Take a One-Week Oregon Coast Road Trip

Fresh seafood, family fun, and outdoor sights are all hallmarks of the Oregon Coast—and a week is a good amount of time to dive into all the coast has to offer (and even enjoy a scenic sunset along the way). The best time to visit is July-September, when shops and eateries are open extended hours, outfitters are typically staffed up, and foggy mornings give way to long, sunny afternoons.

large rocks jutting out of the ocean on the Oregon coast
The rugged Oregon coast has a number of jaw-dropping sights. Pictured here is Seal Rock. Photo © Matt Alberts/iStock.

Day 1: Portland and Astoria

95 miles (153 km)/2 hours

From Portland, make the two-hour drive northwest via US-26 and US-101 to Astoria—not technically on the Oregon Coast, but just inland from the mouth of the Columbia River, where it flows into the Pacific Ocean. Get your bearings from atop the Astoria Column, which affords 360-degree views of the Columbia River, surrounding waterways, and the city below.

For a trip back in time, brush up on Lewis and Clark’s famous journey at Fort Clatsop, or learn about the region’s historic fishing industry at the Columbia River Maritime Museum. Grab fried tuna out of a converted fishing boat for lunch at Bowpicker Fish & Chips, and walk it off with a stroll along the Astoria Riverwalk. Hop back in your car for a quick trip out to Fort Stevens State Park, where you can walk up to the half-submerged shipwreck of the Peter Iredale, explore old military installations, and enjoy scenic beach views.

Return to Astoria, check into your hotel (Norblad Hotel if you’re on a budget, Bowline Hotel if you’re not), and head out for a night on the town. Fort George Brewery & Public House serves outstanding pub grub and creative pizzas alongside a wide-ranging mix of beers; Bridge & Tunnel Bottleshop & Taproom, meanwhile, is noted for pouring a curated selection of ales and lagers from throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Day 2: Astoria to Cannon Beach

26 miles (42 km)/45 minutes

Ease into the day with fresh-baked pastries, piping-hot coffee, barking sea lions, and wide-open Columbia River views at Coffee Girl at the end of Pier 39. Head west on US-30 and continue following the road as it joins US-101—which you’ll eventually follow for nearly 350 miles (565 km) en route to the Oregon-California border. As the highway heads south from Astoria, you’ll encounter few ocean views before arriving in the resort town of Seaside.

Once in town, stroll the Broadway Corridor, lined on both sides by souvenir shops, home-grown restaurants, and family attractions. Head to Broadway’s westernmost point, where it joins the Seaside Promenade mere steps from the Pacific Ocean. Head north or south on the wide, flat, paved path—or follow one of the many access points to the beach. Grab lunch at the Osprey Café, noted for its international inspiration, and continue south toward the day’s destination: Cannon Beach. There you’ll enjoy sweeping coastline views from Ecola State Park, sip a house-made beer at Public Coast Brewing Co., peruse the community’s celebrated galleries, and gaze at the scenic Haystack Rock just offshore.

Image of golden cloudy sunset over rock formations reflected on beach.
Sunset at Cannon Beach. Photo © Glebtarro/Dreamstime.

Check into the regal Stephanie Inn. Enjoy dinner in the hotel’s celebrated dining room, or nosh on fresh fare at Ecola Seafood Restaurant and Market. If the weather cooperates, cap your night with a beach campfire at Tolovana Beach State Recreation Site while the sun sets behind Haystack Rock.

Day 3: Cannon Beach to Pacific City

65 miles (105 km)/1.5 hours

Enjoy a light breakfast before continuing south. Just outside of town, hike through a coastal rainforest to Cape Falcon in Oswald West State Park, where you might spot migrating gray whales from a wide-open bluff. On your way back to your vehicle, make the detour to Short Sand Beach for a little relaxation. Treat yourself to lunch at Rockaway Pronto Pup, where the corn dog-like treat was allegedly invented, or to fresh seafood on the docks at The Fish Peddler at Pacific Oyster.

Farther south, Tillamook Creamery beckons with self-guided tours of its regionally famous creamery and a food court dishing nearly two dozen flavors of ice cream. Before heading south, take a detour along OR-31 to Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint, home to the shortest lighthouse on the Oregon Coast and the so-called Octopus Tree—a centuries-old Sitka spruce noted for several limbs growing upward from its base. Head back to US-101 and continue south toward Pacific City. Check into your hotel at the Inn at Cape Kiwanda, drop your bags off, and cross the street, where the Pacific Ocean awaits; if your tired legs allow, hike to the sandy summit of Cape Kiwanda—and laugh uproariously as you run or roll down. Across the parking lot, nosh on locally sourced pub grub and award-winning beers at Pelican Brewing Company.

Day 4: Pacific City to Newport

47 miles (76 km)/1 hour

Don’t let the marginal drive time fool you: There’s plenty to see and experience along US-101 today. Start with a hearty breakfast at Grateful Bread Bakery before returning to the highway and continuing south. Before long, you’ll come to Lincoln City. Walk the beaches in town, looking for glass floats as part of the city’s Finders Keepers promotion, or try glassblowing yourself with a talented artist at Lincoln City Glass Center. Have a relaxing lunch at Blackfish Café, celebrated for fresh, locally sourced seafood dishes.

As you continue south, watch for migrating gray whales and other sea life at the Whale Watching Center in Depoe Bay; another few minutes on, walk into a collapsed sea cave (if it’s low tide) at Devils Punchbowl State Natural Area. Soon after, you’ll arrive in Newport. Just beyond the northern edge of town, enjoy wide-open Pacific Ocean views, go tidepooling, and stand at the base of the tallest lighthouse on the Oregon Coast at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area. From there, check out the Oregon Coast Aquarium for an up-close look at regional marine life. Check into your room at Hallmark Resort Newport, savor the oceanfront views, and head out for a walk along Newport’s Historic Bayfront. Enjoy dinner at the renowned Local Ocean Seafoods, and grab a nightcap at Rogue Ales & Spirits nearby.

