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An Oregon coastal road trip is the best way to experience the Pacific Coast in the northwestern United States. Characterized by dramatic cliffs and long stretches of sand, the Oregon Coast is absolutely stunning. Epic lighthouses, beautiful nature trails and incredible viewpoints are top Highway 101 Oregon attractions – and we include them all (and more!) in our Oregon Road Trip Itinerary.
Planning An Oregon Coast Road Trip
There are hundreds of things to do along the Oregon Coast – which can make it extremely overwhelming to plan an Oregon Coast trip. Because we have driven the coast on numerous occasions in various amounts of time, we have devised the ultimate Oregon Coast Road Trip that includes the best places to stop and top attractions to see along the Pacific Coast.
However, because US road trippers may have various timeframes or different interests than we have featured in our Oregon Coast driving itinerary, we also share tips for alternate stops along the same route.
Furthermore, we understand that there is a lot more to planning the best Oregon road trip than just deciding which things to see along the Oregon Coast. Therefore, in our Oregon Coast trip planner, you will also find our recommended accommodations, packing tips, an Oregon coast road trip map and more useful Highway 101 Oregon road trip tips!
Oregon Coast Highway 101 Road Trip Itinerary FAQs
Before we jump into the details of what to see along the Oregon Coast, let’s review a few of the frequently asked questions.
What is the Best Place to Visit on the Oregon Coast?
In our opinion, there isn’t just one best place to visit on the coastline; that is why we are detailing an Oregon Coast drive that will take you to several of the most beautiful places along the shoreline.
Throughout our Oregon Coast itinerary, we highlight the best stops and top things to do along the 101 in Oregon that stretch from the North to Central Coast.
How Many Days for a Coastal Oregon Itinerary?
Oregon coast trips can be quick 1-day adventures or span several weeks.
For our Oregon Coast scenic drive, we created a 3-night, 4-day Oregon road trip. That said, the Oregon 101 road trip can easily be modified for more (or less) time with just a few adjustments, which we notate throughout the itinerary.
How Long Is The Oregon Coast Trip From Portland?
Our Oregon road trip is designed in a loop that begins and ends in Portland. How long the Oregon Coastal drive will take depends on a multitude of factors – including your interests, number of stops and traffic.
In fact, our 4-Day Oregon Coast travel route could even be completed as an Oregon Coast day trip from Portland (although it would be a very long day with limited stops). Likewise, driving the Oregon Coast from Portland could easily be extended into a 1-week US West Coast road trip adventure.
You will need to decide how long to drive the Oregon Coast based on your interests and allotted timeframe.
To help you plan your trip, for each day of our itinerary, we have noted the driving distance in miles – as well as provided an estimated Oregon Coast drive time for each day. However, those times are for actually driving the Oregon Coast – and do not account for the amount of time it will take for stops and sightseeing along the way.
What Vehicle To Use On A Road Trip To The Oregon Coast?
We assume that you will be traveling the Oregon Coast from Portland – and arriving there by plane (use our tips for finding the best airfare!). Therefore, you will need to use a rental car for your Oregon Coast Hwy 101 road trip. When renting a car, we use Expedia to search for the best rates.
In our opinion, it is well worth the upgrade to rent a mid-size SUV for your Oregon Coast driving tour. Sitting higher off the road, you will have a better view of the shoreline.
Oregon Coast RV Road Trip
An RV is another vehicle option for Oregon road trips. However, with the narrow, curving roads, we would only recommend experienced RV drivers attempt driving the Oregon Coastal Highway.
Travelers planning an Oregon Coast RV trip can easily use our route for their road trip on the Oregon Coast, but we do not have any insight on overnight RV parking. We can tell you, however, that there are many places that do accommodate RVs along the way!
Where Are The Overnight Oregon Coast Road Trip Stops?
Our Oregon Coast Itinerary 4 Days Route includes numerous stops along the way – and overnight stays in Cannon Beach, Pacific City and Florence.
Additionally, we recommend staying in hotels along our route (we provide specific recommendations throughout our itinerary). It is possible to plan an Oregon West Coast camping road trip using our trip plan as well, but we don’t have specific campground recommendations.
When Is The Best Time To Travel To Oregon Coast?
We think the best time of year to take a Pacific Northwest Coast road trip is in the summer or autumn. Oregon Coast weather is typically cool throughout the summer – and gets cooler in the autumn – but it tends to be dry and, overall, very pleasant. Longer summer days are perfect for enjoying the outdoors and Oregon Coast attractions along the route.
