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What are the best lakes to wakeboard near Bend in June?

I’d say the most popular place for wakeboarding in Central Oregon is Lake Billy Chinook. It’s strikingly beautiful and large. Three rivers come together and are dammed into a fantastic waterway for boating.

Another popular spot is Cultus Lake. Both Billy Chinook and Cultus are about the same accessibility from Bend, but they are vastly different in terms of surroundings. Cultus is surrounded by forested mountains while Billy is in a high desert rimrock canyon. Given the time of your visit, I’d choose Billy Chinook. Cultus can be colder as it’s at a higher elevation.

Plus, Billy is simply bigger and, in my opinion, more fun to traverse than Cultus. Have fun!

How can one drive on the sand near Sunset Beach?

Driving on the beach between Fort Steven State Park and Gearhart is allowed with some seasonal restrictions. You can reach the beach access at the west end of Sunset Beach Road, just past the State Park parking area. Many other regulations and restrictions  are enforced for those driving on the beach. Speed limits must not exceed 25 mph and drivers can be cited for driving, even at lower speeds, if driving poses harm to the beach environment, ocean shore resources or creates a hazard to humans or wildlife. Drivers and vehicles must be legally licensed and all provisions of motor vehicle laws of the State of Oregon are applicable and enforceable.

Answered by Gary Hayes, Ask Oregon Coast Expert on May 31st, 2016 - Post Your Answer

What are the not-to-miss golf courses on the Oregon Coast?

There are many wonderful golf courses along the Oregon Coast, ranging from all levels of difficulty and pricing. If you start south and head north, a really cool place to play is Salmon Run in Brookings. The Jack River crosses the course several times.

Two hours north is Bandon Dunes, considered the world’s most famous collection of courses with now five courses total. Bandon Dunes Resort is a must for the serious golfer looking for a memorable “bucket list” kind of experience. And there are a variety of accommodations, restaurants and accessible oceanfront so you can really take in the Coast. Just a few miles from Bandon Dunes, another enjoyable golf course is Bandon Crossings. And if you choose to stay in Bandon, the Bandon Inn is a lovely place to stay and tour the town.

 

As you head up the coastline, you must try to play Sandpines Golf. It is in the city of Florence and is considered one of the better public play courses in Oregon. Across the way from Sandpines is a fun, fun course named Ocean Dunes. It is modestly priced and you can play it well under four hours.

 

As you continue up the coastline, there are several other courses you can put on your “must-do list.” Salishan resort course in the town of Gleneden is known for tasty crab.  Manzanita Golf Course in the city of Manzanita is lined with trees, has ocean views and is really fun to play. Hawk Creek Golf in Lincoln City is a gem of a track and kind of a secret place mostly locals play. Gearhart Golf is one of the first courses to populate Oregon and again, is a lot of fun to play.

 

In all cases, you can’t miss celebrating the Oregon Coast with its views, good energy and fun, fun golf!

Answered by Noel Lucky, Ask Oregon Golf Expert on May 27th, 2016 - Post Your Answer
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What is there to see and do in the city of Lebanon?

Lebanon is a great little town that has undergone some big changes in the last decade; it’s gone from being mostly dependent on the timber industry to being the home of a small medical school and regional health care facilities — the growth due to this new development has brought some great amenities to the town. Here are my top picks for Lebanon and the surrounding area.

  • Cheadle Lake: This is a 100-acre lake and park surrounded by trails, home to lots of geese and ducks and turtles. It’s a great place to go for a walk or a run, and lots of fishermen and kayakers use it too. Only small electric-motored boats are allowed, no jet skis or other high-powered boats. Last weekend my husband and I took our canoe out to Cheadle Lake paddled around at sunset; it was absolutely beautiful and we saw a family of geese and their goslings swimming together.
  • Japanese Garden at Boulder Falls Inn: This Japanese-inspired garden is adjacent to the Boulder Falls Inn in Lebanon, but you don’t have to be a guest there to visit the garden. It’s small (about 1 acre), but absolutely gorgeous, and is open year-round. It was designed by Hoichi Kurisu, the same internationally-known designer behind Portland’s Japanese Garden.
  • Restaurants: Lebanon is a small town but has several restaurants I’d highly recommend:
    • 1847: This is adjacent to the Japanese garden; you can eat there and look out at the pond and flowers. Northwest cuisine with an extensive Oregon wine list. 1847 recently won awards from Open Table and was named to the Oregon Wine A-List for its food and wine.
    • Kris’ Kitchen: A little family-owned bakery on Main Street with amazing made-from-scratch breads, cinnamon rolls and pie. You won’t find any fancy lattes here, but if you want to sit down with a mug of hot coffee and a mouthwatering homemade treat, this is the place to do it.
    • Growler Cafe: This is a delicious little downtown cafe with tons of craft beer on tap. Their seating area is on the small side, but the food (extremely tasty sandwiches and pub food) is top-notch, and the folks who work there know their craft beer and have a good variety on top.
    • Conversion Brewing: Just opened recently — Lebanon’s very first brewery! Family-friendly, with wood-fired pizza and high-quality craft beer. When I went, I tried the beer sampler and didn’t find one that I didn’t like.
    • Victorian Chocolate Company: This tiny, bright-purple spot doesn’t look like much from the outside, but go on in and you’ll find dozens of varieties of delicious hand-made chocolates from the extremely friendly master chocolatier who runs the place. Absolutely worth a stop.
  • McDowell Creek Falls: One of my favorite hikes in the area. Three miles of trails take you to two different waterfalls. It’s in the hills just a few miles outside of Lebanon. Bring your camera — lots of great photo opportunities on this hike.
  • Marks Ridge Winery: If you do the hike at McDowell Creek, reward yourself with wine-tasting at Marks Ridge! It’s a small winery up in the hills just a few miles past McDowell Creek Park. It’s normally open only on weekends, but if you know in advance when you’re coming they are happy to make appointments for other days. The views from here are incredible, and they have live music on summer weekends.

