This post is sponsored by Portlandia Vintners. All opinions, thoughts, and ideas are our own.
With rain in the forecast nearly 50% of the year, PNW residents really take advantage of every single beautiful day when the weather is nice! In the spring and summer, you will see people flock to their favorite hiking trails, camping spots, and beaches – us included!
So, to celebrate the next beautiful day, what better way to enjoy the Pacific Northwest sunshine than with a picnic?
One of the prettiest destinations for a PNW picnic is on the Oregon Coast! From grassy fields to rugged coves, there is a spot for just about everybody to enjoy an outdoor meal. In this post, we’re taking you step by step on what to pack for an Oregon Coast picnic, things to consider before venturing out, and some destination inspiration to get you dreaming of the next sunny day on the coast.
So, let’s clink our glasses to the warmer weather and get dreaming!
How To Pack For An Oregon Coast Picnic
Before we share any Oregon Coast picnic spots, it’s important to pack the right items. Below, we’re covering ways to pack your picnic basket, how to choose food & drink pairings, and how to package food for easy snacking outdoors.
Pick A Blanket And A Basket
Choosing a blanket and basket can be as straightforward or involved as you want it to be. You can throw together a simple setup with a reusable tote from your kitchen, and a blanket that’s laying around the house. This is a great option for last-minute picnicking ventures – perfect for throwing something together on the go.
If you want to get a little more involved, there are products that can elevate your comfort outdoors! Personally, we love outdoor blankets that have a waterproof side. This way, you can place it on any surface and not get your butt wet! Here are some of our favorite outdoor picnic blankets:
For picnic baskets, there are so many great options out there! You could go with a classic straw basket, an insulated picnic tote, or a simple canvas tote from your kitchen. You can even pack a backpack cooler for picnic spots that require a hike! Regardless of your choice, make sure your food items can be stored upright, and won’t jostle around in transit to your destination.
All in all – packing doesn’t have to be complicated! Simply use what you have on hand. The goal of an Oregon Coast picnic is to spend time outdoors with the people you love!
Choose Your FooD & Drink Pairings
Choosing the right food pairings depends on the type of wine you will be bringing. For this trip, we chose a Portlandia Pinot Noir! It is from the Willamette Valley in Oregon which we thought was a perfect match for these Oregon Coast destinations.
For easy packing for your next Oregon Coast picnic, Portlandia Vintners is giving you, our lovely reader, a discount code for direct purchasing through their website. Click here to go to the Portlandia Vintners shop and stock up for Oregon Wine Month with the code OREGONCOAST for 20% off your order!
For more options, find Portlandia Pinot Noir in a store near you! Here are the available retailers that carry Portlandia wines:
Pinot Noirs are versatile when it comes to pairing foods, and we chose a simple charcuterie spread, with cold meats, medium cheese, and earthy snacks like seed crackers and almonds. For more food tips, check out Food & Wine’s blog post about pairings for a wide array of wines.
Your glassware options will depend on your picnic destination. If you know you will be at some kind of table (like a picnic table) you can pack stemless wine glasses. For more rugged destinations, consider sturdier mason jars without the metal ring attached. Finally, if your Oregon Coast picnic spot is difficult to reach (or you are worried about glass breaking) consider bringing along a metal wine rambler with a lid.
You can also bring plastic wine glasses with stems/stemless if you really want the vibe of nice glassware without the fear of breaking actual glass.
Repackage Items for Easy Storing
Sometimes food like salami or cheese can be packaged in cheap, thin plastic, only to not be sealable again! This can make a huge mess, especially if you are having a beach picnic where sand gets in *literally* everything. To keep messes at bay, we like to spend time repackaging everything at home before our picnic.
This looks like taking the original packaging off items and repackaging them in Tupperware/storage containers. By doing so, you can easily stack, repack, and tote around food items without worrying about spills or messes in transit. We like to use a mix of glass jars (we save our old pizza sauce jars to reuse later!) and small Tupperware with snap lids.
Things to Consider When Choosing an Oregon Coast Picnic Destination
Does Your Destination Allow Alcohol?
Most Oregon State parks will allow visitors 21 or over to have alcoholic beverages at the park. However, some specific locations require written permission, and we’ll link the shortlist here. And as always, do not allow minors under 21 years to consume alcoholic beverages.
