Tracing part of the southwest border of Washington State, this family-friendly gorge to coast road trip seamlessly blends outdoor fun, quaint towns, delectable bites, and breathtaking views. Beginning in Washington’s Columbia River Gorge and concluding on the Long Beach Peninsula on the Pacific Coast, you’ll wind your way along the scenic Columbia River, stopping to explore Vancouver along the way.
Easily accessible for visitors starting in Seattle or coming from the south in Portland, this is a laid-back and family-friendly choice for those seeking a getaway.
Time your visit for fall or early spring for a quieter experience. Whichever season you select, remember to account for the possibility of rain along the coast as you pack for your journey.
Columbia River Gorge to Long Beach Road Trip Itinerary
This four-day gorge to coast road trip road trip covers about 170 miles and includes an option to extend the adventure. While this itinerary covers one night in the Columbia River Gorge, one night in Vancouver, and two nights in Long Beach, you can choose to make this as long as you want.
Day 0: Evening Arrival
After taking Highway 14 into the heart of Washington’s Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, check into your hotel for the night. A range of excellent lodging options are available, ensuring a personalized stay that suits your preferences. At Skamania Lodge, families can enjoy a pool and other kid-friendly amenities like seasonal ziplining, disc golf, and a putting course. Stay in a spacious room in the lodge or splurge on a “treehouse” elevated above the forest floor and tucked away from the main lodge.
For those seeking a rejuvenating retreat, the Carson Hot Springs Resort features a full-service spa and mineral hot springs. Meanwhile, the Society Hotel in White Salmon-Bingen promotes a boutique experience, providing a variety of accommodations, including bunk rooms, private rooms, and spacious cabins.
Once settled in, savor a meal within the comfort of your hotel or venture into the town to explore the enticing dining options.
Day 1: Explore the Western Columbia River Gorge
Take a Hike
Kick off your Washington gorge to coast road trip with a scenic hike. The Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge has options for all skill levels. Numerous trails lead to views of waterfalls, panoramic overlooks, and so much more. The trail to Hardy Falls and Rodney Falls within Beacon Rock State Park is only 2.5 miles roundtrip, making it a great choice for families. If visiting in the fall, consider hiking sections of the Cape Horn trail network. The Upper Waterfall Viewpoint from the Lower Cape Horn trail provides sweeping views of the river.
Tip: From February to mid-July, some trails are closed to protect peregrine falcon nesting habitat, so be sure to check the trail status before you head out. If you want to hike Cape Horn, you’ll need to do an out-and-back instead of a loop or time your trip for the fall months. Some trailheads require a Discover Pass.
Lunch in Carson or Washougal
After working up an appetite, head into town for lunch. If you’re a craft beer enthusiast, family-friendly Backwoods Brewing in Carson is a must-visit, offering a solid rotation of core beers and limited releases of IPAs, ales, and stouts. Their food menu is equally delicious, with their pizzas being a fan favorite. For those craving a meal in a scenic setting, Puffin Cafe not only offers a riverfront marina view but also serves up tasty cocktails and Caribbean cuisine.
Visit the Columbia Gorge Museum
Immerse yourself in centuries of captivating history at the Columbia Gorge Museum. This gem brings the rich stories of the region and its inhabitants to life through an eclectic mix of exhibits. Learn about Indigenous communities, the area’s geography, pioneers, and more. Kids will love to explore the “steam donkey” that defined the early lumber industry.
Enjoy Dinner in Carson or White Salmon-Bingen
For dinner, make your way to Henni’s Kitchen & Bar in White Salmon. This spot is known for its famous fresh dishes inspired from cuisines from around the world, and the best part- everything is made from scratch.
Day 2: Skamania to Vancouver
Distance: Skamania to Camas: 20 miles | Camas to Vancouver: 14 miles
Today you’ll head west on Highway 14 toward Vancouver, soaking in the views along the way. Energize yourself for your drive with the perfect cup of joe. Whether you’re grabbing it to go or soaking in the views on their cozy porch, Cabin Drive-Thru won’t disappoint. This local spot boasts a menu brimming with coffee concoctions and a mix of sweet and savory bites. Another stellar option for a morning pick-me-up is Big Foot Coffee Roasters. Here you can enjoy freshly roasted coffee paired with a tempting selection of baked goods and pastries.
