There are people who don’t like Brookings, and if you form your judgment by simply driving down U.S. 101, it’s easy to join that crowd. But something as simple as turning off into Harris Beach State Park  can begin to change your view.
To really fall for the area, though, it may take a drive up the Chetco River. A couple of miles inland, the fog that frequently drenches the coastline during the summer months burns away. There are ample hiking opportunities  upriver, especially in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness Area .
During winter Brookings (pop. 5,725) and its unincorporated bigger neighbor, Harbor (pop. 8,775), enjoy mild temperatures. Enough 60–70°F days occur during January and February in this south coast “banana belt” town that more than 50 species of flowering plants thrive—along with retirees, outdoor-sports lovers, and beachcombers.
With two gorgeous state parks virtually part of the city and world-class salmon and steelhead fishing  nearby, only the lavish winter rainfall, averaging over 73 inches a year, can cool the ardor of local outdoor enthusiasts.
Camellias bloom at Christmas, and the flowering plums add color the next month. Daffodils, grown commercially on the coastal plain south of Brookings, bloom in late January and into February. Magnolia shrubs, some early azaleas, and rhododendrons also bloom in late winter. In the springtime, the area south of town is lush with lilies—it’s the Easter lily capital of the world, producing 90 percent of the world’s Easter lily crop.
Brookings and Harbor sit on a coastal plain overlooking the Pacific six miles north of the California border, split by U.S. 101 (Chetco Ave.) and the Chetco River. Flowing out of the Klamath Mountains east of town, the Chetco drains part of the nearby Siskiyou National Forest and the Kalmiopsis Wilderness , extensive tracts encompassing some of the wildest country in the Lower 48 and renowned for their rare flowers and trees.
This area enjoys strict federal protection, safeguarding the northernmost stand of giant redwoods as well as the coveted Port Orford cedar (whose strong but pliable lumber can fetch over $10,000 for a single tree). The Kalmiopsis Wilderness is named for a unique shrub, the Kalmiopsis leachiana, one of the oldest members of the heath family (Ericaceae) that grows nowhere else on earth.
But you don’t have to trek miles into the backcountry to enjoy the natural beauty of Brookings and vicinity. Just make your way past the somewhat drab main drag to Samuel Boardman State Park north of town, where 11 of the most scenic miles of the Oregon coast await you.
Or head down to the harbor to embark on a boating expedition, with some of the safest offshore navigation conditions in the region. In short, Brookings is the perfect place to launch an adventure by land or by sea.
It takes determination to get to Brookings using public transportation. Curry County’s Coastal Express buses (800/921-2871) run up and down the south coast weekdays only between North Bend  and the California  border, including local service in Brookings.