transportation, but are tourists’ favorite experience, too.

In San Francisco Bay, you can visit Alcatraz Island, the site of the infamous prison, which ran from 1934 until 1963. Alongside the bay is the famous Fisherman’s Wharf, a great place to walk with many things to see. Within the Fisherman’s Wharf area you can find Ghirardelli Square, home to beautiful architecture and chocolate treats.

Some other notable places to check out are San Francisco’s Chinatown, the oldest and largest of its kind in the U.S.. Then go to the Golden Gate National Recreation area which is just across the bridge.

Where to eat in San Francisco

San Francisco is known from great food so it is challenging to offer a sample of the best. Recommendations, therefore are based on not only quality, affordability, and family-friendliness, but also with an eye toward those that represent what’s best about San Francisco.

There are a lot of fish restaurants in the Fisherman’s Wharf district like the venerable Fisherman’s Grotto. Another must-try is Boudin Bistro, the home of the sourdough bread that made San Francisco famous, the Original Ghirardelli Ice Cream, and the Chocolate shop for dessert. 

Moving on to the Embarcadero, Pier 23 Café is a great place to have lunch before or after taking the boat trip to Alcatraz Island. The Mission District has noteworthy offerings to choose from, such as St. Francis Fountain, a classic American diner, as well as North Beach/Little Italy, with Tommaso’s, the oldest continuously operating Italian restaurant in San Francisco’s Little Italy.

When you go visit Chinatown, good choices include Sam Wo, which has been around since 1907, and Lai Heng Lounge, for dim sum. For vegetarians and vegans, you will be accommodated at the Lucky Creation Vegetarian restaurant.

RV Camping San Francisco Bay Area

Although this might not appear to be an RV-friendly destination, there is RV camping and resorts available throughout the San Francisco area. One of the best (and closest) is the San Francisco RV Camping Resort.

If you are fine with traveling from a little further out, Marin Park is just ten miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge. Many other RV parks are located around the Bay area, and many are within convenient reach of the local beaches.

  • Marin RV Park
  • Max Length: 35 feet.
  • Hookup: 30 and 50 amp
  • Amenities: Wi-Fi, Cable, Pet-Friendly, Laundry, Pool (seasonal), Dump Station, RV Supplies
  • Discounts: Military, AAA, Good Sam
  • Other hotel options: Hotel Del Sol or Staypineapple

Second Stop: Mendocino, California

The small coastal town of Mendocino with people crossing the street and a cliff view
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Jim Glab

Distance from San Francisco: It is 130 miles from San Francisco to Mendocino, but the road trip mileage between the two is 154 miles.

Mendocino is in Northern California on the West coast. The Village of Mendocino is part of larger Mendocino County. It is a small, unincorporated community, found along what is called the “Lost Coast” The community is known for its very liberal views and desirability as a place to live.

What to do in Mendocino

Despite its association with sophisticated adult activities, the Mendocino area is a great place to visit for the whole family.

The Ford House Visitor Center & Museum ( the home of James Bursley Ford, who founded the Mendocino Lumber Company) provides a great introduction to the city’s history.

Another historic house to check out there is the Kelley House Museum—an historic mansion that has become another museum dedicated to the history of Mendocino. For an outdoor historic site, you can visit the Point Cabrillo Light Station Park, which includes a surrounding park to explore.

Where to eat in Mendocino

Mendocino, California is known for its fine dining. Finding something moderately priced and/or kid-friendly, however, might appear a bit more challenging. Mendocino has several restaurants, cafes, and delis at moderate price points, that will provide good dining for the whole family. 

One good place to try is the Flow Restaurant, which offers food with a view, and whose offerings include a kids’ menu. For upscale versions of familiar standards like pizza and ice cream (plus other vegetarian entrees, beer, and wine), try Frankie’s Pizza and Ice Cream Parlor. And for breakfast and pastries, the Goodlife Café is highly recommended.

RV Camping Mendicino County

There are numerous RV parks in the Mendocino County area. The Caspar Beach Park and Campground are recommended as “the perfect base” for a vacation in Mendocino County.

Many of the other parks are located closer to the nearby city of Fort Bragg but are within easy reach of Mendocino. Among them. Pomo RV Park and Campground are highly recommended as being the nicest on the Mendocino coast.

  • Pomo RV Park
  • Hookup: 30 and 50 amp
  • Amenities: Picnic Tables and Fire Rings, Shower and Laundry, Cable, Wi-Fi
  • Discounts: Military, AAA, Good Sam
  • Other hotel options: Agate Cove Inn or Headlands Inn Bed and Breakfast

Third Stop: Gold Beach, Oregon

Remains of the abandoned shipwreck of the Mary D. Hume, in Gold Beach Oregon, along the Rouge River
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Distance from Mendocino: It is 279 miles from Mendocino to Gold Beach on Highway 101.

