There’s always plenty to see and do in Florence — from the lively Historic Old Town and boardwalk to the rolling Oregon Dunes and the postcard-worthy Heceta Head Lighthouse. But this fall, the more you get around, the better your chances for taking home a memorable keepsake. Take part in Florence’s Uncurbed Adventures promotion; for every $25 spent at participating businesses, you’ll earn a coaster emblazoned with a Florence scene. (For a list of participating businesses, go to the Florence Area Chamber of Commerce website.)
Fuel up for your own Uncurbed Adventures at Siuslaw River Coffee Roasters. Sip a cup of joe in front of the woodstove, or, if it’s temperate, take in the views from the deck overlooking the river. The majestic Siuslaw River Bridge — an art deco drawbridge built in 1936 and now on the National Register of Historic Places — frames the picture-perfect scene.
Learn more about early local history and the legacy of logging and fishing in the Florence area through artifacts and photos at the Siuslaw Pioneer Museum. This is also the jumping-off point for a self-guided walking-tour through Historic Old Town. Browse the small shops, galleries and antique stores along the way, and hit Maple Street Grille for lunch, where you choose from homemade soups, fresh salads or burgers.
North of town, the Heceta Head viewpoint is an excellent spot for photo ops. It’s easy to see why the Heceta Head Lighthouse is one of the most photographed spots on the Oregon Coast. The lighthouse observation area is open year round, and tours of the lighthouse and keeper’s house can be arranged in advance off-season. The keeper’s house is also a bed and breakfast, giving visitors a chance to experience the lighthouse lifestyle while enjoying the breathtaking views.
While you are north of town, check out the Sea Lion Caves. It’s America’s largest sea cave and the only mainland rookery of Stellar sea lions in the lower 48 states. Kids love this vast coastal cavern filled with barking sea lions, birds and other sea life. (When you are back in downtown Florence, know that kids also dig BJ’s 48 Flavors for locally-made ice creams, a vast selection of saltwater taffy, fudge and other treats to satisfy a sweet tooth.)
You can’t visit Florence without going to the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, the largest expanse of coastal sand dunes in North America, stretching southward 47 miles from town. Sandland Adventures dune buggy tours please thrill-seekers and sedate cruisers alike. Drivers navigate the dunes while sharing information on dune formation, history and conservation, as well as pointing out animal and plant life; you’ll even get to jump a few towering dunes. Get a unique perspective on the landscape with a scenic helicopter tour from Apex Helicopters. Or carve it up at Sand Master Park, where you can rent a sandboard and whiz down 40 acres of private sculpted dunes. (Lessons are also available.)
Explore the dunes by canoe or kayak along the three-mile long Siltcoos River. This designated water trail bisects dunes and a saltwater estuary before emptying into the Pacific Ocean. Other nearby paddling opportunities include the freshwater lakes at Jessie M. Honeyman Memorial State Park and the Siuslaw River Water Trail, with more than 30 miles of paddling.
Photo by Nickie Bournias