Oregon Coast with ocean bluffs and sea stacks

17 Best Places to Visit on the Oregon Coast (2023)

Affiliate Disclosure

Stretching along the rugged Pacific shoreline, the Oregon Coast is one of the West Coast’s most beautiful places to visit, with postcard-perfect scenery at every turn.

Being a Northern California local, I have had my share of dramatic coastal drives and charming coast town stays on California’s coast. I was really excited to see the Oregon Coast this summer as part of our 7 day Oregon road trip. And the Oregon Coast did not disappoint!

From iconic Cannon Beach and its Haystack Rock to the maritime allure of Newport, the hidden gems of Brookings, and the captivating Three Capes Scenic Drive, this article covers some of the best places to visit on the Oregon Coast for your Oregon Coast road trip.

17 Best Places and Towns to Visit on the Oregon Coast

The Oregon Coast is truly a treasure trove with its dramatic cliffs, iconic sea stacks, coastal towns, stunning lighthouses, marine life, and endless ocean horizons.

However, I must say that the Oregon Coast is very different from Southern California beaches. The beaches here are not ideal for swimming or water sports as the waves can be rough here, but they are more for strolling, tide-pooling, beachcombing, and taking in the dramatic coastal views.

Let’s discover some of the best places to visit along the Oregon Coast, including coastal towns, cities, scenic drives, and attractions!

The places listed here mostly are in the order of driving north to south on the Oregon coast, with the exception of Astoria, which is North of Canon Beach. We first drove to Cannon Beach from Portland, but you can also go first to Astoria from Portland and then drive south.

Going North to South is the best way to do this drive, as all the coastal attractions will mostly be on the right side of the road going South, except for Tillamook Creamery, which is on the left.

1. Cannon Beach

  • Location: Northern Oregon Coast
  • Place type: Coastal town
  • What to do: Haystack Rock, Ecola State Park, Beach fun
  • Where to Stay: Surfsand Resort

Cannon Beach is a classic coastal destination with its stunning sandy shores and the iconic Haystack Rock jutting out from the ocean. This is probably the most photographed beach on the Oregon Coast, with the Haystack Rock as the focal point.

Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach - Cannon Beach is one of the best places to visit on the Oregon Coast
Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach

Driving from Portland, Cannon Beach was our first stop on the Oregon Coast, and the view of Haystack Rock just took my breath away! It reminded me of a similar sea stack I had seen in Morro Bay in California, but this was definitely more picturesque.

Cannon Beach is a very family-friendly beach and immensely popular. Popular activities here include taking a leisurely walk along the beach, exploring the tide pools around Haystack Rock, and maybe even catching sight of some puffins if you’re lucky.

The artsy town offers galleries, boutiques, and delicious seafood restaurants. The Wayfarer Restaurant and Lounge is right on the beach and a great, moderately priced place for lunch. If you’re into outdoor art, the annual Sandcastle Contest in June is a blast.

Ecola State Park is only around 10 minutes north of Canon Beach and offers stunning coastal views, lush forests, and hiking trails. Indian Beach is great for surfing and picnicking, and be sure to explore the iconic Ecola Point for some epic views of the Tillamook Lighthouse in the distance.

Sidewalk in Cannon Beach town
Cannon Beach Town

Cannon Beach is only about an hour and a half drive from Portland and an absolute must-see if you are spending 3 days in Portland or more. Cannon Beach is close enough to make a day trip from Portland, but it is also an excellent weekend getaway.

The Surfsand Resort is a great oceanfront place to stay overnight, with views of Haystack Rock. The property has a pool and restaurant and is right next to Canon Beach.

2. Astoria

  • Location: Northern Oregon Coast
  • Place type: Coastal town
  • What to do: Astoria Column, Columbia River Maritime Museum, Goonies film locations, Astoria Riverfront Trolley, downtown strolls
  • Where to Stay: Cannery Pier Hotel and Spa

If you like history, you will love Astoria, the oldest American settlement west of the Rockies. Astoria is rich in history and Victorian charm. It also has a scenic riverfront for trolley rides and walks with views of the Astoria-Megler Bridge that connects Oregon to Washington.

