With miles of Pacific Ocean beach, the Oregon Coast offers much to explore both near the water and a little farther inland. Hop in the car and see where the day takes you, or check out one of these six special spots.
Devil’s Lake State Recreation Area
Located just outside Lincoln City, Devil’s Lake State Recreation Area offers a peaceful escape where you can spend a day or go camping for a weekend. Bring your RV, pitch a tent, or rent one of the site’s 10 yurts to settle in for a few days or longer. Paddle across the lake in a canoe or kayak, take a dip in the serene waters, or strap on your water skis for a heart-pumping adventure. Summer is the busy season for this recreation area, but it’s open year-round if you enjoy camping or hiking in the cooler months.
Be sure to bring the binoculars because this park is teeming with wildlife. On the water, look for loons, ducks, herons, cormorants, and grebes. Keep your eyes to the sky for a bald eagle sighting or to catch an elegant heron in flight. Deer and elk are known to amble through the park, and the raccoons are fun to watch. Just be sure to secure the food at your campsite to keep it away from these masked creatures.
Take a short walk toward the ocean, and you’ll find D River State Recreation Site, which is a big name for a little area. The river, which connects Devil’s Lake to the ocean, is locally known as the shortest in the world. If you happen to be there in June or October, look for the kite festival. Of course, you can bring your own anytime of year to brighten the skies on the shore. Keep your eyes peeled for glass floats that are hidden along the beach. As part of the local Finders Keepers program, thousands of colorful, handcrafted glass floats are placed on the beach every day. If you find one, you get to keep it as a memento.
North Lincoln County Historical Museum
At the north end of Siletz Bay in the old village of Taft, the North Lincoln County Historical Museum offers a glimpse into the past. Located in an old firehouse, the two-story building is home to exhibits, a research library, and the museum store.
If you’re a glass float collector, or if your curiosity is piqued because you found one on the beach, check out the museum’s collection of American-made floats. With floats that were made by various manufacturers and artists from the 1930s through the 1970s, you’ll see a broad range of styles, sizes, colors, and shapes. The museum also has an exhibit of Japanese-made floats, so you can compare the similarities and differences.
If you drove into town and wondered what it was like in the old days, check out the Pixieland exhibit, which covers the history of the small towns along the Twenty Miracle Miles of the first roads in the area. Stoke your fond memories of the Pixie Kitchen while marveling at the miniature scale model. This is also a great place for the kids to spend some time making puppets and playing games while you explore other parts of the museum.
Admission is free, so you can spend as much or as little time as you like, or if you live locally, pop in now and then to see what has changed. The exhibits are updated periodically, so you never know what you might learn.
Roads End State Recreation Area
North of Lincoln City, and not surprisingly just before you run out of road, you’ll find Roads End State Recreation Area. Go hunting for the hidden cove, but you have to get the timing right because you can access it (and leave it) only during low tide. Take the kids down to the beach to explore the tide pools and splash around in the creek. Set up your chairs to watch the sailboarders, or bring your own sailboard to take advantage of the breezy shore.
Typically less crowded than other beaches in the region, this area is also more sheltered, so it tends to be less windy. You can scramble around the rocks or just watch the birds that settle there to dry their wings. Bring a sketchbook or camera to capture the stunning view, or stroll along the beach for a few hours. Read a book while you listen to the waves crash onto the rocks, or just sit and take in the beauty that surrounds you.
Quaint coastal cottages and impressive beach homes overlook the shore, making it easy to picture yourself in your own new home on the coast. There are plenty of homes nearby to rent for a few nights so you can see what it’s like to be a local.
Cape Lookout State Park
Go north up the coast on the way to Tillamook, and you’ll find Cape Lookout State Park. While it’s true that the view is spectacular when you’re looking out from above, there is plenty to see and explore when you get to the beach and campgrounds. Surrounded by old-growth trees, you can hike for miles. Follow the trail that takes you to the lookout and enjoy the fruits of your labor with a scenic vista. Be on the lookout for whales in the water and other wildlife along the trail.
A nature trail with numbered markers is both educational and a relaxing walk. You’ll learn about the native plants and trees, and you might even see a few woodland creatures along the way. After a walk in the woods, take a stroll along the beach for a different view. Although they are not hidden here intentionally, this park is supposedly a good place to find glass floats that have washed ashore. You’re also likely to find other treasures such as sea glass, driftwood, and shells. Another popular sight is the hang gliders and paragliders who come to catch the thermal winds.
Take the family camping in the RV, bring your tent, or enjoy the luxury of a yurt or deluxe cabin. With camping sites both in the woods and closer to the beach, you can decide which area suits your preferences. Remember to throw the bike rack on the car to take advantage of the cycling trails.
Tillamook Air Museum
On a rainy day, take the family to the Tillamook Air Museum to marvel at the cavernous hangar and view aviation-themed exhibits. Kick off your visit with a short film about the history of the museum buildings and how the historic Naval Air Station was involved in the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Gearheads will love the Engine Room, where you can view plane engines from as far back as the 1920s. The Helium Room is a tribute to the bygone era of airships, where you can see the equipment required to power a blimp. Walk through a replica air-raid shelter or take a peek into a WWII army tent to get a feel for what it might have been like during wartime.
Of course, an aviation museum is not complete without actual aircraft. You can see dozens of airplanes and vehicles, including a 1917 Heisler locomotive. From a tiny single-seater made from a kit to a U.S. Navy Tomcat, you can see all types of flying machines from various times in history.
Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad
Go for a seaside ride on an old-fashioned, steam-powered locomotive and take in the amazing views on the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad. Using the defunct Southern Pacific and Port of Tillamook Bay Railroads, the train provides round-trip tours between Garibaldi and Rockaway Beach all summer long and for special events during other times of the year. Take your sweetheart on the Valentine’s dinner train or bring the whole family on the popular Candy Cane Express to sip hot chocolate and meet Santa.
Stop at historic depots where you can explore the surrounding communities. Enjoy breathtaking views of the Nehalem and Salmonberry River canyons from one of the open-air train cars. If you’re interested in riding in the cab for a truly unique experience, check with the ticket agent to see if there is space available.
If you live on the Oregon Coast or are thinking of relocating, there are many ways to explore the region. Whether it’s a sunny beach day, a rainy museum day, or the perfect afternoon for a ride on a historic train, you’ll always be able to find fun for the whole family. If you’re considering building a new home in the area, visit the Adair Homes office in Lincoln City to meet with a Home Ownership Counselor. You’ll learn about our unique process to help you build immediate equity, and we can even help you find land and secure financing. Schedule your appointment today to get started.