While inland Oregon has loads to offer visitors, it is the coast that is the state's crown jewel. To be sure, Oregon's beaches are not the lounge-chair and margarita beaches of Mexico and the Caribbean, but this coast is one of the most dramatic shorelines in America. Hiking, kite flying, and exploring tide pools are the top recreational activities on the Oregon coast, so come prepared for an active vacation.
Day 1: Astoria
Start your Oregon coast vacation by flying into Portland and driving down the Columbia River to Astoria. You will be following the route of explorers Lewis and Clark, who spent the winter of 1805-06 near present-day Astoria. Visit the Lewis and Clark National Historical Park, then head to Fort Stevens State Park at the mouth of the Columbia River. Also visit the Columbia River Maritime Museum.
Day 2: Cannon Beach
Head south down the coast to the arts community of Cannon Beach, which lies on the south side of Tillamook Head. Check out all the art galleries, and marvel at the massive Haystack Rock, which rises up from the beach in the middle of town. Just north of Cannon Beach, you can hike the trails of Ecola State Park. To escape the crowds, head south of town to Arcadia, Hug Point wayside, or the larger Oswald West State Park.
Day 3: The Three Capes Scenic Loop
Drive around Tillamook Bay to the Three Capes Scenic Loop. The first cape you'll come to on this drive is Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint, which is a good place from which to spot gray whales. Further south is Cape Lookout State Park, where there is a trail through the forest to the end of the cape. The southernmost of the three capes is Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area, where a giant sand dune rises up from the beach and the huge Haystack Rock (yes, it has the same name as the one in Cannon Beach) rises just offshore. Here at Cape Kiwanda you'll find a great hotel and brewpub.
Days 4 & 5: Newport & Yachats
Continue south through the sprawl and congestion of Lincoln City to Newport. En route, be sure to drive the Otter Crest Scenic Loop, just south of Depoe Bay, and stop to marvel at the Devil's Punchbowl. Newport's main attraction is the not-to-be-missed Oregon Coast Aquarium. Outside of town, you can also visit the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse and the Yaquina Head Lighthouse. South of Newport 24 miles is Yachats, one of the prettiest stretches of the central coast. Hike the rocky shoreline here, and visit Cape Perpetua Scenic Area, Heceta Head Lighthouse, and the Sea Lion Caves.
Days 6 & 7: Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area to Bandon
South of Cape Perpetua, you leave the mountains behind and drive through 50 miles of forests, lakes, and giant sand dunes that have been preserved as the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. Stop for lunch in historic Florence, then continue on to visit Sunset Bay, Shore Acres, and Cape Arago state parks outside Coos Bay. Finish the day amid the dramatic boulders and haystack rocks that litter the beach at Bandon.
Days 8 & 9: The Southern Oregon Coast
This is the most remote and least developed section of the coast, and it has numerous state parks and waysides. Wander the headlands at Cape Blanco and Cape Sebastian. Explore the beach and Battle Rock in Port Orford. In Gold Beach, take a jet-boat tour up the wild Rogue River. South of Gold Beach, stop to marvel at the monoliths at Pistol River State Scenic Viewpoint and hike segments of the Oregon Coast Trail within the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor. From Brookings, drive back north and then west to reach I-5, which is the fastest route back to Portland.
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.