Hit the Road: an outdoor adventure down the Oregon Coast

A sunset with a cloud-filled sky as a wave crashes on the sand.
Hike up to Heceta Head Lighthouse from Devil’s Elbow State Park. | Photo by @kentenbrown

We’re kicking off our summer road trip series — Hit the Road — with an outdoor adventure-themed trip down the Oregon Coast. We’ll head west to Tillamook, then turn south on Highway 101, passing through Pacific City, Depoe Bay + Newport, before ending in Florence. Along the way, you’ll experience one of the world’s most beautiful, rugged coastlines that’s home to magical trails, historic lighthouses, and unique features that can be found nowhere else. 

Before you start packing your bags, here’s everything you need to know about the area + our insider recommendations.

Drive time: ~4 hours (not including stops)
Avg. high in June: 65º

🥾Things to do

Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area 

The pounding waves are constantly changing the shape of this sandstone headland just north of Pacific City. Climb up the towering dune — but don’t go beyond the safety fence — for majestic views, then spend the evening back on the beach to watch the sun sink below Chief Kiwanda Rock

Neskowin Ghost Forest

Storms in the late 1990s uncovered the remains of an ancient Sitka spruce forest on the beach, best seen at low tide. Look for small fish + crabs in the water that pools around the petrified stumps, and if the water is low enough, climb a short trail to the top of Proposal Rock

Yaquina Head Lighthouse

Oregon’s tallest lighthouse was built in 1872. You can take a tour up its 114 steps, explore the nearby Cobble Beach tidepools + see one of the West Coast’s largest nesting colonies of common murre seabirds

Cape Perpetua Scenic Area

Towering 800 ft above sea level, this viewpoint is a must-see. Walk in the footsteps of people who explored these forests at least 6,000 years ago by trying one of the dozen nearby trails, or brush shoulders with the God of Thunder at Thor’s Well

Hobbit Trail 

Park at the China Creek Trailhead, then follow the trail post signs down a short but scenic hike to Hobbit Beach. Just before the trail spits you out onto the sand, you’ll pass through a whimsical tunnel formed by windswept coastal trees.

Sea Lion Caves 

Hundreds of Steller sea lions make their home in North America’s largest sea cave, which you have to pay to visit. Buy a ticket at the gift shop along Highway 101, then take an elevator 200 ft down to the viewing area + prepare your ears for crashing waves and barking pinnipeds

Sand Master Park 

Get to know the sand dunes that inspired Frank Herbert’s epic sci-fi fantasy by taking a lesson at the world’s first sandboard park

🍽️ Fuel up after exploring

The Riverhouse Nestucca | 34450 Brooten Rd., Pacific City

This cozy spot with river views may look unassuming, but the food is worth a stop. Customers rave about the steak, fish + chips, gluten-free calamari, and Dungeness crab mac ‘n cheese.  

Whale Bites Cafe | 234 US-101, Depoe Bay

Try a dolled-up brunch dish like the homemade biscuits + gravy or a bagel topped with fresh, locally smoked salmon. If you’re stopping for lunch, you can’t go wrong with a cup of soup or a French dip sandwich

Clearwater Restaurant | 325 SW Bay Blvd., Newport

Watch the water + the local sea lions sunning themselves on the dock over a plate of rock cod tacos, a tuna melt, or pan-fried oysters. Wash it down with a craft beer on draught. 

Luna Sea Fish House | 153 US-101, Yachats

Sure, you’ve had fish and chips — but the halibut version here is on another level. Another seafood staple done right? The clam chowder. Pro tip: You’re in the town of YAH-hots.

The Hukilau | 185 US-101, Florence

Let’s keep the seafood theme rolling at this Pacific-fusion restaurant that serves massive sushi rolls with creative themes. Treat yourself to a tropical cocktail after that long drive. 

An ocean view from a home's front porch swing.
This Oceanside home is a 5-minute walk from the beach, restaurants + shops. | Photo via Vrbo

🏕️ Cozy campsites + cabins

Vrbo Large Ocean View Home | Oceanside 

With four bedrooms in the main home + an additional bedroom in the optional guest quarters for a total capacity of 14 people, this location is perfect for large groups or family get-togethers. Plus, it’s just a few minutes’ walk from the beach, restaurants, and coffee shops.

Hart’s Camp | 33145 Webb Park Rd., Pacific City

Park your own wheels here or stay in one of the on-site Airstreams for a luxury glamping experience. Each RV site has a campfire ring + there’s a common area with a gazebo and yard games like giant Jenga. 

Beverly Beach State Park | 198 NE 123rd St., Newport

One of Oregon’s largest campgrounds is perched along a forest creek, just steps from the beach. You’ll find rentable yurts, public restrooms + showers, picnic shelters, and a playground. 

Vrbo Oceanfront Cottage | Depoe Bay 

Soak up some sun from the large deck or watch the waves from the outdoor hot tub. Dogs are welcome here.  

Jessie M. Honeyman Memorial State Park | Florence
Race down the sand dunes surrounding Cleawox Lake, fish for native cutthroat trout, build sandcastles near the shore, and go for a swim — if you don’t mind chilly water.