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What To See And Do On An Oregon Coast Day Trip


by Tory Quinonez



Welcome to the stunning and diverse Oregon Coast, a destination that offers a wealth of natural beauty, captivating coastal towns, and a myriad of activities for visitors to enjoy. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, an outdoor adventurer, or a food lover, the Oregon Coast has something for everyone.


Stretching over 360 miles along the Pacific Ocean, the Oregon Coast is known for its dramatic cliffs, pristine beaches, and charming seaside towns. From the rugged shores of Cannon Beach to the picturesque lighthouses of Yaquina Head, every mile of this magnificent coastline offers breathtaking views and endless exploration opportunities.


With its abundance of state parks, nature reserves, and recreational areas, the Oregon Coast is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Hiking trails wind through lush forests, kayaking adventures await in tranquil bays, and whale-watching opportunities abound as majestic creatures migrate along the coast.


In addition to its natural wonders, the Oregon Coast boasts a vibrant arts and culture scene. From renowned galleries to quaint studios, you’ll discover an array of talented artisans showcasing their work. And don’t forget about the incredible cuisine! Indulge in freshly caught seafood, savor farm-to-table dishes, and sip on local wines as you explore the coastal towns.


Whether you’re planning a day trip or a longer vacation, this guide will help you make the most of your time on the Oregon Coast. From fascinating coastal towns to breathtaking natural areas, we’ve curated a list of must-see destinations and activities that will leave you in awe of this captivating region.


So grab your sunscreen, pack your sense of adventure, and get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey along the Oregon Coast.


Overview of the Oregon Coast

The Oregon Coast is a treasure trove of natural wonders and picturesque scenery. Spanning from the northern border with Washington to the southern border with California, this stunning coastline offers visitors a diverse range of landscapes and experiences.


With its rugged cliffs, sandy beaches, and thriving wildlife, the Oregon Coast is a dream destination for nature lovers. The coastline is dotted with iconic landmarks such as Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach and Cape Perpetua in Yachats, providing countless opportunities for exploration and awe-inspiring sightseeing.


Besides its natural beauty, the Oregon Coast is also home to a multitude of charming coastal towns. From the vibrant city of Astoria in the north to the artistic enclave of Cannon Beach and the historic bayfront of Newport, each town has its own unique character and attractions to discover. Visitors can stroll through quaint downtown areas, browse local boutiques, and indulge in fresh seafood cuisine at waterfront restaurants.


The Oregon Coast is also renowned for its abundance of state parks and protected natural areas. These parks offer opportunities for hiking, camping, picnicking, and wildlife spotting. Popular parks like Ecola State Park and Oswald West State Park provide breathtaking views of the coastline and access to pristine beaches, while Cape Blanco State Park boasts the westernmost point in Oregon.


For those seeking a glimpse into the region’s history and culture, the Oregon Coast offers a wide range of museums and historical sites. From the Columbia River Maritime Museum in Astoria to the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport, you can delve into the maritime heritage and marine life of the area.


Whether you’re interested in scenic drives along winding coastal highways, exploring charming seaside towns, engaging in outdoor activities, or simply relaxing on the beach, the Oregon Coast offers a wealth of experiences that will leave you with memories to last a lifetime.


Now that we have an overview of what the Oregon Coast has to offer, let’s delve into planning your perfect day trip in this beautiful region.


Planning Your Day Trip

Planning a day trip to the Oregon Coast can be an exciting and rewarding experience. With so much to see and do, it’s important to make the most of your time and prioritize your activities. Here are a few tips to help you plan your perfect day trip:


1. Research and Choose Your Destination: Start by researching the different coastal towns and attractions along the Oregon Coast. Each town offers its own unique charm and attractions, so consider what interests you the most. Whether you’re drawn to the lively atmosphere of seaside towns like Seaside or the tranquil beauty of towns like Manzanita, there is something for everyone.


2. Map out Your Route: Once you’ve decided on your destination, map out your route along the coast. Consider the distances between the towns and allow plenty of time for stops and exploration along the way. The Oregon Coast Highway (Route 101) is the main road that runs parallel to the coastline and offers stunning scenic views throughout the journey.


3. Be Prepared for the Weather: The weather on the Oregon Coast can be unpredictable, so it’s essential to pack accordingly. Layers are key, as the temperature and conditions can change throughout the day. Don’t forget to bring a waterproof jacket or windbreaker to protect against coastal breeze or rain.


