Exploring Oregon’s Coastal Towns: What to See and Do
Oregon’s coastline is a stunning stretch of untamed beauty, offering visitors a chance to explore its unique and picturesque towns. From quaint fishing villages to bustling beachfront towns, Oregon’s coastal towns offer plenty to see and do. Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway, a family vacation, or a weekend of adventure and exploration, there’s something for everyone on Oregon’s coast. Read on to find out what to see and do when you explore Oregon’s coastal towns.
The Astoria Column
The Astoria Column is one of the most iconic landmarks in the state of Oregon. Standing 125 feet tall, the column offers stunning views of the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean. Take a trip to the top for a panoramic view of Astoria, the oldest American settlement west of the Rockies. On a clear day, you can even see the snow-capped peaks of the Olympic Mountains to the north. The Astoria Column is an ideal spot for sightseeing, hiking, and picnicking.
Cannon Beach and Haystack Rock
Cannon Beach is one of the most popular destinations on Oregon’s coast. Stroll along the beach and explore the iconic Haystack Rock, a 235-foot sea stack rising up from the ocean. At low tide, take a closer look at the rock’s tidepools and explore its fascinating marine life. There are plenty of activities to enjoy in Cannon Beach, such as fishing, kayaking, and beachcombing. And don’t forget to check out the town’s art galleries, shops, and restaurants.
The Oregon Coast Aquarium
The Oregon Coast Aquarium is a must-see for families visiting the coast. Explore the aquarium’s many exhibits, featuring sea otters, seals, sharks, and other marine life. Get up close and personal with the penguins, take a walk through the tidepools, or explore the touch pools. The aquarium also offers educational programs and activities, such as behind-the-scenes tours, marine life talks, and interactive activities.
The Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area
The Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area is the largest expanse of coastal sand dunes in the United States. Explore the area’s stunning dunes, ranging in height from 30 to 500 feet. Hike, camp, or take a 4×4 tour of the dunes. If you’re feeling adventurous, rent an ATV and explore the miles of trails. There’s also plenty of wildlife to spot, from deer and elk to bald eagles and sea lions.
The Seaside Promenade
The Seaside Promenade is a 1.5-mile boardwalk that stretches along the coast. Take a leisurely stroll and admire the breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean. Stop at the many shops, restaurants, and galleries that line the promenade. The promenade is also a great spot for biking, roller-skating, and people-watching. In the summer, the promenade comes alive with music, art, and other activities.
Tillamook Cheese Factory
Tillamook Cheese Factory is a must-visit destination for foodies. Tour the factory and learn about the cheese-making process, from milking the cows to packaging the cheese. Sample some of Tillamook’s delicious cheese varieties, such as cheddar, pepper jack, and Colby jack. Don’t forget to pick up some of their award-winning ice cream!
Cape Meares Lighthouse
Cape Meares Lighthouse is one of Oregon’s most iconic lighthouses. Climb the 88-foot-tall tower and enjoy the stunning views of the ocean, nearby islands, and the surrounding forests. The lighthouse is also home to a variety of wildlife, such as sea lions, harbor seals, and migrating whales. Take a guided tour of the lighthouse and learn about its history and importance to local navigation.
Oregon Coast Trail
The Oregon Coast Trail stretches for over 400 miles along Oregon’s coastline. Hike, bike, or horseback ride the trail, and explore the stunning coastline, forests, and beaches. Take in the views of the ocean and spot whales and sea lions. Or take a more leisurely approach and camp along the trail, and explore the many small towns and fishing villages that line the Oregon coast.
Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad
Take a ride on the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad and explore the stunning Oregon coastline from a unique perspective. Enjoy a narrated tour of the historic towns and villages along the way. Take a short trip to nearby Astoria, or a longer ride to Tillamook and beyond. The Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad is a great way to explore Oregon’s coastal towns and enjoy the stunning views of the coast.
The Oregon Coast Aquarium Whale Watching
Take a whale watching tour from the Oregon Coast Aquarium and experience the majestic whales and other marine life in their natural environment. Tours are offered year-round, with the best viewing times in late winter and early spring. Experienced naturalists lead the tour, providing interesting facts and information about the whales and other sea creatures.
Cape Lookout State Park
Cape Lookout State Park offers visitors a chance to explore the rugged beauty of the Oregon coast. Hike the trails and take in the stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. Go beachcombing and explore the tidepools, or take a swim in the park’s sheltered cove. Camp at the park and spend the night under the stars, or stay in one of the park’s cabins or yurts.
Tillamook Bay is a great spot for fishing, crabbing, and kayaking. Rent a kayak and explore the bay, or take a fishing charter and catch salmon, halibut, and other fish. The bay is also home to a variety of wildlife, such as sea lions, harbor seals, and migrating whales. Take a whale-watching tour or simply enjoy the view of the bay and its surrounding mountains.
Oregon’s coastal towns offer visitors a chance to explore its unique and picturesque towns. From the Astoria Column and Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach to the Oregon Coast Aquarium and the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, there’s something for everyone to explore. Take a ride on the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad, go whale-watching, or explore the trails and beaches of Cape Lookout State Park. No matter what you choose to do, you’re sure to have an unforgettable experience when exploring Oregon’s coastal towns.