On the other hand, winters are rainy and windy, making an Oregon winter road trip unfavorable. Furthermore, the Oregon Coast sunset time during the winter is before 5:00pm – and the shorter days allow for less exploration. The springtime can be fairly wet as well, so we would recommend avoiding the Oregon coast in spring.
Which Direction Is Best On An Oregon Coastal Road Trip?
Our 4-Day Oregon Coast road trip is planned from north to south. Although the route could easily be done in the opposite direction, we prefer driving south because that way we have a full view of the coast (rather than looking across traffic) and easy right-hand-turn access to the numerous scenic roadside overlooks and Oregon Coast viewpoints.
Oregon Coastal Road Trip: Day-by-Day
Now that we have covered the FAQs, it is time to dive into the specifics of our Oregon road trip.
Our Oregon Coast Road Trip Itinerary is packed with detailed information so that you can easily plan your trip. Organized to be completed over 4 days, our Oregon Coast road trip planner includes the best attractions, short hikes and outstanding Oregon Coast views.
This Oregon Coast trip itinerary includes everything you need to know. Save, Bookmark or Pin our blog post so that you can easily access it while planning (and during) your trip to Oregon!
Day 1: Portland, Oregon Road Trip To Cannon Beach
Embark on your Oregon Coast road trip from Portland early in the day. The drive from Portland to the Oregon Coast leaves the city behind, weaves into forests and crosses over the Coastal Mountain Range.
A good mid-way stopping point to stretch your legs (or hop on a bicycle if you have one!) is near Buxton on the Banks-Vernonia State Trail. The paved path was formerly railroad tracks that connected the cities of Banks and Vernonia and was used to haul timber. The trail extends 21 miles, has multiple trailheads and can be used by hikers, bikers and horseback riders.
For lunch, stop at Camp 18 Restaurant. The log cabin eatery, which is decorated in classic mountain motif, offers hearty home cooked meals, huge cinnamon rolls and an on-site museum that details the logging history of the region.
Cannon Beach: An Oregon Coast Must-See
Named for a cannon that floated onto the shore in the mid-1800s, Cannon Beach is a top Oregon Coast destination. The small beach town is highlighted by locally owned shops and restaurants and is one of the best stops on any Oregon Coast road trip. The iconic Haystack Rock, a sea stack monolith that rises 235-feet-high, sits at the south end of the flat, wide beach.
North Oregon Coast Travel Tips and Sightseeing
Nearby sites include Ecola State Park (hiking trails and viewpoints), Seaside (a cute touristic town) and Neahkahnie Mountain (a challenging summit trail with amazing views south of Cannon Beach).
Fun Fact: Cannon Beach and Haystack Rock have been featured in numerous movies, including The Goonies, Twilight and Point Break. These movies have inspired many people to take road trips in Oregon.
Where To Stay in Cannon Beach, Oregon
As one of the top Oregon Coast destinations, there are many places to stay in Cannon Beach. However, we think the best place to stay is at Hallmark Resort, which faces the ocean and offers impeccable views of Haystack Rock. In addition to the multiple pools, the resort also has an on-site spa and fitness center, free DVD’s and popcorn and cookies in the lobby. Check rates and availability!
Alternate Oregon Road Trip Ideas for Day 1
While Hwy 26 is our preferred method of driving from Portland to the coast, it is not the only route. In fact, there are two other popular roads that can be used for trips to Oregon Coast from Portland.
Also called the Columbia River Highway, Hwy 30 leaves Portland to the north and follows the Columbia River west to Astoria, where it meets up with Highway 101. The distance to Cannon Beach using Hwy 30 is 120 miles and takes about 2.5 hours.
Another route to the coast from Portland is to take Hwy 26 to Hwy 6. This route meets the coast south of Cannon Beach at Tillamook. Drivers taking a day trip to Oregon Coast from Portland could use this route – or just visit the short section of coast from Cannon Beach to Tillamook and use Hwy 26 and 6 to complete your loop.
Day 2: North-Central Oregon Coast
After a leisurely breakfast, depart Cannon Beach and continue on your Oregon trip itinerary by traveling south on Highway 101. If you are up for a big hike (and didn’t do it the day before), stop at Neahkahnie Mountain to hike the trail to the summit. Otherwise, make your way leisurely down the coast through the towns of Manzanita and Rockaway Beach to Tillamook Bay.
For lunch, stop at Tillamook Creamery – one of the best stops while driving the Oregon Coast. The local creamery is a cheese factory, museum and restaurant all in one! Take a self-guided tour of the facility, then tuck into a cheesy lunch…but definitely save room for ice cream dessert!
