Oregon Coast road trips are a great way to explore the region. There’s crashing waves, rugged coastlines and gorgeous beaches. We began our journey in Portland, and loved every minute of our time exploring Oregon Coast.
There are many things to do on an Oregon Coast roadtrip. We were amazed at the diversity of scenery and activities, from hiking to beaches and breathtaking viewpoints.
We have compiled our Oregon Coast Road Trip Planner to help you plan your Oregon Coast trip. This itinerary includes everything you need to know about the Oregon Coast, from the must-sees to the best places for lodging.
Oregon Coast Road Trip Itinerary Route
Route: Portland – Seaside/Cannon Beach Newport – Coos Bay Brookings (Samuel H Boardman).
The Oregon Coast’s best route starts in Portland and ends at Samuel H Boardman scenic corridor. This route should be completed in 14 days, but you can do it in 10 days.
The route takes in all the major sights and stops along Oregon Coast, as well as some lesser-known spots that are worth a visit. The Oregon Coast is an amazing part of the USA with many things to do and see.
Oregon Renting a Car
Renting a car is the best option to see the Oregon Coast if you’re flying. You can travel at your own pace, stopping at the most beautiful sights along the coast, and you’ll have the freedom to rent your car. Our Oregon rental car was a great option. It allowed us to travel at our own pace and saw everything we wanted.
- Oregon Coast Road Trip Itinerary
- Portland – 2 to 3 Days
Portland is the largest city in Oregon. This is where most Oregon Coast road trips start. Portland is known for being a fun, quirky city. It’s well-known for its vibrant food and drink scene, beautiful parks, colourful street artwork, fascinating museums, and breathtaking waterfalls.
Portland: Where to Stay
It’s great fun to explore Portland and it is worth finding a nice hotel to rest after a day of adventure. The following Portland hotels are recommended:
The Inn at Northrup Station is colorful, quirky, and conveniently located to explore Portland. Suite-style rooms come with large kitchens and are spacious.
Mark Spencer Hotel is a well-located hotel in the Pearl District. It is also one of the most sought after hotels in town. It is worth a visit.
Portland offers so many unique and fun activities. We enjoy spending time exploring Portland and sampling the delicious food. (Voodoo Donuts, Pine Street Market’s food hall, Salt and Straw Ice Cream, and the city’s food truck scene are just a few of our favorites. There are so many beautiful parks and gardens that you can visit. Our favorites are Washington Park, the Japanese Rose Test Gardens and the Chinese Rose Test Gardens.
Powell’s City of Books is the largest independent bookstore in the world, as well as the colorful and thought-provoking murals that are scattered throughout the city. Pittock Mansion with its magnificent views of Mount St Helens is worth a visit. Also, don’t forget to check out the neon lights at the White Stag sign welcoming visitors to Portland.
The Columbia Gorge waterfalls are located along the Historic Columbia River Highway, outside of the city. Multnomah Falls is one of these waterfalls. You can also include amazing day trips to Portland into your itinerary.
Seaside/Cannon Beach (3 days)
It’s time for your Oregon Coast adventure. Astoria and Seaside are the first stops along our Oregon Coast roadtrip. Seaside and Cannon Beach make excellent bases to explore this area of the Oregon Coast. They are easy access to the incredible sights and coastline.
Cannon Beach: Where to Stay
We recommend either Seaside, or Cannon Beach for this portion of the trip. Seaside has a retro vibe and is a beach town on the boardwalk. Cannon Beach is quieter, less commercialized, and is just 15 minutes from Seaside. Cannon Beach accommodation tends to be more costly and some places may require a minimum stay of 2 nights.
Ashore Hotel (Seaside), we stayed at Ashore Hotel, which is a modern hotel with 22 rooms that are retro-decorated and located only a few steps from the prom. The rustic reception area has a firepit, small indoor pool, and bikes for exploring the town.
Lanai Cove, (Seaside), is a family-friendly hotel that can be found at the south end Seaside beach. It offers spectacular views of the ocean as well as panoramic views of Seaside.
Ocean Lodge (Cannon Beach), an oceanfront hotel with a view of Haystack Rock. The rooms are equipped with kitchenettes, treats such as lobby cookies or evening wine receptions.
The Inn at Cannon Beach is located at the quieter, south end of the beach. It’s well-equipped and comfortable. You can walk just a few steps to Haystack Rock.
