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Central Oregon's Coast: Best 10 Vacation Attractions

Updated on March 20, 2015
A Glimpse of the Pacific Ocean.
A Glimpse of the Pacific Ocean. | Source

10 Best Attractions: Visit Central Oregon's Beach

An Oregon Coast vacation! Looking for a place to get away. Here's 10 attractions close to beach towns making a fun family get-away, adventurous trip for a couple, or a relaxing place to unwind. There's plenty to do for explorer-types, with the Pacific coastline beaches, bays, whale-watching excursions, marine wildlife exhibits, lighthouses and more. Enjoy the inviting photos!

These sights are located in a stretch of the northern coast area of Central Oregon. The area I'll describe is from Lincoln City, Oregon. . . to Newport, Oregon. It's a favorite get-away of ours. I hope you enjoy this page while exploring with me. Happy traveling!

Observation Point - The Pacific Ocean


What's To See Between Lincoln City And Newport, Oregon?

Lots Of Family Activities

Let me introduce you to one area of the central Oregon coast between Lincoln City and Newport.

The Oregon coastline is a little over 360 miles long following Highway 101 so rather than write endlessly about activities and attractions along the whole coast, this highlights the northern portion of the Central Oregon coast area.

When you look on the map it is a relatively small area, 26 miles between Lincoln City on the north to Newport on the south. But, in that area there's lots of activities. Try a lighthouse tour, aquariums, shopping, great dining, beaches, and other attractions.

Stay aboard and enjoy the ride!

Waves Crashing On Oregon Beach


10 Fun Attractions

Each attraction is more fully described below.

1. Whale Watching

2. Mo's Famous Clam Chowder

3. Oregon Beaches

4. Tanger Outlet Mall

5. Depot Bay

6. Lighthouse Viewing

7. Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area

8. Oregon Coast Aquarium

9. Old Historic Town Bayfront

10. OSU Hatfield Marine Science Visitor Center

1. Whale Watching Along Oregon Coast

Two Organized Whale Watching Weeks in 2015

Whale watching, can be exciting on a whale-watching boat excursion. The whales' misty spray can be viewed from the shoreline, or from your car at a viewing area, if you're there at the right moment.

The grey whale (the largest whale) migrates south from seas around Alaska in mid-December through January and ends up in Baja California, Mexico. They have their young in the warmer waters off the Pacific ocean coast of Baja.

The migration north starts early for the males and female whales without babies. They begin traveling back to Alaskan waters and Bering Sea as early as late February. The majority of whales, including babies with new mothers, start their journey in late March to June. We are lucky their routes go close by the Oregon coastline.

There's several points to watch whales. Some days whale watching is unpredictably slow off shore because the stormy weather in winter months may cause the whales to stay further away from the coastline. They can be 1 to 5 miles out from the shore.

Newest Update: Oregon Coast Whale Watching Weeks: March 21-28, 2015 is the upcoming spring whale watching week.

There are two weeks set a year as whale-watch weeks highlighting a season of largest migration.

If you miss a whale watching week it does not mean that it is the only time to spot whales.They are expected to migrate March through May. The mothers with calves may arrive in Oregon about May.

How Do You Spot Whales During a Watch Week?

Parking areas in specially designated areas are set up with volunteers to help visitors spot whales spouting. You can whale watch from either inside your vehicle (windows may fog) or stepping outside your vehicle. There's a whale watching center open certain times for whale spotting and getting information in Depot Bay. Having your own binoculars helps.

You may see the whale spout a mist of water from it's air hole. Amazing if you've never seen it! I get very excited just seeing this. Since they are usually not really close to the shore the spout may be the only sign of them. They can hold their breath so long between spouts you have to guess looking at the sea at what distance you may see them spout again.

Occasionally, you may be lucky enough to see a portion of their back or their big tail flip. That's really cool! Whales are an magnificent creature of enormous size.

  • How To See A whale Close Up!

