Being home to some of the most fantastic views in the country, the Oregon coast is one of the most underrated places to visit. From towering sea stacks to rolling sand dunes, Oregon’s coastline is a must-see on your next epic road trip.
The Oregon coast is roughly 235 miles of coastline comprised of many sandy beaches including Oceanside, Cannon Beach, Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area and many more. Many of these coastal towns are not tourist traps, so if you’re wanting a peaceful and serene experience, this list will help you find your next perfect trip. Here is a list of my top picks of the 13 best coastal towns to visit in Oregon.
Read on for everything you need to know about the best Oregon coast towns that you can ever dream of – I hope you enjoy!
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TIP: Make sure to pack sunscreen. Here is the sunscreen I use and I never leave home without it. You’ll definitely need it on your road trip!
Pronounced YAH-hots, is one of the most beautiful Oregon towns you can visit. Named after the Yachats River, Yachats sits along the base of the Oregon Coast Range along the Pacific Ocean. If you love natural beauty, this place should be on your list of towns to visit. The amazing Cape Perpetua Scenic Area is a quaint town with friendly locals who enjoy a slower-paced life.
While exploring Yachats, make sure to check out Luna Sea Fish House. They have amazing seafood and the restaurant is owned and operated by a local fisherman. They have the BEST fish and chips on the Oregon Coast – be sure to check them out.
CALL AHEAD: This experience may be open for onsite visitation, however, offerings and operating procedures may have changed due to COVID-19. Please verify details before you go and visit the COVID-19 Resources page for more information.
If you love baked goods, you must check out Bread & Roses Bakery & Cafe, which is a lovely little coffee house and bakery that has amazing, artisan breads, muffins and scones. Another thing to mention is that they only accept cash, so make sure you come prepared to pay in cash when you stop by.
Recommended stay: Overleaf Lodge
Florence is a charming town located right off the Central Coast of Oregon at the mouth of the Siuslaw River. With plenty of freshwater lakes and miles of coastal sand dunes, Florence is the perfect coastal town for foodies, dreamers and adventurers.
There are plenty of dining options available off of Bay Street, which is a quaint main street in Florence. When you visit, make sure to check out Homegrown Public House & Brewery. They have amazing salads and local favorites like fish and chips.
If you love natural wonders, be sure to take a peek at the Sea Lion Caves. It is a privately owned wildlife preserve and bird sanctuary. The Sea Lion Caves is not a zoo, which means the protected marine animals can come and go as they please. Usually, the sea lions leave their caves completely in the late fall months – so it is best to come in the Spring and Summer.
Make sure to check out the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. It is one of the largest coastal sand dunes in the world. The sand dunes tower 500 feet above sea level and are so much fun! Camping, off-roading, hiking and more are the activities you can do at the park. If you need to rent ATV’s, Steve’s ATV Rentals allow you to ride right into the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. Be sure to call ahead for reservations.
Lastly, make sure you check out Heceta Head Lighthouse, which is the perfect place for photos. It sits on a 200-foot bluff that extends out into the sea. The lighthouse sits at 56 feet tall and was built in 1894. It is the most photographed lighthouse in Oregon so make sure you bring your camera!
Recommended stay: Driftwood Shores Resort
Listed as one of the best beach cities in the world, Bandon is an artisan coastal town that is the perfect escape for a weekend getaway. There is so much you can do in Bandon with fun little shops, arts and crafts. If you’re visiting over the weekend, make sure to check out the Old Town Marketplace where local artisans share their locally-made crafts and farmers sell fresh produce and seafood from the local fishermen.
Don’t forget to drive down Beach Loop Drive, which is a 5-mile drive with numerous rocky spires and offshore rock formations. Be sure to also check out Circles in the Sand, which are intricate designs and artwork for everyone to enjoy as you walk on the sand.
TIP: Walk to the dock to enjoy Bandon Boardwalk Art Show, which is a community art show displaying local artistic talents. If you’re looking for amazing food, try The Loft Restaurant & Bar, which is a local favorite. The artisan cheese and local wine selections are amazing!
Recommended stay: Calls of the Wild
10. Lincoln City
Next up along the Washington Coast is Lincoln City. This beautiful coastal town is a favorite spot among locals and tourists alike. From scenic views and plenty of outdoor activites, you’ll be sure to love this town.
Every year, volunteers place over 3,000 glass floats along Lincoln City’s 7.5 miles of beaches. Beachcombers who find these pieces of art get to keep them. If you don’t happen to find one walking along the beach, you can make your own glass float at the Lincoln City Glass Center.
If you are up for hiking, make sure to go to God’s Thumb for an epic hike with panoramic views of the Pacific Coast. Located on the northern side of Lincoln City, this moderate hike is an out and back, 4.3 mile hike with views of Lincoln City and the cliffside.
