Any time of year, a journey down Oregon’s coast is a beautiful excursion. The craggy cliffs raised high above the water, while rocky boulders are strewn along the shoreline like the sea guardians.
The Coast Range is profoundly carved by large rivers and covered with forests, providing excellent rowing, angling, and trekking opportunities, and making it one one of the best things to do on the Oregon Coast.
Another best attraction is Oregon Dunes, which are among the largest coastal dunes in the world.
Driving Oregon Coast Highway 101 and halting often at roadside is the most common way to catch the glimpse of the picturesque coastline. For a thorough exploration of the Oregon coast, determined hikers can trek the Oregon Coast Trail and cover over 370 miles on foot.
Regardless of your mode of transportation, you may get accustomed with laid-back vibes, and feel like you never want to leave. Our list of the top things to do on the Oregon Coast will help you locate the best locations and top attractions.
- 1. Catch a Glimpse of the Most Iconic Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach
- 2. Visit Some of the Best Beaches in Oregon at Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor
- 3. Explore the Three Capes Scenic Route
- 4. OHVs is a Popular Recreational Activity at Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area
- 5. Cape Perpetua is an Extremely Popular Place to Visit!
- 6. There are Enough Reasons to Visit the Seaside Promenade!
- 7. Marvel The View at Boiler Bay
- 8. There’s so Much to Explore at Yaquina Head
- 9. Visit the Century Old Heceta Head Lighthouse
- 10. Visit Devil’s Punchbowl State Natural Area
- 11. Enjoy the Scenic landscape Ecola State Park
- 12. Learn the Wonders of Oregon Coast and Beyond at its Namesake Aquarium
- 13. Explore the Face Rock State Scenic Viewpoint
- 14. At Fort Stevens, the Columbia River Merges Into Pacific
- 15. Learn the Human and Natural History at Columbia River Maritime Museum
- 16. Indulge into the History of Logging at Camp 18 Museum
- 17. Shop, Dine and Wander at Old Seaside
- 18. Lewis & Clark Monument
- 19. Enjoy Delectable Seafood From the Oregon Coast
- 20. Take Your Kids to Seaside Carousel Mall
- Best Places To Eat in Oregon Coast
- Best Places to Stay in Oregon Coast
1. Catch a Glimpse of the Most Iconic Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach
Cannon Beach is a two-hour trip from Portland and is a fairly tourist-friendly hamlet in its own right. With its attractions, novelty cafes, and summertime activities schedule, the family vacation here is worth every dime!
Haystack Rock lies on the Cannon Beach, is possibly one of the most recognizable Oregon coast destinations. The fame of Haystack Rock is largely due to its presence of a 235-foot-tall legacy of the county’s volcanic heritage.
One of Oregon’s seven protected Marine Gardens is here. During the low tide, it showcases a vibrant world of sea urchins, anemones, and sea stars. Haystack Rock is also home to a number of seabird species, notably the striped puffin, whose sheer presence graces the vibrant landscape.
2. Visit Some of the Best Beaches in Oregon at Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor
Boardman State Park hosts some of Oregon’s most stunning coastline, and is located four miles north of Brookings along US 101. The picturesque highway boasts the photogenic turnarounds.
There are picnic spots alongside short hikes that take you to serene beaches and magnificent peaks. Move a little further to the scattered island chains, and is a preserved habitat to seagulls and growling sea lions.
The charming Lone Ranch Beach here offers picnic areas and tidepools in a sandy enclave punctuated with square-shaped heaps. Within its range is the Cape Ferrelo that offers stunning ocean views, and is located half a mile north.
Another key attraction is The Natural Bridge Viewpoint here which is the tallest bridge in Oregon at 345 feet. From here, you may observe rock arcs off the coast that are the ruins of collapsed sea caves. Further north, at Arch Rock Point, are interesting, eroded volcanic headlands.
The nearby Secret Beach and China Beach are also the best places to visit on the Oregon Coast.
