Day 3: Astoria to Newport
(Drive time: 134 miles/3.25 hours)
From Astoria, head south on Highway 101, the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway. The drive alone is one for the bucket list. With the ocean on your right and the steep cliffs and forest on the left, the Coast highway delivers awe-inspiring views, each more beautiful than the last and replete with towering sea stacks, pristine sandy beaches and the endless crashing surf.
On the way to Newport, stop in Fort Stevens State Park, 4,200 acres of forest and trail with great options for hiking and biking. Take time to check out the Peter Iredale shipwreck, a four-mast steel sailing vessel that ran aground here in 1906.
Stop in the charming town of Wheeler on the Nehalem Bay for a bite to eat or to browse the antique shops. Veer off Highway 101 at Tillamook to tour the Three Capes Scenic Loop. This detour will take you past the Cape Meares Lighthouse and Cape Lookout State Park and down to Cape Kiwanda in Pacific City, where you can settle in on the Pelican Pub & Brewery patio to drink a beer and watch surfers ride the waves.
Onward to Lincoln City, you’ll find some of the best wind for flying kites on the Coast. The annual kite festival takes place in June and highlights expert kite demos, kite making for kids and some of the biggest, most unique kites in the world. At Devils Punchbowl State Natural Area, you can peer down inside a large bowl carved out of the stone by the dramatic churning of the ocean.
Head on to Newport, where you’ll find the beautiful, accessible tidepools of Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area.