With foggy beaches, iconic sea stacks, lush forests, and plenty of tiny seaside hamlets dotting the coast, the northern Oregon Coast is an outdoor adventure lover’s dream. Keep reading for 27 of the best things to do along the northern Oregon Coast! 

About the Northern Oregon coast

Stretching from Astoria to Florence, the northern Oregon Coast is one of the most unique tourist destinations in the entire United States, with wide sandy beaches, massive sea stacks, beautiful lighthouses, world-class seafood, miles of hiking trails, and tons of other outdoor activities.

In the spring of 2023, we lived along the Oregon Coast for two months and explored as much of the area as possible. We road-tripped from north to south, hiked every trail possible, stopped at countless viewpoints, explored each seaside town, and had more than our fill of fish and chips.

The rocky coastline, powerful tides, towering cliffs, and moss-covered forests found throughout the Northern Oregon Coast totally captured our hearts!

Because there are so many things to do along the entirety of the Oregon Coast, we’ve split up our favorite things to do along the coast into two articles. This article focuses specifically on the northern section of the Oregon Coast, starting in Florence and ending in Astoria, Oregon. 

If you want to read more about things to do on the Southern Oregon Coast, check out the article below.

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9 Best Hikes Near Florence, Oregon

Hiking in Florence, Oregon features a diverse assortment of landscapes, like enchanted forests, massive seaside cliffs and wide sandy beaches.

27 Best things to do on the northern Oregon coast

This list is ordered by town starting in the center of the coast and heading north.

  1. Visit the Heceta Head Lighthouse
  2. Stroll through Old Town Florence
  3. Hike the Hobbit Trail
  4. Hike at Cape Perpetua Scenic Area
  5. See the amazing Thor’s Well & Spouting Horn
  6. Eat Fish & Chips at Luna Sea
  7. Explore Seal Rock
  8. Get fresh seafood at South beach fish markeT
  9. Enjoy Craft Beer at Rogue
  10. Go whale watching
  11. Explore Devil’s Punchbowl
  12. Grab a beer and bite at the horn
  13. Hike God’s Thumb
  14. Explore the Three Capes Scenic Route
  15. Visit Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area
  16. Grab a beer at Pelican Brewing Company
  17. Hike to Tunnel Beach
  18. Hike to Short Beach
  19. Cape Meares Lighthouse & the Octopus Tree 
  20. See the famous Haystack Rock
  21. Hike Hug Point
  22. Hike to Indian Beach in Ecola State Park 
  23. Enjoy a beer in downtown Astoria
  24. Visit the Lewis and Clark National Historic Park
  25. Explore Fort Stevens State Park 

Map of the Best things to do on the northern oregon coast

The map below displays the location of each of the best things to do on the northern Oregon Coast that we’ll cover in this article.

  • To view more details about each location, click on the marker on the map.
  • To save this map for future use, click the star next to the title. From your phone, open the Google Maps app and click the “saved” tab, followed by the “Maps” icon. From your Gmail account, navigate to Maps –> “Saved” –> “My Maps” –> “Maps” tab.
  • To email this map to yourself, click the three dots in the upper right corner.


Florence, Oregon is located right in the middle of the Oregon Coast and is the most northern town on our list. It’s home to a quaint downtown area and is located right along the Siuslaw River.

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where to stay in florence

Located right on the Siuslaw River with views of the Oregon dunes and nice, clean rooms

Located a few minutes outside Florence, this cute little bungalow is walking distance to Heceta Beach

Perched on a hill overlooking Florence in a quiet location but still a short walk to Old Town

1. Visit the Heceta Head Lighthouse

Make the Heceta Head Lighthouse the first stop on your northern Oregon Coast road trip!

Located just a few minutes north of Florence, no trip to the northern Oregon Coast is complete without a visit to the Heceta Head Lighthouse. One of the tallest and most picturesque lighthouses in Oregon, the Heceta Head Lighthouse is an iconic landmark along Highway 101. 

To get up close to the lighthouse, you will need to hike about a one mile round trip, with 130 feet of elevation gain. You can also continue a short distance along the Heceta Head Trail past the lighthouse for an amazing view looking down over the lighthouse and out at the foggy coastline below.

To capture the lighthouse from farther away, where you can see all of its majesty perched high above the powerful ocean, there is a pullout along Highway 101 just south of the lighthouse. 

2. Stroll through Old Town Florence

The adorable Old Town of Florence from across the Siuslaw River

Florence is home to perhaps the cutest downtown area of any town along the northern Oregon Coast. Bookended by the Port of Siuslaw Marina and the Siuslaw River Bridge, Old Town Florence is home to cute stores, tasty restaurants serving fresh local seafood, coffee shops, and bars.

If you’re looking for a place to grab a bite to eat, do some shopping for souvenirs, or enjoy a cold beer, Old Town Florence is a great option. 

In particular, we highly recommend Novelli’s Crab and Seafood, which floats in the water in the marina and serves our favorite crab chowder obn the Oregon Coast. 

3. Hike the Hobbit Trail to a secluded beach

Hiking the Hobbit Trail is one of the best things to do on the southern Oregon Coast!on

Located just north of the Heceta Head Lighthouse, the Hobbit Trail is one of our favorite short hikes along the northern Oregon Coast because it features two of Oregon’s most prominent landscapes: lush green forests and rocky shorelines!

This 1-mile round trip hike winds downhill through an enchanted, mossy forest before emerging at the secluded Hobbit Beach.

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Just 25 miles north on Highway 101 from Florence, you’ll find the tiny town of Yachats (pronounced ya-hats), which is probably our favorite town along the entire northern Oregon Coast. Of course, we’re probably a bit biased but we visited Yachats a few times during our residence on the Oregon Coast and always had a wonderful time exploring the area.

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where to stay in Yachats

What’s not to love about the cozy living room with A-frame style wall of windows facing the sea?!

A clean motel with views overlooking the rocky coast and turbulent waters Yachats is famous for.

Part of the Siuslaw National Forest, this campground is located right on the beach and just outside of Yachats

4. Hike at Cape Perpetua Scenic Area

Cape Perpetua Overlook is one of the most stunning views on the Oregon Coast

The Cape Perpetua Scenic Area is located just outside of Yachats and is home to the Cape Perpetua Overlook, one of our favorite viewpoints along the northern Oregon Coast.

The viewpoint is easily accessible via a steep and windy road. Alternatively, you can take a short but very steep hike up to the viewpoint to escape the crowds and stretch your legs.

5. See the amazing Thor’s Well & the Spouting Horn

Thor’s Well and the Spouting Horn are two of the most unique sights on the northern Oregon Coast!

As frightening as it is beautiful, Thor’s Well is a giant hole in the volcanic rock that lines the Oregon Coast where water bulges out and then seems to disappear underground. This area of the coast is particularly turbulent, and churning swirls of salty white water bubble in and out of the seemingly bottomless pit. 

Located just next to Thor’s Well is another notable geological feature known as the Spouting Horn, a blowhole that resembles that of a geyser in Yellowstone when it “erupts”.  

Both unique features are easily accessible via a short walk from the Thor’s Well parking area.

6. Eat Fish & Chips at Luna Sea

The Fish & Chips at Luna Sea in Yachats was our favorite on the northern Oregon Coast

Outside of these natural attractions, after extensive research, we have come to the conclusion that the best fish and chips on the northern Oregon Coast can be found at Luna Sea Fish House, right in the heart of Yachats!

Fresh, flaky fish that is beer-battered and fried to crispy perfection, trust us, if you are in Yachats, you have to stop at Luna Sea!


The wooden Bay Street pier in downtown Newport on the Oregon Coast
Walking the Bay Street Pier in downtown Newport

On the topic of seafood, there is no better town along the entire northern Oregon Coast for all types of fresh seafood than Newport, Oregon. 

Of course, you can find delectable seafood anywhere along the northern Oregon Coast, but in Newport, the seafood seems to be the main attraction. Having long been a hub for fishermen and seafood processing, you can see and smell each day’s catch as you walk along the main promenade in downtown Newport.

where to stay in Newport

A stylish oceanfront resort with views from every room at reasonably priced rates

A huge oceanfront beach house split into private suites that sleep 2-3 with a shared terrace and outdoor fireplace

Oceanfront and spacious condos that sleep 2-6 with full kitchens and lovely views

7. Explore Seal Rock

Seal Rock is a small recreation area with stunning sea stacks and coastal views

Located just 20 minutes north of Yachats and 15 minutes south of Newport is a beautiful area known as Seal Rock. Technically Seal Rock refers to both the tiny little coastal town here, as well as a state park recreation site featuring a huge off-shore rock formation surrounded by smaller sea stacks and tide pools.

Seal Rock itself was supposedly once home to a large population of seals, but today the marine mammals in the area are few and far between. Nonetheless, the bright teal waters and unique assortment of rock formations found at Seal Rock are quite scenic and definitely worth a visit on the northern Oregon coast.

Despite its natural beauty, Seal Rock remains a fairly quiet area off the beaten path of most Oregon coast road trippers, making it a nice spot to visit if you want to escape the bustling crowds.

8. Get fresh seafood at South beach fish markeT

You can’t beat fresh seafood at South Beach Fish Market!

South Beach Fish Market, located just outside of Newport, is an old-school fish market, hawking an impressive selection of fresh fish, clams, oysters, and crabs.

They also offer a smaller menu of cooked items in their restaurant, which is best known for their smoked salmon candy (it’s way better than it sounds!).

9. Enjoy Craft Beer at Rogue

Make sure to stop by Rogue Spirits and Ales for a craft beer before you head on to your next destination! They’ve got an assortment of tasty brews and a nice tap house located right in the harbor at Yaquina Bay.

Depoe bay

Continuing up Highway 101, you’ll soon pass through the quaint town of Depoe Bay, Oregon, home to the affectionately classified, “world’s smallest harbor.

Despite being one of the smaller towns along the northern Oregon Coast, Depoe Bay is definitely one of the our favorites – with a quaint downtown stretch lined with local vendors selling popcorn, salt water taffy, and of course, seafood.

where to stay in Depoe Bay

Away from the hustle and bustle with cute little cottages perched on the cliffside

A modern, minimalist eco-lodge featuring rooms with harbor views (and pet-friendly!)

A lovely state park campground with direct beach access about 10 minutes from Depoe Bay

10. Go whale watching

Depoe Bay is the best spot to go whale watching on the northern Oregon Coast!

Depoe Bay is known as being one of the best areas for whale watching along the northern Oregon Coast. Several local companies offer full day whale watching tours from Depoe Bay, including Dockside Harbors and Whale’s Tail Charters.

The Whale Watching Center is also located in Depoe Bay, featuring a huge viewing deck with binoculars to help you spot whales. We didn’t manage to see any whales here, but we did see one a little further north on the coast!

11. Explore Devil’s Punchbowl

View from inside the Devil’s Punchbowl on the northern Oregon Coast

Depoe Bay is also home to the Devil’s Punch Bowl, yet another unique rock formation along the northern Oregon Coast. As you can imagine, the Devil’s Punch Bowl resembles a massive bowl that is hollowed out in the middle.

During low tide, you can climb into the “bowl” via the neighboring beach to experience the spectacle from below.

12. Grab a beer and bite at the horn

And finally, if you’re looking for a good bite to eat and cold beer, we recommend stopping at The Horn Public House and Brewery. Located right on the water, it was one of our favorite meals on the northern Oregon Coast!

Lincoln City

While the town of Lincoln City itself is nothing too special, the hike to God’s Thumb, located just north of town, is easily our favorite hike along the northern Oregon Coast!

where to stay in Lincoln City

A beautiful wood-shingled inn located right on the beach with ocean view balconies

A more budget-friendly motel without sacrificing on prime beachfront location and views

A nice and spacious beach house that sleeps up to 6 in Lincoln City

13. Hike God’s Thumb

God’s Thumb near Lincoln City is one of the best hikes on the Oregon Coast

This moderately difficult, 4.3 miles hike culminates with one of the most unique viewpoints along the northern Oregon Coast. God’s Thumb is an aptly named outcropping of rocks that stands high above the crashing waves below, providing a magnificent vantage point over the surrounding area.

Make sure to stop at the Knoll on the way back to the trailhead for one last view over Lincoln City and Wecoma Beach. If you are looking for one hike to do along the northern Oregon Coast, God’s Thumb would be our recommendation! 

Note | AllTrails says this hike is closed but based on the reviews, it seems like it is open.

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Pacific City

Continuing north along the northern Oregon Coast, you’ll soon reach Pacific City, another small, coastal hamlet, with laid-back beach town vibes, shingled cottages, and sand strewn streets. 

where to stay in Pacific City

Located inside Cape Kiwanda State Park, the ocean views and prime location make this a top-notch hotel

Clean, updated motel of sorts with stylish rooms, including some with full kitchens

A modern, stylish hotel featuring balconies with stunning views of Cape Kiwanda and Chief Kiwanda Rock

14. Explore the Three Capes Scenic Route

The Three Capes Scenic Loop is one of the most beautiful stretches of the northern Oregon Coast!

Pacific City sits just south of the Three Capes Scenic Route, a 40 mile stretch of coastal highway that includes magnificent views as it connects three separate capes – Cape Meares, Cape Lookout, and Cape Kiwanda. Explore the iconic lighthouse and octopus tree at Cape Meares or stretch your legs with a hike at Cape Lookout.

The Three Capes Scenic Loop is definitely one of the most picturesque stretches along the northern Oregon Coast and should not be missed! 

15. Visit Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area

The Chief at Cape Kiwanda

The Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area is the southernmost point along the Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area and is located just a few hundred meters north of Pacific City. Enjoy sweeping views of the Chief Rock, a massive sea stack that is larger than the more popular Haystack Rock, from Cape Kiwanda.

The climb up the massive sand dune is short but steep and the views of Chief Kiwanda and the crashing ocean are certainly worth the effort. 

16. Grab a beer at Pelican Brewing Company

With five locations along the Oregon Coast, Pelican Brewing Company has become the face of the beer scene in the area. Their location in Pacific City is located right on the beach and includes direct views of Chief Kiwanda. Make sure you get a table outside on the patio if you can! 


The town of Oceanside, Oregon perched up on the cliffside.

Cute, little Oceanside, Oregon with its houses perched high up on the hills like a northern Oregon version of Cinque Terre in Italy, was probably the biggest surprise during all of our travels along the Oregon Coast.

We didn’t have many expectations for this tiny town but quickly fell in love with its unique charm and authentic atmosphere.

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where to stay in Oceanside

Featuring well-appointed king rooms with huge ocean-view windows in a prime location.

Located right on the beach, you cannot beat the location of these super cute, rustic cabins in Oceanside.

This stunning oceanfront condo sleeps 6 and features a huge deck right over the beach with sea stack views

17. Hike to Tunnel Beach

Hike through a tunnel to a secluded beach in Oceanside!

Hike is a bit of a loose term here, as the journey to Tunnel Beach is really only a few hundred meters, but it’s a fun journey nonetheless. Tunnel Beach is a hidden stretch of the coast that can only be accessed via a man-made tunnel that cuts through the towering cliff just to the north of Oceanside.

Make sure you have the flashlight on your phone ready to go and watch your step as you slowly make your way through the 90 foot tunnel. Once you’re on the other side, you’ll be treated to a hidden world of tide pools, crustaceans, anemones, and views of the Three Arches National Wildlife Refuge. 

Just off the coast of Tunnel Beach sits the Three Arches National Wildlife Refuge. Designated as a national wildlife refuge in 1907 by Teddy Roosevelt, Three Arches National Wildlife Refuge is the smallest designated wilderness in the entire United States. Three Arches is a breeding area for many different types of seabirds, including puffins and it’s the only pupping area along the northern coast of Oregon for Steller Sea Lions.

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18. Hike to Short Beach

Short Beach is a fun hike between Oceanside and Cape Meares

Nestled between Oceanside to the south and Cape Meares to the north, Short Beach is a half-mile stretch of northern Oregon coast paradise, with two waterfalls (one man-made), sea stacks, tide pools, and plenty of sea life. 

Just a short, 5-minute drive north of Oceanside, you can access the trail to Short Beach, although you might drive right past the discreet access point if you aren’t paying attention!

Parking is limited and the once-overlooked Short Beach is becoming more popular. Also, to access Short Beach, you will need to descend a series of stairs that are steep and a bit slick. Make sure to have proper footwear. 

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19. cape Meares Lighthouse & the Octopus Tree 

Walkway leading down to the Cape Meares Lighthouse

Continuing north on the Oregon Coast from Short Beach, you’ll soon reach Cape Meares Scenic Viewpoint, home to the picturesque Cape Meares Lighthouse. With sweeping ocean views from high above the cliffs, you don’t want to miss seeing the Cape Meares Lighthouse.

Clocking in at just 38 feet tall, the Cape Meares Lighthouse is the shortest lighthouse on the entire Oregon coast. However, its location perched high on the cliffs of Cape Meares, some 200 feet above the ocean below, make it one of the prettiest lighthouses we saw in Oregon. Even more impressive is that the lighthouse has been in operation since 1890!

The paved path down to the lighthouse is just 0.2 mile and features epic views on both sides.


One of the larger and more popular towns along the northern Oregon Coast, frankly Tillamook was not one of our favorite stops along the northern Oregon Coast. That being said, if you’re driving through the Tillamook Creamery is worth a pit stop, especially if you have kiddos.

20. Taste cheese at Tillamook Creamery

The flagship location and processing hub of all Tillamook Brand dairy products is located in Tillamook, Oregon. You can take a self-guided tour or book a private tour if you’re interested. There is also a restaurant serving burgers, pizza, ice cream, and other cheesy products.

We found the Creamery to be a bit over-crowded and touristy but it’s still worth a quick stop and kids would find the self-guided tour especially interesting. And who doesn’t love some ice cream!?


Just a few miles up the northern Oregon Coast, you’ll soon find the quiet, unpretentious town of Nehalem, nestled on the shore of Nehalem Bay. While it might not seem like much, there are a few stops we’d recommend in Nehalem.

21. Go crabbing at Kelly’s Brighton Marina

Located just south of Nehalem, Kelly’s Brighton Marina is a one-stop shop for all of your seafood needs. Selling freshly caught Oregon coast classics like crab, oysters, and clams on picnic tables right along the Nehalem River, it’s hard to beat the food at Kelly’s.

However, if you’re feeling like something even fresher, you can also rent your own crab nets or boat and try your hand at catching your own dinner! We had a ton of fun sitting out on the dock, enjoying a few beers, and catching crabs.

Luckily, we were able to catch a crab for ourselves and brought it up to the restaurant to be cooked right there. From the ocean to our plates in just a few minutes! 

Cannon Beach

Cannon Beach is the most popular town along the entire northern Oregon Coast and for good reason. Home to a cute downtown stretch, wide sandy beaches, fun hiking trails, and of course, the towering Haystack Rock, there is no mystery why Cannon Beach is the most popular area along the northern Oregon Coast. 

where to stay in Cannon Beach

Wake up to views of the iconic Haystack Rock right from your balcony as this lovely oceanfront hotel

An inn with buildings that resemble beach houses and spacious rooms with kitchenettes

You can’t beat the wide window view from this beachfront inn in Downtown Cannon Beach

22. See the famous Haystack Rock

Haystack Rock is perhaps the most iconic sight on the northern Oregon Coast

Standing over 250 feet tall, Haystack Rock is perhaps the single most iconic attraction along the entirety of the northern Oregon Coast and is easily the most popular sea stack anywhere in the US!

Located right on the beach in front of the downtown stretch, Haystack Rock is quite the sight! Local regulations in Cannon Beach allow for fires on the beach and we highly recommend bringing a few beach chairs and picnic and enjoying a fire on the beach as the sun sets behind Haystack Rock. 

23. Hike Hug Point

Hug Point Recreation Area is worth a quick stop near Cannon Beach

Hug Point is a short stretch of beach located just a few minutes south of Cannon Beach.

You can reach Hug Point via a short .7 mile hike. Despite its small size, we enjoyed our time exploring Hug Point and its waterfalls, sea stacks, and caves. It’s a nice quieter alternative to the crowded Cannon Beach.

24. Hike to Indian Beach in Ecola State Park 

sea stacks off the coast as seen from the Indian Beach Trail in Oregon
The Indian Beach Trail in Ecola State Parks is one of the best northern Oregon Coast hikes!

The 3.8 mile hike to Indian Beach from Ecola State Park is one of the best hikes along the northern Oregon Coast and should not be missed!

