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Where are the best places to see nature and the ocean while RV camping at the Coast?

My favorite campgrounds that put you close to the ocean and nature include Cape Lookout State Park on the North Oregon Coast, Beverly Beach on the Central Oregon Coast and Sunset Bay State Park on the South Oregon Coast.

Cape Lookout, west of Tillamook, is beautiful campground adjacent to the ocean and a long stretch of beach. Several miles of walking and hiking trails offer scenic views and exploration of the rainforest. Explore the immediate area with short day trips to Cape Meares and Cape Kiwanda.

Beverly Beach State Park is just north of Newport and offers access to a long stretch of beach between Otter Rock and Yaquina Head. Devil’s Punchbowl at Otter Rock, the Otter Crest Scenic Viewpoint on Cape Foulweather and the Whale Watch Center at Depoe Bay are my top stops for exploring to the north of Beverly Beach. The Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area and lighthouse to the south of Beverly Beach is a must-stop with scenic views, marine life watching and a stairway to a beautiful intertidal area (so plan your visit for a low tide if possible). Other top attractions in Newport include the historic bay front, a unique combination of working waterfront and tourist shops and restaurants. The Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport is also very much worth a visit.

Sunset Bay State Park southwest of Coos Bay is located close to a beautiful cove beach and also offers access to nearby Shore Acres State Park and Cape Arago State Park. A hiking trail connects the three State Parks and is one of the great scenic hikes on all of the Oregon Coast. Shore Acres offers stunning view of sheer sandstone cliffs and exciting wave action and the nearby Simpson Reef is one of the best places to watch seals and sea lions on the coast.

Cape Arago State Park also offers great viewpoints and access to another exception intertidal area in its south cove. I would also suggest a day trip to see the beautiful beach at Bandon with stops at Coquille Point and the Face Rock viewpoint for scenic overlooks and beach access.

All of the elevated viewpoints you visit, especially on the Central Oregon Coast, will offer a good chance of seeing gray whales, so keep your eye open for the telltale spouts.

Although these three stops will allow you to see some of the best of the Oregon Coast, you may want to consider another night or two in other areas to catch a few top attractions you miss limiting yourself to these stops. If you are interested in Astoria, Seaside or Cannon Beach, you may want to plan a stop at Fort Steven State Park or private RV parks in Seaside or Cannon Beach. The top beach or nature experiences would be Haystack Rock, where you can see nesting puffins, and Ecola State Park that offers panoramic views, easy walking trails and longer scenic hikes.

Another amazing stretch of Coast you will want to consider spending more time is the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area south of Yachats. There is a Forest Service campground and some private RV parks in this area, though the nearest State Park campground is Washburne State Park. Washburne State Park offers nearby beach access, a hiking trail to the Heceta Head Lighthouse and easy drives to Heceta Lighthouse State Park and the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area attractions like Spouting Horn at Cook’s Chasm and Devil’s Churn.

You’ve also left of an amazing stretch of the South Oregon Coast between Gold Beach and Brookings, but I suggest you save that for your next trip.

Be sure to make advance reservations for campsites, so you are assured of getting your spot in these amazing areas.

Answered by Gary Hayes, Ask Oregon Coast Expert on January 20th, 2016 - Post Your Answer

What are some of the best breweries to visit near McMinnville?

Of course, you’ll be deep in Wine Country there, and I should encourage you to stop in at one of the bajillion wineries for a drop of pinot — it is definitely worth a stop. As for beer, a couple to put on your list are Golden Valley (McMinnville), one of Oregon’s older breweries and a good one. The long-time brewer there, Mark Vickery, went off and started Grain Station (McMinnville), which should probably be your first stop. Great story, great place — and great beer. Another brewery I love is Heater Allen (also McMinnville), but they focus on lagers so you’ll have to decide whether that fits the bill. (Lagers have finally started to get popular in Oregon, and this brewery is one of the big reasons why.)

A couple other places to note: You might consider driving to Salem to check out Santiam, which is an interesting brewery that does mainly cask ales. It’s unusual and you might find it interesting. There’s also a new brewery in Dundee called Deception. Breweries open so fast in Oregon that I’m falling behind. I still haven’t made it out there. Perhaps you can go and tell me what it’s like.

