Los Angeles to Portland Road Trip

The Los Angeles to Portland road trip has everything: seaside views, ancient trees, and historic sites. Here’s a 4-day itinerary to get you started.
Written by Bonnie Stinson
Reviewed by Carrie Adkins
From sunny coastal to rainy urban climes, the Los Angeles to Portland road trip is one of the most beautiful and dramatic routes in the country. It’s a 15-hour nonstop trip, so we recommend allowing four days to get the most out of your
Adventurers, take heed—the weather can be tempestuous and the roads winding. It’s wise to make sure your
car insurance
includes roadside assistance, or to enroll in Jerry’s $6.99 membership program.
Ready? Here is your itinerary for the road trip from LA to Portland.

Key trip details

Los Angeles, CA to Portland, OR
​​Distance: 1,168 miles
Driving time: 21 hours and 12 minutes
Suggested length of trip: 3 to 5 days
This is definitely a trip that requires some rest along the way, so why not take advantage of the drive and get the most out of every stop? Feel free to add time to any city on the way there or back.


  • Los Angeles, CA—Half a day
  • Monterey, CA—Half a day
  • Mendocino, CA—One half to 1 day
  • Brookings, OR—Half a day
  • Portland, OR—1 to 2 days

Day 1—Los Angeles, CA to Monterey, CA

318 miles, 5 hours
Whether you’re a California resident or not, it’s impossible to get enough of the gorgeous Pacific coastline. The route from Los Angeles to Monterey will meander through cheerful seaside towns and hilly vistas.
From seafood to baked goods, hiking to sunbathing, this leg of your trip has it all.
To get to Monterey, take I-5 N to W Lerdo Hwy until you reach exit 268. From there, follow the US-101 N and take exit 317 to get on CA-1 S/CA-68 W in Monterey.

Where to eat from Los Angeles to Monterey

  • Wool Growers Restaurant
    (Bakersfield, $$): This family-owned restaurant serves up authentic Basque fare, and has been a go-to for local diners since its opening in 1954. Try their breaded veal or oxtail stew.
  • Portabella
    (Carmel-By-The-Sea, $$): Offering updated French and Italian cuisine with a warm, intimate atmosphere, Portabella is a great choice for an upscale dinner outing.
  • Schooners
    (Monterey, $$$): With a high-energy and oceanfront outdoor patio, Schooners serves up locally-sourced, fresh seafood dishes and a lively, welcoming atmosphere.

What to do from Los Angeles to Monterey

Bakersfield farmers market
  • Visit the Bakersfield’s farmers markets: As part of California’s breadbasket, there are countless farm-fresh goodies and agricultural treasures you can pick up through touring Bakersfield’s fantastic farmer's markets.
  • Tour a Spanish or Mexican Heritage site: This part of the world has a rich Spanish and Mexican history, too. There are various Missions, gold mining towns, and historic ranches on the route between Los Angeles and Monterey. Here’s a
    to get you started.
Pro Tip You have three routes to choose from on this leg of your road trip. For maximum efficiency but less time oceanside, choose I-5. To enjoy both forested country and coastal views, opt for Highway 101. For the slowest but most beautiful route, take the classic route on Highway 1.
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Day 2—Monterey, CA to Mendocino, CA

270 miles, 5 hours
You can drive straight from Monterey to Mendocino, but that leaves no time for enjoying San Francisco. If you want to complete this section in one day, wake up early in Monterey and head into the city. San Fran is the main attraction on this route, as there’s plenty to experience—and eat—here.
Take the US-101 N through San Francisco, and take exit 522. To reach Mendocino, continue on the CA-128 W.

Where to stay in Mendocino

  • Sea Rock Inn
    : For an upscale ocean-side stay, check out this refined boutique hotel that features comfortable, refined private cottages and a view of the Agate Cove and coast that just can’t be beaten. Cost per night: from $360.

Where to eat from Monterey to Mendocino

  • El Techo
    (San Francisco, $$): This vibrant restaurant has a rooftop patio offering amazing views of the city, but their takes on Latin American street food and cocktails might be even better.
  • Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory
    (San Francisco, $): Since its opening in 1962, this legendary spot has been making custom fortune cookies by hand. They offer free tours and you can pick up a pack of custom fortune cookies for the road.
  • Fog Eater Cafe
    (Mendocino, $-$$): A vegetarian restaurant found in the heart of Mendocino Village, they serve charming Southern-inspired food and have a lovely garden patio where you can enjoy your meal.

What to do from Monterey, CA to Mendocino, CA

Lombard Street
  • Visit the Golden Gate Bridge: If you’ve never been, then play tourist and visit this iconic San Francisco landmark! You might as well check it off your bucket list as you’re driving through.
  • Drive Lombard Street: Eight sharp turns make this the most crooked street in the world, and it’s a major tourist attraction in San Fran. Traffic moves slowly as people will take their time and get some pics, so be prepared to wait a bit if you’re visiting!

