Small towns on the Oregon coast: top 15 charming locations you'll fall in love with at first sight

By Alina GoncharovaJun 26, 2023 15:35 PMOregon
Small towns on the Oregon coast: top 15 charming locations you'll fall in love with at first sight
The best holiday on the Oregon coast. Source: Image Leif Lensgraf/Pixabay

From secluded fishing villages and creative arts communities to cliffside chalets, the small towns on the Oregon Coast are striking in their diversity and authenticity. The "Pacific" state has a rich cultural and historical heritage with its many famous tourist attractions. However, the essence of Oregon and its authentic charm can be felt in small towns with a population of less than 12,000. It's time to plan your adventure, and the following list of Oregon Coast towns to visit will help you do just that.

1. Newport

Small towns on the Oregon coast: top 15 charming locations you'll fall in love with at first sight
One of the largest beaches in Oregon, Agatha Beach. Source: Image Brigitte Werner/Pixabay

This small city on the Oregon coast with about 10,000 inhabitants attracts tourists at any time of the year. Of course, the largest number of travellers come to Newport in the summer in search of a great beach holiday.

The most active life is in Nye Beach, with its many restaurants and shops, as well as eclectic art galleries. The location also boasts direct access to the ocean and, of course, stunning views.

Also worth a visit is the world-famous Oregon Coast Aquarium, which is located next to South Beach State Park. The public science and exhibition centre has many interesting exhibits, including underwater ones. The aquarium, opened in 1992, is located along the picturesque Yakima Bay.

Hiking enthusiasts will be delighted with the Yakwina Head Natural Area, the pearl of which is the lighthouse of the same name.

If you are planning to stay in Newport for a few days, we recommend staying in one of the hotels located by the ocean. For example, the luxurious Hallmark Hotel is located on the coast, close to the city's most significant attractions.

2. Cannon Beach

Less than a two-hour drive from Portland is one of the best cities on the Oregon coast. The popularity of Cannon Beach is not only due to its good location, but also to its unusually beautiful scenery, which attracts travellers from all over the world.

The incredible Haystack Rock, which is located on the coast, is the city's picturesque landmark. At its foot is a wide beach with white sand called Heistek Rock, where you can spend a great day with the whole family, enjoying swimming, flying kites or building castles on the shore.

Other popular attractions include:

  • Ecola State Park, located north of the beach, with its hiking trails of varying difficulty;
  • Oswald West State Park, located in the opposite direction.

There are also many shops and restaurants, campsites and hotels in this city on the Oregon coast. Accommodation should be booked in advance, especially if you plan to spend a weekend here in the summer. The most popular accommodation options are the Surfsand Resort and Ocean Lodge, located on a beautiful stretch of beach with views of Hastings Rock.

3. Pacific City

The perfect coastal getaway and more is offered by this delightful Oregon beach town. Situated at the southern end of the famous Three Capes Scenic Rout, Pacific City is known for its many activities to suit all tastes. Enjoy a sunset dinner in a cosy restaurant by the water, or even watch whales swim close to the shore.

On the northern border of the city is the picturesque Cape Kiwanda, which should be on the list of must-see locations in the state. Other popular activities include:

  • surfing in the bay;
  • swimming;
  • picnics on the equipped beach, and much more.

Pacific City also attracts fishermen, who can go "hunting" right from the beach on their flat-bottomed boats. If you decide to extend your stay in this cosy town, which is highly recommended, we recommend staying at the Surf & Sand Inn with comfortable rooms and direct access to the beach.

4. Astoria

Small towns on the Oregon coast: top 15 charming locations you'll fall in love with at first sight
The Astoria-Megler Bridge over the Columbia. Source: Image Michelle Statler/Pixabay

This charming small Oregon coastal city is located in the northwest of the state and is bordered by Young Bay and, of course, the Pacific Ocean. Astoria has a rich, long history that is worth getting to know. The city, more than 200 years old, was founded as an industrial centre for fishing, logging and fur production.

Today, Astoria is an important cultural centre with approximately ten thousand inhabitants. There are many reasons to visit this city on the Oregon coast or to spend a wonderful weekend or even a holiday here. Popular tourist attractions include the following:

  • Columbia River Maritime Museum;
  • a tour of the historic tram that runs along the Astoria waterfront;
  • Captain George Flavell Museum.

The Astoria Column, which offers a panoramic view of the Columbia River, is a must-see on the route. The tower, built in 1926, is located on Coxcomb Hill and serves as a monument to the history of the Pacific Northwest region.

If you want to stay in the heart of the city, book a room at the Hotel Elliott or Cannery Pier Hotel.