4. Plan Your Activities: Determine what activities or attractions you’d like to experience during your day trip. Are you interested in hiking along coastal trails, exploring tide pools, or visiting iconic landmarks? Create a rough itinerary to ensure you make the most of your time while still allowing for flexibility.


5. Check Park and Attraction Hours: Before heading out, check the opening and closing hours of the parks and attractions you plan to visit. Some places may have limited hours or closures on certain days, so it’s wise to confirm beforehand to avoid any disappointments.


6. Pack Snacks and Water: While there are plenty of restaurants and cafes along the coast, it’s always a good idea to bring some snacks and water for the road. This way, you can enjoy a picnic lunch at one of the scenic viewpoints or have a quick bite between your activities.


7. Allow for Spontaneity: While it’s essential to have a plan, also leave room for spontaneity. The Oregon Coast is full of hidden gems and unexpected discoveries, so be open to exploring off-the-beaten-path spots and taking detours.


By considering these tips and planning ahead, you’ll be well-prepared to make the most of your day trip to the Oregon Coast. Now, let’s dive into exploring the charming coastal towns that await you.


Exploring Coastal Towns

One of the highlights of a day trip to the Oregon Coast is the opportunity to explore its charming coastal towns, each with its own unique character and attractions. From historic landmarks to lively beachfront promenades, here are a few coastal towns worth visiting:


1. Astoria: Located at the northernmost point of the Oregon Coast, Astoria is a city steeped in history. Explore the iconic Astoria Column, visit the impressive Columbia River Maritime Museum, and take a stroll along the historic waterfront filled with eclectic shops and restaurants.


2. Cannon Beach: Famous for its picturesque Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach is a popular destination known for its pristine sandy beaches and art galleries. Take a leisurely walk along the shoreline, shop for unique souvenirs, and enjoy a delectable meal at one of the charming local eateries.


3. Newport: Home to the Oregon Coast Aquarium and the historic Bayfront, Newport offers a blend of entertainment, history, and natural beauty. Watch sea lions on the docks, indulge in fresh seafood, and explore Yaquina Bay State Recreation Site.


4. Pacific City: Known for its massive sand dune, Cape Kiwanda, Pacific City is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Take a thrilling dune buggy ride, go fishing or crabbing, and don’t forget to enjoy a pint of craft beer at the local Pelican Brewing Company while soaking in the breathtaking coastal views.


5. Florence: Nestled along the Siuslaw River, Florence is a picturesque town with a rich maritime history. Explore the historic district, visit the stunning Heceta Head Lighthouse, and take a boat tour on the river for a chance to spot local wildlife.


6. Seaside: Known for its lively beachfront promenade, Seaside is a family-friendly destination with plenty of activities to enjoy. Stroll along the famous Seaside Promenade, play games at the arcade, and take a ride on the iconic carousel.


These are just a few of the many coastal towns waiting to be explored along the Oregon Coast. Each town offers its own unique charm, attractions, and experiences, from art galleries and boutique shops to waterfront dining and outdoor adventures. Take your time to visit the towns that intrigue you the most and immerse yourself in the coastal culture.


Now that we’ve familiarized ourselves with the coastal towns, let’s move on to discovering the natural wonders of the Oregon Coast through its state parks and natural areas.


Visiting State Parks and Natural Areas

The Oregon Coast is blessed with an abundance of state parks and natural areas that showcase its stunning landscapes and rich biodiversity. From towering cliffs to secluded beaches, here are some must-visit parks and natural areas along the coast:


1. Ecola State Park: Located near Cannon Beach, Ecola State Park offers breathtaking views of the coastline and is a perfect spot for scenic hikes. Take the Clatsop Loop Trail to explore old-growth forests and witness panoramic vistas of the Pacific Ocean.


2. Oswald West State Park: Situated between Cannon Beach and Manzanita, Oswald West State Park is a hidden gem known for its dramatic coastline and diverse trails. Hike the popular Devil’s Cauldron Trail to witness the crashing waves or take a leisurely stroll along Short Sands Beach.


3. Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area: Located in Pacific City, Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area is home to impressive sand dunes, a stunning beach, and the iconic Haystack Rock. Explore the dunes, indulge in sandboarding, and soak in the spectacular coastal views.


