The Oregon Coast

We’ve compiled the best of the best in The Oregon Coast - browse our top choices for the top things to see or do during your stay.

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  • 1. Astoria Column

    For the best view of the city, the Coast Range, volcanic Mt. St. Helens, and the Pacific Ocean, scamper up the 164 spiral stairs to the top of the Astoria Column. When you get to the top, you can throw a small wooden plane and watch it glide to earth; each year some 35,000 gliders are tossed. The 125-foot-high structure sits atop Coxcomb Hill, and was patterned after Trajan's Column in Rome. There are little platforms to rest on if you get winded, or, if you don't want to climb, the column's 500 feet of artwork, depicting important Pacific Northwest historical milestones, are well worth a study.

    1 Coxcomb Dr., Astoria, Oregon, 97103, USA

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    Rate Includes: $5 parking (good for 1 yr)
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  • 2. Cannon Beach and Ecola State Park

    Beachcombers love Cannon Beach for its often low foamy waves and the wide stretch of sand that wraps the quaint community, making it ideal for fair-weather play or for hunting down a cup of coffee and strolling in winter. This stretch can get feisty in storms, however, which also makes Cannon Beach a good place to curl up indoors and watch the show. Haystack Rock rises 235 feet over the beach on the south side of downtown, one of nearly 2,000 protected rocks that are part of the Oregon Ocean Island Wildlife Refuge, providing a nesting habitat for birds. Continue south past Tolovana Park—a playground located in the flood plain—to find the quiet side of Cannon Beach with a bevy of tide pools and few other souls. To the north of town, the beach gives way to Ecola State Park, a breathtakingly beautiful series of coves and rocky headlands where William Clark spotted a beached whale in 1806 and visitors still come to view them offshore during the twice-yearly migrations. From here, Sitka spruce and barbecues feature along the sands. There are a few excellent trails that hug the sometimes steep cliffs that rise above sand, including a 6½-mile trail first traced by Lewis and Clark, which runs from this spot past the Tillamook Head lookout and then eventually all the way to Seaside. Amenities: parking; toilets. Best for: partiers; sunset; walking.

    Ocean Ave., Cannon Beach, Oregon, 97110, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Ecola State Park day use $5 per vehicle
  • 3. Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area and Pacific City Beach

    The town's public beach adjoins Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area, the southernmost section of famously picturesque Three Capes Loop, and extends south to Bob Straub State Park. Adjacent to Cape Kiwanda's massive 240-foot-tall dune, it's a fun place for visitors of all ages to scamper to its summit—views take in a small cove and tide pools below, and the walk, or slide, down is infinitely easier than the climb. The beach is also popular with tailgaters—it's one of the few places in Oregon where you can legally park your vehicle on the sand. You can also park in the lot beside Pelican Pub. Amenities: none. Best for: partiers; walking.

    Cape Kiwanda Dr., Pacific City, Oregon, 97135, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $10 day-use parking
  • 4. Cape Lookout State Park

    Located about 8 miles south of the beach town Netarts, this pristine and diverse park includes a moderately easy (though often muddy) 2-mile trail—marked on the highway as "wildlife viewing area"—that leads through giant spruces, western red cedars, and hemlocks, and ends with mesmerizing views of Cascade Head to the south and Cape Meares to the north. Wildflowers, more than 150 species of birds, and occasional whales throughout the summer months make this trail a favorite with nature lovers. The section of the park just north of the trail comprises a long, curving stretch of beach with picnic areas and campsites.

