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The Oregon Coast is 360 miles of pure natural beauty. Rugged coastlines, expansive beaches, cute seaside towns – there are so many places to visit on the Oregon Coast! I’ve visited Oregon a few times and have always loved every minute of it. There is something so unique and special about the coast, almost a magical quality. It’s the perfect place for a relaxing vacation or a fun and interesting road trip!
Oregon is located on the west coast of the United States, between Washington to the north and California to the South. The entire western border of Oregon is the great, big Pacific Ocean, with stunning beaches and quaint towns dotted all along the coastline.
The capital city of Oregon is Salem, but the more famous city is Portland, known for its quirky vibe and amazing food and beer scene.
While Portland is also a great city to visit, I hold a soft spot for the Oregon Coast. I just love the wild and beautiful nature of the coastline – it feeds the soul! The Oregon Coast is the perfect road trip destination, as you can drive along scenic Highway 101 and see all of Oregon’s attractions along the coast.
But you can also just choose a place to stop and visit for a few days to have a relaxing, peaceful vacation. Whichever way you choose to explore, you won’t be disappointed.
With so many places to visit on the Oregon Coast, it can be a little overwhelming to plan a trip! This is a guide for your next trip to the Oregon Coast with some of my top recommendations for the must-see places in Oregon.
Places to visit on Oregon Coast
The Oregon Coast is long, so there is a lot of ground to cover. I’ve been to a few destinations along the coast, but there are so many more on my list! However, to start you off, here are some of my favorite places to visit on the Oregon Coast.
Cannon Beach and Haystack Rock
Cannon Beach is probably the most famous beach in Oregon – and for good reason! It is a very long and beautiful beach with an iconic rock that makes for the most beautiful photographs; Haystack Rock is an Oregon Coast must-see! Cannon Beach is the perfect place to go for a long stroll or having a beach day. The town is also very quaint, with tons of cute little shops and art galleries. I recommend grabbing a coffee at Sleepy Monk Coffee Roasters and then taking a little stroll through town!
I stayed here for a few nights with some of my friends a few years ago. We chose Rockaway Beach because it is one of the lesser-known locations and not as popular with tourists. We found a great place to stay just a few blocks up from the beach! It’s a pretty small town without any large attractions, but the beach is absolutely stunning. I definitely recommend this location for a quiet, relaxing vacation. We had so much fun just hanging out on the beach during the day… and again on the beach at night with a campfire! Rockway Beach is one of the best places to stay on the Oregon Coast.
While I did not stay overnight in Astoria, it is the town you will pass through on your way down to just about anywhere along the coast.
Each time I drive through Astoria I make sure to take some time to stop and hang out! It’s a really cool little city on the north coast of Oregon just before the Astoria–Megler Bridge that connects over to Washington.
It has a really unique vibe with tons of trendy restaurants and bars. The Astoria Column is a monument built in 1926 and is cool to check out, too!
Astoria is definitely quirky and I had so much fun popping in and out of the little shops!
South Oregon dunes region
Camping in Jessie M. Honeyman Memorial State Park
I’m throwing it way back to when I was on a family vacation as a kid. We camped in the Honeyman State Park, near the town of Florence on the Southern Oregon coast. It is in the sand dunes region of the state.
There are honestly just miles and miles of sand dunes all around, as far as the eye can see! This campground is a large state park with all the amenities you need at a campsite.
It is right on the coast, with quick access to the beach and sand dunes! There are so many amazing campsites all along the coast, but I loved this one and recommend you check it out.
Things to do on the Oregon Coast
There are so many fun things to do on the Oregon Coast! It’s a great place to get outdoors and enjoy nature, but even if that’s not your thing, you’ll find something to do! Here are some of the best things to do in Oregon.
Explore the small towns
Many of the towns along the coastline are super quaint and interesting. I drove through a number of them on my last Oregon trip, and it was always fun to get out and explore the shops, cafes, and galleries. Some of the popular small towns to visit are Pacific City, Bandon, Seaside (loved this one!), Depoe Bay, and Florence.
Have a beach day
If you’ve read this far, you’ll get the idea that there are a ton of great beaches in Oregon! Grab a blanket, a good book, some snacks, and make a beach day of it.
The weather in Oregon is usually not too hot, but it can be warm and sunny during the summer months. It’s often windy, so bring a sweater with you to keep warm, especially as the sun goes down.
My favorite thing to do is go for a long walk on the beach, checking out the different things you can find along the shoreline, and just enjoying the fresh air!
You can also check out the tidal calendar in advance so you know when high tide and low tide happen and can plan accordingly.
Sand dune buggying
This is, by far, one of the best things to do in Oregon! It is so much fun, and I definitely want to go again sometime. In south Oregon lies the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, which has miles and miles of sand dunes.
It’s the perfect spot to try sports like sand biking, ATVing, sandboarding, and of course, sand dune buggy!
