Wanted: Oregon Coast Must-Dos, Eats

The majestic view at Cape Arch, Ore. (Kim O'Donnel)

I have a terrible problem. I made last-minute plans for a solo retreat on the Oregon coast, and other than the drop-dead naturally gorgeous oceanfront oasis where I’m holed up for three days, I know nothing about the area.

Are there culinary, cultural, historical, oenophilic, wildlife or maritime points of interest I should know about? Help a damsel in distress, why doncha. Consider this a sand-drawn SOS message awaiting a response.

By Kim ODonnel |  May 27, 2009; 9:50 AM ET Travel
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Get thee to Tillamook for Cheese, Both Tillamook Chedder and Blue Heron Brie. Years ago (about 20) there was a winery in Astoria, that made chocolate wine, but I think it is gone. Good luck, but think of all of the beautiful seashore.

Posted by: JSKite | May 27, 2009 10:47 AM

The Waterfront Depot in Florence, OR is a restaurant not to miss. Check out the sand dunes there and you'll be amazed. And, some of the best dishes in Newport, OR can be found at Local Ocean Seafoods. In Astoria, enjoy the wine bar at the Hotel Elliott.

Posted by: libertyekl | May 27, 2009 11:15 AM

My family and I just drove down the Oregon coast last weekend. Beautiful! HecetaHead Lighthouse near florence is beautiful - you need to walk uphill about half a mile once you park your car (3$ fee to park). If you stop by the viewpoint 1/4 mile south of the lighthouse on US-101, you could catch some seals in the water. I heard the Sea Lion caves are interesting too - we skipped that though.
The rocky shore just south of Port Ortford is great.

Posted by: OpinionatedLiving | May 27, 2009 12:42 PM

Getting ice cream at the Tillamook Dairy is always fun.

My favorite of all the little coastal towns is Gearhart. There's a nice little grocery store in that town that makes the best made-to-order sandwiches. My mom and I always go there to buy a turkey sandwich to split, along with some snap peas and an avocado. Then we walk down to the beach to eat (there are benches placed among the scrub brush, before you get to the sand), mashing the avocado on our sandwiches to make them even better.

It has been too long since I've been to the Oregon Coast in the spring/summer.

Posted by: marusula | May 27, 2009 3:26 PM

Don't forget Cannon Beach! Haystack Rock is fabulous. This place is a must see. We try to get down there from Seattle at least once a year.

Posted by: kwhugo | May 27, 2009 3:29 PM

The Oregon coast is beautiful and the whole coastline is public access. Just walking on any beach can be fun. One place we went to was Sea Lion Caves. It is located between Florence and Newport and is fun and interesting - although it can be smelly and loud when the males roar.


Posted by: elyrest | May 27, 2009 3:31 PM

If you're in Newport, I recommend a trip to the acquarium. You can join the fishermen for breakfast at Mo's...I recommend the Hang Town Fry. There are also interesting shops in town. Enjoy!

Posted by: holleahock | May 27, 2009 4:00 PM

Fellow DC -> Seattle girl here. I have to second the Waterfront Depot in Florence. Great food, great views and VERY affordable.

Posted by: sarahsmith3 | May 27, 2009 4:13 PM

Here are few suggestions:
* Flying Dutchman Winery just outside of Newport salt-air ferments their Oregon Pinot Noir, and it's delicious

* Astoria has a couple great wine spots: the Cellar on 10th and Shallon Winery, which someone mentioned above (chocolate wine)

* If you enjoy craft beer, check out Rogue Ales in Newport, Bill's Tavern in Cannon Beach, and Fort George Brewery and Astoria Brewing in Astoria.

* There are great restaurants in pretty much every coastal town. A few of my favorites are Newmans at 988 in Cannon Beach and the Cannery Cafe in Astoria.

Some links to check out:

(Full disclosure: I work in Oregon's tourism industry, so if you need any additional ideas, I have lots more!)

Posted by: lauraherbert | May 27, 2009 4:55 PM

Florence is a great place to visit this time of year. The rhododendrons are still in full bloom.

I second the Waterfront Depot for some great food and atmosphere, it is a old train depot relocated to the old town historic district. Also try Pomodori's for some great Italian.

Checkout the Florence Oregon community site for more ideas.

Posted by: liveoregon | May 27, 2009 5:24 PM

i haven't noticed much stuff on those other sites..... try www.beachconnection.net .....they've got a cool lil' search engine that shows you all around your area. there's a whole bunch of wine spots listed in there. astoria has a bunch of maritime spots...including the nearby wreck of the iredale. soooo cool. Ya gotta check out manzanita (just s. of arch cape).

Posted by: coastguide | May 27, 2009 6:57 PM

oops.... better link: http://www.beachconection.net

oh yeah....some cool B&B down in newport has exclusive wines....saw it somewhere on that site.