If you are the adventurous type that would love to get a closer look at whales, there are whale watching charter boats that provide life jackets and hold a certain number of people, to take you out for whale viewing. There is no guarantee that you will spot them, but the guides will give it their "best shot" in finding whales to insure you're glad you went.

In March, the weather should be milder, but check weather forecasts for the coast. Especially during a chartered boat excursion be prepared for the weather, It could be rain or sunshine but very cool and breezy. For comfort you may still want a warm jacket, gloves, and cap on the sea. I'm a person that feels chilly often, but the ocean wind or breeze and the marine air can feel cold for most anyone.

2. Mo's Famous Clam Chowder

and Other Seafood Delights

Try Mo's Famous Clam Chowder.

A trip to the Oregon Coast cannot be complete without eating some seafood, right?

When taking a jaunt to the Oregon coast we like to eat one meal at Mo's Restaurant. Mo's still has my vote for the best clam chowder I've had in any eatery, restaurant, or canned. I love it because it has a natural homemade taste reminiscent of my moms good potato soup from my past. Mo's addition of clam and ham bits, and good base, topped with a splat of butter and paprika makes their chowder very tasty.

Of course, they have more than clam chowder. There's a menu of seafood specialties like bouillabaisse, shrimp tacos, fish and chips, sandwiches, and much more. Try their savory shrimp skewer appetizers-blackened or with garlic butter. For those in your party who don't enjoy seafood (what!) check their menu to see if your favorites such as American-style burgers, chili, ribs, and pasta can be found. (Most likely they will be available.)

They serve yummy homemade desserts. The marionberry cobbler ala-mode is a northwest favorite.There may be slight variations in their menu items from location to location.

Mo's has been around many years. A gal by the name of Moe started the restaurant back many years ago. Popularity of her clam chowder spread nationally and over the years she expanded her business to other Oregon coastal towns. Now the Mo's Fish House is in 6 locations in Oregon. We've been to several. Two in this area are at Lincoln City and Newport on the bay waterfront.

Mo's is not a "fancy-dancy" kind of place. It's a festive, at times noisy, family restaurant. People may go directly from the sandy beach or waterfront, into the restaurant wearing their casual clothes. Mo's décor at Lincoln City is casual beach-themed. Fish nets, sand beach buckets on tables for cracker wrappers, and seashells are part of the décor. All the Mos eateries have either Pacific Ocean, bay, or river, water-front views. ( One exception may be The original Mo's in Newport. The Mo's annex is on the bay waterfront, but the view of water is hidden at the original Mos across the street. )

Here's the location of all Mo's Restaurants. The two with asterisks are in the vicinity of what this article carries.

Canon Beach

*Lincoln City

*Newport Original Mo's and Annex across the street

Otter Crest /Closed for the Season. Check it's summertime opening.


Map To Drive From Lincoln City, Oregon to Newport, Oregon - Pass Through Depot Bay Between Lincoln City and Newport, OR

Here's a partial map of Oregon. The red markers show Lincoln City, Depot Bay, and Newport. the closest International airport is PDX in Portland, Oregon. Scan north and east to view Portland, Oregon on the map.

show route and directions
A marker -
Lincoln City, OR
get directions

B marker -
Newport, OR
get directions

Fodor's Pacific Northwest: with Oregon, Washington, and Vancouver (Full-color Travel Guide)
Fodor's Pacific Northwest: with Oregon, Washington, and Vancouver (Full-color Travel Guide)

Fodor's travel guides are very helpful. This one covers Oregon and Washington in USA; and Vancouver, BC, Canada.


Plan Your Trip To The Oregon Coast and Pacific NW, USA

Fodor's Oregon and Pacific Northwest Travel Guide

This book is the ultimate travel companion guide. So much great information. You can take a preview peek inside this book by clicking to Amazon.

