In this article, we’re detailing 20 of our favorite things to do on the Southern Oregon Coast, from state parks to explore and unique natural sites to the cutest seaside towns to visit!
About the southern Oregon coast
With miles of rocky coastline, beaches, lighthouses, quaint towns, hiking trails, and world-class seafood, the southern Oregon Coast offers no shortage of incredible sights to explore.
We spent two months exploring the entire Oregon Coast from north to south while living in Florence, eating our weight in fish and chips, stopping to admire all the sea stacks, hiking every trail possible, and exploring each seaside town. Over the two months, we fell in love with the unique landscape, delicious seafood cuisine, and easy access to tons of fun activities.
Because there are so many things to do along the Oregon Coast, we’re focusing specifically on the southern Oregon Coast in this article.
For the purposes of this article, we will consider Florence, Oregon the beginning of the southern Oregon Coast. We’ll focus on the best activities in the following towns: Florence, Coos Bay, Bandon, Gold Beach, and Brookings.
Best things to do on the southern Oregon coast
Without further ado, here are the best things to do along the Southern Oregon Coast! The list is arranged in geographic order, running from north to south, starting with attractions in Florence and ending in Brookings.
- Visit the Heceta Head Lighthouse
- Stroll through Old Town Florence
- Hike the Hobbit Trail
- Explore Sunset Bay State Park
- Visit Shore Acres State Park
- Spot the Sea Lions from Simpson Reef Overlook
- Stop by Cape Arago State Park
- Hike from Sunset Bay to Cape Arago
- Visit the Coos Bay Boardwalk and downtown Coos Bay
- Drive Beach Road Loop
- Visit Coquille Point
- Relax at Bandon Beach
- Explore Face Rock State Park
- Historic downtown Bandon and Tony’s Crab Shack
- Hike the tallest mountain on the oregon coast
- Hike at Sisters Rock State Park
- Hike Cape Sebastian Trail
- Explore the Samuel Boardman State Scenic Corridor
- Hike to Secret Beach
Map of things to do on the southern oregon coast
The map below displays the location of each of the best things to do on the southern Oregon Coast that we’ll cover in this article.
- To view more details about each location, click on the marker on the map.
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- 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.
Hiking in Florence, Oregon features a diverse assortment of landscapes, like enchanted forests, massive seaside cliffs and wide sandy beaches.
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
Located just a few minutes north of Florence, no trip to the southern 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
Florence is home to perhaps the cutest downtown area of any town along the southern 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 anywhere on the southern Oregon Coast.
3. Hike the Hobbit Trail
Located just north of the Heceta Head Lighthouse, the Hobbit Trail is one of our favorite short hikes along the southern 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.
The Hobbit Trail near Florence, Oregon winds through a dense, mossy forest before emerging at a beautiful and secluded sandy beach.
Heading south along Highway 101 from Florence, the next major town you’ll reach is Coos Bay, the largest town along the entirety of the southern Oregon Coast. Coos Bay and the surrounding area is colloquially known as “Oregon’s Adventure Coast’ due to its easy access to tons of epic outdoor activities.
In particular, the Cape Arago Highway connects the three state parks (Sunset Bay, Shore Acres, and Cape Arago) near Coos Bay, making for a perfect scenic drive.
Situated in the heart of “Oregon’s Adventure Coast”, there are plenty of amazing things to do in Coos Bay for everyone from adventure lovers and…
where to stay in coos bay
If you’re looking for a budget-friendly stay that isn’t a dingy motel, check out this nicely renovated RV situated with views of Coos Bay.
South of Coos Bay near Charleston, featuring cute, colorful little cabins within walking distance of Sunset Bay State Park
Luxury “RV Park” with modern cabins and renovated airstreams that provide the experience of camping with comfort of a luxury hotel.
4. Explore Sunset Bay State Park
Sunset Bay State Park is the first state park along the Cape Arago highway. One of the best things to do at Sunset Bay State Park is visit Sunset Beach, a sandy beach protected from the Pacific Ocean’s rugged power by cliffs on both sides, forming a calm bay area (at least by Oregon coast standards!).
You can also catch a glimpse of nearby Cape Arago Lighthouse and enjoy miles of picturesque hiking trails that follow along the top of the rocky shoreline.
In a state known for having beautiful state parks, Sunset Bay State Park is one of our favorite spots along the entire Oregon Coast. With…
5. Visit Shore Acres State Park
Just south of Sunset Bay State Park is Shore Acres State Park, our favorite of the parks along the Cape Arago Highway! From the Shore Acres State Park Day Use Area, there are hiking trails heading in both directions along the coast.
We thought these trails were the best in the area, taking you right along the top of the cliffs overlooking the rocky shore. We were able to spot a handful of seals lounging on the rocks below!