Posted by: coastguide | May 27, 2009 7:17 PM

Welcome to the Oregon Coast, which really IS The People's Coast. WOO HOO! As my "Oregon tourism industry" partner stated above, there are great little restaurants in every town along the coast. The arts abound almost everywhere you go. Music, fine art galleries, theatre, craftsman studios (glass blowing is HUGE on the Oregon Coast), Culinary Centers (take a class and eat the creations...YUMMY!). There really are way too many options to list right here, but here are a few links to tempt you to explore more:


Posted by: OregonCoastWooHooGirl | May 27, 2009 7:35 PM

Its a big coast - so where are you and how far do you want to go? Historical sights begin in the Astoria area with Lewis and Clark: http://lewisandclarktrail.com/section4/orcities/astoria/index.htm

You can follow 101 as far south as Coos Bay and cross as many as 14 of Conde McCullough's bridges: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conde_McCullough#Bridges_designed_by_McCullough

Great food can be found everywhere - follow the locals

Culture - well it depends on your definition - community theater in most coastal towns, local museums and art galleries, and maybe live music.

Not much for wineries on the coast, but my friend, Steve, has an awesome wine list at the Bay House Restaurant in Lincoln City and if you make it as far south as Florence, I will pour you a glass of wine at Grape Leaf Wine Shop & Bistro.

However far you manage to roam while on the coast, you should find lots of helpful, friendly people that can show you around and tell you stories.

Posted by: gsisson1 | May 28, 2009 2:44 AM

I vote for Coos Bay, North Bend, Charlesotn area of course since I work in tourism here. Here are my recommendations for you:
Culinary: Oregon coast culinary institute may 29th, East meets West dinner prepared by the OCCI students

Historical: Coos County Historical Museum in North Bend, Marshfield Sun Printing Museum and the historical railway museum in Coos Bay.

Wine: 1st Friday Wine Walk in downtown Coos Bay and also tour HV Cellars in Myrtle Point Oregon (formerly Hawksview). Specializing in cranberry wines, but they also have pinots, chardonnays and more.

Nature: Shore Acres State Park & Botanical gardens - the roses and other flowers are blooming right now, great time to go.
Cape Arago Loop, Charleston: crosses three state parks, Shell Island which is the largest haul out of marine mammals, seal pups have been born recently so its a great time to go, and of course South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve which is the only one of its kind in the state and is 4,700 acres of fresh water streams, upland forest, salt marches, mudflats, open water channel, nature trails, boardwalk and tide flats

Just plain fun: May 29 & 30th Defending the Caveman at the Mill Casino Hotel

Posted by: oregonkat | May 28, 2009 6:15 AM

I will second the Cannon Beach suggestion. I went to a friend's wedding in Portland a few years ago and spent a couple of days in Cannon Beach while we were there. It is absolutely beautiful.

Posted by: margaret6 | May 28, 2009 10:48 AM

Florence, on the Central Oregon Coast, is a beautiful getaway. Historic Old Town offers unique shops, the Pioneer Museum, the Florence Playhouse, and lots of delicious food choices--plus the beautiful Siuslaw River waterfront. Some restaurants to try: Mo's (located on the wharf, wonderful view), BJ's Ice Cream, Traveler's Cove & Waterfront Depot & Siulsaw Coffee Roasters all with riverside seating, Craves & Sidestreet Bistro for great eats; a plethora of choices in Florence from burgers and microbrews to the best Oregon wines and fine dining. Enjoy!

Posted by: port2 | May 28, 2009 12:42 PM

I've only been in the area around Lincoln City - two nice crafty places to visit are Mossy Creek Pottery (http://mossycreekpottery.com/welcome/) and Alder House Glass (http://www.alderhouse.com/Homepage/Home.htm) where you can watch glass blowing.

Posted by: emunsey | May 28, 2009 1:42 PM

oops, Coos Bay here again, probably should've posted our website in case you needed more information : )


Posted by: oregonkat | May 28, 2009 2:00 PM

Here's more help from the travel industry! I represent the beautiful and diverse Florence area. It's great to see all of the love we're already getting in these comments.

Here's an overview: scenic headlands, Oregon's most photographed lighthouse, sand dunes, dune buggies, sandboarding (think snowboarding on the dunes), lakes, the Siuslaw River, kayaking, Sea Lion Caves (world's largest sea cave), gorgeous state parks, classic links golf, yurts, B&Bs...

Check us out at

Posted by: TravelLaneCounty | May 28, 2009 2:10 PM

I'll happily recommend the Pelican Pub & Brewery in Pacific City, Oregon. Excellent, award-winning beer, and a beautiful beach location.

Posted by: truamerican | May 28, 2009 4:05 PM

You very lucky person!

Fancy-schmancy, and well-thought-of across the US: the DINING ROOM at SALISHAN RESORT in Gleneden Beach (just south of Lincoln City--or, if you prefer, just north of Depoe (don't tell us how to spell it) Bay.

For the sheer fun, kitsch, Oregon Coast Experience and actually very tasty food: OTIS CAFE in Otis (immediately E of Lincoln City on Hwy 20); Any MO'S for your chowder fix; GRACIE'S SEA HAG in Depoe Bay; and keep your eye peeled for the ricky-ticky shacks all up and down the coast for the best on-premises smoked fish (vacuum-packed, canned and fresh fresh fresh) and salt-water taffy.

