Good Sam RV Travel Guide & Campground Directory
Talk about getting more bang for your buck. If you’re looking for spectacular road trips that are easy on the mileage, look no further than a journey down Oregon’s Coastal Route, US-101. Start in the most-northern town of Astoria, along the banks of the Columbia River and head south to Florence, while enjoying the view of Oregon’s priceless coastline.
The town of Astoria was originally established as a fur trading post—and for good reason. Strategically located along the mouth of the Columbia River and emptying into the Pacific Ocean, the site served as an important home for the fishing industry that shaped the region. Learn all about it at Columbia River Maritime Museum. Nearby is Fort Stevens State Park, while holds the distinction as the only mainland American military installation to be fired upon by foreign forces since the War of 1812. In June 1942, a Japanese submarine sent to avenge the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo approached the shore and fired seventeen rounds at the fort. None of them caused any damage, but the event did secure the fort’s footnote in American history.
Head south along the 101 to the town of Seaside. The Seaside Aquarium showcases the marine environment that’s so important to coastal Oregon.
Further south, round Tillamook Bay, then stop in the town of Tillamook, the county seat. A good way to explore the town and surrounding area is by a drive along the Three Capes Scenic Loop. This 38-mile circular drive starts in downtown Tillamook and ventures along the coast and into the wilderness, passing through state parks and wildlife refuges alike. Don’t leave the area without touring the famous Tillamook cheese factory and also the Tillamook Air Museum, located inside a massive, historic, WWII blimp hangar.
In Lincoln City, you will find that you are never too old to fly a kite. The city boasts being the “kite capital of the world,” and as you move towards D River State Recreation Site in the middle of town, you might see why. Twice a year in the park, the largest kite festival in the world is held, with some of the top “kiters” from around the world arriving to show off their amazing skills. For a more relaxing destination, check out the Connie Hansen Garden, where tidy, grass walkways meander through hundreds of flowing trees, scented flower beds, and vibrant green shrubs.
Back on US-101, let’s take some time to explore the town of Newport. Situated on Yaquina Bay, this fishing village attracts visitors for its renowned crabbing, especially for the hearty Dungeness crabs. The town beckons visitors to explore the natural world that so defines the Oregon coast, and its best done at the Hatfield Maine Science Center of Oregon State University. Home to some of the world’s best-known coastal ecologists, the Center offers tours of its aquarium and museum, nature trails, films, and special programs throughout the summer months. The Oregon Coast Aquarium, home to some 1,500 marine and freshwater species, is yet another way to enjoy the coastal wildlife. Otherwise, see how much of it you can find outdoors at scenic Ona Beach or the 130-acre Beverly Beach. Also nearby is the impressive Devil’s Punch Bowl, an eight-acre, bowl-shaped park that fills with seawater during high tide, then reveals the wonders of tide pools during low tide.
Florence is our last stop on our one-gas-tank Oregon tour. North of the town lies Sea Lion Caverns, the largest sea cave in the world. This is one impressive natural wonder, attracting hordes of sea lions for much of the year. Other favorite pastimes around town include a hike to the Heceta Head Lighthouse, located on a picturesque coastal cliff while, just south of town, the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area boasts some of the world’s largest sand dunes.