You can also visit the Shore Acres Botanical Gardens, which is home to row after row of perfectly manicured plants, shrubs, and flowers.
Shore Acres State Park on the Oregon Coast sits atop a grassy bluff along a sheer edge of shoreline, where rugged striped cliffs meet relentless…
6. Spot the Sea Lions from Simpson Reef Overlook
Continuing south along the Cape Arago Highway, you’ll soon reach the Simpson Reef Overlook, a small pullout from the road. From the overlook, you can see Simpson Reef, an outcropping of rocks that is home to a colony of seals and sea lions.
You’re all but guaranteed to see them from the overlook! The sea lions are at quite a bit of distance from the overlook so be sure to bring some binoculars if you want an up close view.
7. Stop by Cape Arago State Park
The final stop along the Cape Arago Highway is Cape Arago State Park. This state park seems to be a bit smaller than either Sunset Bay or Shore Acres, but still has a few short trails that will bring you out onto the seaside cliffs, which are fun to explore.
8. Hike from Sunset Bay to Cape Arago
If you’re looking to stretch your legs a bit, there is an 8.5 mile trail that runs from Sunset Bay State Park all the way down to Cape Arago State Park, passing through Shores Acres State Park along the way.
The trail follows right along the coast and atop the seaside cliffs, offering sweeping views of the powerful Pacific Ocean below. If you aren’t up for a full 8.5 miles, you can complete a shorter section of the trail. Our favorite section of the trail was in Shore Acres State Park!
9. Visit the Coos Bay Boardwalk and downtown Coos Bay
It’s worth a quick stop in the main stretch of Coos Bay, which includes a small downtown area and a boardwalk that runs along the water.
About 30 minutes south of Coos Bay is the popular tourist town of Bandon, Oregon, perhaps best known for being home to Tony’s Crab Shack, Bandon Beach, and Face Rock State Park. Bandon also has a cute historic downtown area that is worth a stop!
Featuring a shoreline dotted with beautiful sea stacks, wide sandy beaches and a cute Old Town serving plenty of fresh seafood, Bandon is a can’t…
where to stay in bandon
A cute little inn located at the heart of Old Town Bandon, just a short walk to Tony’s Crab Shack.
Beautiful hotel with nice clean rooms, located just down the road from Face Rock.
A huge state park campground just 5 minutes from Bandon with easy access to Bullards Beach
10. Drive Beach Road Loop
The Beach Road Loop is a 5-mile loop that starts in Old Town and follows along the coast south of Bandon. This scenic drive is one of the best things to do in Bandon and includes several beautiful viewpoints:
11. Visit Coquille Point
Coquille Point is a small stretch of land that juts out into the ocean, providing beautiful views of the rocky shoreline and sea stacks that make Bandon so special.
Most notably is the so-called “Elephant Rock”, a wide rock formation with a large arch carved out of the center. We think the name is a bit of a stretch, but if you look closely you can make out the tusk formed on one side by the arch and on the other side by a narrow cave.
Whether you make out the elephant or not, the rocky figure is a beautiful sight and makes the perfect spot to enjoy the sunset.
You can enjoy the views from the parking area, walk down the steps to the beach, or take a short half-mile walk along Coquille Point Trail.
12. Relax at Bandon Beach
Bandon Beach is one of our favorite beaches along the southern Oregon Coast! What makes Bandon Beach so unique is that the sea stacks are speckled throughout the stretches of wide, sandy beach. You can find sea stacks of all shapes and sizes, each easily accessible from the beach.
13. Explore Face Rock State Park
Perhaps the most popular attraction in Bandon, Face Rock State Park sits just 5 minutes outside of town and features an iconic sea stack shaped like (you guessed it…), a face!
The face is tipped backwards almost at a 45 degree angle, as if it’s looking up into the sky. Can you see it?!
You can enjoy the view of Face Rock from above, along a short walking trail on the cliffside, or walk down to the beach.
15. Historic downtown Bandon and Tony’s Crab Shack
Historic downtown Bandon is a cute little stretch of shops, restaurants, and bars that sits right along the water, making a great place to stop for a quick bite and to stroll around.
The most popular restaurant in Bandon is Tony’s Crab Shack, a local institution that serves up fresh seafood and Oregon coast classics. Honestly, we weren’t super impressed with the food and definitely had better (and cheaper!) seafood at other spots. But it’s still nice to sit outside near the water and enjoy a cold beer and fresh crab!
