Article Overview: Best Things to Do in Bandon, Oregon
The Oregon coast is no stranger to charming coastal towns ripe for exploration, but there’s something special about Bandon few places can replicate.
A sleepy town in the far southern reaches of Oregon, Bandon is snuggled between Coos Bay and Brookings. Much of the area surrounding the town is undeveloped, which means a hefty supply of solitude can be found along the quiet beaches, trails, and parks.
I recall the first time I visited Bandon on my mom’s recommendation. We grew up going to the coast, but Bandon is a 4.5 hour drive from Portland, which meant we ended up in the northern coast most often — seldom making it further south.
What a mistake that turned out to be.
Well, a few years ago (with the kids finally out of the house), my mom made the trip and couldn’t wait to tell the tale. She completely fell in love with the area and found herself returning often after that.
Intrigued, Will and I decided to pay a visit — and wow, we couldn’t agree more. There’s so many great things to do in Bandon, Oregon. So let’s dive right in.
Best Things to Do in Bandon, Oregon
Enjoy the sights at Bandon Beach
There’s no denying that Bandon Beach is the star of the show in this charming coastal town. Often considered one of the best beaches at the Oregon coast, this beach is marred by monolithic sea stacks that create a dramatic landscape few can resist.
Less crowded that the beaches found on the northern tip of the Oregon coast, Bandon Beach is a joy to explore aimlessly.
From fascinating tide pools to panoramic overlooks and plenty of soft sandy beach to stroll, it won’t take long to realize why folks prefer this beach over others.
If you’re feeling sluggish (hey, we’ve all been there before), opt for the Beach Loop Drive. This 5-mile tour takes you to the most popular viewpoints and beaches along the coastline.
The drive starts at the Bandon Historical Society Museum and ends in Old Town Bandon, but not before passing through some notable spots.
Such as, the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge, Face Rock Scenic Viewpoint and Bandon State Natural Area. (I’ll cover these areas in more detail below.)
Visiting Bandon in the summer? Learn about Circles in the Sand
Anyone planning on visiting Bandon in the summer should know about Circles in the Sand. This interesting (and artsy) endeavor takes place from late April thru August.
Creative locals come together to create fascinating labyrinths in the sand for visitors to enjoy. As you can imagine, this is no easy feat and requires quite the time commitment! As such, it doesn’t take place every weekend (here’s the current schedule).
These labyrinths create a fun walking experience for visitors. Depending on the tide, they tend to be usable for 2 hours after completion.
Explore Old Town Bandon
Known for its historic buildings, scenic beauty, and vibrant artistic community, Visiting Bandon’s Old Town is like stepping back in time
The Victorian-style storefronts, with their ornate facades and colorful awnings lining the streets house a variety of shops, restaurants, art galleries, and boutiques.
Old Town is located on the Coquille River where a quaint harbor meets a pier full of small boats.
Stroll along the boardwalk at sunset, peruse local restaurants for delicious food (more on that below) or take yourself on a well-deserved shopping spree–the options are endless!
Art is also a significant part of Old Town Bandon’s identity. The town is home to numerous art galleries, featuring the works of local artists.
It is not uncommon to see artists at work, capturing the beauty of the surrounding coastal landscape or showcasing their talent through other mediums. Pop into any store that catches your interests, you’re bound to find something new to discover (or learn).
Visit Washed Ashore Gallery: Art to Save The Sea
One of the most unique things to do in Bandon is to swing by Washed Ashore: Art To Save The Sea Gallery. An unusual gem where local artists collect trash from the sand and create beautiful sculptures of various sea life.
Standing in front of a large sea turtle fashioned from bottle caps and plastic bags really puts into perspective how much waste clogs up our oceans.
These artists use the waste in a way intended to inspire all of us to be more aware of the impact our waste has on the world we live in. Plus, the sculptures are true masterpieces.
Coquille River Lighthouse & Bullards Beach
Visiting Bullards Beach State Park is the perfect place for nature enthusiasts in search of the best things to do in Bandon.
This stunning state park offers a picturesque coastline with long stretches of bright sandy beaches and mesmerizing ocean views.