Astoria is a small town on the Columbia River, just north of Seaside. Astoria is small but offers many things to do. The Astoria Column (Parking $5) provides beautiful views of the city. Astoria has also been the setting for many epic movies in the past. Astoria was the location for many of the iconic Goonies films, including the jail and legendary Goonies House. Kindergarten Cop and Free Willy are two other movies that were filmed in Astoria.
Enjoy a day at Seaside, Cannon Beach and Ecola State Park
Cannon Beach: Haystack Rock, the main attraction at Cannon Beach. It has been designated a National Wildlife Refuge. The tide pools there are full of marine life. If you are interested in participating, you can get a bonfire pack from Cannon Beach if you follow the fire rules. The beach may be familiar to movie fans from the scenes in Point Break and The Goonies.
Cannon Beach town, which is right next to the beach, is full of cute shops and restaurants. Pelican Brewing offers a great spot to enjoy a craft beer, or the Cannon Beach Distillery for craft spirits. Bruce’s Candy Kitchen is a great place to enjoy a sweet treat.
Ecola State Park is located north of Cannon Beach. The picturesque Ecola State Park extends out into the Pacific Ocean at Tillamook Head. Day Pass: $5, overnight parking prohibited.
The Tillamook Lighthouse Trail and Ecola Point to Indian Beach are two of the most popular trails in the park. The Clatsop Loop Trail, which starts at Indian Beach Parking Lot and provides stunning views of Oregon Coast, is for the more adventurous.
Seaside: This bustling beach community is one of our favorite Oregon Coast towns. Seaside has many fun activities, including sunset beach walks, retro arcades, and delicious seafood and icecream.
Take a day to explore the area.
You can do some amazing things near Cannon Beach or Seaside, and if you have the opportunity, you should consider adding them to your Oregon Coast itinerary.
Hug Point State Recreation site is a great place to visit. It has a beach, tide pools, and sea caves. There’s also a waterfall that falls onto the beach during heavy rains. It is amazing to think of the stagecoaches that used to travel along this beach before the highway was constructed.
A beautiful half-mile trail leads to Short Sand beach through the woods. There are wonderful views of Elk Flats and Devil’s Cauldron. The Devil’s Cauldron is a 0.1-mile trail that leads to a small cove where powerful Pacific Ocean waves crash into it.
You can also stop by the NeahkahnieViewpoints further South. There are two views, the NeahkahnieViewpoint and the NeahkahnieSouth Viewpoint. We prefer the South because it offers a better view of The Beach.
Newport is on the way
Two great stops on the road to Newport include the Old Oregon Smokehouse hole in the wall and Tillamook Creamery. The Old Oregon Smokehouse, a roadside restaurant that serves delicious chowders, fish and chips, and crab cakes is casual and rustic. The Tillamook Creamery has a museum, a cafe that serves Tillamook food, ice cream, and a viewing mezzanine. It also houses a gift shop and a cheese factory.
The Three Capes Scenic Route is a 40-mile journey that takes you to Cape Meares and Cape Lookout.
Cape Meares, the northernmost of the Capes, is located on the southern end of Tillamook Bay. It forms a steep, high bluff. The Cape Meares Scenic Viewpoint offers stunning views, as does the Cape Meares Lighthouse.
The Sitka spruce, a 300-year-old Sitka tree that is located near Cape Meares Lighthouse, is a highlight of Cape Meares. Its sprawling trunks are similar to octopus tentacles and hence the Octopus Tree! Natural elements, or the Native Americans who lived in the area at the time, have been responsible for the tree’s unique shape.
Cape Lookout is the second Cape. It is situated on a sandpit between Netarts Bay & the Pacific Ocean. This popular camping spot is also known as Cape Lookout. You can also hike 10.5 miles along the Netarts Spit Trail if you are stopping.
Cape Kiwanda is the final Cape. It’s a sandstone headland with spectacular ocean views. The climb up to the top of Cape Kiwanda is hard. Enjoy a cold beer and clam chowder at the nearby Pelican Brewing, and spend the evening on the beach. We had so much fun, we decided to stay at the Headlands Coastal Lodge & Spa next to the beach. Check out the prices!
Stop at the Neskowin Ghost forest if you’re passing by at low tide. The Ghost Forest is home to Sitka cedar and spruce trees, which are believed to have been there for almost 2,000 years. After a strong earthquake, the forest was submerged in the ocean and their stumps were retrieved from the sand, creating the ghost forest.
