The Ultimate Oregon Coast Road Trip – All the Best Stops

The Ultimate Oregon Coast Road Trip – All the Best Stops

Last week, we did the ultimate Oregon Coast road trip with Travel Oregon – all 363 miles of it. It was epic! This year, the People’s Coast is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Oregon beach bill, which made all of the Oregon coast public. We always love a good road trip and were so happy to celebrate their anniversary by exploring the entire coast.

The Ultimate Oregon Coast Road Trip -Pictured here is Face Rock State Scenic Viewpoint

Thank you Travel Oregon for hosting our trip and thank you Toyota for letting us test drive the new Prius Prime. We can’t believe we only had to fill up one and a half times when we logged 1000 miles on this trip. As opinions are always our own. This also post contains affiliate links, where we receive a small commission on sales of the products that are linked at no additional cost to you. Read our full disclosure for more info. Thank you so much for supporting the brands that make Local Adventurer possible.

Last Updated: August 28, 2019  //  Originally Published: April 17, 2017



Address, map


North Oregon Coast Attractions

Not only did we love their rugged coast and getting to witness the power of the Pacific ocean, but we also loved the diversity in activities. We enjoyed the beaches, tried crabbing for the first time, sandboarded where sandboarding was invented, and hiked to waterfalls. Today, we’re sharing the best things to do on the Oregon Coast and the best beaches to visit.

The North Coast has longer stretches of sandy beaches and is the most touristy part of the Oregon Coast. It’s most well known for Cannon Beach and Haystack Rock, but did you know there are three Haystack Rocks along the Oregon Coast?

WARRENTON - Mile 6.5

SEASIDE - Mile 20

  • Seaside Aquarium – feed the seals! You get a small tray of fish for $2 after entry into Aquarium.
  • Seaside Promenade – this goes along the Seaside Aquarium.
  • Dig for razor clams – You can do this at the beach next to Seaside Aquarium too.
  • Play at game of Fascination at the Funland Arcade



  • Haystack Rock – You can see them from Haystack Hill State Park and Tolovana Beach State Recreation Site is just south of it. This is a great spot for sunrise and sunset. If you’re lucky, you may see some tufted puffins on Haystack Rock (April – August)
  • Castaways – moderately priced Cajun Creole food
  • Cannon Beach Hardware and Public House – hardware store that serves food. Get the fish and chips.
  • Public Coast Brewing – try a flight and the burgers.
  • Wayfarer Restaurant and Lounge – the halibut cheek (a special) and the scallops were great.
Where to Stay

Surfsand Resort (mid-range – luxury) – Really popular spot and in high demand. I was so excited to see Haystack Rock from our balcony! Check Rates: Booking +

Local Tip: The locals usually stay in Manzanita 30 minutes south of Cannon Beach since it’s much quieter and much less touristy.

Guide to the Pacific Coast Highway Oregon - All the Best Things to Do on the Oregon Coast //

  • Hug Point Hike – 0.5 mi RT, 20 ft, easy, go only at low tide (Check the tide charts here). Hike to the caves, a seasonal waterfall, and old stage coach trail.
  • Hike to Short Sand Beach and on the way see a suspension bridge too. We got lost in the park, so we didn’t end up doing any of the official hikes.
  • Neahkahnie Mountain Loop Hike – 8 mi lollipop loop, 2300 ft moderate difficulty. It has nice coastal views and you go under a natural tunnel formed by tree roots. If you just want to hike to Summit Viewpoint, it is 3 mi RT and moderate.
  • Arch Cape to Short Sand Beach – 15.9 mi RT, 990 ft, difficult. If you want a longer hike and want to avoid the crowds, this is the hike for you. Arch Cape to Cape Falcon is the least traveled part of Oswald West State Park.
  • Kelly’s Brighton Marina (Nehalem Bay) – We’ve already been back 3 times. You need 1-2 hours to go crabbing and this can be affected by weather. We ate some of the freshest oysters and crab. Kelly taught us so much about the art of crabbing and his enthusiasm was contagious.
  • Emily Reed Shipwreck – This is not always visible. Every so often the sands shift and reveal the 102-year-old shipwreck.
  • Pronto Pup – where the original corndog was invented. They were too salty for my taste, but hey… it’s the original!