Intermediate fancy-schmancy (really nothing touches Salishan (except maybe Bandon Dunes golf resort--which is damn-near California, so I don't count it): The ADOBE in Yachats ("ya-hots:" the natives will think you too hip when you get it right); TIDAL RAVES in Depoe Bay; BAY HOUSE in Lincoln City/Gleneden Beach; CHEZ JEANETTE in Gleneden Beach; INTERNATIONAL C-FOOD in Florence; TABLE OF CONTENTS in Sylvia Beach (nice literary pun there, no?) close-by Newport (if you are very very lucky, you can try to get a room at the Slyvia Beach Hotel (wherein the TABLE is located) http://www.sylviabeachhotel.com/; and MIST, in LINCOLN CITY, which is just getting its sea-legs (really: no pun intended, it's still pretty shiny-new), but where you can get great brekky and the deilghtful appetizer of a bottle of 2000 Dom and BBQ cocktail weiners for the low-low price of $205.95.

I never ever miss OTIS CAFE when I visit, so keep that very funky, filling and delicious joint on your radar--and (sorry) bring a book for the wait if you arrive on a weekend AM.

Have great time! I was there last weekend teaching a CLE seminar and am going next week just because I can! (And per the financial crisis the state's Judicial Dept has been furloughed to death)

NB: I have been up and down (and up and down) the entire coast over lo these (too) many years, and you'll note I've confined you to the central coast for the most part: it is, IMHO, the most qunitessentially Oregon part of an entirely delightful coastline. And, as another poster noted: do not miss the Heceta Head Lighthouse and state park.

Posted by: hongdb | May 28, 2009 4:37 PM

You're getting a lot of advice -- hope you can (sea)weed through it all.
But here's a one-day intinerary, if you like. If you're up north, as your Arch Cape photo would suggest, I would drive south to Tillamook, then hang a right (west) and take the Three Capes Scenic Route. I did this with my mom for Mother's Day, and she loved it.
This is a detour off Hwy. 101, with lots of fun stops -- the Cape Meares Lighthouse, hiking both short and long, Cape Lookout State Park, the beautiful Tierra del Mar and the sandstone Cape Kiwanda. If you're lunching near the north end, eat at Roseanne's in Oceanside. If you stop to eat at the south end, try Pelican Pub & Brewery in Pacific City. The food is great at nearby Delicate Palate (also in PC) but there's no ocean view.
You might like those towns enough to stop and stay. If not, just south of PC you'll rejoin Hwy. 101 and head 30 minutes south to Lincoln City. You'll probably find a vacant hotel room in Lincoln City. We only have 3,000.
Take care, and have a great time!

Posted by: oregonniki | May 28, 2009 4:40 PM

I am blown away by all of the amazing advice and tips that you all have so generously shared. Thank you so much! I suppose a report is in order next week! I am leaving in the am, enjoying the last bits of ocean breeze. All best.

Posted by: Kim ODonnel | May 28, 2009 6:19 PM

It seems that you have received numerous ideas of things to do and see, but I must recommend that you make it to the southern Oregon Coast!

Make the trip to Gold Beach!

I love everything that they have to offer . . . beachcombing (at Otter Point for agates), fishing (the Spring Salmon are in the Rogue River right now!), jetboating (Jerry's Jets and the Mail Boat Hydro Jets -- It's different everytime, and I've been over 20 times!), hiking (The Schrader Old Growth Trail, Humbug Mountain, or Cape Sebastian), horseback riding (at Hawk's Rest Ranch), the freshest seafood (Love the Rod 'n Reel Restaurant for Crab Stuffed Mushrooms), and more waterfront lodging than anywhere on the southern Oregon Coast. I like to watch the fishermen and the sea lions from the balconey of my room when I stay at Jot's Resort.

Check out www.goldbeach.org

I love getting out of the city and just having a peaceful place to enjoy myself . .. and they have it all!

Posted by: drgnflyz13 | May 29, 2009 10:34 AM

The best fish (halibut) and chips on the coast is at the South Beach Fish Market/Deli:

It's also a great place to get any fresh seafood to take home to prepare - go for the wild salmon, steamer clams or dungeness crab.

Lucky you, to be planning such a trip.

Posted by: abahn | May 29, 2009 4:27 PM

The Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area at Winchester Bay, south of Reedsport, has some of the best dunes for viewing and for riding ATVs.

The Heceta Head Lighthouse north of Florence is one of the most photographed scenics in Oregon, and for good reason. You can hike up to the lighthouse from the beach below and walk inside the light.

Posted by: jsowell | May 30, 2009 5:17 PM

Be sure to visit our awesome book store, Port Hole Books, in Old Town Florence (120 Maple St.). We offer new, used and rare books, and have a highly informed staff to help you find what you want. We offer free book searches for out-of-print books, and ship orders (new/used) around the world. Our owner is a true book person, and a bestselling author, former book appraiser for Discovery.com. Check out our new book about Florence, A BRIDGE BACK. Enjoy our comfy fireplace area! Welcome!

Posted by: porthole | June 1, 2009 4:19 PM

P.S. Re: Port Hole Books...visit our website, at http://ellentraylor.com.

Posted by: porthole | June 1, 2009 4:20 PM

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