green trees on rocky mountain beside river during daytime

How to Spend 3 Days on the Oregon Coast

362 Miles. That’s how much coastline you have to work with in Oregon. You could drive the entire way in 8 hours, but why deprive yourself of all the Oregon coast offers? Oregon is a fantastic destination for hiking, fun, food, and wine; the Oregon coast does not disappoint in any of those areas either. As an added bonus, the beaches nestled against the Pacific Ocean offer stunning scenery and unique aquatic finds. 

Day 1 – Newport, Oregon

Let’s begin our Oregon Coast road trip in Newport. As a New Englander, I’m well-versed in our iconic Newport in Rhode Island. While the West Coast version may not be home to The Breakers, it has absolutely no shortage of things to do and see. I would recommend at least one full day and night in Newport.

What to Do in Newport

When visiting a new place, especially a coastal town, I love to walk around with little to no agenda. Newport’s historic bayfront is a perfect example of this. Find parking on the west end of SW Bay Boulevard and then start walking. Very quickly, you will find shops filled with goods ranging from weird and wonderful to standard tourist souvenirs. This area also has a plethora of restaurants and other sights and sounds to keep you busy.

The first shop here that grabbed our attention was Femme Fatale, home to strange antiques, taxidermy animals, and creepy dolls. Each room was honestly stranger than the last, but it was very fun to look around. We even ended up buying some fragrant soaps and silky lotion to take home with us. We also poked around in a few candy shops, art galleries, and stores selling glass, candles, home goods, and pet supplies.

Newport Oregon Seals
Photo Credit: Tara Turner

If you continue walking east along the water, you may hear Yaquina Bay Harbor’s noisy residents before you lay eyes on them. These adult male sea lions live here eleven months out of the year. They are only absent in July when they migrate to where the females live on the Channel Islands. Port Dock One is open 24 hours a day, providing free fun for visitors of all ages.

In need of more waterfront activities? Yaquina Bay Lighthouse and State Park are very close by. The trails and viewpoints here offer gorgeous views of the bay and the bridge, whose arched steel dates back almost 100 years. Across the bridge, the Oregon Coast Aquarium is a great place to see sea otters, puffins, and 400 species of fish and invertebrates up close.

Where to Eat & Drink in Newport

On Newport’s bayfront, it’s only fitting to enjoy some of the local catch at seafood restaurants like Ocean Bleu Seafoods, Mo’s Seafood & Chowder, Clearwater, or Local Ocean Seafoods. The harbor is also home to Thai Port and Cuisinako for those in the mood for Asian cuisine.

This area is perfect for those looking to enjoy a local brew. Bier One Brewing, Newport Brewing Company, and Rogue Bayfront Public House are all within walking distance of one another and the harbor. Across the Yaquina Bay Bridge, Rogue has two more spots for drinking. Rogue Brewer’s on the Bay is their world headquarters and has 40 ales and lagers on tap. Rogue Spirits Sunset Bar has the perfect view for, you guessed it, sunset. Their bartenders serve up Rogue beers as well as cocktails and snacks.

Where to Stay in Newport

The sheer number of accommodations in Newport is overwhelming. I suppose this is a good problem to have, but let me help you narrow things down. To fully take advantage of this Oregon coast gem, stay as close to the beach as possible.

Hallmark Resort Newport, Oregon
Photo Credit: Tara Turner

Nye Beach is the main public beach in Newport. We stayed at Hallmark Resort Newport. Not only could we see Nye Beach from our room, but we could walk directly out our patio door and down a flight of stairs onto it. We weren’t super lucky weather-wise during our last trip, but we still loved going out each day and walking the length of the beach.

Day 2 – Head North to Pacific City, Oregon

It’s time to set off on day two of your Oregon coast road trip. Pacific City is roughly 50 miles north of Newport, so you can get there in an hour. That being said, there are plenty of eye-catching stops along the way. Read on below for a few options and choose a few that sound exciting to you. Then you’ll end your day viewing one of Oregon’s iconic rock formations.

Yaquina Head / Agate Beach

I know you just got on the road leaving Newport but if you’re eager to get in a morning hike, stop at Agate Beach. The state beach here is just north of Nye Beach. Continue on Route 101 and you’ll reach Yaquina Head. Entrance here is only $7 per vehicle and visitors can hike various trails, explore tide pools, or witness Oregon’s tallest lighthouse. The tide pools here, like many spots along the coast, are teaming with colorful sea life. We loved spotting starfish, anemones, and sea urchins. Rocky Cobble Beach and the head’s hilly green cliffs round out the beautiful scenery here.

Otter Rock & Rocky Creek

Rocky Creek, Oregon
Photo Credit: Tara Turner

Get back in the car, but don’t get too comfortable. Devil’s Punchbowl is our first Oregon coast natural wonder to stop and see, only 20 minutes north of Yaquina. If geology is your jam, you’ll wonder at this circular bowl, likely created from the collapse of a roof over multiple sea caves. During low tide when it’s safe, you can hike down into the punchbowl itself.

Other times, like when we visited, the tide is high and very choppy. You can still see it from the parking area and viewpoint above, and it’s quite entertaining to watch the massive waves slosh in and out of the bowl. Parking here is limited but free and there are restrooms and a few small restaurants nearby.

Less than 2 miles north you’ll see signs for Otter Crest. This is another easy pull off and Mother Nature rewards you with incredible coastline views. We saw a huge rainbow during our visit. Many visitors report seeing gray and humpback whales here too.

Rocky Creek Falls and Rocky Creek Bridge are located another 2 miles heading north on the 101. The bridge was built in 1927 and is now on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. 

