Here’s a suggested itinerary that gives you a couple of exciting days in Seattle and Portland and then continues on from Portland to take in some of the scenic grandeur of Oregon’s North Coast. You will need to plan out how you want to get from Seattle to Portland—by car, train, bus, or airplane—but once in Portland you will need to rent or use your own car for the Oregon coast part of this 1-week itinerary.

Days 1–2: Seattle

To get a good dose of Seattle, follow the suggestions in days 1 and 2 in our 3-day itinerary for that city. 

Days 3–4: Portland

On day 3, if you’re driving the 178 miles (286 km) down to Portland, head out of Seattle as early as you can to escape the morning rush hour. However you travel, you won’t be settled in Portland until late morning or early afternoon. Spend your first afternoon in the City of Roses at the two magnificent gardens in Washington Park, the International Rose Test Garden and the Portland Japanese Garden.

Afterward, depending on what you are in the mood for, you might want to have dinner at St. Jack (French), or Bamboo Sushi (Japanese, sushi/sashimi) on NW 23rd Avenue, or at Caffe Mingo (Italian) on NW 21st Avenue. All three restaurants are just minutes from Washington Park. From any of them you can easily get back downtown via the Portland streetcar.

On day 4, explore downtown Portland, visiting Pioneer Courthouse Square, the South Park Blocks, and the Oregon Historical Society Museum. Have lunch at one of Portland’s trend-setting food carts and then continue your downtown urban adventuring by strolling through Chapman and Lownsdale squares and Tom McCall Waterfront Park. Have dinner and a craft beer at one of Portland’s many microbreweries—this is the microbrewery capital of the country, after all.

Day 5: Astoria/Cannon Beach

As mentioned above, you will need a car for the final 3 days of your whirlwind Pacific Northwest tour. Today you’ll head west to the Pacific Ocean, but first you’ll be able to marvel at the huge size of the Columbia River where it empties into the ocean at Astoria. The trip to Astoria, depending on your route, will take 1.5 to 2 hours. Here, at the site of the oldest settlement west of the Mississippi, you can spend an enjoyable and enlightening hour visiting the compact and well-done Columbia River Maritime Museum, which outlines the human history of the mighty Columbia with exhibits, artifacts, and heritage boats. Nearby, and also worth a few minutes of your time, is the Flavel House, an ornate brick mansion built for a sea captain in the 1880s. Astoria is undergoing a long-overdue renaissance and has several good restaurants where you can have lunch.

Save another hour to visit Fort Clatsop—Lewis and Clark National Historic Park, 5 miles (8 km) south of Astoria. Here, in a clearing in the woods, on a site thought to be just yards from the original fort, stands a replica of Fort Clatsop, the wooden fort built by Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery when they finally reached the Pacific Ocean in 1805 after trekking for 18 months across a wilderness unknown to non-Native Americans.

You’ll get some wonderful ocean/beach time when you reach Cannon Beach, about 22 miles (35 km) south of Fort Clatsop on U.S. 101. Make this your overnight stop. With towering Haystack Rock jutting up from the shore, this flat, sandy beach is one of the best along the entire coast for long walks (no matter what the weather). The town is the most charming and affluent on the Oregon coast and offers lots of shopping and a handful of restaurants that are among the top dining spots anywhere along the coast. If you have time before the light fades, pay a visit to gorgeous Ecola State Park at the north end of town, with miles of beach and forested hiking trails with panoramic ocean views.

Day 6: Three Capes Scenic Loop/Depoe Bay/Newport

Continuing south from Cannon Beach on U.S. 101, in about 40 miles (64 km) you’ll come to Tillamook. Just south of Tillamook, watch for the turnoff for the Three Capes Scenic Loop, a scene-stealing byway on Oregon’s North Coast. The 35-mile loop drive leaves U.S. 101 and winds past three wind-swept capes (one with a lighthouse) with viewpoints, beaches, picnic areas, and hiking trails. At Pacific City, the scenic byway rejoins U.S. 101, the main coast highway. It’s another 22 miles (35 km) to Lincoln City, a good spot for lunch or a coffee. For a casual, fish-and-chips lunch with an ocean view, try Kyllo’s Seafood & Grill at the south end of Lincoln City.

At Lincoln City, the Central Coast region begins. Continue on U.S. 101 to tiny Depoe Bay with the world’s smallest harbor. If you don’t suffer from seasickness, sign up for a whale-watching expedition that will take you out onto the open waters of the bay, where a herd of giant gray whales spends part of every summer, and other gray whales pass back and forth on their annual migration. The tours are offered daily year-round but before booking ask if any whales have been sighted that day, or your only sight will be the surging sea.

In about 13 miles you’ll reach Newport, the most intriguing town on the Oregon coast (you are now on the Central Coast). If you took a whale-watching cruise, you’ll likely be arriving in the late afternoon. Spend what remains of the day strolling along Newport’s busy Bayfront, and exploring the charming, artsy neighborhood of Nye Beach, the town’s oldest residential area. Here you can enjoy an invigorating stroll on long, sandy Nye Beach. Now it’s time to decide on a restaurant for dinner—Local Ocean offers the freshest seafood, but Saffron Salmon will give you the best view of Newport Bay.

Day 7: Newport/Portland

There’s a lot more to enjoy in Newport before you head back to Portland. Start your explorations at the not-to-be-missed Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area, site of Yaquina Head Lighthouse, one of the most photogenic and easily accessible lighthouses on the Oregon coast. With its unusual cobble beach and offshore rocks serving as resting and roosting spots for seals, sea lions, tufted puffins, and other sea birds, the area really lives up to its official designation as an “outstanding natural area.” Have a look at the displays in the visitor center that tell about life in the lighthouses (a lonely occupation if ever there was one), and then go and visit the lighthouse itself. A stairway gets you down to the beach—not sand, this one, but cobblestones.

But Newport has two lighthouses, and your next stop is the oldest lighthouse on the Oregon coast, a two-story wood-frame house found at Yaquina Bay State Recreation Site on the north side of the Yaquina Bay Bridge in Newport. Here you can visit the living quarters of the lighthouse keepers who operated the light when the lighthouse cast its first beam in 1871.

Fuel up with a bowl of thick clam chowder or a shrimp salad at Mo’s, a restaurant that has been part of Newport’s dining scene for decades. After lunch, head south across the beautiful green span of the Yaquina Bay Bridge, one of several bridges along the Oregon coast that were designed by Conde McCullough and built as WPA projects in the 1930s. On the south side of the bridge, make your way down to Newport’s star attraction, the Oregon Coast Aquarium. It’s one of the great aquariums of the West Coast and a place you don’t want to rush through—give yourself at least a couple of hours. The facility concentrates on local and West Coast marine life and has giant aquariums, a walk-through aquarium with sharks, and outdoor exhibits with tufted puffins, sea otters, and sea lions. It’s both educational and fun, and a memorable way to end your Oregon coast experience.

Now it’s time to head back up to U.S. 101 and start the drive back to Portland. It’s about a 2.5-hour drive via U.S. 20 and I-5.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.