Oregon is one of the most beautiful states in the United States. Although I truly believe that every state has something its own beauty and something unique to offer, there is honestly just something special about Oregon. It’s where you go if you want to see nature displaying its most breathtaking show. The diversity of Oregon is unbelievable. It has desserts in the east, lush forests, roaring rivers and waterfalls, and spectacular beaches dotted with imposing rock formations. If you want to be blown away, it’s an easy choice.
Why Take an Oregon Coast Road Trip?
Oregon is also a great pick for an epic road trip! It’s been voted one of the top ten best road trips in the USA and one of my favorite stretches of the great West Coast Road trip! With a dramatic coastline, the Oregon Coast is a family favorite road trip route for many and I’m going to share all of my favorite places along this stunning drive. It’s also a great choice for families, with lots of kid-friendly stops and open spaces for play.
Get Road Trip Ready
Before leaving on your Oregon Coast road trip, be sure both your car and your family are road trip ready. I like to be sure I have lots of activities planned for the kids that will coalesce with our vacation plans. Listening to audiobooks is also a fantastic way to keep the kids entertained without resorting to electronics, which can detract from the memories you’re making. These are some of my favorite audiobooks for family road trips.
North to South
When driving the Oregon Coast, I always recommend starting in the north of the state and driving south. This way, you’re driving along the ocean side of the Oregon coast highway and you’re able to get a better view. Especially while in the passenger seat! It’s definitely a state scenic corridor not to be missed.
While not along the coastline, Portland is a great jumping off point for your Oregon coast road trip. This Pacific Northwest city has an international airport and great hotels and Airbnbs. The city is also a huge foodie mecca, with thousands of foods you must try! Eat around the city for a day or so before driving down the coast. You can even pack a cooler of treats! Don’t miss Blue Star Donuts and Salt & Straw Ice Cream!
If you choose to start in the North, your first stop will be in Astoria. It’s home to the classic ‘80s movie, Goonies. Before we took this trip, we let the kids watch it which was fun, but just be forewarned that it has a lot more language in it than I remembered as a kid! But you’ll see so many sites along the Oregon Coast in the movie, so it’s fun to make the connection! Be sure to see all the famous scenes: stop by the famous “Goonies House,” walk downtown Astoria, and see Cannon Beach, farther south. You can find plenty of Goonies paraphernalia throughout the town.
This small seaside (no pun intended) resort town is known for great surfing and a beautiful 1920s promenade. It’s a great little old-charm stop. You can visit the Seaside Aquarium which has seals and touch tanks, which kids love!
Ecola State Park Spend some time at this beautiful State Park and hike up to see the Tillamook Rock Light. Crescent Beach is a beautiful spot to have a picnic or swim.
Cannon Beach is one of our family’s favorite places in Oregon, and quite possibly our favorite beach on the west coast. While it’s not going to be super warm swimming weather or water, it’s a gorgeous beach to run around on. The rock formations and the famous haystack rock are a unique sight to behold. There are also some really cute shops in the town, including a tasty chocolate shop. If it’s a cold day, try the hot chocolate, and if it’s a warm day, try the chocolate milkshake!
Continue your way southward and stop in Tillamook, home to the Tillamook Dairy Factory. Take a tour and learn where all that delicious, milk, cheese, butter, ice cream, and yogurt come from. Be sure to try a giant ice cream cone and stock up on cheese for the rest of your road trip!
Stop in Newport to see Oregon’s tallest lighthouse. The Yaquina Head Lighthouse, which stands 93 feet tall and dates back to 1873. Watch for sea wildlife, such as seabirds, harbor seals, and gray whales during the summer!
Oregon Dunes National Recreational Area
These huge sand dunes cover nearly 40 miles of the coast, reaching as high as 500 feet above sea level! It’s the biggest dune region in North America, and it’s absolutely worth a stop! The kids will love climbing the dunes and rolling down, just beware the sand you’re about to drag back to the car!
If you love small towns, Bandon will be a perfect stop. You can explore the cute shops, stop for fresh seafood, and stroll down the boardwalk!
Battle Rock Beach
This is one of the rare historic battle sites in the Pacific North West. It occurred between the settlers and the indigenous people of Oregon. You can hike, surf, and explore the area which has beautiful sea stack rocks and black sand!
These are my favorite stops along for Oregon road trip. There is no doubt that anywhere you choose to travel on your road trip will provide you with breathtaking views and unique places to visit on this beautiful stretch of land!
About the Author
Vanessa, writer of Wanderlust Crew, loves traveling the world with her crew of six and worldschooling.
Comeback Momma also recommends these stops along the Oregon Coast:
Gold Beach has a beautiful sandy beach that is not actually gold, but perfect for beachcombing and long walks. This is the spot where the Rogue River meets the Pacific Ocean. It provides a picturesque path for hikers and a waterway for boating and fishing.
Otter Point State Recreation Area
This park provides spectacular views of the ocean. Large sandstone formations provide an especially unique landscape. Hikers can enjoy cliffside paths as well as beach exploration. This is a hidden gem without signs on Highway 101 so be sure to get directions or use your GPS.
Cape Blanco State Park
A fun fact about this park is that it’s the second westernmost point in the lower 48 states. It’s definitely worth a visit to check out the way the trees are twisted by the outrageously fast wind speeds. Follow the road from Highway 101 to views of the Cape Blanco Lighthouse.
Shore Acres State Park
This state recreation site in Coos Bay, Oregon has a combination of natural and man-made beauty. It’s another spot for gorgeous views of the ocean from high sandstone cliffs. It was also home to a wealthy baron, Louis Simpson who built lush gardens with samples from around the world. There are two rose gardens, a Japanese garden in addition to other formal gardens. Each year, there is a spectacular holiday light display.