One of my earliest hobbies was collecting rocks. I remember well an Oregon Coast trip with my dad. We stopped at every beach and he let me dig away for agates to put in my rock tumbler. We often headed to the Oregon coast as it is more rugged and tends to have warmer weather than Washington. All the cities seem nicer at least compared to the Washington Coast. The coastal road runs most of the entire state coastline. This opens up dozens of beaches, some with road access, others with only trail access. Driving highway 101 is the main event but stopping in the coastal communities makes the Oregon coast a national destination vacation. If you are short on time, just see the sights right off the highway, but some of the best ones are off side roads that lead to Capes or waterfalls deeper in the coastal mountains.
Oregon Coast Travel
Oregon Sights & Attractions
Astoria is the oldest American settlement west of the Rockies. It's also the end of the Lewis and Clark trail. Maybe the most significant history is that Goonies was filmed here! Many hillsides are covered with old Victorian homes. The downtown is in 1920's architecture as well. If you get lucky, you'll have good weather to enjoy the lush green trees, with the Columbia dumping into the blue ocean. More likely, you'll experience what Lewis and Clark had. During the 106 days they wintered at Fort Clatsop in 1806 it rained all but 12 days and they saw the sun 6 times. Some of the nearby sights are Fort Clatsop, the Columbia River Maritime Museum, the Flavel House, Fort Stevens State Park, the Astoria Riverfront Trolley, Astoria Bridge and the Astoria Column. You can also take a day cruise or a fishing charter.
If your looking for a fun city with a destination look and feel, go to Seaside. Growing up in Seattle, I knew many families that would make the long trek to Seaside to find "a real beach". For many, what other ocean beach towns are lacking, Seaside has what they like such as shopping, good dining, art galleries, museums, an aquarium and warmer beach activities. Not surprisingly, the fancy hotels can be found here. Seaside also has a 1.8 mile ocean front promenade for bikers, joggers and walkers. For kids, the amusement rides and arcades won't look like 1984 as they do in more northern beach towns. South of town is Tillamook Head and the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse. Take some hiking trails to where Lewis and Clark wrote of the views "the grandest and most pleasing prospect my eyes ever surveyed".
My ticket for the Maritime Museum
Drift Creek Falls
Seaside and the Lewis & Clark Statue
On the beach at Seaside
Hiking through the dunes to the ocean to find a camp
Dune buggy stuck in the sand
On top of a dune
On Cannon Beach looking south to Haystack Rock
Columbia River from the Astoria Column
When the explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark explored and camped at Cannon Beach in 1806, they described the view of Cannon Beach as “...the grandest and most pleasing prospect which my eyes ever surveyed, in front of a boundless Ocean.”
Florence is the place to buggy. Just south of town is Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, a Mecca for dune buggy, ATV, motorcycle and off-road riding. The dunes are the largest expanse of coastal dunes in the United States. Tours and vehicles are for rent everywhere. You can also hike the dunes, there are many trails. We even hiked out on a random trail to camp on a dune. Florence has a restored Old Town with museums, stores and restaurants. Around 10 miles north of Florence are the Sea Lion Caves, the West Coast's only mainland home for Stellar sea lions.
Newport has been a vacation destination since 1856. It's full of attractions with many nearby sights along Highway 101. Highway 20 starts here running all the way to Boston in 3,365 miles, it is the longest road in America. The Yaquina Bay Bridge with its dramatic soaring steel arches make it one of the most photographed of McCullough's bridges on Highway 101.
Yaquina Head Lighthouse