A Guide to the Oregon Coast: Fresh Seafood, Microbreweries, and Scenic Views

Discover the haunting majesty of this seaside escape.
Lighthouses and rocky cliffs line the coast of Oregon. Photograph by Jeffrey S. Rovner

Any beach lover will tell you not all coasts are created equal. Though they share an ocean, there’s little comparison between Southern California’s sun-kissed surf culture and the rugged grandeur of the Oregon Coast. Nestled within the 363 miles of shoreline are fishing villages, artistic enclaves, dense forests, and pristine stretches of sand. Foodies flock for the fresh seafood and microbreweries. Outdoorsy types come for the kayaking, hiking, and tide pools. Artists absorb inspiration.

Marvelous Microbrews
Oregon’s brewery scene began in 1852 when Henry Saxer founded Liberty Brewery in Portland. Today, the state is home to more than 200 breweries and brewpubs. Sip a stout while watching cargo ships and fishing vessels navigate the Columbia River in historic Astoria. Check out Fort George Brewery, known for its local and organic ingredients, or the Buoy Beer Company, featuring handcrafted seasonal and one-batch brews.

Upscale Pampering
Nature meets nurture on the sands of Cannon Beach at the Stephanie Inn. This 41-room resort ($299 and up) features unobstructed views of the Pacific and Haystack Rock, Jacuzzis and fireplaces in every room, and an Aveda spa. Enjoy the evening wine gathering in the oceanfront library or a complimentary nightcap. A chef’s plated breakfast is included in your stay.

Savory Breakfasts
On your way south, stop in Manzanita where a little spot called Yolk opened in 2018. Known for delicious egg dishes—don’t miss the corned beef hash ($16) and cheesy shrimp and grits ($18)—Yolk’s fare is oh-so-sweet.

Scenic Wonders
For those preferring to absorb Oregon’s beauty from the car, a 40-mile picturesque drive through the Three Capes—Cape Kiwanda, Cape Lookout, and Cape Meares—will offer a visual sampling of coastal highlights. Between Tillamook (home of the famous cheese factory) and Pacific City, visitors can experience hang gliding, clamming, crabbing, the giant Octopus Tree, countless hikes, and stunning views. Stop for a drink at Pelican Brewery in Cape Kiwanda, the only beachfront pub in the Northwest. Check out Bayocean, once the “Atlantic City of the West,” rendered a midcentury ghost town by tidal erosions. Total drive time is about two hours, but allow plenty of time for stops.

A section of the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor beckons. Photograph by Kartsen Winegeart

Wood Meets Sand
The Neskowin Ghost Forest, north of Lincoln City, is one of the most iconic of more than 30 such “forests” in the Pacific Northwest. Formed from the remnants of a 2,000-year-old Sitka spruce forest destroyed by an earthquake in 1700 and entombed in a landslide, the preserved stumps emerged from their watery grave in the winter of 1997 during a series of violent storms. They’re best viewed at low tide (January through March). On moody days, with the right ground fog, it’s a photographer’s delight.

Literary Paradise
Nestled in the heart of Newport with stunning views of the Yaquina Head Lighthouse and Nye beach, the Sylvia Beach Hotel is a literature lover’s haven. What it lacks in technology—there are no TVs or Wi-Fi—it makes up for in books. Each of its 21 author-themed rooms pays homage to a literary icon: from Shakespeare to Seuss. The “Classic” rooms ($265) are perched above the cliff and feature fireplaces and balconies, while the midpriced “Best Sellers” ($160) have ocean views. Breakfast is included, and the Table of Contents Restaurant serves seasonal, locally sourced fare, family-style.

Southern Views
Near the California border, between Brookings and Gold Beach, where the weather is reliably warmer, Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor offers a 12-mile stretch of ocean and allows visitors to walk 27 miles of the Oregon Coast Trail. Adventure seekers can expect secluded beaches, craggy bluffs, and endless rewarding views. Pick a trailhead and explore. Don’t miss Arch Rock and Natural Bridges Viewpoint for great photos.

Pelican Brewery boasts a beachfront location and killer views. Photograph courtesy of Pelican brewery

Mark Your Calendar
March 20 through 28:
Oregon Whale Watching Week. This month is the beginning of the great gray whale migration along Oregon’s shoreline. Trained volunteers are stationed at 24 locations to guide shoreline visitors. Book a boat tour in Depoe Bay or Cape Perpetua for an up-close experience.

Tip From a Local
“Walk Newport’s Historic Bayfront and explore the funky shops. Don’t miss visiting the sea lions hanging out on the docks or the largest commercial crab fishing fleet in Oregon. Guests can walk right up to these huge vessels. It’s extraordinary.”
Jolene Leavitt, Assistant Manager at the Sylvia Beach Hotel

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