Often touted as Oregon’s Banana Belt, Brookings has weather patterns that deliver some of the warmer temperatures along the Oregon Coast; it’s not uncommon to encounter a 70-degree day in January or February.
This pleasant climate has been a catalyst for the rebirth of Brookings as a center for the nursery industry. Nearly all of the lilies marketed in the U.S. are cultivated in the Brookings area. A prime spot to take in the floral bounty is Azalea Park, which has 33 acres of native azaleas, some growing here when Lewis and Clark wintered on the Oregon Coast in 1805 and 1806. The revitalization of the park, with the addition of walkways and a charming “Kidtown” play area, was a robust community-led volunteer effort. In springtime the park is replete with blooms, but you’ll likely find flowers year-round. The park is also the site of the annual Azalea Festival and Parade, held each Memorial Day weekend.
During the third weekend of July, the Southern Oregon Kite Festival takes place. It’s known as one of the premier kite-flying events in the country. Art lovers can browse the galleries— including Burtonique Art & Photography, Manley Art Center and Signatures Gallery — or enjoy the monthly Second Saturday Art Walk.
The Chetco Valley Historical Society Museum is housed in the 1857 Blake House — the oldest standing building in the Chetco Valley — and features artifacts of 19th-century Oregon pioneer life. The largest Monterey cypress in the state, towering at 130 feet (40 meters), lives on the museum grounds.
The Brookings area boasts numerous outdoor diversions, including Harris Beach State Park. Named for George Harris, a Scottish pioneer who raised sheep and cattle here, it features sizable offshore sea stacks, including the largest island on the Oregon Coast. Bird Island is a breeding ground for a variety of species, including the tufted puffin.
Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor — a long, narrow park with 12 miles (19 kilometers) of rugged coastline — is named for Oregon’s first parks superintendent. Featuring one must-stop scenic viewpoint after another, the park is also home to pocket beaches and offshore sea stacks, including the dramatic Arch Rock and Whaleshead. The beach at Thunder Rock Cove is considered one of the best of the sheltered beaches on the Coast. Walk the Indian Sands Trail through the unusual sculpted sandstone for views of the coastline and rocky islands. Don’t miss the stunning view at Cape Ferrelo, named for a Spanish explorer who skirted this area in 1542.
For a historical detour, travel 18 miles (29 kilometers) east of Brookings along Forest Service Road 1205, which winds through an old-growth redwood forest, to the site that was hit by two Japanese incendiary bombs during WWII. Inland hiking and river access are available at Alfred A. Loeb State Park on the Chetco River. Just up the road is the 1-mile (1.6-kilometer) Redwood Nature Trail, which connects with Loeb’s own Riverview Trail.