Best Vacations Depoe Bay On Oregon Coast
Vacation Destination: Depoe Bay on the Oregon Coast
If you're looking for a vacation destination that will leave you speechless in terms of raw beauty, Depoe Bay on the Oregon Coast is the place you want to be!
The entire Oregon Coast is one of the most picturesque coastal areas you will find worldwide with its magnificent cliffs and jagged protruding rocks. You will never see the same thing twice if you drive the entire route of Highway 101 from Astoria on the north end near the Washington border to Brookings on the southern end near the California border.
The Oregon Coast is a photographer's dream come true because of its incredible topography, its expansive beauty and its gorgeous sunsets.
Come with me on a trip to the little town of Depoe Bay on the Oregon Coast and get to know the Oregon Coast a bit better.
About Depoe Bay Oregon
Depoe Bay is a sleepy little community between Newport and Lincoln City on the coast. It is just under 2 square miles and it's famous for being the smallest harbor in the world!
The city itself was founded by an Indian who was first of the Tututni tribe and later became a Siletz Indian - his name was "Charley" Depot and he later changed his name to DePoe.
Depoe Bay is part of Lincoln County and is a stop on the beautiful scenic highway of US Route 101. Population is under 2000 and the town sits at 58 feet above sea level.
Depoe Bay is famous on the big screen for the fishing trip sequence in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest which was filmed here.
As late as 2008, Depoe Bay again made the big screen with filming within the Tidal Raves Restaurant for the movie The Burning Plain staring Charlize Theron and Kim Basinger.
Most of the income of Depoe Bay is generated by tourism, the rest by construction, arts, entertainment and recreational pursuits.
Weather on the Oregon Coast
Take a look at the graphs to get an idea of the temperatures along the central portion of the Oregon Coast.
While the figures are the 'norms', I've traveled to the Oregon Coast and encountered 90 degree weather. I've also traveled to the Oregon Coast in July or August and had to wear a coat so you can see that there is a vast amount of deviation in temperatures!
Most years, however, you can plan on July, August and September being your best shots at dry and clear days.
Rain is part of the beauty of the great Pacific Northwest and it does rain - a lot! November, December, January, February and March can be predictably rainy and are the most popular months for storm watch vacations to the Oregon Coast.
We've done several storm watch vacations. The storms are spectacular in all their glory and their fury! We have been on the Oregon Coast twice with wind speeds that were over 90 miles per hour. You haven't seen anything until you see 'flat' waves.
Occasionally you will see snowfall on the Oregon Coast but it is a rare thing and very often lasts only for a short time though it's gorgeous.
Falling in Love with the Oregon Coast
We have been going to the Oregon Coast for over 20 years. I grew up in southern California and have always had an affinity for beaches. Although the Oregon Coast is nothing like the beaches in California, it has such a beauty to it and such a rawness that you just can't help fall in love with it.
There are so many different 'faces' of the Oregon Coast that you could travel to each town and along US Route 101 and see something new around each bend. It is treacherous in places with all its jagged high cliffs and then at other spots, it is endlessly peaceful and beckons you to come for a long, long walk by the sea.
There are many ways to travel the Oregon Coast. You can travel as most people do by car but you can also bike the entire Oregon Coast or take a scenic train ride on Amtrak or an Oregon Coast Excursion Train ride.
As far as lodging goes, you can locate private homes, condos and cabins or you can stay in beautiful hotels and motels located right on the beach. You can also camp all along the Oregon Coast and explore the beautiful vacation destination that is the Pacific Northwest and its magnificent Oregon Coast.
The Oregon Coast
Discovering Depoe Bay
A few years ago, my husband Bob turned 60. For this momentous occasion, I decided that nothing would do short of a vacation trip - and a large family reunion to boot. I set about trying to figure out where we could go that would be new and exciting for everyone involved and that would be centrally enough located that people would be able to get there with relative ease. We had people coming from Washington state in the Seattle area and we also had my sister-in-law flying in from Michigan. We ourselves were driving over from east of the Cascades in Central Oregon.
After doing a lot of research, I decided that a seaside vacation would be the ticket because Bob loves the Oregon Coast. That decision made, I wanted to find a house that was right on the ocean because this was a special occasion and it just seemed this monumental point in his life demanded something stellar.