5. Bandon

From the best beaches to cultural and entertainment attractions, this Oregon coastal city attracts tourists in search of new experiences and adventures throughout the year.

The most popular place to visit is the Face Rock State Scenic Viewpoint. The viewpoint offers fantastic views, and being a national wildlife refuge, it is very interesting to explore and observe the local fauna, especially seabirds. We also recommend visiting the Croninburg and Cockle Point District Parks, both of which are located on the ocean and offer no less breathtaking views than the Face Rock. The popular, first-class Windermere on the Beach resort is a short distance away, where you can stay to spend more time by the ocean.

From the diverse restaurants and many shops in Old Town to the extraordinary sea beaches, there is sure to be something to do in Bandon.

6. Depoe Bay

One of the best coastal towns in Oregon, it is both the world's smallest harbour and the most famous whale watching centre in the state. The western edge of Depoe Bay is outlined by a picturesque cliff, from the top of which you can see these incredible giant creatures from afar.

From March to December, the bay becomes home to a permanent group of grey whales. Thanks to the state-owned Whale Watch Centre, everyone has the opportunity to spend an eventful day to get up close and personal with these extraordinary ocean mammals.

There are a variety of shops, galleries and restaurants along the central part of Depot Bay to fill the time between whale watching. Local companies also organise fishing charters.

The best views of this pretty Oregon coast town can be enjoyed from several vantage points:

  • Boiler Bay;
  • Devil's Punchbowl;
  • Fogarty Creek.

The Whale Cove Inn offers not only excellent service, but also the opportunity to observe the incredible inhabitants of the ocean and coastline every day, such as bird colonies, sea lions and, of course, whales.

7. Gold Beach

Between the pristine banks of the Rogue River on the south coast and the Pacific Ocean is Gold Beach, one of the best beach towns in Oregon. The location is primarily known for its fishing opportunities, as the surrounding waters are rich in tuna, cod, and salmon. Local companies also offer assistance in organising holidays on the coast of the estuary or ocean, for example, you can book an excursion with professional guides.

When visiting Gold Beach, don't forget to add the wreck of the Peter Iredale to your itinerary. The 1880 vessel still holds many secrets and artefacts, having a rather interesting history. Hurry up and visit the port of Gold Beach, because the wreck is being absorbed by the salt water and will disappear one day forever.

In addition to the endless expanse of water that surrounds Gold Beach, another natural setting is the Klamath-Siskiyou Mountains, which seem to rise from the ocean itself. The towns in the Oregon coast are also known for their excellent beach facilities, where you can spend the whole day. Those who like to read while basking in the warm sunshine on comfortable sun loungers can visit the famous Gold Beach Books store.

After sunbathing and reading, it's worth taking a stroll south of the beach to stumble upon the Cape Sebastian Scenic Corridor, a 1.5-mile-long, photogenic trail that winds through dense coniferous forest, ending at the lowest levels of the Cape.

If you're planning to stay in Gold Beach near the beach, the Pacific Reef Hotel is a great option, with its iconic rocking chairs that offer stunning views of the ocean coast and mountains.

8. Florence

Small towns on the Oregon coast: top 15 charming locations you'll fall in love with at first sight
Bridge over the Siuslaw River. Source: Image Brigitte Werner/Pixabay

The best coastal cities in Oregon to visit include Florence, which is located along the Siuslaw River. You can find many interesting things to do here, especially if you enjoy the outdoors. In particular, the most popular locations in Florence include:

  • Heseta Head Lighthouse;
  • Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area;
  • The bridge over the Siuslaw River, which offers the best view of most of the city.

You can stay overnight at the atmospheric, charming Ocean Breeze Motel, located on the coast. The Old Town area is a must-see, with its historic buildings, dining options and numerous shops. Restaurants in this region specialise in seafood dishes.

Florence, with its sand dunes, miles of surfing and kiteboarding beaches, cycling and hiking trails in unspoilt nature reserves, is the perfect choice for outdoor enthusiasts.

9. Rockaway Beach

South of Cannon Beach is a beautiful beach town in Oregon. Rockaway Beach is known primarily for its waterfront recreational opportunities. No wonder, as its uninterrupted coastline stretches for more than seven miles. It is this long stretch of beach, lapped by the waves of the Pacific Ocean, that attracts so many travellers from all over the country and even the world to the small town of just over a thousand residents every year.

One of the most popular pastimes in Rockaway Beach is crabbing. It is not just a fun activity, but a way of life for many locals. If you also want to try your hand at this art, we recommend heading to Nehalem Bay, Netarts or Tillamook. You can rent equipment at several marinas around the three bays. At Kelly's Brighton Marina on Nehalem Bay, the family-run company offers adventurous fishing and guaranteed catch.

