Post Summary: Best Things To Do On The Southern Oregon Coast
Impressive cliffs, vast sandy beaches, and 140 miles of coastline to explore, what’s not to love about the Southern Oregon Coast? Many people associate the Oregon Coast with a quick Portland day trip to Cannon Beach and simply leave it at that…
…BUT PNW explorers like you know that beautiful Oregon coast photography locations span the entire 363 miles of Oregon coastline, and some of the most jaw-dropping spots wait for you on the Southern Oregon Coast.
If you’ve never been to a Southern Oregon beach, you’ve come to the right place. We’re sharing our favorite spots from Brookings To Coos Bay, how to get around, where to stay, and tips on how to make the most of this adventurous section of Oregon!
The Best Things To Do On The Southern Oregon Coast
Is this just one stop on your Oregon adventure? We think you’ll like these posts too:
- The Complete 1-Week Oregon Coast Road Trip Itinerary
- 10 Awesome Things To Do In Cape Kiwanda in Pacific City, Oregon
- All The Best Things To Do In Coos Bay, Oregon
- The Ultimate Guide To Cape Perpetua
- Venture Out On An Epic Eastern Oregon Road Trip
How To Get Around The Southern Oregon Coast
The easiest way to get around Southern Oregon is by car. More specifically though, a high-clearance vehicle, or something with 4-wheel drive! As we will mention below, some of the roads leading to some popular Oregon coast beaches were extremely sketchy, and definitely required the proper car to handle it!
We recommend road-tripping all the way down Highway 101 so you can stop frequently. Each of the Southern Oregon coast towns and stops have their own personality and we enjoyed getting to know each one! Here are some routes to follow for inspiration:
- The Oregon Coast Road Trip (Every stop from North to South)
- The Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip (Seattle, WA to San Diego, CA)
- The 5-Day Olympic Peninsula Road Trip (Washington Coast)
Where To Stay In Southern Oregon
The Southern Oregon is a really adventurous place, with campgrounds and beautiful resorts scattered along the coastline. Here are some of our favorite accommodations in the area, ranging from *free* to luxurious!
Camping on the Southern Oregon Coast
Southern Oregon coast camping provides some of the easiest accessibly to outdoor activities. You can even find campgrounds that are close to the ocean, to lull you to sleep with the sound of the waves!
We’ve found that the easiest way to find camping is using one of our favorite road trip planning apps, The Dyrt. It’s the coolest campground finding tool, where you can filter spots based on your needs, and find helpful reviews and photos before you book! There is everything from Southern Oregon Coast RV Parks to free spots tucked away in the nearby forest. Find the one that suits you best!
Click here to try the pro version free for 30 days (trust us, it will be your new favorite app!) by using the code MANDAGIES.
Here are some of our favorite campgrounds on the Southern Oregon Coast:
Oregon Dunes Natural Recreation Area
Vacation Rentals and Airbnbs on the Southern Oregon Coast
Southern Oregon Coast vacation rentals are a unique and fun way to experience the area! We often like to find unique stays (like this cool fire lookout in Idaho!) Here are some of our favorites Southern Oregon coast rentals for a comfortable time:
($$) Ocean View Condo with Private Beach Trail (sleeps 4)
($) Captivating Sunlight Cottage (Inexpensive Bungalow, sleeps 4)
($$) Family & Pet Friendly Harris Beach Getaway (highly rated family rental, sleeps 6)
Southern Oregon Coast Hotels And Resorts
If you are looking for luxury, you can definitely find it in these Southern Oregon Coast hotels. Tucked away on the nearby rivers or even situated on the cliffside, there is something for everyone here. Some of the most popular ones include:
Whaleshead Beach Resort (Abundant access to Samuel H Boardman hiking trails)
Westward Inn, Brookings (Simple and affordable, close to restaurants)
We recommend finding accommodations nearby Southern Oregon Coast towns so that you can have easy access to activities window shopping, and restaurants as well!