Astoria town and bridge
Astoria waterfront and Astoria-Megler Bridge

Climb the Astoria Column for sweeping panoramic vistas of the city and ocean. To reach the observation deck at the top of the column, you will have to climb 164 steps inside the column. It is free to visit and climb the Astoria Column. Parking is $5 per car, but good for a year.

The Columbia River Maritime Museum houses several maritime artifacts, perfect for learning about the region’s seafaring past. The museum is open daily except holidays from 9:30 AM to 5 PM. You can purchase tickets from the museum website crmm.org.

Visit the Lewis and Clark National Historical Park, the site of the Fort Clatsop National Memorial, to discover the Lewis and Clark Expedition’s winter encampment and gain insight into their explorations.

Stroll through charming streets like Marine Dr and Commercial St. with Victorian architecture and boutiques, and dine at one of the several waterfront restaurants.

Byou Beer Co. on Marine Dr is a great place for lunch or dinner with in-house beers on tap, great food, and water views. Try the fried cheese curds and fish and chips here!

Take a leisurely walk along the Astoria Riverwalk, enjoying views and sculptures, or take a ride on the Astoria Riverfront Trolley for a fun way to explore the riverfront area.

For a dose of pop culture history, visit the filming locations of “The Goonies” movie. The most famous location from the film, called “The Goonies House,” is at 368 38th Street and is privately owned.

Astoria is a great place to spend a night or two, and the Cannery Pier Hotel and Spa is a luxury hotel right on the water with great views of the bridge. This 4-star hotel has a spa and includes breakfast, but the riverfront location is what makes this hotel so special.

3. Three Capes Scenic Drive

  • Location: Northern Oregon Coast
  • Place type: Scenic Drive
  • What to do: Cape Meares, Cape Lookout, and Cape Kiwanda
  • Where to Stay: Headlands Coastal Lodge & Spa in Pacific City

The Three Capes Scenic Drive is a must-do along the coast, offering stunning views of three iconic capes: Cape Meares, Cape Lookout, and Cape Kiwanda.

Cape Meares Lighthouse against ocean backdrop
Cape Meares Lighthouse against the ocean backdrop

Cape Meares has an incredible octagonal lighthouse called the Cape Meares Lighthouse. Cape Lookout offers fantastic hiking trails like the Cape Lookout Trail with panoramic views, and Cape Kiwanda is known for its massive sand dune.

Plan some hikes if you’re up for it. The trails along the capes provide stunning coastal vistas. And if you’re into photography, sunrise or sunset along this drive is pure magic.

The entire Three Capes Scenic Drive can be done in a couple of hours with stops on your way to the Central Coast. But if you plan to stay overnight, then Headlands Coastal Lodge & Spa in Pacific City is an exceptional hotel right on Pacific Beach and next to Cape Kiwanda.

4. Cape Meares

  • Location: Northern Oregon Coast
  • Place type: Lighthouse attraction
  • What to do: Cape Meares Lighthouse, Octopus Tree, whale watching
  • Where to Stay: Headlands Coastal Lodge & Spa in Pacific City

Cape Meares is a beautiful spot along the Oregon Coast with several unique attractions. This headland provides a blend of stunning vistas and unique landmarks.

Cape Meares Lighthouse
Cape Meares Lighthouse

The Cape Meares Lighthouse is stunning along the ocean backdrop and stands as a historic beacon. This lighthouse was built in 1889 and was used by the US Coast Guard.

There is a short scenic walk from the Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint parking lot to reach the lighthouse. The tree-lined paved path is beautiful and has a slight incline to walk down to the lighthouse.

The lighthouse is constructed in such a way that you don’t get the full view of the lighthouse until you reach it. It’s very unique.

Octopus Tree at Cape Meares
Octopus Tree at Cape Meares

Nearby, you’ll find the Octopus Tree, a centuries-old Sitka spruce with its branches extending like, you guessed it, an octopus.

A gentle stroll through a beautiful forest will lead you to this unique 300-year-old tree. The tree-lined trail to the Octopus tree reminded me of the hiking trails in Muir Woods back home in California.

tree lined hiking path
Hiking Trail to Octopus Tree

Prepare for some seriously breathtaking views just a few steps further on the path from the Octopus Tree. The viewpoint here offers sweeping vistas of the Pacific Ocean, Tillamook Bay, and the coastline.

