The Oregon Coast is perhaps the most unique coastline in the United States. My husband and I have traveled this route multiple times and found that we are always left wanting to come back for more each time. This 363-mile stretch of rugged coastline has everything from dog-friendly hikes, waterfalls, drive-up spots, and beach options, making it great for everyone in the family. It is a perfect 5-day road trip from Portland.
This blog post will suggest some of the best places to visit in Oregon over the course of five days, along with tips on where to eat and where to stay. These are our suggestions, so when traveling to Oregon, feel free to tailor the trip to your specific needs.
The Oregon Coast is a year-round trip as many spots in this blog post are accessible during winter and rainy weather. Always look up road conditions, wind, and weather before heading out.
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The goal of day 1 is to get to Cannon Beach. If your route begins in Portland, it is an easy 1hr 25min drive on highway 26. However, a route from Washington will pass through the cute town of Astoria. If you have the time, I recommend going up to The Astoria Column on your way.
Once you arrive in Cannon Beach, check into your lodging (options below) and explore the town. You can visit some shops or grab a drink at Pelican Brewing.
Budget-Friendly: Ecola Creek Lodge
Mid-range: Inn at Haystack Rock
Luxury: The Ocean Lodge
If you arrive before sunset, then I suggest heading up to Ecola State Park or walking along the beach near Haystack Rock for sunset. Ecola State Park is just a 10-minute drive north of Cannon Beach, costs $5, and provides the best view over Cannon Beach and Haystack Rock. After sunset, I recommend grabbing dinner at either Cannon Beach Smokehouse or MacGregor’s of Cannon Beach.
Start your morning with a good cup of coffee at Insomnia Coffee Co. or a delicious breakfast at Lazy Susan Cafe. Once you are fueled up, head over to either Ecola State Park or the beach by Haystack Rock, whichever you didn’t do on day one.
This is where your Oregon Coast road trip begins. After checking out your hotel, head south from Cannon Beach on hwy 101 for 10 minutes to Hug Point State Recreation Site. This is an interesting beach and a great spot to stretch your legs in the morning as you explore the little cave/overhang there.
From Hug Point, continue south on hwy 101 for another 10 minutes to Elk Flats Trail. Elk Flats Trail is a short 10-minute walk down to a beautiful overlook of perhaps the most rugged part of the Oregon Coast. I like to call this spot the Faroe Islands of the Oregon Coast. Note that you go left when the trail splits and that this trail can become quite muddy if it has rained recently.
It is a 40-minute drive from here to Tillamook, where you can get lunch at Tacos La Providencia or Recess Food Truck. After lunch, be sure to take the time to stop at the Tillamook Creamery for some cheese samples or Ice Cream.
Now that you’re full and happy continue driving 30 minutes south to Pacific City. Pacific city is where you’ll stop for the day, so feel free to check into your hotel and relax for a bit or grab a drink at Pelican Brewing.
NEARBY LODGING OPTIONS
Mid-range: Inn at Cape Kiwanda
Luxury: Headlands Coastal Lodge & Spa
Your sunset location for today is in Pacific City at Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area. Park at Pelican Brewing and walk along the beach, making your way up the big dune to the right for the best views. After soaking up the sights, I suggest heading to The Riverhouse Nestucca or Los Caporales for an excellent dinner.
Begin day three on the Oregon Coast with a sunrise walk down the beach or back up the dune at Cape Kiwanda. Or take it slow and sleep in a bit. Either way, grab coffee at Stimulus Coffee + Bakery or breakfast at Grateful Bread.
Today will be a somewhat big drive day as you make your way to Bandon, a 3hr 40min drive away. However, several stops will break the drive up into more manageable sections. First, I suggest doing either God’s Thumb Hike or Drift Creek Falls Trail.
This 4.3-mile out-and-back hike is near Lincoln City, Oregon (get driving directions here). This is considered a moderately challenging route with 1,000 feet of elevation, so pack snacks and water accordingly. It generally takes an average of 2hrs 25min to complete it. Dogs are allowed on this hike but must be on a leash. Read more about the hike here.
This is a 3.2-mile out-and-back trail near Lincoln City, Oregon (get directions here). This is considered to be a relatively easy hike. However, it does take 1hr 30min to complete it with 541 feet of elevation. Be sure not to let the term easy deceive you, though, and still pack plenty of water and snacks for the hike. The hike is dog-friendly, but dogs must be on a leash. Read more about the hike here.
