Road Trip: Toledo

October 19, 2016 (Updated December 28, 2016)

Located just inland from the Central Coast along the scenic Yaquina River, the quaint town of Toledo nestles up against the wooded foothills of the Coast Range. Tucked away from the dramatic moods of the Pacific Ocean, this sheltered little burg is often sunnier and warmer than other towns when winter storms up the Coast. A hidden gem of art and history, Toledo makes a perfect day trip on Oregon’s Central Coast.

Drive upriver from Newport along Yaquina Bay Road, with beautiful curves following the sparkling waters of the river. Here you can join anglers casting and trolling for cutthroat trout and chinook salmon. Whimbrels, sandpipers and other waterfowl flit around the estuary as they forage, and people dig for clams at low tide. This 7-mile route makes an excellent and moderate bike ride, too.

Settled during the homesteading days of the late 19th century, Toledo played an abbreviated role in U.S. airplane production during World War I and then thrived as a mill town until the middle of the 20th century. Visit the Toledo History Center to explore the town’s past in logging as well as dairy farming and boat building. For a close look at local railroad history, the Yaquina Pacific Railroad Historical Society hosts a collection of railroad artifacts, locomotives and antique rail cars. You can explore the town’s rail past through these displays, including a visit inside the Southern Pacific Railroad Post Office car, arguably the state’s quaintest museum.

In recent years, Toledo has quietly become a thriving arts community, with nationally renowned landscape artists Michael Gibbons, Ivan Kelly and Doug Haga first relocating to the area to paint. The art community has grown with the co-op Skybound Art Gallery and Toledo Arts Guild, which includes dozens of painters, woodworkers, fiber artists, metalworkers and others. Browse the downtown galleries to see their work, come for the annual art walk, or attend one of the frequent open studios hosted by local artists. Experiment with your own artistic spirit at Toledo Clayworks, an open pottery studio and workshop space. The town’s charming Main Street offers other galleries, antique stores and shops to explore.

Stop for a bite to eat at the Main Street Cafe, serving hearty breakfast and lunch plates (with favorites like biscuits and gravy and stuffed pancakes), or the Olalla Cafe, overlooking the tranquil greens of the Olalla Valley Golf Course. Dig into some serious barbecue at Twisted Snout Brewery and Restaurant, serving up savory barbecue brisket, ribs and chicken alongside signature porky pours like Tail Curler Pale Ale and Redheaded Step Hog.

Save the Date: For a small town, Toledo has a surprising number of annual events, including the Labor Day Art Walk. Visit in July for the Toledo Summer Festival Lucky Logger Days, with events ranging from an ax throw and block toss to a kid’s parade and a 5K run. The tranquil waterfront comes alive during the picturesque Port of Toledo Wooden Boat Show in August, with a host of wooden watercraft on display, along with boat-building events and historical exhibits.

About The

Eileen Garvin
Eileen Garvin lives and writes in Hood River. When she’s not hunched over her keyboard or digging in the garden, you can find her mountain biking, kiteboarding, hiking, skiing or camping somewhere in Oregon.