Three Capes Scenic Drive
Just south of the Tillamook Creamery, detour off the 101 onto the Three Capes Scenic Route. One of the Oregon Coast highlights, the route includes Cape Meares, Cape Lookout and Cape Kiwanda.
Stop at the Cape Meares Lighthouse, which was built in the 1890s and join one of the free lighthouse tours (but plan ahead for times). Other attractions at the lighthouse include ocean viewpoints (look for whales and seals!), walking trails and the “Octopus Tree.”
Continue your Oregon Coast sightseeing and drive around Cape Meares to the Netarts Bay Shellfish Preserve along Whiskey Creek Road – then on to Cape Lookout State Park.
Make this one of your Oregon Coast stops and hike the length of the Cape Lookout Trail. The hike features a lush forest lining the top of the Oregon Coast cliffs. The often-muddy trail leads to spectacular viewpoints – and, in our opinion, is an Oregon Coast road trip must-see!
After your hike, continue your Oregon coastline road trip on the 3 Capes Scenic Route to Cape Kiwanda in Pacific City.
Pacific City: An Oregon Road Trip Destination
A laid-back beach town, Pacific City is a perfect place to escape the crowds for a relaxing night on the coast – and one of our favorite Oregon road trip stops. Highlights of the town are the gigantic haystack (named Chief Kiwanda Rock), a 240-foot sand dune on Cape Kiwanda and the local beachfront brewery.
After getting settled into your accommodations, head straight for the Cape Kiwanda Beach – you can either walk or drive right onto it! Fly a kite, sink your feet in the sand or start a beach bonfire and just enjoy the Pacific Ocean view and the sound of the waves.
When you have worked up a thirst and appetite, head into the Pelican Brewing Company oceanfront taproom for refreshing craft beers and satisfying eats. Or, if wine is more your style, walk into town and unwind with a glass of locally produced wine at Twist Wine Company.
Where To Stay in Pacific City
When we visited Pacific City, we stayed at the Inn at Cape Kiwanda – and would stay there again in a heartbeat! The ocean view boutique hotel is just across the street from the Pacific City Beach and Pelican Brewery – and mere steps from the Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area. The large, clean rooms have comfortable beds and the hotel offers amenities, like in-room fireplaces, on-site bike rentals, and a spa.
Alternate Oregon Coastal Road Trip Itineraries for Day 2
The Three Capes Scenic Route is one of the best spots on the Oregon Coast – so we do not recommend skipping it! In fact, we like it there so much that if you are planning a longer Oregon Coast 101 Road Trip – like a 5 Day Oregon Road Trip – then we would recommend spending an additional night in the area, perhaps spending two nights in Pacific City or one night in Cape Meares and one night in Pacific City.
On the other hand, if you really need to shorten your trip to an Oregon Coast 3-Day Itinerary, you can eliminate the overnight stay in Pacific City and continue driving south to Florence. You should still have time to take in the sights along the Three Capes Scenic Loop if you get an early start from Cannon Beach.
Day 3: Central Oregon Coast
In the morning, make the tough climb up the Cape Kiwanda sand dune for a solid morning workout. Reward yourself with delicious baked goods from the Grateful Dead-themed Grateful Bread Bakery. Then, start driving south on the 101 Oregon Coast.
The road winds through forests slightly inland until Devils Lake, where it meets back up with coastline. Simply take in the scenery for this stretch of your Oregon Coast trip until you get to the Yaquina Head Lighthouse. Ranking as the tallest lighthouse in Oregon at 93 feet, Yaquina Lighthouse has been in operation since 1873 and still utilizes the original lens – and it is open for tours (just plan ahead if you want to go inside).
Make the short drive south to Newport, where there are a handful of sights – including the Oregon Coast Aquarium, the Hatfield Marine Science Center and the funky shops at Aquarium Village. For lunch, dine at the Rogue Brewer’s On the Bay on the south side of the arched Yaquina Bay Bridge – one of our favorite eateries on our Oregon Coast road trip! Patrons can sign up for a brewery tour, sample one of the 40 Rogue beers on tap and feast from a full menu of pub grub.
After lunch, continue south on your Oregon Coastal road trip past Yachats to Cape Perpetua. The cape itself offers stunning shoreline views and trails, but the nearby attractions are worth stopping by as well. Top area sights are Devil’s Churn (an inlet that sprays water when waves crash into the narrow waterway), Thor’s Well (a unique rock formation that appears to be draining the ocean at high tide), and Sprouting Horn (an ocean geyser that launches misty water into the air).
