Are you planning on visiting the Oregon Coast? Do you have visions of perfect sunsets and sea stacks? If so, you’re not going to want to miss out on our top tips for best spots on the Oregon Coast.
Visiting the Oregon Coast
There are 363 miles of Oregon Coast to explore. Within those several hundred miles there are also 95 Oregon Coast State Parks and 11 lighthouses. This is one road trip you’re going to want to do slowly and then return to again and again and again. To help make your planning easier, we’ve put the northernmost places at the top of the list and worked our way south.
Goonies was filmed here, need we say more? The house is privately owned and the signs out front strongly discourage visitors from going up to snap a photo. No worries, though, there’s plenty of other things to do in Astoria. For starters, you can run or walk on the Astoria Riverwalk or even jump on the Astoria Riverfront Trolley (both follow the same route.) We recommend stopping at Rogue Ales Public House for a beer as well as checking out the Peter Iredale shipwreck at Fort Stevens State Park.
One of the first places along the Oregon Coast that I ever explored was Ecola State Park. The road twists and turns until you end up at a small parking lot with one of the most stunning views ever. Park your car and then walk down to the beach and watch people surfing or even paddle out yourself. The road is pretty tight in sections, large motor homes or RV’s are not advised.
In addition, there are a little more than 10 miles of trails within the park: an 8 mile section of the Oregon Coast Trail and a 2.5 mile route named the Clatsop Loop Trail that offers interpretive signage.
There is no overnight camping (sorry van life travelers) but there is a Hiker’s Camp for those who are through-hiking the Oregon Coast Trail. A vault toilet is on site but there isn’t any water.
A Day Use Parking Pass is $5.00
12 Month Parking Pass is $30
24 Month Parking Pass is $50
If you’ve spent any time on Instagram, chances are you’ve seen photos of Haystack Rock. The intertidal area is a Marine Garden (there are seven along the Oregon Coast) and as such is a protected area. In addition to being a Marine Garden, Haystack Rock is part of the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge. You can see all kinds of sea life: sea stars, chitons, crabs, anemones and birds including the Tufted Puffin. If you go to look at the tide pools, be sure to leave things where you found them and only walk on sand or bare rock so that you don’t damage the habitat or harm any creatures. Sunrise and sunset are great for picture taking (click HERE to see some of the gear we are using) but make sure you are aware of the tides.
Thanks to our friend Heather, we stayed one night at the Hallmark Resort and Spa. The location is unbeatable. You will literally be as close to the beach with Haystack rock literally at your doorstep. And like the name suggests, there are two indoor saltwater pools as well as access to a sauna, massage, facials, body wraps and more.
This area is named Devil’s Punchbowl because the water crashes into the rocks that are shaped like a huge punch bowl. The sound is incredible! It’s louder than I thought it would be. You can picnic here but parking is limited to be sure to get there early. It’s also free!
Sound like a local and say YAW-hots. Yachats is a really small town with only about 750 people in it but it is worth the visit. The beaches are gorgeous and there’s an excellent brewery in town: Yachats Brewing. In addition to a cozy space and delicious beers, they also serve up amazing some food. We stopped in one evening last winter during the middle of a rainstorm and had a wonderful time.
This is one of the prettiest lighthouses around. There’s a scenic viewpoint along Highway 101 for you to see the lighthouse from a distance as well as a short trail that you can hike to see it in person. The trail is located 13 miles north of Florence. In addition, depending on the time of year that you go you may be able to partake in a lighthouse program. Weather and staff permitting, the programs are given 11:00am to 3:00pm Friday – Monday. In the winter, the hours are 11:00am to 2:00pm. Additional programs, weather and staff permitting, are also offered Tuesday – Thursday during the months of May to September. Reservations are not required.
Coordinates: 44.136505, -124.121976
To the south of Yachats is the larger town of Florence (population 8,800). Last winter we visited Florence as part of a press trip for dapperQ. To read more about this cool fishing town, head on over here! We stayed at the Driftwood Shores Resort and Conference Center and would stay there again in a heartbeat! It was clean, comfortable and just steps from the beach!
The Coquille River Lighthouse, Face Rock and Bandon State Park make this an area worth exploring. We caught an amazing sunset down by the water’s edge. If you go, definitely bring your camera with you. In addition, if you’re craving pizza and beer, give the Bandon Brewing Company a try. Their pizza hit the spot and the beers were delicious.
There’s a lighthouse out on Cape Blanco and for $2 you can actually take a tour of it! (It’s free for kids 15 and under).
Tours are conducted from April to the end of October from Wednesday – Monday (closed Tuesdays) from 10:00am to 3:30pm. Be sure to get there at least 15 minutes before closing because the last ticket is sold at 3:15pm.
There’s also a really great network of trails that offer awesome views of the coast. We spent one night in the campground there and really enjoyed it. You can stay in your van or RV. There are 52 electrical sites which are first come, first serve. There are also four cabins, one of which is even handicap accessible. A horse camp, group camp and hiker-biker camp are also available at Cape Blanco. Oh and van lifers rejoice, there are flush toilets and hot showers here!
Do you like a good, cheesey tourist stop? We do. Check out the T-Rex in the parking lot of this roadside attraction and fork over a few dollars to see more. We’ve actually never paid to go in but we seem to stop and snap a photo with the dinosaur each time.
Cost of admission:
Children (3 to 12 yrs): $8.00
Seniors (60+ yrs): $10.00
If you go, or have been, please let us know what you think!
Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor
The Samuel H. Boardman State is another one of those magical places along the Oregon Coast that’ll take your breath away. We wrote an entire post about this section of Oregon. To read more, head on over HERE.
Best Spots on the Oregon Coast Recap
Driving the Oregon Coast is one of the most iconic road trips in the United States. It’s simply gorgeous, with every bend in the road an opportunity to see something amazing. Have you done this trip? If so, what do you think about our choices for best places to visit on the Oregon Coast? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Please leave a comment below!
Additional Oregon Coast Resources
We’re Erin McGrady and Caroline Whatley and we are professional travel writers, photographers and the authors of Authentic Asheville.