Style, Decor & More: Favorite Stops and Hidden Gems On The Spectacular Oregon Coast

Favorite Stops and Hidden Gems On The Spectacular Oregon Coast



With its epic beaches, endless ocean views, and charming seaside towns, the Oregon Coast is one of the most stunning coastal drives in the world. Highway 101, also known as the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway, is arguably the best stretch of road on the Pacific Coast. Interestingly, it was declared by law in 1967 that the 363-mile stretch of coastline is public land and forever The People's Coast.  


Astoria, OregonWe drove approximately three hours southwest to the town of Astoria, Oregon to begin our trip down the coast. Astoria sits at the mouth of the mighty Columbia River and is historically known for where the Lewis & Clark expedition spent their winter at Fort Clatsop. History buffs will want to stop at the Lewis & Clark National Park for an insightful glimpse into the past with a replica of the fort, candlemaking, and park rangers dressed in period clothing. 

We arrived at Astoria around noon and took a leisurely stroll through town enjoying the riverfront and looking for a place to eat. I did some research before the trip on dining options and we ended up eating at Buoy Beer Co. Buoy is a restaurant that prides itself on handcrafted beer and food with a unique twist. The restaurant sits on the water in a 90+year old former cannery building. The weather was sunny and in the mid-'70s when we visited and the large patio doors were open to al fresco dining. We were excited at the first opportunity to have a bowl of chowder on the Pacific coast. At first, I was a little disappointed that it was made with bits of bacon (I don't eat pork) but ordered it anyway and it didn't disappoint. My son ordered one of the handcrafted beers and enjoyed it, so it must good taste good. In all seriousness, he has an appreciation and taste for fine food and drinks, unlike anyone I know.


During lunch, we could hear seals barking and asked our server where we could find the seals. She pointed to the back of the restaurant past the host/greeting area and told us to take a peek around the corner. After lunch, we walked toward the back of the restaurant and to our surprise, we saw a large plexiglass floor with seals resting on a large rock below the restaurant floor. (See far right photo above). The sea lions are quite a spectacle and entertained us and a few other families who gathered to watch them. Kudos to Buoy Beer for installing the see-through floor.


Ecola State Park was our first stop on this coastal trip and arguably one of the most dramatic Oregon coastal vistas! Ecola State Park stretches along nine miles of coastline and offers outstanding recreation and sightseeing opportunities, and their trails offer cliffside views of secluded coves, lush forest capes, and even a long-abandoned lighthouse. On the drive up to the lookout, we were surprised to find ourselves immersed into a world of tropical ferns and towering redwoods - like something out of a Jurassic World movie. It's a short, fun drive for young and old alike.

You will want to keep a watchful eye for wildlife such as deer, elk, and eagles at the park on the trails and off the road, as we were lucky to spot an eagle perched on a branch near the entrance.

Also, if ghost stories are your cup of tea, Tillamook Rock Lighthouse, viewed from Ecola State Park, will pique your interest. Lore has it, that the abandoned lighthouse (above right), a mile away from shore, is haunted. Spooky stories of ghost ships appearing in the fog and claims of voices heard in the darkest areas of the lighthouse, are just some of the eerie tales told.  

Ecola State Park has an entrance fee of $5 per vehicle and is without a doubt a must-see coastal stop


Rockaway Beach. Our first night traveling down the coast, we stayed at Silver Sands Motel in Rockaway Beach. This clean, unassuming motel sits right on the ocean and invites you to sit back, breathe deep, and relax. Every ocean-front room at the motel has a view of the famous seven-mile beach. Rockaway Beach is known for its beautiful sunsets and we were lucky enough to view a spectacular sunset when we were there. There were also very few people on the beach so it seemed as if Mother Nature was treating us to a personal showing. That night we opened the window in our room and were lulled to sleep by the crashing waves.

Rockaway Beach is very laid back and shopping and restaurants are only a short walk from the motel. We dined at Sand Dollar Restaurant which has a spectacular ocean view and serves up cod tacos, burgers, and clam chowder in a bread bowl, to name a few dishes. Even pets have their choice from grilled specialties on the menu! When we dined, a few furry customers were waiting on their orders, too. Overall, the food was good but the service was incredibly slow. We waited about an hour to receive our food which normally, would not have been a problem given the amazing view and relaxed vibe of the seaside restaurant. However, we arrived late at the motel and really wanted to walk the beach before dark. Unfortunately, we missed our chance for beachcombing at Rockaway, but we did capture the amazing sunset. 

