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Top Ten Oregon Coast Must-see's for Memorial Weekend

Published 05/20/2016 at 8:11 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Photo: Hug Point, near Cannon Beach

(Oregon Coast) – If you're heading to the Oregon coast for the Memorial Day holiday weekend, and you could see only one thing: what would you see? What if you'd never been to these beaches before and had to make a goal to check out one particular sight amid all your random explorations? (Photo: Hug Point, near Cannon Beach).

Here's a few ideas. Ten of them, actually. Any area you go to on the northern half of the Oregon coast will be near one of these things you simply must see, and thus a short drive. Follow the links for virtual tours and maps of these areas.

World War II Battlements and Shipwreck. Fort Stevens State Park, close to Astoria, is miles and miles worth of wildly engaging attractions. There's the shipwreck of the Peter Iredale on the beach, stuck there for over 100 years. Battery Russell is an impressive yet eerie sight: the former gunnery and concrete bunkers that guarded the Columbia River from the Civil War through World War II There's much more to this place, on top of that.

Hug Point. Just south of Cannon Beach, this is one action-packed place of varied fun and attractions. A really freaky sea cave, a waterfall, massive rock indentations that fire the imagination – and of course that irresistible road that was carved out of the point. Tidal conditions may not let you get very far: the first headland to the right (as you're descending the path) is the gateway to all the cool stuff, and sometimes that is has too much ocean lapping at it to go around it safely.

However, most of the time there's lots to see and do. The big sea cave has wild colors inside and it portrays the power of the ocean rather dramatically with a giant log or two crammed into some crevices. The road was blasted out of the headland over 100 years ago so carriages and Model T's could head north, at a time when the beaches were the coastal highway.

Train Rides of Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad. Ride an antique train from Garibaldi to Wheeler and back, all the while taking in the Tillamook Bay and Nehalem Bay as well as beaches. Their season kicks in over the Memorial Weekend. 503-842-7972. Website.

Oceanside and Tunnel. This tiny village at the northern tip of the Three Capes Tour has a big hole in it: and it's mind blowing. The beach by itself is an ever-charmer, but head through the ancient tunnel and you'll find an unforgettable strand, full of funky rock features, tiny caves, one big cave, and gobs of starfish colonies. For an even more incredible experience, drive the tiny, winding road through the hills until you reach the top of Maxwell Point, where you'll be looking down on the massive Three Arch Rocks.

Cape Kiwanda. Pacific City shines as the most bustling little town you've ever seen, with a host of amenities and sensory pleasures. But the massive sandstone Cape Kiwanda, with its towering dune and surreal rocky structures, is the real attention-grabber. Parts of this beautiful behemoth look like an alien planet or something out of Dr. Suess. Some sections of the headland have detached over the millennia and now rise up out of of the ocean in starkly jagged formations. It will fill you with awe.

Cape Foulweather. About four miles south of Depoe Bay, Cape Foulweather gives you one of the grandest views along the entire Oregon coast, sitting up there at 500 feet above the ocean. From here you can look down on the Devil's Punchbowl, see Newport and its main lighthouse blinking in the distance, and gaze at those bulb-like rocky masses covered with green to the north. Insider's tip: take the slow route, starting at Otter Loop Road close to Depoe Bay, where soaring cliffs and exploding ocean vistas are your constant reward.

Yaquina Head, Newport. Not only does this Newport eye-popper have a towering lighthouse, but the headland has a myriad of must-see's as well. There's that mysterious black beach below, where the ocean makes freaky noises on the large rocks. Hike to the top of Salaal Hill or wander around a manmade intertidal area, among other treats.

Yachats 804 Trail. This little town at the southern edge of Lincon County is mostly one big rocky shelf after another, where gargantuan waves make an even bigger splash all day and night. It's riveting. One of the best spots to view this is the mile-long 804 Trail, which treads the edge of this consistent display. It starts at Smelt Sands State Park.

Cape Perpetua. High or low – take your pick. The bottom of the cape is the Devil's Churn, where a sizable slit in the basalt channels the ocean's energy into one furious display. The top of the cape allows you take in an unbelievable oceanic vista. Plus, it has that little stone lookout building that looks rather medieval.

Strawberry Hill. Between Yachats and Florence, there's so much happening it's impossible to talk about all of it (this area includes Cape Perpetua). Strawberry Hill is a serious highlight, however. At one end, it's a thin cobblestone beach (that's often good agate hunting). The larger portion is a kind of semi-cove filled with laidback sands and a rocky labyrinth of unusual structures to climb around. At its northern edges it gets quite striking.

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