What makes Oregon’s coast special – very, very special actually – is that all 363 miles of it is public and protected so by law. There’s no span of private ownership, so every beach is open to the public, every city and town perched on this lovely stretch of ocean allows locals and visitors to enjoy the shore unobstructed. It’s incredible, hence why they call it The People’s Coast, with so many nice places to stop and visit. Here are a few of the best… spare plenty of time and enjoy a roadtrip to any of these great things to do on the Oregon Coast!
(On this itinerary, we’re heading north to south.)
Be a Goonie in Astoria
Famous as the backdrop for the cult classic film The Goonies, Astoria has some wonderful coastal backdrops. But the area has a lot more going for it than the Goonies; there’s also a very interesting maritime museum, an area where you get up close and personal with the seals, and also the famous Astoria Column, which offers you 360 degree views for miles.
Walk the Boardwalk in Seaside
This is one of first towns to be established as an ocean “resort” destination, in the mid 1800s. It’s very well known by Oregonians for the fabulous 1.5 mile boardwalk promenade, great for strolling, running, biking, riding in a pedal cart, or just sitting and admiring the view.
Sample Tillamook Ice Cream and Cheese Curds
If you don’t live in the Pacific Northwest, you might not have heard of Tillamook, or might not recognize that their stupendous products are made here on the Oregon coast. I love their ice cream and their cheese, so exploring the short factory tour followed by a tasting session of both cheese AND ice cream is a must. What’s fun is that they have all their cheese (in case you can’t get all of it where you live), and ALL the types of ice cream, including special flavors only found here. Heck yes, what more can you ask for? (The tour and cheese samples are free, there’s a small fee for ice cream. My fave flavor? Sticky bun. Just sayin’….)
Climb the Dune in Pacific City
Oh, Pacific City, you’re so cute. This might be my favorite place on the Oregon Coast – it’s great just to relax and soak up some coastal lifestyle. Love the big rock here (similar to Cannon Beach, another great nearby town), tons of wonderful accommodation options here, and you can’t miss the Pelican Pub with their own great beer and food, plus they offer takeout beer to bring to your room! But before you do that, hike up the massive sand dune for the killer view you see above.
Fly a Kite in Lincoln City
They’ve call Lincoln City the Kite Capital of the World as it’s home to two of the world’s largest kite festivals, so release your inner child and go fly a kite! There’s something about its location on the 45th parallel that makes it so windy. Lincoln City is also home to the shortest river in the world, the D River. For a romantic stop, head up to Roads End State Recreation Site.
Go Whale Watching in Depoe Bay
Whale watching is a popular sport on many parts of the coast, but if you’re wanting a guaranteed good experience, Depoe Bay is probably your best bet – they call it the whale watching capital! Because of the massive sea wall along the city coast, Depoe Bay is also a great place to watch sea storms and see the ocean rage against the coast.
Drink Beer, Eat Fish in Newport
One of the most popular stops along the coast, Newport definitely takes top marks for food and beverage. I’ll leave it for you to argue whether Georgie’s Beachside Grill or Mo’s have the best clam chowder, but there’s also Rogue Brewery here, who makes some tasty brews. No matter what, don’t go hungry while you enjoy this scenic spot, complete with a wonderful aquarium, kitsch shops, and the wonderful Yaquina Head lighthouse.
See Sea Caves and Sea Lions in Florence
Originally a mill town, old Florence is now a tiny tourist destination, with a beautiful covered bridge nearby, and the popular Sea Lion Caves, the world’s largest sea cave. As you can see above, they also have quite memorable sunsets.
Admire the View in Coos Bay
Coos Bay is surrounded by outdoor adventures – Oregon Dunes National Recreational Area, Shores Acres South Park, the beautiful and bustling harbor in nearby Charleston and Shore Acres State Park. You’ll never run out of trails, beaches, parks and views.
Spot Cranberries and Sea Rocks in Bandon
Bandon has some cute shops in the Old Town, golf is an option too, and the scenery here is very rugged and gorgeous (a great spot for storm watching as the waves crash on the shore). Bandon is Oregon’s Cranberry capital, so you’ll see the “bogs” of berries along the coastal highway.
Soak up the Sun in Gold Beach
Almost your last place to stop on the Oregon Coast, they say that Gold Beach has more hours of sun than anywhere on the Oregon OR the Washington coast. It’s a cute, quiet place with lots of hiking trails and open space to just relax and enjoy the fresh air. Cause, that’s just how they roll in Oregon – the outdoors seem to speak for themselves.
Once you cross the Oregon border south, you’re in California. Then you can pick up with our suggested stops on the Pacific Coast Highway.
Special thanks to the Central Oregon Visitors Association, Oregon Coast Visitors Association, Travel Oregon, Evergreen Escapes, and all of our hosts along the coast for showing us this part of the country. Learn more about our editorial policy on sponsored trips here.
Photo Credits: by Author and Oregon Coast Visitors Association.