You can either rent one yourself or go on a tour and be driven around. It is such a unique experience – like a roller coaster on the sand!
Oregon is a state that attracts a lot of outdoorsy people and visitors because there is really no shortage of ways to be active and explore nature!
Hiking is one of the best ways to do just that! When I stayed in Rockaway Beach, we went on a short hike to the Cape Meares Beach Trail.
The hike was about 1.5 miles with 430 feet of elevation gain. It goes through a really beautiful forest and up to a lighthouse at the top! There are scenic views out over the ocean from the top.
Practice your photography skills
With so many amazing beaches, views, and lookouts along the coastline, it’s a great place to practice your photography! Haystack rock on Cannon Beach is totally iconic, but there are tons of other cool places to photograph as well.
I recommend checking out the Devil’s punchbowl (a swirling, stormy collapsed sea cave) and the tidal pools at Cobble Beach.
There is also a lot of wildlife in Oregon to practice taking photos of – keep your eye out for sea otters, sea lions, and bald eagles!
Peter Iredale shipwreck
This old shipwreck is located in Fort Stevens State Park and is one of the best places to visit on the Oregon Coast – I bet you’ve never seen anything like it! It’s an old, rusty skeleton of a ship that ran up onto shore back in 1906!
It’s permanently just stuck there, right on the beach. This is a great spot and one of the best picnic areas, too! It was one of my favorite little detours driving up along Highway 101 towards Astoria.
Visit the Tillamook Creamery
This is, hands down, one of the best things to do in Tillamook! I’m sorry if you are lactose intolerant and reading this…
But the cheese and ice cream are out of this world. Tillamook Creamery is open for tours, and is a popular Oregon tourist attraction.
You can learn all about how they make cheese and then – the best part – sample as much as you want for yourself! They also make ice cream here (my favorite is the Marionberry Pie flavor!) so pick some up for a treat.
I promise you’ll have such a good time here!
Watch the sunset
As Oregon is on the west coast of the US, there are amazing sunsets all along the coast line. It doesn’t matter where you are staying, just make sure to head down to the beach and catch a sunset! I recommend bringing a warm blanket and some hot chocolate to drink.
I have to admit it – I’ve never tried surfing! I know, I know, how can you visit Oregon and not go? So many people have told me that surfing is one of the best things to do on the Oregon Coast. Surfing is a very popular activity in Oregon because there are some amazing locations to catch the waves. One of the best spots for beginners and veterans alike is Oswald West State Park, close to Cannon Beach. You can either go at it alone or join a lesson with an instructor or guide if it’s your first time. Surfing is on my list for my next trip!
Take a day trip to Portland
If you are planning a longer trip to the Oregon Coast, you might be interested in also exploring a bigger city that has more entertainment, food, or shopping than the small towns along the coast. Portland is well-known for the cities quirky and artistic vibe, and is a foodie’s paradise! There are so many things to do in Portland! Portland is most easily accessible via Highway 26 from northern Oregon coastal towns, such as Cannon Beach or Seaside.
It doesn’t matter if you are going on a specific road trip along the coast, or just staying in a town for a few days – you have to drive along Highway 101 when visiting the Oregon Coast! It is the highway that goes directly along the coast of Oregon and into California.
It is very scenic, with amazing views at every point. Put together your best playlist, grab some road trip snacks and just make the most of it!
The highway can be pretty windy, so drive carefully and take your time. There are miles of coastline to explore, so enjoy!
Find the best car rental deals and explore around freely, at your own pace. My favorite way to enjoy a destination!
Try fat-tire biking
Some of the beaches in Oregon are very long, and you might get tired of walking! Fat-tire biking is just what it sounds like – using a bike that has fat tires, specifically designed to work over sand.
It’s one of the popular activities along the coast and most towns will have bikes for rent.
Oregon coast Guided tours
If you don’t feel like driving and prefere to stay in one of the quirky cities mentioned above and take day tours from there, it is also an option. There are a variety of tours that you can join. Here are the ones with the highest ratings
Oregon Coast Beaches
You probably get the idea that the Oregon Coast has some pretty amazing beaches, including sandy beaches and rocky shores with lots of character.
I would argue they have some of the best in the world! And the best part is they are all very easy to access off of Highway 101 which goes directly down the coastline.
When visiting the Oregon Coast, you have to spend some – or a lot! – of time at the various beaches. Where you decide to go will depend on what kind of activity and vibe you are looking for.
So, here are some of the most popular beaches based on the type of activity you are looking for.
A great overall beach with amazing scenery. It’s famous for a reason! Cannon Beach is located in the northwest region of Oregon, about 80 miles west of Portland along Highway 26.
An awesome beach right in front of the pretty omonimous town, where you can find great shopping and awesome places to eat, besides miles of sandy beach and a grand oceanfront promenade to stroll. Seaside is nine miles north of Cannon Beach.
Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area
Great beach for adventuring! This is the place to go to try sand dune buggying, rent a quad, or try sandboarding. Getting outside and active is one of the best things to do on the Oregon Coast because you can have some fun and also enjoy nature! This Park is located in the southwest region of Oregon, near the towns of Dunes City or Lakeside.
A perfect beach for some peace and quiet. It’s a rugged, windswept beach that is very quiet and undeveloped. There are tons of room to just chill out and relax away from the business of some of the busier beaches. Yachats is located roughly in the center of the Oregon coastline.
A fun beach town. Bandon is a popular little town that has a bunch of shops, restaurants, bars, and other charming beach town activities! It’s a great little place to explore and wander after a day at the beach. Bandon is located in the central part of Oregon.
Cobble Beach (Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area)
A great beach to see marine life. This beach has some of the most interesting tidal pools, filled to the brim with sea life.
It’s a great place to explore and beachcomb, which is one of the best things to do on the Oregon Coast! There is also the picturesque Yaquina Head lighthouse along the coast to check out here, too!
Cobble Beach is located near the town of Newport, on the northwest coast.
A peaceful, small beach. This one is not really a secret anymore, but it gets is name because it is a small little beach, hidden by some rock formations. It is accessible off of Highway 101 by the Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor along the south coast.
The best beach to relax at. I loved my time at Rockway Beach because it was just so quiet. It’s not a super popular area, so there weren’t very many other people. It’s a great place to just relax and go on a long solo stroll to clear your head and truly relax.
When is the best time to visit the Oregon Coast?
While there are many amazing beaches along the Oregon Coast, one should not assume that it will always be a warm beach vacation! Generally speaking, the climate along the coast can be chilly and windy for most of the year.
This shouldn’t scare you off, though, because the cooler weather makes the beaches along the coast so special!
The best time to visit the Oregon Coast depends on what you are planning to do. The summer months are when the weather is warm, sunny, and perfect for fun outdoor recreations like hiking, biking, or kayaking.
While the ocean is cold to swim in, there can be days that are hot enough to go for a dip.
Spring and Fall are the shoulder seasons and are the best time to visit the Oregon Coast, in my opinion. They are not as busy as the summer, but the weather is still generally pleasant and not too cold. Y
ou can definitely expect some windy, rainy, or stormy days in there, but that just adds to the charm! Bundling up with warm clothes and going for a walk along the beach is a great experience – you can really sense the power of the ocean right beside you.
Winter is sometimes referred to as the “secret season” and is an excellent time to visit the Oregon Coast! Most visitors will go during the winter to go storm watching. Just envision – a hot cup of hot chocolate, cozied up inside your cabin rental, watching the majestic Pacific Ocean storm!
Best way to move around the Oregon Coast
If you’re planning on exploring Oregon, the best way to move around the coast is by car. Driving allows you the freedom to go where you want and explore the many Oregon Coast attractions along the way. Many people choose to road-trip in Oregon, even following Highway 101 from Washington all the way down to California, of course with Oregon in between.
If you don’t bring your own car to Oregon, you can definitely get a car rental in any city or town in the state. Rentals are generally fairly affordable and driving in Oregon is easy, with well-marked signs and good road conditions. Because of the mild climate, you don’t have to worry about snow and it’s also easy to drive through any season.
Find the best car rental deals and explore around freely, at your own pace. My favorite way to enjoy a destination!
There are a lot of different accommodation options throughout the Oregon Coast, including cute boutique hotels and bed and breakfasts, or Airbnbs and vacation rentals.
If you travel on a camper van, RV or have your tenting equipment, there are a ton of great campsites, both state-owned and private, along the Oregon Coast and so it is possible to have an enjoyable camping vacation!
If you don’t plan on driving or are unable to do so, you can also move around the Oregon coast by public transportation. The NW Connector is an extensive public transit system of buses and trains that connect most of the major towns and cities along the coast. You can purchase a three- or seven-day pass (just $25-$30) that will give you unlimited access to the entire system. The NW Connector has an easy-to-use trip planner to help you figure out the best route.
Oregon is an amazing state to visit, and the Oregon Coast is the best destination! I love visiting Oregon, exploring the wild and beautiful coast, walking along the beach, and exploring the little towns along the way.
Because there are so many places to visit on the Oregon Coast, it can be a little overwhelming to know where to start. I hope this guide helped you learn about some of the top Oregon Coast attractions and get you started planning your own trip!
About the Author
Alyssa is a freelance writer with her Bachelor of Arts in International Studies degree. Alyssa is passionate about travel and has been to over 20 countries – and counting! Living in Vancouver, Canada, she loves to take advantage of the mountains and ocean by getting outdoors as much as possible. When she’s not writing, Alyssa is probably walking by the river, caring for her many houseplants, or grabbing a coffee with a friend. You can keep up with her on her personal blog.