I've compiled a list of our favorite year-round activities for those of you heading to the Pacific Northwest, and for those of you needing incentive. Situated on the Central Oregon Coast, Florence is the quintessential beach town with a range of activities from hiking to tide pools and water sports. The king tides and whale watching are going crazy right now, and hiking along the rugged, whimsical moss-lined coast trails feel like a cross between the rainforest and a Scandinavian fairytale. Now that we have you excited — here's our list of recommendations.
It doesn’t get much more coastal than this region. And thanks to a pioneering beach bill, all 363 miles of Oregon’s coastline remain free and public. That means endless opportunities to comb for agates or glass floats, catch your own Dungeness crab or razor clam, watch for whales, seals and puffins, make footprints in the sand or simply be captivated by a winter storm from inside a cozy beachfront lodge.
With sweeping sand dunes, coastal forests and ocean beaches, there’s just nothing quite like a hike in the beautiful Oregon Dunes. They stretch for 40 miles along the central Oregon coast south of Florence and there are several options and trails for hiking the dunes here. We find these a little too touristy though and prefer to head to our favorite secret spot, accessible via the South Jetty. Drive to the very end and park in the lot then take the short trail to the ocean. You will have the tremendous views and beach all to yourself, we promise.
Oregon Coast Trail Florence, Or
A favorite is the Oregon Coast Trail, which spans 382 miles from Warrenton to Brookings. Much of the route goes onto the beach, while parts meander through forests. Our favorite stretch starts at Cape Perpetua scenic area.
Just south of Yachats. There are roadside viewpoints of interesting rock formations including Spouting Horn, Thor’s Well, Devils Churn and Cooks Chasm. The visitors center offers views and access to easy rainforest hiking trails. Park in the lot and walk down to the coast trail which parallels the coast with peek-a-book views of the ocean, through old growth forest trails. While you're there take a walk down to the tidepools
Salt & Sea
We gave you the rundown on hikes, so now it’s time for the saltier activities. Another serene way to take in the coastal scenery is by boat or kayak. There are a lot of gorgeous hidden places to explore that are either right on the water. Here’s the Oregon Coast scoop!
Kayaking Siltcoos Lake Rentals Dunes City, OR The Siuslaw Water Trail provides over 30-river miles of paddling opportunities in the Siuslaw Estuary along the North Fork and and mainstem Siuslaw between Mapleton, Oregon and Florence. Paddle from the head of tide through the beautiful estuarine islands, coastal forests, sand dunes, and historic waterway with thousands of years of local history. While paddling along the Siuslaw River, you will experience the dynamic setting of the Central Oregon Coast. From sea otters to blue herons, ospreys to salmon, the Siuslaw River offers a one-of-a-kind coastal estuarine paddling experience.
There are 11 lighthouses on the Oregon Coast, and the 56-foot-tall Heceta Head Lighthouse is one of the most beautiful. This is our favorite spot to take guests as this idyllic beach has it all, with views of the river, lighthouse, ocean, and bridge. We love how it is always protected from the wind, making this the ideal place for your first beach bonfire. Walk up to the lighthouse and take in the spectacular coastal views. Keep an eye out for whales and sea lions. Highway viewpoints just to the south offer good views looking back at the lighthouse. Sea Lion Caves is just around the corner from there and offers more great views and access to America’s largest shelter for wild sea lions.
Drinks & Eats
COFFEE & GIFTS River Roasters Florence, OR River Roasters is a local favorite along the Oregon coast. Known for its cozy ambiance as well as our beautiful riverfront deck, we love their house roasted coffee and cute gifts. The convenient location in historic Old Town Florence is the perfect place to start your day before heading out to sightsee.
DINNER The Waterfront Depot
Located in a restored train station along the Siuslaw River, The Waterfront Depot offers fresh seafood and local, organic beef and free-range chicken entrees.
Offering local and regional ingredients, their seasonal menu and favorite year round dishes make this a must-stop restaurant in Florence. With a spectacular waterfront view of the Siuslaw River Bridge, a full bar featuring custom cocktails and a notably sophisticated adult setting; this unique restaurant is one of Historic Old Town Florence’s most romantic, cozy and charming destinations.
That wraps up our favorites for now, but we’ll be back with more local finds and summer activities. Meanwhile we think you'l love the podcast interview below where we dish about all things PNW. We always love to know more so please tell us your favorite Oregon-centric activities in the comments. Until next time!