3. Explore the Three Capes Scenic Route
Starting at Tillamook, the road that veers from the highway 101 passes three capes and through a lush habitat that is known for its rich history, altitude, and natural beauty.
The picturesque Cape Meares is the first cape to be reached if you’re coming from Tillamook, then perhaps the campsite-friendly Cape Lookout. Cape Kiwanda is the third cape and a distinctive landmark, and is the only sandstone capes along the coast.
Each cape along this 40-mile journey features rich natural assets, including rugged hiking routes, tide pools brimming with life, and uninhabited beaches.
Here you will experience the breath-taking elevated views where the jagged cliffs meet the Pacific. If you want to avoid the crowds, consider spending your trip around Cape Kiwanda.
4. OHVs is a Popular Recreational Activity at Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area
One of the world’s largest collections of coastal sand dunes can be found in Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. . The dunes, which span over 40 miles between North Bend and Florence, cater to the tourists from all walks of life.
Riding off-highway vehicles (OHVs) is one of the fun things to do on the Oregon Coast. Camping, hiking, and sand sledding are other recreational activities here
OHV motors can be heard and seen ascending the dunes to the north. Hikers can explore the serene landscape, further South, on their own in places like Tahkenitch Creek.
5. Cape Perpetua is an Extremely Popular Place to Visit!
Amongst all the best things to see on the Oregon Coast, the Cape Perpetua day-use area is renowned for its breathtaking ocean views. Amazing views of the coast can also be experienced from Cape Foulweather to Cape Arago.
This 17th century volcanic relic, which is three miles south of Yachats, was discovered by Captain James Cook of England. The region is known for its stunning rock formations and lapping waves.
The scenic trails here take visitors to ancient forests, rock pools, and shell deposits.
About half-mile north of the visitor centre, the deep cracks in the defunct volcano allow waves to wash crater into the promontory, producing effects like Devil’s Whirlpool. During high tides, the waves jump up this crater, filling up the 30 foot mouth to erupt against the creator’s edges.
You can reach the tide pool by taking the 0.5 mile concrete Captain Cook Trail where at high tide the fountain-like waves shoot water out of a sea cave. Definitely, the top Oregon Coast attraction!
On warm weekend days, a lot of people visit the cape. More privacy is available on warm days, and exploring the lush coastal forest in the rain is enjoyable.
6. There are Enough Reasons to Visit the Seaside Promenade!
The historic Promenade, also known as the Prom, has been a beloved pedestrian walkway for more than a century. Located next to the northern coastal Seaside Beach, this beachfront promenade is something not to miss. Thanks to its great views of the ocean and the neighbouring Tillamook Head.
The Prom, which is 1.5 miles long, offers a concrete walkway for people to enjoy the seaside and the nearby sandy dunes.
The key attractions include the Seaside Aquarium. This aquarium on the promenade will appeal to families with young children and is one of the best things to do on the Oregon Coast. Expect some fish tanks, a touch pool, and a small indoor seal aquarium where you can feed the marine creatures. Look for the “Tsunami Fish,” an Asian fish that was mysteriously shipped in a wooden boat that witnessed the Japanese tsunami in 2011.
7. Marvel The View at Boiler Bay
Boiler Bay is one of the nicest tiny communities on the Oregon Coast and is known for its whale-watching activity. The bay attracts the humpbacks from Alaska in September that stop here for a brief period before making their way to the Gulf of Mexico.
It’s simple to lose track of time at Boiler Bay. Depoe Bay, a nearby city, is also worthy of consideration and also one of the unique places to go in Oregon Coast. Along with a comparable picturesque view, this part of the earth offers fun-filled activities, like guided whale watching tours and fishing trips.
8. There’s so Much to Explore at Yaquina Head
Just over 10 miles south of Depoe Bay, the Yaquina Head is a day-use facility that welcomes wanderers with parking and hiking trails. There are plenty of things to do in this exceptional natural region.
The 1872 lighthouse at the top of the basalt head is one of the best places to visit on the Oregon Coast. Visitors can also soak into the view of the vibrant wildflowers that adds beauty to this location.