Day 3—Mendocino, CA to Brookings, OR

251 miles, 5 hours
Brookings is just across the California/Oregon border, and it’s unquestionably a better stopping point than Crescent City. The highlight of this stretch of road is hiking. From Fort Bragg’s glass beaches to Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, the only problem on this route is choosing which natural wonders you have time to explore.
Continue on CA-1 N, take US-101 N to Hillside Ave to arrive in Brookings.

Where to eat from Mendocino to Brookings

  • The Peg House
    (Leggett, $$): At first glance, The Peg House seems like a common shack on the side of the road. But enter the back patio and be astonished: salmon burgers, blackberry sundaes, BBQ oysters, and grass-fed burger patties await.
  • Khun Thai
    (Brookings, $$): For fresh, flavorful food that is guaranteed to fill your tummy, then check out Khun Thai and their affordably priced noodles and curries.
  • Mattie’s Pancake House
    (Brookings, $): Hit this breakfast spot, especially if you’re an early riser, as they open at 6 AM. As the name suggests, they serve breakfast staples and delicious pancakes that’ll fill you up for the day.

What to do from Mendocino to Brookings

Chetco Point Park
  • Confusion Hill
    : This landmark can be found just north of Leggett. It’s a bizarre gravity-inspired roadside attraction with wood carvings, oddly tilted buildings, and a gift shop that makes for an extremely interesting pitstop
  • Chetco Point Park
    : There are lots of great options for hiking and exploring, but this coastal area is a great place to stroll, take in the ocean view, and have a relaxing picnic.
Pro Tip The ancient trees and plethora of trails on this route require more than a quick stopover. Leave as early as possible to allow plenty of time to soak up Mother Nature’s glorious display.
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Day 4—Brookings, OR to Portland, OR

329 miles, 6 hours
You’ve reached the final leg of your trip! And once you arrive in Portland, you’re in for a treat. Food carts and fusion food abound, and there are countless hip small businesses and iconic landmarks for you to spend your days exploring.
To get to your final destination, follow the US-101 N and I-5 N through to Portland.

Where to stay in Portland

  • McMenamins Crystal Hotel
    : This quirky rock-and-roll-themed hotel is the perfect combination of modern luxury and unique interior designs to rest up at the end of your trip. The underground bar is not to be missed, and the underground soaking pool will melt all your worries away. Cost per night: from $125.

Where to eat from Brookings to Portland

  • 7 Devils Brewing Co.
    (Coos Bay, $$): Served in an artsy outdoor area with weekly live music, stopping here guarantees delicious eats, housemade brews, and a fantastic dining experience.
  • Nacheaux
    (Portland, $$): Considered one of the most inventive restaurants to open in Portland in recent years (which is saying a lot!), you can try any item on their innovative menu and not be disappointed. We recommend their Nacheaux Crunch Wrap or the mac & cheese.
  • Lovely’s Fifty Fifty
    (Portland, $$): Made with simple, locally sourced ingredients, Lovely’s serves up unique pizza creations in a lively, intimate atmosphere. Try their Rainbow Pizza or white bean soup with focaccia.

What to do from Brookings to Portland

The Heceta Head Lighthouse
  • The Heceta Head Lighthouse
    : This is near the halfway point on your journey and it’s also a perfect place to stretch your legs and take in the coastal scenery. It’s a functioning B&B but you can check out the views and gift shop.
  • Cape Kiwanda
    : This area is known for offering the best hikes in Oregon with a view of the ocean. Keep an eye out for kites and hang-gliders! Stop here for a final communion with the sea before you hit the highway and head east.
Pro Tip Don’t be discouraged if the weather is rainy on your drive. PNW residents have a saying: there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing! Our advice is to pack your rain jacket and hiking shoes and prepare to enjoy the sights no matter the weather.

Why you need roadside assistance

Even safe drivers make mistakes—or mistakes find them. No matter how safely you drive, it’s a simple fact that the road is unpredictable.
Roadside assistance is a great way to buy peace of mind so you can drive boldly. With lockout assistance, fuel delivery, flat tire help, towing coverage, and more,
roadside assistance membership is only $6.99.
We all need help sometimes. It’s easier to get help with your car problems if you already have roadside assistance. We promise you’re not failing at adulting if you need help with a flat tire!
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Finding cheap car insurance

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Yes, in many places it is legal to sleep in your car so long as you follow posted parking guidelines. Rest areas typically allow you to stop for eight hours, but you can also
car camp
at a campground.

How dangerous is Highway 1?

Highway 1 is a very safe road as long as you are well-rested and driving cautiously. There are guard rails between you and the ocean, and often there is farmland or forest as a buffer, too. It is a twisting road which means you should exercise extreme caution in windy conditions or when passing other vehicles.
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