EDITOR'S TIP: I would definitely recommend staying in Rockaway Beach. Yes, the town of Cannon Beach has a world of charm and the beach is absolutely stunning but if you are looking for solitude or watching your pocketbook, Rockaway Beach is your best bet and is a short half-hour drive south of Cannon Beach.

Rocky Creek State Scenic Viewpoint Pull-Off. Depoe Bay is where we spotted whales immediately off Highway 101! We would have missed this amazing experience it if it were not for the kind woman who walked over to us and asked if we saw the whales. She could see we were heading back to our car without a clue as to what was happening out on the horizon. She enthusiastically told us to look out in the distance and watch for sprays from the blowholes. Honestly, I didn't expect to see anything but then I saw it! Spouts of water shooting up from the ocean! OMG, I shrieked! First, we saw the spray of water, followed by a hump, and then a whale tail! For someone who grew up in Ohio and never saw a whale outside of Sea World, the experience was absolutely magical. Of course, a video never does justice to real-life, but I had to share...  

     

Devil's Punchbowl

Otter Crest Loop is a hidden gem well worth a slight detour off Highway 101. Breathtaking views are plentiful as the road cuts in close to the shoreline. It's too bad we missed Devil's Punchbowl at high tide but it was beautiful nonetheless.


Yaquina Head Lighthouse is accessible through Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area which has an interpretive center for those who want to see exhibits on seabirds and marine life as well as the history of Yaquina headland. The lighthouse offers tours inside and there are stairs to the beach for those interested in tide-pooling. However, I was a bit disappointed with the "beach" area. It was filled with large round black stones that made it extremely difficult to walk and I never saw so many flies in my life. Unless you are obsessed with lighthouses like I am, you may want to skip this stop. You can find plenty of opportunities for tide pooling down the coast. The fee to enter is $7 per vehicle.



Heceta Head Lighthouse Lookout Point is a scenic pull-off on Highway 101 located on a curve/bend in the road shortly after going through the Florence tunnel (heading south on Highway 101). The Heceta Head Lighthouse is working lighthouse and casts its beams of light some 21 miles out to sea.  Visitors can also tour the lightkeeper's home or stay in one of the cottages. Look for the turn off about one-half mile away from Sea Lion Caves. 


The Oregon Dunes National Recreation Visitor Center in Reedsport is a fun stop for those of us who love put our toes in the sand. I don't know why I was the only one in the car who wanted to get out and run to the dunes? Ha! In my opinion, it is a must-see if you have never seen sand dunes elsewhere.


If you are beginning your trip in Astoria and wondering if you should head as far south as Bandon, the answer is yes, yes, and yes! Bandon is a quaint town and wasn't crowded at all when we visited toward the end of August. Coos Bay which is just before Bandon also has excellent tide pooling. We stayed at the cutest motel called the Lamplighter Inn and while it was nothing fancy, the room was very clean, affordable, and spacious. Our room was decorated with seaside decor that made it feel very cozy. We strolled through the Old Town and dined at an Italian restaurant because the kids were craving pasta but I would have loved to try some of the seafood restaurants in Bandon's Old Town. 
      
Well, that sums up our favorite stops and hidden gems on the Oregon Coast. When planning your Oregon Coastal trip, keep in mind that you do not need to stop at every park and beach. There's nothing wrong with passing up a few sites if you are having fun hiking on a trail or beachcombing along the shore. Go with the flow and enjoy every moment. You are making memories and that's what the trip is all about.

  xoxo,




36 comments :

  1. I have been to Oregon a lot but I obviously I need to go back. There is SO many more places to explore. What a beautiful state.

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    1. Hi Jeanette! It's amazing. We could have easily spent 10 days on the coast. There is so much to discover. From tide pools to hiking trails to hidden beaches - amazing!

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  2. Wow what a beautiful location the Oregon coastline looks like. It always amazes me all the different sorts of beaches are out there and the views they give.