Newport (3 days)
- Driving time from Seaside to Newport: 3 hours, 45 minutes; Cannon Beach to Newport: 2 hours 45 min
- Newport, Oregon’s coastal town, is an ideal base for your Oregon Coast itinerary. It has a historic bayfront, beautiful beaches, state parks, and other natural attractions.
- Spend the day exploring Newport and its environs
Newport is an area to explore: The historic waterfront of Newport has great art galleries, souvenir shops, great restaurants, and sea lions living at the Sea Lion Docks. Visit the Yaquina Bay State Recreation Site to enjoy the stunning views of Yaquina Bay and the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse. Nye Beach is the historic neighborhood on the northern side of the city. The beach offers stunning sunset views. Make sure you stop by Panini Bakery and Chowder Bowl for delicious treats.
Oregon Coast Aquarium: One of Newport’s most loved attractions and one of the best on the Oregon Coast, the Oregon Coast Aquarium features incredible marine exhibits. Highlights include a walk through the Passages of the Deep underwater tunnel and exhibits dedicated the Pacific Octopus and sea otters. The Oregon Coast Aquarium is just 2 minutes away. Make sure you stop by the South Beach Fish Market. This old-fashioned seafood shack offers a great deal and is worth the drive.
North of Newport
Devil’s Punchbowl State Natural Area is home to a striking rock formation that looks like a punchbowl. It’s possible to walk into the bowl at low tide, but it’s best to go at high tide when nature’s cauldron swirls in the Pacific Ocean. This area is home to seals, sea lions, and Grey Whales.
Yaquina Head Lighthouse, built in 1903, is the Oregon’s tallest lighthouse. It is located in the Yaquina head Outstanding Natural Beauty Area. Entry: $7 (tours to the lighthouse are available at this time)
South of Newport
Seal Rock State Park is a large rock formation that provides habitat for marine life, including seals and sea lions. The tide pools at the beach are a hit with children.
Cape Perpetua Scenic Area – With its lush, towering forests, rugged coastline, and crashing waves, Cape Perpetua Scenic Area has everything we could have hoped for. The Cape Perpetua Lookout, which is accessible only by car from the Oregon Coast, offers breathtaking views of the ocean as well as the Oregon Coast Road. The area also has other highlights such as:
Thor’s Well & Cooks Chasm – Thor’s Well is an open hole at the Pacific Ocean’s edge that appears to swallow the ocean, and then powerfully shoot it out over the rocks around it.
Devil’s Churn is located north of Thor’s Well. Waves crash into the narrow opening and spew water over the rocks.
Spouting Horn is a natural ocean blowhole located south of Thor’s Well. The waves that come in from the ocean smash into an underwater cave, causing seawater to flow into the water.
Drive to Coos Bay
The charming town of Florence, a coastal city in Italy, is a magnet to adventure seekers because of its sandy beaches and rolling sand dunes.
The Heceta Head Lighthouse is perched at 1000ft atop Heceta Head. It is located north of Florence. Accessible via a half mile trail at the Heceta Head Lighthouse Scenic Viewpoint.
You can also access the lighthouse via the Hobbit Trail Trailhead, which connects Heceta Head Lighthouse and Hobbit Beach. The hike is beautiful through the lush forest to Hobbit Beach. After exploring the beach, hike up the hill towards the Heceta Head Lighthouse. The hike took us about 2 hours.
The Sea Lion Caves, located 11 miles north from Florence, are an amazing stop. This cave is home the Steller Sea Lion, and it is America’s largest. The area is also home to many sea birds, and occasionally grey whales. Visitors can access the cave via an elevator. There are also stairs that lead to the cave, as well as trails that run along the slopes.
The Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, which stretches for more than 40 miles between Florence & Coos Bay is one of the most stunning sights along the coast. Nature has created the sand dunes that rise over 500 feet from the ocean and lakes. They are the largest area of coast sand dunes in North America.
The Oregon Dunes Overlook offers a wonderful spot to view the dunes. A half-mile trail leads to viewing platforms, or a three-mile trail leads to the beach.
You might consider sandboarding or an ATV if you’re looking for an adrenaline rush. The recreation area has 32 lakes and is popular for canoeing, fishing, and boating.
You can also view the Dean Creek Elk viewing site on your way to Coos Bay. Here you will be able to see over 50 Roosevelt Elk that live in the area.
4 | Coos Bay (2 days)
Driving time from Newport to Coos Bay: 2 hours and 15 minutes
Coos Bay will be our next stop along the Oregon Coast road trip itinerary. Coos Bay lies half way between Newport and the Samuel H Boardman Senic Corridor. It is also near a trio stunning Oregon State Parks.
