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Where should we stay for a romantic coastal getaway?

On the North Oregon Coast, Stephanie Inn in Cannon Beach is one of the coast’s most luxurious lodging options. Cannon Beach offers quick access to scenic areas including miles of sandy beach, Oregon’s iconic Haystack Rock and beautiful Ecola State Park. For a runner-up, the views of Cannon Beach and Haystack Rock can’t be beat from Hallmark Resort and Spa.

On the Central Oregon Coast, Overleaf Lodge and Spa is an upscale lodging property overlooking a turbulent section of the oceanfront in Yachats. It is just minutes away from the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area with attractions like Devil’s Churn and Cook’s Chasm with Spouting Horn and Thor’s Well. As a runner-up, the Heceta Head Lighthouse lightkeeper’s cottage is operated as a bed and breakfast just south of Cape Perpetua. The cottage overlooks a beautiful cove and the seven-course breakfast is famous.

On the South Oregon Coast, Sunset Oceanfront Lodging’s Vern Brown Addition offers some of the most stunning view rooms of Bandon’s oceanfront rock formations and beach. The day trip north to Cape Arago is one of the Oregon Coast’s scenic gems with three interconnected State Parks on the cape. A runner-up or alternative would be WildSpring Guest Habitat in Port Orford. The property is in a beautifully wooded setting with small cozy cabins that are richly decorated. You can explore the private grounds with outdoor art in every direction or soak in the ocean view hot tub. Port Orford is a scenic location and it’s easy to explore the stunning South Oregon Coast scenery all the way to the southern border on a day trip or you can venture north to Cape Blanco State Park and Bandon.

Answered by Gary Hayes, Ask Oregon Coast Expert on February 3rd, 2017 - Post Your Answer

Is it possible to hike the entire Oregon Coast?

You can hike the entire length of the Oregon Coast, but it is not reasonably possible to plan on staying in towns with lodging and restaurants each night. The Oregon Coast Trail (OCT) offers a truly unique way to experience the spectacular views and natural areas along Oregon’s coastline, but it is not actually a single trail that leads from border to border. The trail includes about 40 percent paved roads, including some portions of Highway 101, with the remainder of the trail on the beach, hiking trails and unpaved roads. The actual hiking distance is approximately 425 miles if you do this trek as a thru-hike.

Thru-hiking the trail can involve a lot of planning. Due to many bays, estuaries and headlands, many portions of the trail can only be passed at low tide and others require following alternate (road) routes or arranging boat crossing to get past these areas. Hikes between hotels and restaurants is also a limiting requirement since most of the OCT is designed for overnights within Oregon State Parks.

Depending how far you would like to hike each day and your willingness to leave the trail and hike additionally on roads into nearby towns, you may be able to reasonably do much of the North and Central Coast as you have suggested. There are some stretches of the South Coast that would require hiking in excess of 8 hours per day between towns with lodging.

There are some guide books that describe the OCT and you can find some basic information and maps on the Oregon State Parks website. Here is a link to a blog from an author of one of the guidebooks.

It sounds like you would be better off selecting some portions of the trail that fit your requirements for hotels and restaurants, as well as offer the kind of hiking experience you are after.

Answered by Gary Hayes, Ask Oregon Coast Expert on January 6th, 2017 - Post Your Answer

Coming from California with three days to travel, how much of the Coast can I see?

With three days on the Oregon Coast, I would suggest spending a good portion of your first day between Brookings and Gold Beach. The Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor extends about 12 miles north from Brookings and includes several easy stops with rewarding views. My favorites are Whaleshead Beach, Natural Bridges and the Arch Rock Viewpoint, though if you want a great short hike, the short walk to Thunder Rock Cove is a great one and can be extended to Secret Beach at Miner’s Creek.

A great second day would include a drive north to Port Orford where Battle Rock Park is a nice highway side-stop and Port Orford Heads State Park offers great views along some short trails. You can continue north for a quick side trip to the Cape Blanco Lighthouse in a beautiful setting. I would spend my second night in Bandon where you should save time to enjoy the beautiful beach and its remarkable rock formations. Walking this beach is spectacular and viewpoints, including Face Rock and Coquille Point, are stunning.

I would suggest going as far north as Cape Arago by following the Bandon to Charleston Tour Route. There are three Oregon State Parks on Cape Arago that offer some of the best views and experiences on the Oregon Coast. Shore Acres State Park is one of my favorites, especially when the surf is up. The nearby Simpson Reef overlook is one of the best places to see seals and sea lions in their natural habitat.

