Exploring Oregon’s Pacific Coast

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Exploring Oregon’s dramatic coastline between Astoria and Brookings by car reveals a tapestry of sand dunes, charismatic sunsets, welcoming coffee cottages that are made more appealing by country inns, unexpected organic markets and storefront shops filled with vintage treasures. The panoramic route covers 360 miles along U.S. Highway 101.

With the help of Oregon’s tourism experts we spent the night in the West’s oldest city, Astoria, then drove north to Newport and Gold Beach. The last accommodations were diverse, from a chic boutique hotel to a two-story country inn overlooking a gang of rowdy sea lions to a rustic hideaway on a secluded road overlooking the Rogue River.

Our starting point was Portland, where we picked up a rental car, spending just one night at the Hotel Deluxe, which is part of the Provenance Hotel Group. Aside from classy guestrooms with every electronic amenity you need to keep in touch, the corridors act as a private exhibition of 400 black and white photos of Hollywood history, with each of the eight hotel floors themed. The Dance and Music Masters, the Immigrants, the Masters and one floor devoted to Alfred Hitchcock creates the ambiance of a museum. We stayed on the fourth floor, home to The Rebels with photographs of Orson Welles, John Houston and Elia Kazan.

Slightly over an hour took us to the picturesque city of Astoria where salmon in all of its delicious varieties is king. The fishing industry brought immigrants to this turn-back-the-pages-of-time city where the Finnish established their saunas and subsequent entrepreneurs built lavish Victorian homes such as the Flavel Mansion, near the old county jail where you can take a docent-led tour. If you like a touch of contemporary architecture with the convenience of watching international marine ships ply the Columbia River, the 47-room Cannery Pier Inn is the place to settle. Aside from spacious loft-style guestrooms there is something here you won’t find elsewhere. A pair of binoculars left by the window so you can observe the ships pass by, such as the Nord Brave, Energy Star and Sammi Crystal. The hotel gives you a birds-eye view of the Astoria-Megler Bridge, which is an architectural wonder, as this is where the Pacific Ocean meets the mighty Columbia River.

Driving north we checked into the five-room Anchor Pier Lodge, which takes over the second floor of Marine Discovery Tours. This cozy situation makes for a surprise: our neighbors at this harbor-front lodge were a rambunctious group of sea lions that raved on till midnight!

The Local Oceans Seafood down the street is the closest you will get to freshly caught salmon, as each catch is labeled as to the fishing boat it originated from.

The next morning around 7 a.m. we walked to Shirley’s on D’Bay, a diner on the harbor, for a hearty breakfast of French toast brimming with raspberries and blueberries, and expertly fried hash brown potatoes.

A stop at Nye’s Beach where the historic Sylvia Beach Hotel built in 1913 features 20 guestrooms, each named for a literary figure from Mark Twain to Emily Dickinson. The name of the restaurant, The Table of Contents is apropos.

Our journey concluded at Gold Beach were we found the Rogue River Lodge along a tree-studded road at the mouth of the river.

This eight-room hideaway is resplendent with handsome wood furnishings and vintage photographs of Hollywood’s past. The largest unit has three spacious bedrooms and a full kitchen. Here’s a place where you can spend an extra few days to explore the area.

Along the 360-mile route taking you through towns such as Waldport, Yachats, Heceta Beach, Florence, Dunes City, Winchester Bay and Bandon there are a noticeable number of coffee cottages inviting you to stop for a while, and you can tour the lighthouses, beaches and antique shops along the way.

Exploring Oregon’s Pacific Coast is like being in a decompression chamber thanks to the warm hospitality, light traffic, historic preservation, local festivals and reasonable prices. I hear there is a Whale Watch event next March.

I’ll be there.

Info: Travel Oregon: www.travelOregon.com; 503.378.2084; 800.547.7842

Horizon Air/Alaska Airlines: www.HorizonAir

CanneryPierHotel.com

AnchorPier.com

SylviaBeachHotel.com

RogueRiverLodge.com