Oregon is one of our favourite states to visit because of its natural beauty and diversity. There are endless things to do along highway 101 and we can’t wait to show you around. In this blog post, we will cover all of the best outdoorsy stops for an epic Oregon coast road trip!
The Oregon Coast is home to picturesque beaches, a rugged coastline, and too many scenic viewpoints to count. Highway 101, which spans the entire state from north to south, is known for being one of North America’s most beautiful road trips.
Perfect for solo travel, families, couples, and any level of outdoor enthusiasts, this section of Oregon truly has something for everyone. It is easy to travel, affordable, and safe. Plus, the locals are wonderful and it is super van-life/camper friendly!
Without further ado, let’s get into the good stuff. Here is the ultimate Oregon Coast road trip itinerary for adventure lovers!
- Oregon Coast Road Trip Interactive Map
- Wreck of the Peter Iredale
- Cannon Beach
- Hug Point
- Neahkahnie Mountain Trail Viewpoint
- Nehalem Bay State Park
- Tillamook Creamery
- Cape Lookout State Park
- Cape Kiwanda
- Devil's Punchbowl
- Cape Perpetua
- Sand Master Park
- Sunset Bay Campground
- Secret Black Sand Beach
- Cape Sebastian State Scenic Corridor
- Meyers Creek Beach Viewpoint & South Pullout
- Pistol River Scenic Viewpoint
- Secret Beach
- Natural Bridges
- Harris Beach State Park
Oregon Coast Road Trip Interactive Map
Wreck of the Peter Iredale
The Wreck of the Peter Iredale is located in Fort Stevens State Park on the northwest tip of Oregon. Situated right along the beach, this rusted steel skeleton of a ship is a unique photo op, especially at sunset.
There is a decent-sized parking lot located near the wreck at the end of Peter Iredale Road. If you have extra time, walk the beach in either direction once you’ve finished admiring the shipwreck.
Cannon Beach will forever hold a special place in our hearts and we cannot recommend it enough! On our first Oregon Coast road trip about 8 years ago, we fell in love with this charming little town. We even talked about moving here one day.
Home to the famous landmark, Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach is absolutely serene. Sunset is our favourite time to visit but it’s beautiful any time of day. While you’re here, you can hike, surf, bike, lay on the beach or explore the local shops and restaurants.
If you’d like to stay the night, check out Wrights for Camping family-run campground. It’s only 5 minutes from the beach! There are also tons of boutique hotels and cute B&Bs to choose from.
Hug Point must be visited at low tide to be fully explored, but it is very much worth the trip. The beach itself is large and scenic boasting a ton of space to spread out and enjoy. Once you reach the water, go right. From there you’ll find sea caves, a small waterfall, and the old wagon road that Hug Point is named after.
In the 19th century, the only way to travel along this stretch of coastline was via the beach. The pioneers and their stagecoaches had to wait for low tide and “hug the rocks” on this wagon road in order to get around the point safely.
Neahkahnie Mountain Trail Viewpoint
The hike to this beautiful viewpoint can be done as a loop or an out-and-back from the trailhead. At the top, you are rewarded with incredible views of Nehalem Bay and the Pacific Ocean. In total, the loop trail is 4 kilometres with 270 m of elevation gain.
Nehalem Bay State Park
Nehalem Bay State Park is located on the Nehalem Spit, a sand spit west of Nehalem Bay. This peaceful little slice of paradise is home to a great campground, a stunning beach, and a number of small sand dunes to explore. We camped here on our first Oregon Coast road trip and enjoyed a peaceful fire on the beach.
Tillamook Creamery is an amazing dairy factory situated on Highway 101. They promote local farmers and products without growth hormones or artificial sweeteners. Take a tour, try some samples and make sure to stop for a treat on your way out. It was the best ice cream we had on our entire trip!
TIP: Tillamook cheese and ice cream is now sold at many grocery stores across the western states. Hoorah!
Cape Lookout State Park
Cape Lookout State Park is a popular campground and day-use area. Located on a sand spit between Netarts Bay and the ocean, this scenic park is perfect for hiking, beach combing, and exploring the Three Cape Scenic Route. This is a 1-hour and 45-minute loop drive that connects Cape Kiwanda, Cape Lookout, and Cape Meares.
Some great hiking options in the area include Cape Trail, North and South Oregon Coast Trail, or the Cape Lookout State Park Nature Trail.
This sandstone headland is famous for being one of the best places on the coast to witness the ocean’s power. We would highly recommend doing the 1.6-kilometre hike that begins from the beach.
After taking a right at the water and climbing up the sand dune trail, the short loop is relatively flat. It boasts rocky arches, unique sandstone cliffs, colourful pathways, and stunning views out over the ocean.
Devil’s Punchbowl is thought to be created by the collapse of the roof over two sea caves along the coast. During high tide, the ocean pours into Devil’s Punchbowl causing powerful waves to crash in all directions. At low tide, however, hikers are able to explore the cave.
