Post Overview: Best Things to Do in Lincoln City, Oregon
Lincoln City, a sleepy little town on Oregon’s central coast, has much to offer in one bite-sized package. Often less crowded than other Highway 101 hot spots like Cannon Beach, Lincoln City has just as much to offer yet still feels like a bit of a well-kept secret.
With its “Seven miles of smiles”, Lincoln City has 7 miles of clean sandy beaches with 17 access points–the most of any town on the Oregon coast.
This little area also boasts the world’s shortest river, sits near the world’s smallest harbor (offering some of the best whale watching along the coast), and houses the town’s beloved and mysterious glass floats.
With so many things jam-packed into one little town, I thought it’d be helpful to share a handful of my absolute favorite things to do in Lincoln City.
Whether you’re visiting Lincoln City to bask on the beach, or plan to see as much as possible, I have you covered!
Read on to learn about some interesting, and family-friendly things to do in Lincoln City.
Best Things to Do in Lincoln City, Oregon
Enjoy a Plethora of Beach Activities
As mentioned, Lincoln City boasts an impressive 7 miles of wide, sandy beaches ripe for exploration.
D Beach (which the the shortest river in the world runs through), is my go-to stop when I just want immediate access to the shore.
You could stay on this clean and open stretch of coastline for the entire day watching the sea birds and basking in the glow of the sunshine (if you’re lucky enough to catch the Oregon sun while it’s out!).
Choose the perfect spot to set up your lounge chair and relax into a busy day of doing absolutely nothing as the day passes.
Whale Watching in Lincoln City
Lincoln City is one of the best places along the entire Oregon coast to get in on some solid whale watching action.
Keep a lookout on the horizon for the spurts of water Gray Whales blow out, then the characteristic flash of their giant tails as they dive back down into the water.
Nearly 20,000 Gray whales migrate right off of the shore every year, and we bet you’ll be sure to spot at least a couple!
You can even head a few minutes south to Depoe Bay, a tiny town with “the world’s smallest harbor” where whales are frequently seen.
Lincoln City Glass Floats “Finders Keepers”
One of the most unique things to do in Lincoln City is to hunt for the famous glass floats hidden on the shoreline.
Back in the day, fishing boats attached glass floats to their nets to keep them from sinking. People would collect those beautiful orbs when the washed up on the shore.
Nowadays fishing boats use floats made of plastic, which is way less cool and beautiful. So one local Lincoln City glass artist decided to bring the tradition back by making hundreds of glass floats and placing them around the beaches every day.
This sparked a local tradition and people have a blast searching the sand for these hidden treasures, an event called Finders Keepers.
The best part is that if you find one of these colorful floats it’s yours to keep! That’s one heck of a souvenir to take home if you ask me.
Beach fires in Lincoln City
If the sun begins to set and you’re still not ready to leave the beach, consider bringing along a bundle of firewood, a lighter, and a bucket of water (to douse the flames) for a super cozy beach bonfire.
Small fires are allowed on most Oregon beaches with the requirement that folks keep them reasonably sized and extinguish flames completely.
So gather ‘round with your family and friends, rehashing the best parts of the day and maybe even sharing some gooey S’mores as the stars rise over your seaside campfire. This is easily one of the best things to do in Lincoln City.
Get Your Heart Pumping With a Scenic Hike
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve ended up visiting Lincoln City for day hiking alone. With so many trail options, each with varying levels of difficulty but all equally as accessible, there’s no shortage of epic coastline views.
Follow the road to the end (literally) at Road’s End State Recreation Area where you’ll find the trailhead for the fan-favorite God’s Thumb hike.
Hiking God’s Thumb
A relatively steep road through a neighborhood brings you up to a beautiful open meadow with an expansive view south down the coastline.
Further along the trail you’ll find yourself dwarfed among giant Sitka spruce trees as you make your way out to the rocky cliff. This basalt headland (the “Thumb”) gives you a great vantage point to walk out on and gaze with heart-shaped eyes out at the sparkling sea.
Hiking Drift Creek Falls
Drift Creek Falls is a must-do hike “for people who don’t hike”. The trail is incredibly clean and well-marked, and the hike itself is about 3 easy miles round-trip.
A massive waterfall plunging off a dramatic rock face is the star of the show here–and really, what better reward is there for a hike well done? Perhaps equally as exciting to some visitors is the unique suspension bridge you cross to reach the falls.
The bridge is enclosed and totally safe (even for pets and little ones!) and gives you an exhilarating vantage point from which to view Drift Creek Falls before walking a bit further for a close-up.
Be aware that these trails see A LOT of rain, fog, and mist throughout the year. Bring waterproof boots and a rain jacket just in case.
