Getting Oriented

Oregon's coastline begins in the north in the town of Astoria, which lies at the mouth of the Columbia River on the Washington state line. It’s a slow-going but spectacular 363-mile drive south along U.S. Highway 101 to the small town of Brookings at Oregon's southwestern corner, several miles from the California border. The rugged Coast Range flanks the entire coast to the east, providing a picturesque barrier between the ocean and the lush Willamette, Umpqua, and Rogue valleys, where you’ll find Oregon’s larger communities, including Portland and Eugene.

  • North Coast. As the primary gateway for both Portlanders and those visiting from neighboring Washington, the north coast is the busiest stretch of Oregon coastline, although it’s still rife with secluded coves and funky seaside hamlets. Its lighthouse-dotted shoreline stretches from the mouth of the Columbia River south to Pacific City. The 90-mile region includes the historic working-class fishing town of Astoria and its recent influx of hip cafés, indie boutiques, and restored hotels; family-friendly Seaside with its touristy but bustling boardwalk; art-fueled and refined Cannon Beach; laid-back and stunningly situated Manzanita Beach; and tiny Pacific City, where a colorful fleet of dories dots the wide, deep beach.
  • Central Coast. The 75-mile stretch from Lincoln City to Florence offers whale-watching, incomparable seafood, shell-covered beaches, candy confections, and close-up views of undersea life. At the north end, in Lincoln City visitors can indulge in gaming, shopping, golfing, and beachcombing. The harbor town of Depoe Bay is a center for whale-watching, and nearby Newport offers a stellar aquarium and science center. It's also home to one of Oregon's largest fishing fleets. The less-developed town of Yachats is a true seaside gem with astounding coastal views, where the only demands are to relax and enjoy an increasingly noteworthy restaurant scene. The cute town of Florence and its bustling downtown hugs the Siuslaw River—it’s also the northern access point for the Oregon dunes.
  • South Coast. From the heart of Oregon dunes country in Reedsport to the southernmost Oregon town of Brookings, the 134-mile stretch of U.S. 101 is less touristy than points north, but still has mesmerizing beaches, headlands, and coastal rain forests in abundance. Coos Bay and adjacent North Bend make up the region’s largest population center. The beach town of Bandon is a world-class golfing destination that’s also popular for beachcombing and lighthouse gazing. Ruggedly situated and low-key Port Orford has gorgeous beach landscapes and a growing arts scene, while Gold Beach and Brookings, farther south, are bathed in sunshine.

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