Answered by Jeff Alworth, Ask Oregon Beer Expert on January 17th, 2016 - Post Your Answer

Can you recommend affordable hotels near wineries in the Willamette Valley?

For the most concentrated wine tasting area, stay either in the Yamhill Valley (Newberg, Dundee and McMinnville area, where the majority of the Willamette Valley’s wineries can be found) or in Salem (easy access to the Eola-Amity Hills AVA).

My go-to fun, budget-priced hotels in Yamhill Valley:

  • McMenamin’s Hotel Oregon, a beautiful historic hotel in downtown McMinnville. However, many of the rooms have a shared bathroom down the hall. They have private bathrooms as well, so if that’s important to you, pay attention when you’re booking.
  • Third Street Flats has gorgeous, fully-furnished apartments you can rent in downtown McMinnville. These apartments are only accessible via stairs, so if some in your party have physical limitations, keep that in mind.
  • Chehalem Ridge B&B and Wine Country Farm are family-owned bed and breakfasts that are well-located for wine tasting.
  • At The Vintages Trailer Resort you can rent a retro Airstream trailer in wine country. These trailers are cute and fully equipped with electricity, heat, air conditioning and other nice amenities.

McMinnville and Newberg also have some good standard chain hotels:

Near Salem, closer to the Eola-Amity Hills AVA:

  • The Grand Hotel, Salem, in Salem’s historic downtown, is walking distance to parks and nice restaurants. The Salem area is also close to some of my very favorite wineries, such as Brooks Wines, Left Coast Cellars, Willamette Valley Vineyards, Ankeny Vineyards and Arcane Cellars.

What “characterful towns” can I visit up the Coast after detouring from Ashland?

I would recommend you start your coastal tour in Bandon, one of my favorite beaches and small towns on the Oregon Coast. However, the stretch of US 101 between Brookings and Port Orford is also a beautiful drive and passes through the scenic Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor. Otherwise, Bandon fits nicely with your interest of towns with character — and it has great restaurants (try The Loft or Alloro Wine Bar and Restaurant). Bandon’s beach is one of the most scenic on the Oregon Coast with many rock formations along the shoreline and just offshore. It’s a great beach to walk or view from viewpoints such as Coquille Point or the Face Rock overlook. If you spend a couple days in Bandon, you could consider a day trip south to Cape Blanco and Port Orford. You could also day trip north to to Cape Arago via the Charleston to Bandon Tour Route. Cape Arago is a must whether you make it a day trip or part of your travel north.

Florence has a great old town and good restaurants, so you may want to spend a night there which would give you the option of exploring the Oregon Dunes and then enjoy a leisurely drive north along another beautiful stretch of coast between Florence and Yachats. I would take the entire day for this stretch with must stops at the Heceta Head Lighthouse and several stops within the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area to see Cook’s Chasm/Spouting Horn, Devil’s Churn, beaches, tidepools and views from the top of the cape. Yachats is very small and is less walkable than the other towns on your list, but there are a couple of nice restaurants (Ona is my favorite for casual fine dining).

Newport is a much larger city, but it does have some fun districts that offer the character and restaurants you are after, as well as several must see scenic attractions nearby such as the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area and Devil’s Punchbowl. The historic Nye Beach district and bay front areas are fun to explore and offer good restaurants (my top recommendations include Local Ocean Seafoods or Saffron Salmon on the bayfront and April’s or Sorella at Nye Beach).

Cannon Beach is also a good choice for walkable small towns with character and good restaurants (including the casual and tropical Castaways and the Irish Table among several good options). Cannon Beach has great beaches and State Parks both north and south with Ecola State Park being a must-see. Cannon Beach hosts a wine and culinary festival (Savor Cannon Beach) March 10-13 that might correspond to your travel dates. Cannon Beach also makes a good base for exploring other coastal towns, including Seaside and Astoria, and their attractions. So, as you were thinking, the towns you have identified sound like they are good choices for you. Consider two nights in Bandon, one night in Florence, one night in Yachats, one night in Newport and two nights in Cannon Beach.

You will want to be prepared for rain, but I would expect that you will experience all kinds of weather and spectacular scenery in any case.

Answered by Gary Hayes, Ask Oregon Coast Expert on January 3rd, 2016 - Post Your Answer

Where can my dog and I find some sunshine during a long winter weekend — without crossing snowy roads?