3. Oregon Beaches - Enjoy Beaches: Between Lincoln City, OR and Newport, OR


Walking the beaches is a relaxing time we love. . . Watching the waves and spotting water tossed rocks and occasional shells of interest. The Oregon beaches are different from the California beaches of the movies. The weather in Oregon is cooler than southern California as is the sea water. It's wetter many months, yet when it's sunny it's especially beautiful at the coast. If there's a hot summer stretch inland the beach can be a cool retreat. It's humid, but doesn't get the miserable hot humidity as on the east coast.

The beaches aren't as crowded, so you'll have plenty of room to make sand castles, fly kites; and watch sea birds and beautiful sunsets over the water in clear weather.

There's not much of a surfing sport visible but it is increasing. I was surprised to learn there is a professional surfing competition held near Lincoln City. The beach offers many other opportunities, too. There is clam digging in season and crabbing in the bays. In your exploring you may see anemones, starfish and barnacles on rocks.

Some of the beaches are:

~DeSands Beach in Lincoln City

~Roads End Beach

~Gleneden Beach

~Beverly Beach

~Agate Beach

~South Beach

~Devils Punchbowl

Have fun exploring these beaches along the stretch of beach highway. Signs will lead your way.

Green Toys Sand Play Set, Pink
Green Toys Sand Play Set, Pink

I love this sand bucket set because it's made of recycled milk jugs and is made with no PCB, PVC or phthalates in the plastic.


Beach Toys Are A Fun Beach Past time. Sandcastle Bucket Set - Toys Made with Recycled Milk Jugs by Green Toys

Pick this pink bucket set, or green or blue. The colors are so pretty, too. But, most of all, little kids will love playing with them at the beach.

4. Shopping At Tanger Outlet Mall

Lincoln City, Oregon

Some of you are so into shopping that finding a great outlet mall is a major attraction, right? Others may think, "What! An outlet Mall? Not at all entertaining!" You may think an outlet mall is a funny attraction, but tourists and Pacific Northwest locals alike swarm to this outside mall offering a variety of stores. I listed this for those that think a vacation or day off isn't fun without shopping. Here's to you shopping fun-lovers. . . "Shop till you drop".

The attraction here is that most of these outlet stores sell name brand products without middle-man fees. So you pay less then buying retail, plus they often have sales. We have found great deals on name-brand shoes and clothing.

5. Depot Bay-Oregon's Whale Watching Center - Watch The Waves and Charter Boats From The Stone Wall

Depot-Bay-Stone-Wall.JPG | Source

Depot Bay is a small bay town, a favored spot to stop the car and stroll along the sea wall sidewalk. This small downtown merchant area along Hwy 101, the main coastal highway has a stone wall the length of downtown. Passerby's park diagonally butting up to the sidewalk with a great view of the seafront.

The stone wall separates the town area from the sea. On the ocean side is lava rock beds where seagulls rest. Waves push under the lava beds, sometimes with such force that sea water spouts through rock crevices like a fountain mist high into the air. These are called spouting horns. To see a spouting horn you may have to be there during times of crashing waves from rough seas , stormy weather, or high tides. It's beautiful to see the crystal looking water droplets of the spouting horns simmer in sunlight.

Walk along the sidewalk following the wall to the bridge, there's a viewing area there and a science whale-watching center. A whale count is posted there during the migration season. Follow the walk down a few steps and go under the bridge to the other side of the street. Looking below is a great view of the harbor where charter and fishing boats dock and pass under the bridge out into the bay and ocean.

Shops with tourist gifts, tee-shirts, hand-blown glass floats, chocolates, salt-water taffy and caramel corn line the other side of the street. We love stopping for dark chocolates and caramel corn.

Oh, did I forget ice cream? There's an ice cream shop, too, and benches near the sea wall to sit and enjoy your double-decker cone while watching the waves.

You are halfway through the list of 10 Best Attractions.

You'll love what's coming up in the next 5.

6. Lighthouse Viewing Near Newport, Oregon

Yaquina Head and Yaquina Bay Lighthouses

Have you ever Been To A Lighthouse?