Answered by Gary Hayes, Ask Oregon Coast Expert on December 21st, 2016 - Post Your Answer

What are the less-traveled agate beaches around Port Orford and Cape Blanco?

The beaches between Port Orford and Cape Blanco are, in general, less traveled relative to many other Oregon Coast beaches and this stretch of beach is known for good agate hunting. There are two primary public beach access areas in this area. Paradise Point State Recreation Site in the north end of Port Orford offers beach access as far north as Elk River. Cape Blanco State Park offers access to beaches both north and south of the cape. The beach north of the cape is accessed by a trail from the parking area outside the gate to the Cape Blanco Lighthouse. Be sure to check tide tables for this area since high tides can cover the entire beach in some stretches, especially during fall and winter.

In general, any beach adjacent to a cliffside offers potential for agate hunters in Oregon, but great agate hunting is more often determined by beach conditions and sand levels. Even on the best agate hunting beaches, rocky deposits containing agates can be covered by sand. Typically, sand builds up on beaches during the summer and covers rocky deposits containing agates, while winter storms loosen agates from cliff sides and strip the sand off beaches to reveal these deposits. This usually makes November to March the best time to discover significant agate deposits. The quieter seasons of the year are also the best for agate hunters since there is less competition for the prized stones.

Answered by Gary Hayes, Ask Oregon Coast Expert on December 5th, 2016 - Post Your Answer

What is the best area for senior citizens on the Coast?

Most people visiting Oregon fly into Portland. If that’s your plan, you can reach the North Oregon Coast by car in about 90 minutes. Cannon Beach offers a good introduction to the Oregon Coast with long stretches of easily accessible beach, Oregon’s iconic Haystack Rock, a small walkable downtown and nearby State Parks, notably Ecola State Park, that offer panoramic views and easy walking paths. From there, it really depends on how much time you have and what kind of experience you desire for your visit. The Oregon Coast includes 363 miles of options and exceptional accessibility to viewpoints, beaches and natural areas. You could easily spend a week on the North Oregon Coast and include towns like Astoria, Seaside, Manzanita and the Tillamook area on your itinerary, or you can explore further to the Central Oregon Coast where Lincoln City offers miles of beaches and many options for accommodations; the Newport area offers many scenic and historical attractions; and the small town of Yachats provides the gateway to some of the coast’s most scenic areas. If you have the time, the South Oregon Coast has its own vibe with smaller towns and less touristed natural areas. I love the South Oregon Coast towns of Bandon, Port Orford and Gold Beach.

Answered by Gary Hayes, Ask Oregon Coast Expert on November 2nd, 2016 - Post Your Answer

What are the top 10 things to do on the Oregon Coast?

There are many things to see and do along the 363-mile Oregon Coast and without knowing your interests or if you are planning on concentrating on any specific region, let me give me my top picks along the entire Coast. The top 10 attractions I would recommend include (north to south):

  1. Astoria’s historic attractions including the Columbia River Maritime Museum and Lewis and Clark’s Fort Clatsop
  2. Seaside’s automobile turnaround and oceanfront promenade, famous landmarks dating from the 1920s
  3. Ecola State Park and Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach
  4. Three Capes Scenic Drive southwest of Tillamook (Cape Meares, Cape Lookout and Cape Kiwanda)
  5. Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area in Newport (lighthouse, views, bird watching and beautiful tidepool area)
  6. Cape Perpetua Scenic Area (rainforest hiking trails, views of dramatic coastline formations like Spouting Horn, Devil’s Churn, Cook’s Chasm and Thor’s Well)
  7. Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area (Honeyman State Park and Oregon Dunes Overlook near Florence or hike the John Dellenback Trail south of Reedsport)
  8. Cape Arago (three spectacular State Parks southwest of Coos Bay)
  9. Beach Loop Drive in Bandon (beautiful beach with many rock formations at the edge of the shore)
  10. Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor (lots of viewpoints and beaches south of Gold Beach)
Answered by Gary Hayes, Ask Oregon Coast Expert on October 18th, 2016 - Post Your Answer

Which Central Coast town is best for secluded beaches and a laid-back vibe?

Consider Yachats as your destination. I think it fits your description and desires better than any town on the Central Oregon Coast. It’s a popular destination, but it’s definitely quieter than North Coast destinations like Seaside or Cannon Beach in mid-September. It’s just outside of the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area where you will find more secluded beaches and some of the best hiking on all of the Oregon Coast.