If you’re seeking sunnier days and a lack of snowy roads, Ashland might be your best bet. It’s very dog-friendly, with hiking trails that stay snow-free for the most part (though we are having a pretty intense winter so far!). I-5 is well-maintained of course, and you won’t encounter a truly snowy pass until Siskiyou Summit, which is just south of Ashland. If interested, you can catch some fun plays in the off-season, plus tour brew pubs and wineries. And always, Ashland is full of fun shops and dining options. Dogs are allowed on many outdoor patios, which are mostly heated in winter.

This website has good reviews of Ashland’s dining scene. Check Bring Fido for dog-friendly lodging; I love Ashland Hills Hotel. You can find more information on local hiking trails (accessible directly from downtown) here.

The Southern Oregon Coast is also dog-friendly with wide beaches and fun yurt camping; some allow dogs, and I’ve had great weekends with my dogs on the Coast. However, you’re not too likely to get sunny weather. Also, Bend will most likely be sunny, but there will be lots of snow…

Answered by Amy Whitley, Ask Oregon Southern Oregon Expert on December 17th, 2015 - Post Your Answer

I’m going to Mt. Hood, want to get to the top of the mountain and want a large variety of ski terrain. Which resort should I visit?

Thanks for the question. The resort that would most suit you is Mount Hood Meadows. It has everything you are looking for and has the most expert terrain along with the most varied terrain.

When it is clear, the upper lift is all above tree line and has incredible skiing along with beautiful views. The lower has amazing trails and tree skiing of all ability levels. Have an awesome winter and please feel free to send more questions if needed!

All the best,
Asit Rathod

Answered by Asit Rathod, Ask Oregon Snow Sports Expert on December 8th, 2015 - Post Your Answer

Can you suggest a 2-day Oregon Coast itinerary beginning in Brookings?

The South Oregon Coast has many attractions that you could easily spend two days without traveling too far up the coast, depending on how long you want to linger and explore.

DAY ONE: I would save a full day for Harris Beach State Park and the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor. Plan your visit to Harris Beach for low tide and enjoy the tidepools and abundant bird life. There are many stops along the Boardman Corridor that offer easy access to stunning viewpoints and also some great short hikes. For short easy stops, consider Lone Ranch (beach access and tidepools), Cape Ferrelo (short walk to viewpoints), House Rock Viewpoint, Whaleshead Beach (steep, rough road to scenic rock formations and beach), Natural Bridges (short walk to an amazing view), Thunder Rock Cove (short hike to amazing views) and Arch Rock Viewpoint (easy walking paths with dramatic views).

DAY TWO: Otter Point State Recreation Site is a fascinating area just north of Gold Beach with interested rock formations of basalt and sandstone a short walk from the parking area. The drive north is very scenic from there, hugging the coastline to Port Orford. You will likely want to stop at several waysides for the views. If you continue north, make the side trip to Cape Blanco State Park to see the lighthouse at the end of the dramatic cape. If you save time to go as far as Bandon, you will be rewarded with amazing views along Beach Loop Drive. Must stops are Face Rock State Scenic Viewpoint and Coquille Point, where walking paths overlook amazing rock formations. The Coquille River Lighthouse can be seen from the south side of the river, or you can cross over and get a close look at it in Bullards Beach State Park.

Brookings to Bandon is only about 85 miles, but there is so much great sightseeing, I can’t image you can do more than that in two very busy days!

Happy exploring!

Answered by Gary Hayes, Ask Oregon Coast Expert on December 1st, 2015 - Post Your Answer

Are the waterfall hikes in Southern Oregon accessible during the winter?

I often visit Mill Creek Falls and Pearsoney Falls, but have not done so this late in the season. This region, between Prospect and Crater Lake and Diamond Lake, gets quite a bit of snow most years. Highway 62 and 138, which lead from Prospect and around Diamond Lake, will be plowed and remain open in almost all cases. You’ll want four-wheel drive or snow tires if conditions warrant them. The smaller access roads to Barr Creek Falls, Salt Creek Falls and Diamond Creek Falls may well close.