GARIBALDI - Mile 55.6


Local Tip

See many of the attractions via the Three Capes Scenic Loop (map). This 40-mile scenic byway takes you to all three Capes: Cape Meares, Cape Lookout, Cape Kiwanda. Other stops: Munson Creek Falls, Nestucca Bay, Bob Straub State Park, Clay Myers State Natural Area, and Lost Boy Cave.

PACIFIC CITY - Mile 87.4

  • Cape Kiwanda – This is where you see the second Haystack Rock. It looks similar to the one Cannon Beach, and the area doesn’t have as many tourists.
  • Pelican Pub & Brewery is a craft beer industry leader. They are well known for pairing their food and beer well and have been doing it for over 20 years.
  • Surfing
  • Horseback Riding (fall and winter hours are on Friday-Saturday only)
Where to Stay

We stayed at Inn at Cape Kiwanda (mid-range) – located just off Highway 101, in relaxed and uncomplicated Pacific City, Oregon. All 35 deluxe guest rooms feature private balconies with beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean and Haystack Rock, air conditioning, cozy gas fireplaces. It also has Tripadvisor’s Certificate of Excellence. Check Rates at Booking + Read more reviews on Tripadvisor.


The Central Coast is similar in appearance to the North Coast but has fewer sandy beaches and more sea cliffs, terraces, and bays. This is where the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area starts.

Thor's Well + All the Best Things to Do on the Oregon Coast //


This is one of the bigger cities on the coast, which will give you more food and lodging options. Portlanders like to come here to cool off during the summer.

Drift Creek Falls - Oregon Hikes, Lincoln City, Oregon Coast

NEWPORT - Mile 141

Where to Stay

Sylvia Beach Hotel (luxury) – 21-room themed bed & breakfast with a homey charm. Each room is based on an author and is perfect for unplugging since there are no telephones, TVs, or wi-fi in the rooms. We stayed in the Hemingway room. Don’t forget to check out their Tables of Content Restaurant where it’s communal style and you get to meet the other guests. Also, say hi to Shelley the resident cat for us! Call for reservations 541.265.5428 or Toll Free 888.795.8422. Read more reviews on Tripadvisor.


  • Cape Perpetua Scenic Area – this is where you’ll find Thor’s Well, Spouting Horn, Devil’s Churn, and Cook’s Chasm. There are also plenty of tide pools to explore too. Be sure to check the tide charts here. Go at high tide for Thor’s Well (you will get soaked, but the photos are worth it!).
  • Yachats Brewing – Located in an old bank building, it is now a center for food, beer, and culture.

FLORENCE - Mile 190

  • Heceta Head Lighthouse – This is the brightest light on the Oregon coast and most photographed lighthouse in the state.
  • Sea Lion Caves – This is America’s largest sea cave inhabited by sea lions. Take in the sounds (and smells)! There are the most seals in the cave during Winter and Spring, they then head out for mating during the Summer, and are in and out feeding during the Fall.
  • Sand Master Park – We first went sand boarding in Great Sand Dunes in Colorado, but on this, trip we met Lon Beale who invented sandboarding and made the world’s first sandboard park!  If you’ve never done it before, you can also get lessons.
  • Bridgewater Fish House – Sip elegant cocktails and dine on delicious seafood, steaks, pastas and more in the heart of Florence’s Historic Old Town at this classic coastal spot.
  • Guided Sand Rail Tour – ride through the amazing sand dunes through a guided tour.
  • Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area – Riding Dune Buggies – Enjoy an exciting guided Sand Rail Tour or a Professionally guided Interpretive Scenic Tour on one of the famous big purple buggies driven by skilled driver.
  • Historic Old Town
Where to Stay

