Ocean and coast are calling, and I must go on an Oregon Coast Road Trip.
The Ultimate Weekend at Oregon Coast Road Trip Itinerary
With lots of rain and not as much sun as in its nearest neighbor, California, the state or Oregon is a prime destination for outdoor adventures. In snowy winters and hot summers, in rainy falls and pleasant springs, Oregon keeps welcoming new and returning travelers. Massive forests, powerful waterfalls, and thermal springs of the state never once fail to impress the adventure-thirty visitors. With its gorgeous landscapes and dozens of charming towns, the rugged Oregon Coast alone works as a perfect destination for a weekend road trip.
The Oregon Coast is a vast coastal region in the state of Oregon. It neighbors with the Pacific Ocean to its west. The Oregon Coast Range, a mountain range along the ocean, defines its borders to its east. The Oregon Coast consists of three sub-regions: the North Coast, the Central Coast, and the South Coast. Although the rugged coastline has little association with surfing (as opposed to its southern neighbor), a weekend at the Oregon Coast road trip still tops itineraries of most of the state’s visitors.
Helpful Tips for Your Ultimate Weekend at Oregon Coast Road Trip
Many Oregon Coast road trip itineraries recommend starting the journey on the South Coast and finish it in Brookings on the North Coast. A large number of the visitors arriving at Portland International Airport seem to agree with this. From here, it takes 1 hour 20 minutes to get to Cannon Beach, a popular destination on the South Coast.
Although Portland indeed boasts the biggest airport, Oregon has another international airport, the Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport in Medford. The city is located 2 hours 30 minutes away from Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor on the South Coast. The drive is about 1 hour longer than the one on the North Coast. But since the road winds through Oregon and the utmost northern part of California, it automatically adds Redwood National and State Parks to your weekend at the Oregon Coast road trip itinerary.
Airplane fares also pay a big role in choosing a starting point for the Oregon Coast road trip. It’s usually cheaper to fly to Medford. Often, you will pay half of the price to get here as opposed to Portland.
The Best Time to Go on Oregon Coast Road Trip
Unlike some other places in Oregon, the Oregon Coast provides perfect conditions for a weekend road trip all year round. The place is stunning in winter and fall. It ensures that you can swim and sunbathe in summer and late spring. Those who want to take it easy can enjoy leisurely walks by the ocean at any season.
The best time to go on the Oregon Coast road trip though is early fall – September though mid-October. Locals call this time “the second summer”, as the days are still long, and winter winds don’t settle in this part of Oregon yet. Such weather makes sure that you have the perfect road trip along the Oregon Coast. Moreover, with the temperatures in the 60s and 70s, be ready to spend more time outside watching whales, playing near the coast.
Read more: The Best Time to Travel to Oregon by Regions
Weekend at Oregon Coast Road Trip Highlights
- The South Coast:
- Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor
- Port Orford
- Coos Bay
- The Central Coast:
- Devil’s Punchbowl State Natural Area
- Drift Creek Falls Hike
- The North Coast:
- Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area
- Cannon Beach
Day One: The South Coast
Drive time: 2 hours 10 minutes
The first day of the weekend at Oregon Coast road trip covers approximately one third of the coast. It starts in Brookings and ends in Coos Bay. Although it takes a little bit over 2 hours to get from one point to another, the number of places to explore will fill the entire day. If you start your weekend road trip along the Oregon Coast in Medford, add additional 2 hours 30 minutes to the drive time. Regardless of the starting point of your journey, be sure to hit the road early to catch sunrise and avoid crowds.
Set in the southern corner of Oregon, Brooking is a perfect destination to start the weekend at Oregon Coast road trip. Although the town is small and quiet, it sets the pace of your trip. Since Brookings is located in Curry country, the locals like to joke that there is no hurry in Curry. With golden sand beaches, seaside cliffs, and hidden dunes, there is no reason to rush through the town. Azalea Park further slows down your Oregon Coast road trip to give you chance to smell… oh well, wild azaleas. Thanks to its hidden tide pools and abundance of sea stacks, Lone Ranch Beach stands out from Brookings’ other impressive beaches such as Harris Beach and Whaleshead Beach.
SAMUEL H. BOARDMAN STATE SCENIC CORRIDOR
Brookings’ natural scenery spreads all the way to the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor, barely setting borders between these destinations. The 12-mile long park was named in honor of the first Oregon superintendent, Samuel H. Boardman.
The Corridor, the most popular stop on the South Oregon Coast road trip, charms with sandy beaches, natural bridges, and elevated viewpoints. The sunny weather almost all year round makes it a favorite hiking destination of the locals and travelers alike. So, make sure to bring your hiking shoes on the road trip along the Oregon Coast and head down a winding trail in search of Secret Beach. Do you want to admire the natural beauty of the park without any extensive walks? Easy to reach viewpoints such as House Rock Viewpoint and Cape Ferrelo Viewpoint are at your service.
It’s easy to rush through such small cities as Port Orford on a two-day road trip along the Oregon Coast. Indeed, you might not have time for city’s mountain hiking tails and art galleries, but be sure to stop for the stunning views of the rugged coastline.
Nestled 1 hour 20 minutes away from the scenic Corridor, Bandon brings some urban vibes to the Oregon Coast road trip. The city entices with its historic lighthouse and famed golf courses. It’s also likely for the road-trippers to change their mode of transport from a car to a horse. For a moderate fee, Bandon Beach Riding Stables takes you for hour-long rides on the beach.
