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We are traveling from Astoria to Florence on the Oregon Coast. What are some natural wonders we should stop and see along the way?

For natural wonders between Astoria and Florence, I would suggest starting at Ecola State Park near Cannon Beach. There are wonderful views of the coastline including Oregon’s iconic Haystack Rock and the offshore Tillamook Rock Lighthouse. You can visit Haystack Rock by parking in Cannon Beach and if you visit at low tide you can explore its tidepools. Between April and July, you can observe Tufted Puffins nesting on Haystack Rock. About 15 minutes south, the highway climbs Neahkahnie Mountain and there are dramatic roadside viewpoints. I would then suggest following the Three Capes Scenic Route southwest of Tillamook. Cape Meares offers great views and a short walk to a lighthouse. The next stop is Cape Lookout which offers beach access and hiking. It requires more time to explore, but could be a nice stop for a picnic. Cape Kiwanda is the last stop and it offers great views if you climb to the top of the giant sand dune on its flank.

Other great stops as you continue south include Devils Punchbowl at Otter Rock, a great viewpoint and interesting geological formation. Yaquina Head Oustanding Natural Area is another must see, with a beautiful lighthouse, views and a great intertidal area if you visit at low tide. I would save plenty of time for the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area just south of Yachats. There are roadside viewpoints of interesting rock formations including Spouting Horn, Thor’s Well, Devils Churn and Cooks Chasm. The visitors center offers views and access to easy rainforest hiking trails. Heceta Head Lighthouse also makes a good stop with a short walk the the lighthouse in a spectacular setter. Highway viewpoints just to the south offer good views looking back at the lighthouse. Sea Lion Caves is just around the corner from there and offers more great views and access to America’s largest sea cave that is shelter for wild sea lions.

Just south of Florence, you will find companies that offer dune buggy rentals and tours. Honeyman State Park is a great stop for getting out to climb the dunes and the Oregon Dunes Overlook, a little further south, offers views and dune access too.

Happy exploring!

Answered by Gary Hayes, Ask Oregon Coast Expert on January 27th, 2014 - Post Your Answer

What is the Oregon Coast like in February and March?

February and early March on the Oregon Coast are part of the quiet seasons, though Valentine’s Day and Presidents Day weekend do see an increase in visitors. This can be a great time for general sightseeing since attractions, State Parks and natural areas are less crowded. You do have to be prepared for a variety of weather conditions. Low temperatures average in the high 30s and highs average in the mid-50s. You should also be prepared for rain as February is still part of the wet season and can still see 8-10 inches of rain for the month. While the typical forecast may be overcast and showery, we often experience beautiful clear days that are sometimes unseasonable warm. I always recommend being prepared for whatever Mother Nature delivers and you can enjoy the coast during a very special season unlike what many warm weather visitors see. It’s a great season for birdwatching and wildlife. Bald eagles patrol the beaches and herds of Roosevelt Elk or commonly seen grazing in meadows. Wave action can often be dramatic unlike the summer when typically small waves roll to the shore.

There are also some major events during this time. Lincoln City celebrates Antique Week Feb 7-16, Feb 20-23 Newport hosts its annual Seafood and Wine Festival and Astoria presents the Fisher Poets Gathering. Cannon Beach hosts a Yoga Festival Feb 28-March 2 and then the Savor Cannon Beach Wine & Culinary Festival March 6-9.

Happy exploring!

Answered by Gary Hayes, Ask Oregon Coast Expert on December 27th, 2013 - Post Your Answer

Are there dog-friendly campgrounds on the Southern Oregon Coast near Florence?

Nearly all Oregon State Park campgrounds welcome dogs. Pets must be confined by the owner, or on a leash not more than six (6) feet long, and kept under physical control at all times. The closest State Park campground to Florence would be Honeyman State Park.

The following link is to Oregon State Parks brochure on pets in parks: http://www.oregonstateparks.org/index.cfm?do=main.loadFile&load=_siteFiles/publications/pets-in-parks.pdf

The following link is to Oregon State Parks “Find a Park” page and you can check all of the State Park campgrounds south of Florence: http://oregonstateparks.org/index.cfm?do=visit.dsp_find

There are also countless private and Forest Service campgrounds that are dog friendly, but rules can vary.

Happy exploring!

Answered by Gary Hayes, Ask Oregon Coast Expert on October 31st, 2013 - Post Your Answer

What is the weather like on the Oregon Coast during the holiday season? We’ll be in the Lincoln City area.

