Oregon’s South Coast
Far from Oregon’s big metro areas, the southern coast gets less buzz and experiences less bustle compared to its northern counterpart. Use this to your advantage — traverse untouched coastline, discover secret fishing spots, stumble upon hidden wildlife refuges, kick back in whimsical port towns and frolic on idyllic beaches with no one in sight. The coast to the north may be livelier, but this spectacular 129-mile stretch from Winchester Bay to Brookings will fill your soul with peace, relaxation and enough adventures to last a lifetime.
Wonderful Winchester Bay
Set in the heart of the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, Winchester Bay hums with outdoor activities catering to everyone from thrill-seekers to birdwatchers. Anglers can expect to catch chinook salmon, steelhead, rainbow trout and largemouth bass, while birdwatchers can spot, bald eagles, hawks and more.
Colorful Umpqua Lights
While you’re in the area, hike a mile around Lake Marie and continue on to the Umpqua River Lighthouse. Known for the red and white beams that emanate from the structure’s top, this 19th-century lighthouse can be admired from the outside or inside. Take a tour through this 65-foot tower and enjoy whale watching from the top from November to May.
Visit Coos Bay and North Bend
Boasting a shipbuilding heritage, Coos Bay is the largest city on the Oregon Coast and has plenty to offer visitors thanks to its boats, bay and beautiful bridge. Delve into the city’s storied past at the Coos History Museum, which features a wide collection of artifacts and over 250,000 historic photographs. You can also see a handful of vintage locomotives at the Oregon Coast Historic Railway and an impressive array of Northwest art at the Coos Art Museum. Right next to Coos Bay is North Bend, home to the Oregon Coast’s only airport and Horsfall Beach, an area that reveals eerie shipwrecks after winter storms.
Do the Charleston
Less than 20 minutes away is the fishing village of Charleston. Seafood fanatics will want to come here in February for the Charleston Crab Feed and in August for the Charleston Seafood Festival. The town is also known for Sunset Bay State Park, which spoils visitors with its plush beaches, well-equipped campgrounds, picnic facilities, and extensive network of trails that connect Sunset Bay to Shore Acres and Cape Arago.
Gardens in Shore Acres State Park
Nestled on craggy sandstone cliffs, Shore Acres State Park is far from your typical park. It started as a wealthy lumber baron’s private estate and was famous for its dazzling gardens teeming with trees, shrubs and flowers from around the globe. It was later purchased by the state of Oregon and became a public park in 1942. Today, the park’s striking gardens showcase different flowers all throughout the year. Once you’re done strolling past beautiful blooms, take in the many bewitching ocean vistas from the cliff and trek to Simpson Beach to explore its hidden coves.
Bandon is a Nature Lover’s Dream
Nestled along the Coquille River, Bandon offers every sort of outdoor adventure imaginable. Tee off at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort or Bandon Crossings Golf Course. Pull up Dungeness crab and hook salmon, halibut and tuna from the bay. On the beach, go horseback riding or paddle in a kayak out for close-up views of birds, fish and otters. Just across the river is Bullard Beach State Park, a haven for wildlife and home to the Coquille River Lighthouse.
After a day in the great outdoors, refuel with award-winning fish tacos at Tony’s Crab Shack and wash it down with a craft beer from Bandon Brewing Company. Bandon’s Old Town is worth checking out, too. Comprising of 10 square blocks, this bustling spot is packed with shopping, dining and entertainment options. Don’t forget to stop by the vibrant cranberry bogs on Highway 101.