 

  1. Day trip to Brownsville: About 15 minutes from Lebanon is one of the cutest little towns in the Willamette Valley: Brownsville, Oregon. It’s got less than 2,000 people and a charming, walkable downtown. It’s famous for being the filming location for the 1986 classic “Stand By Me” with Wil Wheaton, Jerry O’Connell, River Phoenix and Corey Feldman. If you happen to be there this July, they’re celebrating the 30th anniversary of the movie!

 

  1. Foster and Green Peter Reservoirs: If you like water sports and swimming and you’re here in the summer, visit Foster and Green Peter Reservoirs. Formed by dams that generate hydro-electric power, these lakes are also great for boating and water-skiing, and there’s a county park on the shore with a nice swimming area for families. (You can rent a boat for the day at the lakeside marina).

 

  1. Downtown Albany: About 15 miles west of Lebanon is Albany, which has a beautiful historic downtown. I’d highly recommend a visit to the Historic Carousel Carving Studio & Museum, where you can watch volunteer wood-carvers create beautiful carousel animals right before your eyes. There are a number of great restaurants in downtown Albany, but my favorite is Sybaris Bistro. They’re only open for dinners Tuesday-Saturday, plus a Saturday brunch, but if you can make time to eat there you won’t be disappointed. The chef, Matt Bennett, is incredibly creative, and the food is new and delicious every single time.

 

 

One more thing: here’s a nice map put out by the city of Lebanon that shows all the city’s parks and trails, plus lists annual community events.

 

Besides Crater Lake, where should we stop in Southern Oregon?

Before you get to Crater Lake, I suggest exploring Ashland and the greater Rogue Valley.

Outside Ashland, I highly recommend spending some time in the Siskiyou Mountains. Whether you have kids or not, Willow Witt farm is a wonderful retreat. Stay the night in a lodge room or ‘glamping’ style in a canvas tent. In Ashland, I recommend Ashland Hills Hotel or the downtown Lithia Springs hotel. You can take in a Shakespeare show or just enjoy the culinary scene here.

Outside Ashland, the Rogue River is one of the most beautiful spots in the valley. See it in multiple places: head up to Shady Cove when you’re en route to Crater Lake and check out the lava tubes up by Prospect and Union Creek, or watch the whitewater rafters north of Ashland at Galice. You can even hike part of the river on the Rogue River Trail there.

If you’re into winery tours or wine tasting, check out the Applegate Wine Trail or Upper Rogue Wine Trail. Applegate Lake is a wonderful place to hike and swim (past Ruch and Jacksonville), and historic Jacksonville is charming as well!

Where are the best places for RV camping on the Coast?

There are several options along Oregon’s 363 mile coastline for RV camping adjacent to the beach. I personally prefer the State Parks camping experience (forested, close to great natural areas) to most private RV parks that are primarily paved or graveled parking lots.

A few State Parks offer campsites adjacent to the beach, though not necessarily offering views from a campsite. Beachside State Park between Waldport and Yachats is likely your best bet for oceanfront RV spaces within a State Park. The trade-off is this park is bordered by Highway 101. Two of my other favorite State Parks with campgrounds adjacent to beach access and views a short walk away include Cape Lookout State Park near Tillamook and Harris Beach State Park in Brookings.

There are several other private RV parks that offer oceanfront sites. You could consider Sea & Sand RV Park in Depoe Bay, Sea Perch RV Resort in Yachats, Oceanside Beachfront RV in Charleston, Oceanside RV Park in Gold Beach and Beachfront RV Park in Brookings.

Answered by Gary Hayes, Ask Oregon Coast Expert on May 18th, 2016 - Post Your Answer

When is the best time for charter fishing at the Oregon Coast?

Oregon Coast charters for off-shore fishing start in May and last into October.  There are salmon seasons in the summer months, halibut seasons about every other weekend, tuna July-September and bottom fish year around.

Consult Oregon Department Fish and Wildlife for current seasons: http://www.dfw.state.or.us/resources/fishing/reg_changes/index.asp

Answered by David Johnson, Ask Oregon Fishing Expert on May 16th, 2016 - Post Your Answer

Which Willamette Valley sites are not-to-miss or off the beaten path?