Another reason to visit includes a large habitat for tidal pools, a range of marine creatures that can be seen from the coast, and a visitor centre that offers a glimpse into the past associated with the lighthouse.
Tour of the lighthouse can be accomplished ascending a long flight of stairs. Advance booking required.
9. Visit the Century Old Heceta Head Lighthouse
Over a century has passed since then, the Heceta Head Lighthouse is a part and parcel to the seafaring ships and coastal vacationers. It is located 13 miles south of Yachats on Highway 101 and rises abruptly above the turbulent water.
The spinning beacon of light is located towards the west of the 1,000-foot Heceta Head, is incredibly picturesque and still used to direct ships today.
The attractive lighthouse attracts interests from the lands as well as from the surrounding coast. From the lighthouse the trails stretch north and south, offering panoramic views of the coastline and the horizon.
On the grounds lies the former residence of the lighthouse keeper, which has been converted into AirBnb, and is famous for its seven-course brunch.
10. Visit Devil’s Punchbowl State Natural Area
This unusual geological formation is conveniently located less than a mile off of Highway 101. It was formed by the collapse of two sea caves close to the shore. It is the fantastic location to observe whales during the migratory season.
High tide is an excellent time to go since the rushing water roars and rips through the punch bowl, showcasing the ocean’s significant force.
As the water begins to fade, rich tide pools abound with aquatic life become visible, making low tide an additional enjoyable time to explore.
The key attraction here is Otter Rock, and is located further north of the punch bowl, is known for its lapping waves, and is an ideal destination for surfing.
11. Enjoy the Scenic landscape Ecola State Park
Ecola State Park serves peace, a variety of trails, and a wonderful picnic spot. It is here the sandy shores of Cannon Beach are severely interrupted by stone boulders, many of which are hidden beneath the Coast Range.
Short walkways at Ecola Point take you over the peninsula for the rewarding vistas. Bring shoes with some friction because the area is covered in rainforests and the tracks are quite slippery.
An 8-mile section of the Oregon Coast Trail extends north from here and follows the path taken by the Corps of Discovery in 1806. A sandy cove at Indian Beach, which is popular with surfers and Tillamook Head are the top Oregon Coast tourist attractions.
12. Learn the Wonders of Oregon Coast and Beyond at its Namesake Aquarium
Wondering what to do on the Northern Oregon Coast for families with kids? The 39 acres of aquarium facility that overlooks the Yaquina Bay offers a pleasant and engaging environment for visitors of all age groups.
Not just that, this non-profit organisation in Oregon Coast educates the public about the natural treasures of the Oregon coast.
The Giant Pacific Octopus Cave, the Mysteries of Sunken ships, and the 1.3 million-gallon Corridors of the UnderWater Aquarium are key attractions here.
Dolphins, sea lions, sharks, and horned seabirds are just a few of the aquarium’s permanent residents.
You can partake in SCUBA diving in the sea or spend the evening in the underwater tunnels, among other unique events and activities here.
13. Explore the Face Rock State Scenic Viewpoint
A few streets south of Table Rock is a massive rock known as Face Rock, which has an eerily accurate, almost scary human profile.
According to Native American folklore, a lady and her beloved kittens were turned to stone by a cruel sea deity, and they now all appear as sea stacks.
When you gaze your eyes from left to right, Oregon’s southern coast is principally defined with the sea stacks onshore and offshore. The sights never cease to amaze. When you take a closer look at Face Rock, a massive sea stack appears to be staring back at you.
One of the great places to begin your exploration around Face Rock is when you walk further north at Coquille Point and Kroneberg County Park. The steep flight of stairs leading to the sandy beach and the panoramic view from Kroneberg are the Oregon Coast must see attractions.
14. At Fort Stevens, the Columbia River Merges Into Pacific
Fort Stevens State Park, which is located at Oregon’s farthest north westerly point, is another Oregon Coast attraction. This is where the Columbia River merges into the Pacific Ocean.
