Neatly nestled into the southern corner of Oregon’s coastline is Brookings; a town as alive and colourful as the sea itself. Brookings possesses all of the best traits of the west coast. It’s full of golden sand beaches, seaside cliffs, hidden dunes, and rare wildlife.
Yet due to its somewhat remote location, it is far less visited than the towns near Portland. As a result, it offers a level of tranquility that simply can’t be matched.
Whether you’re taking a summer holiday, or a Pacific Coast road trip, you surely need to place Brookings on your list of towns to visit. Read on to discover what beautiful sights and serene areas await you in one of Oregon’s most underrated towns.
Azalea Park is often overlooked by all of the natural scenery that Brookings offers on the coast. But the quaint city park is a wonder that is certainly worthy of an afternoon stroll.
Azalea Park is appropriately named after the abundance of wild azaleas that can be found in the commons. The native flowers draw their significance from their history, as they are the very same plants which were present when Lewis and Clark spent a winter on the Oregon Coast.
However, the park itself offers far more than just flowers. It is a hotspot for seasonal activities, such as concerts, sporting events, and a holiday light show.
Most notable though, is the Capella by the Sea, a small gazebo tucked away in the foliage. The wooden and stone chapel hides near the seaside, providing the ultimate space for weddings and ceremonies.
Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor
In order to have a whole 12 miles of coastline named after you, you have to be a pretty special character. Such is the case with Samuel H. Boardman.
Samuel H. Boardman was the first superintendent of Oregon Parks, which made him quite the iconic figure. As the state is absolutely full of beautiful parks, it only seemed right to eventually name one after him. And boy did they choose a good one.
The 12 miles of coastline that belongs to the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor is some of prettiest that Oregon offers. It’s filled with sea stacks, sandy beaches, rocky outcrops, grassy plateaus, natural bridges, elevated viewpoints, and more. Not a single soul would argue that the area isn’t spectacular.
Yet what makes the scenic corridor so splendid is its naturally fine weather. Unlike many of the beaches in the north of the state, the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor experiences large amounts of sunshine, at nearly any time of the year.
Whether hiking, biking, or snapping photos, the site will surely keep you entertained while visiting Oregon.
Lone Ranch Beach
Another must-see location in Brookings is Lone Ranch Beach. There are so many stunning places along the Oregon Coast that it can often be difficult to pick which sites to actually visit. Having to choose between sandy beaches, towering lighthouses, and magnificent cliff sides just isn’t easy. But Lone Ranch Beach is special, even amongst those choices.
Lone Ranch Beach houses a massive collection of sea stacks, which quietly rise up out of the ocean. Aside from the sea stacks, the famous crescent-shaped beach also hides endless tide pools; full of crabs, starfish, guppies, and other marine life.
A brisk walk along the trail reveals a half dozen picnic tables, which mark the ideal spot for an afternoon break. In addition, just behind the trail lies millions of seashells, which were collected by Native Americans for centuries.
Harris Beach State Park
Every year thousands of people grasp at the opportunity to camp at Harris Beach State Park. But why? For one, Harris Beach State Park likely offers more activities than anywhere else on Oregon’s southern coast. The state park is full of nature that is perfect for hiking, biking, climbing, and so much more. The place is in essence, just one big playground.
Second off, Harris Beach is simply teeming with wildlife in every direction. Tide pools house countless species of marine life, which can be observed when the ocean retreats back to the horizon. And of course, it would be hard to ignore the hordes of sea lions and seals that enjoy tanning on the ocean rocks.
Yet what most visitors usually find most interesting is Bird Island, a National Wildlife Sanctuary just off of the coast. Flocks of cute and lovable tufted puffins can be found in all directions on the island.
And last, but certainly not least, the scenery is just unreal at Harris Beach State Park. Photographers seem to reach for their devices practically every minute, to take snapshots of the stunning waves, rocky outcrops, and grassy knolls that litter the area.
Chetco Point Park
Few places on the Pacific offer better views than Chetco Point Park. Chetco Point Park really is the superlative nature park in Brookings. To say that the site has everything a tourist would want truly is an understatement.
The seaside park combines the rocky splendor of Oregon’s cliff sides, with its stunning sweeping beaches. Hikers can make their way out to the 100-ft plateau that is surrounded by water on all sides.
Once there, they will be granted with views of the St. George Reef Lighthouse, Macklyn Cove, and the Port of Brookings-Harbor. Small boats, fishing vessels, and even the occasional whale can all be seen gently bobbing in the waves.
Moreover, those seeking a bit of physical activity can also enjoy the nearby trails filled with rich vegetation and greenery. A brisk hike will lead adventurers into grassy fields filled with picnic tables and horseshoe pits. The alternative trail then leads down to Chetco Beach, which is the ideal location for clamming, shell collecting, and bird watching.
Stumble upon Whaleshead Beach to find some of the best natural beauty on the Oregon Coast. As the name suggests, Whaleshead Beach is indeed named after its similarity to a whales head.
Massive rocks jut up from the ocean to form a barrier in the sea that appears very similar to the large mammal. Thus, when the tides are rough and water crashes in, spurts of water shoot into the air like a whale’s spout.