    Cape Lookout Rd. at Netarts Bay Rd., Tillamook, Oregon, 97141, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Day-use parking $5
  • 5. Cape Perpetua Scenic Area

    The highest vehicle-accessible lookout on the Oregon Coast, Cape Perpetua towers 800 feet above the rocky shoreline. Named by Captain Cook on St. Perpetua's Day in 1778, the cape is part of a 2,700-acre scenic area popular with hikers, campers, beachcombers, and naturalists. Information, educational films and exhibits, and trail maps are available at the Cape Perpetua Visitors Center, 3 miles south of Yachats. The easy 1-mile Giant Spruce Trail passes through a fern-filled rain forest to an enormous 600-year-old Sitka spruce. Easier still is the marked Auto Tour, which begins by the visitor center and winds through Siuslaw National Forest to the ¼-mile Whispering Spruce Trail. Views from the rustic rock shelter extend 50 miles south. For a more rigorous trek, hike the St. Perpetua Trail to the shelter. Other trails lead from the visitor center down along the shore, including a scenic pathway to Devil's Churn, next to which a small snack bar sells sandwiches, sweets, and coffee.

    2400 U.S. 101, Yachats, Oregon, 97498, USA

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    Rate Includes: Parking $5
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  • 6. Cascade Head Preserve

    At this pristine, slightly off-the-beaten-path property managed by the Nature Conservancy, a dense, green trail winds through a rain forest where 100-inch annual rainfalls nourish 250-year-old Sitka spruces, mosses, and ferns. Emerging from the forest, hikers come upon grassy and treeless Cascade Head, an undulating maritime prairie. There are magnificent views down to the Salmon River and east to the Coast Range. Continuing along the headland, black-tailed deer often graze and turkey vultures soar in the sometimes strong winds. It's a somewhat steep and strenuous but tremendously rewarding hike—allow at least three hours to make the full nearly 7-mile round-trip hike, although you can make it out to the beginning of the headland and back in an hour.

    Savage Rd. at N. 3 Rocks Rd., Otis, Oregon, 97368, USA
  • 7. Columbia River Maritime Museum

    One of Oregon's best coastal attractions illuminates the maritime history of the Pacific Northwest and provides visitors with a sense of the perils of guiding ships into the mouth of the Columbia River. Vivid exhibits recount what it was like to pilot a tugboat and participate in a Coast Guard rescue on the Columbia River Bar. You can tour the actual bridge of a World War II–era U.S. Navy destroyer and the 1951 U.S. Coast Guard lightship Columbia. Also on display is a 44-foot Coast Guard motor lifeboat, artifacts from the region's illustrious riverboat heyday, and details about Astoria's seafood-canning history. One especially captivating exhibit displays the personal belongings of some of the ill-fated passengers of the 2,000 ships that have foundered here since the early 19th century. In addition, the theater shows an excellent documentary about the river's heritage as well as rotating 3-D films about sea life. At the east end of the property, the city's former railroad depot now houses the museum's Barbey Maritime Center, which offers classes and workshops on maritime culture and wooden boatbuilding.

    1792 Marine Dr., Astoria, Oregon, 97103, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $16
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  • 8. Coos History Museum & Maritime Collection

    This contemporary 11,000-square-foot museum with expansive views of the Coos Bay waterfront contains an impressive collection of memorabilia related to the region's history, from early photos to vintage boats, all displayed in an airy, open exhibit hall with extensive interpretive signage. You'll also find well-designed exhibits on Native American history, agriculture, and industry such as logging, shipwrecks, boatbuilding, natural history, and mining.

    1210 N. Front St., Coos Bay, Oregon, 97420, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $7, Closed Sun. and Mon.
  • 9. Face Rock State Scenic Viewpoint

    The massive rock formations of Face Rock Wayside, formed only by wind and rain, have names such as Elephant Rock, Table Rock, and Face Rock. To reach them, follow signs from Bandon south along Beach Loop Road; then walk down a stairway to the sand and enjoy the stone sights along this dramatic stretch of beach.

    Beach Loop Rd. at Face Rock Dr., Bandon, Oregon, 97411, USA
  • 10. Fort Clatsop–Lewis and Clark National Historical Park

    See where the 30-member Lewis and Clark Expedition endured a rain-soaked winter in 1805–06, hunting, gathering food, making salt, and trading with the local Clatsops, Chinooks, and Tillamooks. This memorial is part of the 3,200-acre Lewis and Clark National Historical Park and is a faithful replica of the log fort depicted in Clark's journal. The fort lies within a forested wonderland, with an exhibit hall, gift shop, film, and trails. Park rangers dress in period garb during the summer and perform such early-19th-century tasks as making fire with flint and steel. Hikers enjoy the easy 1-mile Netul Landing Trail and the more rigorous but still fairly flat 6½-mile Fort to Sea Trail.

