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Exploring the Beauty of the Oregon coast

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It takes almost an entire day to thoroughly explore Newport and Depoe Bay, but it’s worth the time and effort. These were a couple of the first places our Oregon relatives took us when my wife and I first began visiting the state. You can experience it all in this seaside area, from quaint fishing villages, whale watching, and lighthouses to unbelievable views of the Oregon coast.

Start your trip by taking Interstate 5 to Albany, exiting at the Albany/City center/Covalis ramp, and following the signs for Highway 20 west to Newport. It can be a little confusing (for me anyway) so watch carefully for the signs.

This road, as well as being very scenic, is very winding. You may want to take a couple of motion sickness pills before you leave if such things make you queasy. In any case, you’ll enjoy spectacular views as you pass through Ellmaker State Park and little country towns such as Philomath (pronounced “fill-low-muth”).

Begin your day in Newport with a boat ride to look for whales. We lucked out and made the choice to go with Marine Discovery Tours. For a reasonable price ($30 per person) we enjoyed a two hour ride aboard “The Discovery,” a deluxe 65 foot boat with seating for 49 landlubbers. Even though it wasn’t officially whale watching season, we saw a number of whale spouts, cresting backs, and tails. Our on-board naturalist Kevin not only entertained us with plenty of jokes, but also educated us about the ocean. Once again, don’t forget the motion sickness pills. The ocean can be a little bumpy at times.

For lunch, you can’t beat stopping in at the original Mo’s restaurant on Bay Boulevard or at the Mo’s annex right across the street. We’re partial to the Mo’s annex because it sits on the bay side of the street. Through its huge windows, you can watch the seals play while you down a bowl of their famous clam chowder.

Next stop is Yaquina Head Lighthouse on highway 101 between Newport and Depoe Bay. Having never seen a lighthouse (except in magazines), this one fit the picture in my head perfectly. It recently underwent an extensive restoration so now is a good time to visit. While you’re there, visit the interpretive center at the entrance to the state park. And don't miss the Quarry Cove, a man-made system of tide pools. The day we went, we had fun watching some of the local seal population sunbathe on the rocks.

Finally, head over to Depoe Bay. The beautiful bay that fronts the main street is probably one of the top whale watching spots in Oregon. If nothing else, sit on the sea wall, drink in the view of the massive Pacific Ocean, and watch the water spouts that shoot up from the rocks as the waves come in. Don’t leave without getting some saltwater taffy at any one of the numerous shops on the main drag. 

We ran out of daylight, so we had to skip Lincoln City and head back to our base in Salem. We’ll have to check it out on another trip. In Lincoln City, follow the signs to Salem (highway 18) then take highway 22 all the way to downtown Salem.



All photos by Randy Hill, Copyright 2006 All Rights Reserved.

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About Randy Hill

  • Richard Brown Curlee

    Why would I want to hear from a man who left his “Country” (Texas) to go to a foreign land…just kidding. Have always enjoyed your stuff Randy…really wish I was there!

  • randy hill

    Thanks Richard. I know. I’m sure Sam Houston is looking down from heaven (or wherever he’s at) and shaking his head disapprovingly at me! I’ll always be a Texan in my heart. I just won’t be suffering from heat exhaustion. 😛