The entire coast of Oregon would take 7 hours to drive without making any stops, but the drive from Florence to Cannon Beach is under 4 hours. Add in a dozen amazing places to stop, and you have yourself a pretty spectacular road trip day!
And this itinerary is local-approved! We chatted with a couple different people in Eugene who asked what we had planned and their eyes lit up when we mentioned we were driving up the coast! We’ll start in Florence, and drive up north to Cannon Beach. Here are 15 things to do on your Oregon Coast road trip.
Oregon Coast Road Trip Stops:
Sea Lion Caves – $14 per adult
Heceta Head Lighthouse State Scenic Viewpoint – $5 to park. Lighthouse tours also available.
Hobbit Trailhead – Take a short half-mile out and back hike to a quiet beach.
Neptune State Scenic Viewpoint – Driving north, we stopped at a sign for Neptune State Park, which is a nice viewpoint and small picnic area, but we preferred the view from the parking lot .4 miles up the road. A path and stairs lead down to the rocky beach.
Spouting Horn & Thor’s Well – These are two very well-known spots at Cape Perpetua, but I would only recommend stopping here if you are hitting the highest tide of the day. Unfortunately, during our trip this was in the middle of the night. If you come at the wrong time, you will not see the water effects that have become so famous.
Devil’s Churn – $5 parking fee
Cape Perpetua Lookout – Drive up and take Whispering Spruce Trail to the lookout.
Yaquina Head Lighthouse & Cobble Beach
Devil’s Punchbowl – high tide from above, low tide explore below
Depoe Bay – Spouting Horn – This one was a little more active than the one at Thor’s Well, but it would have been better at highest tide.
Boiler Bay State Scenic Viewpoint
Proposal Rock & Neskowin Ghost Forest – We parked at the Neskowin Beach State Recreation Site (the parking lot across from Village Scoop at the Proposal Rock Inn). To reach the Neskowin Ghost Forest, we had to walk across a lengthy section of beach and cross the Neskowin Creek that runs around Proposal Rock. We thought the walk was well worth it, but if you’re not going at low tide, just enjoy Proposal Rock and save yourself the long walk on the sand.
Tillamook Creamery – Take a free self-guided creamery tour and then visit their Dining Hall and Shop for some ice cream. If you go during the week, you’ll be able to see the employees working during your tour.
Rockaway Big Tree Trail
Hug Point State Recreation Site – Before the highway was built, stagecoaches had to use Hug Point and you can walk part of this original path. You’ll find several great tide pools here, as well as a few caves, and a small waterfall if there’s been enough rain. Hug Point is inaccessible during high tide, so you’ll want to go 30-60 minutes before lowest tide. Keep an eye on the tides, or you’ll find yourself getting wet on your walk back, and don’t try to go if it’s not low tide.
Haystack Rock – This rock is one of the most famous spots on the Oregon coast and the centerpiece of Cannon Beach. If you go at low tide, you’ll see the rock reflected in the shallow water.
Ecola State Park – A beautiful overlook and a great spot for hiking. $5 parking fee. If you’re going in the summer months, get there early in the morning to find parking.
Cannon Beach is a great place to stop overnight, but during peak season, hotels will have 2 or 3 night minimums. Staying overnight will allow you to fully enjoy Hug Point and Haystack Rock by visiting at the appropriate tide. Maybe you’ll even get a sunny evening and a beautiful sunset over Haystack Rock.
Several of these stops are best seen at either high or low tide. We used this site to help us map that out and knew that we wouldn’t hit every spot at the opportune time. Both Spouting Horn sites, Thor’s Well, and Devil’s Punchbowl are best seen at the highest tide of the day and might not look that impressive at other times. I’ve read that you can hike down and explore Devil’s Punchbowl at the lowest tide of the day, but be very careful not to get caught by sneaker waves and the incoming tide.
This Oregon coast road trip would be the perfect way to spend a summer day, although I’d recommend a week day if you can to keep traffic at a minimum! If you’d like to slow down and enjoy the sights even more, you can stay overnight in Yachats or another town near the halfway point. Overleaf Lodge would be such a dreamy spot to spend the night right on the water.