Oregon’s Adventure Coast
Endless possibilities for the perfect getaway
By Marguerite Cleveland
Photo by Marguerite Cleveland
Oregon’s Adventure Coast truly is an adventure. From the excitement of exploring Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area by ATV or storm watching the epic waves along the coast, there is something for everyone. The charming maritime towns of Coos Bay and North Bend border each other and overlook the bay, while quaint Charlestown is a sleepy fishing town. Explore the bounty of the area on the Wild Rivers Coast Food Trail and learn about the rich culinary heritage of the region.
Where to Stay
The Mill Casino Hotel has a lovely boardwalk overlooking Coos Bays with 200 water-view rooms. It is a perfect base for your visit to the area. There are a variety of rooms from your basic hotel rooms up to luxury suites. Splurge on a Tower Balcony Suite, which has a huge bathroom with a jetted tub and a bay view. The private balcony opens up to panoramic waterfront views and lovely sunrises. The hotel offers some pet-friendly rooms.
Where to Eat
There is such a diverse variety of food on Oregon’s Adventure Coast. Check out the Wild Rivers Coast Food Trail for some ideas of where to eat. It highlights the local food on Oregon’s South Coast and helps to support the producers and crafters that grow and use local ingredients. The following can all be found on the Food Trail.
The 7 Devils Brewing Co. specializes in Northwest-style ales, with most ingredients grown in the Pacific Northwest. Their public house offers some great food featuring locally sourced ingredients. Make sure to try the line-caught fried 7 Devils beer-battered Albacore Tuna with an amazing lemon caper aioli.
Tokyo Bistro combines traditional Japanese cuisine with local fresh seafood and produce to create food that is fresh, healthy and delicious. This is a convenient stop on the way to the Cape Arago Loop. Dine in or grab some takeout to enjoy at one of the parks on the loop.
Bayside Coffee is in the small fishing town of Charleston. This is a nice stop either before or after visiting the beaches, as it can get chilly with the wind, and a cup of coffee certainly hits the spot. Bayside offers organic fair-trade coffee and a variety of fair-trade gifts.
Serving brunch daily, the Shark Bites Café is a cute little place decorated with coffee sacks, coastal driftwood and surfboards. It is famous for its fish tacos and other fresh local seafood, and is one of the best seafood cafes along the Oregon coast.
Lastly, although not on the Food Trail, The Pancake Mill Restaurant and Pie Shoppe is an excellent choice for breakfast and a favorite with locals. Each day they offer a breakfast, lunch, pie and drink special. Order off their Mill specialties, which offer international favorites. The Dutch Baby or the Apple Pancake take an extra 30 minutes—but they are definitely worth the wait. With that extra time, you can try the fresh baked muffins or cinnamon rolls while you wait.
Things to Do
Head to Spinreel Dune Buggy & ATV Rental to spend some time at the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. After a safety briefing, detailed instructions and an overview of the map, you will head out for some high-energy exploration of the dunes and the beach. Spinreel’s Razr ATVs are state of the art and worth the rental cost. The Oregon Dunes are incredibly special. It is the largest expanse of temperate coastal sand dunes in the world. Islands of trees, the dunes and the Pacific Ocean form a beautiful topography often shrouded in mist. Off-roading gives you the ability to cover a lot more ground than on foot. The drive to the beach is about 20 minutes. Make sure to pay attention to your location and look for landmarks as you head out. It is amazingly easy to get disoriented.
If you prefer to explore on foot, the Oregon Dunes Day Use Area is closed off to off-road vehicles. There are accessible viewing platforms to take in the great views of the dunes or Pacific Ocean. The Oregon Dunes Loop Trail is paved for the first half-mile, then you have a few options. The 2-mile round trip out to the beach and back is mostly level and the trail is hard packed sand. For a longer hike you can add a 1.5-mile beach walk before exiting through the dunes to loop back. The trail is marked by large post markers.
The Cape Arago Loop will take you from Charleston to local beaches, overlooks and three state parks. The rocky coastline of Southern Oregon is where you go for epic storm watching with waves that crash against the cliffs and soar into the air. It is so impressive. If you have time for just one park, make it Shore Acres State Park. Begin by viewing the craggy sandstone cliffs, where the ocean waves slam into the rocks creating beautiful rock formations. There is a fully enclosed observation shelter you can watch the waves from if the weather is bad. The park was once the estate of timber baron Louis J. Simpson, and you can visit a formal garden with plants and flowers from all over the world. There are two rose gardens and a Japanese-style garden with a lily pond. There is something in bloom almost every day of the year. Past the garden you’ll find a trail leading to a secluded ocean cove. You can also follow a trail along the cliff’s edge.
Insider Tip: Make sure to stop at the Simpson Reef Overlook—and bring binoculars. From this vantage point you can see out to Shell Island, which is part of the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge. These reefs are breeding grounds and rest areas for a variety of sea birds and marine mammals. From this vantage point, depending on the time of year, you can see Northern Elephant Seals, Harbor Seals, Sea Lions, Gray Whales and an array of sea birds.
Make sure to visit the Coos History Museum. It is located not far from your hotel, so you can stop in for a visit at the beginning or end of your day. The museum focuses on life in Coos County as well as Oregon’s South Coast. The first floor is the Main Gallery and has permanent exhibits on the Uplands and the logging industry; the Tidewater, which focuses on shipbuilding and the bounty of the local waters; and the Seashore focuses on the rough seas and shores. The exhibits highlight the natural history and the human history of the area. The second floor Mezzanine gallery has changing exhibits. The current museum collection includes more than 50,000 objects and more than 250,000 images. Make sure to visit the outside interpretive signs that share the cultural and natural history of the area.
For more information on the area, visit OregonsAdventureCoast.com.
Where to Stay
The Mill Casino Hotel - TheMillCasino.com
Where to Eat
The Wild Rivers Coast Food Trail - WRCFoodTrail.com
7 Devils Brewery Co. - 7DevilsBrewery.com
Tokyo Bay - TokyoCoosBay.com
Shark Bites Café - SharkBites.cafe
Bayside Coffee and Tea - BaysideCoffeeShop.com
What to Do
Spinreel Dune Buggy and ATV Rental - RidetheOregonDunes.com
Coos History Museum - CoosHistory.org