15 Best Places to Visit on The Oregon Coast For First Timers

If you’re looking to visit the best places on the Oregon Coast but not really sure where to go, I’m going to help you there because I’ve done that several times already.

Not only have I crossed the entire coastline of Oregon, but I’ve also crossed the entire eastern and nearly the entire western shorelines of the United States overall. Without hesitation, out of the 1,000’s of miles of nature that I saw during the span of all my trips, the Oregon Coast stands king and this post showcasing 10 spots I’ve seen there will show why.

Here are the 15 places to visit in the Oregon Coast:

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  1. Samuel H. Boardman Park.
  2. Whaleshead Beach.
  3. Natural bridges.
  4. Secret Beach.
  5. Oregon’s Sand Dunes (dunes on a beach).
  6. Thor’s well.
  7. Florence (Sea Lions and caves)
  8. Cannon Beach.
  9. Devil’s Punchbowl.
  10. Astoria (where you can find sea lions).
  11. Cape Sebastian Scenic Corridor.
  12. The Yaquina Head Lighthouse.
  13. Jetboat tour in Gold’s Beach.
  14. Depoe Beach (whale watching).
  15. Otter Crest.

Here’s some great news about these places:

All of them are easily accessible as they are right off the 101 road, which is also known as the Oregon Coast scenic drive.

1) Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor: 

samuel h boardman scenic corrider places to see on the oregon coast 09

Location of this place on the Oregon Coast:

Samuel H Boardman Scenic Corridor is on the Southern Oregon Coast (20 miles north of Brookings). 


Samuel H Boardman Scenic Corridor is a very long park that stretches for about 40 miles that has many attractions that are easy to access (hikes, overlooks, and some of the best sights on the Oregon Coast in my opinion).

This park itself has at least 10 different spots where you can pull off the road and go exploring to the coast itself, including secret beaches, natural bridges, hiking trails and more. Samuel H. Boardman Park itself has at least 10 different and amazing locations you can explore and I could honestly fill up this whole article’s list with just the locations here (plus the drive in this park which is a top 3 Oregon scenic drive in my opinion), but this park is only a small chunk of the beauty that is the Oregon coast. But I would be re-missed if I didn’t include the next 3 locations on this list to visit that are all within this park that I honestly think you can’t afford to miss:

2) Whaleshead Beach:

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Location of this place on the Oregon Coast:

It’s one of the top places to see in Samuel H Boardman Scenic Corridor.


This is a large beach area with large cliffs in the water. Overall this place is great for sunset viewing and seeing classic Oregon Coast views. I mentioned Whaleshead Beach and how awestruck I was when I got there in this article, so I won’t say the same stuff other than you should go here if you own a all wheel drive vehicle.

This is simply a beach that has a beautiful scenic view where you can spend hours at. If I had my way, I’d stay there all night, camp out (see these top Oregon Coast campsites) and enjoy the views. Other than the rocky road that is a bit annoying to drive through, the parking lot near the beach is clean, organized and the beach is a few steps from there.

3) Natural bridges (one of the best places to visit in the Oregon coast):

the best place to see on the oregon coast natural bridges 08

Location of this place on the Oregon Coast:

Also within Samuel H Scenic Corridor, not far from Whaleshead Beach.


This is an amazing overlook of an iconic rock formation on the Oregon Coast (very famous spot on Instagram). There are also awesome hikes in the area. If you’ve been impressed by the recommendations I’ve had so far, then I can argue that Natural Bridges is going to put those other spots to shame.

I will say that in my opinion Natural Bridges is one of the best places to visit in Oregon (and that includes the coast, Eastern Oregon and more). I can’t be more anymore clear on this.

And here’s exactly how to find Natural Bridges in the Oregon Coast. And quite frankly out of all the spots in the park I saw on the 101 road here, this one ironically was the easiest to access.

You can park right outside the viewpoint of this place and if you then wish to, hike down to it (that is a tough hike, and I explain how to do it in the link above, but fair warning, it can be dangerous). This area on the Oregon Coast also has many sea caves.

4) Secret Beach (another one of the best places to visit in Oregon during low tide):

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Location of this place on the Oregon Coast:

2 minutes north of Natural Bridges (I have detailed instructions on how to find this spot in a moment as the GPS to it is often incorrect).