There are two lighthouses within short distance to one another, close to Newport, Oregon. Seven lighthouses dot the entire Oregon Coast. For the curious, young and old, and science or history buffs, lighthouses are fascinating fun.

Yaquina Head Lighthouse

Yaquina Head Lighthouse is in the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area. It is open to the public and is the tallest of the Oregon lighthouses. You can climb the spiral stairway up to the lantern room. The lantern is an automated working light.

The lighthouse is within the area of the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area. You are charged $7.00, a car fee (amount subject to change), upon entering the area. That pays for the lighthouse entry as well. (More information below- Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area.) Watch for the sign to Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area going south toward Newport. It will be a right turn. Look on the westside of HWY 101(the beach side) 3 miles north of Newport.

Please check for hours and days the lighthouse is open.

Yaquina Bay Lighthouse

Yaquina Bay Lighthouse was built of wood in 18 and looks like an old 100+ year house. It is located just north of the Yaquina Bay Bridge on the west side. The light tower is on the roof. Although the lighthouse is open to the public with no fee, just donation unless you want to pay for a guided private tour, the lantern room is closed. That's because it is a working lighthouse with it's light shining from dusk to dawn.

The lighthouse, not including lantern room, is open to the public more as a museum, run by volunteers. The lighthouse museum is open seven days a week, except for winter holidays (subject to change.) Please double-check for hours and days.

Lighthouses and Life-Saving on the Oregon Coast (OR) (Images of America)
Lighthouses and Life-Saving on the Oregon Coast (OR) (Images of America)

This is an interesting read for a history buff of the Oregon lighthouses and the precursor of the Coast Guard, the Lifesaving Service. Written by David Pinyerd, very knowledgeable in researching history of Oregon's lighthouses and lifesaving stations, wants to preserve the history. He shares numerous old black and white photos from an unpublished collection of photography and tells earlier history.


7. Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area

Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area is 3 miles north of Newport, Oregon. It has an interpective center and and walkway to tidal pools with marine life living on their own with water coming from the ocean. It's a good place to view marine life. The young marine biologists in your family will love being outside and finding all these fascinating marine creatures.

The Yaquina Head Lighthouse is a bonus to entering this natural Area. The fee to get into the area covers the lighthouse tour.

Yaquina Bay Bridge

Yaquina-Bay-Bridge.Jpg | Source

8. Old Historic Bay front in Newport, Oregon

This is an interesting place to park your car and take a walk. Stroll along the main bay-front street there are a mix of shops, eateries, art gallery, and a fresh seafood store with windows to see workers processing fresh shrimp straight off the boats (potent aroma leaves an impression).

It's fun to see charter and commercial fishing boats come in past this wharf, too. There's a harbor in this bay of fishing boats. Also, a stunning view of the beautiful Yaquina Bay Bridge and pretty water (particularly on a day with blue skies.)

These three touristy business' are located in the Historic Bay area called Mariner's Square:

  • The Waxworks.

It features life-size wax figures of important people and things including Marilyn Monroe, Frankenstein, Yoda, and much more.

  • Ripley's Believe It Or Not.

Unusual and bazarre things from Ripley's travels around the world.

  • The Undersea Gardens.

An aquarium. At certain times divers feed marine life.

The Old Historic Bay Front is the home of Mo's first seafood cafe (the original Mo's), plus another (Mo's Annex) across the street. There are other tempting places to eat or get a coffee drink.

Sea Lions


Don't miss my favorite thing to see on this street. Wander out on the wharf next to the Undersea Garden which is open to the public. You can't miss seeing or hearing honking Sea Lions on a floating platform in the water below. These big guys really put on a show. Plus, it's free viewing. They make quite a racket honking when their nap is interrupted by a "nobody" sea lion invading their sunbathing and napping spot on THEIR RAFT.