Visit Camas & Lacamas Lake
Before reaching Vancouver, stop by Camas to experience a blend of small-town charm and natural beauty. Wander down the town’s tree-lined streets and explore the local shops. For a dose of nature, venture to nearby Lacamas Lake. Here, take in the picturesque views or stretch your legs on one of the walking trails surrounding the lake.
Get Lunch and Explore the Vancouver Waterfront
Once you arrive in Vancouver, make your way to the waterfront and scope out the vibrant food scene. Seafood lovers will find haven at Wildfin’s What a Catch Fishbar, which serves up fish and chips and other seafood items spring through fall. If pizza is calling your name, Ruse Brewing Crust Collective is the place to be, offering specialty pies that are perfect for sharing. For those with a hankering for burgers, Stack 571 is a fantastic option. Plus, each spot features kid-friendly menus.
Once your appetite is satisfied, wander along the charming waterfront. The area boasts several parks and paved paths that offer breathtaking views of the Columbia River. If visiting in the summer, the kids can enjoy some water fun at the captivating Headwaters Wall, which includes an interactive feature perfect for splashing around.
Don’t miss swinging by Pop-Local to pick up some souvenirs. This retail space showcases products crafted by local makers and brands, in case you want to take a piece of Vancouver’s charm home with you.
Explore Downtown Vancouver
Continue your tour of Vancouver by venturing into downtown to discover more of the city’s attractions and shops before heading to Esther Short Park, which proudly holds the title of the oldest public square in Washington. This 5-acre park has grown into an urban plaza with features like an inclusive playground, rose garden, and an interactive fountain.
For a midday snack, head to Treat Vancouver where you can indulge in your choice of sweets or grab a coffee at Vancouver Farmers Market born Kafiex to re-energize. Afterward, roam around downtown and explore the array of local shops. Unleash your creativity while painting pre-made pottery pieces at Kinfolk Studio or pop into White Oak Books to discover a vast selection of books and a fun children’s play area.
Visit Fort Vancouver
Next up is a visit to Fort Vancouver. This national historic site showcases the legacy of one of the first permanent settlements west of the Rocky Mountains. Experience the rich heritage of the area while engaging in hands-on activities and seeing costumed performances.
Dinner and Overnight in Vancouver
Whether it’s the waterfront or the vibrant downtown area, Vancouver has a range of accommodations. Both AC Marriott Vancouver Waterfront or Hotel Indigo will have you right next to the Columbia River, while Hilton Vancouver provides an upscale experience with easy access to downtown.
For families, The Heathman Lodge is a spectacular option. This lodge-style property tucked away outside of downtown boasts an indoor pool perfect for kids plus a sauna and on-site dining.
Day 3: Vancouver to Long Beach Peninsula
Distance: Vancouver to Cathlamet: 67 miles | Cathlamet to Long Beach: 52 miles
On day three of your gorge to coast road trip, take it easy with a slow morning in Vancouver, savoring the charm of the city before embarking on the next leg of the adventure. From Vancouver, head north on I-5 to Ocean Beach Hwy (SR 4) toward Cathlamet.
Lunch in Cathlamet
This scenic journey boasts picturesque views and sets the stage for a lovely lunch. Soak up the beauty of the Columbia River and Skamokawa Valley and enjoy a great meal at Pizza Mill or Maria’s Place in Cathlamet before continuing on to Long Beach.
Note: You can also reach Long Beach by crossing the Lewis and Clark Bridge near Longview, into Oregon, then taking the impressive Astoria-Megler Bridge back into Washington. This route follows part of the Lewis & Clark Trail.
Arrive in Long Beach
Once you arrive in Long Beach, settle into your hotel. There are several wonderful lodging options in Long Beach. The Boardwalk Cottages are great for groups of all sizes, with options ranging from a studio cottage to a three-bed townhouse. Each cottage comes with its own unique amenities. Alternatively, Adrift Hotel offers an on-site spa, restaurant, and free bike rentals so you can easily explore the nearby boardwalk and downtown.
Next, head out to explore the downtown, where you’ll find plenty of fun photo-ops capturing the local charm. And, of course, take a walk to the beach and dip your toes in the Pacific Ocean. The Long Beach Peninsula’s sandy shoreline stretches for 28 miles, providing plenty of room for adventure or relaxation.
