what to do on the coast of oregon

Coastal Oregon

what to do on the coast of oregon

Thinking of planning a trip to Oregon? Check out the rest of our road trip through the state here: Oregon Parks and Monuments.

Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach

early morning fog at cannon beach

sand at cannon beach

  • Early in the morning, Haystack Rock protrudes from fog on Cannon Beach. It felt almost eerie as we walked through the mist on hard, rippled sand towards the shadowy mass looming in the distance while icy waves creeped higher and higher up the shore.
  • At low tide, small pools of colorful sea creatures are exposed in a protected rocky area near Haystack Rock. The 235 feet tall landmark is home to several bird species including the Tufted Puffin from April to July. 

haystack rock at cannon beach

Oswald West State Park

Smuggler’s Cove

smugglers cove oregon

tree along trail to short sand beach

smugglers cove beach

  • Short Sand Beach is accessed by a .5 mile trail along Short Sand Creek through a temperate, coastal rainforest ending with a breathtaking view of Smuggler’s Cove. It’s a popular surfing spot and the small parking area fills up early.
  • Here is a map of Oswald West State Park’s 14 hiking trails ranging from .1 – 6.5 miles. The 2,484 acre park includes 4 miles of coastline.

Traveling Gingerbread Note: Around noon, we arrived at a full parking lot for Smuggler’s Cove. We found a spot almost a mile away and had to walk along the busy Oregon Coastal Highway to reach the trailhead. In some areas there were guide rails and sharp shrubs forcing us to run on the road during breaks in traffic until we reached the next walkable area. We recommend making this one of your first stops to avoid the unsafe walk from overflow parking areas.

Neahkahnie Viewpoint

Neahkahnie Viewpoint Oregon

  • There is a small parking lot to pull over along Highway 101 and experience one of the highest viewpoints along Oregon’s Coast, Neahkahnie Viewpoint.

 Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint

Neahkahnie Overlook

octopus tree

  • Admire beautiful views of the coast on a .2 mile paved trail from the parking lot to Cape Meares Lighthouse. Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint is popular for whale watching in December and January. Cape Meares Lighthouse, built in 1890, is the shortest lighthouse in Oregon standing only 38 feet high.
  • Don’t leave Tillamook County without trying Tillamook Creamery ice cream. Order a marionberry (a type of blackberry grown only in Oregon) ice cream cone to indulge in 2 state specialties. 
  • Octopus Tree is a short .1 mile hike from the parking lot into the forest (near the restrooms). This Sitka Spruce has no central trunk, the base is nearly 10 feet wide, and it kind of looks like an octopus.

Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area

Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area Oregon

  • Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area may be the smallest on the Three Capes Scenic Route (also including Cape Meares and Cape Lookout) but it’s the only cape with a Great Dune. It’s a tiresome climb to the top, but the views are worth it.

Traveling Gingerbread Note: Pelican Brewing Company is just outside Cape Kiwanda. Enjoy a draft beer and lunch along the beach.  


proposal rock at sunset

  • After Della Page accepted a marriage proposal from Sea Captain, Charley Gage, around 1900, Della’s mother named the island Proposal Rock. The details of this famous proposal are up to your imagination because there is very little information available about the engagement in the Tillamook County Pioneer MuseumA trail to the top of Proposal Rock is only accessible during low tide.
  • Low tide is also the best time to view The Neskowin Ghost Forest. Almost 100 barnacle covered stumps of decaying Sitka Spruce trees emerge from the shore near Proposal Rock. These trees were hidden beneath the sand for centuries until the winter storm of 1997-1998 exposed what is left of the preserved forest.

Seal Rock State Recreation Site

seal rock state park

mitch and i at seal rock beach

oregon ocean life

  • There are endless tidepools to be explored along the rocky coast of Seal Rock State Recreation Site. We didn’t see any seals or sea lions during our visit in early September, but thanks to the tip of a local we had the opportunity to observe these entertaining animals at the Sea Lion Docks in Newport. 

trail to seal rock

  • The trail (pictured above) follows a smooth, sand wall etched with names and initials to a rocky area along the shore. Walking along the path we didn’t feel like we were headed towards a sandy beach.

Ona Beach State Park

us at ona beach

seaweed oregon

  • Ona Beach State Park was renamed in 2013 to Brian Booth State Park to honor Oregon State Parks and Recreation Commission chairperson.

Newport Historic Bayfront

bay street pier newport oregon

ocean bleau restaurant

  • Newport is one of the West coast’s largest commercial fishing ports. Among the bustling docks is Newport’s Historic Bayfront with shopping, art, restaurants, gift shops, Ripley’s Believe it or Not! World of Adventures, excursions, and sea lions! Parking can be difficult, but after several laps around the area we found an open spot.

Traveling Gingerbread Note: We avoided the crowds and went to Ocean Bleu Seafood’s at Gino’s near the end of the Southwest Bay Boulevard. This locally owned restaurant has been serving fresh seafood caught off the coast of Oregon since 1983.

Sea Lion Docks

sea lions posing

  • The Sea Lion Docks at Port Dock One behind Clearwater Restaurant provide sea lions a non-operational dock to inhabit without disrupting the fishing community. All the dock’s inhabitants are male and make annual trips during the summer to mate with females in Southern California. It’s free to watch these entertaining sea lions play, fight, and pose for photos! 

Rogue Ales and Spirits

rogue brewing company

  • Rogue Bayfront Public House is one of 6 locations throughout Oregon. Order a flight of 7 to try the nearly 20 beers on draft. Aged whisky flights and signature cocktails are also available. All spirits are made from ingredients grown at Rogue Farms in Oregon. The spacious pub adorned with past beer labels has a gift shop and menu featuring appetizers, salads, pizza, burgers, and seafood. We recommend Barrel Aged Cherry Habanero, a strong ale with a sweet smoky barbecue flavor, and Strawberry Jam Session.

Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area

yaquina head lighthouse oregon

yaquina sand dunes

  • Oregon’s tallest lighthouse, Yaquina Head Lighthouse, stands 93 feet tall. The original Yaquina Bay Lighthouse assisted James Cook’s voyage to shore in the early 1870’s, the earliest recorded landing in the Pacific Northwest. 

yaquina head natural area

coastal oregon trip

September 2020





3 responses to “Coastal Oregon”

  1. Oregon Parks and Monuments – The Traveling Gingerbread Avatar

    […] Thinking of planning a trip to Oregon? Check out the road trip along the coast here: Coastal Oregon. […]


  2.  Avatar

    I absolutely love your trips Gingie!


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