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    1. Hi Sarah, The Oregon coast is absolutely gorgeous and there are just so many vistas it would probably take a good month to really discover the entire length of the coast.
      Thanks for stopping by!

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  3. Gorgeous. I have always wanted to go to Oregon with my family. One day, I hope! I'd love to see the lighthouse.

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    1. You'd love it! There are plenty of lighthouses on the Oregon coast. Even haunted lighthouses (so they say, lol)
      Thanks for stopping by!

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  4. We've been to a lot of places, but haven't made it to Oregon yet. I would love to spend some time traveling the coast, soaking in all of that nature beauty. I am also obsessed with lighthouses, so I'd totally pay the $7 fee to check them out!

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    1. You'd love it, Theresa. It was our first time in Oregon and definitely worth the 5-hour trip across the country. There are so many lighthouses and vistas with stunning views.
      Thanks for stopping by!

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  5. I want to go! This is so many childhood images from movies that I would like to see in person.

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    1. Hi Rachel, It's amazing. Hope you have a chance to go!

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  6. We love the Oregon coast and our looking forward to visiting there next summer. We're going to a different one Umpqua Lighthouse Park. We stayed there years ago and I'm hoping that we can stay there again. (Rena)

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    1. Sounds wonderful, Rena! We didn't make it to see Umpqua but I'm sure it is stunning, too! :) So many places and so little time. :)

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  7. This is indeed a type of holiday I've been longing for. It is mellow and particuarly very quiet. I can't watit to try and pay a visit.

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    1. Hi Ruth! A definite must-see you will want to add to your bucket list!
      Thanks for stopping by!
      nancy

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  8. wow! This is a place where I've never been. But i should visit it one day!

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    1. Hi Gust! Definitely! It is a must-see, bucket list trip!

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  9. I haven't ever gone to Oregon, looks like there is much to enjoy on the Oregon coast. Thankful for a resource of what to enjoy in this area of the UNited STates.

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    1. It's amazing, Brandy. I don't think Oregon promotes their coast enough - it's absolutely stunning!

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  10. I've never been to Oregon before. So much to see and do. Thanks for sharing your experience.

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    1. Hi Tasheena! It should be on everyone's bucket list. Absolutely stunning views and beaches!

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  11. Wow, those are some beautiful photos. I've never been to Oregon before. One of the many places I'd love to visit though.

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    1. Definitely worth seeing if you love to travel to beautiful beaches with coastal views.

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  12. Oh my goodness I haven't been to Oregon in 20 years but I remember that highway so well! I need to get back there! Your photos are fantastic!

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    1. Thanks Kimberly! I'm glad you got to experience the coast! Loved it!

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  13. I love the Pacific Northwest. This sounds like a fun and beautiful trip.

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  14. I just shared pictures from my family's trip to the Oregon coast. We spent a week in Winchester Bay and loved it! My husband and I often talk about retiring there. Beautiful pics of beautiful places. Thanks for the great list.

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    1. Wouldn't that be a dream to retire there, Traci? Wow! I have to check out your trip!

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  15. These photos are absolutely breathtaking. I have never been to Oregon but I'd love to visit one day. It's my dream to visit as many states as possible.

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    1. Hi Jenn, That's a great bucket list goal. I'm going to do it, too. Better get busy! :)

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  16. Looks like I need to plan a trip to the Oregon Coast ASAP! It looked beautiful :)

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    1. Thanks, Amanda. It was amazing! Get it on your bucket list.

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  17. I've been to Oregon but didn't get a chance to explore the coast! My family will have a family reunion in Oregon next year.

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    1. That's exciting that you're having a family reunion, Rika. I would definitely try to drive to the coast and see as much as you can when you are there. Cannon Beach is very popular and absolutely beautiful. It's only about 1.5 hours from Portland and a must-see if you are there.
      Thanks for stopping by!

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  18. Reading this makes me interested on visiting oregon. Hopefully in the future I can experience being in that place too.

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    1. It was our first time in Oregon, Jona. It's an beautiful coastline to discover! If you have the chance, it is definitely worth seeing.
      Thanks for stopping by!
      Nancy

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