I must admit, despite living in Oregon all my life, it took me entirely too long to do a proper Oregon coast road trip — popping off at each of the quaint Oregon coast towns along the way.
Shame on me, right?!
Luckily for me, this is a story of redemption because last spring I finally made the effort to partake in this “rite of passage” and it truly turned out to be the adventure of a lifetime.
My husband and I popped off at each of the coastal towns that line the salty sea and thought it’d be fun to rank the best of the best, from a local’s perspective.
Read on for everything you need to know about the best Oregon coast towns this lovely state has to offer — I hope you enjoy!
Quick Tip: Make sure to pack sunscreen! Here’s the sunscreen I’ve used for the past 6+ years, I discovered it in France and now buy it in bulk. You’ll never catch me without it!
Best Oregon Coast Towns Map
Best Oregon Coast Towns
#15. Coos Bay
Coos Bay is one of my favorite towns at the Oregon Coast. It’s perfectly quaint, has plenty of restaurants and the locals are friendly.
This charming southern Oregon coast town is full of natural beauty and outdoor recreation. The location makes it a perfect gateway to the rugged and adventurous southern cost, which is ripe for exploration.
Image courtesy Lance Nix | Flickr
#14. Rockaway Beach
If your ideal day at the Oregon coast doesn’t entail hoards of people peppered along the beach, may I suggest Rockaway Beach?
The best way to describe this gem is “a little Oregon Coast town with a big beach.”
Quieter than its famous neighbor (looking at you, Cannon Beach) this is the place to go for a relaxing weekend catching up with old friends.
Brookings is a sleepy yet charming Oregon Coast town found a mere six miles from the California border.
This is the southern-most coastal town in Oregon and it doesn’t get too many visitors. We’ve seldom run into crowds here, which is surprising because the natural bridges viewpoint is downright jaw-dropping.
With long stretches of sandy beaches and warmer weather than most other Oregon Coast towns, this is a great place to enjoy the breathtaking views of the Oregon Coast and stretch your legs via hike.
When you’ve had your fill of nature, head towards town where cute pubs and breweries await you.
There’s a surprising amount of amenities for a town this size, but there’s two grocery stores and 10+ restaurants offering good food options.
I recommend swinging by Zola’s on the Water for a quick bite before, if you’re hungry.
The quaint town of Neskowin has been able to skirt the commercialization taking most of the other Oregon Coast towns by storm. As such, both Neskowin Beach and town feel less crowded than other areas along the coast.
The beach itself is a sight to behold. Both Proposal Rock and the Ghost Forest — 2000-year-old stumps from ancient Sitka spruce that spanned impressive heights of 200-feet — make for a memorable beach experience you won’t soon forget.
If you’re in an adventurous mood, strap on your hiking boots and take in the splendor of the vast Pacific Ocean from the Cascades Head trail, one of the BEST hikes at the Oregon Coast.
#11. Yachats | Central Oregon Coast Town
If you’re a sucker for natural wonders (me too!), Yachats is one of the best Oregon coast towns you can visit.
The glorious Cape Perpetua Scenic Area is hauntingly beautiful and the town itself has a small-town feel with friendly locals adamant about enjoying a slower pace of life.
While exploring this lovely coastal town, make sure you don’t miss lunch (or dinner) at Luna Sea — considered the BEST fish and chips on the Oregon Coast. After trying them first hand, I can confirm.
In fact, Will and I were tempted to drive out one random weekend for another meal at this restaurant — it’s that good.
If you’re a big fan of baked goods, Bread & Roses is a great spot for coffee and pastries, try not to miss that either.
#10. Manzanita | Northern Oregon Coast Town
Manzanita is smaller than the other Oregon Coast towns mentioned in this post, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in charm.
Lesser known that the more famous coastal beaches and towns, Manzanita is known for having less crowds and pleasant temperate weather most of the year.
Don’t leave this cute town without visiting Oswald West State Park, one of my favorite state parks in Oregon state.
The views of Nehalem Bay are downright breathtaking which is why Manzanita is home to one of my favorite hikes on the Oregon Coast.
#9. Bandon | Southern Oregon Coast Town
Bandon, Oregon is filled to the brim with creative locals that have turned this little coastal town into an alluring place for visitors and locals alike.
There’s so much to do (and learn), you can easily spend an entire weekend in Bandon and leave wanting more.
I suggest starting your day in Old Town Bandon, where fun little shops line the main street.
If you’re visiting on a Friday or Saturday, make time to explore the old town marketplace where local artisans are eager to share their talents and crafts.
You can’t visit Bandon without taking the Beach Loop Drive and exploring Circles in the Sand. Both are bound to entertain you for hours.
Tip: Face Rock Creamery is a great option for lunch and ice cream. They make great sandwiches and a mean panini. Plus, the cheese is so good! But heads up — the ice cream portions are huge, I suggest splitting a single scoop between two people.
#8. Florence | Central Oregon Coast Town
During our road trip through the Oregon Coast, Florence surprised us more than any other coastal town.
We couldn’t believe how quaint it felt — from the charming main street, called Bay Street, to the great dining options — we ended up staying an extra day because we found the town so alluring.
Oh, but don’t let me forget — the natural wonders in this area are something else! Make sure to swing by the Sea Lion Caves — the largest sea cave in America inhabited by sea lions (spring and winter are the best seasons to visit).
And make an effort to explore Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area — the largest expanse of coastal dunes in the country, and one of the largest temperate coastal sand dunes in the entire world.
Finally, make sure you swing by Heceta Head Lighthouse, the most photographed lighthouse in Oregon (for good reason).
