Did you know that although "Twilight," the first episode in the same-named movie saga was set in Forks, Washington, it was actually filmed in Oregon and southwest Washington?
I have two teen daughters and we are a family of Twi-hards – don’t tell anyone that my husband enjoys - (OK, tolerates) the movies as well. To celebrate my youngest daughter V’s 13th birthday, we went on a "Twilight" road trip. Our mission was to search out filming locations for "Twilight," the first movie in the "Twilight" saga, and she wasn’t the only one excited.
V is a sweet little girl, now teenager, who happens to have a few challenges. She’s blind, can’t walk, but communicates in her own way, and loves to be a part of the action. She was excited when I mentioned the idea of a "Twilight" road trip, but honestly I wasn’t sure how she would handle all of the driving and changes of location and if this trip would actually resonate with her. Turns out she had a wonderful time and especially enjoyed engaging with others about our adventure. She couldn’t wait to take a slide show with voiceover that we made and added to her iPad to school to share. Travel not only opens the world to her, it gives her a way to connect with other people. That is priceless to me.
Day 1: Locations for Port Angeles, Bella’s house and the exterior School of Dance and Forks High School scenes
We left the Seattle-area Friday afternoon, as soon as our daughters were out of school. Our first stop was Bella’s house located in St. Helens, Oregon, about 2 hours 45 minutes from Seattle and 40 minutes from Portland. In addition to Bella’s house, the "Port Angeles" scenes were filmed here, which included "Petite Jolie," the shop where Bella helps Jessica and Angela find their prom dresses, the parking lot where Edward rescued Bella from a group of boys, the Bloated Toad restaurant where Edward revealed his mind-reading abilities, and Thunderbird & Whale bookstore.
As we turned the corner toward Bella’s house, we strained to look up the road, not knowing what to expect. We drove past the house and turned around at the end of the road, then snapped a few photos drive-by style, never getting out of our car. It looked just like it did in the movie, with the exception of a friendly note on the tree in front of the house, reminding us that it is a private residence, not to peek in windows. Visiting a film location like this is a lot different than visiting a studio set; people actually live here, which kind of made us feel like the paparazzi. At first this made us all a little uneasy, but honestly it didn’t take long for us to all really get in to it. After we had toured the rest of St. Helens and were comfortable with the whole stalking thing, it was actually my husband that suggested we go back and get a picture with us standing in front of the house.
After seeing the Twilight sites in St. Helens, Oregon we retraced our path up to the Lewis and Clark Bridge and crossed back into Washington. Bridges across the Columbia are few and far between, and after doing some research I found that is was indeed faster to double back 30-ish minutes to cross the Columbia River the same way we came to continue to Portland. An added bonus, Kalama High School, used for the outside scenes of Forks High School, was an easy stop right on the way.
With the sun beginning to set, we headed into Portland for our final stop of the day, the site of Mimi’s School of Dance. The scene in Twilight with the final confrontation between Edward and James takes place at the ballet studio from Bella’s childhood. In the movie this is set in Arizona, but the exterior shots for the movie were filmed at the Yale Union Laundry Building building in Portland.
A few short minutes later and across the Willamette River, we pulled up the Portland Hotel Monaco, our accommodations for the night. The Hotel Monaco is a luxury hotel with a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor. The furnishings were classic and comfortable, incorporating fun colors and patterns. The Monaco is kid-friendly, pet-friendly, and located in the center of Downtown Portland. We were happy to relax and enjoy the evening with dinner by room service. While we were there, we found out that the cast of "Twilight" stayed there during the filming of the movie. What a fun coincidence!
Day 2: Locations for café, prom and Cullen’s house exterior scenes
After a restful night of sleep and a relaxing morning, we were back on the road to our next stop: the Carver Café, where Bella and her dad ate dinner a couple of times. It looked exactly like it did in the movie, but don’t expect to order Charlie’s favorites, those items aren’t on the menu. What was on the menu were chocolate chip pancakes and bacon - my daughters loved them!
Back on the road, we were headed to the View Point Inn, the scene of Bella and Edward’s prom. Unfortunately the View Point Inn had a fire last year, but the stunning views of the Columbia Gorge remain. I spoke to Geoff Thompson, owner of the Inn, who told me that they would finally start rebuilding this month, with plans to re-open in fall.
After exploring the View Point Inn and some of the Columbia Scenic Highway, we made our way back to Portland to see the Cullen's house, home to Edward and his vampire family. Driving through the idyllic hillside neighborhood consisting primarily of Craftsman and Old Portland-style homes, the Cullen’s house was a stark contrast with its sleek, modern design. There is a family that lives here, they welcome Twilight fans to take photos, but ask that you stay at the end of their drive way. You can still see plenty from this vantage point.
Now mid-afternoon, we had enjoyed seeing the sites, but were ready to head to the last destination on our list, and one of our favorite places to visit: Cannon Beach. Located an hour and a half from Portland, Canon Beach is beautiful, relaxing and a welcome way to wrap up our Twilight Road Trip. We pulled up next to the lovely Ocean Lodge at Cannon Beach where we were staying and soaked in the fresh salt air, warm sunshine and incredible views. My daughter wasn’t up for going out to dinner, so we got take out and sat out on our veranda with better seats than any restaurant could provide.
Day 3: Location for La Push surfing and beach scene
Another surprise when doing my research for our "Twilight" movie road trip – the La Push beach scenes were actually filmed over 200 miles away at Indian Beach just north of Cannon Beach. The path to get down to the beach is not accessible; it is very uneven and peppered with large rocks and tree roots, then, when you think you are almost there, you find yourslef at the top of a long, narrow flight of stairs. In interest of through investigating, we did make it down to the beach, but it wasn't easy. There is a view point from the parking lot with an amazing view of the beach - It’s a fun place to watch surfers. The other beach in this state park has paved paths. Even from the parking lots, the stunning views are worth the trip.
After a late lunch and a little shopping in Cannon Beach, we stopped by Bruce’s Candy Shop for road trip sustenance – our family tradition. Then we headed back home, full of conversation for a memorable 13th road trip birthday.
For more photos and details, visit my website at www.specialneedstravelmom.com
Disclaimer: Hotel Monaco Portland and Ocean Lodge at Cannon Beach provided my family and I with a night stay for our hotel review. The opinions and experiences are my own.
Karin Sheets is a techie, travel writer and mother of two teens, one of them with special needs. She encourages all families to live the adventure of life. Her personal blog is www.specialneedstravelmom.com and you can follow her @ionMyAdventures on Twitter or www.facebook.com/SpecialNeedsTravelMom.