Gold Beach is located on the West Coast, in southern Oregon. It is a small beach town and the county seat of Curry County. Gold Beach is situated between the Pacific Ocean and the Rogue River.

Things to do in Gold Beach

A visit to Gold Beach starts with enjoying the beach which shares the town’s name. Visit Gold Beach for a fun day at the beach. If you prefer a more natural setting than the town beach, visit the nearby Otter Point State Park, or the Pistol River Scenic Viewpoint.

Aside from the beaches and parks, Gold Beach is home to many local attractions to enjoy. One that stands out is the Prehistoric Gardens, a mock-up of a natural setting in Oregon from millions of years ago, which features life-sized dinosaur sculptures that will delight and educate all ages.

If you are interested in the area’s more recent history, visit the Curry Historical Museum, which is devoted to the town’s history. And for an interesting outdoor historic site, you can see the partially sunken remains of the historic steamer Mary D. Hume, preserved for public viewing.

Where to eat in Gold Beach

There are plenty of good restaurants to choose from in Gold Beach, and many of them are family-friendly. One of the top for American Cuisine is the Indian Creek Café, which includes vegetarian and vegan options.

Sunset Family Pizza is another favorite and casual joint that offers chicken, pasta, and sandwiches as well as pizza. For something more formal (that still offers a kids’ menu), try Spinner’s Seafood, Steak,& Chophouse.

RV Camping in Gold Beach, Oregon

There are several RV parks available near Gold Beach, many of which have WI-FI available. Some of the most highly rated resorts include Secret Camp RV Park and Turtle Rock RV Resort. RV camping may also be done at Indian Creek State Park.

  • Secret Camp RV Park
  • Hookup: 30 and 50 amp
  • Amenities: Free Wi-Fi, Cable TV
  • Discounts: Military, AAA, Good Sam
  • Other hotel options: Motel 6 Gold Beach or SureStay Plus Hotel by Best Western Gold Beach

Fourth Stop: Coos Bay, Oregon

A shot of Florence Dunes city sand dunes beach
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Distance from Gold Beach It is 79 miles from Gold Beach to Coos Bay.

Coos Bay is located on the West coast of Southern Oregon. It is in Coos County on the mouth of the Coos River, where it empties into the Pacific Ocean. Coos Bay is adjacent to nearby towns of North Bend and Charleston, and part of Oregon’s Bay area.

What to do in Coos Bay

A great way to start your visit to Coos Bay is with a stroll on the Coos Bay Boardwalk, for a great riverside view of the city. Or if you would like to take a water-based tour, Betty Kay Charters offers sightseeing and fishing boat tours. 

Coos Bay has many things to see in town, including the Coos History Museum (the local history museum) and the Egyptian Theater for movies and live performances. But if you prefer nature and the outdoors, beyond the town limits there is Shore Acres State Park, which offers great views of the Pacific Ocean. Similarly, Cape Arago State Park, located on the ocean and great for watching sea lions.

Where to eat in Coos Bay

Coos Bay is home to numerous good local restaurants representing a variety of cuisines, many of which are family-friendly.

One of Trip Advisor’s Top Picks is Little Italy, an Italian restaurant that offers gluten-free options, as well as a kids’ menu and a senior menu. If you want something more casual, try the Fisherman’s Seafood Market that is described as good for “quick bites” and features outdoor seating and takeout. And for a good breakfast place with plenty of vegetarian options, try the Pancake Mill.

RV Camping in Coos Bay Area

There are 56 RV parks and campgrounds listed in the Coos Bay Area. Lucky Loggers RV Park and Alder Acres RV Park are the closest to Coos Bay, and Alder Acres RV Park is the most highly rated in the vicinity. Others RV parks to recommend are closer to nearby Bandon.

  • Alder Acres RV Park
  • Hookup: 20, 30, and 50 amp
  • Amenities: Free Wi-Fi, Cable TV, Shower, Laundry
  • Other hotel options: Motel 6-Coos Bay or Plainview Motel

Fifth Stop: Cannon Beach, Oregon

A view of the Cannon beach in Coastal Oregon
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Distance from Coos Bay: The distance between Coos Bay and Cannon Beach is 206.9 miles.

Cannon Beach is located on the West Coast in northern Oregon. Cannon Beach is a small coastal town with a beach that shares its name. It is regarded as picturesque and is a popular tourist destination.

What to do in Cannon Beach

Enjoying the beaches is an important part of what a visit to Cannon Beach is about. The main beach, Cannon Beach (which shares the name of the town) is especially famous for Haystack Rock, which was featured in the hit movie “The Goonies.”

Haystack Rock may also be viewed from Hug Point State Park, which offers other great views of the shore as well. You can also enjoy nature walks at this park or at Ecola State Park. For hiking, visit Oswald West, State Park.