A must-see stop on our Oregon Coast road trip planner before arriving in Florence is the Heceta Head Lighthouse. One of the most beautiful lighthouses on the Pacific Coast, Heceta Head cannot be missed on a Oregon road trip down the coast. Visitors park at Cape Cove (spend some time exploring the tidal pools if it is low tide!) and take a short hike to the lighthouse. Beyond the lighthouse a trail crosses over the Heceta headland through a mossy forest and leads to a secret beach.
Top Tip: We share the complete details of this hike in our blog post: Hikes Near Florence, OR.
From Heceta Head, continue south about 20 miles to Florence. There are a few stops you might want to make along this stretch of road. Shortly after leaving the lighthouse, there is a scenic overlook offering the best view of the lighthouse – and sea lions often hang out on the rocks below. Just beyond that is the Sea Lions Cave, which is an interesting (yet smelly and noisy) attraction. Finally, just as the road bends inland, there is another phenomenal viewpoint that looks directly south over Heceta Beach. After making these great Oregon Coast scenic stops, complete the day’s drive to Florence.
Florence: A Gem On Your Road Trip Along Oregon Coast
Old Town Florence, Oregon is nestled along the Siuslaw River – and easy to miss if you don’t follow the signs to the Old Town before crossing over the Siuslaw Bridge. The charming town has a long history as a fishing village but is now more of a quaint tourist destination. The main street, Bay Street, runs parallel to the river and features souvenir shops, a variety of restaurants and fun bars and cafes.
After three long days on the best Oregon Coast road trip, spend your time in Florence strolling along Bay Street and popping into shops. For dinner, eat at the delightful Waterfront Depot (consider making reservations in advance) – and order their signature dish, Crab-Encrusted Halibut (believe us, it’s divine!).
Pro Tip: Check out our complete guide to the Best Things to do in Florence!
Where To Stay In Florence, OR
While there are numerous motels along Highway 101, we know the best place to stay in Florence is right in the heart of the Old Town. The River House Inn has a prime location on the river and is right on Bay Street. However, if a beach stay is more your style, check out Driftwood Shores Resort, which is a short drive from the Old Town and offers incredible Heceta Beach views and direct access to the unspoiled sand.
Alternate Oregon Coast Road Trip Ideas For Day 3
We include a lot of Oregon Coast road trip stops in Day 3 of our itinerary. If you have time to plan a 5-Day Oregon Coast road trip, we recommend stopping and spending the night in Newport, rather than continuing all the way to Florence. This will break up the two days of Highway 101 sightseeing for a more leisurely pace.
Day 4: Oregon Coast Back To Portland
Route: Florence to Portland; Highway 126 east to Mapleton (where you need to turn right to stay on 126), then use 569 to skirt around Eugene, and hop on Interstate 5 north to Portland. Distance: 162 miles. Time: 2 hours and 50 minutes. Map (Map with Stops).
When you are ready to leave Florence, take Highway 126 east to Mapleton. After making the righthand turn to stay on 126, consider detouring to the Sweet Creek Falls trail (another one of our favorite Oregon Hikes). If you did not eat lunch already, stop by the Gingerbread Village Restaurant for tasty home-cooked meals and super friendly service.
After lunch, continue driving east over the mountain pass toward Eugene. If you are interested in visiting Eugene, it is a fun university city with a few museums, lots of bars and a working class yet youthful vibe. Otherwise, veer north onto the 569 Beltline to I-5 and make the relatively flat and boring drive back to Portland.
Alternate Plans for Day 4 of Your Oregon Coast Driving Trip
If the fast-yet-dull route back to Portland is not enticing and you have the time, consider backtracking and doing the complete Oregon Highway 101 road trip in reverse! Without stops (and using Highway 18 from Lincoln City, rather than going all the way north to Cannon Beach) the drive north should take about 4 hours (likely take longer in peak summertime traffic). You may even have time to see any Oregon Coast sights that you may have missed on the way down!
Oregon Road Trip Planner Map
Our Oregon Coast Map is marked by the recommended stops on our Highway 101 Oregon Road Trip. Use this link to Google Maps for an interactive Oregon Coast road map that show detailed information. (Once you open the map of Oregon Coast attractions, click on the icons for info.)
More Oregon Coast Road Trips
We have designed the ultimate Oregon Coast road trip from Portland. That said, there are an endless number of routes that explore the West Coast, which can be combined into our detailed trip plan. We are highlighting a few of the top Oregon Coast trip ideas that we did not include in our 4-Day itinerary.