Casual visitors can indulge in various recreational activities, including beachcombing, kite flying, and sunbathing along the peaceful shoreline.
For those seeking a bit more adventure, Bullards Beach offers ample opportunities for hiking on well-maintained trails that meander through lush forests and dunes.
One of the main highlights is the iconic Coquille River Lighthouse – a historic landmark that stands tall over the rugged landscape.
Campers can also relish in its serene campgrounds nestled amidst old-growth trees, creating the perfect ambiance for relaxation under a starlit sky.
Whether you’re looking to spend quality time with family or simply unwind amidst nature’s wonders, visiting Bullards Beach is without a doubt one of the best things to do in Bandon, Oregon.
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Admire Face Rock State Park
Face Rock State Park is rather special because it gives visitors intimate views of the formidable sea stacks dotting Bandon’s breathtaking coastline with fewer crowds.
The namesake of the park, Face Rock, stands proud in the ocean surf just offshore and might resemble a face if you look at it from the right angle.
Face Rock sits in good company with a smattering of other sea stacks jutting up from the waves alongside it. The iconic Wizard’s Hat stands tall and stout, tapering into a fine and crooked point.
Take a gander and see how many of the sea stacks are aptly named.
Hike the Sisters Rocks Trail
Beyond the chance to see these unique rocks that have become icons of the southern coast, we recommend hiking while you’re visiting Bandon. Hitting the trails gives you even more insight into the natural splendor of this remote area.
I suggest opting for the (easy) 1.5 mile Sisters Rocks trail, which is one of the best things to do in Bandon. The jaunt takes you through a meadow and out to a headland where you can get incredible views and the chance to explore some cool sea caves.
Once you reach Big Sister you can look down into what is now the collapsed roof of a cavernous cave that has stood here for eons. From here you can scramble down the base of Big Sister and see the mouth of three caves at low tide.
You’ll be able to view Middle Sister up close to your left and the smallest sister resting just offshore. Continue down the trail to a secluded sandy cove, the first of a few!
As you wander the area you’ll see plenty more sea stacks, sand bridges, and little tide pools tucked in the nooks and crannies of the broken cliffs.
Northern Beaches and Cape Arago State Park
Due north of Bandon is a series of beaches that are perfect to explore if you want to see as much of the shore as possible. Between Whiskey Run Beach and Shore Acres you’ll hit the Merchants, Agate, and Sacchi Beaches.
Merchants Beach lies within the Seven Devil’s Recreation Area and is great access point for miles of open shoreline.
Merchants and Agate Beaches are pretty much one unified beach with two small ever-changing creeks weaving through them, while Sacchi lies on its own separated by a jumble of rocks.
You can access Sacchi beach by simply walking around the rocks at low tide (this beach is not accessible and can be dangerous at high tide!).
Sacchi Beach butts right up against the famous Cape Arago State Park, which is another must-see park in this area if you’ve got some time to kill after exploring Bandon.
Cape Arago features many more miles of dreamy shoreline, tide pools, and typical park amenities like camping, hiking, and chances to see whales, seals, sea lions, and tons of other marine wildlife.
There’s even a small lighthouse you can view from the road. You can walk many uninterrupted miles through these beaches without ever leaving the sand.
Shore Acres State Park
Shore Acres State Park is a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde sort of place: at once wildly rugged natural coastline and meticulously curated garden full of exotic plants.
The gardens here are the last vestige of a timber baron’s grand estate. Visitors can still roam the perfectly curated gardens year round, open daily from 8 AM to dusk.
The highlight of Shore Acres State Park is the picturesque botanical garden situated atop a sandstone bluff, offering visitors a chance to immerse themselves in a world of fragrant blooms while enjoying panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean.
As you explore the park’s well-maintained trails, you’ll be greeted by vibrant gardens bursting with colorful roses, rhododendrons, and other tropical plants—a delightful surprise in an otherwise wild setting.
Something’s always in bloom here, which is why paying a visiting is one of the best things to do in Bandon!
There is also an option to explore more of the less human-influenced landscape here by taking a short trail through the coastal woods down to the hidden cove of Simpson Beach.
