FODOR'S GO LIST 2015
The top 25 places we think should be on every traveler's radar this year.More
Heceta Head Lighthouse State Scenic Area. A ½-mile trail from the beachside parking lot leads to the oft-photographed Heceta Head Lighthouse built in 1894, whose beacon, visible for more than 21 miles, is the most powerful on the Oregon Coast. More than 7 miles of trails traverse the rocky landscape north and south of the lighthouse, which rises some 200 feet above the ocean. For a mesmerizing view of the lighthouse and Heceta Head, pull over at the scenic viewpoint just north of Sea Lion Caves. U.S. 101, 11 miles north of Florence, Yachats, OR, 97498. 541/547–3416 or 800/551–6949. www.oregonstateparks.org. Day use $5, lighthouse tours free. Lighthouse tours daily 11–3.
Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. The Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area is the largest expanse of coastal sand dunes in North America, extending for 40 miles, from Florence to Coos Bay. The area contains some of the best ATV riding in the United States and encompasses some 31,500 acres. More than 1.5 million people visit the dunes each year, and about 350,000 are ATV users. Honeyman Memorial State Park, 522 acres within the recreation area, is a base camp for dune-buggy enthusiasts, mountain bikers, hikers, boaters, horseback riders, and dogsledders (the sandy hills are an excellent training ground). There's a campground, too. The dunes are a vast playground for children, particularly the slopes surrounding cool Cleawox Lake. If you have time for just a quick scamper in the sand, stop by the Oregon Dunes Overlook off U.S. 101, 11 miles south of Florence and 11 miles north of Reedsport—it's on the west side of the road, just north of Perkins Lake. 855 U.S. 101 (office), at Hwy. 38, Reedsport, OR, 97467. 541/271–6000. www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/siuslaw/recreation. Day use $5. Office hours Sept.–May, weekdays 8–4:30; Jun.–Aug., Mon.–Sat. 8–4:30.
Sandland Adventures. This outfitter provides everything you need to get the whole family together for the ride of their lives. Start off with a heart-racing dune-buggy ride with a professional that will take you careening up, over, down, and around some of the steepest sand in the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. After you're done screaming and smiling, Sandland's park has bumper boats, a go-kart track, a miniature golf course, and a small railroad. 85366 U.S. 101, Florence, OR, 97439. 541/997-8087. www.sandland.com.