But there is far more to see than just the rocky outcrop, as the seaside beaches are second to none. After a bit of time on the golden sand, visitors can hike through the surrounding trails to the viewpoint.
Along the way, explorers will find an abundance of strawberry and huckleberry bushes, mossy knolls, and wild roses. And those with a sharp camera will be granted the opportunity to take photos worthy of a postcard.
Salmon Run Golf Course
The Oregon coast is an exceptional area to place a golf course. Between the beautiful coastal beaches, the crisp and refreshing forests, and meandering rivers, there aren’t many more scenic places in the US.
Salmon Run Golf Course is true evidence of that splendour. The 18 hole course is situated directly alongside the Chetco River, which is a hotspot for Chinook salmon to spawn.
Each year, thousands of dedicated fish make their way up the river to lay eggs in river bends. Golfers at each hole can witness the natural phenomenon occurring each spring.
However, the natural landscapes of the course are the true breadwinners. Nature is deeply woven into the fabric of every hole, to provide an experience that one is playing in the woods. The skill range of the course varies, so that all levels of talent may come out and enjoy the fusion of nature and sport.
Fujita Sword Display
Throughout the entire duration of WWII, there was only one area of the continental US that was bombed. That area was Brookings, Oregon.
A young Japanese pilot, by the name of Nobuo Fujita, managed to drop four incendiary bombs in Brookings in 1942. His aim was to ignite forest fires, which would eat away at the surrounding vegetation. Yet the plan failed, as the area was too damp and wouldn’t catch fire.
Exactly 20 years after, Nobuo Fujita was invited to return to Brookings by the local government. During his visit, he donated his personal Samurai sword, as a gesture of peace between nations. Not only was the sword 400 years old, but it was also the same one that flew with him during his missions.
Visitors to Brookings can find the Fujita sword display and the local plaque honoring Nobuo in Brookings’ public library.
Golden sand dunes peacefully reside above the rocks at the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor. While the beaches in Brookings may be the biggest attraction that the town offers, the landscapes from Indian Sands are no less impressive.
The hidden sand dunes sit high above the coastal cliffs that face the Pacific, calmly rising and falling from the ocean breezes. Once reaching the top, hikers are rewarded with a marvellous view of the ocean and seaside.
However, unlike the beaches, the sand at Indian Sands is comprised of the sandstone from the surrounding cliff sides, rather than a turning ocean. As a result, the sand is incredibly fine and smooth to touch. While finding the site may be a bit of a chore, it is certainly worth the views it offers.
Crissey Field State Recreation Site
Sometimes it’s nice to just get lost in nature. To wander through beautiful settings that teleport your mind and spirit to another place. Crissey Field State Recreation Site is the perfect place to do just that. Endless beaches stretch across the southern Oregon site, creating a scene as bare and peaceful as craters on the moon.
The serenity is complemented by ultra-fine sand, and the occasional piece of driftwood. And just outside of the sands lie peaceful wetlands, housing unique species.
Similar to many of the other beaches on the Oregon Coast, the distance from the sand to the water is just incredible. At some points the width of the beach can be nearly a half mile. A newly constructed visitor centre also offers great info on the surrounding beaches and areas.
All in all, there are few better places in Brookings to escape to for just a day. Whether having a picnic, playing fetch with the dog, or just taking an evening stroll, Crissey Field is undoubtedly a wonderful place to devote some time.
McVay Rock State Recreation Site
Those looking to enjoy outdoor sports in Brookings can head over to McVay Rock State Recreation Site. McVay Rock State Recreation Site truthfully captures all of the best aspects of the Oregon Coast.
The reclusive park sits upon a seaside cliff, which drops down into a hidden beach. Once trekking down to the beach, adventurers can experience endless swathes of sand and tide that crash into the land. But aside from just having beautiful nature, there is plenty to do at McVay Rock.
Likely the most notable sport found at the beach is surf fishing, which brings anglers from far and wide. However, other outdoor activities such as clamming, whale watching, and disc golf are also popular. Watch out though, one bad toss can take ages to recover.
While camping is not permitted, those who manage to stay and watch the sun go down will be rewarded with breathtaking views.
Thomas Creek Bridge
When the creations of man and nature blend together in harmony, some truly beautiful sights can be fashioned. The Thomas Creek Bridge is without a doubt an example of that harmony.
Spectators can revel in the splendour that the man-made bridge beholds. The massive structure, which is 345 feet tall, is neatly sandwiched into a ravine that leads into the ocean.
Each connected hillside holds hundreds of waving pine and spruce trees, that anchor down rocky formations comprised of dark sandstone. Yet once the hills meet sea level, they converge with beautiful golden sands from the pulsing waves.
An afternoon adventure to the site is certainly time well spent. Two trailheads lead down along each side of the bridge so that visitors can trek down to the beach or base of the structure. Of course, those in a hurry can simply peer over the bridge as well, and capture photos of the incredible scenery that lies below.
Travelling around Oregon? Have you seen all that there is to do in Portland yet?