The Harbor at Historic Bay Front


9. Oregon Coast Aquarium - Newport, Oregon

swimming-jellyfish.JPG | Source

The whole family will love spending time at Oregon's finest aquarium, the Oregon Coast Aquarium. Remember the famous whale Kako. He was cared for here years ago. The aquarium was redone later and now has a beautiful clear tunnel to walk through surrounded by ocean fish including sharks. It's worth a visit if you have never visited. Depending on your interest level plan to spend a couple hours there at minimum.

10. OSU Hatfield Marine Science Visitor Center

Newport Oregon

This science center run by OSU (Oregon State University) is open to the public with a free-will donation offering at the door. Don't overlook this fun educational and economical way to entertain a family. There are marine-science exhibits, some hands-on fun exhibits, aquariums of fish and marine life, films, a marine-science related book and gift store. It's an educational Marine science center, good for a field-trip. Outside, a hiking nature trail takes you along the waterfront.

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    • MariannesWhims profile image

      Marianne Gardner 3 years ago from Pacific NW, USA

      @Redneck Lady Luck: Thanks for your visit, A-Redneck. I am glad you liked my photos. I do enjoy the wildlife, too.

    • Redneck Lady Luck profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 3 years ago from Canada

      Your photos are gorgeous. The wildlife would make this trip so very worth while. Oregon looks amazing.

    • MariannesWhims profile image

      Marianne Gardner 3 years ago from Pacific NW, USA

      @MarcellaCarlton: Of course, It should be included, such a unique and awesome spot with beautiful views. One of the photos on my lens is of the Observation Lookout overlooking the ocean at Cape Foulweather. I have read the gift shop on the cliff there has changed hands, now owned by the state of Oregon. When it reopens it sounds like it may be an interpretive center, perhaps part gift shop. Thanks so much for your comments.

    • profile image

      MarcellaCarlton 3 years ago

      Nice lens, but what about Cape Foulweather and the wonderful views from there. A marvelous attraction!

    • MariannesWhims profile image

      Marianne Gardner 4 years ago from Pacific NW, USA

      @takkhisa: takkhis, The sea lions are a lot of fun to watch. There are quite a number of them at times. Thanks for viewing my lens.

    • MariannesWhims profile image

      Marianne Gardner 4 years ago from Pacific NW, USA

      @smine27: Smine27, thanks for visiting my Oregon coast lens. I enjoy getting away there, if only for a long day, occasionally.

    • smine27 profile image

      Shinichi Mine 4 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      This would be such a beautiful and relaxing place to visit on holiday.

    • takkhisa profile image

      Takkhis 4 years ago

      Once I had a friend from Oregon, she used to send me beautiful pictures of it. I would surly like to see those Sea Lions! :)

    • MariannesWhims profile image

      Marianne Gardner 4 years ago from Pacific NW, USA

      @ecogranny: I'm glad you enjoyed the photography. Thanks for viewing my lens. The Oregon coast is lovely, especially for a visit in summer or autumn.

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 4 years ago from San Francisco

      If ever I won the mega-lottery (of course I'd have to buy a ticket), I would retire to the Oregon coast and take my entire family with me. I'm not a world traveler, but of the places I've been, it is my all-time favorite. Lovely page. Thank you so much for sharing your photographs and love of the area.

    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 4 years ago

      I love this region. It has variety and that fantastic coastline. In fact, I'm thinking of booking a room right now.

    • MariannesWhims profile image

      Marianne Gardner 4 years ago from Pacific NW, USA

      @steadytracker lm: That's great you enjoyed the photos and lens. Thanks for the compliment!

    • steadytracker lm profile image

      steadytracker lm 4 years ago

      Some amazing scenes along the coastlines there. Thank you for sharing this great vacation lens.

    • MariannesWhims profile image

      Marianne Gardner 4 years ago from Pacific NW, USA

      I'm glad I was able to help with information. Have a great trip to the beach this summer.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Good lens. We are going to the beach this summer, so I will be sure to check out your recommended sites. Thanks for the information.