10. Yachats

The small coastal city of Oregon is justifiably considered the pearl of the state. Yachats is a real oasis of paradise with unique ocean views. The community is home to no more than a thousand residents, but every year travellers come here in search of wonderful, but unusual places for a beach holiday.

The city is very convenient and interesting to explore. Go on foot or by bicycle - Yachats has a large number of paths and tracks for walking along the basalt coast. The most popular routes are Amanda's Trail and 804 Trail.

We definitely recommend visiting the unique Cape Perpetua Scenic Area, located in the Siuslaw National Forest. The location covers 2700 acres of coastal territory. The Cape Perpetua Scenic Area trails will lead you to the beaches and lava headland, which offers some of the best views on the southern Oregon coast.

11. Seaside

Seaside is one of the best Oregon Coast cities to visit and has a reputation as a popular resort in the region. Just like a century ago, tourists still come here in search of a great beach holiday. In addition, many of the attractions that attracted travellers in the past are still there today, such as the historic Seaside Aquarium and the 1920s Seaside Promenade.

On summer days, especially on weekends, the beach with its wide and comfortable shoreline attracts a large number of people. Interesting activities and events often take place here, one of the most popular being the world's largest amateur volleyball tournament.

The Central Promenade is the most prominent attraction of Seaside. It stretches for 1.5 miles, separating the city from the sandy shore. We recommend taking a walk along the concrete walkway at sunset to enjoy the beautiful views and colourful reflections on the water.

Another important location is the Aquarium, founded in 1937. It is open every day and closes only on major holidays. Children will definitely enjoy a visit to the sensory aquarium, where they can get to know various marine animals, such as eels, octopuses or seals.

12. Warrenton

The list of the most beautiful coastal cities in Oregon includes Warrenton, located on the other side of Young Bay in the northwest of the state. Its population is less than six thousand, and the surrounding area is surrounded by water on almost all sides - the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean.

Warrenton is home to Fort Stevens State Park, which covers more than four thousand acres, including many miles of coastline. The location is one of the most popular and largest coastal playgrounds. There is a campsite on site, so you can spend a great weekend here.

Popular activities include a tour of the historic fortifications, as the park used to serve as a military fort, and a visit to the sunken ships, which are exposed to the maximum extent possible at low tide.

If you want to spend a holiday in Warrenton, we recommend choosing one of the comfortable hotels that will provide the perfect relaxing stay in one of the best small towns on the Oregon coast.

13. Manzanita

If you want to enjoy a beach holiday without the crowds, choose this beautiful city on the Oregon coast for your next trip. Manzanita is not as active as its neighbours, but this has a special appeal, which contributes to maximum relaxation and a leisurely holiday.

It is home to no more than a thousand residents, but travellers will find many interesting places to visit, as the town has a rich cultural background. If you are planning a holiday in September, we recommend visiting the annual Muttzanita Dog and Beach Festival, which will be interesting not only for dog owners.

14. Brookings

One of Oregon's southernmost ocean cities is located along Highway 101 with a population of more than six thousand residents.

Brookings is known for Harris Beach State Park, which is easily accessible. A large recreational area with a coastal campsite and equipped seating is located within walking distance of the city centre. The park offers many opportunities for walking, showcasing a variety of aquatic habitats, including massive rock stacks - pillars of rock separated from the shore and formed by wave erosion.

Nearby Brookings is the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor. It's a spectacular 12-mile stretch of coastline with secluded coves and other natural wonders and some of the best breathtaking views in the Pacific Northwest. Walk along marked hiking trails among the majestic Sitka spruce trees that were once used by gold miners and early settlers in search of a better life.

15. Neskowin

Located less than ten miles north of Lincoln City, this Oregon coast town is primarily known for its stunning beach, which attracts the largest number of tourists.

Neskowin is a small coastal village with a permanent population of about a hundred people. It can be reached by taking a slight turn off the 101 motorway. Perhaps it is this small detour that keeps the crowds of travellers away from other locations on the coast. However, despite its small population, Neskowin offers a large selection of good hotels for overnight stays.

The coastline stretches for more than three miles, connecting to Pacific City Beach and Kiwanda Beach in the north. If you have time for walking, we recommend visiting the unique Neskowin Ghost Forest. This ghost forest can be seen in shallow waters only at low tide, which exposes the remains of ancient mighty trees. Spruce trees 150-200 feet high had been growing here for about two millennia, but after the earthquake in 1700, their trunks were submerged in silt.

The beach is also home to the majestic Proposal Rock, which can only be reached by a steep, winding path. Of course, the views from here are fantastic, but you should take into account your strength and the hours of high tide to avoid being trapped in the ocean.

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