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Every pet owner knows that one of the greatest joys of inviting an animal into your life is introducing these furry family members to new things. There’s just something so magical about experiencing something through their eyes — and in a strange way, it can help you rediscover old passions.
Take a car ride, for example. Hopping behind the wheel to run a few errands is about as monotonous as it gets. But add a dog to your backseat — mouth open wide, tongue and ears flopping in the wind — and you’ll soon find yourself smiling from ear to ear, wondering why you ever stopped rolling down the windows.
Full disclosure: I only recently earned the title of dog mom. After years of waiting until everything was just right, my husband and I took the plunge this spring and welcomed Gus, a goldendoodle puppy, into our home.
I’ll be the first to admit there were moments we wondered what we’d done. I mean, we invited an animal with razor-sharp teeth and velcro-like fur to dirty our floors, bark at our mailman and dig holes in our yard. But for every jaw-clenching moment of frustration, Gus has given us a moment of heart-bursting happiness — the kind that stopped us in our tracks and forced us to enjoy the moment.
Case in point: Gus’s first trip to the Oregon Coast. Here’s how to navigate your pup’s first visit to the Coast with as much fun as we did.
Dog Treats, Doggie Bags and a Lighthouse Hike
Brimming with pet-friendly businesses, Newport was the perfect destination for this maiden trip since the city is a great getaway for families of all ages and leg counts. When we arrived, we headed straight for dinner at Rogue Brewery Bayfront Public House, in the heart of downtown and across the street from Yaquina Bay. It’s just one of many dog-friendly breweries on the Oregon Coast that are part of the new Pup Passport. As we sipped our sudsy beverages and devoured the tasty pub fare on their dog-friendly patio, our waitress brought Gus a dog treat. It stuck around for all of 30 seconds — the canine equivalent of a five-star review.
After a short stroll along the main drag (BowwowMeow is your local spot if you forgot anything), we checked in at The Hallmark Resort and arrived just as a pastel-pink sunset exploded across the sky. Luckily, all of the rooms have an ocean-front view, so we posted up on our deck just in time to watch the last bit of the light show.
The Hallmark welcomed Gus with a “doggie bag” filled with a pet sheet, towels, dog treats, a Frisbee and a water bottle that doubles as a bowl. It’s no wonder they’re so accommodating of dogs — a note in the bag explains how the owners credit their cocker spaniel Sissy for sniffing out the For Sale sign that launched their journey into hotel ownership.
Falling asleep to the sound of waves, we awoke the next morning and headed to Yaquina Head Lighthouse, a gorgeous 1873 structure that, towering 93 feet above the basalt headlands, is Oregon’s tallest lighthouse. While Gus wasn’t allowed close to the lighthouse, there’s a 1-mile trail from the parking lot that does allow dogs — our first hike together.
Though he had a brief diva moment where he refused to go any farther, Gus did really well on the trail. From the top, we took in the nearly 360-degree view of the pristinely white lighthouse and the expansive view of the cobalt-blue water. On the descent, we took a break on a bluff and Gus stared out at the Pacific Ocean in what I am calling his most whimsical moment yet. Dog mom thoughts #382 and #383: Did he understand what he was looking at? Did he feel as small as I did?
(Sidenote: There are nearby tide pools, which are exceptional — full of colorful sea stars, anemones and urchins. Dogs aren’t allowed in the rocky tide-pool habitat, but leashed dogs can be on the nearby beach. Learn more about what lives inside these one-of-a-kind ecosystems and how to visit respectfully.)
Fish ’n Chips and a Crabbing Adventure
After our hike, we headed for lunch at South Beach Fish Market, a colorfully painted roadside shop popular for its fully stocked counter of fresh fish and extensive ready-to-eat seafood menu. The line of people spilling out the door left no question about locals’ preferences. The fact that they allow four-legged friends to join you at their numerous picnic tables is the icing on the proverbial (crab) cake.
After tucking into a satisfying plate of fish and chips (no leftovers here!), I geared up for an activity I’ve always wanted to try: crabbing. While the docks at Embarcadero Resort & Marina allow dogs, the morning’s activities left Gus in need of a nap, so I left him with my husband at the Hallmark and headed to the Embarcadero.
Another perk of the bayfront hotel is that you can rent crab pots — a cylindrical wire contraption with two doors that trap crabs inside — from their marina (they’re free for Embarcadero guests). Once the pot is hurled to the bottom of the bay, the crabs are lured inside by bait — and everyone I spoke to at the dock had their own secret recipe. Much like fishing, crabbing is mostly waiting. Luckily, the distant views of Yaquina Bay Bridge and the rhythmic swaying of the marina’s sailboats are enough to keep me happy for hours. There are several other crabbing piers in Newport.
We ended up catching several red-rock crabs and one Dungeness crab — the kind with the most meat and thus the type you most want on your dinner plate. With all of the equipment to cook and clean them available to the public right on the dock, I hung around and did just that. It tasted wonderful, though the work put into it may have made me biased.
A Walk on the Beach and Dinner on the Bay
Heading back to the hotel, we then took Gus for a walk on the beach. Though this would mark our fourth walk together along the shore, it was the most memorable. The wind kicked sand into his 1-foot-off-the-ground face, but Gus loved every second of it. He ran at seagulls that mocked him with their screech. He pounced on seaweed that had the audacity to look like a stick. He dug at the sand, which felt so different on his paws than the dirt at home.
I already have a deep, cemented love for the Oregon Coast — 363 miles of wild, public shoreline will do that to you. But experiencing it with Gus made me feel as if I was being reintroduced, flirting with its sandy shores all over again.
With our hearts full, bodies tired from laughter and everyone’s hair packed with sand, we went to dinner at Clearwater Restaurant, an upscale eatery that whips up inventive cocktails alongside its impeccable seafood menu. Their dog-friendly deck overlooks the city’s seasonally resident sea lions, and Gus gave an adorable head tilt as he discovered another creature that barks. Who can blame him? From our vantage point, they looked more like a russet potato than anything you’d expect to make noise.
The next morning, we got up and made our way home. In the rearview mirror, I caught a glimpse of Gus, zonked out in the backseat. I couldn’t love him or this place any more, I think. But then again, I’ve thought that before.
If You Go:
- Dog-friendly day trip from Newport: A 40-minute drive south of Newport, Cape Perpetua is chock-full of dog-friendly hiking trails that offer spectacular views of crashing waves. On your way back into town, check out the dog-friendly lunch spots in Yachats, including Yachats Brewing and Luna Sea Fish House. If you’re heading back to the Willamette Valley, clean all the sand off your pup at the self-wash dog station at Detailed Perfection Auto Detailing in Corvallis.
- Be a responsible pet owner: Leash laws vary from city to city and from beach to beach along the Oregon Coast, so make sure to do some research ahead of your trip. Oregon State Parks, for example, require that your dog is leashed except in designated off-leash areas. Make sure to take care of the special places you’re visiting by throwing away all of your pet waste and trash.
- Learn tips for hiking with your dog: If you’re new to the pet parenting world or are just getting your hiking legs, learn the basics of hiking with a dog. Here are more tips for hiking with your dog on the Coast — including park, restaurant and hotel recommendations.