If you’re looking for a road trip itinerary that has a little bit of everything, the Oregon Coast will be hard to beat. There are beautiful seaside towns, hiking trails, historical forts, beaches with great views, and an impressive array of wildlife. Every time I’ve visited the coast, it has been an absolute delight. If you’re looking for a few ideas for your Oregon Coast bucket list, here are twelve spots you can’t miss.
Seaside is a lovely little town on the coast with lots of tourist appeal. The colors here are amazing—everything is so bright and vibrant, and it makes my photographer heart very happy. There’s a fun little shark museum with life-sized models of great whites and hammerheads and all sorts of other sharks. The beach itself is lovely, too, even if the seagulls are fearless little scavengers. We saw a huge flock of them marauding some poor soul’s backpack, which they had made the mistake of leaving unattended. I don’t know how those birds did it, but they unzipped the bag, pulled out the sandwich inside, tore open the ziplock, and stole that guy’s lunch!
Munson Creek Falls
Munson Creek Falls is an Oregon State Natural Site. It’s an easy little hike through a rain forest, with huge plants and moss-covered trees. At the end of the trail is Munson Creek Falls, a 319′ waterfall—the tallest along the Oregon coast! The hike is just over a half mile, in and out, and fairly level, so it’s a nice little break to get out and stretch your legs.
When you first arrive at Oceanside, you’ll find a normal sand beach. But if you climb through a tunnel in the rock, you’ll end up on a black pebble beach with sea stacks that look otherworldly in the fog.
The beach in Pacific City boasts an impressive cape (Cape Kiwanda), sea stack (Chief Kiwanda Rock), and waves that are well-loved by surfers and jet ski enthusiasts alike. The beach south of Cape Kiwanda is also known as one of two launch points for the famous flat-bottomed Tillamook dory fleet. Upon returning from a good day of fishing, these boats will speed right up onto the beach. It’s quite a spectacle!
Fogarty Creek is one of my favorite beaches on the coast. You actually park a ways across the road from the beach, then walk along a beautiful marshy area full of grass and creeks as you work your way to the beach. And the beach at Fogarty Creek is a natural treasure hunter’s dream: drift wood, kelp, rocks, shells, you name it. It’s also home to oystercatchers, a shorebird easily identifiable by their bright orange legs.
Depoe Bay and Cape Foulweather
Depoe Bay will always hold a special place in my heart because it’s the first place where I saw whales. Depoe Bay has a great little Whale Watching center run by Oregon State Parks, and it’s a great spot to look for whales, seals, and sea birds.
A few minutes up the road is Cape Foulweather, where there is a gift store that hangs over a cliff 500′ above the ocean. 😬 The view is incredible, and it’s another great spot to look for whales.
Newport is a charming little fishing village with a lovely historic bayfront. It’s the perfect spot to get an up-close look at lots of California sea lions, and you might even spot sea stars on the dock pilings. The crab fishers can be a lot of fun to talk to, and the street is lined with the cutest little shops for window shopping.
Devil's Punch Bowl
Devil’s Punchbowl is a unique circular geological formation by Otter Rock, Oregon. During storm surges, water flows through a low opening in the rock wall and fills the “punch bowl” with a churning tide. It’s another great spot for whale watching, and the water is often full of surfers. There are even tide pools during low tide!
Boiler Bay has picturesque, rocky beaches, which makes the waves extra impressive. It’s also another great spot for wildlife watching, and we’ve seen whales, seals, and lots of cool birds from this beach.
I don’t know why they named this lake after such an unsavory fellow, because Devil’s Lake is certainly a lot more heavenly than the name would suggest. The lake is quiet and peaceful, which makes it a lovely place to relax and watch for wildlife. Watch your step to avoid stepping on one of the many European Red Slugs you’ll likely encounter, and watch the lily pads for the resident beaver.
Road’s End beach is known for good tide pools, but it’s still worth a visit even if you miss low tide. With cormorants nesting on a distant sea stack, gorgeous views, and pristine sand perfect for walking with bare feet, Road’s End is an absolute delight that’s sure to be a highlight of your trip.
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