Secret Beach is another iconic Oregon Coast location to visit. It has sea caves, beautiful sunset views and a beach walk you can do. Ideally you should visit this place when it’s low tide. And it’s easy to reach too! Just follow these instructions to find Secret Beach.

The first time I visited the Oregon Coast, I missed it, but the second time, I made sure to get there and altogether I have been here at least 4 times. Believe me when I say, you need to come here during low tide because most of this places “secrets” are open to explore then (like sea caves) making the stuff you see here one of the best hikes on the Oregon Coast you’ll find. Considering this and Natural Bridges are so close, the next thing I want to do is kayak at both spots.

5) Oregon’s Sand Dunes (has ATV attractions):

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Location of this place on the Oregon Coast:

It’s located around the middle of the Oregon Coast.


The 101 will undoubtedly lead you across a large beach mixed in with sand dunes. I’ve been to this place once and tried to rent some ATV’s and dune buggies, but most of the places that rent them close around 5 pm so if you want to try this attraction, make sure you visit the sand dunes before then.

6) Thor’s well (this is one of the top Oregon Coast attractions to see):

places to see on the oregon coast thors well

Location of this place on the Oregon Coast:

Around the middle area of the Oregon Coast. Here is a map listing of Thor’s Well.


Thor’s Well is a popular attraction for tourists and photographers and honestly the actual well is not even that big, but the whole location around Thor’s well is well worth looking at which is a park with many other attractions, hikes and sights. 

But regarding Thor’s Well, it is located on this amazing black rock formation (not on a trail) that looks like it’s been made from lava and the entire landscape around Thor’s well is also impressive. If you want to see the “geyser” like effect of Thor’s well, visit it during low tide like I did. If you come here during high tide, you won’t be able to get close to that area (it’s too dangerous).

There are some other cool areas near Thor’s Well you can explore such as Hug Point, that features a beautiful waterfall right on the beach. Just as well, sunsets around (or any area in Oregon) are absolutely stunning and I recommend staying for those too if you go.

7) Florence sea lion caves (another very popular Oregon Coast destination):

florence oregon coast sea lion cave

Location of this place on the Oregon Coast:

North of Florence Oregon.


Florence is actually a town right by the Oregon Coast and it has it’s own beach and nature spots to see, but in this case what I’m recommending is the sea lion cave attraction that’s north of it. It’s actually easy to spot as you’re on the 101 road as you will see a pull off with signs for it. This is a paid attraction and you will go down in an elevator to see the sea lions.

8) Cannon Beach:

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Location on the Oregon Coast:

Northern section of the coast.


Cannon Beach is considered by many people to be one of the best places in the Oregon Coast (to me, it’s in the top 3). In terms of why, there’s many reasons:

  • There’s many gigantic mountains in the ocean and throughout the beach there.
  • There’s an amazing town right on the beach too with hiking trails nearby.
  • Generally speaking, Cannon Beach is one of the most photographed places on the Oregon Coast.

Having been there myself, I can say that this place is really amazing in many ways. As an east coast native, when I first came here, I was floored by this place because I was just not used to seeing anything like in the eastern states, not even on the Maine Coast.

9) Devils Punchbowl:

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Location on the Oregon Coast:

By the town of Otter Rock.


A good way to describe what this place looks like is to imagine a meteor lands on land, makes a huge hole in it and then within that hole you can enter and see the ocean waves come in. That’s basically what Devils Punchbowl is and it’s amazing. It’s viewable from the top area 24-7, but if you want to go inside it, you can only do that during low tide.

Note: California’s coast also has a similar spot (also called Devils Punchbowl) and it’s located at a place called Russian Gulch. So if you decide to travel through the entire Pacific Coast Highway, mark that spot down as well as this one in Oregon.

10) Astoria, Oregon (The town where the Goonies were filmed):

astoria on the oregon coast

Location of this place on the Oregon Coast:

Northern end of the Oregon Coast (right by the Washington Coast).


One of my favorite childhood movies was the Goonies and if you’ve ever seen that movie and wondered where it was filmed, the answer is Astoria, Oregon. This was the last location on my trip that I took before I took the bridge into Washington State, but here I was able to see seals in large numbers and I really enjoyed that experience, so if you want to see seals more along the Oregon Coast, Astoria is where I’d find them.

11) Cape Sebastian Scenic Corridor:

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Location on the Oregon Coast:

North of Samuel H Boardman Scenic Corridor.