I think a winter trip to this area is a very fun idea (we spend time in this area during the winter ourselves), but if you go, plan on the chance of snow, and perhaps rethink the trip to being a snowshoe trek or snow play type of experience. Instead of planning to hike to waterfalls, I’d plan to snowshoe or cross country ski in the Diamond Lake area or at Crater Lake. Diamond Lake’s resort is on the rustic/bare bones side, and Crater Lake is historical and more upscale. Snowshoeing around the lake is stunning! Of course, during the time of your visit, the snow may be gone, in which case you could do the same routes on foot.

Either way, you’ll have a fun trip, but flexibility will be the name of the game!

Answered by Amy Whitley, Ask Oregon Southern Oregon Expert on November 14th, 2015 - Post Your Answer

Where should two Texan beer connoisseurs visit during their Oregon honeymoon?

Congratulations on the wedding! The McMenamins pubs are definitely worth checking out — they have some of the most interesting properties in the region. (I have my favorites.) Beyond that, there are literally dozens of breweries in Oregon (six dozen, last I counted). Unless you’re planning for a very long honeymoon, you may not be able to see them all. Because we drink so much of our own beer, a lot of it never leaves Oregon, so most of our breweries are considered obscure to people even a state or two away. Here are my recommendations for the most interesting ones in Portland:

  • Breakside. Consistently one of the best, Breakside has a wide range of beers for all tastes and their Northeast Portland pub has great food. Another good brewery, Ex Novo, is just around the corner.
  • Deschutes. Downtown in the Pearl District, Deschutes is possibly the most accomplished brewery in Oregon, and they also have an extensive taplist of beers you won’t find outside that pub — plus great food. (Try the elk burger.) Not far from Deschutes is Pints, which has a German-trained brewer and does great German beer.
  • Cascade Barrel House and The Commons. These two breweries are about five blocks from each other. Cascade is famous for its barrel-aged sours, and even if you don’t like that type of beer, it’s worth having a sample or two. The Commons focuses on farmhouse beers and especially for the non-hopheads, do some of the best ales in town.
  • Culmination. This is a new brewery in the inner Southeast Portland that has exceptional beer — and I bet no one in Texas has ever heard of it.
  • Upright. Located in the Lloyd District, Upright has limited taproom hours, but does wonderful European styles and some barrel-aged specialties.
  • Gigantic is in an industrial part of town, but they make up for it with their amusing “Champagne Lounge,” where you can get a nice range of their beers.
  • Finally, for the ultimate Portland vibe, stop into the Lucky Lab for a pint (go to the Hawthorne location). It is about as Portlandia a place as you can find (and beloved by locals).


I think the ones I mentioned will give you a good sense of what Oregon and Portland have to offer, but they are certainly only the tip of the iceberg.

Answered by Jeff Alworth, Ask Oregon Beer Expert on October 16th, 2015 - Post Your Answer

Where can we look for agates on the Coast?

Agates are found along many beaches on the Oregon Coast that are adjacent to cliffs and streams. In addition to finding a good location for agates, beach conditions are a critical factor. Typically, sand builds up on beaches during the summer and covers gravel beds 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. Your best best in October would be to concentrate on cliff-side beaches at stream outfalls that wash sand away from rocky deposits. Closest to Portland, the beaches south of Cannon Beach would be a good bet. Consider Hug Point (near the waterfall), Arcadia Beach near stream outfalls or Short Sand Beach in Oswald West State Park where Necarney Creek flows into the ocean. One of my favorite beaches for agate hunting on the North Oregon Coast is the beach at Oceanside on the north side of Maxwell Mountain that is accessed by a tunnel at low tide, though it can be hit or miss depending on sand deposits.

This stretch of Coast, south of Cannon Beach and following the Three Capes Scenic Route (Cape Meares, Cape Lookout and Cape Kiwanda) makes a nice touring route for spending just a few days at the Coast. You can make this trip a loop by driving to the Coast via US 26W to Cannon Beach, south on US 101, following the Three Capes Route from Tillamook, then returning to Portland via OR 6E from Tillamook. You should note that the road north of Cape Meares is indefinitely closed due to slides, so you have to reach Cape Meares and Oceanside by driving through Netarts.

Happy agate hunting!

Answered by Gary Hayes, Ask Oregon Coast Expert on October 10th, 2015 - Post Your Answer
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