If you would like to spend time in town, as well as on the beach in the city, try cycling around the city on rented bikes from Family FunCycles.

For some local history, check out the Cannon Beach History Center, whose artifacts include the vintage cannon that gave the town its name. If you like outdoor historic sites, the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse is a great place to visit—while you can’t go in, you can enjoy the view from the shore. And for something a little different, visit Ice Fire Glassworks, where, at certain times, you can watch the glassblowers at work.

Where to eat in Cannon Beach

There are plenty of good locally-owned restaurants to choose from in Cannon Beach, several of which are family-friendly. One to try that is a great lunch place (but also open for dinner) is Tom’s Fish and Chips, a fish restaurant that offers several variations on the classic fish and chips (including salmon and chips).

If you prefer pizza, Pizza a’ fetta offers several varieties, by the slice by the pie. For more formal (but still family-friendly) dining, Wayfarer Restaurant offers good options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Where to camp in an RV

There are multiple options for RV camping in or near Cannon Beach. The closest one is the Cannon Beach RV Resort, a full-service resort, which also has nearby locations for other types of camping.

Other recommended RV parks are located closer to nearby towns, such as Seaside.

  • Cannon Beach RV Resort
  • Hookup: 30 and 50 amp
  • Amenities: Free Wi-Fi, Cable TV, Convenience store, Laundry, Restroom
  • Other hotel options: Ecola Creek Lodge or The Waves

Astoria: End of the Journey

A view of Astoria Cityscape with Astoria-Megler bridge
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Distance from Cannon Beach: The distance from Cannon Beach to Astoria is 26 miles—the shortest leg of the journey.

The town of Astoria, Oregon, is located on the West coast of Northern Oregon. Astoria, the end of your journey, is a historic port city in Oregon, located along the Columbia River, near the Washington State Border.

What to do in Astoria

Begin your visit to Astoria by taking a stroll along the Astoria Riverwalk by the Columbia River. Alternatively, or additionally, take a tour of the city on the Astoria Trolley. And for a bird’s-eye view of the city and the surrounding area, climb up the Astoria Column, a 600-foot tower.

After your introduction to Astoria, it can be fun to check out some of the town’s many local museums and historic sites.

One good one to visit is the Columbia River Maritime Museum, which includes some interactive exhibits. Another is the Bumble Bee Cannery Museum, devoted to the history of Astoria’s fishing industry. And for outdoor historic sites, visit the historic Fort Stevens State Park and the site of the former Fort Clatsop.

Where to eat in Astoria

Astoria has been described as a “food town,” so you should have little trouble finding places to eat, including for your kids.

The many cuisines represented in Astoria include Bosnian, with Drina Daisy Bosnian Restaurant. If you prefer more familiarly American cuisine, though, the Astoria Brewing Company offers burgers, fish, and pub grub, and has a children’s menu. And for dessert or breakfast, try the Blue Scorcher Bakery Café.

Where to camp in an RV

There are multiple places for RV camping in and near Astoria, Oregon. One of the most highly rated is the Lewis & Clark Golf Course and RV Park, where RV travelers can watch golfers at play on the adjacent golf course. Another resort worth considering, that is close to Astoria is Pier 38 RV Park.

Tips for successful RV travel in Pacific Northwest

Before you start your trip, determine in advance what kind of RV works best for you, especially if you are renting. Make a budget for food, gas, and camping fees, since these can add up more than you might realize. Also, book your campsites well in advance as possible and consider which one works best for you, especially if you are traveling during the peak seasons.

Consider where you are traveling and seek out RV-friendly routes. Not all roads are suited for RV driving! Also, remember that you will be traveling more slowly in an RV than you would in a car, and plan travel time accordingly.

Best Time to Travel

The Pacific Coast region of the United States is very temperate (though Oregon can be rainy) so you will have a certain degree of flexibility in planning your trip.

Late summer is considered the ideal time to travel, although fall can also be nice. Late summer is a popular time due to the weather, but roads and destinations can be crowded as a result.

We were there in late July and I was very cold even though the locals assured me that is just coastal weather. So bring layers.

Final thoughts on a road trip from San Francisco California to Astoria, Oregon

A road trip along the West Coast from San Francisco Bay to northern Oregon can provide adventures and memories for you and your family.

Every stop is worth a trip, so plan your time to get the most out of each. These examples listed are just some of the possibilities that await the traveler in this region of the country.

I mentioned a couple of the best beaches but we toured as many beaches as we could get to there. These are our favorite:

7 best beaches for families in Oregon

If you’re looking for more destinations to try, start with these:

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    Shauna Kocman founder of Family Travel Fever

    Hi, I’m Shauna – Welcome to Family Travel Fever.  We are a large family, that was bitten by the travel bug!  We travel with kids and extended family.  I take the kids by myself sometimes because I don’t mind flying or driving solo with my crew to discover the coolest places.

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