Note: You don’t need to consume alcohol to enjoy a great Oregon Coast picnic! If you have people in your group that cannot partake (pregnant, under 21, or simply don’t wish to drink) feel free to bring other beverage options too. Sparkling water, San Pellegrino, and glass soda bottles can all elevate a lovely picnic vibe.
Be Mindful of Where You Place Your Blanket
We’ve all been there, sitting in the grass only to get your butt wet! To avoid that issue, test out the ground with your hand before you place your blanket down. You can also choose a bare patch of ground, sand, or a place without any grass or plants around.
We shared a few options above, but here are some more blankets we recommend, specifically for use outside. Most come with a plastic bottom, so you can sit knowing you’re safe from mud and sand.
- REI Co-Op Waterproof Outdoor Blanket
- Classic red & white checkered waterproof picnic blanket
- Extra-large waterproof picnic mat with stakes
Finally, make sure you aren’t squashing any protected plants, and avoid poisonous ones. For example, poison oak is common in the Southern Oregon Coast, so make sure you aren’t throwing your blanket in a patch!
If you have any concerns about this, call the state park office ahead of time for information on plants to avoid, and even the best picnic spots in the park. They are there to help you!
Pack It In and Pack It Out
As always, it’s important to pack out any garbage you produce! To make things easy and as mess-free as possible, consider bringing an empty large zip-loc bag or any sealable storage container. This way, you can stash away any smelly items in a sealed container until you can get to a proper trash receptacle. To avoid making more trash than necessary, consider packing cloth napkins and real silverware!
Finally, while things like apple cores and orange peels are *technically* biodegradable, they actually take quite a long time to break down. Avoid throwing your food scraps in the bushes, and just pack EVERYTHING out and throw it away at home instead.
Thank you for doing your part in keeping our parks clean and beautiful!
10 Scenic Spots For An Oregon Coast Picnic
So, what are the best Oregon Coast picnic spots to take advantage of these sunny days? Keep scrolling to see our top Oregon picnic locations, spanning from the north coast all the way to the south!
1. Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor
For a rugged, scenic Oregon Coast picnic spot, Samuel H. Boardman is an adventurous spot to try! There are several spots in this park to choose from, and it can be as straightforward or involved as you want it to be.
Places like Indian Sands, Secret Beach, and China Beach require a hike to reach. For easier access, Whaleshead Beach, Arch Rock, and Lone Ranch Picnic Area are all easy to reach and have picnic tables.
Arch Rock Viewpoint is one of our favorite Oregon Coast picnic spots. This is the only parking area in the park that has bathrooms (pit toilets) which makes it convenient to stay awhile, especially with children. There are also several picnic tables tucked under the trees for a perfectly shaded & protected eating spot, but with the sound of the waves still within earshot!
2. Ecola State Park
If you’re looking for incredible views not too far from the parking lot, this is your place! Ecola State Park has a handful of picnic tables among the grassy fields near bathrooms, walkways, and parking. There are great views of Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach with several other sea stacks, making this an excellent spot for watching the sunset.
For a little more privacy, take the Crescent Beach trail for a little bit more seclusion. Come during low tide to have the most space to set out your blanket!
3. God’s Thumb in Lincoln City
For a classic, grassy hill to lay out your picnic blanket, look no further than God’s Thumb! This Oregon Coast picnic spot is for adventurous travelers, because this destination requires quite a hike, and can be pretty dangerous if you get close to the edge! However, this iconic Oregon Coast picnic spot is unmatched in beauty and panoramic views. It’s worth the effort!
Note: God’s Thumb requires a moderately difficult 4.6-mile long trail that is often muddy – especially in the early spring. Make sure to wear waterproof hiking boots for the trail. Finally, carry a waterproof blanket and use a picnic basket that can also double as a backpack, to keep your hands from getting tired.
4. Heceta Head Lighthouse
Heceta Head Lighthouse is a historic, 19th-century structure that is still shining its light today! Picnickers can visit this area of Oregon with a quick day trip from Eugene, or driving through the Central Oregon Coast.
This is an incredibly romantic place to enjoy a sunset picnic with your partner. To reach the picnic tables, park at the lower parking lot (called Heceta Head Lighthouse State Scenic Viewpoint) and hike the short trail up to the Innkeepers House, or the base of the lighthouse itself.