 Driftwood Shores Resort and Conference Center – amazing oceanfront rooms with private balconies. You can even get rooms with kitchens or fireplaces. Be sure to grab a meal at Surfside Restaurant and Lounge. Check Rates at Booking +


The South Coast is more rugged and mountainous. It’s generally known to be warmer and sunnier than the North and Central coast (maybe because it’s closer to California). You will start seeing more redwoods, cedar, Douglas-fir forests, and plenty of sand dunes.

Natural Bridges, Samuel Boardman State Park, Oregon Coast //
Samuel H Boardman Oregon Coast // Local Adventurer

REEDSPORT - Mile 211.5

NORTH BEND - Mile 235

  • McCullough Bridge – passed by and saw it but didn’t stop
  • Oregon Dunes NRA. If you didn’t get enough of the sand dunes, you can stop here for more!

COOS BAY - Mile 237.5

This is the largest city on the Oregon Coast

BANDON - Mile 270

PORT ORFORD - Mile 301

Where to Stay

WildSpring Guest Habitat – is such a cute glamping spot! It’s a small eco-friendly resort overlooking the ocean with 5 luxury cabins and beautiful grounds to enjoy. Read more reviews on Tripadvisor.

GOLD BEACH - Mile 328

  • Rogue Jets – open May 1 to Oct 15
  • Barnacle Bistro – great casual spot servicing fresh and local seafood and burgers.
  • Arch Rock Brewing
  • Turtle Rock – a rock formation just off the highway (west of the 101) that looks like a turtle. You can map to Turtle Rock Resort.
  • Cape Sebastian State Scenic Corridor – just a few steps down the trail to the west, you can see Humbug Mountain. You can hike through thick Sitka Spruce rainforest to Hunters Cove (3 mi out and back).
  • Meyers Creek Beach – there is a large shark fin rock formation and it a popular spot for windsurfing.
Where to Stay

Tu Tu Tun Lodge (luxury) – This was our favorite place to stay on the Oregon coast. There are regular rooms or you can rent out one of the amazing homes. It’s such a relaxing place and a great way to end a trip. We were in the River House and didn’t want to leave! Call 1.800.864.6357 for reservations or email [email protected]. Read more reviews on Tripadvisor

Hiking trails connect all the viewpoints along Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor, or you can hop in a car and go to the most popular viewpoints.

  • Arch Rock Picnic Area – short walk to a couple viewpoints
  • Natural Bridges – viewpoint or hike down closer to the water
  • Thomas Creek Bridge – hike down to the beach to get a view of the bridge
  • Whaleshead Beach Picnic Area – quick stop and viewpoint
  • House Rock Viewpoint – quick stop and viewpoint
  • Thunder Rock Cove – short hike
  • Secret Beach Hike + Miner Creek waterfall flows into Secret Beach – unmarked stop on the road with a short hike to the beach
  • Harris Beach State Park – south of Samuel H Boardman there is a feature that looks similar to the keyhole at Pfeiffer State Beach in Big Sur!
  • Chetco Point Park

Local Tip:  There’s so much to see! We recommend spending more than one day here.

