There’s a lot to see as you drive along Highway 101 on Oregon’s Wild Rivers Coast: rugged sea stacks, lighthouses and turn-offs for spotting sea lions and whales, just to name a few. But as you drive by the little towns of Langlois and Port Orford, don’t forget to slow down and taste the cranberries.
At Peters Cranberries farm stand, visitors can pick up fresh cranberries as well as jam and hand-pressed juice made by 33-year-old Whit Peters, a third-generation farmer who runs the small business with his mom, Sara Osborne. October is harvest season for cranberries, and Oregon’s South Coast is cranberry capital of the region. Tasting these berries during their peak through late November is an special experience. Call beforehand if you’d like to set up a tour.
From the farm stand, visitors can see the bogs, where Peters remembers playing as a 6-year-old in waders. “(Visitors) can watch us harvest,” he says. “We kind of laugh because they’re watching us work.” The juice he makes, he says, is “very strong — pure cranberry, nothing added. I like it with orange juice and Sprite; a lot of people use bubbly water.” With his own processing facility and an apple orchard he planted a few years back, Peters thinks it would be fun to start adding fresh-pressed apples to his juice.
Peters Cranberries is one of 40 stops on the new self-guided Wild Rivers Coast Food Trail, which launched in June 2018 with a tasty mix of restaurants, breweries, cideries, distilleries, markets, seafood stands and artisan shops for sampling, indulgent meals and take-home treats. The trail runs along Highway 101’s pristine coastline for 134 miles between Reedsport and Brookings and is open year-round for different seasonal activities. Summertime brings fresh blueberries, while fall is all about cranberries and pumpkins. Here’s some of what you can find.
Berry byway: Bandon to Port Orford
The South Coast is a berry-lovers’ delight. In the fall, continue your cranberry pursuit in Bandon, about 25 miles north of Peter’s Cranberries, with the thirst-quenching fruit wine at Bandon Wine Company, tart and refreshing cranberry rum at Stillwagon Distillery’s tasting room, or bog-to-glass cranberry cider at Bandon Brewing Company — made just down the street at Bandon Rain Cider Company, which harvests their own fruit. In the summer, find U-pick blueberries at Jensen Blueberries in Langlois, just north of Port Orford, before heading just up the road to Dragonfly Farm & Nursery — open year-round to explore their gardens, buy plants for sale, enjoy a picnic, and say hi to their goats and free-range chickens.
Seafood search: Gold Beach to Brookings
Year-round, Oregon fishers are catching and selling some of the best seafood you can find. Sit down to spectacular ocean views, an Oregon pinot gris and bowl of Charleston clams at Redfish in Port Orford. In Brookings, the new Catalyst Seafood Restaurant and Lounge serves up everything from seared rockfish and halibut sandwiches to crab caught daily by their family-run fishing boat. And in Coos Bay, catch the easy surf vibe at Shark Bites Cafe, where lightly battered and fried Coos Bay oysters pair well with an ice-cold beer or one of their playful craft cocktails, such as the Pendleton Classic — Pendleton whiskey with root beer. More on-the-go seafood options include fish and chips at Tony’s Crab Shack on the bay in Bandon and Fisherman Direct Seafood in Gold Beach, where you can pick out your favorite fresh catches — smoked salmon, tuna, crab or more — and take them home on ice for dinner.
Timeless beauty: Reedsport to Brookings
The Wild Rivers Coast Food Trail is dotted with inviting breweries and tasting rooms, so if you choose to indulge, do so responsibly — and pace yourself. Craft beer fans will want to sample the ales at the new Defeat River Brewery in Old Town Reedsport (bring your own food; minors welcome in the tasting room). Farther south in Coos Bay, belly up to a fisherman’s platter at 7 Devil’s Brewing Co, and catch their live music scene on the patio in the summer months. The wood-fired pizza at Bandon Brewing Company in Old Town Bandon pairs nicely with an IPA and a two-block walk to the Stillwagon Distillery tasting room to sample their latest small-batch vodkas and rums. A short detour off Highway 101 in Myrtle Point brings the heavenly aroma of freshly milled sourdough at Farmstead Bread, where you can also tour the bakery. Back on 101, excellent espresso is waiting for you at Floras Creek Coffee Co. in Langlois. Near the south tip of the Coast, the award-winning beers at Arch Rock Brewing and Chetco Brewing Company await visitors, and First Rise Baking Co. in Brookings makes for a happy lunch spot with bagel sandwiches, pastries and a play area for little ones.
If you go: Many of these small businesses are open for limited days or hours, so check the food trail website or call ahead for hours before visiting. Be cautious of equipment and animals on working farms; watch children and pets closely.
Interested in a guided tour experience of many of these spots? South Coast Tours offers daylong tours along the trail.