Oregon Coast Vacation: Newport
Explore the Oregon Coast in Newport
Newport Oregon is a small scenic city that sits at the mouth of Yaquina Bay on the central Oregon coast. Newport has a vibrant tourism trade, and with an eclectic downtown, harbor tours, two impressive family-oriented aquariums,fishing, shopping, and not one, but two lighthouses, it makes a great family vacation spot.
Newport Oregon Attractions
Newport has the amenities of a larger city with the quaint feel of many of the Oregon coastal towns that dot the central Oregon coastline. It's main attractions are deep sea fishing, it's Oregon Coast Aquarium, and the quirky historical downtown area which showcases its fishing and dunganess crabbing industry with some unusual quirky shops sprinkled in, and miles of emerald blue coastal waters and scenic coastline.
We made a day of our Oregon coast visit to Newport, traveling in from Florence, to the south, where we stayed at Driftwood Shores Resort. Our drive was about an hour, and our travel took us past Devil's Elbow State Beach and Heceta Head Lighthouse where we stopped the day before. Between Florence and Newport you will also find Sea Lion Caves, which is an attraction that takes you down to sea level via a deep elevator. If you are interested in stopping at some beautiful scenic beaches along the way, Seal Beach is at Yachats and is unbeatable for its privacy and views. The stretch of Pacific Coast Highway between Florence and Newport is varied and beautiful. If you don't have to hurry to your destination to catch a harbor boat tour, plan to be seduced into stopping a few times along the way.
Our visit to Newport was streamlined by the fact that we had a young toddler in tow. We called ahead to Discovery Boat Tours, which offered a whale-watching tour for different lengths of time. We knew we wanted to go to the Oregon Coast Aquarium in the afternoon, so we scheduled a short tour for the morning for two children and two adults. During the tour our guide told us some interesting facts about the Yaquina Bay Bridge, which spans the Yaquina Bay, and the surrounding fishing industry. As part of the tour, since it was crabbing season, the boat operator dropped a crab trap, and we actually experienced catching Dunganesse and other local varieties of crab. Our tour operator had an on-board oceanographer to answer our questions, though I think she was a college student with a summer job.
Sightings of whales aren't as common in the summertime in Oregon as during other times of the year. If you time your visit just right, you might view whales during their annual migration south along the coastal waters of the Pacific Ocean. We were thrilled, however, to see a huge sun fish surface from the ocean's depths to soak up some rare Oregon sunshine. Our tour guide told us that sighting a sun fish was pretty rare, and that we were fortunate to see one so close up. A sun fish looks like a kind of ray, and glides through the water like an angel. It was quite a sight for Arizonans like us!
Oregon Coast Aquarium
Our afternoon stop included a visit to the Oregon Coast Aquarium. Little did we know how busy this place would be. We stood in line to get inside the aquarium for almost half an hour. But once we were inside, we understood why. This aquarium is ranked in the top 10 aquariums in the United States.
I was surprised by all that this aquarium had to offer. When I think of an aquarium I usually envision an indoor facility with lots of large fish tanks where different varieties of sea creature swim around. This aquarium included the expected water tanks full of fish and other sea creatures, but also had an enormous touch-pool area where you could touch sea stars, anemones, and other sea creatures.
Outdoors the aquarium was a lot like a zoo, with a strong focus on animal life that is native to the Oregon Coast. If you have young children you may want to go to this aquarium with its kid-friendly exhibitions.
If you have time, another place to visit is the Hatfield Marine Science Center. If you always wanted to be a marine biologist, or just want to spend a day learning more about this fascinating field of study, the Hatfield Marine Science center is the research facility for Oregon State University's Marine Sciences program. The center has exhibits for the public and a gift shop.
Travel Distances to Newport
Hotels and Lodging In and Near Newport
if you are planning a vacation that includes Newport, you can stay in Newport, in nearby Yachats, or in Florence, almost an hour to the south.
In Newport, you have a variety of hotels, bed and breakfasts, and vacation rentals. For more information about lodging in Newport Oregon, you can visit the Newport Chamber of Commerce web page.
In Yachats, you have a few bed and breakfasts and privately owned vacation rentals such as condominiums and beach houses. Yachats is a great place to escape and enjoy the beach and the sound of the ocean, and has some beautiful surf and sandy beaches. If I were visiting this region of the Oregon Coast for a honeymoon vacation, I would choose Yachats.
Florence to the south is another large town and has a variety of shopping, seafood restaurants, and established, large vacation resorts, like Driftwood Shores, which has been in operation for almost 50 years. Florence has additional sights to see, such as Jessie Honeyman State Park.