A 30-minute drive to Coos Bay ends the first day of the weekend at the Oregon Coast road trip. Beautiful surroundings and friendly neighbors of the city allure many future residents of Oregon.Thus, it’s not a surprise that Coos Bay is the most populous city on the Oregon Coast. The locals praise Coos Bay for its beauty, but encourage you to stay away from downtown. According to them, it’s not as nice as the rest of the city and won’t deprive your weekend at the Oregon Coast road trip from any unforgettable experiences. Although it might be true for the nature lovers, architecture enthusiasts find the Carnegie Library, Egyptian Theatre, and Chandler Hotel in the downtown area worth a visit.
The undeniable highlights of Coos Bay are Golden Falls and Silver Falls in the valleys of the Oregon Coast Range. Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area ensures that the visitors can see elks, including the Roosevelt elks, before continuing their trip along the Oregon Coast. Cape Arago takes you back to the shore to show you marine life in Oregon. If you’re longing for scenic coastal hikes, head over to Sunset Bay State Park.
Places to Stay in Coos Bay
- BAY BRIDGE MOTEL. Bay Bridge Motel, a 2-star motel, is a great option for budget travelers. Set just a few minutes away from McCullough Memorial Bridge, the motel offers simple rooms, some basic bathroom amenities, and free WiFi and parking.
- BAY POINT LANDING. With Bay Point Landing, you can stay as close as possible to nature even at night. The unique resorts makes sure you feel comfortable in their tiny cabins. RV sites and airstreams are also available.
- RED LION HOTEL COOS BAY. For a more luxurious stay, Red Lion Hotel offers standard rooms, an outdoor pool, a fitness center, a restaurant, and free Wi-Fi.
Day Two: Road Trip along the Oregon Central and Northern Coasts
Drive time: 5 hours 30 minutes
The Central and North Coasts are a large territory for one day of the Oregon road trip. Thus, try to be selective with the destinations you want to visit.
DEVILS’S PUNCHBOWL STATE NATURAL AREA
Devil’s Punchbowl State Natural Are is a state day use park on the Central Coast of Oregon. The main attraction of the place is the Devil’s Punchbowl itself – a natural sandstone cauldron. Some theories suggest that collapse of one of the cave ceiling gave birth to this natural phenomenon. It didn’t take long for the powerful ocean waves to start working on it and shaping it into a structure you can see now.
After almost two hours of non-stop driving, the Devil’s Punchbowl is a much-needed stop on the Oregon Coast road trip. Be sure to stay long enough to see how the waves enter the bowl and churn, foam, and swirls violently. Groups of seals and sea lions also frequent the place, giving you an additional reason to spend more time here.
DRIFT CREEK FALLS TRAIL
You can go on the road trip along the coast just to see the famous waterfalls of Oregon. Such beautiful opportunity appears near Lincoln City on the central Oregon Coast. The 1.5-mile Drift Creek Falls Trail takes you through a quiet coastal forest to a 240-foot suspension bridge with the astounding views of Drift Creek Falls. The churning waters of the waterfall plunge down from a hight of 66 feet. It’s definitely not the biggest waterfall you can see in the state, but the dreamy surrounding, including the suspension bridge, make it a must-see destination on the Oregon Coast road trip. The best time to see Drift Creek Falls is winter and spring, when the waterfall, fed by storms, is especially powerful.
CAPE KIWANDA STATE NATURAL AREA
Finally continuing with this road trip into the northern Oregon Coast, and the first stop to make here is Cape Kiwanda. The place is known as the southern headland of the Three Capes Scenic Route that also includes Cape Lookout and Cape Meares. The locals suggest that you take the whole loop to enjoy every cape, as each of them is charming on its own. If for whatever reasons you must choose just one, let it be Cape Kiwanda.
The smallest of the three capes, Kiwanda enhances the Oregon Coast road trip with a stunning show performed by the forceful ocean waves. Although the place can get busy near parking lot, a short climb up the cape’s dunes gives you more privacy and serenity. The panoramic views of the headland, Haystack Rock, Nestucca Bay, and Cape Lookout further inspire you to go to the top of the cape.
The last destination on this Oregon Coast road trip is Cannon Beach, a small coastal city in northwest Oregon. The place owes its popularity to a long, sandy shoreline with Haystack Rock. Charming Hug Point Falls, which waters drop from Fall Creek over a weathered sandstone bluff onto Arcadia Beach, also never fails to impress. Numerous hiking trails in Ecola State Park are so pleasing for your legs after the long road trip along the Oregon Coast. With so many gorgeous places to explore, it’s not wonder that in 2013, National Geographic listed Cannon Beach as one of the world’s 100 most beautiful places.
Places to Stay in Cannon Beach
- SEASHORE INN ON THE BEACH SEASIDE. The budget travelers will want to extend their road trip a bit farther north to Seaside. Located about 14 minute aways from Cannon Beach, this resort city offer more affordable places to stay with the not less impressive ocean views. Seashore Inn on the Beach Seaside is one of the hotels to check out here. It offers the basic amenities including free parking and WiFi, an indoor pool, hot tub, and sauna.
- HALLMARK RESORT HOTEL & SPA. After the two-day road trip it’s about time to pamper yourself at Hallmark Resort Hotel & Spa. The hotel offers relaxed rooms, suites, and beach cabins along with an indoor saltwater pool and a day spa. Its convenient location allows you to see some of the city’s attractions without the need of using the car.
What to Pack for the Weekend at the Oregon Coast Road Trip
- Rain gear. Oh well, it’s Oregon, a place where rain doesn’t make you wait long for it. Thus, a rain trench won’t weigh you down here.
- Sunscreen. Good sunscreen should be an essential part of any road trips.
- Kleenex wet wipes come in handy to wipe off the mud from your shoes and hands after the hikes.
- Camera and tripod. I always recommend bringing your camera and tripod to capture the best moments of your adventures. This road trip is no exception.
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