Shore Acres State Park on the Oregon Coast sits atop a grassy bluff along a sheer edge of the shoreline, where rugged striped cliffs meet relentless ocean waves. The park offers stunning views of the churning waters below and excellent opportunities to see wildlife, like seals, sea lions and migrating whales. In addition to its natural beauty, Shore Acres is also home to a perfectly manicured botanical garden, making for a unique combination of wild and orderly beauty, all in one park. In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know to plan your visit to Shore Acres State Park.

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Shore acres state park

Located just south of Coos Bay on the Cape Arago Highway, Shore Acres State Park is one of the most unique sections of the Oregon coastline, featuring stunning jagged striped layers of rock that look as if they’re slowly slipping into the ocean. Powerful waves batter the sheer cliffs and rocky shoreline, leaving behind bright blue tide pools full of life at low tide.

In stark contrast with the rugged natural beauty of the coast, Shore Acres State Park is also home to a refined and precisely manicured botanical garden, where various types of flowers in all sizes and colors grow year-round.

With miles of hiking trails, hidden beaches, wildlife viewing, and stunning viewpoints, there are plenty of amazing things to do in Shore Acres State Park, despite the park’s relatively small size. In this article, we’ll dive into all the details to help you plan your visit to Shore Acres State Park in Oregon.

More to do on the Oregon coast

Where to stay near shore acres state park

Coos Bay is the closest town to Shore Acres State Park, and the most convenient place to stay if you aren’t camping. Here are a few places to stay nearby:

  • Budget | If you’re looking for a budget-friendly stay that isn’t a dingy motel, check out the Gypsy Moon Remodeled RV. It’s a nicely renovated RV situated with views of Coos Bay.
  • Mid Range | Oceanside Beachfront RV Park is located south of Coos Bay near Charleston and features cute, colorful little cabins within walking distance of Sunset Bay. The Mill Casino Hotel is located right on Coos Bay in North Bend. Whether you like to gamble or not, the Mill Casino Hotel is a solid mid-range hotel option.
  • Luxury | Bay Point Landing is a luxury “RV Park” with beautiful modern cabins and renovated airstreams for rent that give you the experience of camping but the comfort of a luxury hotel. Each cabin includes a fire pit, and the property provides access to a fitness center and pool.
Ships in the harbor at Coos Bay

Sunset Bay State Park campground

To stay as close as possible to Shore Acres State Park, you can spend the night under the stars at Sunset Bay Campground in neighboring Sunset Bay State Park. Sunset Bay Campground includes 63 RV sites, 65 tent sites, and 8 yurts, all located within walking distance of Sunset Beach. 

From the campground, it’s a 4-minute drive to reach the main parking area in Shore Acres State Park.

Tent and RV sites start at $28 per night, while yurts cost about $58 per night. Reservations open 6 months in advance and are required for the yurts. We’d strongly recommend making a reservation for tent and RV sites as well, as the campground tends to fill up.

How to get to shore acres State Park

Shore Acres State Park is located on the Oregon Coast between the towns of Bandon and Coos Bay. From Coos Bay (to the north), it’s about 25 minutes to Shore Acres State Park. From Bandon (to the south) it’s about 35 minutes. 

One of the best things about Shore State Park is its convenient location right on the water, just south of Coos Bay and next to two other state parks: Sunset Bay State Park and Cape Arago State Park. 

From Oregon’s major cities, Shore Acres State Park is located:

Best time to visit Shore Acres State Park

As is typical on the Oregon Coast, weather in Shore Acres State Park remains fairly mild year round. It never gets too cold, nor particularly hot. Let’s just say, I wouldn’t plan on spending a lot of time laying at the beach in a bikini here, even during the summer.

In the summer (June through September), temperatures tend to be slightly warmer, but average highs typically don’t exceed 70 degrees. In the winter (November through February) it’s chillier but still generally pleasant for outdoor activities, with average high temperatures in the upper 40s and lower 50s.

Unfortunately with the mild coastal temperatures comes a lot of rain and fog. On one hand, the amount of rain is what makes the area so stunning: lush and green year round! On the other hand, rainy and cloudy conditions day after day can be a bit of a damper.

In summary, for the warmest weather and the least chance of rain, the best time to visit Shore Acres State Park is during the summer, from June through September. That being said, mild year-round temperatures make it possible to enjoy outdoor activities any time of year: just be prepared that rain may impede your plans!

How much does it cost to visit Shore Acres State Park?

Shore Acres State Park charges a $5 parking fee. They do not accept credit cards, so bring cash or purchase your day pass online in advance.

Entrance to Shore Acres State Park is also covered by the annual Oregon State Parks Pass. The annual pass costs $30 per year. You may purchase an annual Oregon State Parks Pass online here.

