What makes a great waterfront picnic spot? Let’s start with the basics: A table, if you don’t like sand in your food. And a view — of water, of course, but also with an element of the unexpected, where you can see eye-catching rock formations or bridges or harbors from a different perspective.
Here are six scenic spots for a DIY picnic along the Oregon Coast, each paired with a spectacular view and a nearby market or cafe to pick up some yummy grub. So get outside and don’t worry about packing the basket. Just remember to leave each site cleaner than you found it.
- Make a day of it at Ecola State Park Indian Beach, the semi-secluded spot with great surf in the wintertime. Make sure to stop at Mariner Market, roughly a 10-minute drive away, for groceries, deli, beer and wine.
- Let the kids burn off some steam at the Waterfront Park in Wheeler, a city park with hexagonal tables and barbecue grills near the boat ramp. You can pick up something to grill at the nearby Manzanita Market. Or, for a taste of the North Coast, call ahead to SOURCE in Garibaldi, located 12 miles south of Wheeler. There you can preorder picnics by special request, and each meal is prepared with sustainable ingredients from local farmers and fishers.
- Right next to Rogue Nation Brewery in Newport, the Yaquina Bay Bridgehead Day Use Area is so close to the water that the birds might try to steal your fries. If you don’t mind sharing, take your pick of beachy fare at South Beach Fish Market.
- Take a break from the sand dunes at Jessie M. Honeyman Memorial Park at the crystal-clear Cleawox Lake in Florence, where you can enjoy a picnic and a swim. Nature’s Corner Cafe & Market, six minutes away, is a stellar find for sandwiches and salads made with free-range and organic meats, eggs and produce.
- The Umpqua Riverfront boardwalk in Reedsport is a lovely spot to catch a bite and watch the world go by. Take in the bustle of the harbor and people-watch as visitors come and go at the Umpqua Discovery Center. Order a sandwich from the Schooner Inn Cafe, also on the boardwalk, or check out their scenic al fresco dining area, which overlooks the harbor.
- For a sweeping view of the South Coast’s majestic rock formations and plateaus, stop at South Face Rock Scenic Viewpoint. Refuel with a bread bowl of clam chowder from the Bandon Fish Market, just minutes away by car.
Photo: Picnic at Indian Beach by Greg Vaughn