Visit Pelican Brewery
There’s no denying that Pelican Brewing is a staple for great beer at the Oregon coast. Clearly I’m not the only one that thinks so –as of 2023, they have four top-notch breweries at the coast.
The cream of the crop (in my opinion) is the new location at Siletz Bay (a stone’s throw from Lincoln City).
The extensive tap list is neatly organized by beer styles, ensuring everyone gets something they will love. I’m a huge fan of the Hazestack (hazy IPA) but never pass an opportunity to try the creative seasonal pours.
As such, anyone looking for relaxing things to do in Lincoln City would be remiss to skip Pelican Brewery.
Further Reading: The 15 BEST Breweries at the Oregon Coast
Siletz Bay National Wildlife Refuge
One of six refuges in the Oregon coast national wildlife complex, Siletz Bay stands out as a marvel of its own. A stunning example of what an untouched coastal landscape can be, this protected estuary will be an instant favorite for the nature lovers among us.
While pets are not allowed and small children (as well as many hard-to-impress teens…) will probably prefer to have free reign on one of the local beaches, this refuge is a great stop for people who don’t mind a slow day of patiently watching for wildlife and strolling along the quiet trails weaving through the open marshland.
Open from sunrise to sunset, Siletz Bay is a place you could literally spend all day at. The refuge protects important shallow saltwater habitat that is home to a huge variety of species, including migratory birds and fish, elk, river otters, and tons of plants, many of which bloom brilliantly in spring and summer.
For a next-level adventure, try taking a kayak down the river into the bay. Viewing the land from the perspective of the water can give you a wholly new experience–and a deeper appreciation–for what an abundant and vital habitat estuaries are to humans and animals alike.
Explore Devil’s Lake State Recreation Area
Just off the coast in Lincoln City lies Devil’s Lake State Recreation Area. Actually consisting of two small parks, this area is perfect for days when you’re not feeling like being on the beach but still want to head to a watering hole for some fun.
The first park on the west shore of Devil’s Lake has a campground and is still within walking distance of the beach (perfect if you can’t choose just one place for the day!).
This is the perfect place to set up for the night if you plan to spend more then one day exploring Lincoln City. East Devil’s Lake has a day use site and quiet footpaths that take hikers through a secluded wetland that attracts a stunning variety of birds.
The lake itself is calm year-round, making this a go=to spot for folks looking to launch boats or paddle around on boards and kayaks.
Devil’s Lake is also idea for fishing, as the water is stocked with rainbow trout, perch, bass, carp, and more. Bonus: Devil’s Lake empties into the ocean by way of D River, “the world’s smallest river.”
At just 120 feet long, you can walk much of this waterway right on the sand. Feel free to boast about having traversed an entire river on your weekend getaway!
Visit the Art Galleries
The art scene is thriving in Lincoln City. There seems to be a gallery on every corner, which means a ton of opportunities to discover unique artwork inspired by the wonder of the Oregon coast.
Even if you’re not in the market for art this time around, it’s a fun and fascinating pastime to wander between galleries in awe of the impressive talent of some of the local artists featured in these spaces.
Many artists use their skills to depict the splendor of the beach itself, and others use objects literally found on the beach to form awesome driftwood sculptures.
From pottery to glass sculptures to traditional mediums like paintings and drawings, you’ll be sure to get your art fix after stopping by a few of Lincoln City’s highly esteemed galleries.
Pop into Robert’s Book Shop
Easily my favorite used bookstore on the entire west coast! Robert’s bookshop is kind of like the Tardis from Doctor Who fame: much bigger on the inside than it seems from the outside. Entering this shop immediately feels like entering your grandma’s cluttered attic only on a grand scale.
This one-story blue building on highway 101 would be inconspicuous if not for the giant nose of an airplane sticking out the north side of it! The oddly-placed airplane nose is just the tip (get it?) of the wonderfully unexpected oddities you’ll find as you meander the stacks of this big little bookshop.
Memorabilia from films, old photographs and brand signage, comic strips cut from newspapers, and all sorts of miscellany line the walls (and ceilings!), giving you much to peruse as you wander between the rooms. Get lost browning used books under odd and interesting genres like “paranormal romance” and “pirate history”.
Whether you’re looking for a juicy romance novel, cookbooks, comics, children’s books, classic fiction, or field guides, this shop literally has it all–or just about!
The same owners have another book shop, Bob’s Beach Books, not far down the highway. It is much smaller but sometimes has books that Robert’s shop doesn’t, so if you’re looking for something specific be sure to check out both.
