25 Amazing Things To Do on the North Oregon Coast

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By Visit Oregon

Sep 1, 2022 / 9:13 pm

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The Northern Oregon coast is filled with lots of exciting attractions and gorgeous natural scenery. Here are some fun things to check out on your next trip.

1. Astoria Column

The Astoria Column is a fascinating tower built back in the 1920s. It features scenes from the city’s founding engraved into the exterior and a deck at the top of the tower. You can climb to the top to catch a stunning view of both Astoria and the Columbia River. This neat little monument is part of a gorgeous city park, so plan to spend some time exploring the surrounding area. 

2. Astoria Riverfront

The whole area along the Astoria Riverfront is packed with fun things to do. You can explore this area to see a variety of fun shops, restaurants, and more. In nice weather, you can use the paved trails for walking, biking, or skating. You can also hop on the Astoria Riverfront Trolley to sit back and relax while you watch the scenery. This streetcar line runs for three miles and stops at many classic Astoria locations. 

3. Oregon Film Museum

Oregon’s coast is known for being the site of many iconic films, and this museum celebrates the state’s fascinating history. It has a lot of neat, hands-on exhibits that let you learn about the making of your favorite films. The museum hosts displays from multiple classic films, including The Goonies, Free Willy, Twilight, and National Lampoon’s Animal House. Even if you aren’t a huge film buff, this museum is worth checking out. It’s situated in the old Clatsop County Jail and lets you check out the interior of several historic jail cells.

4. Fort Clatsop

This neat monument was the winter encampment for the Lewis and Clark Expedition. It contains an on-site replica of the original log fort that you can roam through to feel like you’re an old-timey explorer yourself. The site is loaded with information for history fans, including costumed reenactors, a museum, and programs led by rangers. You can also visit the area to hike in a gorgeous Oregonian forest.

5. Astoria-Megler Bridge

While you’re in Astoria, be sure to check out the Astoria-Megler bridge. This bridge stretches from Oregon to Washington and is in record books for its unique construction. It’s the longest continuous truss bridge on the entire continent. In addition to being an architectural marvel, this bridge is a great spot for pictures. The pale green beams make a lovely backdrop for images highlighting the Columbia River’s natural beauty.

6. Fort Stevens State Park

Fort Stevens is a park with over 4,000 acres of exciting things to do. Situated at the mouth of the Columbia River, this park has a great blend of forests, plains, and beaches. It was originally a military site, so you can explore a variety of historic monuments and buildings. In modern times, it’s been converted into a great recreational area. Depending on your mood, you can visit it to swim in the freshwater lake, play disc golf, or go for a hike. The park even offers camping opportunities, and you can rent bikes and kayaks for fun adventures.

7. Flavel House Museum

The Flavel House Museum is a gorgeous Queen Anne mansion that dates back to the 1880s. Created by one of the area’s first millionaires, this massive property takes up an entire city block. Touring the museum is a great way to get a close-up look at all the intricate architectural details that are a feature of the Queen Anne style. The home is decorated with period-appropriate antiques and provides fascinating insights into how people lived in Victorian times.

8. Columbia River Maritime Museum

Much of the northern Oregon coast was originally devoted to shipping, so the Maritime Museum is a must-visit location. This building houses the largest maritime artifact collection in the Northwest, so you get a lot of interesting information on how fishing, shipping, and warfare affected the area. A tour of the museum lets you see seafaring vessels, cannons, historic diving costumes, and more.

9. Peter Iredale Shipwreck

Even if you don’t have time to check out the thousands of acres in Fort Stevens State Park, stop by to visit the wreck of the Peter Iredale. This ship is one of the most recognizable shipwrecks in the Graveyard of the Pacific. The ship was built in the 1890s and ran itself aground on the Oregon coast during a storm. The ship sank into the sand and was never removed, and now it can easily be visited without having to go out into the water.

10. Seaside Aquarium

Learn about all the interesting marine life of the Oregon coast by visiting this charming attraction. Located in a historic spa building, Seaside Aquarium is home to a variety of ocean fish, seals, and other critters. You can see everything from moray eels to octopuses at this aquarium. It also offers a lot of interesting programs that contain a mix of exciting information and hands-on activities. 

11. Seaside Turnaround

Named for the circular drive at the heart of the promenade, the Seaside Turnaround is the main attraction of this oceanside town. The Turnaround features a Lewis and Clark Statue along with a walkway along the beach. Even when it’s too cold for the beach, there are plenty of exciting things to do. You can browse the shops for a variety of things like local art or cute outfits. There’s also a playground for kids to enjoy and plenty of tasty restaurants. 

12. Tillamook Rock Lighthouse

Tillamook Rock Lighthouse is a deactivated lighthouse situated off the coast of Astoria. This lighthouse got the nickname “Terrible Tilly” for its inconvenient location perched on a tiny basalt rock in the middle of the bay. Actually accessing this lighthouse is very challenging and requires special permission and a helicopter ride. However, it’s worth checking it out even if you can’t enter. You can view it from nearby Indian Beach, and the views are especially stunning when you visit at sunset.