Cape Meares is a prime spot for birdwatching. Keep an eye out for seabirds and migratory species.

You might even spot some gray whales during their migration season if you’re lucky. We could see some whales spouting far off in the water from the lighthouse terrace when we visited in July.

5. Cape Lookout

  • Location: Northern Oregon Coast
  • Place type: Stop for Scenic views
  • What to do: hiking Cape Trail, camping at Cape Lookout State Park
  • Where to Stay: Headlands Coastal Lodge & Spa in Pacific City

Cape Lookout is a narrow, stunning headland along the Oregon Coast and offers a blend of scenic trails and stunning panoramas. It’s a prime spot for spotting migrating whales, bird watching, and capturing stunning photos of the coastline.

The hike along the Cape Trail rewards you with breathtaking ocean vistas from towering cliffs, though it is an adventurous trail with muddy conditions, narrow paths, and steep drops. Make sure you have sturdy hiking boots and hiking poles for this hike, as well as water.

Cape Lookout in Oregon
Views from Cape Lookout overlook in Oregon

Cape Lookout’s elevated vantage point makes it a fantastic place to witness gray whale migrations during their seasonal journey around the Spring months of March to May.

If you’re into secluded shores, the beach below the cape is a hidden paradise. Trek down through the forest to feel the sand between your toes and listen to the soothing waves.

Cape Lookout State Park offers camping right by the beach. The campsites have a reservation fee, and you must make prior reservations online or by phone.

We didn’t venture down to the beach or hike the Cape Trail but stopped at the Cape Lookout vista point and saw stunning views of Netarts Bay from here.

6. Cape Kiwanda and Pacific City

  • Location: Northern Oregon Coast
  • Place type: Coastal town with massive sand dune
  • Attractions: Cape Kiwanda Sand Dune, Pacific City Beach
  • Where to Stay: Headlands Coastal Lodge & Spa in Pacific City

The towering sand dune is an iconic landmark at Cape Kiwanda, known for its dramatic waves, windsurfing, and kitesurfing.

If you are up for it, climb the massive sand dune for sweeping ocean views and an adrenaline rush. The iconic sea stack stands as a testament to the power of the waves, creating a dramatic backdrop for photographers.

Sand dune at Cape Kiwanda
Sand dune at Cape Kiwanda

Pacific City Beach is just south of Cape Kiwanda and a great place to take a leisurely stroll along the golden sands and dip your feet in the ocean.

Pacific City is a popular destination for surfers. If you’re experienced or want to take lessons, this is a great place to catch some waves.

This place is also excellent for tidepooling during low tide to discover a variety of marine life, including colorful anemones and starfish.

Beach and sea stacks at Pacific City Beach
Pacific City Beach

Enjoy a beachside picnic with stunning vistas and the sound of waves, or treat yourself to fresh seafood and coastal cuisine at nearby restaurants. Pelican Brewing is right on the beach with brunch and lunch menus.

Pacific City makes for a great overnight stay. Headlands Coastal Lodge & Spa in Pacific City offers a luxurious coastal retreat.

Enjoy oceanfront accommodations with breathtaking views, indulge in spa treatments, savor fresh coastal cuisine at Meridian Restaurant, and explore the natural beauty of Cape Kiwanda.

7. Tillamook

  • Location: Northern Oregon Coast
  • Place type: Coastal City
  • Attractions: Tillamook Creamery, Tillamook Forest Center, Tillamook Air Museum
  • Where to Stay: More of a stopover. Stay at Pacific City instead

Tillamook City is famous for its dairy, so a visit to the Tillamook Creamery is a must. This was my teens’ most awaited part of the Oregon Coast drive. They couldn’t wait to sample the cheese and try the ice cream flavors here!

It was funny as it seemed we were the only ones driving on the Oregon Coast, but when we reached the Tillamook factory, it was as if the entire world was there. It was super crowded for a Wednesday afternoon in July.

Tillamook Creamery building
Tillamook Creamery building

Here, you can take a self-guided tour to see the cheese-making process. There are large glass windows above the factory area where you can see the workers working on the cheese production line. Such massive blocks of cheese!