Best Places to Stay on the Oregon Coast

Oregon Coast Itinerary

Oregon Coast Video

Essential Tips for First Timers

  • When to Go – October – May is considered rainy season. You will have the least rainy days in July and August, but the summer is also when you’ll get the crowds. September is a good month to go because it’s shoulder season. You still get a bit of the nice weather but less crowds.
  • Be flexible – the weather can change dramatically day to day. Some activities will not be possible in the rain, storm, or choppy waters. Have a plan B and a plan C.
  • Park Passes to Bring: Your Oregon State Park Pass is good for Ecola State Park, Fort Stevens, Cape Lookout, Heceta Head, Shore Acres (otherwise $5 per day per park). America the Beautiful Pass gets you into Lewis and Clark NRA, Yaquina Head, Cape Perpetua, Oregon Dunes NRA, and any other National Parks or BLM lands you may want to visit. There is also an Oregon Coast pass that gets you into any state and federal parks, but not the parks if you want to venture more inland.
  • If you want to end your trip with a shorter drive back to Portland, start from South to North, which is what we will probably do next time.
  • Lesson Learned – Planning your photo stops with Instagram and Pinterest is nice in theory, but we learned how many things were mislabelled. We spent a lot of time getting lost (and not in a good way since we were packing in so much to do all 363 miles of coast).

What to Pack for Your Oregon Coast Trip

  • Pack a RaincoatWe had one partly cloudy day, and all the other days were rainy and stormy.
  • Clothes to Wear: Wear clothes you don’t mind getting muddy especially on hikes. It also helps if you also wear quick dry clothes underneath your waterproof layers. It’s not necessary, but we even wore waterproof pants on one of the stormy days where it was raining sideways and we were still completely soaked. Also might not recommend going out when it’s that stormy.
  • Kleenex wet wipes to wipe off the mud. I always get the germ removal kind to use on my hands too.

Have you done an Oregon Coast road trip? Anything else we missed? What’s the last road trip you’ve been on?

Did you enjoy this post? Pin it for later

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Esther + Jacob

Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, which is one of the top 5 travel blogs in the US. They believe that adventure can be found both near and far and hope to inspire others to explore locally. They explore a new city in depth every year and currently base themselves in Portland Oregon.

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This Post Has 169 Comments

  1. Most coasts are amazing, but the Oregon coast is some else! =)

  2. I am so happy to read your blog. It’s really fantastic. I am so thankful to you.

  3. I absolutely adore your blog, and especially the breathtaking photos! I live in Orange County myself, and driving up to Oregon has been my dream for years now. Especially the more mountainous south looks dreamy. I think the Southern Oregon coast will be the destination for my next travel!

    1. Thank you so much Ivy. :) It’s such a beautiful drive doing the entire PCH!

  4. This is just too gorgeous! Would love to take a road like that. It reminds me of my Great Ocean Road trip in Australia.

    1. Thanks, Renuka! Definitely need to make a trip out to the Oregon Coast if you haven’t yet!

  5. The way you guys write these blog posts are really user-friendly. I mean: no wonder you got so much attention and comments compared to any other travel blogger. Probably one of the most useful resources if I would ever want to go to Oregon.

    As I am living in Asia, it is quite far for me to travel to US (unfortunately). However, I will keep following your blog from now on!! =)

  6. The trip definitely mist have been amazing and Thank you for the tip as well!!

  7. Good job… nice blog

  8. I absolutely loved Oregon! Portland was by far my favourite, but it was all beautiful. wish I ha seen this post beforehand

  9. One of the best days of my life was a road trip along the Oregon Coast. Our family spotted a great beach, and an impromptu beach day ensued! Love the Oregon Coast, great article capturing it’s essence!

  10. I have been through your video and i can say this blog really inspired me deeply. The Oregon coast road trip can be unforgettable and it would be dream for any traveller. Thanks for sharing such a mesmerising blog.

  11. Wow! This post is making me think of hurriedly packing my things and going to Oregon to see and try everything for myself. The coast looks amazing, Esther and Jacob! It’s the perfect summer trip with lots of picturesque views and a lovely trip with nature. What places would you recommend for a shorter trip? Thanks for sharing!

  12. Hey!

    I am considering doing a 5-6 day trip to Oregon flying in from New Orleans, Louisiana! Do you have any recommendations for some must sees that would not require a road trip per say? I am open to driving of course, but also want some R & R :)

  13. We’re taking a trip to the coast in a couple weeks for our 25th anniversary. This is our first time – coming from Minnesota – and we’re so excited! I’m going to follow along with your post as we leave Portland and travel to our rental in Pacific City. Thanks so much for all the great info!

