Thursday, March 22, 2012

Oregon offers 'exciting' Spring Break road trip

By Jen Jepsen, Guest Travel Columnist

What do “The Goonies,” “Free Willy,” artisan cheese shops, beachside cliffs and the Overlook Hotel from “The Shining” have in common? Oregon.

For an exciting alternative spring break trip, grab some friends, pack some sleeping bags, buy some groceries and explore the film star side of our neighbor state while tracing its iconic coastline down Highway 101.

First stop: Astoria, Oregon. Set along the coast, Astoria is a quaint coastal town that has hosted the sets of “Short Circuit,” “Kindergarten Cop”and “Free Willy.”

More importantly, you can visit the iconic house of Mikey and Brandon from ‘The Goonies” or go to the beach where you can look for “Free Willy” among the other wildlife in the bay.

Now that you’re on the coast, head down Highway 101 and enjoy some of the best scenic roadways in the West. From Haystack Rock to the cliffs of Coos Bay,there’s nothing quite like the dramatic sea bluffs and meandering beaches of the Oregon coast.

Camping offers a variety of overnight options at very affordable prices,costing less than $17 a night at state parks.

Along the way down, check out the Tillamook factory, home to more types of cheese than you thought were possible and every Tillamook product in their stock.

After touring the factory, be prepared to sample more than 30 types of ice cream, from Sticky Bun to Mountain Huckleberry, in their creamery.

A little less sweet, the sea-side town of Newport further down the 101 is home to the lighthouse from the infamous horror flick ‘The Ring.”

The Yaquina Head Lighthouse stands alone on the coastal bluffs that overlook, giving it its creepy, isolated appearance. Nearby, Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area offers nearly a mile’s worth of tide pools to checkout as well.

To continue with the movie theme, head inland up the I-5 to Timberline Lodge, the set of the Overlook Hotel in “The Shining.”

Enjoy a springtime walk around the grounds and have some drinks by the famous fireplace, hopefully bypassing haunted room number 237 along the way.       

A final stop in Portland rounds out the trip as the home of “The Simpsons” and the Portland Farmers Market.

While walking downtown, see how many Simpsons signs you can pick out and keep an eye out for streets that double as character names, such as Flanders St., Quimby and Lovejoy.

The lesser-known farmers market on Saturdays, open March through December, offers several stalls worth of local artisan cheeses unique to Oregon.

Grab a few friends to share the trip with and you’ve got the recipe for a spring break your friends will be jealous of — at budget prices.

Splitting the cost with friends makes it surprisingly affordable while sharing food, lodging and gas.

Expect to pay $100-$150 or less and to have an unforgettable week making your own silver-screen worthy memories.

Jen Jepsen is a senior English major at Pacific Lutheran University officially diagnosed with a bad case of wanderlust. Aside from travel and photography, her pastimes include dancing, hiking, Bananagrams and being vegetarian.