This vast natural area houses the historic military station that formerly defended the Columbia River mouth. For more than 80 years, up until 1945, Fort Stevens served as a crucial military post during WWII.
There are artillery batteries buried in sand dunes close to the Military Museum. You can also find other military relics including a command post, a sniper nest, and ammunition.
The Military Site’s self-guided walking tour has more than 30 stops, and the visitor centre offers a glimpse into the war history and a scale-model prototype of the fort.
The Fort Stevens campsite is the biggest along the coast and features more than 300 camps and spaces for anything from RVs to hikers. There are two freshwater lakes that offer additional activities for canoeing, diving, and fishing within the fort boundary.
The Peter Iredale, a century-old shipwreck that offers a fantastic photo opportunity, is another feature of the park.
15. Learn the Human and Natural History at Columbia River Maritime Museum
Located on the banks of the Columbia River, the Maritime Museum is accessible from the lovely Astoria Riverfront that showcases the natural and human history of the neighbourhood.
The museum features a variety of exhibits, including interactive displays that describe the deadly route across the Columbia River Bar and a defunct floating lighthouse that is open for tours. The facility also displays relics related to military history that were discovered along the coast.
Throughout the day, the museum’s IMAX cinema shows several 20-minute guided documentaries. Pygmy kayak building classes and Friday Summer Plaza programmes are just two of the many educational programmes and events held here. And, it is one of the top things to do on the Oregon Coast.
16. Indulge into the History of Logging at Camp 18 Museum
The Camp 18 Museum is the best place to visit on the Oregon Coast. It offers educational tours about the history of forestry in Oregon and its effects on the state. Its quaint wooden cottage and restaurant are located in a beautiful natural setting.
Its inventor Gordon Smith has been accumulating logging tools for the past 100 years. There are enormous axes and saws on display alongside other tools, trucks, and vintage equipment.
The enormous wood cabin that Smith and his pals built is equally magnificent as its antiquities and artefacts.
17. Shop, Dine and Wander at Old Seaside
Old Seaside is a bustling seaside resort town and is the primary location for cuisine, retail, and nightclubs. The downtown area is segregated into two areas.
While the majority of the town’s attractions and businesses are located towards the Western area, there are still more stores and eateries to be found on the east side.
Families can stop by the Necanicum River Estuary which includes theatres, ice cream parlors, boutique shops, and seafood restaurants.
The Gilbert Historic District, on the other hand, sits to the east and is home to some of Seaside’s oldest structures. It is where you’ll find tons of art galleries and a terrific farmers market.
In addition, Seaside Beach, Boardwalk, and Turnaround are all accessible from Broadway Street and downtown and undoubtedly the best places to see in Oregon Coast.
18. Lewis & Clark Monument
The Lewis and Clark Monument is located at the heart of the Turnaround, one of the top places to go on the Oregon Coast. It is a magnificent landmark that offers the breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean.
The Lewis and Clark Trail officially ends at the bronze statue. The bust which was built in 1990 to honour the heroic explorers’ historic eighteen-month voyage. It also features flashbacks of various events that occurred along the trip at the bottom and a picture of their devoted dog Seaman.
19. Enjoy Delectable Seafood From the Oregon Coast
There are several locations along the shore to experience the scrumptious seafood. Oregon Coast is globally acclaimed for its seafood speciality. You must visit the Old Oregon Smokehouse in Rockaway Beach, the South Beach Fish Market in Newport, Sharkbites in Coos Bay, Bowpicker Fish & Chips in Astoria, and Buoy’s Best Restaurant in Seaside.
20. Take Your Kids to Seaside Carousel Mall
A pleasant, family-friendly destination is indeed a home to dozens of stores and restaurants, as well as endless casinos and carousel activities.
The vividly coloured architecture has charmed generations of people both young and old with its alluring qualities. Although it includes more contemporary features like a game arcade and a bowling arena, the charming old carousel that sits in the middle is the main attraction here.
