Famed Indoor Attractions of the Oregon Coast
(Oregon Coast) - It's no secret: the coast can be temperamental in atmospheric disposition. Spring, especially, is when these manic weather tendencies hit the beaches of Oregon, and even early summer means tempestuous, rainy moments in abundance. Then, winter, of course, has its stormy days that beg for four walls rather than a beachcombing session.
In those times of trying weather, the coast does not fail for a moment in abundance of repose and drier opportunities. These are just a few of the answers to the search for wet weather options.
Seaside Aquarium. One of the oldest aquariums on the west coast. Check out various freaky fish in these historic diggs. Explore an intertidal zone complete with tide pool life, see a Tiger Rockfish search for prey, check out the weird octopus or two, or ogle the enormous whale skeleton. Plus, playing with and feeding the seals has been a favorite here decades. On the Promenade in Seaside. Call: (503) 738-6211. www.seasideaquarium.com.
Oregon Coast Aquarium. Dive into all sorts of marine life close and personal, especially with its Passages of the Deep - a giant glass-like tube that contains a 360-degree view of three distinctly different underwater habitats. Currently featuring the Odd Water display, the aquarium is making waves in the world of art and marine biology. South Beach - across the bay from Newport. Call: (541) 867-3474. www.aquarium.org.
Hatfield Marine Science Center. Check out the pharmacological applications of various sea goo, the world-famous whale research of Bruce Mate's work and the awe-inspiring VENTS program, which digs into the underwater volcanoes lurking off our shores. South Beach - across the bay from Newport. (Call: 541-867-0100.) hmsc.oregonstate.edu
Mariner Square, with the Undersea Gardens, Wax Works and Ripley's Believe It Or Not. Where else can you take a walk beneath the waves, see startlingly real wax replicas of various movie stars and historical figures and get an eyeful of some of the weirdest factoids in the world? Each keeps different hours and admission charges. 250 Bay Blvd., Newport. Call: (541) 265-2206. www.marinersquare.com
Tillamook Air Museum. Find such awe-inspiring items as a PV-2 Harpoon, a 1934 Bellanca Air Cruiser, a PBY-5A Catalina and even a Bf-109 Messerschmitt. The aviation wonders here never stop. It's also the site of numerous special events for pilots during the year. 6030 Hangar Rd., Tillamook. Call: (503) 842-1130. www.tillamookair.com
Tillamook Cheese Factory. More indoor fun - but the kind you can eat. From the viewing platform you can see how cheese is made in various stages. During the summer, they serve some 2800 ice cream cones a day. 4175 Highway 101 North, Tillamook. Call: (503) 815-1300. www.tillamookcheese.com
Nehalem Bay Winery. On that engaging inland curve from the Nehalem Bay and Manzanita area, this building is found in the middle of wondrous farmland and a bundle of small mountains clustered around it – a little bit like something out of “The Sound of Music.” Taste a multitude of delicious vino made with their special coastal touch, all served with an effervescent sense of fun. Highway 53 – between Wheeler and Nehalem. www.nehalembaywinery.com.
Sea Lion Caves. This famous attraction that has allowed visitors to check out the home of sea lions since the 30's. An enormous cavern – one of the world record-holders in size, actually – is the home to stellar sea lions in great masses. It sits 11 miles north of Florence.
You'll often find these creatures lounging outside the caves on high, precarious cliffs that make you wonder how the heck they got up there.
The cave itself is a fascinating trip back in time. It was formed some 25 million years ago when a lava flow cooled into the basalt rock that is now the cave. At one point, a weakness in the rock turned into a crack, then allowed the sea to eat its way into the basalt over the millennia and make the cave. You can still see the original fault running through the cave that started it all. 91560 Hwy. 101 N. Call: (541) 547-3111. www.sealioncaves.com