From either of these lunch spots, it is a 1hr 5min drive south to your next stop, Thor’s Well.
The tide significantly affects this location, which is most unique during a higher tide (5-7 feet). You can check the tide chart for the time of year you will be there. For the best viewing, I would suggest going one hour before high tied or during stormy days.
Your next stop is 15 minutes south at Heceta Head Lighthouse.
This lighthouse is unique as the 56ft tower shines a light as far as 21 miles away! There is a half-mile trail to the lighthouse; however, the best views are from a parking area at Lighthouse and Sealion Beach Vantage Point. Keep an eye out for passing traffic while parked at this pull-off.
From here, continue south on HWY 101 for 1hr 40min to Bandon, your stop for the night.
Check into your hotel, relax, and then walk along the beach.
NEARBY LODGING OPTIONS
Mid-range: Bandon Marina Inn
Luxury: Best Western Inn at Face Rock
If you are up early on day 4, I highly suggest a sunrise walk on the beach. The beach is much less busy at this time and generally peaceful. After sunrise, grab coffee at Bandon Coffee Cafe or breakfast at Shoestring Cafe.
1hr 35min is your total drive time on day four as you head down to Brookings, Oregon.
Fifty minutes south of Bandon comes your first stop. After you park on the side of HWY 101 (get directions here), walk down the short 0.9mile trail to take in views of the coastline. The trail is considered an easy hike and takes about 30 minutes to complete. The hike is dog friendly, but dogs must always be on a leash. Read more about the hike here.
Stop by Ariya beach for a photo and a short walk before heading further south. Get directions here.
Your next two stops, Secret Beach and Natural Bridges are just 10 minutes south of Ariya’s Beach.
This 1.6-mile out-and-back trail near Brookings, Oregon (get directions here) is one of my favorite beaches in all of Oregon. The trail to the beach is a moderately challenging route, so be sure to wear the proper footwear for the hike as it can sometimes be muddy. I suggest wearing hiking shoes for the trail and packing your sandals for the beach. Dogs are allowed here but must be on a leash. Read more about the trail here.
This is a half-mile out-and-back near Brookings, Oregon (get directions here) and displays some of the unique features on the southern Oregon coast. Though it is only a half-mile, it is considered to be moderately challenging. It is dog-friendly, but dogs need to be on a leash. Read more about the hike here.
After these two spots, you have just a 15-minute drive down to Brookings, where you can check in to your hotel and unpack for the night.
NEARBY LODGING OPTIONS
Budget: Westward Inn
Mid-range: Beachfront Inn
If you are interested in photography, I suggest returning to Secret Beach for sunset. Alternatively, you could walk around Chetco Point Park or Harris Beach State Park for sunset. I recommend Pacific Sushi and Grill or Zola’s on the water for dinner.
This concludes your time on the Oregon Coast, as most of day five is spent driving back up to Portland, Oregon (if that is where you started your trip). The fastest route is 6hr and partially goes back up the coast of Oregon, so you can revisit some of your favorite stops if you want.
Alternatively, suppose you have an additional day or want to break up the drive more. In that case, I suggest stopping at Jedediah Smith Redwoods in California or Silver Falls State Park near Salem, Oregon. Either of these locations won’t add very much time.
Hopefully, this 5-day road trip itinerary down the Oregon Coast inspires you to explore it yourself.
For your convenience, I have created a PDF with all the spots for you to download here. You can download this to your phone or print it out for the best experience on this trip.
Be sure to tag @thewildindiangirl in your adventures so I can follow along too!
Before heading out on any road trip, check to see if you have these things in the car.
This trip has various spots where you can capture some amazing content. If you are looking to photograph the beautiful locations but are unsure what kind of camera gear to get, head over to my “what’s in our camera bag” blog post for my photography recommendations. Below I have listed a few that are our favorites.
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Have some beautiful images on your phone? I have some presets to help you with your edits.
In 2017, I quit my job and dropped out of school to set out on a path less traveled. Since then, I have ventured across the world, built a van and created a life that both scares me and fulfills me at the same time. And I’ve never looked back.