Best Places To Eat in Oregon Coast
The Oregon Coast boasts about 350 miles of shoreline and numerous communities scattered along it. It has a diverse selection of eateries and a vibrant culinary scene. We explored some intriguing restaurants along this area, which offer anything from Southern, Mexican to classic Pacific Coast delicacies.
- Bowpicker Fish & Chips – Bowpicker is well known for its fish and chips and is popular with both residents and tourists. Its signature dish—lightly battered white fish served over sirloin potato chips. Even though there may be long queues, Bowpicker Fish & Chips is a must-try.
- Drina Daisy – The restaurant offers authentic Turkish cuisine in a warm Aegean setting. Start your lunch with hljeb and avjar, locally sourdough bread that is accompanied by an aubergine and red pepper dip. Try the aromatic spit-roasted mutton or the cauliflower leaf stuffed with pork or veggies. Turkish coffee and baklava can be served to complete the meal.
- The Wayfarer Restaurant and Lounge – It serves delectable regional cuisine while providing views of Haystack Rock and the Pacific Ocean. The restaurant takes pleasure in serving locally sourced, fresh herbs from the Pacific Northwest, such as mulberries, oyster mushrooms, and fresh seafood. The Wayfarer is a terrific place for both lunch and breakfast. The lunch menu is heavy on salad dressings, while the morning menu at the Wayfarer offers a variety of Poached Eggs.
- Adobe Restaurant and Lounge – Sashimi, steak, and vegan delicacies are prominent on the menu. Not to be missed are the locally sourced, grilled Yaquina bay crabs. The Captain’s seafood plate includes the day’s fresh catch along with shrimp, mussels, calamari, and a razor snail.
Best Places to Stay in Oregon Coast
Cannon Beach, Newport and the little towns along the Oregon coast are the tourist-friendly settlements. It is also the home to many of the best beach resorts. Add a full-service spa visit or 18 holes of oceanfront golf to your stay on the Oregon coast.
If unwinding is high on your to-do list, most of the resorts here have access to a lengthy stretch of sandy beach that’s ideal for spreading out a towel.
With this list of the top beach resorts on the Oregon Coast, you can choose the ideal place to stay for your upcoming holiday.
- Stephanie Inn, Cannon Beach – The hotel’s rooms come in a variety of sizes and styles, but the ones with ocean views are the prettiest. These have patios that are furnished, so you must watch the sun go down from them. Other accommodation features include gas fireplaces, Jacuzzi baths, and free breakfast that can be delivered right to your room.
- Whale Cove Inn, Depoe Bay – Seven magnificent and roomy suites with private terraces are available at this opulent boutique hotel on the seashore. Each suite has a private balcony with a Jacuzzi spa and is individually designed with exquisite ocean ambiance. The three-bedroom top suite at Whale Cove Inn can comfortably house four visitors and offers complimentary breakfast.
- Adobe Resorts, Yachats – This privately owned, all-inclusive resort offers whirlpool suites, condominium rooms, and overnight accommodations. All of the resort’s premier suites offer private balconies with views of the ocean.At Adobe, there are options for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and Sunday brunch.
- Surfsand Resort, Cannon Beach – At the Surfsand Resort, guests can choose from apartments with two bedrooms to balcony suites with breathtaking ocean views. With unique features like nightly group fires, Saturday ice-cream socials, and lamps in every room for seaside exploration after dark, the resort caters to the perfect family vacation.
The state of Oregon is home to a series of ocean and river beaches, making it one of the hottest tourist destinations in the country. With an assortment of cultural and outdoor activities, it is no surprise that thousands flocked to this state every year. From the rugged northern coastline running through miles of towering trees to the southerly beaches lapped by waves crashing on the coast at Cape Foulweather, camping in Neahkahnie Mountain and hiking along the Pacific Crest Trail, there are plenty of things to do in Oregon Coast.
The Oregon Coast is so beautiful that it made our list of best places to visit in September 2022. The rugged coastline, charming seaside communities, rich history, and a vibrant culture combine to make an unforgettable experience. If you haven’t visited yet, you’ve been missing out on one of the most beautiful places in the world.