When it comes to exploring Oregon, it’s only natural to want to explore the coastal area. The long stretch of coastline spans the whole state of Oregon, offering multiple places to stop along the way. If you’re headed for the first time, there are so many options to choose from. These best stops on the southern Oregon coast will give you some great insight on what to do during your time there.
My husband and I spent five days this last month exploring the entire southern coastline of Oregon, basing ourselves in Coos Bay. It was a blissful experience — it’s hard to put into words just how beautiful Oregon’s southern coast is. After spending time in the northern part of Oregon’s coastline earlier this year, I’m certain the southern part may just be the best.
Choosing to stay the entire time in Coos Bay meant we didn’t need to switch accommodations, plus I really loved where we stayed. The furthest we drove south was two hours to Brookings, the last major stop in Oregon before California. The drives along the coast were incredibly beautiful and there were so many places to soak in the natural beauty.
I’m going to round up the best of what we found and what you can’t miss on southern Oregon’s coastline.
The Best Stops on the Southern Oregon Coast
What to Know Before Traveling to Oregon
A health and safety message: Amidst these times, it’s good to acknowledge that every State is handling health and safety differently. My strong recommendation is to confirm the local protocols. I urge you as a traveler to do the steps necessary to be responsible and considerate of your own health and the health of the communities you are visiting. Please wear a mask when you’re in a public setting. Find more of my responsible travel tips here.
Amount of Time: 4 nights was a great amount of time to slowly enjoy the southern coast.
Gas: This was a surprise or rather I completely forgot you cannot pump your own gas in Oregon! Just pull up and an attendant will assist. I’d recommend keeping a few dollars to tip.
Time of year: Weather is tricky on the Oregon coast solely due to the winds. It is very windy in certain areas like Bandon and Coos Bay. I believe early fall would be the best time of year to visit, though you could visit whenever from the spring to fall.
Where to Stay Along The Southern Oregon Coast
Bay Point Landing in Coos Bay
The whole focus of the trip originally was to experience the incredible design of the cabins at Bay Point Landing. They’re so well designed and make for a wonderful distanced hotel experience. You have your own kitchen and patio space set with a fire pit. I’d recommend booking one of their bayside cabins for the best view. We chose the Kamp Haus and loved it. We spent four nights here and did day trips in every direction possible from here. Find the best rates here.
*Now you could do two nights in Bay Point Landing and then perhaps book another accommodation further south near perhaps Gold Beach or Brookings.
The Best of Oregon’s Southern Coast
For this section, I’m going to list out each area in order from north to south. It will be categorized by areas and any great finds in each. You’ll see recommendations for food, outdoor experiences, and scenic viewpoints.
Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area
One of the first parts of the southern Oregon coast you can’t miss is the dunes. These tall sand dunes span over 40 miles of the coast. They are absolutely breathtaking. It’s one of the most popular destinations and attraction in the area. There are a few ways to experiences the dunes, whether you hike or rent an off-roading vehicle from a local outfitter.
We personally chose to hike it and found one of the best trails to get out and see the tall, wind-sculpted dunes. Park at the John Dellenback Dunes Trailhead (there are bathrooms there), and head straight out towards the ocean. You can do a loop, see their map or just go out as far as you like and come back.
Travel tip: the wind is insanely strong here. I highly recommend going as early as possible in the morning for calmer winds. Hats are not advised.
Coos Bay, Oregon
Since we based ourselves here for the trip, we did experience quite a few things in Coos Bay as far as dining goes. Most of the things we did though were out nearby within 20-30 minutes, like the dunes listed above. Here were our favorite finds:
Clausen Oysters: I can’t begin to tell you how much I adored this oyster spot. Casual, right on the water, and fresh oysters at an unbeatable price. There is outdoor dining here, and they have a full menu (I recommend the fried oyster tacos, went back twice for these).
Front Street Provisioners: If you’re craving pizza, this is your spot. Their pizza was seriously good and have a wonderful wine menu with Oregon wines.
Horsfall Beach: We took a drive out to Horsfall Beach and it’s a massively widespread area. You’ll see a lot of off-roading vehicles here but the beach is quite serene. This beach is along the dunes but has the quickest access to it.
Shore Acres State Park and Cape Arago State Park
As you start to work your way down the coast, one state park worth a detour off Highway 101 is Shores Acres State Park and Cape Arago State Park. It’s a single road out that dead ends, so you’ll see both state park areas. There are few neat attractions and things to do here:
Sunset Beach: One of the more private beaches in the area, I’d recommend this spot when the wind is calm.