At the end of the self-guided tour, you can sample the various types of cheddar cheese samples, and they even had cheese curds to sample!

Tillamook Cheese Factory on Oregon Coast
Tillamook Cheese cutting process seen on the self-guided tour

The Tillamook Creamery is open from 10 AM to 7 PM, and it is free to explore the self-guided tour. No prior reservations are needed.

There is a large cafeteria here with some delicious lunch options. We tried the deep-dish pizza, and it was great. They also have burgers on the menu. Make sure to try their delicious ice cream. They have unique ice cream flavors not found in stores!

Tillamook Ice cream
Tillamook Ice cream

There is a large grassy area outside where kids and dogs are running around. It was a fun stop.

The Tillamook Forest Center is great for nature enthusiasts, offering hiking trails and interactive educational exhibits about sustainable ways of forest management.

And if you’re a fan of hiking, the nearby Munson Creek Falls Trail is a serene escape into nature. You can plan to spend a couple of hours here exploring the Forest Center and the surroundings.

Tillamook Air Museum is nearby, where you can discover a vast collection of vintage aircraft in a historic blimp hangar, offering an interesting glimpse into aviation history.

Tillamook is a dairy town and a bit inland from the ocean, I wouldn’t recommend staying here overnight. Stop for lunch at Tillamook Creamery and then make your way to Pacific City after the Three Capes Scenic Drive along the coast.

8. Lincoln City

  • Location: Central Oregon Coast
  • Place type: Coastal town
  • Attractions: D River State Recreation Site for beach fun, Devil’s Lake for water activities
  • Where to Stay: Coho Oceanfront Lodge

Lincoln City is around where the Central Oregon Coast starts, and this coastal town offers a mix of beach relaxation and activities.

Hunt for colorful agates and glass floats hidden on the sandy shores, but remember not to take anything from nature and leave it for others to discover.

If you’re interested in learning how glass floats are made or want to make your own glass art souvenir, the Lincoln City Glass Center offers workshops.

Beach with sea stacks

Devils Lake is perfect for kayaking and paddleboarding if you’re into water activities. The Lincoln City Kite Festival in summer is a whimsical event that’s worth checking out at D River State Recreation Site.

On the way south from Lincoln City, stop at Siletz Bay National Wildlife Refuge for birdwatching opportunities, wildlife observation, and enjoying tidal marshes. birdwatching

Lincoln City can be explored in a few hours, or you can spend the night on the Central Coast to break your Oregon Coast drive. There are quite a few accommodation options in Lincoln City.

The Coho Oceanfront Lodge is a great place to stay in town with ocean views and near the town center.

Salishan Coastal Lodge is a luxurious coastal resort around 5 miles south of Lincoln City, with a spa, golf course, and excellent dining.

9. Depoe Bay

  • Location: Central Oregon Coast
  • Place type: Coastal town
  • What to do: OPRD Whale Watching Center
  • Where to Stay: Inn at Arch Rock

Known as the “Whale Watching Capital of the Oregon Coast,” Depoe Bay is perfect for spotting gray whales on their migrations.

The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department Whale Watching Center provides excellent vantage points. To maximize your whale-watching chances, visit during migration seasons (winter and spring).

What Statue and picnic tables at Depoe Bay waterfront
Depoe Bay Waterfront

Stroll along the Depoe Bay Harbor, also called the “World’s Smallest Harbor.” And if you’re a seafood enthusiast, grab a table with an ocean view at one of the local restaurants like Gracie’s Sea Hag.

If you’re a fan of small-town charm, you’ll like Depoe Bay. Stroll along the Hwy 101 oceanfront, grab some saltwater taffy at Ainslee’s Salt Water Taffy, and feel those coastal vibes.

Depoe Bay is a great stop to stretch your legs a bit and try your luck at spotting some whales. There are fewer options to stay here compared to other Oregon Coast towns. The Inn at Arch Rock is oceanfront and has excellent ocean views.