Westernmost Point in Oregon
Cape Blanco State Park will wow with its spellbinding cliffs, funky rock formations, woodland backdrops, and iconic lighthouse. Over eight miles of trails lead you to jaw-dropping ocean vistas. If you’re lucky, you may even spot a colony of sea lions on the offshore rocks below. The 245-foot Cape Blanco Lighthouse looms over the background and is open for visitation from April to October. Another popular site here is the historic Hughes House, an authentic Victorian home offering a glimpse into 19th-century life. Beachcombers will thrill to the elegant needle rock spire on the beach
Art and History Meld in Port Orford
History buffs and art enthusiasts won’t want to miss Port Orford. This quirky town supports an active artist community with eight galleries displaying an exquisite array of local artwork. Budding historians can dive into Port Orford’s seafaring past at the free museum within Port Orford Heads State Park or the Port Orford Lifeboat Station Museum, which houses a restored Coast Guard Station along with various artifacts. Battle Rock Historical Park is another point of interest, as it marks the spot of one of the first battles between Native Americans and European settlers. Locals also swear the best fish and chips on the West Coast are right here. Order a batch at Griff’s on the Port and see for yourself.
Show Your Wild Side in Gold Beach
Bursting with roaring rivers, rugged peaks, windswept beaches and dense wilderness, Gold Beach is guaranteed to get your heart pumping. Feel your adrenalin spike on a jet boat ride up the Rogue River. Experience the thrill of reeling in trophy salmon or mammoth tuna. Feel small as you walk beside colossal trees on the Francis Shrader Old Growth Trail and Myrtle Tree Trail, home to one of the world’s largest myrtle trees. For something out of the ordinary, swing by the Prehistoric Gardens to see life-size replicas of 23 dinosaurs lurking in the rainforest and get a feel for Earth’s prehistory.
Gold Beach Gourmet
Your adventures in the wilderness are sure to leave you parched. Quench your thirst at Arch Rock Brewing Company, an award-winning microbrewery that’s won five gold medals at beer competitions around the world. Stop by their tasting room and sip their famous pale ale, lager and porter. For a meal prepared just for you, visit Anna’s by the Sea, where the nouvelle Canadian prairie cuisine changes daily, and local salmon and halibut are prepared in delightful ways. Dine at Spinner’s Seafood, Steak & Chop House, with locally fresh wild salmon wrapped in leeks.
Brookings Is Oregon’s Banana Belt
You’ll find some of the best weather and coastal views in Brookings. Nicknamed “Oregon’s Banana Belt,” this part of the Beaver State experiences warmer temperatures than normal. This phenomenon has transformed Brookings into the biggest producer of lilies in the country. Admire the region’s floral beauty at Azalea Park, a 33-acre space blanketed with native azaleas. The best photo ops can be found along the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor, a linear park composed of 12 ocean-hugging miles of craggy bluffs and secluded shores.
Brookings: Best Fishing
You’ll also discover some of the best fishing in the country here. Take a boat out into the Pacific Ocean or nearby rivers, and reel in an abundance of salmon, snapper, lingcod, halibut and albacore tuna almost year-round. If you’re in town over Labor Day weekend, consider participating in the three-day Slam’n Salmon Ocean Derby, the largest fishing derby on the West Coast.
Discover Brookings’ crafty spirit at Brandy Peak Distillery, the oldest distillery in southern Oregon, where the varietal characteristics of the fruits used in their recipe are retained in these rich and smooth brandies. Don’t forget the Blackberry Liqueur Truffles, custom-made chocolates kissed with a dash of blackberry liqueur.
Take a Wild Walk
Hop out of your car and navigate this 12-mile section of Highway 101 by foot to uncover Secret Beach’s moss-draped rock formations, Natural Bridges Cove, ancient Sitka spruce trees and 27 miles of the Oregon Coast Trail. If you have time, get some great looks at gray whales, harbor seals, sea lions and tufted puffins in Harris Beach State Park, or go on a white-water rafting, kayaking or fishing excursion on the mighty Chetco River.
Looking for panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean? You can’t do much better than Chetco Point Park. The park sits on a hundred-foot-high plateau that’s surrounded on three sides by the Pacific Ocean. This is a great place to whale watch or simply take in awesome views of the ocean horizon. Drive up the Chetco River to see another photogenic area. Alfred A. Loeb State Park sits on the banks of the waterway before it empties into the Pacific Ocean. Nestled in a Myrtlewood forest, the park offers great vistas.
For More Information
Oregon Coast Visitors Association
Oregon Tourism Commission