The problem when you start to think about the Oregon Coast is that there are so many beautiful cities and places to visit, it does become a bit confusing because truly, there isn't just one place that is to die for - they are ALL to die for. It then became a matter of what place I could find to accommodate 10 or so people and have separate rooms. I also needed to have a very large kitchen (preferably with all the accoutrements as I love to cook even on vacation) and it had to have Internet access.
Looking on line, I found the perfect house and booked it immediately. As it turned out, it was absolutely perfect. It was right on the beach and the entire west side of the house was windows. It was spacious, immaculate, and the kitchen was a gourmet cook's delight. It had ample room for everyone to be together without feeling on top of each other and yet it was homey and charming enough to make you feel like you'd lived there all your life.
We drove over from Central Oregon which was about a 5-1/2 hour drive. Bob stopped at the Portland Airport to pick up his sister so that worked well since it was on the way. The drive over from Central Oregon takes you through the wine country of Oregon which is a beautiful trip all by itself so the entire trip was actually one of scenic delights.
One of our sons drove from Wyoming and basically took our same trek once he arrived in Central Oregon. He and his wife stopped at the train station in Portland to pick up our other 2 kids and then he, too drove through the Willamette Valley on his way to the coast.
Everyone else drove down from up north in Washington and picked up the Coast Highway to reach Depoe Bay while I drove over alone to hit all the markets on the way to the house.
It was a great house for a family reunion and we had such a great time we all want to go back one of these days for another event. Or perhaps rent another house as part of the fun of going on vacation for us has always been renting a different place and checking it out!
This house though was a marvelous place as you could sit outside on the expansive decks on several levels or you could meander down the few stairs leading to the beach and go for long walks looking for shells, or just walking until you got your fill of the sea air.
As a special treat, since Bob and I both have never been inside a limousine, I called and arranged a surprise ride along the Oregon Coast for everyone. Our oldest son stayed back with his wife to make a gourmet dinner for us all but the rest of us piled into the limo that picked us up at the door and off we went, sipping champagne. We went in the later part of a beautiful sunny afternoon and the driver just drove back and forth up and down the Oregon Coast while we all took in the beauty, stopping every now and again for a bit of a walk and photos.
Bob has told me several times that it was the best birthday he's ever had and the best vacation. We have usually stayed in towns like Cannon Beach, Newport or Seaside which are all absolutely beautiful towns and have great beaches as well but Depoe Bay is smaller and something about it just spoke to us. It was a nice change and off the beaten path so to speak.
We returned there and stayed in a condo right on the beach for our anniversary a year or so later.
Things to Do in Depoe Bay
Depoe Bay is situated about 12 miles either way smack dab between Newport to the south and Lincoln City to the north. Although Depoe Bay has several small grocery stores, it's best to either drive to Newport or Lincoln City to go the larger markets if you're planning on cooking. Newport has Fred Meyer and Safeway as their large chains and then many smaller markets including meat markets and specialty stores. Lincoln City has Safeway and also several other smaller chains of supermarkets.
There are also many souvenir type stores located in Depoe Bay's downtown area that carry a variety of great mementos. There is even a small winery - the Depoe Bay Winery situated in the midst of their downtown area. Be careful or you'll do what we did - walk past it 3 times before we finally found it!
Whale watching is one of the things Depoe Bay is known for. It is called the Whale Watching Capital of the Oregon Coast and March to December each year, people come from all over the world to view the grey whales. There are observation points on the harbor such as Whale Park and the WhaleSpoken Whale Watch Center or you can sign up for a charter tour to go out and have a closer look.
Most of the restaurants have a view of the harbor and seawall where you can sit and watch water spouts as high as 60 feet (caused by pressure releases from the lava beds under the waves).
Lodging and Accommodations
For inns and hotels, you can stay at the Channel House Inn, the Whale Watch at North Pointe, the Inn at Arch Rock (see the video) or the Trollers Lodge.
I rented our house in Depoe Bay through Sky Shine Vacations and we also stayed at the Whale Song condo which was literally right on the water's edge. We had water spouts shooting straight up outside our window.
You can also rent through other realtors and find many other great vacation rental properties on line for the entire Oregon Coast. Most have a virtual tour on line and quite a few people have started posting their properties on youtube.