Map of The Southern Oregon Coast
Before we get started, we wanted to share a Southern Oregon coast map. This will give you a visual representation of where everything is located!
Some of the major southern Oregon coastal towns include Brookings, Gold Beach, Bandon, Coos Bay, Port Orford, and Reedsport. Use these as reliable gas stops, but there are enough spots scattered along the coast that you shouldn’t have to worry too much about keeping your car filled up.
All The Best Spots On The Southern Oregon Coast
Coos Bay, Oregon
One of the most northern areas of the Southern Oregon coast includes the towns of Coos Bay, North Bend, and Reedsport.
The most popular activity to do in this area includes visiting the Oregon Dunes. This area holds one of the largest spans of coastal dunes in the world, stretching nearly 40-miles! Here, you can rent and ride an ATV up over the dunes, camp in the nearby forest, or take one of the many Oregon coast hiking trails across the sand dunes.
The John Dellenbeck Trail is the most popular trail to discover, which winds you through the dense forest and out onto the wide expanse of coastal sand.
Other places to check out in Coos Bay include Shore Acres State Park, Sunset Bay State Park, and Cape Arago State Park. These three state parks nestle up against each other, so it’s each to see them all in one day.
For a little bit of waterfall hunting, go inland and explore Golden and Silver Falls State Natural Area, you can see the aptly named Golden Falls and Silver Falls, some of the tallest in the area.
End your day at Bay Point Landing, one of the region’s top luxury camping resorts on the coast! You can easily rent RV sites for your trailer, but you can also rent their tiny cabins, Airstreams, and enjoy their high-end amenities on-site for a relaxing stay.
Bandon is the perfect combination of quaint Oregon coast beach town, with all the amenities you could need nearby tons of beautiful coastline to explore. Face Rock State Scenic Viewpoint is our favorite beach here, with some of the best sunsets to see and best photography spots on the Oregon coast.
For a bit of window shopping, consider visiting Bandon’s Old Town, a collection of blocks situated on the coast with a boardwalk and tons of stores to explore. From local artisans to delicious chocolate and taffy, you can find all sorts of treasures and treats.
Additionally, you can check out the Coquille River Lighthouse in Bullards Beach State Park. There are lots of Oregon Coast lighthouses to see, but this one with it’s bright white and red paint stands out among the rest!
Port Orford, Oregon
Port Orford is a small fishing town, in a cool area of the Oregon coast where mountains, sea, and forest merge into one.
The most iconic place to visit here is Cape Blanco State Park. The lighthouse (Cape Blanco Lighthouse) is a beautiful piece of the town’s history, and the commanding sea stacks (like Castle Rock and Gull Rock) that dot the coast make for amazing photography opportunities.
Lesser know is Floras Lake State Park, where there are primitive trails that lead to the ocean for some incredible views of the seemingly neverending seashore aside giant cliff edges. You can access the beach by Boice-Cope Park and walk the long distance along the shore.
You can also access the higher viewpoint (one being Blacklock Point but there are plenty of other views along the cliff’s edge too) by a trailhead next to the airport.
Be prepared for little signage and directions, as this is an underdeveloped area of the state park. We suggest downloading an app called AllTrails to track your route and keep you oriented.
Gold Beach, Oregon
Gold Beach is a popular Oregon coast town for tourist activities, specifically spending a day at the beach, taking jet boat tours of the Rogue River, and exploring the several beach access points around town.
A lot of these beach access points are unlabeled, so spend some time using some of our favorite road trip planning apps to mark down locations. This way, you don’t miss a single spot! Here’s where we recommend on the Southern Oregon Coast and why:
- Cape Sebastian State Scenic Corridor – for cliffside hiking with gorgeous ocean views.
