It’s easier than ever to ditch the car and head to the beach or forest.
The automobile holds a dear place in our hearts, but when it comes to travel, leaving the car at home opens up new ways to slow down, relax and really experience all that the Oregon Coast has to offer. That’s especially easy on the North and Central coasts, where a robust network of public transport means you can spend more time tide-pooling, beachcombing, and enjoying great food without a need for parking and gas. Here are some ways to enjoy the ride without worrying about driving. Find even more details in our handy online guide to car-free travel.
Visit the Coast Without a Car
The first thing you’ll want to do is to get familiar with the website for NW Connector, an alliance of transit agencies working together to make trips as seamless as possible for travelers.
Routes run along the Coast from Astoria in the north to Yachats on the Central Coast near Florence, and inland from coastal communities to cities on the Interstate-5 corridor like Portland, Salem and Corvallis. NW Connector posts schedules and alerts online, and the homepage includes a handy planning tool for plotting your route. All of the schedules are embedded in popular apps like Google Maps, Transit, and Rome2Rio.
For fares, it’s well worth your wallet to purchase a pass good for three days or seven days (at a significant discount). Each pass includes one round-trip ride between those inland hubs — Portland, Salem, Albany, Corvallis — and the Oregon Coast. Once you’re by the sea, you’ll get unlimited rides in the coastal counties of Clatsop, Tillamook and Lincoln. You can buy the pass directly from any NW Connector driver, but please bring cash and make it exact.
Even if you’d like to drive yourself to the Coast, you can always use buses once you’re there. The Sunset Empire Transportation District runs buses between Astoria and Cannon Beach for a nominal fee each ride. You can buy day passes with a smartphone using the Token Transit app. From Cannon Beach, other routes managed by the Tillamook County Transportation District — also known as “The Wave” — and Lincoln City Transit run south to Lincoln City, Newport and Yachats, as well as inland to Salem and Portland. On summer weekends in Pacific City, you can also take the free shuttle, which stops at walkable nature areas like Bob Straub Park, the Sitka Sedge State Natural Area and Whalen Island.
Getting to the Coast From Portland
Let’s say you’re flying to Oregon for a visit and want to forgo the rental car. Done! TriMet’s MAX Red Line runs from PDX airport to Union Station in the heart of Portland, where you can catch buses to the Coast. Book a ticket with Oregon POINT, which runs buses to Cannon Beach and Seaside before traveling north to Astoria. These 56-passenger liners have restrooms, free Wi-Fi and power outlets, and you can even bring your bike.
Getting to Tillamook from Portland is easy, too. From Union Station, you’ll want to hop on the Wave Coastliner Route 5. The ride takes about two hours.
Willamette Valley to the Coast
Link Lane runs buses seven days a week from Eugene to Florence and back, twice a day, for less than the cost of a couple of gallons of gas. From Florence, a bus runs north to Yachats and back three times a day.
Bicycle Rentals From Astoria to Newport
Once you arrive, it’s a great idea to rent a bike to make getting around any town easier and fun. And remember, you can put your bike on buses for free. Here’s a video to show you how.
On the North Coast, myriad possibilities to rent a bike exist. In Astoria rent a bike from Bikes and Beyond, then go cruise the Riverwalk, a 6.4-mile route along the water. Prom Bike Shop in Seaside rents all manner of bikes, including kids’ bikes. In Cannon Beach, Family FUNcycles — open near low tide only — rents bikes you can take on the sand just moments from the shop.
In the Central Coast, renting a bike may come with additional perks. Lincoln City’s Safari Town Surf rents fat-tire bikes and offers surfing lessons, too. Bike Newport in Newport offers rental bikes and (bonus!) sells local beer.
– By Tim Neville