10. The Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area

  • Location: Central Oregon Coast
  • Place type: Recreation area with Lighthouse, beaches
  • Attractions: Yaquina Head Lighthouse, Quarry Cove, hiking
  • Where to Stay: Inn at Nye Beach in Newport

The Yaquina Head Lighthouse is the most photographed and picturesque lighthouse on the Oregon Coast, and rightly so! It’s stunningly beautiful, standing tall against the ocean backdrop!

Yaquina Head Lighthouse is one of the best places to visit on the Oregon Coast
Yaquina Head Lighthouse on Oregon Coast

There is a $7 entrance fee to access the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area, and there are several parking lots here.

A coastal Salal hill trail goes from the Yaquina Head Visitor Center parking lot to the lighthouse with panoramic ocean views. You can also park directly at the smaller parking lot at the base of the lighthouse.

The lighthouse makes for some stunning pictures! There is a terrace behind the lighthouse from which you can try to spot whales. We saw some whales spouting far off in the ocean from here as well!

Once you have had your fill of the lighthouse, don’t miss the chance to spot seals and sea lions at Quarry Cove. We drove down to the Quarry Cove and parked there for easy access. This is a nice beach with stellar coastal views.

Quarry Cove beach on Oregon Coast
Quarry Cove Beach at Yaquina Head

You can also explore the tide pools along Cobble Beach and enjoy a picnic with lighthouse views.

The interpretive center offers insights into local ecology and the lighthouse’s significance. Take a leisurely walk along the headland’s trails, breathing in the fresh sea air and savoring the coastal beauty.

The Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area is only around 4 miles from Newport, so staying in Newport is ideal to explore the area.

The Inn at Nye Beach is one of the nicest places to stay in Newport, right on Nye Beach.

11. Newport

Newport is one of the best big cities on the central Oregon coast to stay for a few days. There are plenty of things to explore in this maritime city.

Wall Mural at Newport Historic Bayfront
Wall Mural at Newport Historic Bayfront

The Oregon Coast Aquarium is a must-visit, showcasing incredible local marine life. Highlights include the underwater tunnel, touch pools, and informative exhibits. It reminded us of the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California, which we had season passes to for many years when my kids were younger.

Stroll along the Newport Historic Bayfront area, where the sight and sound of sea lions sunbathing on the docks will surely make you smile. Enjoy views of Yaquina Bay Bridge from the Bayfront, an iconic sight gracing the Newport skyline.

Yaquina Bay Bridge in Newport
Yaquina Bay Bridge in Newport

For something quirky, visit Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum here. The Bayfront is a nice place to walk around to check out the gift stores and do some souvenir shopping.

When it comes to dining, you’re in for a treat. Indulge in the freshest seafood at Clearwater restaurant, a local gem offering a delectable array of ocean-to-table dishes. With its prime waterfront location, you can savor your meal while enjoying the soothing rhythm of the waves.

For a relaxing afternoon, head to Nye Beach, the most popular beach in Newport. The beach is a picturesque stretch known for its water activities and sunset views.

It also has iconic views of the Yaquina Head Lighthouse. The historic district has seafood restaurants, local boutiques, and art galleries to explore. Go to Chowder Bowl for some delicious clam chowder.

sidewalk in Newport Oregon
Newport Historic Bayfront

Immerse yourself in the region’s maritime history by visiting the Yaquina Head Lighthouse, and while you’re there, be sure to explore the intriguing tide pools that dot the coastline.

Newport is a great place to stay on the Oregon Coast as a stopover or as a destination on its own. It has several excellent places to stay.

Inn at Nye Beach is a boutique hotel with contemporary accommodations, beachfront access, and oceanfront balconies.

Elizabeth Oceanfront Suites is where we stayed and is a comfortable oceanfront hotel perched above ocean bluffs. We had a nice oceanfront room with a balcony to watch the sunset directly from our room.

12. Cape Perpetua Scenic Area

  • Location: Central Oregon Coast
  • Place type: Coastal attraction
  • Attractions: Cape Perpetua hiking, Thor’s Well, Spouting Horn
  • Where to Stay: Stop to see Vista points. Stay at Newport instead

Cape Perpetua, located on the central Oregon coast near Yachats, is a stunning coastal headland known for its rugged beauty and excellent hiking trails.