Don’t forget to check out the Lincoln City Outlets for shopping deals and discounts if you’re in the mood for shopping.
Recommended stay: Changing Shores Cottage
Possibly one of the most-loved quaint towns in Oregon is Astoria. This town is better known for filming the movie The Goonies. Astoria sits on the Columbia River near the Pacific Ocean. It’s definitely worth a visit while driving through the best coastal Oregon towns.
Astoria has so much maritime history, so make sure to visit the Columbia River Maritime Museum to get a better appreciation for Astoria.
Be sure to visit the Astoria Column, which is a tower that overlooks the mouth of the Columbia River on Coxcomb Hill. Built in the 1920’s, this concrete and steel structure is part of a 30-acre city park.
After your trip at the museum, make sure to visit the Fort Stevens State Park. For a bite to eat, head over to Bridgewater Bistro, which is located inside a restored 1896 building on a pier overlooking the Columbia River. Be sure to check out one of the most iconic shipwrecks on the Oregon coast – the wreck of Peter Iredale.
Interesting Fun Fact About Astoria: Astoria is where the Columbia River overflows into the Pacific Ocean. Being one of the most dangerous river bar crossings in the world, waves can exceed over 40 feet high. How incredible is that?
Recommended stay: Cannery Pier Hotel
To some, Seaside may feel like a tourist town, but it is the perfect place to visit during your trip to the Oregon Coast. It’s such a lovely place for families – especially because there are so many kid-friendly attractions to choose from when you visit Seaside. Be sure to check out the Seaside Aquarium (where you can feed the seals!) and the carousel at Seaside Carousel Mall.
If you love the beach, there is plenty to do at Seaside Beach, where there are miles and miles of beach and gorgeous sand. Spend the day carousing the beach, read a book or simply just enjoy the view.
Be sure to check out the Seaside Inverted Experience, which is a one-of-a-kind photo adventure with a vintage Seaside theme. All of the props are upside down and hung from the ceiling which makes a perfect interactive experience!
Love to hike? Be sure to go to Saddle Mountain Trail, which is a 5-mile, round-trip trail that has dramatic views of the Pacific Ocean.
Recommended stay: River Inn at Seaside
7. Depoe Bay
Better known as the world’s smallest harbor, Depoe Bay Harbor is definitely worth visiting. It is often referred to as the whale watching capital of the Oregon coast. This picturesque place draws in whales from March through December. You can see humpback whales, grey whales, orcas and more along with other sea life that live on the coast.
Make sure to check out the Whale Watch Center or hop on charter boat to go whale watching. During the migrating season, be sure to catch the whale sightings! The best time for sightings is June through September. There are plenty of viewpoints to choose from in the harbor!
CALL AHEAD: While the Whale Watch Center is temporarily closed due to limited staff and budget due to COVID-19, the viewing deck is open. Please call ahead for visitation hours. Call for more information: 1-800-551-6949. Park information: 541-765-3304.
There are so many beautiful waterfront hotels in Depoe Bay. Be sure to check out the gorgeous hotels that sit along the coast. Whale Cove Inn is a favorite, with sweeping ocean views and an upscale restaurant right inside the hotel. You can learn more about Whale Cove Inn here.
6. Pacific City
Sitting on the edge of Three Capes Scenic Drive, Pacific City is a dreamy, sleepy beachfront town. If you love surfing, this is the perfect place for you to explore as this is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream. With sweeping waves and ocean views, it is the peaceful town that is definitely worth visiting.
Drive along Three Capes Scenic Drive, which is a 40-mile scenic road you won’t want to leave. It takes you through 3 state parks and has views out of this world. Along your drive, you will encounter dramatic cliffs, hidden beaches and lighthouses. Be sure to check it out along your Pacific Coast road trip.
If you love sunsets, be sure to check out Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area, one of the most gorgeous places to watch the sunset. It is also one of the most popular places to visit on the entire Oregon coast. The Pelican Brewery is a must-try when you stop for a bite to eat. There are amazing views of the sea after a day out on the town.
Recommended stay: Headlands Coastal Lodge & Spa
5. Tillamook Bay
Located in the heart of the Oregon Coast, Tillamook rests at the intersection of three rivers – Tillamook, Trask and Wilson, making this town a paradise for kayaker’s. Tillamook is also home to century-old Tillamook Cheese Factory, which have daily tours and tastings.
If you are looking for adventure, Tillamook has you covered. You can go clamming at the Tillamook Bay, go bird watching and see the many species of seabirds at the beach, or try an estuary expedition near Cascade Head.
There are over 800-miles of water trails in Tillamook County that reach across rivers, sloughs and estuaries. Explore Tillamook by kayak – it’s such an intimate experience to discover the water when you’re really in nature.
