Who can resist an Oregon coastal adventure? It’s easy to get enamored with windswept vistas, to be astonished by otherworldly sea stacks, and to be happily satisfied by all the sea-to-fork food. Explore the splendor of Oregon’s South Coast in four fun-filled days. Highlights include jet boats, secluded beaches, fat-tire bikes, dune rides, artisan foods and a whole lot much more.
Day 1: Eugene to Coos Bay
The journey begins with breakfast at Tomaselli’s Pastry Mill & Cafe in Elkton, an hour south of Eugene, serving homestyle cooking and mouthwatering baked goods like elk claw, a local favorite. Afterwards see Elkton’s main attractions, the enchanting butterfly pavilion at Elkton Community Education Center and a hand-hewn replica of the historic Fort Umpqua. We won’t judge you for sneaking in tastings at Elkton’s celebrated wineries — sip at Bradley Vineyards, the town’s longest-standing, family-owned vineyard, and Brandborg Vineyard & Winery, where pours can be enjoyed with a downtown patio view.
Continue west to River’s Edge Winery for small-batch pinot noir and a glimpse of the winemaking process taking place just behind the tasting bar. The Umpqua River Scenic Byway offers great river views as the Umpqua tumbles in a burst of white water toward the Pacific showing the way to Scottsburg Park’s serene picnic area overlooking the river.
Follow the Umpqua River to the Oregon Coast. Marvel at herds of Roosevelt elk at the Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area in Reedsport. These large mammals live here year-round and don’t mind if you stare.
Lunch on the waterfront deck of Schooner Inn Cafe in Reedsport will fuel your next adventure. Top it off with fresh-baked treats from Sourdough Bakery in Winchester Bay.
Oregon is home to the largest expanse of coastal sand dunes in North America, which are made even more impressive with a thrilling dune buggy ride. Rent ATVs or join a tour at Dune Riders, located near the bakery, and see the Oregon Dunes like a true adventurer.
Next head to the 1894 Umpqua Lighthouse, whose Fresnel lens emits unique red and white flashes, the only colored signal on the Oregon Coast. Trust us, it looks stunning in the daytime too. Visit the Umpqua Discovery Center to learn about the region’s natural and cultural history and see the latest exhibits at the new Coos History Museum.
By now you’ve probably worked up an appetite. Fortunately there’s plenty of great food here. Favorites include fish tacos at Shark Bites, craft beer tastings at 7 Devils Brewing, pizza at Ciccarelli’s and the bacon-wrapped tuna at Coach House, a local hidden gem.
Spend the night at Mill Casino in North Bend or Itty Bitty Inn in Coos Bay.
Day 2: Coos Bay to Bandon
Start the morning right with hot breakfast at Pancake Mill in North Bend. Then get your fresh-roasted coffee from Bayside Coffee on the drive south to Charleston.
On the Charleston to Bandon Tour Route, check out the Charleston Marine Life Center, where you’ll find a variety of sea creatures and exhibits, plus wise experts to explain
A trio of state parks await down the road. Sunset Bay attracts picnickers and beachcombers, whereas Shore Acres is best known for its expansive gardens, perfect for a peaceful stroll. At Cape Arago you’ll discover rugged headlands and trails to secluded coves. Stop by the Simpson Reef Overlook to watch colonies of seals and sea lions doze on offshore rocks. All this coastal beauty is pretty distracting, so it’s a good idea to bring a picnic if possible.
The Pacific Coast Scenic Byway, Highway 101, winds south to Bandon Dunes, one of the world’s top golf resorts. If there’s no time to tee off, just enjoy the ocean views. A few miles south, Bullards Beach State Park has an easy walking path through grassy sand dunes, plus the historic Coquille River Lightthouse.
Oregon’s South Coast is a foodie paradise. Eat fresh seafood sandwiches at Tony’s Crab Shack on the charming Bandon boardwalk. For a second course, sample handcrafted cheese and ice cream at Face Rock Creamery. Wash it all down with tastings at Stillwagon Distillery and Tesoaria Winery before indulging in deserts at Coastal Mist and Cranberry Sweets.
Art is everywhere in Bandon. The giant orange fish made of plastic trash is a piece by Washed Ashore, a community art project once featured at the United Nations. Call ahead for a gallery tour.
Feel like a kid again with a fat-tire bike ride on the beach. South Coast Bicycles offers gear rentals in town. Head to Face Rock State Scenic Viewpoint, where you’ll pedal around massive coastal rocks. See if you recognize Howling Dog or Wizard’s Hat.
Savor scampi, halibut and more at Edgewater, and sync dinner with sunset. A night cap at Bandon Brewing might be nice before going to bed at Bandon Inn or Best Western Inn at Face Rock.
Day 3: Bandon to Gold Beach
Early morning walks on the beach are always restorative in Bandon, but especially if you time the trip with Circles in the Sand, when artists trace an elaborate labyrinth along the shoreline.
Enjoy a hearty breakfast at The Spoon in Langlois, one of the stops on the Wild Rivers Coast Farm Trail. Then it’s Cape Blanco State Park calling your name. Snag a tour of the 1870 lighthouse, located on the westernmost point in Oregon.
Return to the farm trail and follow it into Port Orford, where you’ll linger at the sight of Battle Rock. Nearby oceanfront Redfish is known for oyster shooters and lamb burgers, a good choice for lunch, as is The Crazy Norwegian’s Fish and Chips.
Next it’s off to Gold Beach, a friendly community located at the convergence of the Rogue River and the Pacific Ocean. It might be hard to choose dinner between curry cider mussels at Barnacle Bistro, crab cakes at Spinner’s and oyster po’ boys at The Rod ‘n Reel.
Fall asleep at Pacific Reef Resort while listening to waves roll along the shore.
Day 4: Gold Beach to Brookings
Rise and shine to breakfast at The Chowder House, easy to find on the resort grounds. It’s a busy day ahead with a big choice to make: jet-boating down the Rogue River with Jerry’s Rogue Jets or kayaking through natural arches on the Pacific Ocean with South Coast Tours.
Reward your adventures with a pint at Arch Rock Brewing, a World Beer Cup award winner, before a beach walk at Pistol River State Scenic Viewpoint.
A crown jewel of the trip, Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor is not to be missed. Discover all its splendor on hikes around Secret Beach, Natural Bridges or Thunder Cove. All are very photo-worthy. Bonus points if you see wild goats.
The rock formations at Harris Beach State Park are also impressive, sure to make you feel small. Make sure your memory card has enough space for this spot too.
Feast in Brookings on short ribs at OxenFre, hot wings at The Vista Pub or seared yellowfin and cocktails at Superfly Distilling. Then it’s sweet dreams at Mt. Emily Ranch B&B or Best Western Beachfront Inn. After all these South Coast adventures, you’ll surely sleep easy.