I live in interior Oregon now, but I’ll be the first to admit that the Oregon coast has had a significant influence on me. For the past ten years, it has not just been a dependable and healing vacation spot for me. In more ways than I can list, it has also altered my life. To start with, I must admit that I have sentimental feelings for this state. That being said, I must share with you some of the Oregon coast locations that had a profound impact on my life.
I’ve spent the last 13 years living in Oregon. However, I have just recently made one town my home. Actually, I lived in Portland for a good portion of my post-college years and travelled as a camp host around my favourite state. I experienced some of the most incredible experiences possible because to this opportunity, especially along Oregon’s stunning and diverse coastline.
Spend some time with me as I describe the places in Oregon where I’ve experienced the greatest positive change.
The 7 Places On the Oregon Coast That Changed My Life
Alright, I admit that my prejudice is very apparent at the moment. I adore Oregon so much! It’s the state I call home, the one in which I became engaged, and the one I explore and value every day. Here are some locations on Oregon’s coast that are worth seeing if you ever get the chance to travel there. Hear it from an enthusiastic Oregonian who used to volunteer as a camp host at Oregon State Park and is now living there!
Astoria, which is technically perched on the banks of the Columbia River and close to the beach, is one of my favourite spots on earth and one of the best locations on the Oregon coast that has had a profound impact on my life. Astoria is a charming, eccentric fishing town with lots of interesting antique stores, tasty restaurants, and other elements that perfectly capture the essence of Oregon.
Portland was my home for about four years. But eventually, my boyfriend and I made at least one monthly trip to Astoria. For my partner and me, Astoria was a manageable two-hour trip away from the city, providing a brief respite from the bustle of Portland. In addition, Astoria is home to Fort George Brewery and other delectable craft beer establishments that we were infatuated with at the time.
Astoria holds great historical significance as the terminus of the Oregon Trail, but it also evokes a plethora of personal recollections for me. This is where my partner and I got engaged. Every year on our anniversary, which also happens to be the day of Fort George’s Festival of Dark Arts—a unique stout beer festival—we go back there.
I would strongly suggest visiting the Columbia River Maritime Museum, getting some fish and chips at Bowpicker, and taking in the breathtaking views from the top of the Astoria Column if you have the opportunity to travel there. Bonus points if you visit Fort George and enjoy craft beer. Alternatively, visit the well-known shipwreck at Fort Stevens State Park!
2. Ecola State Park
Although our vintage caravan couldn’t handle the rough road leading to Ecola State Park, my partner and I will always cherish our time spent serving as camp hosts in this unique location. The posh and well-known town of Cannon Beach on the Oregon coast is home to Ecola State Park, which is contained inside the city boundaries. What makes this specific day-use area so unique? The surrounding movie history, hiking trails, animals, and views.
Ecola State Park is home to classic scenes and filming locations from popular Hollywood films, including The Goonies. However, at the time, neither my partner nor I found this truth very interesting. No, I fell in love with Ecola State Park because of its breathtaking scenery and serene moments.
Taking care of Ecola State Park made me feel quite pampered because this day-use area closed up in the evenings. That left this peaceful spot to myself, my spouse, and our dog. Every day, elk came to our encampment. We could have touched them from the windows of our RV, but we didn’t; please don’t touch the elk. They were that near. This was not only incredibly life-changing, in my opinion. From our tent, I was also able to see the Tillamook Lighthouse every day.
As a self-confessed lighthouse nerd, I’ve written plays on Washington’s North Head Lighthouse and Tillamook Rock Lighthouse. The abandoned Tillamook Lighthouse is perched on a sizable rock a few miles out to sea. Any bluff or trek in Ecola State Park offers unparalleled views of this notorious lighthouse. Furthermore, residents love this location for picnics and surfing alike!
3. Lincoln City
The last camp host destination for my companion and I was Devil’s Lake State Park. In actuality, Devil’s Lake is situated inside Lincoln City’s city limits. I find this seaside hamlet in Oregon to be incredibly typical of Oregon. During my time hosting here, I loved getting to know Lincoln City, a mix of welcoming locals, lively visitors, and breathtaking scenery.