IMPORTANT: It is recommended to only enter the cave if there is a negative number for the low tide. This is to protect visitors from rogue waves. If you have time, check out the tide pools on the north side of the punchbowl.
Cape Perpetua is a protected scenic area in the Siuslaw National Forest. Some of our favourite places to visit include Captain Cook Point, The Cape Perpetua Lookout, and Thor’s Well. Thor’s Well is most spectacular at high tide when you can observe the waves filling it. If you are visiting at low tide, check out the tide pools!
Sand Master Park
If you’re up for an adventure, try visiting the world’s first sandboarding park in Florence, Oregon. Sand Master is a fantastic place to get in a few hours of activity while enjoying the unique sand dunes in this area. You can rent a board at the shop for $18 per day (2023) or get a lesson for $50 USD per hour.
Sunset Bay Campground
1 hour south of Sand Master you will find one of our favourite campgrounds of this entire Oregon Coast road trip. Sunset Bay Campground is beautiful, affordable, and gives you access to Sunset Bay State Park, Cape Arago State Park and Shore Acres State Park.
You could easily spend a few days here exploring the hiking trails, rugged cliffs, landscaped gardens, Cape Arago Lighthouse, and many beautiful beaches. This was the cheapest campsite of our trip and well worth the stop.
At first, Bandon was just somewhere we stopped to wait out some bad weather. After spending a few days here, however, we quickly fell in love with this charming little town. There is a great boardwalk with tons of restaurants, art galleries and shops lining the surrounding streets.
All of the locals were incredibly friendly and the candy shops blew us away. Make sure to check out Bandon Sweets & Treats, Bandon Baking Co & Deli, and Stillwagon Distillery.
Secret Black Sand Beach
Did you know that Oregon has a jaw-dropping black sand beach that is completely unheard of? We can’t even find a name for it, but you can find the coordinates HERE. After spotting this beach from the road, we decided to hike to it and are so happy we did.
There is a small area to park your vehicle on the right-hand side of the highway just after the bend. From here, it took about 10 minutes to get down to the beach. This walk is through tall grass and down beside a river, so wear runners or hiking boots.
Once you arrive, you will likely have this beautiful place all to yourself. Try not to visit at high tide as you may not have much beach to explore.
Cape Sebastian State Scenic Corridor
This cape is most well known for the panoramic view it offers over the ocean and the rugged Oregon coastline. The best way to experience it, in our opinion, is to hike the Cape Sebastian Trail.
This 5.3 kilometre out and back trail gains 243 metres of elevation. There are no signs at the trailhead, so you may want to bring a map. The trail is fairly well-worn but can get muddy. There are some downed trees along the path and the last part down to the beach is a steep slide. Don’t worry, though, the views more than make up for it!
Meyers Creek Beach Viewpoint & South Pullout
These two pull-offs are very close to one another and both offer fantastic views out over the water. This stretch of your Oregon Coast road trip is one of the most scenic with Highway 101 winding through beaches, massive rock formations, and lush forest.
We spent some time at each of these pullouts exploring the beach and taking photos. If you are travelling in a campervan, this is a perfect place to cook dinner.
Pistol River Scenic Viewpoint
Pistol River State Park combines sand dunes, a stunning river, and a beach for a one-of-a-kind experience. Located just off Highway 101, this viewpoint is a great place for birdwatching, sunset views, walks along the beach, and even windsurfing. Ocean windsurfing is so good here it has actually been the location for several national championships.
Secret Beach is hands down one of the most spectacular stops on this Oregon Coast road trip itinerary! The short hike down to the white sand beach is completely worth the effort and weeds out the crowds a little bit. In total, it is 2.6 kilometres with 114 m of elevation gain.
We arrived at low(ish) tide and were able to walk along the beach and through a neat little “rock doorway” until we found our own little slice of paradise. Here, we set out the towel, enjoyed some drinks and played on the beach with our dog, Bailey. We did not see another soul for over an hour!
Natural Bridges are marvellous ocean arch rocks that tower over the rippling sea below. Located just off the shore on the Oregon Coast, this is a must-stop on your road trip.
The Natural Bridges Viewpoint Trail is a very short ( around 1 kilometre) and easy walk to a wooden boardwalk with a great view of the bridges. If you go past this and keep an eye out for a grown-over trail on your right, you can walk right down to the bridges.
CAUTION: This area contains steep drop-offs and can be very dangerous if you are not an experienced hiker. It is not suitable for kids, pets, or people afraid of heights.
Harris Beach State Park
You’ve finally made it to the last stop on this Oregon Coast road trip! Harris Beach boasts kilometres of sandy beaches, several hiking trails, as well as a great campground. From the day-use area, you can explore tide pools, climb along rocky outjets, and enjoy views of sea stacks and huge rock formations lining the coast.