The Ultimate Oregon Coast Road Trip
The best places to eat, play, shop and stay as you make your way down the Oregon Coast.
From Fort Stevens to Crissey Field, more than 100 state parks and recreation areas line the 584-kilometre Oregon Coast, inviting visitors to explore its dunes, surf its waves and stroll its beaches and seaside forests.
You can always find staple maritime fare inside Mo’s Chowder houses along Route 101, but “fresh is best” menus also dot the coast. Snack on house-made salsas at Manzanita’s Left Coast Siesta, but save room for dinner at Saffron Salmon in Newport. The spicy linguini squid puttanesca invigorates the taste buds after surfing off Agate Beach or kayaking Beaver Creek. The Rogue Ales Public House is still riding the crest in this hops-crazed state, though carve some time to stop at the Drift Inn Cafe, a locals-know establishment in Yachats that serves fresh razor clams alongside live entertainment. Across 101, Luna Sea Fish House’s owner, Robert Anthony, departs his fishing boat just long enough to drop off his catch. Coastal warm-me-ups and local gossip is poured freely inside Manzanita News and Espresso and Green Salmon Coffee and Tea House in Yachats, but if you’re looking for hearty breakfast fare, hit the Lazy Susan Cafe in Cannon Beach for a menu of classics: oversized omelettes stuffed with local Tillamook cheese and fresh oatmeal waffles.
The Oregon Coast provides a massive sandbox where everyone is welcome to play. Jerry’s Rogue Jets head up the designated “wild and scenic” Rogue River, combining natural explorations with counter-current adrenaline rushes. Florence’s Sand Master Park is the first sandboarding park in the world. Advanced surfers favour the swells at Indian Beach, north of Cannon Beach, and beginners travel to Otter Rock between Depoe Bay and Newport. Golf fans follow the tufted puffins to Bandon Dunes, home to the Pacific Dunes and Bandon Dunes courses, numbers one and eight, respectively, on Golf Magazine’s annual “Top U.S. Courses You Can Play” list. Fancy a hike? Check out our faves below.
Golf widows and widowers won’t be disappointed by an afternoon in Bandon-by-the-Sea, a quaint seaside town brimming with boutiques and galleries. The Second Street Gallery represents more than 150 Pacific Northwest artists, Bandon Mercantile features curated items like that blown glass hummingbird feeder you didn’t know you needed, and WinterRiver Books purveys the coast’s finest selection of regional authors.
Ever wonder where Virginia Woolf or John Steinbeck would choose to sleep after a hike to the lighthouse to observe old men of the sea coming to shore before a purple-coloured sunset? Look no further than the Sylvia Beach Hotel, the literary inn just off Nye Beach. Or, there’s Astoria’s Cannery Pier Hotel and Spa, which has garnered national attention not seen since Lewis and Clark encamped here in 1805. And down in Cannon Beach, the newly renovated Ocean Lodge provides unfettered beach access and boundless vistas of iconic sea stacks and the 72-metre-tall Haystack Rock.
Detour: Hike the Oregon Coast
With a state recreation area every four kilometres or less, the Oregon Coast might contain more trails per hectare than any other coastal region on earth. Start with the beach: 584 kilometres of public access. Climb with binoculars in hand to Cape Perpetua State Park’s headlands, an ideal perch for spying the grey, humpback and occasional blue whale, among other cetaceans. The 6.7-kilometre-return Cascade Head Hike tiptoes through some of the finest wildflower meadows on either coast. Further north, follow the footsteps of Captain Clark through old-growth Sitka spruce forest along the Clatsop Loop Trail to Tillamook Head (and be on the lookout for golden-coloured marbled murrelets—the tiny seabird’s arboreal nesting habitat was discovered less than 25 years ago). Close your eyes, put your finger on the map and find your hike.