Want to stay longer? You can actually spend the night at the Innkeepers House! It’s a bed and breakfast that has an emphasis on history, locally sourced food, and hospitality.
5. Face Rock Scenic Viewpoint
For an adventurous picnic on the beach, consider driving to Bandon for a sunset snack! Face Rock State Scenic Viewpoint is known for its unique sea stack shapes and historical significance to the local Nasomah (Coquille) community. You can often stand from the overlook and watch people draw swirl patterns (often called “sand labyrinths”) in the sand, making this park a living, ever-changing art piece.
There are a few options to set up a picnic in this area of Bandon. First, walk down to the beach and find your own little personal cove in the many notched areas of the sand beach. Not interested in getting sandy? Check out Kronenberg County Park and Coquille Point just north of the Face Rock Overlook. There is a parking lot, and benches near the cliffside for great views from above the beach. Finally, for a little more privacy, consider driving just south to Devil’s Kitchen in the Bandon Natural Area, where you can place your blanket among the seagrass.
6. Meyers Creek Beach in Pistol River
Also spelled Myers Creek Beach, this gorgeous stretch of the Oregon Coast is at the mouth of the Pistol River and just south of the town of Gold Beach. It’s popular because there are beautiful sea stacks scattering the shoreline and several pullouts & parking lots to choose from. Spend some time driving this stretch of beach to find the perfect spot!
Place your picnic blanket among the tall seagrass, or spread it out on the beach! This place is often very windy, so bring some stakes or weights for the edge of your blanket. We think this is one of the most beautiful Oregon Coast picnic spots to watch the sunset, so we encourage you to plan an evening picnic here!
7. Cape Kiwanda
Cape Kiwanda is a popular Oregon Coast picnic spot for its convenience and beauty! This long stretch of beach boasts its own Haystack Rock and sand dunes to the north. This is a great Oregon Coast picnic location for visitors who like to throw together last-minute trips – there are grocery stores and markets nearby!
If the Cape Kiwanda beach parking lot is full or you simply want more privacy, consider taking the quick drive south to the connecting Bob Straub State Park. There is still beach access here, and WAY fewer people around.
Note: While driving on the beach was allowed in previous years, it is now closed to private vehicles as of 2020. Please plan to use the parking lot and walk to the beach.
8. Devil’s Punchbowl State Natural Area
Devil’s Punchbowl is a great Oregon Coast picnic spot for all sorts of active groups. Surfers can enjoy a morning of riding waves at the beach as well as families exploring the tide pools with kids. Photographers can enjoy lunch after a morning photographing the punchbowl, and explorers can find hidden marine treasures at Otter Crest Beach!
No matter what activity you decide to do, you can wind down on the lawn or choose an open picnic table in the Day Use Area near the parking lot. The picnic area is located near the headland cliffs, so you can enjoy a meal with incredible views of the surrounding beach and be shaded under coastal trees.
9. Short Sands Beach
Short Sands Beach in Oswald West State Park is the perfect Oregon Coast picnic spot for families with kids! The short, one-mile trail leads you to a secluded cove, filled with tons of curiosities like driftwood, tide pools, and even surfing opportunities. Once your picnic is over, you can spend time exploring the beach from end to end.
Here, there are picnic tables, benches, and even nearby bathrooms to cater to a variety of needs for busy families. It’s a great location to plan lunch and a fun afternoon on the beach!
10. Cape Blanco
For a romantic, secluded picnic destination, Cape Blanco State Park is your spot! This park is quite a distance away from the major Oregon Coast beaches, but easier to reach if you are exploring around the Southern Oregon Coast. Its shoreline is dotted with rugged sea stacks to the north, and a prominent, commanding rock just offshore south of the lighthouse.
Cape Blanco is a prominent headland and the westernmost point of Oregon State. Take your picnic to the next level and reserve a camping weekend in their protected, beautiful sites. Bring your horses, too (yes, we mean it!), so you can run them on the beach and the 150-acre free riding area with epic coastal views.
What are some of YOUR favorite Oregon Coast picnic spots? Share your expertise with us in the comments below!
MORE BEAUTIFUL OREGON COAST DESTINATIONS
Want more Oregon Coast picnic spots to choose from? We have so many resources on our blog to choose from to customize your own Pacific Northwest adventure. Keep reading these posts for more!