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Newport Winter Top Ten: Best of the Season, Oregon Coast

Published 12/30/2019 at 5:55 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Newport Winter Top Ten: Best of the Season, Oregon Coast

(Newport, Oregon) – By comparison, this one is a metropolis for the coastline, with a mind-bending array of stuff to do in winter. There’s really much more than ten stellar examples of good times in Newport, if you’re counting all the forms of entertainment and arts, its bar scene, and a variety of other details.

For the sake of room, however, here are the top ten reasons to come out to Newport in the winter.

Jump-Off Joe and Nye Beach. There are times when Nye Beach is too stormy and dangerous to tread on the sands, so be very cautious. But the Turnaround is an awesome place to watch these crazed moments of tidal chaos, as is Jump-Off Joe – the high hill just down the road (on NW 11th). There, it’s like a castle ruins of sorts, the gutted out remnants of a failed condo (what a bizarre story that is). Then, if the weather is too unruly in general, simply wander the comely streets of Nye Beach for great grub, intriguing shopping and great bursts of inspiring architecture.

Ghost Forests. One crazy winter attraction that only appears if sand levels get low enough (they don’t every year) is the ancient stumps of the area, usually around 4,000 years old. They pop up at Moolack Beach just north of town, just south of South Beach at Holiday Beach (found behind an unmarked gravel patch) and around Seal Rock (about 15 minutes south of Newport). At Seal Rock’s Curtis St. and Holiday Beach they look more like stumps, but at Moolack all you see are octopus-like root systems which make these almost petrified specimens look extra eerie. See more about ghost forests, including the two in the area visible year-round.

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Agate Hunting. Famously among the best agate hunting on the entire Oregon coast is right around here, from about Lincoln City down through Bandon. There’s no real formula for finding these, however (and no, Newport’s Agate Beach is a misnomer). Gravel beds open up randomly in the area, and that’s where you find them. Good places to regularly check include Nye Beach, Holiday Beach, Seal Rock and Ona Beach closer to Waldport.

Fun February Weather. What they don’t tell you on the coast is the rather warm spells that can hit in February. It’s actually something not uncommon throughout the U.S. because of the changing late winter season, but it’s more pronounced on the coast because of the calming influence of the ocean and how it can reflect sunlight back at you. Most February’s there have a few days to several days scattered throughout the month that get close to the mid 60s and feature bright, windless days. But not always. See more at Oregon Coast Weather Secrets.

Crazed Storm Sights. If you want to see tidal monsters during storms, check out Yaquina Head (see photo at top). The tip of the headland is especially conducive to gargantuan waves, which roar in at sometimes insane heights then pummel the rocky blobs with incredible fury and power, crashing over the basalts in spectacular displays. Again, Jump-Off Joe is awesome for watching this as well, as you can see major tides come swooping in and flood what is normally an open beach.

Words of Warning: stay away from those jetties. They are dangerous whatever the ocean conditions. People have died on these.

Two Lighthouses. Indoors or outdoors, these are two fascinating and famous attractions of the Oregon coast. Both were built in the late 1880s, while the Yaquina Bay one only served for about three years. The Yaquina Head Lighthouse took over after that for several decades. Now, each is open at various times for tours. The Yaquina Head is open only by reservation (541-574-3100). Call for hours at Yaquina Bay as they occasionally change: 541-265-5679.

Indoor Attractions: Oregon Coast Aquarium and the Hatfield Marine Science Center. Even in good weather you’ll want to check these out. They’re both at South Beach, across the bay. The famed Oregon Coast Aquarium houses a huge array of marine life and coastal birds, with all sorts of unique exhibits changing periodically. There is an admission fee. Then down the street sits the Hatfield, where gobs of unique interactive exhibits sit, including the famed octopus at the front of the building. This one is free.

Newport Seafood and Wine Fest. It’s probably the single biggest event on the Oregon coast, bringing in over ten thousand throughout that final weekend of every February. Fancy and fanciful foods come with those famed Oregon and northwest wines, and it’s really the biggest party of the year, held on the South Beach waterfront. See the Newport Seafood and Wine Fest news updates link.

Devil’s Punchbowl. Winter is exciting but unkind here, with that enormous former cave broiling and churning with angry storm waters. However, unless the tides are fairly angry it won’t do a lot, and the name is almost a misnomer. It’s not that wild much of the time. Still, in winter you’ve got greater chances of watching it go insane, and the views are simply spectacular no matter the season.

Newport History Museum (Lincoln County Historical Society and Burrows House). You can’t go wrong here if the weather isn’t right. Step back in time in so many ways, catching sight of all the newfangled machinery of time periods past, countless fascinating photographs and samples of what life was once like here on the central Oregon coast. There’s the main museum at 545 SW 9th Street, Newport, Oregon, but also the Maritime Center museum on the bayfront at 333 SE Bay Blvd, Newport, Oregon.

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