Temperatures in December and January on the Oregon Coast are typically mild, ranging from low temperatures in the high 30s to high temperatures in the low 50s. Weather can vary greatly this time of year, so be prepared for warmer or colder conditions. You should also be prepared for rain. This is typically the wettest month on the Central Coast with precipitation in double digits (averaging over 11 inches in December). Come prepared and you will enjoy a season like no other. Huge crashing waves, wildlife sightings and maybe experiencing a famous Oregon Coast storm are all possibilities.

You will be arriving during the peak of winter whale watching season and the week of December 26-through January 1, a program called Whale Watching Spoken Here is conducted at over 25 of the coast’s best whale watching sites. Trained volunteers assist visitors in spotting migrating Gray Whales. The Whale Watch Center in Depoe Bay, less than a half hour south of Lincoln City, is one of the best spots for seeing whales year round. The seawall at Depoe Bay and the nearby wayside of Boiler Bay are great locations for watching crashing waves. The seawall at Depoe Bay has “spouting horns,” the coast’s answer to geysers, where when surf is up, water is forced through small channels in lava rock and shoots through small openings high into the air. A little further south is Devils Punchbowl at Otter Rock, another of the coast’s best spots for watching winter waves.

Happy exploring!

Answered by Gary Hayes, Ask Oregon Coast Expert on October 2nd, 2013 - Post Your Answer

What places on the Oregon Coast commemorate the Lewis & Clark expedition?

The Lewis and Clark National Historical Park encompasses several sites along the Lower Columbia River in both Oregon and Washington. Just south of Astoria is Fort Clatsop, featuring a visitor center and a full-size re-creation of the explorer’s fort built to endure the winter of 1806.

There are several other sites you may find interesting further south along the Oregon Coast. The explorers set up a salt making camp in the area of present day Seaside during their winter on the coast. There is a commemorative “salt cairn” just off Seaside’s oceanfront promenade at Lewis and Clark Way. A large bronze sculpture of Lewis and Clark sits at the center of Seaside’s automobile turnaround at the beach. The explorers sent a party over Tillamook Head from the salt camp to find a whale they had heard was beached on the other side of the headland and that route can be hiked today from Seaside to Ecola State Park in Cannon Beach. In Cannon Beach, a small pocket park called Whale Park commemorates the explorers visit to the area where the whale was found on the south side of the creek Clark named Ecola, the native term for whale. There is interpretive signage on the north side of the creek at Les Shirley Park.

Happy exploring the explorers!

Answered by Gary Hayes, Ask Oregon Coast Expert on July 31st, 2013 - Post Your Answer

What are some good hikes and bird watching spots in Newport?

There are several options for hiking in the Newport area. For a great beach walk, you can walk from Beverly Beach State Park south to Otter Rock where a stairway leads you to the fascinating Devil’s Punchbowl State Natural Area.  There’s also the Yaquina Head Lighthouse, located in the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area. This is a great seabird birdwatching area, has beautiful tidepools and some short hiking trails. For more serious hiking, consider Beaver Creek State Natural Area about seven miles south of Newport, another great birdwatching location. To experience coastal rainforest, you could also consider the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area about 45 minutes south of Newport. This is one of the most dramatic stretches of the coast with several options for hikes from the visitor center. A little further south is the Heceta Head Lighthouse with another beautiful short walk to the recently restored lighthouse.
Happy exploring!

Answered by Gary Hayes, Ask Oregon Coast Expert on July 3rd, 2013 - Post Your Answer

Where is the best place to camp, hike and bike on the North Oregon Coast?

My top choice would be Cape Lookout State Park southwest of Tillamook for the best camping experience. The campground is right next to the beach and there are several miles of hiking trails including one to the end of the cape through old-growth Sitka Spruce rainforest. Bikes are not allowed on State Park trails, so you would have to look at other options for off-road biking. An alternative would be Nehalem Bay State State Park near Manzanita that borders both bay and ocean. There are campground biking trails that are more for family recreation, so if you are looking for more off-road biking, you could look at logging roads on Neahkahnie Mountain about 10 minutes to the north in Oswald West State Park. The hiking trails in Oswald West State Park are great, but again, are not open to bikes.

Happy exploring!

Answered by Gary Hayes, Ask Oregon Coast Expert on May 30th, 2013 - Post Your Answer

Where can I find some nice wines and B&Bs along the Oregon Coast? We’re coming for our anniversary.