You will find a reasonable gentle hike between Cook’s Chasm (Spouting Horn and Thor’s Well) and Devil’s Churn or you can just explore the paved trails that extend from either the Cook’s Chasm and Devil’s Churn waysides. There are also a variety of rainforest trails including some shorter interpretive nature trails. A visit to Heceta Head Lighthouse, a little further south in Florence, is also a must and the short walk from the State Park to the lighthouse is beautiful. You could easily explore as far south as Florence and the Oregon Dunes, where Honeyman State Park makes an easy stop and offers nature trails around Cleawox Lake.

Answered by Gary Hayes, Ask Oregon Coast Expert on September 19th, 2016 - Post Your Answer

Are dogs allowed on Oregon Coast beaches?

In general, most of Oregon’s beaches allow dogs. Some beaches within local enforcement areas may require that dogs be leashed and there are a few beaches that do not allow dogs or require leashes to protect wildlife. Inter-tidal areas designated as Marine Gardens by the State of Oregon require that dogs be leashed and a few beaches do not allow dogs during the Snowy Plover nesting season March 15 to September 15.

Generally speaking, off-leash dogs are tolerated on most beaches as long as under “direct control” of the owner. This means the dog’s handler must remain within sight of the dog and the dog must respond to voice commands. Other common sense rules apply to dogs on beaches according to state law. Handlers must prevent their animals from harassing people, wildlife and other domestic animals; and you are responsible for the removal of the animal’s waste while in the ocean shore state recreation area. Owners are required to carry a leash and leash their dog at the request of authorities, including Oregon State Parks personnel. If your dog is well behaved, does not approach other people or dogs, does not chase birds, approach wildlife or other domestic animals, you can enjoy most Oregon beaches off-leash with your dog.

I almost always travel the coast with my girl Gracie and we not only enjoy the beaches, but find many dog-friendly restaurants with outdoor dining areas and dog-related or dog-friendly businesses. There can’t be a better destination for dogs than the Oregon Coast.

Answered by Gary Hayes, Ask Oregon Coast Expert on September 2nd, 2016 - Post Your Answer

How can I see the Oregon Coast on a budget?

Oregon State Parks offer access to some of the most remarkable scenic views and natural areas on the Oregon Coast. Many of the Oregon Coast’s State Parks do not require day-use fees and of those, my favorites are Cape Meares, Seal Rock and Cape Arago.

Those with day use fees that I would not hesitate to pay even for a brief visit include Ecola State Park, Heceta Head Lighthouse State Park and Shore Acres State Park. Likewise, the day use fee for entrance to the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area is also well worth it. On a related note, the Oregon Pacific Coast Passport covers day use fees for all Oregon State Parks, BLM sites (Yaquina Head), Forest Service managed natural areas including the Oregon Dunes and Cape Perpetua; and National Park sites (Fort Clatsop near Astoria) on the Oregon Coast.

Answered by Gary Hayes, Ask Oregon Coast Expert on August 22nd, 2016 - Post Your Answer

What events are happening on the Oregon Coast at the end of summer?

Late-September through early-October is a great time to visit the Oregon Coast for outdoor recreation and wildlife spotting. With the large summer crowds gone, herds of Roosevelt Elk are frequently seen along the coast. If you’re interested in whale watching, I’d suggest Depoe Bay, where Oregon State Parks operates a Whale Watch Center, or Cape Foulweather, a prominent viewpoint also staffed by Parks personnel. Bird watching is always good on the Oregon Coast. You may want to read my Travel Oregon story, Hiking Tour of the Oregon Coast, for some of my favorite hiking areas.

September 24 is National Public Lands Day and National Parks, such as Lewis and Clark’s Fort Clatsop near Astoria, offer free admission in case that fits in with your itinerary. That day is also Oregon’s annual Beach Clean-up  in case you want to join the thousands of other volunteers helping keep Oregon’s beaches clean. On October 1-2, the town of Charleston hosts its Octoberfish festival. That weekend, Lincoln City hosts its annual Fall Kite Festival. You can see more events at the VisitTheOregonCoast website

As for arts, there are some great galleries and live theater all along the Coast, but Cannon Beach in particular is known as an arts town and has been recognized as one the 100 Best Art Towns in America.

If you give me an idea of your itinerary or what part of the coast you will be visiting, I may be able to make some more specific recommendations.

Answered by Gary Hayes, Ask Oregon Coast Expert on August 9th, 2016 - Post Your Answer
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