Depoe Bay

Depoe Bay is the perfect stop for lunch. Opposite more craggy ocean scenery, this quaint little Oregon coast town is chock full of shops and restaurants. Get lost in the stores for a while and find a souvenir to bring home. You’ll find everything from wind sockets to Big Foot merchandise to homemade tea towels and mugs.

The cuisine here is mostly, unsurprisingly, seafood but we also passed by a burger joint and a Mexican restaurant. For a bit of local culture though, have lunch at Gracie’s Sea Hag. Established in 1963, Gracie’s is more than just award-winning chowder and delicious fish and chips. What we didn’t know when we took our window seat in this lovable, aged place was that we were also about to be entertained. The staff here, including Gracie herself will play “The Chicken Dance” on the bottles behind the bar. In all my travels, I have seen nothing like it since. 

Pacific City, Oregon

Today’s final stretch will involve being in the car for our longest stint, a whopping 45 minutes. Pacific City, where you’ll rest tonight is famously home to Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area. If time allows, you can hike to the top of Cape Kiwanda for views of Nestucca Bay. 

Haystack Rock is one of Oregon’s most iconic landmarks and there’s actually more than one that shares the same name. The one here in Pacific City is also called Chief Kiwanda Rock, which helps with some of the confusion. Whichever name resonates, this impressive rock juts out a half mile out and is easily visible from Pacific City Beach.

You can stay right here on the beach or explore the State Natural Area. It is a fantastic sunset spot and Pelican Brewing has oceanfront dining if you don’t want to venture too far. A short drive away, Ben and Jeff’s offers burgers and tacos and Doryland has pizza. 

This is a town of 1,100 people, so there’s not a massive amount of choices when it comes to accommodations. What they do have though, we were perfectly satisfied with. Pacific City has an RV park and cottages for rent. You’ll see no Hiltons or other big chains, but the Surf & Sand Inn was comfortable, affordable, and convenient for a good night’s rest along our Oregon coast road trip. 

Day 3 – Wrapping up in Cannon Beach

Start your last day on the coast with breakfast at Grateful Bread Bakery. Try their French toast topped with local marionberries, or a hearty scramble. This final leg of our Oregon coast road trip covers just under 70 miles, ending up in Cannon Beach. Along the way, there are more opportunities for coastal views, tidepools, ice cream, and wine. 

Cape Lookout

You could proceed straight up to Tillamook but for a morning beach stroll, stop off in Cape Lookout State Park. For a more substantial workout, the Cape Trail offers a 5-mile loop with ocean views out to the tip of Cape Lookout. It is mostly flat but can be muddy depending on the recent weather. There is also the Oregon Coast Trail which has a north section and a south section, which are 2.3 and 1.7 miles respectively. For families, the Nature Trail is a short but fun walk starting near the campground registration booth. The state park charges $5 per vehicle for entry.


If anyone out there reading is lactose intolerant, I apologize in advance. Tillamook is dairy heaven and if your body allows, plan to spend a large portion of your day indulging.

The first recommended stop on this section of the Oregon coast is Blue Heron French Cheese Company. Yes, come here for the cheese but stay for the wine tasting, fresh baked bread, gift shop, live music, and petting zoo! Most Oregon wineries are further inland but Blue Heron offers a variety of wine from Oregon and the greater Pacific Northwest.  Clearly, there’s a reason they’ve been in business for nearly 40 years. Rain or shine, this is a great spot to stop.

Just up the road a mile, Tillamook Creamery is a massive operation where you can enjoy all manner of dairy delights. The creamery has a dining hall and an ice cream counter. Ice cream fans can indulge in 25 different flavors and cheese fiends can order up fried cheese curds, pizza, or a triple cheese mac & cheese. 

Hug Point & Arcadia Beach

Hug Point, Oregon
Photo Credit: Tara Turner

North from Tillamook, there are several places along the Oregon coast to stop for views and beach access, but we chose Hug Point Recreation Site as our first big stop. It was raining but we soldiered on, determined to explore its beautiful waterfalls and caves. Just a mile away, Arcadia Beach was maybe my favorite spot. The rocks here jutting out of the water were absolutely overrun with starfish and anemones. I had never seen so many, so close together, their vibrant colors overlapping. We could barely tell where one animal ended and another began.

I do have a few words of caution. Because the weather had been so wet, the trails in this area were very muddy. We may not have been wearing the best shoes even on these short treks, so keep that in mind when packing. In addition, the tide can be very strong. It is tempting to go into the advancing current to see everything up close, but be mindful of the powerful water.

Cannon Beach

After some time well spent searching those tide pools, you are luckily only another 5-minute drive from Cannon Beach.  Here you’ll find the largest Haystack Rock, and a town full of breweries, shops, and eateries.

Park your car and walk along Cannon Beach to take in Haystack and the beautiful, sandy shoreline. If you visit between April and July, you may be able to spot the tufted puffins who lay their eggs and raise their chicks on Haystack Rock. 

After, spend the remainder of your day wandering this small coastal city. We particularly enjoyed Public Coast Brewing. They had a great selection of beers, seltzers, and sodas. Their pub menu features clam chowder, pretzels, wings, fish and burgers.

From here, you can stay in Cannon Beach, continue north to Astoria, or spend some time in Portland. There are a ton of great hikes close to Portland too, like Wahkeena Falls. 

Our guide here has a ton of ideas for how to spend your time on the Oregon coast, but it is certainly not exhaustive. When planning how to spend three days on the Oregon coast, allow yourself some wriggle room to be spontaneous. You never know what sights you’ll come across driving throw this heavenly part of the United States. 

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