Getting to the Coast is Half the Fun

March 28, 2017 (Updated April 11, 2017)

Oregon Coast Highway 101 — the route that runs along the Pacific Ocean — is full of scenic drives and inspired spots to eat, drink and play. But what about the trip there and back? We’ve got you covered, with a few noteworthy and convenient stops worth checking out along some of the most popular northern, central and southern coastal routes.

So sit back and enjoy the ride — getting there is half the fun!

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Highway 26, Portland to North Coast

About 30 minutes west of Portland (more during heavy traffic), the tasting room at Abbey Creek Winery in downtown North Plains is a fantastic place to sit for a spell. For a $10 tasting fee (noon-5 p.m. Saturday and Sundays), winemaker Bertony Faustin has a flair for entertainment and makes easy-drinking wine.

In Banks, Jim Dandy Farm Market opens in early May, with gorgeous hanging flower baskets and greenhouse vegetables galore. The fruit stand opens around June 1 with the season’s earliest berries, and runs through fall with pumpkins, local plants and produce.

History buffs and kids of all ages will love a stop at the historic Camp 18 Restaurant and logging museum in Elsie, where you can enjoy a hearty meal in what feels like a giant Lincoln Log cabin. Don’t miss the Bigfoot Brownie.

Highway 6, Portland to Tillamook Coast

Oregon’s first rails-to-trails route, the Banks-Vernonia State Trail, is worth a visit as Highway 6 branches off from 26. This paved path is a big draw for cyclists, but you don’t need a bike to enjoy it. Check out the interpretive exhibit at the Banks Trailhead and learn about this scenic spot’s railroad and lumber history.

In the Tillamook State Forest, just before the road parallels the Wilson River, detour for an easy hike (about a half-mile) leading to University Falls. Plunging 55 feet over a basalt cliff, the waterfalls is definitely picture-worthy.

Tillamook Forest Center delights children and parents alike, with free interactive exhibits and tours year-round. Learn about the historic Tillamook Burn and the reforestation efforts that followed, then let the kids climb a fire lookout tower replica and walk the suspension bridge.

Highway 18, McMinnville to Central Coast

What’s better than a pallet of fresh berries for the beach? Stock up on fresh produce, U-pick flowers and more at Farmer John’s Produce & Nursery in McMinnville, a 5th-generation family-owned farm since 1882.

In Amity, Erratic Rock Natural Site Area is the coolest geologic site you’ve never heard of. Stop here for a quick jaunt along the hiking trail to view the wide-open panorama of the Willamette Valley below. Marvel at the 90-ton rock, which originated in the Northern Rocky Mountains and was deposited here during an Ice Age flood.

Don’t miss a chance to stop at Otis Cafe, known for their scrumptious sweets as well as satisfying burgers, omelettes and country-style suppers. Just across the way, the kids will dig the gourmet pies and original Pronto Pups at Otis Pizzeria. Otis is 7 miles east of Lincoln City, which means you’re still on vacation, so calories don’t count.

Highway 126, Eugene to Central Coast

Just off the highway 11 miles west of Eugene, Perkins Peninsula County Park is an ideal spot to recharge in nature. Gaze out to the glassy water of Fern Ridge Reservoir, use the facilities, get out the picnic blanket and fuel up for the road trip ahead.

Formerly Domaine Meriwether, Valhalla Winery in Veneta is one of the most romantic destinations in the region. Stop in for a glass of bubbly or a flight of reds or whites and soak up the lush vineyard vibe from the cozy tasting room.

If waterfalls are on your bucket list this season, it’s definitely worth it to make the 11-mile side trip south of Mapleton — just 35 miles east of Florence — to check out Sweet Creek Falls. A 2.2-mile family-friendly hike, also welcome to dogs on leash, leads to a pool with multiple tiered cascades; there are four trailheads, so you can take a different route each time you visit.

Highway 38, Cottage Grove to South Coast

Most would agree the centerpiece of the 30-acre Elkton Community Education Center is the Butterfly Pavilion, where you’ll be mesmerized by the monarch and painted lady butterflies in flight.

Elkton capitalizes on its reputation as the coolest and wettest area in Southern Oregon with an AVA (American Viticultural Area) where pinot noir, pinot gris, gewerztraminer and riesling thrive. Stop for a sip in the Elkton Oregon AVA, now home to six wineries and three vineyards.

A few miles before the Umpqua River Scenic Byway spills into Reedsport, the Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area is hard to miss. From the two designated viewing areas, gawk at gangs of Roosevelt elk — Oregon’s largest land mammals — roaming in the pasture.

Highway 42, Roseburg to South Coast

Covered bridges are a special part of Oregon’s history. The Sandy Creek Covered Bridge, just west of the aptly named town of Remote, carried highway traffic across its 60-foot span until it was bypassed in 1949. Now it greets motorists next to the concrete highway crossing.

Sometimes you never know when an amenity like Amaze Zing Outdoor Game pops out of nowhere. Right off the highway in Myrtle Point, this is a wacky one with an outdoor maze, an all-terrain mini-golf course, ball launchers and more.

At River’s Blessings Dairy Farm in Coquille, just east of Bandon, you can choose your cut of heritage meats and free-range eggs. Farming is a way of life in Southern Oregon, and you’ll be glad to see the happy pigs, cows, chickens, ducks and grass-fed Icelandic sheep that call this farm home.

About The
Author

Jen Anderson
Jen Anderson writes and edits Travel Oregon's e-newsletters and other online content. She loves finding the latest places to eat, drink and play around the state with her husband and two young boys. Brewpubs, beaches and bike trails top the list.