You will always pay more for beachfront lodging and accommodations and sometimes by staying even a half block from the beach, you can save a bundle.
For RV camping, there is the Sea and Sand RV Park and Beverly Beach has various camping facilities, from tent camping to RV camping. The views are absolutely spectacular!
Restaurants and Taverns
Depoe Bay is also famous for its clam chowder at the Chowder Bowl in downtown Depoe Bay.
You won't want to miss Gracie's Sea Hag Bar and Grill either where the waitresses play the bottles of liquor like a xylophone!
Shalishack Tavern is a popular late night hangout for brews.
Annual Events and Festivals
Depoe Bay is home to such events as the Classic Wooden Boat Show, Crab Feed & Ducky Derby, Memorial Day Fleet of Flowers, Fireworks in Boiler Bay, and an Indian Salmon Bake. There is also a Magic of Christmas celebration.
Boating and Fishing
Though Depoe Bay is the smallest harbor in the world, they still have a Coast Guard station. The harbor is roughly about 6 acres and is the smallest navigable harbor worldwide, so the maximum boat that can fit is a 50-foot long boat. You can watch ships pass through the narrow inlets under Highway 101 to the harbor which is also known as the 'shooting hole'.
Fishing and crabbing are also great pastimes in Depoe Bay and many tourists go out on charters. Salmon, halibut, flounder and other bottom fish species are the catch of the day for sports fisherman as well as the commercial fisherman in the area.
There is no urgent care facility within Depoe Bay and the closest places to receive treatment would be Lincoln City to the north or Newport to the south.
Likewise, there are no veterinary clinics within Depoe Bay proper but there are services available in Lincoln City or Newport. There is also a mobile vet service at 541-265-7448 that you can call for advice.
Traveling the Oregon Coast from Portland
Depoe Bay is about a 2-hour drive from Portland and as you drive down Highway 101, you will see some of the most spectacular beach scenery you'll ever see anywhere - along with the occasional sporadic geyser-like sprays along the way!
Sights and Things to Do Outside Depoe Bay
When staying in Depoe Bay, if you do grow tired of walking the beach or sitting out in the sun reading a book......there are a lot of places to go and things to see. We took a few day trips or half day trips to see just a few of the sights but you truly could keep going for days seeing it all.
Historic Nye Beach and Newport
Located in beautiful Newport, 12 miles to the north of Depoe Bay, you can find about 40 businesses, restaurants and lodging.
Newport is a great city to hang out in and has many of the amenities that a small town such as Depoe Bay doesn't have. You can go to the movies there or shop or wander the beautiful beaches in Newport.
Newport is also the home of Rogue Ales Brewery. Stop in for lunch or to sample their great beers.
You can also go see the Oregon Coast Aquarium or tour the Yaquina Head Lighthouse. There are many great things to do in Newport and places to see.
Oregon Dunes Recreational Areas
Further south, for an experience you won't forget, check out the Oregon Dunes. They are a lot of fun to hike and there are all kinds of recreational activities there for all ages. It's a favorite place for dune surfing, 4-wheeling and camping.
Cape Perpetua in Yachats
Traveling south to Yachats along the Oregon Coast, you can explore 26 miles of hiking trails which go in all directions and give you a great experience seeing the coastal scenes and the surrounding forests.
Sea Lion Caves
We drove south one day to visit the Sea Lion Caves which are 11 miles north of Florence. It was a great sunny day and we enjoyed all the exhibits and information we learned about the seals as well as the birds in the area while capturing the very photogenic huge seals basking on the rocks!
Tanger Retail Outlet Mall
This outlet mall is located in Lincoln City to the north of Depoe Bay and is a fantastic shopping mecca. They have many, many stores in the complex such as Columbia, Coldwater Creek, Nautica, Old Navy, Gap, Levi's, Liz Claiborne New York, Pendleton, Reebok, Wilson's Leather, Jockey and Jones of New York to name but a few.
They also have many children specific outlet stores and food stores such as Harry & David, Sweet Delights and Sip Wine & Bistro.
For accessories, you can pick up purses at Coach, sunglasses at the Sunglass Hut and gloves and earrings at Claire's.
Shoe stores abound at the Tanger Outlet Mall from Bass to Easy Spirit to Nike and Rockport.