Cape Sebastian is an amazing yet easy spot to miss on the Oregon Coast because the turn into it is so small. However after discovering it and actually going there, I was amazed at how beautiful this place was. There are a lot of things to see here including:

  1. A beautiful overlook of the Oregon Coast.
  2. An awesome hike called the Cape Sebastian Trail.
  3. A really awesome beach you can hike to.
  4. You can see amazing sunsets here.
  5. And more.

12) The Yaquina Head Lighthouse:

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Location on the Oregon Coast:

Right by the town of Agate Beach.


Another must do activity on your first trip through the Oregon Coast in my opinion should be to see Yaquina Head Lighthouse and it isn’t only because it’s one of the best lighthouses on the Oregon Coast, but also because this is one of the most popular and scenic activities to do in this area (lighthouse hopping basically). 

For what it’s worth every major coastal state in the US has amazing lighthouses and I have more and more articles coming out sharing where to find them in everyone. Besides Oregon, I do also have one on the best lighthouses to see in Maine too (Washington, Michigan and many more states will be up soon).

13) Jetboat tours (one of the best Oregon Coast attractions):

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Location on the Oregon Coast:

There are several jetboat tours but the most popular is Jerry’s Rogue Jets


Jetboat tours are also very popular to do on the Oregon Coast and in this particular case, the type of tour you will be doing is a 50-100 mile boat ride that starts from the Oregon Coast (near Gold’s Beach) and takes you up the Rogue River. This will give you awesome views of the inland mountains of Oregon and there are parts of the tour where you explore the Oregon Coast too.

14) Depoe Bay (best place for whale watching):

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Location on the Oregon Coast:

Technically you can see whales in many parts of the Oregon Coast, but the best way to do it is via a boat tour and there are several of them in Depoe Bay Oregon.


Whale watching is another awesome way to explore the Oregon Coast and in this case, you will take a tour boat out into the Pacific Ocean to do this. Whale sightings in Oregon are seasonal though and it’s usually after June through early December when you can see them. Depoe Bay in this case is the most well known spot for this attraction and I have created a list of the best places to do whale watching on the Oregon coast, where there are 3 places specifically in Depoe Bay that have them.

15) Otter Crest:

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Location on the Oregon Coast:

The full name for this place is Otter Crest State scenic viewpoint and it’s located 5 minutes north of Devil’s Punchbowl or Otter Rock Oregon.


This place is a small, yet beautiful park that overlooks one of the most beautiful parts of the Oregon Coast. From it you can hike up to the top of the area to see the famous overlook there, or hike down to the beach area if you want to swim. There are also incredible sunsets in this specific park as well.

More questions about the best places to visit in Oregon along the coast:

Which part of Oregon Coast is the best?

In my opinion the Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor has the best compilation of spots to see on the Oregon Coast.

What is the nicest coastal town in Oregon?

Cannon Beach city as it has a great combination of beaches, views and village areas to explore.

What is the Oregon Coast famous for?

For the most part it’s beauty. There are over 400 miles of coastal road that contain beautiful parks, beaches, sea cliffs, great sunset spots, sea caves and much more.

What is the best month to visit the Oregon Coast?

The best time to visit the Oregon Coast is in March because the weather is pretty cool, there are far less crowds on the coastal drives and you can also see the beginning of spring rise up.

What else is there to see near the Oregon Coast? More recommendations:

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If these 11 places weren’t enough for you, then you may also want to see these other spots:

1) If you’re headed south of Oregon in general, you’ll obviously hit California and from there, you can see a number of awesome spots in the Pacific Coast highway, but specifically:

The Redwoods and Glass Beach California among other spots like Big Sur. In fact, it’s coastal area is also very beautiful, like Oregon, but is it better? You tell me: Here is a comparison of the California coast vs Oregon Coast.

Also, if you’re looking for great hiking trails in northern California’s coast, click here.

2) And of course, if you’re visiting Oregon, you should also check deeper into the state (not just the coast) and check out places like Columbia River Gorge.

3) To the north is Washington State and you should probably check out the Washington Coast too, as there are plenty of spots to see there too, some of which compare well to the beauty of Oregon’s coast too.

I’ve also compared the Oregon coast vs Washington coast here if you want to know which places to check out in each area. Olympic National Park is also very beautiful if you know where to go.

4) And if you’re willing to go even further than Washington State, there is also the very beautiful Vancouver Island I recommend seeing.