- Meyers Creek Beach Viewpoint – Easy beach access from Highway 101
- Otter Point State Recreation Area – cool sandstone formations and cliffside views
- Pistol River State Scenic Viewpoint – Acess to ever-changing coastal dunes
Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor
Arched rocks, natural bridges, and lush, protected coves scatter this part of the Southern Oregon Coast! Samuel H Boardman Scenic Corridor is a 12-mile stretch of epic, rugged coastline. There are plenty of stops to explore along the way so spend an afternoon driving up and down the coast to pick your favorite beach or cove!
For an easy, family-friendly stop, make sure to check out the Arch Rock area of Samuel H. Boardman. Here’s you’ll find one of the best Oregon coast picnic areas in the state, with several tables with incredible ocean views! This is also the only parking lot with bathrooms in the corridor.
Natural Bridges is one of the most photographed places on the Southern Oregon Coast, with its well-known arched rock situated in a protected cove. Follow the wooden platform for a safe viewing experience. If you want to get closer, you can take an unmarked path down the cape and right onto the bridge.
Take caution though – the trail is socially made, unmaintained, and has very steep dropoffs. Watch your step and be careful! Although we can’t ethically recommend the trail…just use your best judgment with visiting!
Want a safer way to view the Natural Bridges? There is a wooden platform close to the parking lot where you can view it safely from a distance!
Secret Beach is a hidden gem with a beautiful beach to explore, giant sea stacks (some you can even climb on!) and dreamy views in all directions. The parking lot is extremely small, so keep your eye out for a small, unmarked turnout on the west side of Highway 101.
Whaleshead Beach is an adventurous Oregon beach, known for its big boulders and sea stack similarly called Whalehead Island. You definitely need a high-clearance vehicle or a 4-week drive car to access the beach. The access road to the parking lot is bumpy and steep, full of potholes and uneven terrain.
Brookings is the southernmost town on the Oregon Coast, with plenty of amenities, gas stations, and hotels to book along your Pacific Coast Highway route.
During our latest trip, we camped at Harris Beach State Park. This is a great campsite with plenty of space, clean bathrooms, and showers. Your camping tag also gives you day-use access to the beach just down the road.
Brookings also serves as a gateway to the Redwood National and State Parks in Northern California. The closest popular attractions in the Redwoods from the Southern Oregon Coast include Jedidiah Smith Redwoods State Park, which includes the popular Boy Scout Tree Trail and Stout Grove Trail. Don’t forget to stop by Patrick’s Point State Park for more incredible coastal views!
Our Tips For Visiting The Southern Oregon Coast:
- Stop frequently – driving via Highway 101 is best!
- Be prepared to hike. We had to park our car and walk on foot to the coast most of the time!
- Be prepared for a downpour. It rained on and off our entire time on the Southern Oregon Coast. Wear sturdy rain boots or waterproof shoes, and a reliable raincoat.
Related: 30 Things To Pack On A Road Trip
Seeking More Adventures Around The Southern Oregon Coast?
The Olympic Peninsula: Use our 5-day Olympic Peninsula Road trip route and see all the best places in the Olympic National Park, included these Washington beaches, epic hikes (like Mount Storm King Trail) and even camping on the beach at La Push.
Eastern Oregon: The eastern side of the state is full of hidden desert gems, from Leslie Gulch in the Owyhee Wilderness to the Pillars of Rome in Jordan Valley. See them all on this complete Eastern Oregon road trip starting and finishing in Bend, Oregon.
Portland, Oregon: The city of Portland is a dream for foodies, coffee lovers, and artisan shops. Stay in the city for access to the best restaurants, but take some of these epic day trips from Portland for your nature fix!
Eugene, Oregon: Eugene has the best of both worlds, two hours from the coast, and two hours from the mountains! Take these day trips from Eugene to see the best of the area. Coming in the colder months? Here are some fun things to do in Eugene in the winter.
Seattle, Washington: The biggest city in Washington is also home to some of the state’s coolest nearby adventures! There are countless amazing hikes to do in Washington, and plenty of weekend getaways from Seattle to custom fit your adventurous trip.