Cape Arago Lighthouse, Oregon

Cape Arago Lighthouse in Oregon

It all started with a few innocent tweets on Twitter. Katherine Hoppe, director of promotion & conventions for the Coos Bay – North Bend Visitor Bureau got the beach ball rolling by asking about my interest in Oregon. Our Twitter conversation ended with an invite from Katherine to visit the Southern Oregon coastal community of Coos Bay. Here’s what I shared with my Contra Costa Times What a Trip readers about my recent travels from Oregon to Southern California.

 

Oregon Bound

After leaving the San Francisco rain behind me, it was sunshine and seafood for three glorious days and nights in Oregon. From budget camping to water-side suites, this area of Oregon has something for every price range.

Hidden Gem on the Oregon Coast

The North Bend area has some of the best dune buggy riding in the state. Check out Spinreel Campground for cheap digs on the coast. If gambling and hot tubs with water views are more to your liking, the Mill Hotel has luxury suites, as well as RV parking. I recommend you order the restaurant’s crab melt sandwich, you will not be disappointed.

From Golden Falls waterfall hikes to Charleston’s Cape Arago Beach Loop drive, outdoor enthusiasts will experience a different coastline than we’re used to in California. Bring home some crab and canned Albacore tuna, it’s cheaper in Oregon.

Avalon Harbor, Catalina

Avalon Harbor, Catalina Island

Southern California Coastline

Spring break families may want to consider Catalina Island before the summer crowds officially arrive. The Catalina Express offer ferry service from Long Beach to the Avalon Island community with tickets available for purchase on-line. Adults will like exploring the Wrigley Memorial and Botanical Garden, while the kids will want to ride the golf carts.

A family-friendly suite is available at Aurora Hotel and Spa. Make your reservations now for Hermit Gulch Campground owned by the Santa Catalina Island Company. Keep your eyes peeled for bison. A Hollywood film crew brought over 14 bison for the filming of the “Vanishing American” and left the bison behind. Stop at the Nature Center to watch videos on the local wildlife; it’s free.

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Further down the coast, teens can experience a little bit of the OC in Laguna Beach, California. For tidepooling, check out Moss Point. Victoria Beach is within walking distance of Casa Laguna Inn and Spa if romance and relaxation is what you had in mind. Leave the kids and pets at home for this place. Besides, the innkeepers have a friendly Retriever who is waiting patiently for your attention. Like a seeing eye dog, he will lead you straight to the doggie cookie jar in the front entrance of the Inn where he will remain seated until you give in and reward him with a treat.

Green Hotel in the Napa Valley

Closer to home, the Gaia Hotel and Spa in American Canyon is a certified gren hotel with affordable rates. The March Manager’s Special offered internet rates of $65 for Sunday- Thursday. While adults go wine tasting in the Napa Valley, older children can be dropped at nearby Six Flags in Vallejo. With the money you saved on lodging, go for the Ayurvedic Hot Stone massage.

San Francisco Bay the Zeppelin Way

For a truly unique way to experience the San Francisco Bay Area, Airship Ventures has brought the Zeppelin Eureka to the Oakland Airport. I’m the first to admit that this one hour voyage will set your pocketbook back to the tune of $495. If you can afford it, you’ll be the first in your neighborhood to say that you have flown over the Golden Gate Bridge and sailed over Alcatraz from a bird’s eye view.

Truth be told, I’m afraid of heights. I found this out after I had climbed to the top of Disneyland’s Swiss Family Robinson tree house (before its current incarnation as Tarzan’s Treehouse.) Since my childhood days, I’ve glided above Napa Valley vineyards in a hot air balloon, taken a helicopter over Hawaii’s Waimea Canyon and arrived via floatplane to fish Alaska’s mighty rivers. None of these experiences touched off my fear of heights, including the Zeppelin ride. However, I’ll not be zip lining in Costa Rica or bungee jumping in New Zealand anytime soon.

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Finally, I’m happy to report that I did survive a week long mother/daughter road trip to Southern California to visit colleges during Spring Break. More on that trip later.