North Oregon Coast: For special occasions, it’s hard to beat the experience at Cannon Beach’s Stephanie Inn. This is more of a country inn, not a traditional bed & breakfast home, but it is an exceptional splurge with a great restaurant and fine wines too. You’ll find the best wine list in town at the Wayfarer Restaurant. Another unique experience nearby is Arch Cape Inn & Retreat, a B&B that resembles a French Chateau. You might also consider The Awtrey House in Nehalem, a more traditional B&B home operated by a former professional basketball player who put a lot of attention to detail in this home. Astoria also has a large number of B&Bs, many in Victorian Homes. Rose River House is one of the most popular ones. You’ll find a nice wine list at Bridgewater Bistro on Astoria’s riverfront.

Central Oregon Coast: The Lightkeeper’s Inn Bed & Breakfast in Newport consistently ranks high with visitors, offering bay and bridge views. A few minutes to the north in Otter Rock is the coast’s only traditional working winery, Flying Dutchman Winery, offering tasting daily. There are several highly rated B&Bs in Depoe Bay, including Pana Sea Ah and An Ocean Paradise Whales Rendezvous. Whale Cove Inn is more of a boutique hotel, but offers amazing views and an acclaimed restaurant. It would also be worth the trip to plan a dinner at The Bay House in the south end of Lincoln City where you will find the coast’s largest wine list, literally a bound book.

South Oregon Coast: Tu Tu Tun Lodge up the Rogue River from Gold Beach is more of a country inn, but is highly rated and has an outstanding restaurant on the property. For more traditional B&B homes, consider The Compass Rose Bed and Breakfast in Port Orford. You’ll find the best wine list at Redfish restaurant. Also not a traditional B&B, but worth consider for its uniqueness is WildSpring Guest Habitat in Port Orford.

Answered by Gary Hayes, Ask Oregon Coast Expert on April 26th, 2013 - Post Your Answer

Which restaurant serves the best oysters on the Oregon Coast?

Any part of the coast you visit will offer great options for enjoying fresh, local oysters served in many preparations, from raw to pan-fried or in stews.

Here are some of my personal favorites and popular spots all along the coast. On the North Oregon Coast, Bridgewater Bistro in Astoria prides themselves on featuring the freshest Willapa Bay oysters and often features innovative accompaniments like the extra small Pacific oysters with an absolut pepper cocktail sauce or perfectly pan fried oysters with a creole mayo. Pacific Oyster Company located on a jetty in Tillamook Bay at Bay City is a commercial oyster packing plant with a casual restaurant. It will be harder to get fresher oysters than that. You’ll also find oyster stew and oyster burgers there.

On the Central Oregon Coast, Blackfish Cafe in Lincoln City never disappoints with their oyster choices, such as half-shell oysters with a shallot-infused sherry vinegar or crispy cornmeal fried Yaquina Bay oysters. Local Ocean Seafoods in Newport, a fish market and restaurant offering fresh oyster shooters, pan fried oysters and even an oyster salad with pan-fried oysters served with greens dressed with a warm bacon vinaigrette. Tidal Raves in Depoe Bay offers great pan fried oysters and I enjoyed their creamy-buttery oyster stew.

On the South Oregon Coast, the Hilltop House in North Bend is a longtime favorite that offers fresh local oysters including Cajun oysters. In nearby Charleston, you’ll find several restaurants in this fishing community that offer fresh oysters such as Fisherman’s Grotto. In Bandon, the Bandon Fish Market offers retail seafood and a casual restaurant with fresh local oysters.

I could keep going, but I hope this gives you a few can’t miss options for each region of the coast. I’ll be anxious to hear what you enjoy and the favorites of other readers. Most importantly, enjoy your search for the Oregon Coast’s best oyster and I’ll expect a full report.

Happy exploring!

Answered by Gary Hayes, Ask Oregon Coast Expert on March 28th, 2013 - Post Your Answer

We are traveling the entire Oregon Coast. What are the top scenic viewpoints?

The top 10 attractions I would recommend include (north to south):

Astoria’s historic attractions including the Columbia River Maritime Museum and Lewis and Clark’s Fort Clatsop.

Seaside’s automobile turnaround and oceanfront promenade, famous landmarks dating from the 1920s.

Ecola State Park and Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach.

Three Capes Scenic Drive southwest of Tillamook (Cape Meares, Cape Lookout and Cape Kiwanda).

Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area in Newport (lighthouse, views, bird watching and beautiful tidepool area).

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).

Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area (Honeyman State Park and Oregon Dunes Overlook near Florence or hike the John Dellenback Trail south of Reedsport).

Cape Arago (three spectacular State Parks southwest of Coos Bay).

Beach Loop Drive in Bandon (beautiful beach with many rock formations at the edge of the shore).

Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor (lots of viewpoints and beaches south of Gold Beach).

 

Hope this helps and happy exploring!

Answered by Gary Hayes, Ask Oregon Coast Expert on February 28th, 2013 - Post Your Answer
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