One of the benefits of living in the Willamette Valley is its proximity to a number of diverse geographic playgrounds. From downtown Portland you can be in a lush forest, near the top of a Cascade peak, in an arid desert landscape, or at the beach—all roughly within a 2 ½ hour drive. It’s hard to get bored when you’re surrounded by such variety.
The Oregon coast can arguably lay claim to some of the finest scenery the West Coast has to offer. You could spend weeks or even months exploring it all. However, for a prime sampling of coast-related activities, it’s tough to beat Newport. Newport has all the things you would hope to find in a coastal town; beaches, camping, fishing, hiking, whale watching, a scenic coastline, and a wonderfully walkable bay front.
What else makes Newport special? For starters, the Oregon Coast Aquarium is one of the top 10 aquariums in the nation. There’s also the Hatfield Marine Science Center, a pair of historic lighthouses, and of course, a Rogue Brewery.
But perhaps our favorite spot to visit is the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area (YHONA). It’s such a wondrous place, they put the word “Outstanding” right in the title. My dad always said “It aint bragging if you can back it up,” and the YHONA backs it up and then some. The park features accessible trails, an Interpretive Center, and the majestic Yaquina Head Lighthouse, Oregon’s tallest. And let us not forget the tide pools chock full of colorful marine life. As far as my daughter is concerned, as long as there is a tide pool visit on the agenda, we can drive to the coast every day. Here’s a cool list of some of the animals and algae that can be found in the YHONA. Remember to tread lightly around tide pools and leave animals undisturbed. Note that there is a fee to visit
If tide pools are really your thing, just up the 101 from Newport is the Devil’s Punchbowl. This photogenic rock formation sports a great set of tide pools and is worth a stop if time permits.