The Oregon Coast is filled with so many amazing views, historical fishing villages, scenic hikes, and fun eateries. As you explore along the coastline, you will come across a near endless number of pull offs, viewpoints, trailheads and beach access spots. Most are worth a quick stop, but if you are looking to fill your days with coastal towns, this is the guide for you!
After you have packed your bags, loaded the car, and grabbed some snacks, get ready to hit the top beach towns in Oregon. Leaving from Portland, the coast isn’t too far of a drive if you head up i5 and out US Highway 30.
After about 2hours of driving through the beautiful forest, you will emerge to a view of the coast.
We’re going to start our journey in the adorable coastal town of Astoria.
-This town has come a long way in the past 10 years, and is now a must-stop destination! Breweries, antique shops, and cafes nearly every way you look. Adorable houses line the hilly streets & The Goonies filming sites make for a fun self-guided tour. The historical Astoria Column is great exercise that leads to an amazing view and walking the docks along the water is a fun way to stroll the city and watch for seals.
My favorite spot: Buoy Beer Company to grab some grub and listen to the seals. (pst, they even have a glass section of the floor that you can look through to see the seals swimming below!)
Driving South for about 30 mins, we will run into the, arguably most popular, beach town of Seaside.
-This is a fantastic family vacation spot. Complete with an arcade, bumper cars, salt-water taffy and ice cream shops, the kids will be loving every minute. This town holds kite, sand castle, beach clean-up and sand sports competitions, so no matter when you visit, you are likely to catch some unexpected excitement!
My favorite spot: The Promenade. This beach walk is about a mile and a half and dates back to the 1920s.
Just a short 15ish minute drive, will take us to Cannon Beach.
But before you get to Cannon beach, I 100% recommend stopping by Ecola State Park. You will see signs along the drive and there are many spots to pull off & enjoy the view or park & get out to explore the beach to take some stunning nature hikes!
-This might be my favorite Oregon beach town. It’s so quaint and peaceful. I even wrote an entire post about it. Check out my full Guide to Cannon Beach!
My favorite spot: Haystack rock. This is a beautiful rock formation out at sea and one of the few places in the world that Puffins nest!
20 minutes South will lead us to Manzanita.
-This town is exactly what you want in an Oregon Beach town. Lots of trinket, antique and sweet shops, and a large beach access point at the end of the main road.
My favorite spot: Neahkahni Mountain hike.
Another 20 minutes driving and you are at Rockaway Beach.
-Although this is a very small town with not much more than a few eateries, the Cedar Old Growth Nature Preserve alone is worth the stop.
My favorite spot: This is my favorite beach to hang out on. I absolutely love watching the sun sink into the ocean, silhouetting Twin Rocks. They’re over 100ft high and 20+ million years old, and quite the sight!
A short 10ish minutes and we see Garibaldi.
-Okay, this is actually a small town on the bay, but its formed by 5 rivers meeting and flowing into the Pacific, so it still counts as the Oregon Coast. It’s a small fishing town and smells like it, but there is a lot of interesting history here. It’s a great place to go crabbing, clamming, fishing and bird watching.
My favorite spot: The Maritime Museum.
Heading inland, just a bit about 15 minutes, we will make it to classic, Tillamook.
-Tillamook is a great place to stay if you want to visit all of those surrounding beaches. It’s a great place for families and couples to explore nature, enjoy all kinds of outdoor activities, and eat & drink till your heart’s content. They even have an Air museum where you can walk around inside the hangars with historic planes!
My favorite spot:
Okay, there is no way I can get by NOT saying my favorite thing about Tillamook is the Cheese factory. This was always a beach staple of my childhood and is such a cool place to explore! They offer tours of the factory where you can learn how they make different types of cheeses and ice cream. Or you can walk around and watch on your own. Samples are available, so try all you like, then I dare you to leave there without buying miscellaneous cheeses and an ice cream cone!
After stopping by the Tillamook Cheese Factory & getting your fill of all the local dairy goodies, you have a decision to make. This is a good place to hop back onto Hwy 6 and head back towards Portland, or carry on the adventure South and hit up a few more coastal towns. If you choose the latter, your next stop would be about 30 more minutes, to Pacific City.
-An Oregon coast surfer’s paradise! If you’re not into hopping on a board, it’s a great place to watch the wild ones ride the waves. This sleepy town is home of Pelican Brewery, which offers great brews and even better views!
My favorite spot: The beach. A silly answer, maybe, but I like this one because you can drive your 4wd vehicle on the sand, open the back hatch or drop the tailgate and picnic from your car! Plus you can have fires on the sand, so it’s easy to spend “too much” time here.
On our way, about 30 minutes, we run into Lincoln City.
-A fun beach spot for a friends’ weekend trip. Lincoln city is most known for its large casino, but also has many great restaurants and lots of easy beach access. Keep your eye out for kites! Lincoln city hosts annual kite festivals.
My favorite spot: Watching the glass blowers! You’ll see them when you get there. 😉
Keep driving about 25 minutes and we come to Depoe Bay.
-If you blink, you might miss it…so don’t blink. Depoe Bay is the Whale watching capital of the Oregon Coast AND is home to the world’s smallest navigable harbor, so it’s well worth a stop!
My favorite spot: Tidal Raves Seafood Grill. The price point is a little higher than I normally like, but the food and the views make the cost worth it. Put on the nicest outfit in your suitcase (or backpack) and check it out!
-This is a verrrrry quiet beach town. There are three businesses including a surf shop and coffee/sweets shop. It’s very Pacific Northwest and although there isn’t much to do in town, it’s a short drive from both Depoe Bay and Newport.
This local’s only town has one main tourist attraction: Devil’s punchbowl.
My favorite spot: The main beach access is a steep staircase leading to a secluded place to watch surfers ride the waves.
-Oregon Coast Aquarium, tallest lighthouse in the state, breweries, surfing and Bald Eagle spotting make this a must-stop town on your coastal trip! Agate beach (don’t be fooled by the name, agates are a rare find nowadays) and Nye beach are both popular spots near Newport.
My favorite spot: Tidepools at the Yaquina Head Natural Area
This is another good opportunity to hop on Hwy 20 to head towards I5 and make your way to Portland. This is typically where we turnaround to head back home. But I have vicariously lived through friends and family that have been to the beaches further south.
If you are planning to continue your journey all the way to California, your next stop will be:
Florence-A quaint town with boutique shops and a historic downtown area. This is a popular spot for ATV riders as the dunes here are long and beautiful!
About an hour south you will come across Coos Bay, Oregon.
Coos Bay-Mostly locals and retirees, this is a quiet spot to explore. Perfect if you are looking for some rest and relaxation away from touristy crowds.
Bandon-This is a popular destination for the adventurous ones looking to cruise the sand dunes on all types of ATVs. If that’s a little too extreme for you, there are horse stables nearby that take horseback riding tours on the beach as well!
This is the longest stretch of the journey. At nearly 2 hours apart, the next major stop is Harris Beach.
Harris Beach-Actually a State park, this beach area offers many hiking trails, ample areas to view wildlife of all kinds and year round camping is available in your own tents or yurts for rent.
After you explore all of these Oregon Beach towns, you will be crossing the boarder into California.
Let me know in the comments which one of these beach adventures is your favorite or which one you are most looking forward to!