5) See this list of the best Oregon State Parks for amazing spots on the coast (and inland).

6) Aside from the coast, I would also take time to see these best places in Eastern Oregon too. It is a completely different terrain but just as beautiful!

7) In an unrelated topic, I would also recommend other coastal areas to explore (other than ones I’ve mentioned already in other states) and specifically I will say that the North Shore Minnesota Coast is almost as amazing as the Oregon Coast.

As for the Oregon Coast, if you have your own personal list of places to see, please let me know!

About the Nature Seeker author:

Hi my name's Vitaliy. I love nature travel and this blog encapsulates all of my adventures and top recommendations of what to see (and what to avoid).

12 thoughts on “15 Best Places to Visit on The Oregon Coast For First Timers”

  1. Love the Oregon coast! Drove it’s entire length as well. I did not explore as much as you but I will save this article and hopefully I’ll have the opportunity to return and see more.

  2. Great suggestions Vitaliy! If you ever return to the Oregon coast, I encourage you to visit the follow epic spots that will leave you in awe;

    1. The Devil’s Cauldron inside Oswald West State Park
    2. Cape Perpetua Overlook in Yachats
    3. Cape Kiwanda in Pacific City

    When you have a chance, check out my instagram to see some of my pics from my recent Oregon coast trip and let me know what you think! IG: Nando928

    • Really appreciate you sharing these spots Nando! I have never heard of them, but since I will be revisiting the Oregon Coast again, I’ll be sure to add them! I also added on you Instagram as well.

  3. I’m researching Oregon and Washington coastal areas to move to (and eventually retire to) sometime in the next 3-5 years. I came across your blog in my research.

    What you shared makes me sure the Oregon coast is the perfect place to settle! Now it’s just deciding where. Thank you for such a wonderful post!

    • Hi Jennifer thanks! I would agree on the Oregon or Washington areas to settle, and I hope within the next 3 years or so things will calm down in those regions.

  4. A visit to all these 10 places would be a dream come true, but for a small budget, I would rather visit some fabulous places like the Thor’s well. I am a lover of historic places, even if they are man made. 

    Of the Oregon coast wonders I have had the opportunity of seeing devils punch bowl and it was such a awesome sight. 

    • I wish I was able to see Devil’s Punchbowl in the daytime like you probably did, but i have to say with regards to the 10 spots listed here, you CAN check them out on a budget. Just rent a car, head along the coast during the off season and the prices for hotels during that period (February was pretty good for prices) will be pretty cheap.

  5. My wife and I are going to be doing retirement soon and we are looking for ideas on travel that we can take our underused trailer on.

    This is something we have talked about wanting to do for a few years now. Up until now, our trailer adventures have been limited to the North West corner of Washington State for a couple of weeks at a time so you can understand why we would like to expand our horizons.

    These places sound amazing and the pictures, although very nice, probably don’t compare to the real thing and being in the great outdoors is something that has always been appealing to us.

    Friends of ours have been to Cannon Beach often and really like it there. It will definitely be on our list when we go.

    I was wondering if you knew whether or not there were any places one could camp for free in this area?  We have a limited budget so we are looking for ways to save, you know?

    Thanks again for this timely post.

    All the best as you travel,


    • Hi Wayne, I am certain you will find plenty of areas where you can park and camp all throughout highway 101, which will take you through all the areas I listed here. As I drove up the coast, I saw a lot of empty spots (it was off season) and at times there was one trailer or so. I doubt these people reserved a spot but I would call up the area you are going to before hand and ask them. 

      For example, when you enter an official park, find the park on Google maps, and you will be given a number for the ranger station. Ask them these same things and they will be able to provide a better answer.

  6. I once did a road trip from San Francisco to San Diego and the coast there is supposed to be amazing, it is very well known for it. However, the Oregon coast sounds better and prettier. I just added it to my bucket list. I want to see all of the places you’ve mentioned but on the top of the list is probably Thor’s Well. That just looks and sounds unreal!

    Thanks for the recommendation 🙂

    • Hi Hollie, I briefly stopped at San Francisco and then headed up the coast to Fort Bragg, before hitting up Oregon the next day. Trust me, California itself has plenty of beautiful coastal spots to see there too, but if you’re tight on time and really into nature, Oregon is where I recommend you spend most of your time. Thor’s Well is awesome, but do not neglect the beauty of Samuel H. Boarderman park, they have even more spectacular places there!


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