Start your visit at the Cape Perpetua Visitor Center and explore one of the many hiking trails from here. Try the St. Perpetua Trail, a moderately challenging trail with around 800 feet of elevation gain that winds through lush forest to the Cape Perpetua Overlook for some spectacular ocean views.

Ocean views

Located south of Cape Perpetua Visitor Center, Thor’s Well is a collapsed sea cave that seems to drain and spout water in a rhythmic dance with the tides.

It’s like watching the ocean breathe. However, be cautious around it, especially during high tide, as it can be dangerous due to the powerful surges.

The Spouting Horn is another spectacle just a stone’s throw away from Thor’s Well. As waves crash into an underwater cave, water erupts through a hole, creating a natural “spout.” It’s a bit like nature’s own geyser show.

Both sites are not just visually stunning but also serve as a reminder of the ocean’s raw power. Watching these natural phenomena, you’ll gain a newfound appreciation for the forces that shape our coastlines.

13. Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area

  • Location: Central Oregon Coast
  • Place type: Coastal attraction
  • Attractions: Oregon sand dunes, hiking, off-roading, ATV
  • Where to Stay: Bay Point Landing in Coos Bay

Between the coastal towns of Florence and Coos Bay is the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, which stretches for around 40 miles along the Oregon Central Coast.

The primary attraction here is exploring the massive sand dunes, some towering as high as 500 feet. These dunes are constantly shifting and evolving due to wind and weather.

Here, you can try several activities on the sand dunes, including sandboarding, sand sledding, off-roading with ATVs or dune buggies, and hiking on designated trails through the dunes.

Hiking paths in Oregon San Dunes
Hiking paths in Oregon San Dunes

The most popular and rewarding hike is the John Dellenback Dunes Trail, which starts at the John Dellenback Dunes Trailhead on Highway 101. The trail is around 5 miles and goes through a forest, over the dunes, and ends at a beach. You take the same way back. Walking on sand is quite a workout and not an easy task!

If you are not in the mood for a big hike and are looking for a quick experience with the Oregon Dunes on your way south, I recommend stopping at the Oregon Dunes Day Use Area for easy access to sand dunes and some hiking trails over sand dunes to the beach.

The Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area is a popular spot for off-roading with ATVs and dune buggies. Several rental shops in the area nearby, like in Florence, offer equipment and guided tours.

If you wish to stay overnight in the area to enjoy the sand dunes, Bay Point Landing in Coos Bay is a gorgeous place with small luxury cabins. The property has a pool and beach access. From here, you can also explore Cape Arago and Shore Acres parks the next morning.

14. Cape Arago State Park

  • Location: Southern Oregon Coast
  • Place type: Coastal attraction
  • Attractions: Cape Arago, Shore Acres, and Sunset Bay State Parks
  • Where to Stay: Bay Point Landing in Coos Bay

Driving along the Southern coast of Oregon, take a slight detour off 101 from North Bend on Highway 540 to reach Cape Arago State Park.

This area has three incredible state parks to explore: Cape Arago State Park, Shore Acres State Park, and Sunset Bay State Park.

Cape Arago offers stunning viewpoints overlooking the Pacific Ocean, showcasing rugged cliffs, pristine beaches, and waves crashing against the rocky shore.

Wildflowers on Ocean bluffs on Oregon Coast

The park is an excellent spot for observing marine life, including seals, sea lions, and a variety of seabirds. Simpson Reef Overlook is the best spot for sea lion viewing. They are far off on the rocks, so bring binoculars. But you will definitely hear them as they are loud! This is also a great spot to see some whales during the migration seasons.

Shore Acres State Park is the most gorgeous park along the Oregon Coast, and I was amazed to see such a beautiful manicured garden next to the coast! I am so glad we stopped here.

Here, you will find walking paths amidst a wide array of flowers, shrubs, trees, and even a tranquil pond. Stroll through the formal gardens and enjoy seasonal blooms.

Walking trails connect Shore Acres to Sunset Bay and Cape Arago. Sunset Bay State Park offers a campground with both tent and RV sites, for camping near the ocean and Sunset Beach.