Glad to hear you’ll be visiting the Willamette Valley! An early welcome to you. Wineries, historic sites, scenic spots, good food, and off the beaten path experiences–those are some of my favorite things too and you’ll definitely find them here! Here are some of my favorites:

Wineries:

  • Here are seven wineries that are known for having gorgeous views.
  • There were four Willamette Valley wineries that made Wine Spectator’s top 100 list this year: Evening Land, Big Table Farm, Bergstrom, and Solena Estate
  • A few others that are personal favorites of mine: Brooks Winery in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA of the Willamette Valley–great wines, beautiful views, and a gorgeous but relaxed tasting room that makes you want to linger there all day; Brick House Vineyards, a small producer that’s open by appointment only. When you get an appointment, it’s a private tasting around the “tasting table” in their winery, which is a beautiful old converted horse barn right next to the vineyard.

Historic Sites:

  • Thompson Mills State Heritage Site, Shedd: A real, working flour mill from pioneer days that’s been turned into a state park.
  • Oregon State Capitol, Salem: The capitol building in downtown Salem is fun to visit, especially if you hike all the way to the observation deck at the top, right beneath the “Golden Pioneer” statue
  • Evergreen Aviation Museum, McMinnville: If you like aircraft or the history of flight even a little bit, this is a fun museum. It’s the home of Howard Hughes’ famous “Spruce Goose,” which still to this day has the largest wingspan of any aircraft ever built.
  • Aurora Colony, Aurora: In the 1850s, a group of German and Swiss immigrants crossed the Oregon Trail and built a commune; today, it’s preserved a historic site full of beautiful old buildings built by German craftsmen.
  • End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, Oregon City: The Willamette Valley was the “promised land” at the end of the Oregon Trail; this historic site is devoted to telling the pioneer story.

 

Off-the-eaten-path experiences:

  • Farm Loops–drive a farm loop and you can take a cooking class in a converted cattle barn, stop and pick your own berries, meet an alpaca, or get up close and personal with a herd of elk.
  • Albany Historic Carousel Carving Studio–watch woodcarvers bring wooden carousel animals to life before your eyes! Hundreds of volunteers have devoted thousands of hours to hand-carving and hand-painting 52 truly stunning wooden carousel animals to re-populate a historic carousel. I love visiting the carving studio and watching the artists create lions, unicorns, horses, dragons and more.
  • Cascade Raptor Center–visit a rescue facility for wild birds and you’ll see eagles, owls, falcons and more
  • Wine-tasting or Beer-tasting via the Willamette River — Book a trip with Cascadia Expeditions and you’ll get to go for a lovely guided raft, canoe, or kayak trip down the Willamette River with stops for local beer or wine.
  • Unusual overnighters–Spend the night in a vintage trailer, or a grain silo, or a tipi, or sleep in a treetop–there are several off-the-beaten-path places to stay overnight.
  • Camp Dakota–Ride a zipline, throw a tomahawk, do a high-ropes challenge course–you can find all kinds of adventurous fun at Camp Dakota.

Is it true Oregon is pet-friendly? Can I hike in most state and local parks with my dog?

You heard correctly, the PNW is a very dog-friendly place. You can hike in any State Park with your dog as long as you keep them on a leash and clean up after them. And if you’re looking for a few different, non-state park hikes, checkout Oregon Hikers Field Guide. In each description of every hike, it’ll tell you whether or not it’s dog-friendly. And if you’re still looking, check out the book, Best Hikes for Dogs in Oregon.

In case of rain, what are some indoor activities between Cannon Beach to Yachats?

Cannon Beach offers great shopping and art galleries, most within the two block downtown area. Mo’s offers casual dining with an ocean view and Wayfarer Restaurant offers more upscale dining with views. One of my favorite things for a rainy day is a visit to Icefire Glassworks in midtown Cannon Beach where you can often watch glassblowers at work. Other indoor attractions include the Cannon Beach History Center and live theater at the Coaster Theatre Playhouse.

As you travel south, you could consider a stop at the Tillamook County Creamery visitor center, home to Tillamook Cheese. There is a self-guided tour, samples, food and shopping. In Lincoln City, the Jennifer Sears Glass Art Studio is another opportunity to watch glass blowing, or blow your own piece of art glass with the help of the artists there. Lincoln City also features a large outlet shopping center connected by covered walkways. There are a number of ocean view restaurants, but my top choice for views would be Fathoms on the 10th floor of the Inn at Spanish Head. Chinook Winds Casino is the other major indoor attraction in Lincoln City.

In Depoe Bay, the Whale Watch Center operated by Oregon State Parks is one of the best places to spot whales nearly year-round on the Oregon Coast. Tidal Raves offers nice ocean front dining and you can watch for whales from your table. In Newport, the Oregon Coast Aquarium makes a great rainy day stop. Other indoor attractions include a maritime museum, wax museum and Ripley’s Believe it or Not on the historic bay front where you will also find interesting shops and bay view dining. Georgie’s Beachside Grill offers ocean view dining. Yachats is just minutes away from the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area that features an indoor visitor center. A little further down the coast is Sea Lion Caves offering an elevator down to a large sea cave often occupied by sea lions during inclement weather.

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