Southern Oregon Coast Road Trip
Very different from the Central and Northern Oregon Coast, the Southern Coast can easily be added to your Oregon trip planner. From Florence, interested visitors can continue driving south on the Hwy 101 on a Southern Oregon Road Trip, which features more rugged nature, secluded beaches and fewer crowds. Top South Oregon Coast tourist attractions and destinations are Coos Bay, Bandon, Cape Blanco Lighthouse and Gold Beach.
Oregon To California Road Trip
An ideal two-week West Coast road trip, visitors can make their way from Portland to San Francisco. On an Oregon to San Francisco road trip, highlights include Redwoods State Park, Avenue of the Giants, Fort Bragg and wine country. For tips on what to see and where to stay in SF, use our San Francisco Itinerary. If you’re continuing further south on the California coast read our California Highway 1 Itinerary for a perfect West Coast road trip planner.
Oregon To Washington Coast Road Trip
Highway 101 crosses the Columbia River (and state border) at Astoria, making a Washington-Oregon road trip fairly easy to plan. Again, we recommend driving south, so a good route would be a Seattle to Oregon Coast Road Trip.
On an Oregon Coast Road trip from Seattle, drivers start at Olympic National Park, wind around North Bay and Willapa Bay to the Columbia River and cross into Oregon – then continue to our first stop, Cannon Beach.
Travelers could easily spend a week or longer on an Oregon-Washington Coast road trip. Use our Seattle Itinerary for tips on the best things to do in Seattle. On a longer road trip in Washington State, be sure to check out the top sights in Spokane!
Oregon Coast Tours from Portland
While road trips allow for freedom to explore, they also require an attentive and careful driver. Visitors who would rather leave the driving to someone else can join an organized, small-group, day tour from Portland. The Oregon Coast day trip itinerary includes stops at Cannon Beach, Ecola State Park and Oswald West State Park. Reserve your seat here!
Oregon Coast Vacation Packages from Eugene
From Eugene, join an Oregon Coast travel guide for a 2-Day, 1-Night trip. This Oregon road trip itinerary is organized by a professional tour guide and includes visiting Depot Bay, Newport and Florence – three of the Oregon Coast must see destinations! Get the details here!
What You Will Need For An Oregon Coast Road Trip
Before setting off on your Oregon coast trip, we have a few tips for what to pack for the Oregon Coast – and be sure to check out our packing hacks, too!
Oregon Road Trip Map
Although we have shared our online map for an Oregon coastal road trip, we strongly recommend purchasing a road map for your trip – like this Highway 101 Oregon Map by National Geographic. In addition to buying a map of the Oregon Coast highway, we also recommend checking current Oregon Coast road conditions online before beginning your drive.
Weather Appropriate Apparel to Travel Oregon Coast
Oregon Coast weather can be unpredictable – and the coastal air is often cooler than anticipated. Therefore, we recommend packing clothing that can be layered. It is also a good idea to bring a packable raincoat, as well as a wide-brimmed travel hat for sunny days!
Anyone planning a trip to Oregon will likely want to hit a few nature trails. Most of the Oregon Coast trails we recommend in our itinerary are easy to moderate hikes. Even so, it is best to hit the trails with proper footwear – so you may want to add hiking boots to your packing list for the Oregon Coast. We like Merrell shoes – like the Trail Glove for men. Trekkers may also be more comfortable on the trails with hiking poles.
Binoculars for Oregon Nature Spotting
The amazing viewpoints are one of the best things about the Oregon Coast! To get a better look at the best views on the Oregon Coast, we suggest carrying a good pair of binoculars. They are great for spotting whales and other wildlife.
Day Pack for an Oregon Road Trip
Whether you travel with a backpack or a suitcase for your Oregon Coast drive itinerary, we highly recommend using a day pack for your adventures. A great day bag will help to organize all of your necessities and essential everyday travel items that you will be traveling with.
Travel Camera for Your Oregon Coastal Road Trip
While more and more people are relying on their cell phone cameras to take pictures, a good camera with a zoom lens is necessary to capture amazing photographs of the coastline during your road trip on the Oregon Coast. We use a Canon Rebel with an everyday 18-135mm lens, which is perfect for the Oregon Coast. Best of all, the camera comes bundled with a complete accessory kit – which is great budget camera for beginner photographers!
We Want To Know: Have you taken an Oregon coastal road trip? What were the highlights of your Oregon road trip? Give us your best tips and advice in the comments below!
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