My First Solo Road Trip From CA To OR With Valentine! Itinerary, Tips, & Highlights

Watch my second vlog that documents our drive from Torrance, CA to Sunriver, OR:

My FIRST Solo Road Trip From CA to OR With My Dog! Beginning Our New Nomadic Life

Here's a recap of the first leg of our new adventure including the itinerary, how the drive was, a few tips I found helpful, and highlights!

If you're new here or would like a little bit of background, in October of 2023 my senior pup Valentine (16 years) and I (39 years) set off on an indefinite road trip in the US to wander, explore, see if anywhere feels like home, and to visit different parts of the country we've never been to before! You can watch my first vlog here, read about how I came to this decision, and how I prepared to leave

If you'd like to see more posts & vlogs about our travel adventures, please click here.


  • I put my itinerary together by figuring out my final destination and mapping the drive from my house so I could see how long it would take. Then I broke the drive into chunks (based on how long I think we could be in the car and not wanting to drive at night), researched the cities where I could stay at, and picked my AirBnBs. Once I had my AirBnBs I went back and filled in the details of finding places to stop at on the way to each one.
  • Most of my stops are dog-friendly bathroom spots and parks in case Val needed a break (my life whether I'm road tripping or not revolves around her :))
  • I found places at about every hour or so of the drive just in case Valentine needed to get out of the car and I could quickly put something into my GPS. I went in knowing I wouldn't need all the stops but I'd rather have more and skip it then be stuck trying to find a place in the middle of an unknown area.
  • I was trying to get to Sunriver quickly (I didn't want to take more time off from Atiliay and my day job) however if you have time, you can definitely take longer and enjoy more of the stops along the way!
  • Anything in grey italics I ended up not stopping at, most likely because Valentine was sleeping so I kept driving! So I can't say if they are good stops or not.
  • The total number of miles from Los Angeles, CA to Sunriver, OR is about 817 miles and it takes about 13 1/2 hours.

Beautiful first bathroom break in Santa Barbara!


    • Santa Barbara
      • Shoreline Park
        Shoreline Dr and Santa Rosa Pl, Santa Barbara, CA 93109
    • San Luis Obispo
      • Lunch: Ziggy’s
        594 California Blvd, San Luis Obispo, CA 93405
      • Sinsheimer Park
        900 Southwood Dr, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
    • King City
      • I stopped here for gas
    • Carmel By The Sea
      • Carmel River Beach
        26478 Carmelo St, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923
      • Dinner
    • Aptos
      • AirBnB

So sad we got to Carmel late but still checked out the beach and here are a few snaps from our AirBnB


    • Lunch in NorCal at my lovely friend Ellen's
    • San Francisco
      • Ferry Building Marketplace with my long time IG friend Shay
        One Ferry Building, San Francisco, California 94111
    • Davis
      • UC Davis Arboretum / Wyatt Pavilion Theater
        Wyatt Deck, Arboretum Dr, Davis, CA 95616
    • Chico
      • Lower Bidwell Park
        South Park Drive, Chico, CA 95928
    • Redding
      • Sundial Bridge
        Sacramento River Trail, Redding, CA 96001
        (I ended up going here the next morning when I left the AirBnB since I got to the area too late and it was on the way to the freeway!)
      • AirBnB

Lunch with Ellen and San Fran with Shay!

Walking around UC Davis Arboretum

267 MILES, 4 1/2 HOURS

Valentine slept for the whole entire drive so I ended up not stopping anywhere!

    • Mount Shasta
      • Mt Shasta City Park
        1315 Nixon Rd Mount Shasta, CA 96067
    • Klamath Falls
      • Francis Landrum Historic Wayside, Klamath Falls, OR 97603 
    • Chiloquin
      • Collier Memorial State Park
        46000 US-97, Chiloquin, OR 97624
    • La Pine
      • Oregon Outback Scenic Byway
        50694 OR-31, La Pine, OR 97739
    • Sunriver
      • AirBnB

Quick stop at the Sundial Bridge and met some friends!

We arrived at our lovely AirBnB in Sunriver!


Overall the drive went smoothly and I found it to be pretty easy--there were no dangerous areas or very windy roads, we didn't hit bad weather or rough driving conditions. The roads were all well paved, wide, and easy to drive on. (This was something I was wondering when I was researching my route!)

When I was driving through San Marcos Pass, there were a few areas where the roads did wind a little and you were a little bit closer to the edge of the road but it was nothing stressful or scary at all and there were some really beautiful views! 

The area that was my favorite was along Klamath Lake which after you cross into Oregon (I'm pretty sure that's the right name for the body of water I'm thinking of--I looked at a map and this looks right!) You're on the side of a mountain but it's not scary at all and you're driving along the water that's to your left. It was so pretty--I wish I wasn't driving so I could get some photos/videos of this. But you'll just have to go and see for yourself :)

Keep in mind I do drive a lot and it's something I'm comfortable with. Also I set off on this road trip on Oct 1st and the weather was still mild/nice.

If you've never done a solo road trip, I personally would recommend this drive, especially if you've already driven up north to Santa Barbara or San Francisco as you'll be passing through familiar territory. Keep in mind the season you'll be driving in and how that may affect your trip. Also check out the map and see what routes you can take and what you would be most comfortable with. 

I also wanted to mention I used the Waze app for navigating. I feel like you either love it or hate it but I've used it for years and it's worked for me!