#7. Lincoln City | Central Oregon Coast Town
Lincoln City never ceases to amaze, this stunning coastal town has it all — phenomenal hiking, delicious restaurants, and plenty of outdoor adventure.
Visit Siletz Bay and you’ll know instantly why this is considered one of the most striking bays on the Oregon coast.
If you’re in the hiking mood, don’t miss Cascade Head, more specifically — the God’s Thumb hike. It’s arguably the best hike this close to the Pacific.
If you’re in the shopping mood, swing by the Lincoln City Outlets — you’re bound to find a deal or two.
#6. Seaside | Northern Oregon Coast Town
Seaside may feel like a tourist trap to some, but as someone that grew up playing at Funland Seaside Arcade and enjoying one too many ice cream cones from Zingers Ice Cream, I think it’s a great spot to visit during a trip to the Oregon Coast.
This is also a great place for kids because there’s tons of family-friendly attractions to choose from, such as the Seaside Aquarium (where you can feed the seals) and the carousel at Seaside Carousel Mall.
History buff? The turnaround at Seaside is designated as the official end of the Lewis and Clark Trail — reason alone to visit.
“Ocian in view! O! the joy!” wrote Captain William Clark.
You’re stepping foot in history!
If you’re a beach bum, there’s plenty of space to branch out in the sand — you’re bound to see folks playing volleyball and kids coming down from a sugar high (the elephant ears from We’re All Ears cannot be missed!).
#5. Astoria | Northern Oregon Coast Town
Perhaps best known as the filming location for The Goonies, Astoria is not technically an Oregon coast beach town because it sits at the mouth of the Columbia River, but try telling that to a local.
Regardless of the technicality, nothing stops this gem from being one the most beloved and historic Oregon Coast beach towns.
The town is chock-full of maritime history, so swing by the Columbia River Maritime Museum to get a better appreciation of the importance of the land.
I also suggest visiting Fort Clatsop, a replica of the winter encampment used during the Lewis & Clark expedition, it was created using notes from the expedition journals, how cool is that?
After that, head over to Fort Stevens State Park (one of the prettiest state parks in Oregon) and swing by Buoy brewery before checking out the most iconic shipwreck on the Oregon coast — the wreck of Peter Iredale!
Interesting fact about Astoria: Astoria is where the Columbia River dumps into the Pacific Ocean. This is one of the most dangerous river bar crossings on the planet where waves can exceed a colossal forty feet in height. Can you imagine?
#4. Depoe Bay | Central Oregon Coast Town
Depoe Bay harbor is known as the smallest natural navigable harbor in the world. Often referred to as the whale watching capital of the Oregon coast, this lovely coastal town draws whales like clockwork from March through December.
Humpback whales, grey whales, orcas, and more can be viewed here along with a bevy of other sea life.
Whale sightings are all but guaranteed during the migrating season and there’s plenty of viewpoints to chose from! Check out the Whale Watch Center, hop on a charter boat or keep a distance from an observation deck.
Depoe Bay is also home to some beautiful waterfront hotels like the Channel House where one of our friends generously gifted us a stay and we absolutely LOVED it — can’t recommend it enough!
#3. Pacific City | Northern Oregon Coast Town
Of all the Oregon coast towns I’ve grown to love, Pacific City feels like the most peaceful beach town. But don’t get me wrong, it’s an outdoor enthusiast’s dream, especially if you enjoy surfing.
Visit Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area, one of the most beautiful places to watch a sunset and most popular areas to visit on the entire Oregon coast.
Pelican Brewery is great spot for a delicious brews and breathtaking views of the sea after a day exploring.
#2. Newport | Central Oregon Coast Town
I spent many childhood weekends exploring the historic Bayfront in Newport.
The sea lions on the dock are always a hoot and there’s a plethora of fun shop to explore and new restaurants to discover.
If you’re into a little recreational crabbing there are several great docks to try your luck for some delicious dungeness.
Newport has become a rather desirable destination on the Oregon Coast, even featuring a Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum, so you can almost always expect lively streets chock-full of chatty people.
In terms of restaurants, our favorite spot is Local Ocean Seafoods, located a bit further down from the bridge off of Bay Blvd.
Check out Yaquina Head Lighthouse and pop off for a brew at Rogue Ales afterwards.
#1. Cannon Beach | Northern Oregon Coast Town
You better believe I’m saving the best for last — who wouldn’t want to visit Oregon’s most famous coastal town?
Cannon Beach is a mere 1.5-hour drive from Portland, which means it’s quite popular with both locals and tourists alike. Due to this Oregon coast town’s popularity, there’s plenty of hotels and restaurants to choose from.
But hard to blame anyone for flocking to this area– the iconic 235′ Haystack Rock has an appeal few can resist. Explore Haystack Rock at low tide for colorful starfish, abundant anemones, hermit crabs and tidepools.
If you’re into birding — you’ll see Tufted Puffins (so cool), pelicans, too many seagulls and a handful of Bald Eagles.
My favorite areas to explore near Cannon Beach are Ecola State Park and Hug Point State Park.
Things to do at the Oregon Coast
- Go crabbing: Pick up a $10 permit, a crab net, a few chicken legs and spend a day crabbing at the Oregon coast!
- Go whale watching: Whale watching is a year-round activity at the Oregon coast, but your best chance of success occurs from March thru December.
- Explore ALL the lighthouses: There’s 11 lighthouses that pepper the Oregon coast — try to visit all of them! Here’s a complete list of all the lighthouses along the coast.
The Best Oregon Coast Towns (Post Summary)
In sum, here’s a quick overview of the best Oregon coast towns, based on firsthand experience.
- Lincoln City
- Depoe Bay
- Pacific City
- Cannon Beach
- Rockaway Beach
- Coos Bay
Until next time,