Southern California to Canada Road Trip

Taking a  road trip from southern California to Canada has been on my wish list of things to do since we moved to Newport Beach; we just didn’t have any concrete plans to actually do it. That is, until we started planning a babymoon/birthday trip last summer. What was initially going to be a couple of days in Portland suddenly turned into a two week road trip all the way up to the top of the country and back.

Sometimes I think I love planning a trip almost as much as I love taking it (almost…), so here is the itinerary for our southern California to Canada Babymoon road trip. It may have been a babymoon, but anyone can enjoy this trip. No pregnant lady required.

Note: If you are looking for an itinerary that includes Big Sur then check out my post: Newport Beach to San Francisco Road Trip Itinerary.

As always, we are starting in Newport Beach because we live there. You could easily start from San Diego to complete the whole coast, it’s about two hours south of Newport.


Day One: Newport Beach to Yosemite.

We started the trip by driving to the beautiful Yosemite National Park. We left early and were in the Yosemite area in under five hours and in time for lunch. We had a good half day of exploring before heading to Sonora to spend the night. We chose to drive there that evening to cut down the journey time the next day, but camping in the park would be a fun thing to do when not pregnant!

Day Two: Yosemite (Sonora) to Ashland, Oregon

We drove through little towns with funny names (Yolo, Weed, Squabbletown, Frogtown, Knight’s Landing…) in northern California to enter a new state: Oregon. We stopped at Mount Shasta on the way and spent the night in Ashland. Ashland is a lovely little town to walk around. You can check out the annual Shakespeare festival in summer, enjoy the park and go to the farmers’ market at the weekend.

Day Three: Crater Lake

Ashland is a great place to base yourself when visiting Crater Lake. Crater lake is absolutely stunning- an unmissable stop on this trip. We stocked up on picnic food (bread, hummus, fruit etc) at Ashland Farmers’ market first and spent a good half day driving around the lake stopping at all the view points.

Koosah Falls waterfalls, Oregon road trip

Day Four: Waterfalls and Bend

(We stayed in Eugene on night three as we couldn’t get a hotel room in Bend on a summer Sunday night. Book ahead!) Day four saw us chasing waterfalls all over Oregon including Koosah falls (pictured). You can stop and have mini hikes or leisurely walks around each one. We stayed the night in Bend, another interesting town (though I admit I preferred Ashland). We didn’t float down the river in a tube (next time!) but we did enjoy the lovely town park.

Day Five: Bend to Seattle, Washington

(We were saving Portland for my birthday on the way return trip, but you could stop there first if you wanted). It wasn’t a particularly interesting drive to Seattle but it brought us to another new state – Washington. We arrived by mid afternoon, in time to start exploring the city and enjoy a delicious dinner!

Day Six: Seattle

We loved Seattle and were glad we had a full day. We could happily have enjoyed many more. We checked out the cafes, the museums, strolled the streets, explored different neighbourhoods, ate great food (donuts! Ice cream!), went to the Pike Place market and generally had a wonderful time. We have a lot of love for Seattle.

Day Seven: Ferry from Seattle to Victoria, (Vancouver Island), Canada.

We left the US and entered Canada via ferry. My first time in Maple Land! There is a ferry from Seattle to Victoria (foot passenger only), however we chose to drive an hour or so up to Anacortes and take the much cheaper state ferry to Sidney. Sidney is also on Vancouver Island, about 25 minutes from Victoria. We left our car in Anacortes and friends picked us up on the other side. You can also take your car on the ferry here if you’ll be needing it on Vancouver Island.

Alternative: If you have more time you could go up to Vancouver city first before heading over to Vancouver Island.

Days Eight and Nine: Vancouver Island

We stayed with friends in Victoria and had a lovely time catching up, walking round the city (so European!) and checking out the local swimming holes and hill top views. There are many beautiful natural places around Vancouver Island, you could easily spend a week enjoying nature here.

Day Ten: Victoria to Portland

We said goodbye to our friends and headed back down to Portland, Oregon. The ferry was around 11am then it took about three hours to drive to Portland, leaving plenty of time to walk around and get dinner.

Day Eleven: Portland

The eleventh day of our road trip was my birthday. We spent the day grabbing coffee and donuts, browsing one of the biggest bookstores in the world (Powell’s– amazing!) and walking round the beautiful Lan Su Chinese garden. Next time we want to go to the Japanese garden too.

Oregon Coast Road Trip

Day Twelve: Oregon Coast

The home stretch back down to Newport Beach. We drove down the Oregon coast, exploring beautiful but windy and cold beaches. We were travelling without reservations and just picked a random town to stay in at about 10pm!

Recommendation: I recommend picking a nice town, booking a hotel in advance in the summer and maybe splitting this stretch up into a couple of days.

Day Thirteen: Redwoods National Park

The Redwood National Park is stunning and completely free. The ancient trees really are majestically tall we felt quite in awe of nature. You can drive through the park stopping to hike as much or as little as you wish-  a real must see.

Day Fourteen: Back to Newport Beach.

The last day was a bit of a rush drive to get back home for us. But you could definitely break it up by stopping in wine country. That wasn’t for us this time as I couldn’t drink on our babymoon. Next time!

Alternative: Take a side tour to wine country. You could also do the Newport Beach to San Francisco road trip itinerary in reverse.

Pin It For Later

California to Canada road trip itinerary

Which stop on this road trip would you like to visit most?

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2 thoughts on “Southern California to Canada Road Trip

  1. I’ve spent no time on the west coast (aside from a family trip to Disneyland when I was very young) but two of my bucket list items take place in Oregon: I would love to attend a big-time track meet in Eugene (Tracktown USA), where many big competitions are held. I would also love to participate in the World Naked Bike Ride in Portland, which attracts 8-10,000 riders annually.

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