4. Cape Perpetua Scenic Area: Situated near Yachats, Cape Perpetua is known as the top of a headland with awe-inspiring vistas. Take the Captain Cook Trail to explore the ancient forest and visit the awe-inspiring Spouting Horn and Devil’s Churn.


5. Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area: Just north of Newport, Yaquina Head offers stunning coastal views and a chance to see the iconic Yaquina Head Lighthouse up close. Explore the tide pools, spot seabirds, and learn about the area’s marine life at the Interpretive Center.


6. Shore Acres State Park: Located near Coos Bay, Shore Acres State Park boasts beautifully manicured gardens, stunning ocean views, and the remnants of a historic mansion. Enjoy the seasonal flower displays, hike along the rugged cliffs, and admire the crashing waves.


7. Bandon State Natural Area: South of Coos Bay, Bandon State Natural Area is known for its dramatic rock formations and stunning beaches. Walk along the beach and marvel at the towering sea stacks, explore tide pools, or enjoy a round of golf at the nearby Bandon Dunes Golf Resort.


These are just a few examples of the many state parks and natural areas that make the Oregon Coast a nature lover’s paradise. Whether you’re interested in scenic hikes, wildlife viewing, or simply enjoying the beauty of the coastline, there is something for everyone to appreciate.


As you plan your day trip, make sure to prioritize visiting these natural areas and take advantage of the many trails, viewpoints, and educational opportunities they offer. Now, let’s continue our journey by exploring the incredible coastal wildlife of the Oregon Coast.


Enjoying Coastal Wildlife

The Oregon Coast is teeming with diverse and captivating wildlife, offering visitors a unique opportunity to observe and appreciate the richness of nature. From marine mammals to migratory birds, here are some of the coastal wildlife experiences you can enjoy:


1. Whale Watching: The Oregon Coast is part of the gray whale migration route, providing fantastic opportunities to witness these majestic creatures up close. Visit during the migration seasons (December-January and March-May) and head to designated viewpoints or join a whale watching tour for the best chances of spotting whales breaching and spouting.


2. Seabirds: The coast is home to a variety of seabirds, including puffins, cormorants, pelicans, and gulls. Grab a pair of binoculars and head to rocky headlands or bird sanctuaries, such as the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area or the Three Arch Rocks National Wildlife Refuge, to observe these fascinating birds in their natural habitats.


3. Tide Pool Exploration: Coastal tide pools are mini-ecosystems teeming with marine life. During low tide, head to rocky areas and explore the pools to discover colorful anemones, sea stars, crabs, and other fascinating creatures. Be mindful of the delicate ecosystem and watch your step to protect the wildlife.


4. Sea Lions and Seals: Visit locations such as the Sea Lion Caves near Florence or the Newport Historic Bayfront to observe colonies of California sea lions and harbor seals. Watch them bask in the sun or play in the water, and listen to their distinctive calls as they interact with one another.


5. Shorebirds: The beaches along the Oregon Coast are frequented by a variety of shorebirds. Look for sandpipers, plovers, and herons as they hunt for food along the shoreline. Keep a respectful distance to avoid disturbing their natural behavior and bring a bird identification guide to learn more about each species.


6. Estuarine Wildlife: Coastal estuaries, such as the Siuslaw Estuary near Florence or the Nehalem Bay Estuary near Manzanita, offer a habitat for diverse wildlife. Watch for otters, beavers, and a variety of bird species that thrive in these marshy ecosystems.


Remember to maintain a safe and respectful distance from wildlife and abide by any guidelines or regulations in place to protect their habitats. Binoculars and field guides can enhance your wildlife viewing experience and help you identify and learn about the species you encounter.


Exploring the coastal wildlife of the Oregon Coast is a truly remarkable experience, allowing you to connect with nature and gain a deeper appreciation for the incredible biodiversity of the region. As we continue our journey, let’s delve into the culinary delights awaiting you along the coast.


Sampling Local Cuisine

When visiting the Oregon Coast, be sure to sample the delicious local cuisine that showcases the region’s bounty of fresh seafood, farm-to-table ingredients, and artisanal delights. From seafood shacks to fine dining establishments, there is something to satisfy every palate. Here are some culinary experiences you won’t want to miss:


1. Fresh Seafood: The Oregon Coast is known for its world-class seafood. Indulge in succulent Dungeness crab, flavorful salmon, and tender clams sourced directly from local waters. Visit seafood markets, seafood shacks, or upscale restaurants that specialize in seafood to savor the catch of the day.