The trail skirts the headlands, providing even more sensational views of the ocean below. Whether you’re picnicking on one of the manicured lawns or taking a leisurely stroll along the shoreline, this hidden gem provides an idyllic escape from daily life—a place where serenity meets untamed natural beauty.
Note: No dogs are allowed in the park, but the paths through the gardens are ADA accessible.
Whiskey Run Beach
Whiskey Run is the perfect place in Bandon to get some quality beach time in. A wide expanse of sandy shore that stretches for miles provides ample space for beachcombing, picnicking, and long walks along the surf.
The beach is a sterling example of the Oregon coast at its finest, glowing with pristine white sands framed by jagged cliffs and monumental sea stacks.
Bring the kids and dog along for some solid fun time on the sand, especially if you catch it on a sunny day! Easily accessible by a turn off from Highway 101, this beach is a no-fuss destination when you just want to let the family loose for some unstructured playtime.
On top of being a generally peaceful area, Whiskey Run Beach has a rich history, with remnants of an old whiskey distillery that once operated in the area.
These historical remnants, along with the name of the beach, pay homage to its intriguing past (though we can’t promise you’ll find any actual whiskey stashed anywhere!).
The combination of natural beauty and historical significance adds a layer of interest and charm to this coastal haven. Anyone visiting Bandon should make an effort to enjoy this picturesque beach.
Golden and Silver Falls
I feel compelled to mention this natural area even though it’s one hour northeast of Bandon proper. This might be a good pit stop for those visiting Bandon for the day, en route elsewhere.
Although it may be a little out of your way, what if we told you that these are the second and third largest waterfalls in the entire Oregon Coast range (behind Munson Falls, north near Tillamook)?
Standing at over 250 feet, these falls are impressive by anyone’s standards! And you don’t even have to push through miles of tough hiking to get to these beauties.
Three separate and easy trails take visitors to each of these falls, all totaling only 3 miles. One trail leads to Silver Falls, another to Golden Falls, and the third leads you to both falls, but we suggest walking all three!
The trail here is exceptional, not because of the massive old growth pines (those are cool too) but because the path has some serious history. In the early 1900’s a group of homesteaders turned this pack trail into a wagon trail.
They blasted the road from the cliffs and eventually automobiles used this road for transportation and logging up until the road was closed in the 1930’s due to landslides.
Subsequently, the area was bought by the park service and is now open to hikers–lucky us! This is also one of the most unfrequented parks in the state, so we doubt you’ll be fighting for parking, trail space, or views of the falls.
When you arrive, park at the day use area, go left to trek out to Silver Falls first. Less than 0.9 miles will take you through impossibly lush spruce, fir, and alder forest with Silver Creek gently winding beside you most of the way.
Silver Falls dramatically plunges 254 feet down a sandstone dome, inevitably spraying visitors with mist from its massive base. Needless to say, this hike is definitely one of the most adventurous things to do in Bandon, Oregon.
Enjoy the Cranberry Festival
The Cranberry Festival in Bandon, Oregon is a vibrant event that celebrates the small red fruit that has come to define this coastal town.
Each year in September (September 9-10, 2023) the festival draws locals and visitors alike to indulge in all things cranberry-related. Making this one of the most popular things to do in Bandon for those visiting in September.
The festivities kick off with a grand parade featuring incredible floats adorned with cranberry-themed decorations.
As you stroll through the streets, you will find numerous stalls selling an array of cranberry-infused treats, such as cranberry pies, jams, and even cranberry-flavored beverages.
If you are feeling adventurous, you can participate in the cranberry eating contest or try your hand at making your own homemade cranberry sauce during one of the cooking demonstrations.
The festival also features live music performances showcasing local talent as well as a marketplace where vendors offer arts, crafts, and other local products.
Whether you’re a devoted fan of cranberries or simply looking for a delightful day out by the coast, Bandon’s Cranberry Festival promises to leave you satisfied and smiling from ear to ear.
If you’re not in the area during September when the fest is happening, worry not! You can get a taste of this scrumptious little fruit by visiting Cranberry Sweets & More, a little shop open year round.