Dinner at The Depot or Castaways
After settling in, be prepared for a fabulous dinner at Castaways. Dive into an upbeat atmosphere with a menu featuring options like burgers, steaks, and of course, fresh seafood. Located in a former train station, The Depot offers fine dining in a cozy setting. You can expect locally sourced ingredients in every dish with some favorites among the locals being Willapa Bay oyster dinner and clam bucatini. Reservations are recommended.
Day 4: Long Beach Peninsula
Rise and shine for a day of fun on the Long Beach Peninsula. Start your morning by heading into town to grab breakfast. Local favorites like 42nd Street Café & Bistro, Dylan’s Cottage Bakery & Delicatessen, and Benson’s by The Beach are all great options.
Bike Part of the Discovery Trail
Biking or walking part of the Discovery Trail is a great way to see more of the peninsula. Although the full trail is 8.5 miles long, there are multiple access points and much of the trail is paved, making it a great option for all ages. There are several nearby shops where you can rent bikes, or if you’re staying at Adrift, take advantage of complimentary rentals.
Visit the World Kite Museum
Kite flying is a favorite pastime on the peninsula (Long Beach even hosts the Washington State International Kite Festival each August)! For an experience that will entertain the entire family, stop by the World Kite Museum. Kites take center stage, showcasing fascinating collections from countries around the world as well as intriguing exhibits such as Kites of World War II and Dime Store Kites. The museum offers a blend of history, culture, and creativity, making it a wonderful addition to the day.
Explore Cape Disappointment State Park
Next, head to nearby Cape Disappointment State Park. From sandy beaches and hiking trails to iconic lighthouses and the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, this state park blends outdoor fun and educational exploration. The interpretive center is a fantastic opportunity to delve into history, especially for families. With interactive exhibits, kids can follow a treasure hunt, try their hand at packing a canoe without tipping it over, and gain insight into the culinary experiences during the Corps of Discovery’s journey.
Tip: For a prime spot to watch the sunset, head to Deadman’s Cove and see the skies put on a breathtaking show. It’s the perfect way to wrap up your time at Cape Disappointment State Park.
After catching sunset or exploring the interpretive center, head back to town for dinner in Long Beach. Pickled Fish inside the Adrift Hotel is a go-to destination for seafood with views of the ocean, while MyCovio’s is known for its selection of Italian dishes.
Day 5: Long Beach Peninsula Optional Extension
Harvest Fresh Seafood
If you’re not quite ready to wrap up your road trip, consider extending your stay another day on the Long Beach Peninsula. Thanks to its prime location, the area offers numerous opportunities for crabbing, fishing, and foraging for razor clams.
Sea Breeze Charters offers multiple trip options based on the different fishing seasons. Coho Charters is another excellent choice, providing charters for crabbing and fishing. If this sounds up your alley, be sure to make a reservation in advance. The fall and spring are great for trying your hand at digging for razor clams. Afterward, you can enjoy the fruits of your labor with a fresh seafood lunch.
Tip: Before hitting the beach to dig for clams, be sure to secure your clamming license and check the current razor clam season information for regulations. Check out this handy guide on how to dig for razor clams.
Explore Historic Oysterville and Leadbetter Point State Park
Next, venture to the north end of the peninsula, where you’ll find the community of Oysterville. This quaint town on the National Register of Historic Places exudes charm, making it feel like you’ve stepped back into a 19th-century coastal village. The historic homes, one-room schoolhouse, and church all contribute to the nostalgic atmosphere.
Nearby, Leadbetter Point State Park offers gorgeous views of the Pacific Ocean in a serene setting. The park is adjacent to the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge, making it a haven for bird-watching enthusiasts. Keep an eye out for species like shovelers and buffleheads, or simply enjoy the 7 miles of trails.
Cap off your day on the Long Beach Peninsula with a stop for dinner. Barbe-Queen puts a Polynesian twist on barbecue while also featuring classic American comfort food. At Malai Thai Restaurant, you can expect an array of authentic Thai dishes ready to be shared.
Day 6: Depart
Even though your gorge to coast road trip road trip is coming to a close, there’s one last stop worth considering if you’re heading back toward Seattle via Highway 101. Visit to the Raymond Carriage Museum, which offers a glimpse into the history of horse-drawn transportation. Afterward, you can explore the charming town of Raymond, which is home to gems like Alder + Co. and the Willapa Seaport Museum.