13. Ecola State Park

Ecola State Park is one of the most notable state parks in Oregon. This beautiful park stretches along nine miles of the Pacific coastline. Paved walking trails make it easy to view the park on a gentle hike. More adventurous visitors will enjoy climbing on the rocky beach to view tide pools or surfing at Indian Beach to the north. This park is perfect for those who enjoy untouched natural beauty. You can view vast swathes of undeveloped land filled with native trees, grasses, and even wildflowers.

14. Haystack Rock

This scenic spot is one of Oregon’s most-photographed locations. Haystack Rock is a soaring tower of basalt that was formed by waves slowly eroding solidified lava flows. This cool geological feature is incredible to experience in person. It’s the third tallest sea stack in the world, and you can walk right up to it at low tide. The whole area around the rock is a fantastic beach to explore. You can take stunning photos, explore surrounding tide pools, or enjoy a picnic while you look at all the lovely sights.

15. Hug Point State Park

Curious about how this state park got its name? It’s named after the unusual road that curves tightly around sandstone cliffs while hugging closely to the beach. Hug Point is more than just an interesting little bit of trivia though. This is the ideal spot to visit if you want a low-key park off the beaten track. At 43 acres, this park is a little smaller than some other nearby parks, so it gets fewer visitors. This is great news for those who do visit since you can enjoy the scenic beach without big crowds. 

16. Oswald West State Park

If you’re interested in checking out Oregon’s famous “temperate rainforest” climate, this is the park for you. Oswald West State Park has over 2,000 acres of land filled with hiking trails, and its campgrounds are surrounded by giant, old spruces, hemlocks, and red cedars. Its position a little south of Cannon Beach also means it gets some fantastic waves. This park is a favorite spot for surfers. Oswald West is also a marine reserve, which means it’s a great area to see wildlife.

17. Manzanita Beach

This charming little beach is nestled beneath Neahkahnie Mountain. It’s known for its smooth, golden sands and gentle, rolling waves. This is a great spot to visit if you want to go to a peaceful, beautiful beach. There’s excellent swimming during the summer, and in the colder months, it’s an ideal spot for long walks.

18. Wheeler Marina

Situated along Nehalem Bay, this marina provides access to both the Nehalem River and the nearby estuary. The marina makes it easy to rent boats, kayaks, and other equipment for enjoying the water. They also provide an area where you can quickly register for a license if you want to fish and help you stock up on bait and tackle. If you’re unfamiliar with the area, you can even sign up for a guided tour that walks you through the steps of crabbing or fishing.

19. Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad

The Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad runs between Garibaldi, Wheeler, Nehalem River, Salmonberry River, and Rockaway Beach. It can be a great way for you to travel between various vacation destinations while enjoying Oregon scenery. In addition to going through a lot of stunning natural areas, the railroad itself is a fun experience. The railroad uses historic, steam-powered locomotives and offers you the chance to enjoy food and drinks. 

20. Tillamook Cheese Factory

If you love cheese, ice cream, and other dairy-based treats, the Tillamook Creamery is an excellent option for a day trip. The company offers self-guided tours throughout the facility. You can browse through the farm and factory and learn all about the process. Once you’re done with your tour, be sure to check out the Tillamook dining hall. You can enjoy tasty cheeseburgers, grilled cheeses, ice cream, and more.

21. Tillamook Air Museum

If you love military history and technology, be sure to drop by the Tillamook Air Museum. This museum is located in an old blimp hangar on a former US Navy Air Station. The museum has a lot of interesting and informative visits. You can view a variety of fascinating aircraft, including old TWA planes and F-14 fighter aircraft. It also has a lot of artifacts related to World War II and the history of aviation. You can walk through an old air raid shelter and explore historic crashes. 

22. Oceansides Tunnel Beach

In the mood for something a little different? This beach has the sort of gorgeous geological features you can only find in Oregon. It’s situated along Maxwell Point and contains a lot of towering rocks carved into peaks by ocean waves. Along the north end of the beach, you’ll find one of the best-kept secrets of Oregon. A narrow tunnel through the cliffs leads you to an isolated beach cove. This pebbly beach is ideal for picnics, romantic dates, and photography sessions. 

23. Three Capes Scenic Loop

This drive is often called one of the most scenic trips in all of Oregon. The road starts in downtown Tillamook and travels through three different oceanside capes. The 40-mile drive is fast enough to complete in one day while long enough to ensure you get to see a lot of awesome sites. This drive lets you view everything from giant Sitka Spruces to golden sand filled with shells. It also contains a lot of awesome spots to stop along the way. You can grab lunch and a pint at the Pelican Brewery or visit the Cape Meares lighthouse.

24. Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area

The Cape Kiwanda state park is situated right next to the charming Pacific City. This spot is known for its hiking. It has towering dunes and soaring cliffs that provide stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. The park is filled with trails that go through forests and eventually lead you to impressive viewpoints. It also provides access to a beach that’s ideal for fishing and flying kites. 

25. Sand Dunes at Cape Kiwanda

Unlike many Oregon beaches that are rocky, Cape Kiwanda has so much sand that towering dunes have formed. The massive sand dune arcs over the beach and provides a fun challenge for climbers. The sand dunes are constantly being re-sculpted by the wind and the waves, so every time you visit, you can enjoy something new. Traveling up the dry sand of the dune is definitely a workout, but the views are worth it. Once you get to the top, you can see for miles.

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