Miles of kayak touring, crashing waves, crabbing, whale watching and award-winning brews await you at the Oregon Coast this winter. Take the journey down this 363-mile stretch of coastline, where your getaway can include quiet beaches, outdoor adventures and cozy retreats.
Head to the Oregon Coast to spy gray whales as they make their annual migration south during the winter months. Whale Watching Spoken Here places volunteers at 24 designated whale watching locations to help visitors spot these great gray giants. Lookouts include Fort Stevens State Park on the North Coast and Shore Acres State Park on the South Coast. On the Central Coast, join a whale watching charter with Newport Tradewinds, and visit the Whale, Sea Life and Shark Museum in Depoe Bay — the only museum in the world that focuses on gray whales. Warm up with brews from Rogue Ales and a stay at the Elizabeth Oceanfront Suites while you exchange tales of whale tails.
Oregon dungeness crab season peaks in December, making the winter months the perfect time to catch your dinner. Skilled boaters should head to Netarts Bay southwest of Tillamook, while novice crabbers should try the Embarcadero Marina & Resort in Yaquina Bay, where boat rentals, private crabbing docks and crab cookers make it easy for those just getting their feet wet. On the South Coast, you can go crabbing right off the dock just steps from your room at the Charleston Harbor Inn and wake up to the sights and sounds of the harbor.
On the Oregon Coast, brewers pair their beautiful beach views with award-winning brews. At the Pelican Pub & Brewery in Pacific City, the beer comes with a stunning view of Cape Kiwanda and Haystack Rock. Newport is home to the famous Rogue Ales, while Arch Rock Brewing Company in Gold Beach has won awards for their Pistol River Pale, State of Jefferson Porter and Gold Beach Lager. And these are just a few of more than a dozen breweries you’ll find dotting Highway 101 when you take a beer tour of The People’s Coast.
Winter is a beautiful time for a peaceful kayaking trip on the flat waterways from Nehalem Bay to Neskowin. With six bays, approximately 900 miles of tidally-influenced river systems, intimate sloughs and backwater channels, this area offers year-round flat-water tours for beginners and experienced kayakers alike. On the Central Coast, Devil’s Lake State Recreation Area is the perfect spot to paddle and look for winter wildlife and birds. If you are in Lincoln City, explore the Salmon River on a guided tour from Safari Town Surf. South Coast Tours leads paddlers through the scenic rivers, sloughs and seastacks of the South Coast. Keep warm in the winter on one of Kayak Tillamook’s hot apple cider tours while you watch for winter wildlife.
Grab a front seat to one of the Oregon Coast’s most spectacular nature shows — the winter storm. Watch towering waves crash against rock formations at Whaleshead Beach Viewpoint, perched high above the surf with a dramatic view of the coastline. Or reserve a spot at Whaleshead Beach Resort, where you can watch the action from your ocean-view cabin with a warm cup of cocoa. Shore Acres State Park offers a thrilling view of the wild weather from a rugged cliff high above the Pacific Ocean. Watch the storms roll in above Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach or Lincoln City’s Siletz Bay National Wildlife Refuge from one of many cozy beachside hotels.
If You Go:
Winter on the Oregon Coast can be chilly and wet, or crystal-clear and sunny — so wear waterproof layers, sturdy shoes and don’t forget your sunglasses. Learn how to come prepared by brushing up on tips at How to Winter Like an Oregonian. Before setting out, make sure you have purchased any necessary Forest Service recreation passes. Whatever your adventure entails, from hiking to sandboarding, follow Leave No Trace principles, including packing in and out, leaving what you find where it’s at, and respecting wildlife and other visitors. It’s a good idea when adventuring to carry plenty of water along with your 10 Essentials and know that cell service may be spotty, so download maps and trail directions. Brush up on rules about dogs on Oregon’s beaches if you plan on bringing Fido.
Here’s how to take a car-free getaway to the North Coast, Central Coast and South Coast. If you are traveling by car, be sure to check road and weather conditions before heading out and carry snow chains or traction tires when advised.