Eureka to Crescent City & Oregon State Line: Roadtrip Guide

This is the third of my road trip posts and you can see San Francisco to Mendocino here and Mendocino to Eureka here. For this day I drove from Eureka to Crescent City with a detour up to the Oregon stateline and back. You can easily use this post for a trip all the way to Brookings, Oregon or on to the coast of Oregon but for me I headed back to Crescent City. Here are my recommended stops.


  • 120 miles
  • 4-5 hours of driving

Eureka Fisherman (5 minutes)

Eureka Fisherman-1

Before leaving Eureka I stopped at the famous fisherman statue on Wooley Island which you can find by Googling “Woodley’s Bar” then driving to the end of the island (thanks to a reader for commenting this below). The statue is dedicated to those who live off the sea and those the sea has taken, this is a beautiful statue that deserves a visit.

Carson House (5 minutes)

Carson House-1

One of the most picturesque and famous houses in Northern California, Carson House, is said to have inspired Disney and Alfred Hitchcock. It is privately owned, so you cannot tour it, but you can take a picture from the outside.

Dutch Brothers (5 minutes)

One of the things I love about driving North is the small coffee shops that start to pop up. Dutch Brothers is one of my favorites as they have a lot of crazy drinks. It is an easy stop and one that I recommend for coffee fans before leaving Eureka.

Los Bagels (30 minutes)

Los Bagels-1

Either in Eureka or Arcata, there is a Los Bagels which is my recommendation for breakfast. This is a great, relatively cheap restaurant that has a ton of options for everyone in the family. I got a guacamole bagel, and the wife got a blackberry and cream cheese bagel. It has a fun vibe and great food; we went twice.

Worlds Largest Totem Pole (5 minutes)

Largest Totem Pole-1

Like the name says, this is the Guineas Book of World Records world’s largest totem pole. I was not ready for how big it was, at 160 feet this thing is gigantic. It is randomly behind an auto parts store in a small shopping center, but it is worth a picture. You can find it by driving behind the Safeway in McKinneyville.

Trinidad Lighthouse (15 minutes)

Trinidad Lighthouse-11

The town of Trinidad is a great little coastal fishing village with a unique history. I recommend stopping at the Trinidad Lighthouse that has been moved to a great location overlooking the coastline below. It is a fantastic place to sit and each your bagels or just soak in the view for a few minutes.

Patrick Point State Park (1 hour)

Patrick Point State Park-10

As the best non-redwoods park in this area, Patrick Point State Park is a fun place for a stop. You will need to pay $8 to get in, but when you are in you can tour an old Native American town and climb to the top of Wedding Rock. You can also walk down to the picturesque beach which features massive rocks that the waves crash on for your enjoyment.

Redwoods National Park Visitor Center (10 minutes)

Redwoods Visitor Center-1

After driving up the highway for a little while you will see the signs for the visitor center of the Redwoods National Park. I recommend stopping by and picking up a map so you know what trails you would like to visit in the park. The docents are super helpful so they will be able to direct you to wherever you would like to go and there is a lot of great info here on the Redwoods themselves.

Lady Bird Johnson Grove (45 minutes)

Lady Bird Johnson Grove-19

If you only have time for one walk in Redwoods National Park make it Lady Bird Johnson’s Grove. Named after the First Lady who loved this area, this grove features a beautiful collection of towering coastal redwoods all within a 1.5 mile walk through the forest. It feels like something out of Jurassic Park and you should love it.

Drive-Thru Tree (5 minutes)

Drive thru Tree-3

About 10 minutes down the road from the grove is another drive-thru tree. I figured I might as well drive thru every one I came upon so I drove thru this one as well and paid my $5. This one is literally just a tree to drive thru and there is not much else here. There are emus across the street though!

Fern Canyon

fern canyon-32

I would be lying if I said you could do all of the stuff on this post and Fern Canyon in the same day, that would be tough. I did Fern Canyon on the way back though, and it was one of the best places I have ever visited in California. Read the full post on it here.

Trees of Mystery (1 hour)

Tree of Mystery-1

Even if you don’t visit the Trees of Mystery themselves you must stop to see the 60 foot Paul Bunyan and his trusty 30 foot Ox Babe. It is such a fun picture. If you want to explore the Tree of Mystery as well it will be $15 but I highly recommend it as it has a lot of unique trees, a gondola ride and a lookout platform. It will take about an hour to do everything.

