Oregon’s coast reminds me a lot of my home region of New England: foggy, perpetually damp, vibrantly green, and filled with tiny fishing villages. Not so much in terms of weather — New England isn’t as wet — but they share a spirit. Like there, seafood reigns supreme, towns are small and close-knit, and the people are tough and welcoming.
After driving this section of the Pacific coast twice, I can confidently say that it is one of the most scenic in the country. While the distance from Astoria in the north to Brookings in the south looks vast on a map, it’s not: you can actually drive along the region’s spine, Route 101, from end to end in a day.
The Oregon Coast is one of the most beautiful and scenic regions in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. Stretching over 363 miles, it is known for its rugged coastline, sandy beaches, and picturesque coastal towns. The area boasts of numerous state parks, lighthouses, and natural landmarks that make it an ideal destination for visitors. Whether you are an outdoor enthusiast, history buff, or just looking for a relaxing getaway, the Oregon Coast has something for everyone. In this article, we will take a closer look at the 13 best things to see and do on the Oregon Coast.
- Visit the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area
The Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area is a 40-mile-long stretch of sand dunes that extends from Florence to Coos Bay. The area provides a unique opportunity for visitors to experience the largest expanse of coastal sand dunes in North America. You can explore the dunes on foot, horseback, or by taking a dune buggy tour.
- Take a stroll through Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area
Located near Newport, Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area is a great place to take a walk and explore the rugged coastline. Visitors can also take a tour of the Yaquina Head Lighthouse, which has been in operation since 1873.
- Explore the Oregon Coast Aquarium
The Oregon Coast Aquarium is located in Newport and is home to over 15,000 marine animals, including sea otters, seals, and sea lions. Visitors can also watch a feeding session at the aquarium’s underwater tunnels.
- Visit Cannon Beach
Cannon Beach is one of the most popular destinations on the Oregon Coast. It is home to Haystack Rock, a 235-foot-tall monolith that towers above the beach. The beach also has numerous art galleries, shops, and restaurants.
- Hike the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area
The Cape Perpetua Scenic Area is located near Yachats and is home to numerous hiking trails. Visitors can explore the rugged coastline, old-growth forests, and tide pools. The area also has a visitor center where you can learn more about the local flora and fauna.
- Take a tour of the Heceta Head Lighthouse
The Heceta Head Lighthouse is located near Florence and is one of the most photographed lighthouses on the Oregon Coast. Visitors can take a tour of the lighthouse and learn more about its history.
- Visit the Tillamook Cheese Factory
The Tillamook Cheese Factory is located in Tillamook and is a popular destination for cheese lovers. Visitors can take a self-guided tour of the factory and watch the cheese-making process in action. The factory also has a store where you can purchase Tillamook cheese and ice cream.
- Explore the Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint
The Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint is located near Tillamook and is home to the Cape Meares Lighthouse. Visitors can also explore the nearby old-growth forest and walk to the “Octopus Tree,” a giant Sitka spruce that has multiple trunks.
- Take a whale-watching tour
The Oregon Coast is a great place to spot gray whales as they migrate along the Pacific coast. Numerous companies offer whale-watching tours, where you can spot these majestic creatures in their natural habitat.
- Visit the Sea Lion Caves
The Sea Lion Caves are located near Florence and are home to a colony of sea lions. Visitors can take an elevator down to the cave and observe the sea lions in their natural habitat.
- Explore the Coquille River Lighthouse
The Coquille River Lighthouse is located in Bandon and is one of the few lighthouses in the country that
is still operational. Visitors can take a tour of the lighthouse and learn about its history, as well as enjoy the views from the top.
- Go crabbing or fishing
The Oregon Coast is a great place for crabbing and fishing, with numerous opportunities to catch salmon, halibut, and other fish. Visitors can also rent equipment and charter boats for a guided fishing or crabbing trip.
- Visit the Tillamook Air Museum
The Tillamook Air Museum is located in Tillamook and is housed in a World War II-era blimp hangar. The museum features a collection of vintage aircraft, including the P-38 Lightning and the F4U Corsair.
In conclusion, the Oregon Coast is a treasure trove of natural wonders and cultural attractions. Whether you want to explore the sand dunes, hike the trails, or enjoy the scenic views from a lighthouse, there is something for everyone. With so much to see and do, the Oregon Coast is an ideal destination for a weekend getaway or a longer vacation. So, pack your bags and get ready to explore this beautiful region on the Pacific Northwest coast.