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Upper Half of Oregon's Coast an Intoxicating Mix
Published Sept 2008
(Oregon Coast) - It's 360-something miles of winding, twisting highway, bright sands, rugged cliffs and headlands, and some almost treacherous stretches of basalt beaches where stones dominate rather than granules. It tends to get more untamed as you head south of Florence, with less tourists trampling the monuments, and making for some truly untamed experiences that will blow your mind.
The upper half of the Oregon coast presents plenty of untouched sands as well, but with a heavier dose of larger towns and civilization, partially because of the closer proximity to bigger population centers like Seattle, Portland, Corvallis, Bend and Eugene. It’s an intoxicating mix of wilderness and the upscale, this upper half of the Oregon coast. History shouts out at you in some spots, while others tug at the coattails of progress - all within a short walk or drive to what is likely some of the most inspiring beach scenery on the planet.
The oldest town west of the Mississippi is jam-packed with historical aspects you can touch, feel and even walk upon. Go time traveling in various museums, such as the Flavel House (a grandiose Victorian mansion), the Maritime Museum or the Clatsop County Historical Society. It's chock full of atmosphere, with its steep hills smothered in beautiful, old Victorian homes - most of which are on the National Historical Register. Just to the south, in Warrenton, there's Fort Clatsop (where Lewis & Clark spent the winter of 1805-06), the old, spooky battlements of Fort Stevens State Park and the wreck of the Peter Iredale.
The beaches begin at Warrenton, and from there until Tillamook Head in Seaside, it's miles and miles of sand. This resort town has entertained generations of North Valley residents. These days, you'll find the beautiful Promenade; the "million dollar walk" that's full of arcades, shops and delicious eateries; some stunning resorts; the Seaside Aquarium; and of course lots of beach wonders. Seaside
More pristine sands surround the charming, art mecca known as Cannon Beach. A plethora of art galleries, shops and eateries all adorned with cedar siding, and some of the most luxurious resorts on the entire coast make this place a unique visit. Ecola State Park includes great views of the mysterious Tillamook Head Lighthouse a mile offshore, a couple of secret beaches, and the surfers paradise known as Indian Beach. Just south of the town, there are a myriad of intriguing beaches as Highway 101 winds and twists above, showing off stunning viewpoints. Cannon Beach
Nehalem Bay – Manzanita
South of Arch Cape and the tunnel, there are the awe-inspiring beaches and cliffs of Oswald State Park, and then the highway takes you past brooding Neahkahnie Mountain and into Manzanita. There, the beach runs for miles until it dead-ends on the Nehalem Spit, where seal watching, hiking and horseback riding are de rigueur. Manzanita has its very unique charms, with accommodations and eateries that are on the unforgettable side. Down the road you'll find the antique haven of Nehalem, the funky Nehalem Bay Winery and the quirky, hidden treasure of Wheeler. Nehalem Bay
Rockaway Beach To Tillamook Bay
Rockaway is a sleepy resort town surrounded by seven miles of barely-touched beach, with those colossal Twin Rocks lurking just offshore. Next, Garibaldi and Bay City sit right on Tillamook Bay, providing loads of fishing opportunities. Tillamook and the area surrounding it includes the enormous Munson Falls, Tillamook Air Museum, Tillamook Cheese Factory and the Bayocean Spit - about five miles of one big hidden beach (where you may find the remnants of a long gone ghost town). Tillamook Bay, Garibaldi, Bay City
Three Capes Loop
While 101 heads inland, the Three Capes Tour takes you to the wildly wondrous towns of Oceanside, Netarts and Pacific City; past Cape Meares and its lighthouse, Cape Lookout and its incredible views and trails, and through Cape Kiwanda and Pacific City's culinary and art wonders. Most of the time, this 25-mile stretch is full of awe-inspiring hidden spots. Just south of Pacific City you'll find the clandestine resort village of Neskowin and Cascade Head. Three Cape Loop: Pacific City, Oceanside, Netarts
This sprawling vacation central includes loads of immaculate beaches, an especially large amount of vacation rentals, some of the coast's finest restaurants, more motels than anywhere on the coast, the Tanger Outlet Mall and the natural splendor of Siletz Bay. The D River is apparently the shortest in the whole world, and some of the kookiest nightlife you'll ever experience resides right here. The town meanders on for miles, comprised of a few smaller vilages that incorporated back in the 60's. Amazing Gleneden Beach lies just south of here, with dramatic but extremely safe beaches. Lincoln City & the Corridor of Mystery; Neskowin
Probably the only town in the world with a spouting horn right downtown, it's also home to numerous cliff areas where views and exploration possibilities are nonpareil. Enjoy its proliferation of whale watch tours, the beautiful bridge with a ton of shopping opportunities and the world's smallest navigable harbor. Some interesting, even bizarre, secret spots are dotted throughout the town and just north and south of it. Depoe Bay
This is one enormous resort town, with an incredible array of beaches, funky rock structures and even two lighthouses. The Nye Beach district is so full of time warp charm you may explode, and the Historic Bayfront is home to a huge variety of fantastic restaurants and attractions. It's the home to two major aquarium attractions, several large, swanky hotels, a massive headland full of wild legends and hordes of clandestine beaches to the south and at the very northern end. The huge bay is a haven for crabbing and other fishing activities. Newport
Waldport and Yachats
The sandy strands of tiny Waldport and the Alsea Bay eventually give way to the jagged basalt and wild surf of the village of Yachats. There's the ultra-convenient 804 Trail, where a one-mile, wheelchair accessible paved path snakes just above the dramatic shoreline. For such a small place, Yachats houses a remarkable number of amazing eateries. Just south of town, there's the towering Cape Perpetua and a host of hidden beaches where tide pools outnumber the humans. Waldport / Seal Rock and Yachats
Florence sits halfway between the two borders of Oregon, and is the home to wild - even weird - wonders such as the Darlingtonia Gardens (insect-eating pitcher plants), a variety of fresh lakes in the midst of large dunes, miles and miles of immaculate sands, and the Sea Lion Caves. The purportedly haunted Heceta Head Lighthouse lies just north of town. With its nostalgic, slightly quirky Old Town and the beautiful bridge, Florence is also the gateway to the massive, 40-mile-long National Dunes Recreation Area. Florence
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