If you are camping at nearby Sunset Bay State Park (or any other Oregon State Park), the Shore Acres day-use fee is included in your overnight campground reservation. Just be sure to display your blue hang tag.

Other Things to know before you go

  • Shore Acres State Park is open daily from 8:00am until dusk.
  • Pets are not permitted anywhere in Shore Acres State Park.
  • Don’t miss out on visiting Shore Acres neighboring state parks, Sunset Bay and Cape Arago.
Jagged striped cliffs meet turbulent ocean waves at the shoreline in Shore Acres State Park on the Oregon Coast

10 Things to do at Shore Acres State Park

In the sections below, we’ve included information about all the great things you can do at Shore Acres State Park in Oregon!

Shore acres State Park Map

The map below displays the locations of the best things to do in Shore Acres State Park as well as a few places to stay nearby.

  • 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.

1. Shore Acres Observation Building & Viewpoint

Waves crash against the rocky Oregon Coast in Shore Acres State Park

If you’re short on time, the one thing you absolutely can’t miss is the view from the Shore Acres Observation Building. This fully enclosed building features large glass windows looking out over the rocky cliffs of the Shore Acres coastline.

It’s a good spot to rest and enjoy the view, particularly on those cold, rainy, and/or windy days that are all too common on the Oregon Coast. On a nicer day, stroll along the paved trails that lead along the cliffs around the Observation Building.

2. Shore Acres Loop Trail

Waves crash against the rocky Oregon Coast in Shore Acres State Park
Shore Acres Observation Building perched atop the cliffs.
Shore Acres Observation Building perched atop the cliffs.
  • Distance | 1.8 miles
  • Elevation gain | 50 feet
  • Difficulty | Easy

If you have a little more time in Shore Acres State Park and want to stretch your legs, we’d recommend taking the trail that leaves from the Observation Building, heading north along the stunning striped cliffs. There is a nice 1.5-mile loop that shows off some of the best views in Shore Acres before looping back through the forest and returning to the parking area.

The powerful waves crashing and then retreating over the rocky coastline is an oddly mesmerizing sight and almost looks like a bunch of little waterfalls.

We love this trail because it gives you the chance to escape the crowds a bit, and offers great opportunities for wildlife spotting. Seals tend to frequent the tide pools just out of reach of crashing waves, so make sure to keep an eye out!

Our favorite view on this hike is looking back towards the Observation Building perched high above the colorful cliffs.

3. Shore Acres Botanical Gardens

the perfectly manicured lawn and gardens at Shore Acres State Park botanical gardens
The Botanical Gardens at Shore Acres State Park

Access to the Shore Acres Botanical Garden is located in the same parking area as the day-use area, trails, and Observation Building. The gardens feature neatly manicured rows of brightly colored flowers from all over the world, including roses, rhododendrons and azaleas, dahlias, and lily pads.

Flowers here start blooming in February, so you can see flowers almost year round. The gardens were once part of a sprawling estate owned by lumberman and shipbuilder, Louis Simpson.

In 1921, a fire destroyed Simpson’s mansion, and though he began to rebuild it, financial setbacks eventually caused it to be abandoned. In 1942, the land was purchased by Oregon State Park and converted into a public park. 

4. Have a picnic at Simpson Beach

Simpson Beach is nestled in a small hidden cove at Shore Acres State Park

Simpson Beach is a secluded beach hidden away in a little cove along the coast at Shore Acres State Park. It’s accessible only via a short hike, keeping it relatively quiet.

The two cliff walls that protect the beach from the elements make the water here a little calmer than in other areas of the nearby coast. It’s a nice spot to have a picnic and perhaps dip your toes in the water on a warm day.

You can access Simpson Beach by walking through the Botanical Gardens, or following the trail south along the coast from the Observation Building. We’d estimate it’s about a half-mile roundtrip walk from the parking area.

5. See the sea lions at Simpson Reef Overlook

Sea Lions lounge on the beach on a rocky outcropping at Simpson Reef overlook
Seal lions lounging on the rocky outcropping at Simpson Reef

Also located in Shore Acres State Park, a few minutes further down Cape Arago highway, Simpson Reef Overlook is one of the best spots to see sea lions on the Oregon Coast. Simpson Reef is a rocky outcropping in the ocean that is home to thousands of seals and sea lions. You’re guaranteed to see them if you visit!

However, the reef is a distance out in the ocean, so don’t expect to see the sea lions up close. There is a telescope device setup at the viewpoint, but it’d also be a good idea to bring a pair of binoculars.

And while it may be a little tough to see them, you certainly won’t miss the sound of the sea lions barking!

Fun Fact | Simpson Reef is home to two species of seals, Harbor seals and Northern elephant seals, and two types of Sea Lions, California Sea Lions and Stellar Sea Lions. A sign at the viewpoint helps you identify the different species!

6. Hike to Sunset Bay

View of Cape Arago Lighthouse from Sunset Bay State Park
Views from the Sunset Bay Loop
  • Distance | 4 miles
  • Elevation gain | 100 feet
  • Difficulty | Easy

As we’ve mentioned, Shore Acres shares a border with Sunset Bay State Park and while you can certainly drive between the two, the best way to explore these parks is to hike between them.

Along the trail, you’ll enjoy nonstop views of the rocky cliffs that make Shore Acres so unique. The hike also includes a viewpoint of the Cape Arago Lighthouse and awesome views overlooking Sunset Bay. When you arrive in Sunset Bay, continue across the parking area to Sunset Beach, a wide sandy beach nestled inside a cove.

This hike is an extension of the Shore Acres Loop trail mentioned in item two on our list of things to do in Shore Acres State Park. It’s an easy-going 4-mile roundtrip hike along a mostly flat trail.

7. Hike to Cape Arago

View of the rocky coastline from the trail between Shore Acres and Cape Arago
View of the rocky coastline from the trail between Shore Acres and Cape Arago
Coastal views on the trail to Cape Arago from Shore Acres State Park
  • Distance | 4 miles
  • Elevation gain | 200 feet
  • Difficulty | Easy

To the south, Shore Acres borders Cape Arago State Park. Similar to Sunset Bay, it’s also possible to hike from Shore Acres to Cape Arago.

Instead of heading north from the Observation Building, follow the shoreline trail south for about 2 miles until you reach Cape Arago. This hike also includes Simpson Beach and Simpson Reef Overlook along the way.

Tip | The section of the trail between Simpson Reef and Cape Argo is in rough condition and can be difficult to follow. The trail leads through the woods without any views. Alternatively, you can walk a short distance along the road. It’s certainly easier and you don’t miss much by forgoing the trail. Just be extra cautious sharing the road with vehicles passing by.

8. Hike the Shore Acres – Sunset Bay – Cape Arago Trail

Powerful waves batter the sheer cliffs and rocky shoreline, leaving behind bright blue tide pools full of life at low tide in Shore Acres State Park
  • Distance | 8.5 miles
  • Elevation gain | 700 feet
  • Difficulty | moderate

Find this hike on AllTrails: Sunset Park to Cape Arago Trail

This 8.5-mile loop combines the hike north to Sunset Bay (item 6 on our list) and south to Cape Arago (item 7 on our list) into one epic hike that connects the coastline from Sunset Bay to Cape Arago. You can start the hike from Shore Acres, Sunset Bay or Cape Arago.

The trail allows you to get away from the crowds and to see the entire coastline, which you miss out on by just driving and stopping at the viewpoints. 

We did this hike as a trail run one Saturday morning, and we have to say, it was the best way to explore the area. If you are looking to get a little exercise, hiking or running the Sunset Bay-Shore Acres-Cape Arago Trail is one of the best things to do in Shore Acres State Park

Extend the hike | It’s also possible to start this hike from Bastendorf Beach. We started from Sunset Bay so we can’t say much about the trail between the two. But if you’re looking for an even longer hike, starting from Bastendorf adds about a mile round trip.

9. Shore Acres Holiday lights

Another thing that makes Shore Acres State Park so special is that it hosts a holiday lights show in the Botanical Garden every year between Thanksgiving and New Years Eve. The light show runs daily from 4:30 to 9:00pm.

Due to the increased popularity of the event, timed-entry reservations are now required to see the lights show. You can make your reservation online at Oregon State Parks. Tickets cost $5, the same as the typical day-use fee. Half of the tickets are released several months in advance, while the remaining tickets are released via a rolling window 7 days in advance of your visit.

We haven’t seen the lights show ourselves, but it’s supposed to be a really fun event. If you’re visiting the Oregon coast during the holidays, this is a great way to get you into the holiday spirit.

10. Look for seals and other wildlife

A family of seals lounge by the tide pools at Shore Acres State Park in Oregon
Seals lounging along the tide pools at Shore Acres State Park

The tide pools in Shore Acres State Park are popular among the wildlife in the area as well. We stumbled upon a little viewpoint overlooking the tide pools with several seals lounging along the rocks.

The view was close enough to see the seals pretty well, and we had the area all to ourselves. We have no idea how often the seals spend their time here (although we did come back a few hours later on the same day, and they were still here). But it’s worth checking out if you want to see seals.

It was the highlight of our visit to Shore Acres State Park. Here are the coordinates of the spot. From here, we were able to see seals much closer than the Simpson Reef Overlook. No binoculars needed!

Other Oregon coast Resources

Looking for more incredible hikes and things to do on the Oregon coast? You may also be interested in the following:

And with that, we’ve rounded out our guide to the best things to do in Shore Acres State Park. Feel free to reach out with questions about planning your visit to the park.

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