Want to spend your vacation eating healthfully and getting plenty of fresh air and exercise? Come to the Oregon coast, where you can fish, hike, go to the beach, and live off your catch for a few days — all amid some of the most beautiful scenery in the country. If you’re here during a hot summer, you’ll appreciate the chance to cool off along the coast as well.
- The ideal place to start your Oregon journey, especially if you have been poking around northern California and are on your way back from Redwoods National Park, is Brookings — Oregon’s southernmost town and part of its “banana belt,” a part of the state that stays warm enough for palm trees to grow. Who needs Hawaii when you’ve got Brookings, Oregon? And, like many Hawaiian towns, Brookings offers plenty of deep sea fishing opportunities (if you’re interested, you can also go whale watching). You can catch bottom fish, sharks, salmon, or tuna — but you may end up needing to buy a cooler to bring it home in! Charter a boat and be on your way. You may want to check out the Port of Brookings Harbor Fishing Report before you come, or view the Port Web Cam .
- In the evening, come back and relax in Brookings’ Azalea Park and, if you’re here between June and August, enjoy the park’s free summer concert series, the American Music Festival . Or, if you’re not allergic to azaleas, come in May when more than 1,000 azaleas are blooming. The park also boasts a fragment of the Oregon Trail.
- Plan on getting to know highway 101 fairly well as you head north (when you’re ready). About two hours up the highway, you’ll find Bandon, and if you like crab, you will want to stop here. You can crab from Bandon’s crabbing dock, or charter a boat for another deep sea fishing excursion. If you don’t get lucky, you can still have a fresh seafood dinner at a local restaurant. While you’re focusing on fresh healthy food, you may want to take in Bandon’s Cranberry Festival, if you are there between September 9th and 11th. Bandon is Oregon’s Cranberry Capital, so try the city’s dried, fresh, juiced or fermented (into cranberry wine) cranberries if you get the chance! The Cranberry Festival includes a parade and fair. If you get tired of fishing, by the way, you may want to go golfing (there are six courses) or horseback riding on the beach — Bandon is an ideal choice for either option. You may also want to take some time to visit the West Coast Game Park, the country’s largest wild animal petting zoo.
- From Bandon, keep following highway 101. Once you reach Coos Bay, you’re in for a special treat — you’ve reached the beginning of the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, which stretches all the way to Florence. You may want to take a break from fishing and crabbing at this point, and just hike around in the Dunes, or in the coastal forest. Many coastal hiking trails give you the chance to experience both, winding through the forest and meandering onto the Dunes. Or set aside the deep sea fishing and give freshwater fishing its turn, taking some time to fish on one of the area’s large lakes, such as Woahink, Siltcoos, Tahkenitch, Eel, or the North or South Tenmile Lakes. Coos Bay is also the largest city you’ll find on Oregon’s coast, and if you are there on a Wednesday, you’ll want to take some time to visit the farmer’s market to stock up on some locally grown fruits and vegetables. In July, you can also spend your evenings relaxing at the Oregon Coast Music Festival.
- From Coos Bay, an hour’s drive will take you north to Florence, where you’ll want to try both deep sea and river fishing…and maybe a little lake fishing as well. While you are here, be sure to take in the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area— you’ll be captivated. Don’t miss the Spouting Horn, a salt water fountain, or the frothy Devil’s Churn — both are best viewed at high tide. If you possibly can, take time to hike through the old growth rain forests you’ll see here. Some trails are wheelchair accessible, and many trails provide excellent opportunities for birding.
- On the way out of Florence, unless you are determined to stick to fishing, you should really stop at Sea Lion Caves. If you can handle a long walk up and down stairs, you can see a large sea lion rookery, with many sea lions of all ages congregated on the ledge outside the caves.
- Another hour’s drive will take you to Newport — the world’s Dungeness Crab capital. By now you may be fished out, but if not, you can charter a boat for another deep sea excursion, or go crabbing or whale watching. Or maybe you’d like a nice rest at the Oregon Coast Aquarium, an internationally known aquarium. Here you can walk through a series of underwater walkways that take you through several different aquariums, literally surrounding you with the Pacific Ocean and its many diverse inhabitants.
- Are you determined to make it to Portland ? I don’t blame you…and it’s only about a two and a half hour drive from Newport. You’ll have to take highway 20 east, and I-5 north. Take a little time here too if you can — Portland is home to its own Art Museum (www.pam.org), the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (www.omsi.edu), the Oregon Historical Society and Oregon History Museum (www.ohs.org), the Museum of Contemporary Craft (www.museumofcontemporarycraft.org) and many more. Enjoy! But make sure you have put those fish you caught on ice so they’ll make it home…
About the Author
Joe Laing is the Marketing Director for El Monte RV Rentals. Be sure to check out their new Professional Football (NFL) Tailgating and RV Tailgating to College Football Games pages in preparation for the upcoming seasons.