Spend an afternoon at a themed cafe
I’ll admit: I made a trip out to Lincoln City just to visit a cafe. But hey, it’s a cool one, okay?! The Cheeky Cauldron is the first and only Harry Potter-themed cafe in the States and is sure to please fans of the books and films.
It has already served up magic to flocks of muggles (non-magical humans, in book speak) by the thousands with food, drink, and events that will leave you feeling like you found Hogwarts right on the Oregon coast.
Have a spell of a good time sipping themed beverages and devouring some seriously delicious English-inspired brunch fare expertly conjured up by the owner herself. If dealing with witches and wizards before you’ve had your morning cuppa sounds like a lot to ask, we get it!
Pacific Grind has got you covered with quick, no-frills espressos and drip coffee on the go. For something a little fancier, try Salt where you can sit down to hand-crafted coffee drinks, adult libations, and a full breakfast menu featuring tasty local ingredients.
Support the Local Shops
Antique lovers unite! You could spend hours getting lost in the numerous antique shops sprinkled throughout the town. Hordes of valuable treasures are waiting to be discovered in these charming storefronts (what, you didn’t drive out to the coast for an authentic leg lamp for your bedside table?).
If antiques feel too “modern for your more adventurous taste, check out Prehistoric, a one-of-a-kind shop right on the highway that is packed to the brim with a massive collection of very old fossils and rocks for sale.
Another big draw for people here on a shopping spree is the Lincoln City Outlet Mall where popular brands like Columbia, Eddie Bauer, and Pendleton offer their goods for closeout prices.
Enjoy the Delicious Seafood on Offer
We all know how dire of a situation an otherwise pleasant weekend trip can turn when hunger sets in. Luckily in Lincoln City you’re never far from places to grab a bite–and a tasty one, at that!
Seafood is often our go-to while rambling along the coast, and Lincoln City has plenty of spots for that fishy fix (that even locals love!). Stop by the casual Kyllo’s and grab a booth by the window where you can overlook the ocean as you tuck in to some buttery crab legs or a giant basket of fish n’ chips.
Right on the highway is Barnacle Bill’s, which offers salmon lovers some of the best smoked salmon in the state, refining their recipes since the 1940’s.
They even offer their famous filets in packaged portions so you can bring the fresh flavor of the ocean home with you (smoked salmon on a bagel for breakfast, anyone?). If seafood doesn’t sound like it’ll hit the spot, Thai Bay is my favorite joint to head to when I need a big plate of fresh veggies and tender chicken satay (don’t forget the peanut sauce!).
For lunch, the ever-popular Hwy 101 burger is a sure bet for even the pickiest of eaters. “Always fresh, never frozen”, this is casual fare with serious quality. Chow down on a classic burger with fries then save some time to play pinball, pool, or one of the handful of arcade games they have available.
Admire Drift Creek Covered Bridge
On your way into town, drive up a short road to the well-preserved Drift Creek Covered Bridge. It’s a neat little structure of a bygone era, when covered bridges were all the rage.
One of the few surviving covered bridges left in Oregon, the Drift Creek bridge is not open to cars but people can freely walk along it.
Note: this little bridge is especially picturesque in fall when the bright red wood matches the vibrant maple leaves surrounding it. Visit the North Lincoln County Historical Museum on a rainy day to do a deep dive into the interesting saga of this small coastal town and the surrounding area.
Originally designated as the village of Taft, Lincoln City underwent a tremendous transformation to become the bustling little town you’re visiting today.
Find out more at the museum which has been lovingly curated by passionate locals for nearly a century. Rotating exhibits, an art gallery, research room, mini-theater, and gift shop are all tucked inside this little building.
Visiting Lincoln City Things to Do (Post Summary)
In sum, here’s a quick list of the best things to do in Lincoln City Oregon.
- Get Your Heart Pumping With a Scenic Hike
- Enjoy a Plethora of Beach Activities
- Pop into Robert’s Book Shop
- Explore Devil’s Lake State Recreation Area
- Spend an Afternoon at a Charming Cafe
- Visit the Art Galleries
- Support the Local Shops
- Enjoy the Delicious Seafood on Offer
- Siletz Bay National Wildlife Refuge
- Admire Drift Creek Covered Bridge
Map of the Best Things to Do in Lincoln City, Oregon
Ask 10 locals about their favorite coastal towns to visit for a day trip and you’ll (probably) get a mixed bag of answers.
The go-to place for a day on the beach is totally subjective because no matter which part of the Oregon coastline you visit, you’re bound to have a similar experience: sand, trees, clam chowder.
But if you’re looking for unique natural features, quirky shops, and less crowds, one coastal town springs to our mind above all others: Lincoln City.