Oregon Coast Highlights?
July 17, 2016 6:34 AM   Subscribe

Hi all! We are driving from PDX to Southwest OR in early August. We'll have time for one or maybe two good stops, and since it's my first time in OR, I would love to learn about good spots to include on our coastal drive.

Of special interest: a good town to stroll in, experience a local atmosphere and have some lunch; maybe a historical or boat-related museum; and super scenic natural areas for leg stretching and touching toes to the Pacific. Thanks for any recommendations you have!
posted by Miko to Travel & Transportation around Oregon, OR (18 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
I just took a trip exactly like this in the late spring! it is all so beautiful and really not a long trip at all. we took a week and that was just fine.

A couple of highlights for Me: the International Rose Test Garden in Portland, the historic Columbia River Gorge highway loop around Mt. Hood and the Timberline lodge. On the coast itself--Cape Perpetua has beautiful views and trails to hike, and we especially loved the dune buggies at the Oregon Dunes recreational area.

Honestly, the whole drive is just gorgeous and there are tons of pull offs and things to see.
posted by Izzi at 6:47 AM on July 17, 2016

Oh man. That's a tough one. This is a trip I fly out to Oregon to do from time to time and I usually take about 2 weeks to do it...Cannon Beach is a great little town with a nice overlook you can drive to and see the faraway Tillamook lighthouse on the rocks out in the ocean. It also has the Haystack Rock which you can walk to at low tide. In the south I love the little town of Port Orford, and Bandon, a little north of there. Bandon has its Old Town with lots of shops, both towns have lighthouses and rocks and scenery and great beaches. Honestly I could go on all day but I won't because you don't have time to see all that.
posted by jenjenc at 6:48 AM on July 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

Newport and Yachats are both worth seeing. And the sea lion caves!
posted by rabbitrabbit at 7:05 AM on July 17, 2016

Oh yeah, definitely do the sea lion caves! Last time I was there there was a whale just hanging out. Also Florence is a nice town for a pit stop. And there's the Tillamook Cheese factory for some snacks.
posted by jenjenc at 7:43 AM on July 17, 2016

The Columbia River Maritime Museum in Astoria is worth visiting, and Astoria itself is great for a stroll along the river and through downtown.
posted by outfielder at 10:02 AM on July 17, 2016 [3 favorites]

How far south? There's the Oregon Dunes, Coquille River lighthouse and Cape Arago if you're going past Florence.
posted by fiercekitten at 10:05 AM on July 17, 2016

Yeah, the maritime museum in Astoria is worth a visit even though it isn't even remotely 'on the way' between PDX and southern Oregon.
posted by janell at 10:08 AM on July 17, 2016

The Oregon dunes are quite attractive and interesting, though spoiled a fair bit by people racing around madly on dune buggies. A few nice dunes are restricted to people on foot only.

There is also a nice lighthouse and hiking trails at Cape Perpetua.
posted by sindark at 10:15 AM on July 17, 2016

I did a similar trip a few years back (Seattle to SF). Here is my question about it.

+1 Cape Perpetua and the Dunes

If you're willing to keep going south of the border for 2 hours, I think that Eureka and Arcata California have exactly the vibe you're going for.

Not in your question, but the best steak I've ever had in my life was had (oddly enough) at Spinner's Seafood Steak & Chop House in Gold Beach.
posted by AFABulous at 10:52 AM on July 17, 2016

I haven't been I decades, but I had a wonderful 4th of July practically alone on the beach at Florence.
posted by terrapin at 11:04 AM on July 17, 2016

Good locally sourced food and beer at Seven Devils Brewery in Coos Bay! Cool people too! Sometimes live music.
posted by Lucky Bobo at 11:25 AM on July 17, 2016

Lewis & Clark National Historical State Parks and nearby Fort Stevens are both pretty great for both interesting history and Pacific ocean toe-touching.
posted by rtha at 11:44 AM on July 17, 2016

So, for lunch or dinner or a snack, hit up the Jetty Fishery. It always looks closed from the road, but they're probably open. They usually have a fire going, and you just grab some clams, they hand you a knife, and you crack them open and grill them up if that's your thing, or eat them raw with some hot sauce.

It's my absolute favorite spot on the coast for food. By and large, food on the coast (save a couple breweries, and ultra fancy spots) is kind of lackluster. This spot though.
posted by furnace.heart at 1:10 PM on July 17, 2016

straight out to Cannon Beach and south on 101 the whole way. Don't bother with planning stops, there are tons of little towns the whole way, just pull over when you go "wow!" or every fourth time or so.

I favor Netarts and the Three Capes region, which is the only coastal segment off 101. It's just south of Tillamook, which is a larger place and has non-coastal things such as the Cheese Factory and the air museum.

The Oregon Coast is the best coastal drive in the United States. Drive it, and drive it again, and do so after that. These are the words of a Washingtonian, Oregon's bitter regional rival.
posted by mwhybark at 5:34 PM on July 17, 2016 [3 favorites]

(well, bitter is to strong a word. astringent. sour is the wrong word too. determinate? siblingesque? fatuous?)
posted by mwhybark at 5:45 PM on July 17, 2016

The Yaquina Head lighthouse at Newport is the most easily accessible on the coast & the nearby (easy walking distance) cobble beach & tidepools are my favorite place on the Oregon coast. It's a state park with a very nice visitors center.

The seafood in Newport can't be beat & the Yaquina Bay bridge is marvelous. So is the state aquarium there - amongst the best I've seen.

Depoe Bay is a funny little town, but worth stopping at for a bit to get a load of the crazy-narrow harbor entrance.

The view from atop Cape Perpetua is the best on the entire pacific coast if the weather is good & there are good tidepools near there as well.

Sea Lion Cave is campy, touristy fun.

For a flat, sandy walkable beach, Yachats is very nice. There's a small river that outlets there & it makes a very picturesque cove.
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:03 PM on July 17, 2016 [2 favorites]

Newport has a fantastic aquarium you should check out!
posted by skycrashesdown at 6:10 AM on July 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

Nthing the Dunes! Florence is a neat little coastal town to eat in as well, plenty of delicious fish and chips.

The Sea Lion Caves are great too.

I have wonderful memories of Eureka and Arcata (CA).
posted by fraula at 1:36 PM on July 18, 2016

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