    92343 Fort Clatsop Rd., Astoria, Oregon, 97103, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $10
  • 11. Harris Beach State Park

    The views from the parking areas, oceanfront trails, and beaches at this popular tract of craggy rock formations and evergreen forest are some of the prettiest along the southern Oregon Coast. The proximity to downtown Brookings makes this an easy place to head for morning beachcombing or a sunset stroll. You might see gray whales migrate in spring and winter. Just offshore, Bird Island, also called Goat Island, is a National Wildlife Sanctuary and a breeding site for rare birds. The campground here, with tent and RV sites, is very popular.

    1655 Old U.S. 101, Brookings, Oregon, 97415, USA
  • 12. Haystack Rock

    Nature Sight

    Towering over the broad, sandy beach is a gorgeous, 235-foot-high dome that is one of the most photographed natural wonders on the Oregon Coast. For safety and to protect birding habitats, people are not allowed to climb on the rock, but you can walk right up to its base at low tide.

    Access beach from end of Gower St., Cannon Beach, Oregon, USA
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  • 13. Heceta Head Lighthouse State Scenic Viewpoint

    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 an incredible photo op of the lighthouse and Heceta Head, pull into the scenic viewpoint just north of Sea Lion Caves.

    U.S. 101, Florence, Oregon, 97498, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Day use $5, lighthouse tours free
  • 14. Humbug Mountain State Park

    This secluded, 1,850-acre park, especially popular with campers, usually has warm weather, thanks to the nearby mountains that shelter it from ocean breezes. A 6-mile loop leads to the top of 1,765-foot Humbug Mountain, one of the highest points along the state's coastline. It's a pretty, moderately challenging hike, but the summit is fairly overgrown and doesn't provide especially panoramic views. The campground has tent and RV sites.

    U.S. 101, Port Orford, Oregon, 97465, USA
  • 15. Oregon Coast Aquarium

    This 4½-acre complex brings visitors face-to-face with the creatures living in offshore and near-shore Pacific marine habitats: frolicking sea otters, colorful puffins, pulsating jellyfish, and even a several-hundred-pound octopus. There's a hands-on interactive area for children, including tide pools perfect for "petting" sea anemones and urchins. The aquarium houses one of North America's largest seabird aviaries, including glowering turkey vultures. In the popular Passages of the Deep exhibit, visitors walk through a 200-foot underwater tunnel with 360-degree views of sharks, wolf eels, halibut, and a truly captivating array of sea life. The aquarium is in the midst of a major renovation and expansion that has already added an outdoor amphitheater and play areas and will see the installation a new Indo-Pacific Coral Reef exhibit by 2024.

    2820 S.E. Ferry Slip Rd., Newport, Oregon, 97365, USA

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    Rate Includes: $24.95
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  • 16. Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area

    The largest expanse of coastal sand dunes in North America extends for 40 miles from Florence to Coos Bay. This favorite destination for ATV riding encompasses some 31,500 acres and draws more than 1.5 million visitors annually. Within the recreation area, 515-acre Honeyman Memorial State Park 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 across from Crown Zellerback Campground; or hike the short and easy path to some towering dunes at John Dellenback Dunes Trailhead, which is 11 miles south of Reedsport, just south of Eel Creek Campground.

