4 Quiet Coastal Towns for Your Next Long Weekend
So you’ve got a long weekend to explore the Coast, but want to stay off the beaten path? Plan a road trip to Oregon’s low-key Central Coast, where the area’s pristine beaches, trails, waterways and quaint downtowns make for a rejuvenating retreat. Spend a day adventuring in each coastal village, but caution — you may never want to leave.
Day 1: Shopping and wildlife viewing in Toledo
There’s an artsy vibe here in this postcard-worthy wooded community, nestled on a bend of the Yaquina River, seven miles inland from Newport. Set off on foot exploring Toledo’s walkable downtown scene — a 5-block day stretch of specialty shops and art and craft galleries. Carry a picnic to the city’s gorgeous new Waterfront Park. Bring your binoculars to spy the ships, trains, osprey and river otter at the city’s public viewing platform, and if you’re so inspired, launch a canoe from Paddle Park to catch the coastal vibes from the water.
Day 2: Agates and hiking at Seal Rock
Less than 20 miles south of Toledo, back along the coastline, the five miles of sandy beaches at Seal Rock are the main attraction. Bring your buckets for superior agate hunting at Seal Rock State Park and wayside, then take an invigorating 1.7-mile trail hike along the rocky coastline to Brian Booth State Park, also known as Ona Beach. Known for its black rocks and other Instagram-worthy geologic oddities at low tide, it’s a secret you’ll want to keep. Afterward, head into the tiny town to browse the few antique shops and art galleries. Fuel up with a Maple Shot at Seal Rock Espresso & Bakery and homemade Evil Brownie at Indulge Sweets.
Day 3: Crabbing and biking in Waldport
Five miles south of Seal Rock, at the mouth of the Alsea River, the picturesque arches of the Alsea Bay Bridge welcome you to Waldport. It’s worth planning your trip around an early visit to Pacific Sourdough Handcrafted Specialty Bread, open only Thursdays and Saturdays, for some of the best artisan bread in the region, plus sandwiches and cookies. Bring your provisions for a two-wheeled cruise along the beach at low tide; bike rentals are available at the Green Bike Co-op in town. Spend the afternoon at the Dock of the Bay at the Port of Alsea, where you can rent a boat by the hour and catch fresh Dungeness crab for dinner. Or stop into Lazy Dayz Cafe, the little pink shack overlooking Alsea Bay, for mouthwatering barbecue, their famous hot dogs and Cascade Glacier ice cream scoops and milk shakes.
Day 4: Giant trees and wooded trails in Yachats
Finally, head about 10 miles south from Waldport to Yachats, an historic coastal village that’s been gaining a lot of attention lately as places like Yachats Brewing & Farm Store pop up. Its oldest and biggest attractions is its giant, 600-year-old Sitka Spruce, which you can access on an easy 2-mile round trip along the Giant Spruce Trail. New to town is the magnificent Ya’Xaik Trail, a lush 1.15-mile trek through the edge of the Siuslaw National Forest, accessible from the center of town. Follow the trail through thick spruce and hemlock to the Gerdemann Botanic Preserve, a 3.5-acre wonderland of exotic plants, rhododendron and old-growth trees accessible by a public footpath. Don’t leave without setting foot on the mile-long 804 Trail, which starts at Smelt Sands Recreation Site and meanders along the coast-facing properties, including Overleaf Lodge & Spa, to the beach on the north side of town.
Story by Jen Anderson
Photo by Larry Andreasen