Offering artisanal popcorn, classic sweets, handmade chocolates all infused in one way or another with cranberries. If cranberries just aren’t your thing, don’t worry–this shop lives up to the “and more” part of their name!
Traditional sweets are also plentiful here. Bonus: try the cheddar cheese fudge. You read that right, and it’s one of those culinary oddities you just have to try for yourself!
Bandon Marsh is one of my favorite things to do in Bandon. A marsh, seriously? Yes, seriously!
Spanning over 900 acres, Bandon Marsh is known for its rich biodiversity, with a plethora of plant species and abundant birdlife.
Visitors to Bandon Marsh can explore the numerous trails that wind through the wetland, immersing themselves in the serene surroundings.
The marsh is a prime spot for birdwatching, with over 200 species of migratory and resident birds frequenting the area. You can observe bald eagles soaring the thermals above and catch sight of colorful species such as great blue herons and red-winged blackbirds perched on the cattails.
Visitors might also spot river otters playing in the water or catch a glimpse of the elusive Roosevelt elk roaming the woods. The marsh also supports a diverse array of plant life, from delicate wildflowers to towering cedar and Sitka spruce trees.
One of the highlights of Bandon Marsh is the South Slough Interpretive Center, which serves as an educational hub for visitors. Here you can learn about the unique ecosystem of the marsh through interactive displays and informative presentations.
They can also participate in guided hikes and workshops, gaining a deeper understanding of the importance of wetlands and wildlife conservation.
Whether you consider yourself a birder or not, visiting the Bandon March is one of the best things to do in Bandon so you won’t want to miss it.
Where to Eat in Bandon, Oregon
When it comes to finding delectable dining options in Bandon, Oregon, you are certainly spoiled for choice.
One undeniable gem is Tony’s Crab Shack, where you can indulge in the freshest seafood while enjoying stunning ocean views. Their succulent Dungeness crab, creamy clam chowder, and melt-in-your-mouth fish and chips are unparalleled.
For a taste of authentic Mexican cuisine, Bonfire Mexican Grill offers up flavorful traditional fare like spicy tacos and gooey enchiladas. If you’re craving some comfort food in a casual setting, head over to Foley’s Irish Pub where their hearty Irish stew and innovative pub fare will leave your taste buds craving more.
Finally, no list of the best things to do in Bandon for foodies, would be complete without stopping by Coastal Mist Fine Chocolates & Desserts.
This charming patisserie boasts an array of mouthwatering desserts, from velvety truffles to decadent pastries that are a delicious post-dinner (or any time of day!) treat.
Visiting Bandon, Oregon (Post Summary)
In sum, here’s a list of the best things to do in Bandon, Oregon.
- Relax at Bandon Beach
- Learn about Circles in the Sand
- Explore Old Town Bandon
- Visit Washed Ashore Gallery: Art to Save The Sea
- Coquille River Lighthouse & Bullards Beach
- Admire Face Rock State Park
- Hike the Sisters Rocks Trail
- Northern Beaches and Cape Arago State Park
- Shore Acres State Park
- Whiskey Run Beach
- Golden and Silver Falls
- Enjoy the Cranberry Festival
- Bandon Marsh
- Chocolate brownie from Coastal Mist Chocolates
- Visit Tony’s Crab Shack
Map of Things to Do in Bandon
I have to urge you to learn from my amateur mistake and visit Bandon as soon as your schedule permits.
Only once I (finally) realized I had been sleeping on visiting this unassumingly gorgeous town for far too long. Since visiting Bandon and some of the surrounding towns a handful of times over the years, I can confirm that the drive is worthwhile.
Sure, I’d most definitely rather be out of the car and on a hiking trail, but some adventures–like the Southern coast!– are well worth putting in the extra mileage for.
Although I’ve made the trek down to visit the southern coast a couple of times now, the area still seems shrouded with an air of dreamlike mystery. perhaps it’s because it doesn’t get as many visitors when compared to other regions of the coast.
Or maybe it’s because the southern beaches, remote and serene, really do have a little bit of that dreamlike magic left to discover along their sugar-sand shores. Why knows?
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Until next time,