When it comes to exploring the western coast of the United States, Oregon has it all. From coastal towns and epic attractions, you’ll want to bookmark these best spots along Oregon’s coast for your trip.
Over the years, we’ve spent a few trips exploring Oregon’s endless coastline. Each winding turn down the coast from north to south leads to a new vista, a new town to explore, and stunning beaches. You could spend a few weeks just exploring the different regions of Oregon’s coastline.
Whether you choose to go in the spring or fall, you’ll find each region has beauty to offer no matter the time of year. I’ve loved exploring in the fall months as the summer crowds die down and you often have beaches to yourself. The moodiness of an early spring trip is also welcomed. Foggy mornings burn off to sunny afternoons for a pleasant day.
As you’re spending time planning your trip in Oregon, you’ll want to organize the best places to visit along the way. I’d highly recommend setting aside a couple of nights to explore Oregon’s coast. Our two trips that we’ve done have been split into two areas: north and south.
Thinking through an Oregon Coast trip, it may make sense to break it into two smaller trips that could be enjoyed at a more leisurely pace. This guide to the Oregon Coast will help you plan your time and decide which places you want to stop.
Take a look at some of the best Oregon coast towns and attractions.
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A Guide to the Oregon Coast
Oregon Coast Map
To get an idea of the location of all of these towns across Oregon’s coast, I’ve created a Google Map with saved locations. You’ll be able to get a good idea of where these towns are located as you pick your itinerary. The towns saved on the Oregon coast map that work best for staying overnight and exploring nearby sights.
Best Towns and Attractions
When it comes to the best towns and attractions along the Oregon Coast, there is a lot to cover. I’ve narrowed down the best and must-see spots along the coast. Below, you’ll find the list broken down into the main three regions of north, central, and south. The list is a combination of towns and highlights. Ready to start planning your epic coastal trip?
Northern Oregon Coast
One of the most historic towns in all of Oregon, Astoria is an iconic fishing town and now more commonly known for the American Comedy, The Goonies. Its riverfront is chock-full of local breweries, restaurants, and shopping opportunities. Astoria is the gateway to the northern coast of Oregon. This family-friendly destination welcomes Oregon Coast visitors who want a city experience close to Oregon’s beautiful outdoors. A few things you don’t want to miss:
Astoria Riverfront: Head here first along the Columbia River. The historic corridor that is protected for pedestrians has museums, restaurants, and more.
Lewis and Clark National Historic Park: For those looking for a historic experience, come here to understand more of the Lewis and Clark expedition. It’s located near Fort Clatsop, so you can experience both in one visit.
Oregon Film Museum: Astoria has its share of museums and for those interested in movies, you won’t want to miss this one. Each month it rotates a different exhibit on a movie made in Oregon.
Fort Stevens State Park: Fort Stevens State Park is a large park area that is historic and home to multiple hiking and biking trails as well as the famous 1906 shipwreck.
A popular resort city located just south of Astoria, Seaside makes for a wonderful option for a home base for exploring the north coast. You have close proximity to Cannon Beach and other sights. It’s the largest city on the coast and has a lot to offer in town. You can explore town or get out on the water, here are some of the highlights of things to do in Seaside:
Rent Kayaks: One option for exploring the ocean here is to rent a kayak (I hear Seaside Lodge & Hostel has the best rates) and explore the Necanicum Estuary.
Explore Cannon Beach: Though you can stay here, you can also pop down from Seaside for a day at the beach.
Hike the Tillamook Head Rainforest: If you’re looking for time inland and in nature, this trailhead provides access to a mysterious green rainforest just south of Seaside.
This may be my favorite town on Oregon’s coast, it truly is beautiful. The beach and its rock outcroppings, and its most famous Haystack Rock. It is worth a visit even if you don’t stay overnight. The town itself is charming with tons of boutiques and restaurants to enjoy while visiting (check out Pelican Brewing and Sea Level Bakery).
Ecola State Park: If you go explore one State Park, let it be Ecola. The sweeping views down the coast are incredible (bring your camera) and there are plenty of hiking trails here. You can also pop into Oswald West State Park to the south if you’re looking to explore headlands.
Bonfire on the beach: One of the beaches you can have a bonfire on is Cannon Beach. Dig a pit in the sand and start a fire to enjoy as the weather cools off.
Manzanita is a small charming town in comparison to other towns on the coast. Plus, it’s home to the most photographed scenery of Oregon — yup, the views here are that great. It has to do a lot with its temperate weather year-round and its access to empty beaches. This small town also packs a surprise — it has fine dining and a rather famous spa. For those looking for the “off-the-beaten-path,” I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Restaurants & Cafes: One of the highlights of Manzanita is its food, so you’ll want to carve out some time for this. A few highlights are San Dune Pub, Left Coast Siesta, Yolk, Manzanita Mudd Dog, and Wild Community Cafe.
