You may start your day whale watching, sip wine at a festival and take a trip to the aquarium all in one day. You also may tour a lighthouse, say hello to the sea lions and cap your day with an evening walk along the surf. Welcome to the Central Coast, where wildlife and the rugged, windswept landscape are your playground. Here are some of those must-do spring adventures.
SOLVE Spring Oregon Beach Cleanup, 45 locations along the Coast (March 23) — It’s one of Oregon’s most important events, considering that an estimated 8 million tons of plastic enter the world’s oceans each year, impacting 600 species of marine animals. Volunteers from near and far come to pick up microplastics, cigarette butts, styrofoam and more that wash up along Oregon’s 362 miles of public coastline.
Spring Whale Watch Week, Yachats, Depoe Bay and other locations (March 23-31) — Get expert tips on how and where to best spot gray whales as they travel north at the peak of their spring migration, between late March and June. Volunteers with Oregon State Parks’ Whale Watching Spoken Here program are happy to lend their binoculars, or bring your own. They’ll be at 24 sites along the Coast, including the Sea Lion Caves turnout and Cape Perpetua Visitor Center (Cook’s Chasm turnout) 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. all week long.
Heceta Head Lighthouse Birthday Party, Florence (March 30) — This free family-friendly event includes a chance to tour the lighthouse keeper’s house, with live music, food and games for all. Pick up a book, piece of art or other souvenir at the expansive gift shop for your way home.
Florence Wine Art and Jazz Festival, Florence (April 26-27) — If art, wine and music are your thing, this festival may become a favorite. Adults 21 and over are invited to sip from 12 boutique Oregon wineries, groove to seven jazz headliners and enjoy a juried art show and sale with works by local artists.
Beachcombing— Winter storms wash up agates and seashells onto the beaches, which makes spring prime time for beachcombing. You can even take a 2-hour beachcombing clinic in Lincoln City on selected dates through late April, offered by local guide Laura Joki. She’ll offer tips on how to find agates, fossils, gemstones, shells, petrified wood, jasper, rocks and minerals, and take you to some of her favorite spots. As you’re beachcombing, keep an eye out for glass floats in the springtime and all year-long with Lincoln City’s Finders Keepers program.
See the marine life— America’s largest sea lion cave, Sea Lion Caves in Florence, delights visitors of all ages, especially in springtime when the sea lions will move from the cave to the rock ledges in front of the cave to breed through the summer. Kids and kids at heart go gaga for the marine life at the Oregon Coast Aquarium, which will host two aquarium sleepovers during spring break (March 29 and 30). At the nearby Hatfield Marine Science Center, you can put your hands in a tide pool touch tank, take the tsunami wave engineering challenge or play in the augmented reality sandbox. At the center’s Marine Science Day(April 13), meet researchers and get a behind-the-scenes look at working in the field.
By Jen Anderson
Photo courtesy of Lincoln City