15. Bandon

  • Location: Southern Oregon Coast
  • Place type: Coastal town
  • Attractions: Bandon Beach, Face Rock State Scenic Viewpoint, Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, Coquille River Lighthouse
  • Where to Stay: Bandon Inn

Bandon is all about rugged coastal beauty and small-town charm. Stroll along the pristine Bandon Beach, fly a kite, or simply relax while taking in the stunning ocean views with massive sea stacks.

Face Rock State Scenic Viewpoint offers a breathtaking backdrop of sea stacks and rock formations. This is a nice area with picnic tables and beach access. Don’t miss the opportunity to explore tide pools during low tide and spot creatures like anemones and starfish.

Car parked at a Scenic viewpoint on Oregon Coast

If you’re a golfer, Bandon Dunes Golf Resort is world-renowned for its stunning courses with breathtaking ocean views.

Take a relaxing stroll through Old Town Bandon, a picturesque district with art galleries, boutiques, and cozy cafes. Visit the historic red and white Coquille River Lighthouse for a glimpse into Bandon’s maritime history.

Grab a bite of the freshest seafood at local restaurants, which offer a delightful blend of flavors from the sea. The Wheelhouse & Crowsnest is a local favorite for seafood and cocktails with water views.

If you’re a photography enthusiast, the golden hour at the beach is a must for capturing the enchanting coastal scenery.

Accommodations in Bandon are basic and comfortable for an overnight stay.

Bandon Inn is in a great location near the Old Town area within walking distance of the waterfront and restaurants.

16. Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor

  • Location: Southern Oregon Coast
  • Place type: Scenic Drive
  • Attractions: Natural Bridges, Secret Beach, scenic viewpoints, hiking
  • Where to Stay: Beachfront Inn in Brookings is a great place to stay after completing the scenic drive.

Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor, along the Southern Oregon Coast, is the most untamed and rugged part of the Oregon Coast.

The corridor starts around 15 miles north of Brookings and stretches along the Oregon coast for about 12 miles, offering a stunning scenic drive along Highway 101.

Rock arches in the ocean on Oregon Coast

The road winds through old-growth forests and offers numerous pullouts with panoramic ocean views, including Arch Rock, Cape Ferrelo, and Indian Sands.

The corridor features a network of hiking trails that take you through dense forests and lead to hidden viewpoints. The Oregon Coast Trail also passes through this area.

Make sure to check out Natural Bridges, where the ocean has carved arches into the rock. If you’re a photographer, be prepared to capture some of the most captivating coastal landscapes.

Descend a steep trail to discover Secret Beach, a hidden gem with sandy shores and sea caves. It’s an excellent spot for picnicking and photography.

Whales frequent these waters, so keep your eyes peeled for sightings during migration seasons.

17. Brookings

  • Location: Southern Oregon Coast
  • Place type: Coastal town
  • Attractions: Harris Beach State Park, Azalea Park, Brookings Harbor, Chetco Point Park
  • Where to Stay: Beachfront Inn

Brookings, located on the southernmost part of the Oregon Coast, near the California border, is a small coastal town with outdoor adventures.

Explore Harris Beach State Park for tide pools, striking sea stacks, and stunning ocean views. Discover dramatic landscapes and hidden beaches at Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor, perfect for hikers and photographers.

Azalea Park offers tranquility among colorful blooms. This lovely park is filled with vibrant flowers, walking trails, and picnic areas. It’s a peaceful spot for a leisurely afternoon.

Harbor on Oregon Coast

Don’t miss the fishing and boating scene at Brookings Harbor, and keep your eyes peeled for whales during migration seasons. Visit the Chetco Point Park Overlook or book a whale-watching tour to spot these magnificent creatures during their migrations.

Sunrise and sunset views from various spots in Brookings are simply breathtaking. Enjoy the coastal beauty and serenity at Brookings!

Brookings is an excellent overnight stop on the Southern end of the Oregon Coast for a day or two before heading back inland. The Beachfront Inn is, of course, beachfront with access to the Sport Haven Beach. 

If Brookings is the last stop on your Oregon Coast, then you can either head back inland from here towards I-5 or continue down on 101 towards Cresent City in California.

If going inland towards I-5, I highly recommend visiting the charming city of Ashland, known for its Shakespeare theatre, and staying at one of the gorgeous Ashland bed and breakfasts.