There are music and photo outlet stores, a vitamin shop and a toys and games store along with a bookstore which is one of my favorites. You can also pick up discount jewelry at Zales or shop to your heart's content at the several kitchen stores (more of my favorites).
Hours are Sunday 10-6, Monday-Saturday 10-8; phone 541.996.5000; located at 1500 SE East Devils Lake Road in Lincoln City.
Touring the Lighthouses
All told, there are 11 lighthouses along the Oregon Coast but you can take tours of these lighthouses located in the Central Oregon Coast: Cape Blanco, Heceta Head, Umpqua River, Yaquina Bay and Yaquina Head. This is a great way to learn maritime history and also a great photo op!
A little further up the Oregon Coast north of Depoe Bay is Tillamook and its great attractions such as the Tillamook Air Museum and the Tillamook Cheese Factory. These are fascinating places to visit and the Tillamook Cheese Factory also has a wonderful cafe where you can get their delicious ice cream!
Cannon Beach has long been a favorite for our family of places to visit. It is a small town that is loaded with things to do, great galleries, and excellent places to shop and eat. You can rent beach bikes and go out on the sand for a spin around or you can go to one of the several kite shops in town and buy a kite then go out on the beach for some flying. Be sure and stop in at the old fashioned candy store, a favorite of kids of all ages and don't miss the bakery with all its fresh from the oven goodies.
There are innumerable places to stay and things to do in Cannon Beach and a day trip may end up being an overnighter. It is a favorite destination for people throughout the year but the town becomes absolutely mobbed during their famous festivals such as the Puffin Kite Festival or the Sandcastle Festival. I like to visit Cannon Beach in the off season because it's more tolerable with less people in such a small space but it is a memorable excursion whether crowded or not.
Near Cannon Beach is a kid's paradise called Seaside. This is where our kids wanted to go most when they were young because it has the biggest beach and a multitude of things to do for young people from video arcades to bumper cars and tilt-a-whirls. You also have all the things you can do in Cannon Beach and more plus you have many more stores and restaurants. It also has the Aquarium to visit.
In Seaside, you also have the beautiful promenade on the ocean which is a favorite for people of all ages to stroll along or skate. It's a great place to visit if you have kids either for the day or again for an extended stay such as overnight.
Dining Out at the Bay House
In addition to the restaurants I mentioned, we rarely ate out but when we did, we kept going back to one particular restaurant when we visited Depoe Bay for our anniversary. The Bay House just south of Lincoln City is absolutely one of my favorite restaurants of all time. Their menu is designed to please the most discriminating palate for lunch or dinner and the food is fantastic.
Add to that the magnificent view of the inlet that they sit on and the spectacular sunsets you can see, it is definitely a must-do activity.
The Oregon Coast is just loaded with options such as fishing, taking in the local museums or historical sites, hiking, horseback riding or beachcombing. You won't be bored on the Oregon Coast.
Vacation Destination Depoe Bay and the Oregon Coast
In all fairness, I have covered but a tiny part of the Oregon Coast. Truth be told, there is so much to see, that I would recommend taking a week or several to see it all. You can tour it from one end to the other and if you look at a map of the area, there is one viewpoint after another listed on the map. There's a reason for that. There is simply too much magnificent scenery to let pass without stopping to take a picture!
Whatever time of year you visit the Oregon Coast, you'll see something different. In summer the coast is much more crowded because everyone wants to be there and on the ocean. That is also when the weather is predictably the best though in the Pacific Northwest, nothing's a guarantee!
Any time that you visit, you will find beauty beyond comprehension and ample places for recreation, dining, lodging and activities of any and every kind imaginable. The Oregon Coast is a wonderful place to spend a few days, a week or even longer because it is one of those bone-deep relaxing trips that will stay with you always.
Wishing you a wonderful journey discovering the Oregon Coast if you haven't seen it yet. It is a place that definitely makes an imprint on your heart and soul.
Depoe Bay Area
Oregon's sand dune national recreation area
Ride an elevator down to view the seals up close and personal
See how the famous cheese is made and have some delicious Tillamook ice cream
Every store imaginable - come visit Reebok, Nike, Gap, Old Navy and more
Best clam chowder ever located in downtown Depoe Bay
Have a fresh from the oven cinnamon roll and a great cup of coffee - don't forget to buy a loaf of bread for later!