Hensels (30 minutes) – Closed, Vita Cucina has been suggested as a good back up

Hensels Seafood and Deli 4

For lunch I recommend Hensels in Crescent City. This small little shop has some of the best fish tacos I have ever eaten and the owner catches the fish himself that he cooks. Don’t let the appearance fool you it is exceptional food. Since Hensel’s is now closed a reader suggested Vita Cucina as a good backup option for sandwiches and baked goods. Let me know if you have other suggestions in the comments.

Lighthouse in Crescent City (15 minutes)

crescent city lighthouse-1

In the West end of town there is a little island where a lighthouse sits on it. Apparently the road that leads to it washes out in high tide (it is never driveable but you can walk to it) so I was not able to go. I sat on the beach for sunset though and it was still one of the most amazing pictures I have taken, especially with the high tide turning the lighthouse area into an island. I highly recommend a visit to it.

Ocean World

Ocean World-1

I didn’t go myself, but I know a lot of people that love this small aquarium in Crescent City. If you like these types of things then you may want to go as well.

Fish Hatchery (15 minutes)

fish hatchery sign-1

Fifteen minutes outside of Crescent City on the Smith River is a fish hatchery for Steelhead. You can call to schedule a tour, but if you just drop by when they are open then you can walk around at your leisure and look at what the non-profit is doing. It was a lot of fun to see the growth process of the fish of the fish up close and to walk around the river right outside the hatcheries backyard.

Ship Motel and Gift Shop (5 minutes)

Boat Museum-1

This was also closed when I went, but there is a massive ship that sits on the land right before the Oregon State Line and has a gift shop and museum you can explore. I took pictures from the outside and would love to hear if anyone has been in it.

Pelican State Beach (20 minutes)

Pelican State Beach-13

As the Northernmost State Beach in California, Pelican State Beach is pretty worn down, but it still is a beautiful place to explore. The road leading to it has a ton of potholes and when I was there no one else was. It was a beautiful beach though with driftwood all along the sand and views of both the California and Oregon coastlines.

Oregon State Line

Oregon State Line

As the last stop on this trip, it was a little bittersweet to see the Oregon State Line sign. I took pictures here and celebrated the last three days of driving and all of the amazing adventures we had. 

You can continue to the town of Brookings or go back to Crescent City like I did. If you want to continue the drive all the way up to Seattle, check out this post. All in all, it was an amazing way to see the California coast and I recommend the trip to everyone, feel free to let me know what I left off in the comments.

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About JoshMc

Thanks for checking out the blog, I am happy to be sharing my adventures with you! You can get to know me by reading my about me, which includes a video and additional information on the site, myself and my full disclosure. Also, follow along on Twitter here or read all of my posts on this blog here.

  • az_stinger

    Thanks again for the great guide, we followed this all the way to crescent city at which point we blasted off to Crater Lake. For those following this guide, the fisherman’s statue on Woodley Island (google Cafe Marine and Woodley’s Bar and then just drive to the end of the island). The totem poll is located directly behind the Safeway in McKinneyville (just up the road from Eureka). The Fern Valley road is rough but we saw prius and other cars at the trail head. It does take a while to drive down to the trail, budget at least an hour more like 2 for the drive and hike, and as mentioned in this guide expect your feet to get very very wet! The lighthouse in crescent city is great! You can’t drive to it, ever, but there is a parking lot right there and when the tide is right you can walk out. The lighthouse is maintained as an active navigation aid and is staffed year round by volunteers who live on site, so be considerate! They offer 30-45 minute tours of the site, tide permitting, for the reasonably sum of $3 per person as a donation. In the parking lot they post the hours tours are available, and they seem to change with the seasons. You can take pictures on the island but they ask you not to during the tour. We followed this guide for 3 days and had one of the best road trips of our lives, so thanks and hope these minor contributions only help those who follow in our footsteps! Truly thanks for writing such a great and insightful guide, there is no way we would have discovered all the great things we did without it!

    • Thank you so much for all of the insightful comments on the trip. You don’t know how happy it made me to hear from someone that followed it and enjoyed it as much as you did! I really appreciate the support and the information you provided as I am sure other readers will as well. Keep exploring 🙂

  • Vegas2015

    I’m so grateful I found your site! It has given me a much clear picture of what to expect when I take the family on this road trip in June. Thank you so much for what you do. But I have one request… is there a site just like yours (explained in detail) but explains the Oregon coast? My final destination will be Portland. Once again, thanks. God bless.