Day 5: Newport to Bandon

122 miles (196 km)/2.5 hours

Start your day with breakfast before heading south, through Yachats, on the way to Cape Perpetua Scenic Area. There’s a full day’s worth of fun to be had at Cape Perpetua—but hit the highlights along the paved Captain Cook Trail, where you’ll see the headland’s most notable natural features, such as the rocky Cook’s Chasm; Spouting Horn, a partially collapsed sea cave; and Thor’s Well, a circular sinkhole in the rocky shoreline. Briefly retrace your steps north, back to Yachats, and grab fresh fish-and-chips at Luna Sea Fish House and Village Fishmonger; if time allows, wash it down with a flight of creative beers at nearby Yachats Brewing + Farmstore.

The view from atop Cape Perpetua. Photo © W.C. McRae.
The view from atop Cape Perpetua. Photo © W.C. McRae.

Continue south to Heceta Head Lighthouse State Scenic Viewpoint for up-close views of the namesake lighthouse and sweeping vistas of the Pacific Ocean; a few minutes south, the Sea Lion Caves is home to hundreds of barking Steller sea lions. Soon, you’ll come to the city of Florence at the northern edge of the Oregon Dunes National Scenic Area; gaze upon the ever-shifting sands at the Oregon Dunes Overlook and Day-Use Area, or hike out onto the dunes along the John Dellenback Trail. As you continue south, leave US-101 in the community of North Bend for a side trip along the Cape Arago Beach Loop, where three state parks and overlooks offer sweeping vistas, excellent wildlife-watching, and (in winter) renowned storm-watching opportunities. Return to US-101 and continue south to the city of Bandon; check into the b.side Motel & RV, home for the night, and grab fresh seafood dinner at Tony’s Crab Shack.

Oregon Dunes National Recreation Park. Photo © Capricornis/Dreamstime.
Oregon Dunes National Recreation Park. Photo © Capricornis/Dreamstime.

Day 6: Bandon to Brookings-Harbor

83 miles (134 km)/1.5 hours

Bandon deserves to be more than a stopover on the way to your next stop—so rise and shine with biscuits at The Rolling Pin Bake & Brew, and enjoy a stroll around Historic Old Town Bandon; highlights include the thought-provoking Washed Ashore Gallery and local delicacies at Cranberry Sweets & More. Away from the working waterfront, Face Rock Creamery produces a variety of creative cheeses, and Bandon Rain crafts hard ciders from local ingredients. Nearby, Face Rock State Scenic Viewpoint offers dramatic Pacific Ocean vistas and wildlife-watching opportunities. As you head south, stop into The Crazy Norwegian’s Fish & Chips for lunch (assuming you haven’t tired of seafood yet), and admire the sea stack views at Battle Rock Wayside Park in the community of Port Orford.

As you continue south through Gold Beach, sample some of the Oregon Coast’s best brews at the cozy Arch Rock Brewing Company. Soon after, you’ll enter the 12-mile-long (19-km) Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor, where a dozen or so pull-outs, viewpoints, and hiking trails showcase dramatic vistas of sea stacks, craggy rock formations, and other natural wonders—one of the most scenic stretches anywhere on the Oregon Coast. You’ll soon arrive in Brookings-Harbor near the Oregon-California border; check into your room at Beachfront Inn, sample creative pub grub at Oxenfrē Public House, and wind down with a variety of locally sourced ales and lagers at Chetco Brewing.

Day 7: Return to Portland

330 miles (531 km)/6 hours

A handful of highways cross the Oregon Coast Range, linking the Oregon Coast with the I-5 corridor and offering an easy return trip to Portland. You can’t go wrong with any of them, but retracing your route north and eventually heading east at Reedsport shows off some of what you missed on the way south. So start your final day along the Oregon Coast with breakfast at a local café or bakery, then head north on US-101. At the north end of Brookings, gaze upon an especially rugged stretch of coastline from Harris Beach State Park; as you continue north, the Cape Sebastian State Scenic Corridor offers dramatic views from high above the coastline. Savor even more coast views from Cape Blanco State Park; the westernmost point in Oregon is also home to the Cape Blanco Lighthouse, which dates back to 1870.

As you arrive in Coos Bay, take a short walk along the Coos Bay Boardwalk, which affords excellent wildlife opportunities and interpretive panels along the city’s working waterfront; follow it up with one last seafood dish at The Boat Fish & Chips (housed, yes, in a landlocked houseboat) and a self-guided tour of Coos Art Museum, home to a gallery that pays tribute to long-distance runner and local legend Steve Prefontaine. As you continue north, turn east onto OR-38 toward I-5 and Portland; if time allows, stop at Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area along the highway, where a resident herd of up to 100 Roosevelt elk linger all year long.

Travel Maps of the Oregon Coast

North Coast of Oregon
Central Coast of Oregon
South Coast of Oregon

Matt Wastradowski

About the Author

Matt Wastradowski is an Oregon-based travel writer who loves writing about the great outdoors, the Pacific Northwest's craft beer and cider scene, and regional history for the likes of Willamette WeekNorthwest Travel & Life, and Portland Monthly. In between stories, he enjoys sipping Oregon-made beers on brewpub patios, perusing the stacks at independent bookstores, sampling farm-fresh fare, and hiking through the state's stunning landscapes. Matt has written three Oregon-based guidebooks about hiking, outdoor attractions, and more for Moon Travel Guides.

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