Tips for visiting the Oregon Coast

Traveling along the Oregon Coast offers a fantastic blend of natural beauty, outdoor adventures, and coastal charm. Here are some travel tips to help you make the most of your Oregon Coast journey:

Best time to visit the Oregon Coast

The Oregon Coast is beautiful year-round, but the weather is most favorable during the summer months. Good weather and longer daylight hours also mean that it is typically very crowded during the summer.

Consider visiting during the shoulder seasons (spring and fall) for fewer crowds and milder weather.

If you’re interested in whale watching, plan your visit during the gray whale migration seasons (late December to January and late March to June).

Visiting the Oregon Coast in winter is a different experience, with dramatic coastal storms, rain, and cuddling up against the fireplace in an oceanfront room with a warm bowl of chowder.

How do you dress for the Oregon Coast?

Oregon Coast beaches were nothing like California beaches. I rarely saw anyone in swimming costumes and most people had jeans, shoes, and jackets, even in summer. Cannon Beach was super windy even with a jacket, and I needed a beanie!

Bring layers of clothing, as coastal weather can change quickly. A waterproof jacket, comfortable hiking shoes, and sunglasses are recommended. Don’t forget sunscreen and insect repellent, especially if you plan to spend time outdoors.

Safety Tips on the Oregon Coast

When visiting the Oregon coast, be cautious when exploring cliffs, rocks, and beaches, especially in areas with strong tides or sneaker waves. Respect warning signs, swim near lifeguards if available, and always swim with a buddy.

Stay informed about local conditions, know how to identify rip currents, and escape them by swimming parallel to the shore. Respect posted signs and closures, and be aware of potential hazards in coastal areas.

Bean and Ocean views from behind trees

FAQs about Oregon Coast

Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about visiting the Oregon Coast.

What is the most beautiful place on Oregon Coast?

The Oregon Coast is renowned for its natural beauty, making it challenging to single out just one place. However, Cannon Beach is often considered the most beautiful spot on the Oregon Coast because of its stunning features.

It has the famous Haystack Rock rising up from the sandy shore, which makes for a breathtaking view. The beaches are long and sandy, the town is charming, and it’s just a very peaceful and pretty place to visit.”

What is the most beautiful stretch of the Oregon Coast?

The Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor is often regarded as the most beautiful stretch of the Oregon Coast. This coastal wonderland spans 12 miles and is known for its rugged, untouched beauty.

Along this drive, you will be mesmerized by dramatic cliffs, panoramic viewpoints like Arch Rock, natural bridges carved in rocks, hidden coves like Secret Beach, and diverse ecosystems.

How many days do you need on the Oregon Coast road trip?

To fully explore the Oregon Coast and appreciate its beauty, a road trip of at least 3 to 5 days is recommended. This allows time for leisurely exploration, scenic stops, and visits to key attractions along the coast.

Plan for at least one night stay on the Northern Coast in Astoria or Cannon Beach, one on the Central Coast in Newport, and one on the Southern Coast in Bandon or Brookings.

What is the most popular Oregon Coast beach?

Cannon Beach is one of the most popular and iconic beaches on the Oregon Coast. It’s known for its picturesque Haystack Rock, long sandy shores, and charming coastal town with art galleries, shops, and restaurants. It is also the closest beach to Portland, only a 1.5-hour drive.

How do you get to the Oregon Coast from Portland?

The most direct route to reach the Oregon Coast from Portland is to follow US-26 West to reach the coast, which takes around 1.5 hours. Alternatively, you can take US-30 and visit Astoria in the North first and then drive south to Cannon Beach along the coast if you want to visit both towns.

In Conclusion: Best Oregon Coast towns and attractions

The Oregon Coast is truly remarkable, from the iconic Haystack Rock of Cannon Beach to the untamed beauty of Cape Kiwanda. The Scenic drive along the Three Capes, the historic town of Astoria, and Newport’s maritime charm offer a unique blend of nature, history, and relaxation.

With the lighthouses, tide pools, rock formations, hidden beaches, marine life, and sunset views, there is so much to explore on the Oregon Coast. So plan your coastal escape, and let the Oregon Coast create long-lasting memories for you.

More about Oregon

Planning to visit Oregon? Check out my other experiences in Oregon: