Oregon Coast Road Trip: From Newport to Lincoln City

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Things to do on your drive north from Newport on Highway 101 and places to go in Lincoln City

A view of the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse in Lincoln City, Oregon. 

From Newport to Lincoln City

This is a short (24 miles) but beautiful section of Highway 101 with foliage lining both sides of the road as you leave Newport then giving way to scenic coves and coastline views. At the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area, you should deviate to see the Yaquina Head Lighthouse. The 93-foot structure was constructed in Paris, and its first light shined out on the water in 1873. Its early name was perhaps more dramatic: Cape Foulweather Lighthouse.

As you enter Depoe Bay, you will start noticing some signs that distinguish this small town among others. First, it is the whale-watching capital of Oregon, with gray whales seen off its shores many times during the year. Located in Lincoln County, it is also said to have the world’s smallest harbor and the world’s shortest river, the D River (technically in Lincoln City), at 120 feet in length.

Exploring Lincoln City

Lincoln City welcomes you with the sign: A great place to try new things. This might include visiting a blown glass studio, exploring the beach for “floats” (keep reading for an explanation), browsing for rare books, and checking out tide pools at low tide.

You might think that the town is named after Abraham Lincoln, but only the county has that distinction. Lincoln City was a conglomeration of communities formed in 1965 that include Taft, Nelscott, Cutler City, Delake, Oceanlade, and Wecoma Beach. The actual name was chosen by school children after running a contest to pick a name that didn’t use any of the previous six. 

Lincoln City is graced with seven miles of beach, most of which is flat sand, which runs contrary to many who seem to think that the Oregon coast is all volcanic and rocky. This makes it an ideal spot during the summer for flying kites. (A kite festival is held every year in June.) Also, although there aren’t any paved bike paths in town, you can rent a fat-tire bike and ride one right on the beach.

Perhaps the most unusual activity here is known as Finders Keepers. Local artisans create colorful glass floats in the shapes of sand dollars, sea stars, and circular orbs. Float Fairies, as these volunteers are known, place these all along the seven-mile beach from Roads End to Siletz Bay. From mid-October to Memorial Day, you can conduct your own treasure hunt, looking for the floats on the sand, near rocks, under pieces of driftwood, or hiding in plain sight among the sea grass. If you find one, you can call 1-800-452-2151 to register the object and obtain a certificate of authenticity and information about the artist who created it.

Somehow, small towns seem to attract book-lovers, and there are a couple of shops that you may wish to check out. Pacific Coast Books has the feeling of an old-time independent book store with stacks everywhere and a room housing some rare editions signed by Ernest Hemingway and John Steinbeck. If you visit on a Monday, don’t be surprised if you come across Alan Bauch, a local stonemason, book aficionado, and self-taught guitarist playing classical music to the delight of patrons. 

If being so close to the ocean makes you hungry for seafood, then you must stop by Barnacle Bill’s right along the highway in a colorful red and white storefront that has been there since 1949. You can try what they claim is “Oregon’s Best Smoked Salmon” right on the spot or take some with you back to the hotel. 

Another popular restaurant is the Wildflower Grill. This family-run eatery is rated high on TripAdvisor and offers some of the best breakfasts in town in a peaceful patio setting overlooking wetlands and forest.

The Blackfish Café is the perfect restaurant for your final road trip meal along the Oregon coast. Serving some of the area’s finest seafood, the owner, Rob Pounding, has had a long and distinguished culinary career and sources his ingredients from his relationships with local suppliers. When available, the Chinook salmon with fennel lime butter, steamed greens, and blue cheese potato gratin is a local favorite ($25.95). For dessert, you must try their version of a favorite snack called The Blackfish Ding Dong. Made with buttermilk chocolate cake, whipped cream, and a dark chocolate ganache and topped with Oregon berry sauce, this will leave you feeling happy and contented.

Planning a road trip to the Oregon coast is as easy as booking a flight to Eugene, Oregon, and renting a car for the duration. Depending upon the season, you will discover the many facets of the coast, from dramatic coastlines to lazy sunny days along the beaches. The people are friendly and the area’s many treasures are just waiting to be explored.

To read more on exploring Newport, click here.

To jump back to the beginning of the road trip in Florence, Oregon click here

Where to Stay in Newport:

Sylvia Beach Hotel
This hotel features themed rooms based on literary characters with a comfy, cozy feel. There’s even a resident lap kitty that hangs out in the lobby for a purr-fect accommodation experience.

Where to Stay in Lincoln City:

Pelican Shores Inn
With clean, modern rooms overlooking the ocean and an electric fireplace, you may never want to leave your room. Continental breakfast for guests is available. 

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