Sunset Bay to Cape Arago Trail: Follow this trail that takes you along the coast out to Cape Arago.
Cape Arago Lighthouse Viewpoint: You won’t want to miss this viewpoint to look out at the lighthouse.
Shore Acres Gardens: There are formal gardens here that you can tour that are from the 1900’s.
Simpson Reef Overlook: This was a fun stop to get to see all of the seals and sea lions that live right off the shores. You can hear them from your car they are so loud!
Cape Arago: Make your way out here to look out over the ocean. You can even walk down to the South Cove.
*For full information on hiking trails, please reference here.
Bandon Dunes Golf Resort
If you’re into golf, I’m sure you’ve heard of the world-famous Bandon Dunes Golf Resort. One of the few links-style courses in the States, it’s a bucket list round of golf. My husband went out and did a full day here and recommends it highly. It is advised to book at least 1-2 weeks in advance.
For the least windy times to play golf, early mornings are best. The concierge team will help set up your visit. There are six courses to choose from.
After a round, I’d stop by for dinner at McKees on their patio. It’s a traditional pub-style restaurant.
One of the most charming seaside towns on the coast is Bandon. It’s full of local restaurants and beach area to enjoy. I had been before so we didn’t spend as much time here this trip. There are a few favorite things to do:
- Get Crab at Tony’s Crab Shack
- Catch the sunset at Coquille Point
- Find the “face” at Face Rock State Park Beach
- Stroll out at Bullards Beach
- Grab a local beer at Bandon Brewing Company
- Spend the day at Bandon Beach
Floras Lake State Natural Area
One of the largest natural areas to go explore is located near Langlois. The Floras Lake State Natural Area has a lot to offer for hikes and lakes, as well as coastal areas. We didn’t get to fully explore this area, just had a quick look at it. The most recommended thing to do is the 1.5 stroll through the woodlands out to Blacklock Point.
Port Orford, Oregon
This small fishing town is one of the first towns that span on the actual coast after Bandon. My biggest regret was not timing lunch or dinner at their famous fish and chips joint. The Crazy Norwegian Fish and Chips came recommended SO many times. I’d really would like to make this one happen next trip.
Gold Beach, Oregon
Curry County is home to the most southern part of Oregon and Gold Beach is one of the larger cities on the ocean here. You’ll find grocery stores and plenty of restaurants here as well. I think Gold Beach could be a great base for going either direction as well.
Some of the more famous activities to do here is Jerry’s Rogue Jets where you take a speedboat up the Rogue River.
Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor
Saving the best for last, this is the most beautiful part of the southern Oregon coast (in my opinion). I couldn’t believe the beauty here, truly. There are hiking trails, vista points, and even a secret beach. It’s good to note that you are along steep cliffs with severe drop-offs here. You’ll want to take extra care when hiking around here and be mindful of winds.
Here were my favorite stops along the corridor:
Arch Rock Viewpoint: This area is incredibly beautiful and makes for a good spot to stop for a picnic. You can lookout both up and down the coast here. Take a look at all of the little islands off the coastline.
Secret Beach: This was my favorite stop, so much so, we drove back down again for it. Hike down an unmarked trail, and you’ll access this small cove with a beach area. It is protected from the wind. It’s incredibly stunning.
Natural Bridges: So I’m sure you’ve seen this spot on Instagram at least once. It’s an idyllic location and recommend for sunset.
Whaleshead Beach: I spent the most blissful afternoon at this beach and nearly had it to myself. I couldn’t recommend it more, taking the drive down the dirt road. It’s calm considering the winds and makes for a great spot to hideout. Do note that the road is rough and 4WD is recommended, though I made it without.
Cape Ferrelo Viewpoint: There is a mile-long trail here that takes you out to the point. It’s the first stop on the southern portion (near Brookings). If you’re looking to whale watch, come here.
My final stop on the coast was to the city of Brookings. I didn’t explore a ton here but I did get lunch at a spot I’d love to share about. It’s called Pacific Sushi & Grill. Totally understated and completely amazing. They are doing to-go food and their is indoor dining at this moment (Oregon has different rules than California).
What to Pack for Oregon’s Coast
If you bring anything with you on a trip, let it be layers of clothing! The weather changes so quickly here and it can be very windy and then suddenly warm. For hiking essentials, check out my extensive hiking essentials guide.
Here are my go-to’s items for a Pacific Northwest coastal escape:
Oregon’s coast has so much to love. The connection to the sea is truly unique here — you find it everywhere you go. The opportunity to go and disconnect in unparalleled nature is truly so good for the soul and mind. I can definitely guarentee I’ll be back again.
Find more of my Oregon content here.