1. Get Your Car Checked Out Before Your Road Trip

You can skip this if you just had your car in for maintenance, but if you haven't I highly recommend going in to get an oil change (if needed), get all your fluids topped off, and tires checked / rotated (if needed). If you are in the Southern CA South Bay area, I HIGHLY recommend Tim at Promise Auto in Gardena! My family has been going there for years. They are trustworthy, affordable, and very helpful. Doing this gives you extra peace of mind and gets your car ready for the trip ahead! PS: Having AAA also gives me peace of mind! 

2. Get A Black Tablecloth To Cover Your Belongings

If you're also traveling with a lot of stuff like me or moving and your car is packed, getting a black tablecloth to cover your bins and bags helps make everything less visible! I have a PriusC so it's really easy to look into the windows and having everything covered in black made me feel a bit better about leaving my stuff in the car when I had to. From afar you can't tell the car is packed and even passing by you might need to do a double take. People also can't see what's in there which hopefully is a deterrent to any window smash and grabbers. You can get a cheap one from Amazon, it doesn't need to be anything fancy and yardage of black fabric from a fabric store works too!

3. Over Plan 

I always think it's better to over plan and have more options than to have too little, especially on a road trip when unexpected things might happen or the timeline might change. Since I'm traveling with Valentine I also want to be prepared for her because if she decides she wants out of the car, she wants out ASAP!

4. Drive During The Day

Whether you're a solo female traveler or not, I think it's safer to drive during the day--if anything were to go wrong it's a lot easier to figure out where you are, get help, and most likely places will be open vs at night. You can also see where you're going better especially if the weather becomes grey and rainy. 

5. Get Gas During The Day

Again it feels safer, easier to find, and this way you know you'll be good for the later hours in case you do need to drive at night.

6. Pull Over At Scenic Stops

If you see a scenic area look for a rest stop! Who knows when you'll pass through again and even if you do, it'll never look exactly the same as it did before. I regret not doing this when driving through San Marcos Pass! Don't miss out and you can do a quick stop if you're worried about time.

7. Keep Your Pup's Food & Walk Schedule The Same

This has really helped with keeping Valentine happy on the road! Everyday she always expects a walk in the morning and in the evenings at around the same time. If I don't take her she gets wild so this has definitely helped keep the peace in the car and get her energy out. She also wants food at the same time which keeps her bathroom breaks on a schedule as well. I don't think it needs to be exact to the minute but somewhat in the same time frame has worked for us!

Don't forget to make sure you have plenty of food, medication, and treats for the trip or know where you can stop to get some if you need it. For medication if you can get a larger quantity from your vet, that can make things a lot easier!

And of course always have fresh water on hand too! I use a food container with a lid for the car because it prevents any spills from happening and keeps things dry (I don't like how some of the travel bowls don't have any lids so after using it you either have to wipe it dry or be OK with a little bit of water--which may not be a problem for you at all!) 

8. Keep Phone Numbers In Your Car

I don't know about you but ever since I got a cell phone, I do not have anyone's phone numbers memorized!! I keep a short list of some important numbers in my car so just in case my phone dies or I can't access numbers for whatever reason, I can still get in touch with who I need to!

9. Going To The Bathroom When Driving Solo With Your Dog

This actually wasn't difficult to do at all! I ended up finding parks and other places that were dog friendly and had bathrooms to stop at. Then I put Valentine in her stroller and would take her into the stalls with me (this way her feet wouldn't get dirty because having them touch public bathroom floors gross me out and I can wipe the stroller wheels). Some park bathroom stalls are made without doors so it helped to have Val and her stroller to block me.

You can also go to gas station bathrooms. As long as the area looks safe and it's not a hot day, usually it's not a problem to leave your dog in the car and use the bathroom quickly. I can be in and out in a few minutes. If you're worried about somebody breaking your car window for the safety of your dog, leave a note on the dash saying you are quickly using the restroom and leave your cell in case someone needs to reach you.

I've never had to do this but pet stores should be another bathroom option that is dog friendly! I've also read that certain stores have no problem with you taking your dog into the restroom with you (such as hardware stores) and I've heard this about Macy's too since they have a close relationship with the ASPCA but I would personally call ahead to make sure that particular location is OK with it!

Luckily I didn't have to use public bathrooms that often and was able to use the ones at the AirBnB or when I stopped at my friend's!


Some places I really enjoyed, felt safe at, are dog friendly, and would definitely go back and visit again!

  • Shoreline Park Santa Barbara is beautiful and this park offers an amazing view of the water! It also has a nice stretch of sidewalk for walking your dogs, grassy areas, playgrounds, and basic but clean no door bathrooms.

  • UC Davis Arboretum & Public Garden This place was more like a forest! It was nice to get out in nature after being in the car for several hours. There are paths to wander and a lot to explore and see! Finding the campus was not a problem but finding where to park to enter the forest was really confusing for me! My tip is to put in the Wyatt Theater into your GPS. This should take you to a large parking lot (it was free when I went) and put you close the bathroom (this is the address I provided above in the itinerary). I came here on a Sunday and the bathrooms were unfortunately closed! I'm not sure why though, if it was because it was Sunday or because there was construction happening.

  • Turtle Bay Exploration Park & The Sundial Bridge This was an awesome recommendation from my friend Ellen! It's really well kept and there was free parking that is a quick walk to the bridge. I didn't realize how big and nice this entire area was so didn't plan to be there long but wish we could've spent more time there! There were lots of dog walkers too and Valentine enjoyed meeting new people and doggy friends :)


If you're thinking about going on a road trip, I hope this post encourages you to go for it and gives you some helpful insight! 

So far I've really enjoyed it and proud of myself for deciding to set off on this new adventure!

We are staying in Oregon for 10 days before heading up to Washington. I can't wait to share more about this Pacific Northwest leg of our indefinite road trip!

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