There is so much to see and do. I will focus on the center of the state: from Florence to Oceanside, Oregon.
There are many lighthouses along this coast. Check here for details on visiting and touring them: http://www.nwcoast.com/lighthouses/oregon.asp
On the following dates, admission to public lands and parks will be free of charge:
- August 25, National Park Service Birthday and
- September 28, National Public Lands Day
Next is Cape Perpetua with a good visitors' center, trails and tide pools. Kids (and adults..) will love exploring life in the tide pools, finding anemones, starfish and much more.
If you have time, take the drive up to Perpetua Look-out for the amazing view south along the coast. And be sure to stop at Devil's Churn to watch white foam waves spouting up between the rocks.
We like visiting the little town of Yachats, especially the little winery and The Drift Inn with live music every night of the year. http://www.the-drift-inn.com/schedule.php
After that you will come to "our" village of Waldport, where we do our grocery shopping, find amazing wines and micro brews in Ray's Supermarket, pick up a latte and watch seals lazing along the Alsea river. Nice kayaking here, too. We have a little cottage just north of here and love spending days walking along the wide sand beaches. Amazing beaches. At low tide they are 1/4 mile deep, and allow us to walk many miles from here to Seal Rock. Along Highway 101 are several woodcarvers, selling large wooden bears, fun sea gulls and more. There are also 5 state parks between Waldport and Newport, all with gorgeous beaches.
Newport and Lincoln City are pretty crowded in the summer with tourists, shopping, doing all the touristy things. But do visit downtown Newport to see the sea lions on the public dock. Clam chowder at Mo's makes for a good lunch. And I like to pop into the Leather Works Store which has many leather things, all under $20.-, including office roll-on bags, purses, belts and jackets. Newport also has the Aquarium and the Hatfield Marine Science Center, if you travel with kids or want to explore these sites.
North of Lincoln City, the crowds fade away behind you and things get quieter. But there are also fewer places to eat or shop. The towns seem more 'rustic' and I noticed more 'closed' signs than 'open'... But be sure to swing into the road leading to Cape Foulweather. Amazing vistas. And the cool giftshop here has my favorite window in the whole world. It makes you feel like you are hanging above the Pacific. Which you are. 500 feet to be exact.
http://www.tillamookair.com/) and take a ride on the Garibaldi steam train. But it's worth the drive to Oceanside to spend some relaxing days in this picturebook village. The houses cling to the cliffs (literally) and you can sip a latte looking out over the blue ocean or walk on the sand beaches near the famous Three Arches. A great place to hang out. Best time to visit the coast: September, when the wind is calm, the sun usually shines and the crowds have gone home.