    • Thanks for the comment and I am glad you enjoy the site! Unfortunately I am not aware of a site like mine for Oregon coast.

  • DMarie

    I am thrilled to have found your travel advice. It is EXACTLY what I was looking for. You have answered so many questions and making it so much easier to plan my trip. Question…. The time you list with each trip such as San Francisco to Mendocino is the just the actual driving time and then I need to add in the stops or is it calculated with both? I’m guessing it is just the driving time….but wanted to make sure. I am so excited for our trip now….you have kicked it off perfectly!

    • Thanks for the comment and I am glad you like the blog! Yes the driving time is without stopping. If you stop for places then you would add that to the driving time. Hope you have a fun adventure!

  • Annette Putnam

    I’m so happy to have stumbled upon your blog, thanks for sharing. I have a one week trip to Crescent City planned this summer for myself and my 6 and 8 year old girls. Do you think this is too long? We live in SF, and are looking forward to seeing the redwoods, beaches, etc. The more research I do, I’m finding out that people call it “Crescent Shitty”? I’d love to hear your honest opinion.

    • I have only spent a few days in Crescent City so I am not sure what I would recommend for a whole week. I would imagine you could spend days at the beach, explore the redwoods, drive to Oregon, etc, so I am sure you could find some stuff to fill your time. Also you could plan to spend a night in Mendocino and Eureka and explore those areas as well if you wanted. I have guides on the drives between those areas on the site as well. Hope that helps!

  • Angela Olguin

    Thanks so much for your awesome blog! I found your site when planning my roadtrip from SF to the Oregon border last summer. We stopped at many of the sites you recommended – Salt Point SP, Glass Beach, Avenue of the Giants, Richardson Grove SP, Trinidad Lighthouse, Fern Canyon, Crescent City Lighthouse, Patricks Point SP, Drive Thru Tree, and of course the Welcome to Oregon sign. The trip was amazing and now I always check your site when planning other CA roadtrips.

    • Thanks so much for sharing your comment and letting me know where you stopped! I am glad the post was able to help you have a great trip!

  • Thanks for this road trip! I’m planning a trip in that area this fall and your post was exactly the information I was looking for. 🙂

    • No problem, glad it was helpful!

  • Monica Hirtreiter

    Awesome info!!! Really like how you added a pic with all of your descriptions. Do you have any advise in terms of getting back down from doing San Francisco to let’s say maybe Brookings in Oregon?? Would like to come back a different way than heading back down Highway 1 & eventually would like to end up in Napa.

    • Thanks for the message! You can head back down the 101 and go through Santa Rosa, or you can head across and connect with the 5 down to Sacramento and over to Napa. It is out of the way but it is a much different way if you were looking for something like that. I would probably just stick with the 101 personally, maybe spend some time in Sonoma before Napa.

      • Monica Hirtreiter

        Thanks Josh! Keep up the good work with this website. Just looked at some of your other destinations & will be sure to check some of your other suggestions out. Happy holidays! 🙂

        • Thanks, will do! Merry Christmas to you as well!

  • Mili N Naca Goneyali

    Thanks for your recommendations, we are doing this trip this Summer& will be sure to check out most of the recommended places

  • Karen Karen

    Hi, I love your blog, it’s packed with so much detail.
    A quick question. I’m planning to stay a night in Eureka and then go on Jerry’s jet boat ride at noon the following day – in Gold Beach. If I drive there directly….would allowing 4 hours be safe?

    • Generally, 4 hours should be OK as I think Google says that is around 2 and a half without stopping. The roads can just be slow going in a few places if they are one lane and you get behind someone slow.

  • Arlene Cruz

    Very glad you posted your road trip, I’ve been on the computer all day planning our trip and when i saw your post it helped me plan this trip. We will be there july 4th thru the 10th and plan on going to see Fern Canyon and Crescent City I would also like to see Oregon on the way up. Feeling very excited about this trip I feel like a kid can’t wait to go, hopefully ill see Bigfoot somewhere lol, thanks again for your post. God Bless

    • Thanks for the comment, this is an awesome area to explore, I am sure you will love it!

  • Nancy M Winfield

    Thank you for this road trip. It made finding meaningful stops on our way Portland easy!

    • No problem, so glad the site was helpful!