Spend the day exploring Coos Bay, and its environs
Three state parks are available to visit: Hiking trails link Shore Acres State Park with Cape Arago State Park and Sunset Bay State Park on a 3-mile stretch of Oregon Coast, just south of Coos Bay. Shore Acres is known for its rugged coastline and Japanese Gardens. Sunset Bay State Park’s sandy beaches and spectacular sunset views are another highlight. You might be able to spot whales below Cape Arago’s jutting headland.
Coos Bay: Take a stroll on the Coos Bay Boardwalk and grab some food from Sharkbites. They offer casual dining and locally sourced food. Also, be sure to check out the mural that Steve Prefontaine, an area resident of Coos Bay, has created on South Broadway Street. Catch a movie at The Egyptian Theatre.
Bandon, Devils Kitchen, and Face Rock: Bandon is a classic Oregon Coast beach resort. It’s close to Devil’s Kitchen (a stretch of beach with jutting rock sand), and Face Rock (famous for its viewpoint overlooking a face in the sand and the Circles in the Sand Festival). Bandon’s Coquille Point offers a stunning view and highlights the rock formations, sea stacks, and more.
Along the way to Brookings/Samuel H Boardman Scenic Corridor
Prehistoric Gardens: One of our favorite stops for kids, the Prehistoric Gardens are a small rainforest-style garden featuring huge dinosaur models. The trail is a short one, with lush greenery and hanging ferns. You can stop along the way to see the enormous dinosaurs.
Cape Sebastian Viewpoint is a panoramic viewpoint at 200 feet above the sea level. You can see for nearly 50 miles north and south. A 1.5-mile forest trail leads to the beach. There is also a roped section that allows you to get onto the beach. You might be able to see the grey whales passing Cape Sebastian during their annual migration.
Further south, the Arch Rock Picnic Area makes for a memorable stop on the Oregon Coast. The impressive Arch Rock is located just off the coast on the Samuel H Boardman Scenic Coast.
Continue on towards Brooking and you’ll pass the Thomas Creek Bridge, which is the highest bridge of Oregon.
5 | Brookings (1 day) – Samuel H Boardman Scenic Corridor
Driving time from Coos Bay and Brookings: 2 hours 15 minutes
Brookings is an excellent place to stop if your goal is to spend the day exploring the Samuel H Boardman Senic Corridor. This stretch of Oregon Coast coastline is stunning.
Samuel H Boardman Scenic Corridor
The Samuel H Boardman Scenic Coridor is a State Park that lies on a 12-mile stretch of coast between Brookings, Gold Beach, and south west Oregon.
These are the most visited stops:
Natural Bridges: Natural Bridges is a series 7 arch rocks and blowholes that are part of the Samuel H Boardman scenic route. There are views from the viewpoints. The trail is a short 0.5-mile long and well-signposted.
Arch Rock: This viewpoint overlooks an impressive natural rock arch in ocean. It is easily accessible by a 0.2-mile loop.
Secret Beach: Although it isn’t really secret, Secret Beach can be difficult to find. From Thunder Rock Cove Parking Lot, you can follow the trail for 0.75 miles to Secret Beach.
Other stops worth mentioning include the Indian Sands Trail and Whaleshead Beach and Viewpoint. House Rock Viewpoint and Cape Ferrelo Viewpoint are also available.
What should you do after the Oregon Coast?
California: On our latest Oregon Coast road trip, we drove south towards San Francisco and the Florida Keys. As we drove along the coast, we enjoyed the stunning California Redwood Coast and wine-producing areas. Our favourite stops were Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park and Redwoods National Park. Glass Beach, Napa Valley, and the three drive through redwoods of northern California.
Oregon loop: If you’re returning to Portland, this is the ideal opportunity to make a loop around the state. Crater lake national park is east of Portland. This is where the collapsed volcano formed a deep blue lake, which is the deepest in America. It’s then north to Bend, where you can see the views of the Three Sister Volcano Peaks, and later the stunning Painted Hills. Returning to Oregon, spend some time exploring Mount Hood Region: Oregon’s highest peak for outdoor adventures.
Enjoy your Oregon Coast Road Trip
It can be hard to decide where to spend your time on the Oregon Coast. There are so many things to do and see. We hope you find our itinerary helpful. Please let us know if there are any questions.