If you decide to visit, bear in mind that Lincoln City is one of the largest cities along the Oregon coast. There are more views than amenities in many of the coastal villages. But Lincoln City is the perfect fusion of the two. Lincoln City is a handy stop between Cannon Beach and Newport, surrounded by hiking trails and breathtaking scenery.
If you own a kayak or boat, Devil’s Lake is a fantastic location. Hikers should also take in the views from The Knoll and the Roads End State Recreation Site. While in the city, make sure to check out the local casino, Salt, Kyllo’s Seafood & Grill, and the outlet mall (which offers tax-free shopping!).
4. Humbug Mountain State Park
Humbug Mountain State Park holds special meaning for me for a number of reasons. This was our go-to campground back in college, when my partner and I first started dating. This place is so serene and lovely that it was well worth the extra trip. In addition, my partner and I had the privilege of hosting our first campground at Humbug Mountain State Park.
Humbug Mountain State Park, which is situated between Gold Beach and Port Orford in a forested area, has both conventional and RV campsites. This state park is smaller than others, giving visitors greater seclusion and facilities. There’s a fantastic route that leads to the water as well. My favourite area in the campground is this one. Secluded for campers, the beach runs alongside a freshwater stream, making it the perfect place to cool off on warm days.
Within this state park, there is excellent hiking. Numerous paths meander through well-known Oregon woodlands and floral meadows. Additionally, you may trek the five miles to the summit of Humbug Mountain, which is rather strenuous but offers breathtaking views at every turn. Here, park rangers are exceptionally amiable and helpful. However, this place is perhaps more transformative because of the quiet. Just now, I’m organising a camping trip!
5. Cape Lookout State Park
My companion and I stood at Cape Lookout State Park and observed the historic 2017 eclipse. Given its location and unusually mild weather, Cape Lookout, a modest state park just outside of Tillamook, is well worth a visit. Sunshine, cool breezes, and comfortable temps met me each and every time I went to Cape Lookout State Park. It was much nicer than anything Portland had to offer at the time!
Cape Lookout’s winds and weather are influenced by Netarts Bay. It keeps everything bright until the mists of night descend. It’s worthwhile to make the somewhat arduous walk up the Cape Trail if you want to go whale viewing. The views from above the cape are breathtaking, even though it’s five miles long. It’s ideal for catching whale spouts as they pass through the region during their migration.
If you’ve never gone camping, Cape Lookout is a fantastic state park to check out. It gives guests the choice of staying in a cabin or a yurt. Additionally, the Jacobsen Salt Company, which is an excellent spot to stop if you’re interested in purchasing some chocolate, caramels, or sea salt that will change your life, is located along the route leading to Cape Lookout State Park.
6. South Beach
Although South Beach is technically an unincorporated hamlet of Newport, it’s a terrific place to go for entertainment and delicious seafood along the Oregon coast. For those who are not familiar with camping, South Beach State Park is an excellent park where my partner and I hosted. This park offers plenty of RV or tent campgrounds in addition to yurts and cabins. However, I strongly advise campers to leave this area and explore the wonderful adjacent locations.
Living in South Beach State Park gave me the opportunity to cook some of the freshest and tastiest fish I had ever tasted. This park is only a few short twists away from the South Beach Fish Market. Alternatively, take a trip to Newport and purchase fresh seafood at Local Ocean Seafoods. Additionally, one of the state’s top tourist destinations, the Oregon Coast Aquarium, is conveniently located nearby.
7. Cape Blanco
Another place that changed my life as a lighthouse nerd was Cape Blanco and Cape Blanco State Park, which is only a short drive north from Humbug Mountain. Unfortunately, given how unique this location feels, vandalism has forced the closure of the Cape Blanco Lighthouse to the public. However, as I did when I was a camp host, you can approach this historic landmark and marvel at long-abandoned technology.
In my opinion, Cape Blanco State Park is even more exceptional because it feels more remote than the typical Oregon State Park. If you want to enjoy the tails with your horse, this place offers equestrian camping, chalets, and tent sites. Don’t worry if the lighthouse is closed when you visit. There’s a good chance that the park’s Historic Hughes House will offer tours!