About 60 miles south of Bandon on Highway 101, you’ll find the small town of Gold Beach. Frankly, the town of Gold Beach itself is nothing to write home about, but two of our favorite stops along the entire southern Oregon Coast are just outside of town – Sister’s Rock State Park and Cape Sebastian Trail.
where to stay in gold beach
A locally-owned modern boutique hotel with beautifully decorated rooms, inspired by the beauty of the Oregon Coast
Beautiful spacious home that sleeps 10 with epic southern Oregon coast views and walking distance to the beach
A cute little cottage near Nesika Beach just outside of Gold Beach with easy access to the beach and trails
16. Hike the tallest mountain on the oregon coast
Rising to an elevation of 1,765 feet, Humbug Mountain is the tallest mountain directly on the Oregon Coast. This challenging 5.6-mile hike leads to a summit with stunning views looking down the southern Oregon Coast.
17. Hike at Sisters Rock State Park
Located about 15 miles north of Gold Beach, it’s very easy to miss Sisters Rock State Park. Looking like nothing more than a random pullout on the side of Highway 101, Sisters Rock is actually one of our favorite State Parks along the entire southern Oregon Coast.
As you pull into the tiny, unmarked parking lot, you’ll soon see the two towering sea stacks out in the distance and the short trail (half a mile each way) that brings you out to the rocky beach and sea stacks.
With fewer visitors than other attractions, Sisters Rock State Park is a great place to pack a picnic or just enjoy some peace and solitude along the coast.
18. Hike Cape Sebastian Trail
This 3.3-mile round trip hike winds and switch-backs its way down to a beautiful sandy beach at Hunter’s Cove, with beautiful coastline views and abundant wildflowers (during the spring and summer) along the way.
Once you get down to the beach, you can continue walking along the ocean until you reach Meyer’s Creek Beach, a really popular and scenic spot near Gold Beach. Walking all the way to the end of Meyer’s Creek Beach adds about 3 miles round trip to the hike.
The last town along the Southern Oregon Coast, Brookings is a small, seaside hamlet that is best known for the Samuel Boardman State Scenic Corridor.
where to stay in brookings
As the name suggests, this lovely hotel provides ocean views and easy beach access with spacious, well-appointed rooms
A spacious, clean townhome that sleeps up to 8 with a full kitchen and ocean views in the heart of Brookings
One of our favorite campgrounds on the southern Oregon Coast, with spacious sites nestled among the trees (some even have ocean views!)
19. Explore the Samuel Boardman State Scenic Corridor
In our opinion, Samuel Boardman State Park is easily one of the most beautiful stretches of the southern Oregon Coast, with towering basalt cliffs and arches carved by the turbulent ocean waves below.
If you’re looking for one stretch of the coast that has it all, you can’t do better than the Samual Boardman State Scenic Corridor. It seems like there is another unique site around every corner!
20. Hike to Secret Beach
Secret Beach is the epitome of everything we love about the Southern Oregon Coast. Tucked away at the end of a 1.5 mile trail, with massive sea stacks, churning water, and rocky cliffs, a visit to Secret Beach is worth the extra effort needed to get there.
To be clear, Secret Beach isn’t so much of a “secret” these days, but we still think it’s worth a stop and it’s a great place to explore on your visit to the Southern Oregon Coast.
A secluded beach with stunning sea stacks and bright teal waters hidden between jagged cliffs, what’s not to love about Secret Beach in Oregon?!
Southern Oregon Coast FAQs
When is the best time to visit the southern oregon coast?
- Peak | June through August
- Shoulder | September – November, March – May
- Avoid | December through February
Temperatures along the southern Oregon coast remain fairly mild year-round. It typically doesn’t get too cold (lowest temperatures in the 40s) or too hot (a day in the 80s is noteworthy), making the southern Oregon coast a year-round destination.
That being said, the southern Oregon Coast is notorious for its wet, rainy, and windy climate.
Winters tend to be a bit colder, with more rain but fewer visitors. Summers tend to be a bit warmer with less rain, but you can expect more visitors and larger crowds.
While you can visit the southern Oregon Coast any time of year, we’d recommend the shoulder seasons in the spring (April-June) and fall (September-October), to avoid some crowds and give yourself a chance at better weather.
How do I get to the southern Oregon Coast?
The best way to explore the Southern Oregon Coast is via a good old-fashioned road trip. Highway 101 winds along the coast from the very northern corner of the state in Astoria, all the way to the southern corner in Brookings.
Most of the attractions included 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 northern town on this list) to Brookings without stopping would take you about 3 hours.
If you’re flying into the area, the closest airport is located in Eugene, Oregon, which is about 1 hour inland from Florence, Oregon.
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!
Northern Oregon Coast
Best Oregon Coast Towns
Hiking on the Oregon Coast
- Best Hikes on the Oregon Coast
- God’s Thumb Hike Guide
- Secret Beach Trail Guide
- Sunset Bay State Park Guide
- Spouting Horn in Cook’s Chasm
- Thor’s Well Trail Guide
With that, we’ve wrapped up our list of the best things to do along the Southern Oregon Coast. We have plenty of more information that will help you plan your trip to the Oregon Coast. If you can’t find the information you need, just let us know!