Planning an Oregon road trip? There are SO many beautiful areas to explore along the Oregon coast. Keep reading for my guide on the top sites to see on an Oregon coastal road trip, as well as some of the best campsites on the Oregon coast!
Oregon Coastal Road Trip Overview
The stretch of the Oregon coast is rugged and scenic, with unique landmarks and breathtaking views. Taking an Oregon coastal road trip is definitely a bucket list item! You can technically drive the whole thing in about 7 hours without stopping, but I recommend taking at least 3 days to give yourself enough time to explore and soak in the scenery.
We did our Oregon road trip in an RV, so that we could park/sleep with a view of the coast each night! Find out how to get super cheap RV deals so you can go RV camping for your Oregon road trip too. We used the app called iOverlander to pick out places to sleep each night that were basically just turnouts off the 101, but with beautiful views. I’ll include the coastal Oregon campsites we used, but will also recommend hotels in case you are not camping along the Oregon Coast for this trip!
- PTO/Vacation Days Needed: 1-2
- Nights: 2-3
- Cost: $
The Best Things to See Along the Oregon Coast
(From North to South)
Kick off your Oregon coastal road trip by stopping at the iconic Cannon Beach to check out Haystack Rock. Towering up 235 feet, Haystack Rock is considered to be the third tallest intertidal formation in the world. It was also featured in The Goonies!
Right across the street from the beach, head to Pelican Brewery for some local craft beers and food.
If you’re interested in some coastal hiking – check out nearby Ecola State Park. Try the Clatsop Loop Trail – it’s 2.8 miles round trip and has stunning views!
Oswald West State Park
About 10 miles south of Cannon Beach, you’ll come to Oswald West State Park. This state park has a beautiful white sand beach that stretches 4 miles along the Oregon coast, surrounded by rainforest. Check out either the Cape Falcon Trail (4.6 miles round trip) or the Neahkahnie Mountain via Oregon Coast Trail (2.8 miles) for epic views.
I recommend staying near Oswald West State Park for the night:
Best Coastal Campsite near Oswald West State Park:
We used iOverlander to find a turnout off the 101 just south of Oswald West State Park in Manzanita, with a beautiful view of the coastline! The coordinates are: 45.74018, -123.94944.
Lodging Near Oswald State Park
The Pans Abode cabin in Manzanita (just south of Oswald State Park) looks amazing! It has a beautiful view of the coast from the back deck.
Lincoln City – God’s Thumb Hike
About 1.5 hours south of Oswald State Park area, you will arrive at Lincoln City. Here, you should definitely do the 4.4 mile round-trip hike to God’s Thumb! This hidden gem of a hike takes you to a hill jutting up along the coast that looks like a “thumb’s up”. The view from up there is beautiful as well! I found this blog post to be super helpful with details of the hike/trailhead while planning.
If you like surfing, Otter Rock is a great surf spot along the Oregon Coast. There’s a surf shop right near the parking lot if you need to rent anything. If you don’t surf, the beach itself is beautiful and makes a great spot to watch the action!
Right next to Otter Rock is Devil’s Punchbowl. This natural rock formation looks like a bowl, with an opening at the top. Watch the waves crash in and out of this cave from above.
If you’re able to, plan this stop when the tide is at a negative low so you can go inside Devil’s Punchbowl! That way, you can safely walk down to the beach, climb over rocks and enter the cave. It’s awesome to look up from inside and see the sky peeking out. Just be careful to watch the tides so you don’t get yourself in a dangerous situation.
The beach area at Devil’s Punchbowl is super unique. Everything is so green, and there’s even a little waterfall!
Fish & Chips in Yachats
About 45 minutes south of Devil’s Punchbowl, you’ll reach the cute town of Yachats. One of our friends who lives in Oregon brought us to this seemingly hole-in-the-wall cafe called Luna Sea Fish House that had the BEST fish & chips I have ever had. All the fish is fresh caught, and you can pick among a few options for which type you’d like for your dish. I had halibut, and my boyfriend had the salmon. They were both amazing!
There’s also an ice cream store next door, where they serve ice cream from the nearby Tillamook creamery (which you are able to visit and tour if you interested!)