    1. You’re so welcome, Carol. I hope you have a wonderful trip!

  14. Halfway through our family vacay of the Oregon coast and this post has been invaluable! Spent 4 nights at Rockaway Beach then 2 at Yachats then moving on to Portland for another 2 nights all the while checking off the sites to see on your list. Thank you so much!

    1. So glad to hear you found this helpful, Cristy! Hope you fully enjoyed your trip in Oregon. :)

  15. We cannot wait to see all of these places one day! Thank you for this amazing post!

  16. Thanks for giving us the overview of the place, at least we can have the idea on where we can go next and what to prepare…

  17. These coasts are the most peaceful places . You feel so relaxed when you reach there. Thanks for sharing your experience . looking forward for more latest blogs.

  18. Hello Esther and Jacob! This article is very informative! I can’t wait to visit some of those places you mentioned. I’m just wondering how much would it cost to do the whole trip as my family are also planning to explore Oregon Coast anytime this year?

  19. The perfect eco-friendly and camping destination is hands down Oregon!!

  20. Oregon is the perfect summer trip! So much to do and soo many beautiful sights! Thank you for sharing xx

  21. Road Tripping through such a breathtaking scenery seems like a dream, Esther! Oregon Coast seems to offer it all, from wonderful views to astonishing landscapes. How long would this kind of road trip last?

    1. It’s so beautiful! You have to see it for yourself. We did this road trip in one week – 7 days. We stopped briefly at several spots because there were landslides that closed off some areas, and we had previously done the area around Astoria, but other than that we were able to cover a lot. I would not say that we went at a leisurely pace though. We were constantly going somewhere. If you want to go at a more relaxing pace, I would only do either north, central, or south coast by itself.

      1. Hey!

        I see you recommend doing perhaps one coast at a time. I would like to experience nature, good food, the coast & wineries if possible! Which would be a great coast to start?

        1. Hi! I would suggest North – it’s more established and has a wider range of options to check out. I’m not too sure about wineries along the coast – I know that the Willamette Valley is better known for wine. Happy adventuring!


  23. hiii,

    Nice idea of the road trip to Oregon Coast, This will be a lifetime adventure for any person. Hope I will also enjoy this road trip in next few years.

  24. We’re visiting family in Kirkland,WA in June. Plan to do a 4 day loop road trip of Oregon from Kirkland. Any suggestions.

  25. I never knew Oregon could be so interesting. Might have to plan a road trip there.

  26. How much do you think that this trip may have cost you guys? Road tripping is so much fun! So much beauty and natural beauty! Thanks for sharing. Happy traveling! Be safe!

  27. Informative post.I have been to various places in United States but never been to Oregon. Thanks for the post.I would love to visit here in my coming vacation.Keep sharing.

  28. There are few stretches of the Pacific coastline as stunning, as diverse and as iconic as the Oregon coast. Thanks for sharing this.

  29. Brilliant article… Nice information & tips about the oregon coast road trip…

  30. Hi there! If I just want to do a day trip on the coast from Portland, which places do you recommend to see and and think are doable time wise. We would be dedicating 1 full day to the coast. Thanks in advance :)

    1. I would focus on one region (i.e. North, Central, or South) and pick what interest you. Most people do the North because it’s the closest. If you’re a photographer and timing works out, I would suggest Central so you can see Thor’s Well.

  31. I usually travel to different countries for photography and I thought to myself why not take a three month road trip around the US and capture my moments. So I was doing research and I came across your website. Thank you thank you thank you for sharing your experiences and tips!!! (It has made the planning much easier!) Im currently 18 years old and I have had the amazing opportunities to travel to different countries. I am very passionate about photography and am trying to make this into my profession, however I am struggling with trying to actually get out there. I have no idea where to start! If you have any tips I would appreciate it’s very much! But again thank you for sharing your experiences. Safe travels!