2. Fish and Chips: Enjoy a quintessential coastal meal of crispy fish and chips. Local eateries serve up this classic dish using fresh, locally sourced fish, often accompanied by homemade tartar sauce and a side of coleslaw. The combination of crunchy batter and tender fish is sure to satisfy your cravings.


3. Farm-to-Table Delights: With a strong emphasis on local and sustainable sourcing, many restaurants along the Oregon Coast prioritize farm-to-table practices. Taste the flavors of the region with dishes made from locally grown produce, artisan cheeses, and organic meats. Supporting these establishments not only guarantees a delicious meal but also contributes to the local food economy.


4. Craft Breweries and Wineries: Raise a glass to the thriving craft beer and wine scene on the Oregon Coast. Visit breweries and taprooms to taste a wide selection of locally brewed beers, from refreshing IPAs to rich stouts. Alternatively, explore the coastal wineries producing exceptional wines, including Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Chardonnay.


5. Artisanal Treats: Satisfy your sweet tooth with a visit to one of the charming bakeries or ice cream parlors along the coast. Indulge in freshly baked pastries, handcrafted chocolates, or creamy scoops of locally made ice cream. These artisanal treats make for the perfect snack as you explore the coastal towns.


6. Farmers Markets: Immerse yourself in the local food scene by visiting farmers markets. Held in various coastal towns, these markets showcase an array of fresh produce, homemade jams and jellies, artisan cheeses, bread, and more. Engage with local farmers and vendors, and stock up on ingredients for a beachside picnic or a home-cooked meal.


The Oregon Coast’s culinary scene is a reflection of the region’s natural beauty and commitment to quality ingredients. Whether you’re a seafood lover, a craft beer enthusiast, or a connoisseur of farm-to-table delights, there’s a culinary experience waiting for you on the coast.


As we continue our exploration of the Oregon Coast, let’s dive into the plethora of outdoor activities that await adventurers and nature enthusiasts.


Engaging in Outdoor Activities

The Oregon Coast offers a wide range of outdoor activities for adventurers and nature enthusiasts to enjoy. From hiking stunning coastal trails to embarking on thrilling water adventures, there’s something for everyone. Here are some outdoor activities to consider on your trip:


1. Hiking: Lace up your hiking boots and explore the numerous scenic trails that wind through the coastal landscapes. From easy strolls to challenging hikes, the Oregon Coast offers a variety of options for all skill levels. Take in breathtaking ocean views as you traverse trails in state parks like Cape Lookout or hike through lush forests to discover hidden waterfalls.


2. Kayaking and Paddleboarding: Get out on the water and discover the coast from a new perspective by kayaking or paddleboarding. Rent equipment or join a guided tour to explore serene bays, estuaries, and scenic rivers. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife sightings, including seals, sea birds, and maybe even a migrating whale in the distance.


3. Surfing and Windsurfing: With its expansive coastline, the Oregon Coast is a surfer’s paradise. If you’re an experienced surfer, grab your board and catch some waves at popular spots like Pacific City or Manzanita. For those new to surfing, sign up for a lesson with a local surf school to learn the basics and ride your first wave.


4. Beachcombing: Take leisurely strolls along the sandy shores and explore the treasures that wash up on the beaches. The Oregon Coast is known for its beautiful agates, seashells, and colorful sea glass. Keep an eye out for unique rock formations, tide pool discoveries, and the occasional message in a bottle.


5. Whale Watching Tours: For a closer encounter with the magnificent gray whales that pass by the Oregon Coast, consider joining a whale-watching tour. Knowledgeable guides will share fascinating insights about these marine creatures as you sail out to sea in search of whale sightings. It’s an unforgettable experience to witness these gentle giants in their natural habitat.


6. Birdwatching: The Oregon Coast provides rich habitat for numerous bird species, making it a haven for birdwatchers. Pack your binoculars and visit the various estuaries, wetlands, and bird sanctuaries along the coast. Keep an eye out for bald eagles, colorful shorebirds, and the elegant great blue heron.


These activities are just a snapshot of the adventures that await you on the Oregon Coast. With its stunning natural landscapes and diverse ecosystems, the coast offers endless opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts to immerse themselves in nature.


As we continue our journey, let’s explore the local shopping scene and discover the unique artisan crafts of the Oregon Coast.


