In the Florence Area
Florence's Old Town, on the north bank of the Siuslaw River, is one of the most charming historic districts on the Oregon coast. The restored wood and brick buildings, many of which house interesting shops, galleries, and restaurants, capture the flavor of a 19th-century fishing village. If you want to learn more about the area's history, stop by the Siuslaw Pioneer Museum, Maple and Second streets (tel. 541/997-7884), which is open Tuesday through Sunday from noon to 4pm and charges a $3 admission. The museum is closed from Christmas through January. For evening entertainment, be sure to check the calendar at the Florence Events Center, 715 Quince St. (tel. 541/997-1994; www.eventcenter.org), which often has interesting shows that are sponsored by the Florence Performing Arts Association (www.florenceperformingarts.com).
If you'd like to ride a horse along the beach, head north to C&M Stables, 90241 U.S. 101 N. (tel. 541/997-7540; www.oregonhorsebackriding.com), which is located 8 miles north of Florence and offers rides on the beach and through the dunes. A 2-hour ride on the beach will cost you $50 to $65.
If golf is your sport, try the 18-hole Sandpines Golf Course, 1201 35th St. (tel. 800/917-4653; www.sandpines.com), which plays through dunes and pine forest and is one of Oregon's most popular courses. During the summer, you'll pay $89 for 18 holes. Alternatively, try the 18-hole Ocean Dunes Golf Links, 3345 Munsel Lake Rd. (tel. 800/468-4833 or 541/997-3232; www.oceandunesgolf.com), which also plays through the dunes and charges $25 to $42 for 18 holes during the summer.
If you'd like to rent a kayak and paddle around on the Siuslaw River or rent a surfboard and catch some waves, contact Central Coast Watersports, 1901 U.S. 101 (tel. 800/789-3483 or 541/997-1812; www.centralcoastwatersports.com). Kayaks rent for $50 to $60 per day and surfboards rent for $20 (wetsuits are $15).
In the Reedsport Area
In downtown Reedsport on the Umpqua River waterfront, you can visit the Umpqua Discovery Center, 409 Riverfront Way (tel. 541/271-4816; www.umpquadiscoverycenter.com). This museum contains displays on the history and ecology of the area. One of the better exhibits focuses on the natural history of the tidewater region. June through September, it's open daily from 9am to 5pm; other months, daily from 10am to 4pm. Admission is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors, and $4 for children 6 to 15. Outside the discovery center, you'll find an observation tower that is sometimes a good place to do a little bird-watching.
At the Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area, 1 mile east of town on Ore. 38, you can spot 120 or more elk grazing on 1,000 acres of meadows that have been set aside as a preserve. In summer the elk tend to stay in the forest, where it's cooler.
In Winchester Bay, you can visit the historic Umpqua River Lighthouse. The original lighthouse was at the mouth of the Umpqua River and was the first lighthouse on the Oregon coast. It fell into the Umpqua River in 1861 and was replaced in 1894 by the current lighthouse. Adjacent to the lighthouse is the Visitors Center & Museum, 1020 Lighthouse Rd. (tel. 541/271-4631), which is housed in a former Coast Guard station and contains historical exhibits and an information center. Here at the museum you can arrange to join a tour of the lighthouse. Tours are offered mid-May through mid-October daily between 10am and 4pm and cost $3 for adults and $2 for children 6 to 16.
Across the street from the lighthouse is a whale-viewing platform. (The best viewing months are Nov-June.) Also nearby is the very pretty Umpqua Lighthouse State Park (tel. 541/271-4118; www.oregon.gov/oprd/parks), the site of the 500-foot-tall sand dunes that are the tallest in the United States. The park offers picnicking, hiking, and camping amid forests and sand dunes.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.