Oswald West State Park: You can pop in from the north or more conveniently from Manzanita which is four miles of dense, temperate rainforest along the ocean. Don’t miss the views of Neahkahnie Mountain and Nehalem Bay. Other highlights include Short Sand Beach, Cape Falcon, and Devil’s Cauldron.
I’m putting the entire Tillamook Area under Tillamook Bay because there is so much to see here on the coast and inland. This is where we based ourselves for one of our trips and loved the proximity to both central and northern coastal Oregon. Tillamook is certainly most famous for the Tillamook Creamery, definitely pop in to get ice cream and their cheese. The architecture is done by Olson & Kundig, one of our favorite duos from Seattle. As far as what to do, you may find yourself enjoying some of these activities:
Cape Meares: Head out on a scenic drive to Cape Meares to explore the trails and see the Cape Meares Lighthouse. You can also stop in at Short Beach if you’re looking for a beach area.
Stay at a design Airbnb: Along the Wilson River inland, is one of my favorite Airbnbs in Oregon. It’s the River Cabaan and is wonderfully designed for those looking for a retreat.
Kilchis Point Reserve: For a relatively flat trail and scenic area to go for a walk, Kilchis Point Reserve is it.
Crabbing / Fishing: One of the main areas to go crabbing along the coast is an awesome spot to go fishing. The bay is home to Chinook and coho salmon as well.
Netarts: This town just south of Tillamook Bay is worth a quick stop for a few things. The first is for a meal at The Schooner Restaurant and Lounge — their crab mac & cheese is insanely good. Along the Netarts Bay, you’ll also find the famous Jacobsen Salt Co. shack that is open and sells salt directly (a great souvenir). And for the best view, head up to Cape Lookout Viewpoint that looks out over the bay — hiking can also be done there at the Cape Lookout State Park.
Central Oregon Coast
Located at the southern end of the Three Capes Scenic Route, pacific City is another wonderful coastal fishing town. What it may be most famous for is Cape Kiwanda and its Giant Sand Dune (quite literally). It’s also one of the few beaches that allow you to drive your cars on the beaches. Pack up a picnic and enjoy some time out on the beach here. Some highlights:
Giant Sand Dune: One of the most unique attractions in Oregon is the “Giant Sand Dune.” Go for a hike and soak in the vies from atop.
Nestucca River: The river is home to a wonderful place to kayak, swim, and fish. You can even rent paddle boards to go up the river.
Another one of those gems, this one may take the prize for the central region given its charm and restaurants. You are also well based for exploring local and nearby sights. It’s also home to the Neskowin Beach Golf Course, so your golf-lover’s will enjoy a day out on the greens. Its most famous for its large beach which Slab Creek empties into the Pacific Ocean. Proposal rock (a sea-stack) is just off-shore, popular for photography at sunset. Here’s how to experience Neskowin:
Proposal Rock: Yes you can climb this rock following the well-worn footpaths that are there. It is not an easy task and it can be slippery, but it is doable to do.
Neskowin Beach Golf Course: Play a round of golf at this course that has been around since the 1930’s.
Grab a bite at: The Cafe on Hawk Creek or Neskowin Trading Company, both wonderful restaurants in Neskowin.
I had to include Depoe Bay as its most famous for being the whale watching capitol of Oregon’s coast. During the months of March through December, there are a resident pod of grey whales that hang out here. In the harbor, companies charter out day trips to go see the whales and take excursions. Depoe Bay also has one of the best coastal resorts, Whale Cove Inn that offers incredible views over Whale Cove.
Often referred to as the funky capitol of Oregon’s coast, Newport has been attracting visitors for decades. It’s a family-friendly destination, has some strange museums, and plenty of opportunities to see the resident sea animals. Pop into:
The historic Bayfront: Right along the Yaquina Bay, this bayfront has restaurants and even a chance to see the sea lions right there.
Ripley’s Believe it or Not!: It’s one of the more popular museums here to visit or even consider visiting the The Wax Works, a museum home to dozen of wax sculptures.
Rogue Ales and Spirits: Rogue Brewery has its official headquarters here in Newport, so pop in for a brewery tour, a pint, and a bite.
Agate Beach: Go for a stroll along the beach at Agate or consider visiting Nye Beach as an alternative.
It’s a very small town of only 1,00 residents but attracts a lot of visitors. From art galleries to cycling trails, it also has the highest point of the Oregon coast at Cape Perpetua Scenic Area. A few popular things to do:
Lunch at Luna Sea Fish House: Fish and Chips are really popular here and features fresh fish.