Come further along the Oregon coast and explore the Bayfront in Newport. You’ll be sure to be greeted by the sea lions on the dock and spot whales, bald eagles and agates in the sand. You can learn about marine life at the Oregon Coast Aquarium and explore the many outdoor activities, such as hiking, biking and year-round surfing.
Newport is home to 2 lighthouses – the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse and the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area, which is home to many seabirds and marine life. Yaquina Headland is the tallest and second-oldest lighthouse that is still in operation.
Interesting Fun Fact: Yaquina Headland is really an ancient lava flow that originated over 14 million years ago in eastern Washington and then spread 300 miles west before reaching the ocean. The headland’s have survived relentless winds, ocean waves and seasonal rains, which has made it the natural choice for the lighthouse.
Head on over to Clearwater Restaurant for panoramic views of Yaquina Bay in an upscale venue with amazing Pacific Northwest fare.
Recommended stay: Ocean House
3. Rockaway Beach
Rockaway Beach is one of the best places along the Oregon coast to go hiking clamming, crabbing or trout fishing. As a laid-back community, it has plenty of sandy beaches where you can relax and just enjoy the view.
While you’re visiting Rockaway, be sure to check out Manhattan Beach State Recreation Site, which is a free, day-use state park that is just off Highway 101 north of Rockaway. Picnic tables are nestled in small cul-de-sacs to provide a break from the wind. After a delicious lunch, you can take a walk down the trail to the ocean for a relaxing day trip experience.
2. Gleneden Beach
If you’re looking for the ultimate spa and golf vacation, you should venture to Gleneden Beach. Located on the Central Oregon Coast, it’s home to incredible wildlife-viewing sites, beautiful oceanside cliffs and the gorgeous Salishan Coastal Lodge with an incredible spa and championship golf course.
If you are a golf enthusiast, you’re going to want to hit the links at the Salishan Golf Links, which is located at the Salishan Spa & Golf Resort. Rugged, natural beauty on this course makes it a challenging, yet fun course to play.
If you’re more into wellness and relaxation, be sure to check out the spa at Salishan – you’re in for a treat!
Make sure you check out the Gleneden Beach State Recreation Site which is perfect for surfers, beachcombers and hikers. There are many sightings of sea lions that can be found at the tip of the 4-mile Salishan Split – just make sure you don’t disturb them.
1. Cannon Beach
Listed as one of National Geographic’s most beautiful places in the world, the most famous beach in Oregon is none other than Cannon Beach. With the towering Haystack Rock on the shoreline and waterfalls cascading onto the sand at Hug Point, this incredible place is well worth the drive. Only 1.5 hours from Portland, Cannon Beach has everything to do and more, from exploring art galleries, oceanfront lodging and boutiques, you’re sure to find some fun activities to spark your imagination.
A must-see in Cannon Beach is Haystack Rock. This incredible rock rises to 235 feet out of the sand and the sea at the low tide line and is a protected Marine Garden. It is also home to many birds, including gulls, cormorants and tufted puffins.
A favorite area to explore is Ecola State Park which stretches along 9 miles of coastline and offers amazing views and recreational opportunities. You can explore the park by hiking, sightseeing and exploring the many secluded coves that the park has to offer.
There are many trails you can venture on to explore cliffside viewpoints and even a long-abandoned lighthouse. The park’s trails include an 8-mile segment of the Oregon Coast Trail and a 2.5 mile historical interpretive route called the Clatsop Loop Trail.
You can even stop for a picnic before adventuring on the many miles of trails that Ecola State Park has to offer.
Be sure to visit Indian Beach, a secluded sandy beach that is popular with beachgoers and surfers, where you can explore the beauty that the Oregon coast has to offer.
CALL AHEAD: Make sure you call ahead as Ecola State Park may not be open for day-use or visitation. Operating procedures may have changed due to COVID-19. You can learn more information by going here.
Hug Point State Recreation Site is also a place you should check out. It offers easy access to the beach and has tons of scenic beauty. Just 5 miles south of Cannon Beach, this lovely sandy cove beach is backed by hills, ferns and spruce. If you walk north, you can catch a seasonal waterfall, caves carved into beautiful sandstone cliffs and tide pools that are accessible during low tide.
NOTE: Please be aware of the tide when exploring the beach and headlands of Hug Point State Recreation Site. It is possible to become stranded at high tide when exploring the point. Make sure you take a look at the stagecoach trail, the view of Haystack Rock from the north and the two caves around the point, but please do so in a safe manner.
Things To Do On The Oregon Coast
Go Whale Watching: Whale-watching is a year-round activity on the Oregon coast so be sure to check it out. Your best chance of seeing whales is from March through December.
Go Crabbing: For $10, you can pick up a permit and go crabbing. Make sure you explore the different beace towns that offer the best experiences for crabbing!
Explore the Lighthouses: There are 11 lighthouses along the Oregon coast – try and visit them all if you can! They are fascinating and a wonderful part of Oregon history.
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