  32. Wow, I am speechless! First off, I love your photos. I am planning to visit. How many days did it take to complete the trip?

  33. It sounds like an incredible trip!

    We are planning on visiting Oregon next year and we will definitely need to consult this when we go. Thank you so much for sharing.

  34. Wow looks really lovely. And some great Oregon photos too. How long did this trip take?

  35. The way of capturing the views are stunning. Thanks for Sharing information about Oregon

    1. Thank you Chris! We’re so happy to. It’s a beautiful state that I hope more people get to explore.

  36. This trip looks fantastic and so informative! What time of year were did you take this trip?

    1. Thank you, Mary. We’ve been to the Oregon coast a few times throughout the year, but this specific trip was in early April.

  37. I have been to the Oregon 4 months back and it was an amazing experience. I would recommend everyone to visit this place if you are a beach lover.

  38. Thank a ton for sharing this stuff. Oregon has been in my bucket list since long and I hope my dream comes true soon. I would love to share my story with you.

  39. Wow! Your pictures are so fascinating. I loved your road trip plan and wish to travel to Oregon once. Thank you so much for the information.

  40. I love roadtrips! My family and I drove along the Oregon Coast many years ago, but we did not spend nearly enough time stopping and exploring! It was the first time we ever saw ‘Tsunami’ warning signs! haha!

    I would love to go back and drive the 101 all the way down through California. Your tips here are definitely a ‘save it for later’ post! I have had others also interested, so this will definitely come in handy!

    I’ll also be investigating local eateries along the way. Have you any tips there?

    1. I noticed those too! haha So interesting they call them tsunamis in Oregon. That would be an amazing trip. I really want to drive from Mexico to Canada! :D The only food place I absolutely loved was Kelly’s Brighton Marina for really fresh seafood (I’m not even a seafood person), everything else was fine but nothing like you would find in bigger cities.

  41. Oregon is a lovely place. Thanks for sharing such information. Keep it up!

  42. Does anyone have a recommendation for touring the Oregon coast without having to change lodging so frequently? My husband and I will have a week (plus if needed) to tour. We enjoy doing the outdoor stuff, parks, hiking, etc. vs. towns, shopping. However, we will want to experience as much as time allows. I realize we may have to do some back tracking and more driving this way but thought I would ask about the possibility. We are trying to plan a coastal road trip in September. We will be flying into Portland from Nashville, Tn.

    1. Try one of the central locations like Lincoln City or Newport. The coast isn’t that big and you can fan out from there. Although it might be worth finding one spot further south and one further north just to make the daily trips a bit easier.

  43. Wow – this is an incredible guide! My husband and I lived in Portland for 11 years and we never made it much more south on the coast than Newport. Sylvia Beach Hotel is one of our all-time favorite places to stay—the warm spiced wine they serve at night is so lovely. Now we’re road tripping around the country in a van and thinking of driving down 101 to California later this year. We’ll definitely use your guide! Thanks so much for putting this together!

    1. Thanks so much, Liana. So glad that you found this helpful. We loved Sylvia Beach Hotel too. So much character! That sounds like such an epic trip! I miss living on the road. Wishing you many incredible adventures ahead :)

  44. Wow – a very detailed itinerary with some great photos to whet the appetite!

  45. Hi Esther and Jacob!

    Awesome list! This seems to be the perfect getaway for travelers who crave for a different and exhilirating kind of adventure!

    Glad you added some tips for first timers, I want to come prepared!

    1. Thanks, Emily! There is so much to do on the Coast. I hope you get to experience it all soon. :)

  46. I can’t wait to go to Oregon this summer! Thanks for sharing your itinerary!

  47. Oregon is on my list of places to visit. Thanks for sharing this exhaustive post which I have bookmarked to plan my trip. The photos are really enticing.

  48. Wow, beautiful photos. Beautiful adventures. Keep on rocking!

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