Walk the 804 rail: It’s a coastline trail that follows along the sandy beach and into town.
Explore Cape Perpetua Scenic Area: Head here to see the blowholes of Devils Churn and Spouting Horn, where water shoots up. There are plenty of panoramic vistas as well. Entrance is $5
Southern Oregon Coast
With one of the best locations at the furthest northern point of the southern coast, Coos Bay is a great location for exploring local sights. This coastal town has some lovely local restaurants and is known for oysters located at Clausen Oysters near the Bay. For the best local pizza, check out Front Street Provisioners and book a cabin at Bay Point Landing. When staying in Coos Bay, you’ll want to check out these sights:
Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area: it’s 40 miles of natural sand dunes that are along the coast. You can hike them or rent an off-roading vehicle to have some adventure. My suggestion is to go early in the morning to avoid the high winds. For the best trailhead to explore the dunes, park at John Dellenback Dunes Trailhead.
Shore Acres State Park And Cape Arago State Park: Not too far from Coos Bay, you can come to explore this state park that is home to hidden beaches on coves, hiking trails, a botanical garden, and vista points. Don’t miss the Cape Arago Lighthouse Viewpoint.
Many know Bandon for it’s famed link-style golf-course that is world ranked. It’s a bucket list for sure for the avid golfer. You can opt to stay right at the golf course or stay in the small fishing town that is there. Some other local highlights include:
Face Rock State Park Beach and Bullards Beach: These are two wonderful beaches local to Bandon. You can catch sunset even at Coquille Point while here. For another beach option, check out Bandon Beach.
Crab at Tony’s Crab Shack: A traveler’s favorite spot in Bandon is fresh seafood at the iconic Tony’s Crab Shack.
Floras Lake State Natural Area: Further south, you’ll find the Floras Lake Natural State Area that is well known for hikes through the woodlands and the famous Blacklock Point.
Located in Curry County, the larger of the cities on the southern Oregon coast is Gold Beach. It has several restaurants, a grocery store, and other amenities. It makes for a good home base as well for exploring this part of the coast. It’s also near the mouth of the Rogue River where you can hop on a speedboat tour that takes you up the river.
One other highlight nearby is the Crazy Norwegian Fish and Chips located a few miles north in Port Orford. If you’re driving in from the north, you could stop for lunch.
Samuel H. Corridor
Though the accommodations are very limited here (I’d recommend staying in Gold Beach or Brookings), the Samuel H. Corridor has to be highlighted. In my opinion, this is the most scenic part of the Oregon Coast. The winding freeway has several stops that are marked and you can pull off and enjoy.
My favorite stops include: Arch Rock Viewpoint, Secret Beach, Natural Bridges, Whaleshead Beach, and Cape Ferrelo Viewpoint.
The final major town is Brookings and is another great option especially if you’re driving in from California. It is more of a city where you’ll have big brand stores and businesses. There are some local gems here too like the Pacific Sushi & Grill.
Just north of Brookings is the scenic Samuel H. Corridor which I highly recommend visiting. In the area of Brookings, you will not want to miss:
Azalea Park: A quaint city park home to a ton of azaleas, it’s a beautiful park to explore. I’d pop in for a stroll during the blooming season.
Lone Ranch Beach: Come here for a crescent-shaped beach home to tide pools and a large area for a beach hang.
Harris Beach and its puffins: We have to note the island just off of Harris Beach called Bird Island. It’s home to seasonal tufted puffins that are just the cutest.
Indian Sands: Technically in the Samuel H. Corridor, if you missed the other sand dunes, come here for these sand dunes that sit along the cliffs of the ocean.
Best Hotels Along the Oregon Coast
With Oregon’s expansive coastline, there are several hotels to choose from for your stay. I’d highly recommend booking in advance for the summer months given the popularity of road trips. One idea if you’re looking for a romantic getaway in Oregon, you could consider booking your trip around one of these epic hotels.
When we travel, we often do a combination of hotels we are wanting to stay at as well as destinations nearby. We did this over the summer in Oregon as we had found the epic Bay Point Landing cabins and planned a whole trip around the southern Oregon Coast.
You will also find plenty of vacation rentals on VRBO as well if you’d like to book a private home for your trip.
Here are some of the best Oregon coast hotels to book:
For more Oregon coastal hotels, search here:
What to Pack for the Trip
If there is one recommendation for a trip to Oregon, it is to pack layers. You’ll find that coastal towns are often quite windy and can cool off at night and in the morning. If you’re planning on hiking as well, you’ll want a pair of sturdy hiking shoes for the coastal trails. And don’t forget a camera to snap some photos along the way!
Favorite outer layers:
Favorite boots/shoes for hiking:
Camera Gear for Travel: