All of the routes from Bend to Newport include spectacular scenery through mountain passes. This set of road trip stops assumes a path following Route 20, crossing the Cascades at Santiam Pass.
After heading out of Bend on Rte. 20, you’ll pass through Sisters and then into the most scenic part of the drive, through the Willamette National Forest. About an hour into your trip you’ll probably be ready for a break, just as you pass by Lost Lake near the Hoodoo Ski Area. How does the lake get lost? Every summer Lost Lake fills up with snow melt, and then primarily drains into a lava tube, and the water goes … well, no one knows where it goes. It’s an Oregon mystery.
If everyone needs another great spot to stretch their legs, check out the short hike at Rooster Rock, 22 miles east of Sweet Home across from Fernview Campground. The round-trip hike to the rock and back is only a little over 2 miles, although steep as you ascend to the rock itself.
With all that activity, you are probably ready for pie, and there’s no better place for pie than the Skyline Inn (2425 Main St.) in Sweet Home.
About 20 minutes further down the road, you’ll come to the town of Lebanon, home to the Tennessee Thunder Railroad (37672 Kgal Dr). If you have time, and you catch them at an open time, visit this sweet miniature theme park and take the 15-minute train ride on the ¼-scale train.
Route 20 continues all the way to Newport, but the “road less traveled” between Toledo and Newport is a beautiful alternative for the last few miles of the trip. Turn towards Toledo at the Dairy Queen 7 miles east of Newport, then in 1 mile turn right onto North Bay Blvd. This road turns into Yaquina Bay Road, following the edge of the bay. It’s a beautiful drive along the estuary, with bird life everywhere and sights galore. Stop and buy some oysters at Oregon Oyster Farms. Bonus: you’ll end up on the bustling Newport bayfront, maybe just in time for dinner!
This road trip from Portland follows I-5 to Rte. 34/20 in Corvallis and then west to the coast via Rte. 20.
Are you prepared for coastal weather conditions if you’re coming to Newport from Portland? If not, or if you have other shopping to do, a must-stop is the Woodburn Outlet Mall, one of Oregon’s top tourist destinations. Pick up your fleece, your Gore-Tex boots, your rain gear here, then continue south on I-5.
The perfect family stop is the ever-popular Enchanted Forest Theme Park seven miles south of Salem on I-5. Maybe just one quick log flume ride before forging ahead?
Are the grown-ups in your party ready for an adult beverage at this point? A stop at Willamette Valley Vineyards, located conveniently close to the Enchanted Forest, might be in order. Tastings, tours, and full meals are available.
After exiting I-5 near Corvallis, you’ll head west on US Rte. 20. You can choose to take the brand-new stretch of 20 near Eddyville to hasten your trip – it’s straight, smooth, and scenic. Or, if you’re not in a hurry and feeling nostalgic, you could choose to wind along the old section of 20, now called Crystal Creek Loop. Don’t miss the beautiful Chitwood covered bridge if you take the old part of 20.
This route from Salem follows 99W to Corvallis, and then Rte. 20 to Newport.
Don’t leave too early in the morning on this trip or it’ll be too soon for a quick wine tasting at the Eola Hills Wine Cellar in Rickreall, only about 15 minutes from Salem. You can also tour the winery by appointment here.
Pizza is unquestionably the best road trip food, and you’ll find the best pizza at Yeasty Beasty in Monmouth. They use organic flour, fresh ingredients, and they have 26 beers on tap. You can’t go wrong.
Ready for a leg-stretch? You could opt for a walk at the E. E. Wilson Game Management Area about ten miles north of Corvallis, where there is excellent bird-watching. Another choice, if you want to get some more road behind you first, is Avery Park in Corvallis (1310 SW Avery Park Dr.). The kids will have lots of options here, from play equipment to open fields to a cool train engine to climb on and around.
If you have time, you could mix up the last part of your drive by detouring off of Rte. 20 onto the scenic Blodgett-Eddyville Highway, Rt. 180. Start at the intersection of Crystal Creek Loop (the “old” Rte. 20) in Eddyville, and wend your way past Nortons, Nashville, and Summit, a lovely ride. The road will bring you right back to 20, and you can continue on your way to Newport.
This route to Newport from Eugene takes you directly to the coast via Rte. 126, and then north along gorgeous Hwy. 101.
A slight detour off of Hwy 126 will take you to the Sweet Creek trailhead and a short hike to Sweet Creek Falls in Mapleton. This moderate trail takes hikers past 11 waterfalls in all.
Continuing on Rte. 126, you’ll hit the coast in Florence. Head to the Old Town district for cool shops and excellent restaurants, including the Waterfront Depot Restaurant and Sweet Maggie’s Bakery. For a preview of Newport, you can even eat at Mo’s here!
The number of beautiful places to stop between Florence and Newport is beyond belief, but one different spot is the popular Sea Lion Caves, a natural sea cave that is home to piles and piles roaring Stellar sea lions. Don’t miss descending in the coast’s tallest elevator to this beautiful spot.
About ten miles south of Newport, the tiny town of Seal Rock is an excellent place to stop, whether for sushi at Yuzen, some tide pool peeping at Seal Rock State Park, or a glass-blowing demonstration at Ocean Beaches Glassblowing & Gallery.