Shopping and Artisan Crafts

Exploring the Oregon Coast isn’t just about immersing yourself in the natural beauty and outdoor activities – it’s also an opportunity to discover unique artisan crafts and support local artisans. From handcrafted pottery and jewelry to local artwork and delicious homemade treats, there are plenty of treasures to be found. Here’s a guide to shopping and artisan crafts along the coast:


1. Art Galleries: The coastal towns of the Oregon Coast are known for their vibrant arts scenes. Explore the numerous art galleries that showcase the works of local painters, sculptors, and photographers. From contemporary pieces to traditional coastal landscapes, you’ll find a wide range of artistic styles and mediums to admire and purchase.


2. Craft Boutiques: Wander through the charming craft boutiques that line the streets of coastal towns. These eclectic shops feature an array of handmade items, including pottery, textiles, candles, and unique home décor. Look for shops that support local artisans, and you’ll discover one-of-a-kind treasures to take home as souvenirs or gifts.


3. Farmers Markets: Along with fresh produce, farmers markets along the coast often feature stalls selling artisanal products. From homemade jams and preserves to locally roasted coffee and baked goods, these markets are a great place to support small-scale producers and indulge in delicious treats sourced from the region.


4. Culinary Specialties: Don’t forget to explore the local food shops that showcase the culinary specialties of the Oregon Coast. Sample artisan cheeses, handcrafted chocolates, and flavorful jams made from locally sourced ingredients. These delectable delights make for perfect gifts or a tasty reminder of your coastal adventure.


5. Local Festivals and Events: Keep an eye out for local festivals and events that celebrate artisan crafts along the coast. From art walks and craft fairs to music festivals and street markets, these lively events offer a chance to meet local artists and artisans, witness live demonstrations, and purchase unique handmade items.


6. Cultural Souvenirs: Support the preservation of indigenous cultures by seeking out shops that offer cultural souvenirs created by Native American artisans. Look for traditional crafts such as intricate beadwork, woven baskets, or authentic Native American jewelry. Purchasing these items not only supports the artisans but also helps preserve their rich heritage.


When shopping for artisan crafts along the Oregon Coast, be sure to talk to the artisans and learn about their techniques and inspirations. Many artists are happy to share their stories and provide insights into their creative process.


Remember, the treasures you discover along the coast are not just material keepsakes but also symbols of the vibrant arts community and the rich cultural heritage of the region.


As we wrap up our journey along the Oregon Coast, I hope you feel inspired to plan your own day trip and explore all that this magnificent destination has to offer. From the breathtaking landscapes and outdoor adventures to the vibrant arts scene and culinary delights, the Oregon Coast promises an unforgettable experience for every visitor.



The Oregon Coast is a captivating destination that offers a perfect blend of natural beauty, charming coastal towns, outdoor activities, artisan crafts, and culinary delights. Whether you’re planning a day trip or a longer stay, this breathtaking region has something for everyone to enjoy.


From the dramatic cliffs of Cape Perpetua to the pristine beaches of Cannon Beach, the Oregon Coast showcases awe-inspiring landscapes that will leave you in awe. Explore the charming coastal towns, indulge in fresh seafood, and immerse yourself in the vibrant arts scene that highlights the creativity of local artisans.


Engage in a variety of outdoor activities such as hiking, kayaking, and beachcombing to fully experience the natural wonders of the coast. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife sightings, including whales, seabirds, and seals, as you venture along the picturesque shoreline.


Don’t miss the opportunity to support local craftspeople and indulge in artisanal delights. Explore art galleries, craft boutiques, and farmers markets to find unique, handcrafted treasures and savor the culinary specialties of the region.


As you plan your day trip or coastal getaway, keep in mind the diverse attractions and landmarks that make the Oregon Coast a truly remarkable destination. Research and choose your destinations wisely, map out your route, and be prepared for the ever-changing coastal weather.


Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, an outdoor adventurer, a food lover, or an art aficionado, the Oregon Coast offers an unforgettable experience. So grab your sense of adventure, embrace the relaxed coastal vibes, and embark on a journey that will leave you with cherished memories and a deeper appreciation for this coastal paradise.


Remember, the Oregon Coast is not just a place to visit; it’s a place to immerse yourself in nature, connect with local communities, and create lasting memories. So, go ahead and experience the wonders of the Oregon Coast – you won’t be disappointed.