    855 U.S. 101, Reedsport, Oregon, 97467, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Day use $5 parking
  • 17. Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge: Coquille Point Unit

    Each of the colossal rocks jutting from the ocean between Bandon and Brookings is protected as part of the 19-acre Coquille Point section of this huge refuge that, in total, comprises 1,853 rocks, reefs, islands, and two headland areas spanning 320 miles up and down the Oregon Coast. Thirteen species of seabirds—totaling 1.2 million birds—nest here, and harbor seals, California sea lions, Steller sea lions, and Northern elephant seals also breed within the refuge. Coquille Point, which is a short drive west of downtown Bandon, is one of the best places to observe seabirds and harbor seals. The dramatic point atop a steep sea cliff overlooks a series of offshore rocks, and a paved trail that winds over the headland ends in stairways to the beach on both sides, allowing for a loop across the sand when tides permit. Visitors are encouraged to steer clear of harbor seals and avoid touching seal pups. A complete list of Oregon Islands Refuge viewpoints and trails is available online.

    11th St. W at Portland Ave. SW, Bandon, Oregon, 97411, USA
  • 18. Oswald West State Park

    Adventurous travelers will enjoy a sojourn at one of the best-kept secrets on the Pacific coast, at the base of Neahkahnie Mountain. Park in one of the two free lots on U.S. 101 and hike a half-mile trail to dramatic Short Sand Beach, aka "Shorty's," one of the top spots along the Oregon Coast for surfing. It's a spectacular beach with caves and tidal pools. There are several trails from the beach, all offering impressive scenery; the relatively easy 2½-mile trail to Cape Falcon overlook joins with the Oregon Coast Trail and offers impressive views back toward Shorty's Beach. The arduous 5½-mile trail to the 1,680-foot summit of Neahkahnie Mountain (access the trailhead about 2 miles south of the parking lots marked only by a "Hikers" sign, or get there via Short Sand Beach) provides jaw-dropping views south for many miles toward the surf, sand, and mountains fringing Manzanita and, in the distance, Tillamook. Come in December or March and you might spot pods of gray whales.

    U.S. 101, Arch Cape, Oregon, 97102, USA
  • 19. Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor

    This 12-mile corridor through beach forests and alongside rocky promontories and windswept beaches contains some of Oregon's most spectacular stretches of coastline, though seeing some of them up close sometimes requires a little effort. About 27 miles of the Oregon Coast Trail weaves through this area, a reach dominated by Sitka spruce trees that stretch up to 300 feet and by rocky coast interspersed with sandy beaches. Starting from the north, walk a short path from the highway turnoff to view Arch Rock. The path travels a meadow that blooms in springtime. Down the road, find Secret Beach—hardly a secret—where trails run from two parking lots into three separate beaches below. Visit at low tide to make your way through all three, including through a cave that connects to the third beach close to Thunder Rock. You'll find arguably the most photogenic vista in the park on the short trail to the Natural Bridge overlook, where several dramatic rock formations form arches over the surf. At Thunder Rock, just north of milepost 345 on U.S. 101, walk west for a 1-mile loop that traces inlets and headlands, edging right up to steep drops. Find the highest bridge in Oregon just south—the Thomas Creek Bridge—from which a moderately difficult trail extends to wide, sandy China Beach. Find some sun on China Beach, or continue south to walk the unusual sculpted sandstone at Indian Sands. Easy beach access is at Whaleshead Beach, where shaded picnic tables shelter the view. From farther south at Lone Ranch, climb the grassy hillside to the top of Cape Ferrelo for a sweeping view of the rugged coastline, also a great spot for whale-watching in fall and summer.

    U.S. 101 between Gold Beach and Brookings, Gold Beach, Oregon, 97444, USA
  • 20. Shore Acres State Park

    An observation building on a grassy bluff overlooking the Pacific marks the site that held the mansion of lumber baron Louis J. Simpson. The view over the rugged wave-smashed cliffs is splendid, but the real glory of Shore Acres lies a few hundred yards to the south, where an entrance gate leads into what was Simpson's private garden. Beautifully landscaped and meticulously maintained, the gardens incorporate formal English and Japanese designs. From March to mid-October the grounds are ablaze with blossoming daffodils, rhododendrons, azaleas, roses, and dahlias. In December the garden is decked out with a dazzling display of holiday lights.

    89526 Cape Arago Hwy., Coos Bay, Oregon, 97420, USA

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    Rate Includes: $5 parking
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