Starting from Ecola Point, which offers sweeping views of Cannon Beach and Haystack Rock right from the parking lot, the trail to Indian Beach travels through lush, dense forest with sporadic views of Sea Lion Rock and Tillamook Lighthouse in the distance. Soon enough, the trail leads to Indian Beach, a wide stretch of sand providing a great spot to rest and enjoy a snack before the hike back!


Located at the mouth of the Columbia River, Astoria, Oregon was the first permanent settlement west of the Rocky Mountains and is the northernmost city along the Oregon Coast. With a long maritime culture and history, Astoria is now a quirky city, with a cute downtown area filled with artsy shops, breweries, coffee shops, and restaurants. 

Astoria was also the setting and filming location for the American classic film, the Goonies. You can still see many of the filming locations to this day!

where to stay in Astoria

An iconic luxury boutique hotel with balconies over the Columbia River

Bright & clean rooms in walking distance to the Riverwalk at a budget-friendly price

A massive campground in Fort Stevens State Park with nearly 500 RV and tent sites

25. Enjoy a beer in downtown Astoria

The harbor boardwalk in downtown AStoria

Like most cities in Oregon, Astoria is home to a number of noteworthy breweries. Our favorites are Buoy Beer Company (try the Czech Style Pilsner!) and Obelisk Beer Co

26. Visit the Lewis and Clark National Historic Park

After reaching the Pacific Ocean in November of 1805, Lewis and Clark, the famed American frontiersmen, set up camp for the winter right outside of modern-day Astoria. Today, there is an entire park dedicated to preserving the history of their expedition and their winter at Fort Clatsop. 

27. Explore Fort Stevens State Park 

Long-serving as a military installation protecting the mouth of the Columbia River, Fort Stevens is now a multi-use state park with a lake, miles of hiking trails, camping, beaches, and bike and kayak rentals. You can also find the remains of a shipwreck from 1906 on the beach here!

Northern Oregon Coast FAQs

When is the best time to visit the Northern oregon coast?

  • Peak | June through August
  • Shoulder | September – November, March – May
  • Avoid | December through February

Temperatures along the northern Oregon coast remain stable throughout the year. It usually doesn’t dip below 40 F or rise above 80 F, making it a solid year round destination. 

That being said, the weather along the Oregon Coast is notoriously rainy, cloudy, wet, and windy year-round. So while temperatures remain fairly temperate, you should be prepared for wet and chilly conditions at any time of the year. 

Naturally, the winter months tend to be a bit colder and rainier but with fewer visitors, while summers are usually warmer and dryer but come with more tourists.

If you have the flexibility, we’d recommend visiting the northern Oregon Coast during the shoulder seasons in the spring (April-May) and fall (September-October), so you can avoid some of the crowds while hopefully still enjoying decent weather.

How do I get to the Northern Oregon Coast?

The best way to explore the Northern Oregon Coast is via a good old-fashioned road trip. Highway 101 winds along the Oregon Coast from Astoria in the northeast all the way to Brookings, in the southeastern corner of the state.

Most of the best things to do on the Northern Oregon Coast that we’ll cover on this list are located just off scenic Highway 101. To give you some sense of the distance, to drive from Florence (middle of the coast and most southern town on this list) to Astoria without stopping would take you about 4 hours and 15 minutes. 

If you’re flying into the area, you could fly into either Eugene (about 1 hour east of Florence) or Portland (about 2 hours southeast of Astoria).

Waves crashing on the shore along the rocky coastline near Heceta Head lighthouse
The rocky cliffside near Florence is absolutely stunning!

More to do on the Oregon coast

Looking for more great hikes, state parks, and unique things to do on the Oregon Coast? We’ve got tons of resources to help you plan your trip!

Southern Oregon Coast

Best Oregon Coast Towns

Hiking on the Oregon Coast

Questions about exploring the northern Oregon Coast? Let us know in the comments section below!

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Sarah Vaughan

Hello! I'm Sarah, one half of the couple behind Two Outliers! In 2023, I quit my job as a Data Scientist to travel around the world on an epic 15-month journey in search of the world's greatest hikes and outdoor adventures. Matt and I started Two Outliers in 2021 as a place for visitors to find concise, accurate, and honest information to plan their own adventures. We hope our experiences inspire you to hit the trail! Happy Hiking! Sarah


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