Cape Perpetua was my favorite place along the Oregon Coast. It reminded me of the Oregon version of California’s Big Sur! It’s also home to the highest viewpoint on the Oregon Coast. There are a few different hiking trails to choose from, but we did the Saint Perpetua Trail – I highly recommend it!
Saint Perpetua Trail Overview:
- Miles: 1.7
- Elevation Gain: 715 ft
- Trailhead: Right behind the visitor center
This trail goes through a lush forest-like section, up some switchbacks, through a meadow with wildflowers, and then reaches a few AMAZING coastal viewpoints!
Thor’s Well is also located in Cape Perpetua. There’s a big parking area right off the 101, with a short trail from here leading down to this natural phenomenon. Also called “the Drainpipe of the Pacific” this sea cave has openings where waves violently crash through and explode up into the air, similar to a geyser. Make sure you’re there at high tide for the full effect.
Best RV Coastal Campsite Near Cape Perpetua
If you’re RV camping along the Oregon Coast – RVs are able to park/sleep overnight in the same parking area turnout for Thor’s Well, as there are no “no overnight parking” signs listed. This makes for an epic campsite on the Oregon coast!
If you’re looking for a campground, Cape Perpetua campground hosts some of the best campsites on the Oregon coast. The campground is located in between the forest and the beach, and has some great trails right near the campsites.
Best Lodging Near Cape Perpetua
The Overleaf Lodge & Spa looks AMAZING with coastal views from your room (and from the heated pool!)
Oregon Dunes Recreation Area
The Oregon sand dunes stretch about 40 miles from Florence to Coos Bay. You can explore these dunes either by hiking some scenic trails, or renting an ATV! If hiking – start at the Oregon Dunes Day Use Area and take the short trail that leads out to the beach. Then, keep driving south. The more south you drive, the bigger the dunes seem to get – for instance, check out the Umpqua Dunes near Winchester Bay. Unfortunately, we were unable to see the dunes as most of the areas were closed due to COVID when we visited. Definitely will need to go back sometime!
Port Orford – Hubbard Beach
Honestly, there are SO many cool beaches to stop at along the Oregon Coast. I recommend just driving down the 101 and stopping at a turnout whenever you see a cool beach or view that you like! For us, this happened at Hubbard Bech in Port Orford when we stumbled upon this spot from other cars being parked at a turnout, and after noticing it was a good surf spot! To get down to the beach, park on the east side of the 101 and take the short trail under the 101 and across some sand dunes to the beach area, which intersects with Hubbard Creek. Great chill spot to watch the sunset or catch some waves! Fun fact: Port Orford is the most westerly city in the continental US!
Right around the corner from this beach was one of the best campsites on the Oregon Coast (by “campsite” I mean RV parking with a view). If you’re RV camping for your Oregon road trip – check out the turnout at coordinates 42.72195, -124.46658 to get to this spot (pictured below).
About 40 minutes south, you’ll arrive at Meyer’s Beach (just south of Gold Beach). This is another beach that we stumbled upon by parking off a turnout on the 101. This beach features several huge rock sea stacks towering right off shore in the ocean. It’s super picturesque. Apparently, Meyer’s Beach is used as the setting for a lot of car commercials! There’s about 6 different turnouts in this area – and they all have trails that lead down to the beach. Definitely worth going down to the sand and hanging out!
Tips for your Oregon Coastal Road Trip
- Like I mentioned before, I definitely recommend renting an RV or a campervan so you have the freedom to park off the 101 and sleep with a view!
- If you do decide to go RV camping for your Oregon Coast road trip – when choosing a spot for the night, make sure there are no “no overnight parking” signs. I recommend downloading the free iOverlander app. It’s super helpful!
- You are not allowed to pump your own gas in Oregon! This took some getting used to. Once you pull up to a pump, you have to wait for the attendant to come over, swipe your credit card, and pump the gas for you.
- The weather in Oregon can change in an instant. Make sure you pack layers, and prepare for foggy beach views!
Oregon Coast Road Trip Packing List
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- Hiking Boots (these are my fave)
- Sony A6000 (I’m just starting to learn photography, but this is the camera I’ve been using! I love it)
- Day Pack
- Reusable Water Bottle
- SmartWool Hiking Socks
Want to extend your trip? Keep driving down the coast line into California. Check out my other post: Must-See Spots on a West Coast US Road Trip to plan it!