11 Charming Oregon Coast Towns That Are Worth A Visit This Summer

Affiliate Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. There is no additional cost to you and it helps support our future adventures.

The Oregon Coast is both rugged and tranquil, with quaint towns overlooking wide sandy beaches while others stand high over rocky bluffs that look out over the Pacific Ocean. Each of the towns along the coast has its own unique character and charm, and while virtually every one is worthy of a visit, every Oregonian has their favorites that they return to time and time again.

Towns on the Northern Oregon coast tend to be touristier as they are mainly visited by day trippers and second home owners from Portland. As you travel further south into towns that lie off Highway 101, you’ll find more quaint seaside cities that still have a thriving fishing industry, which makes for fun dock walking and people-watching.

The Southern Oregon coast, also known as the banana belt for its warm weather, tends to be slower-paced as it attracts more retirees who come for the milder weather than the northern coast towns. Here, the main draws are the tranquil beaches and amazing whale watching.

If you’re looking to visit the Oregon coast for the first time or just want to check out some new towns here are our favorites.


Wreck of the Peter Iredale Oregon Coast Astoria
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

While some may not technically consider Astoria an Oregon coast town due to its location on the Columbia River, I certainly think it qualifies. Astoria stands as the oldest city in Oregon, having been established in 1811. The architecture and layout of the city tell the story of a rich maritime history where dozens of canneries once lined the waterfront along the length of the city.

Just across the bay is Fort Stevens State Park, which is home to miles of sandy beaches and one of the best attractions on the entire coast: the wreck of the Peter Iredale. This ship ran aground over 100 years ago, and its steel skeleton still stands in the surf today.

Cannon Beach

Green trees frame the view down the beach of Haystack Rock and Cannon Beach on a sunny day in Oregon
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

This popular and touristy beach town lies just under 90 minutes from downtown Portland, which makes it a very popular destination for day and weekend visitors. The city is full of your typical beach town tourist shops, eateries serving up local seafood, and plenty of ice cream shops to keep the kids happy. But the real attraction is the beach itself, the towering Haystack Rock that rises up out of the Pacific Ocean, and the nearby Ecola State Park, which is home to numerous hiking trails and less visited beaches.


Yaquina Head Lighthouse in Newport, Oregon, USA
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

Newport, Oregon, is a great place to visit for families with young kids it is home to the Oregon Coast Aquarium, the Newport Discovery Zoo, the sea lion dock, and miles of sandy beaches that are perfect for building sand castles.

The area is also home to two Oregon Coast lighthouses, the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse and Yaquina Head Lighthouse along with one of the best places to find agates at Agate Beach.

And to round it all out, Newport is also home to some of the best restaurants on the coast, with Local Ocean consistently being named as one of the best seafood options in the state.

Pacific City

Popular Pelican Pub & Brewery at Pacific City Beach, Oregon. Beautiful beach with large sea stack just offshore.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

Pacific City is a great spot to get off the beaten path a bit as Highway 101 runs inland along this stretch of coast, so the town tends to see less traffic passing through. On the north end of town, you have newer developments with upscale beachside resorts, the famous Pelican Brewing Company, and the imposing Cape Kiwanda Sand Dune.

Head a little further south, and you’ll get into the older part of town with plenty of beachfront rentals, a great bakery, and a small city center that looks like it hasn’t been touched in decades.

Don’t miss the dory boats, which are launched directly into the surf and driven back up onto the sand after their day of fishing is complete.


Thor's Well with water cascading into the well on the Oregon coastline.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

Yachats has managed to avoid a lot of the commercial tourism that has moved into other Oregon coast towns, which has helped it retain its small-town charm. Here, the coastline is dominated by rocky shores that harbor a variety of sea life.

One of the coast’s most unique geological features, Thor’s Well, also lies just outside of town. This partially collapsed cavern looks like a bottomless pit that swallows endless amounts of seawater. Photographers flock here to try to get the perfect sunset shot of the well and more than a few camera setups have been sacrificed to the sea.

Lincoln City

Annual Kite Flying festival in Lincoln City on the Oregon Coast.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

Lincoln City is famous for its 7 miles of wide, open sandy beaches, where exploring is not only encouraged but can also be rewarding. The city honors the beachcombing tradition of finding traditional Japanese glass floats by strategically hiding handmade glass floats almost every day of the year for tourists to discover and take home as souvenirs.

The city also lies just outside of Cascade Head, which has a stunning trail leading to one of the best viewpoints on the entire coast.


Siuslaw River Bridge, Oregon
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

This Oregon coast town is perhaps most famous for its attempt to remove a deceased beached whale by using dynamite. The resulting explosion resulted in whale pieces raining down onto onlookers and the town itself. The anniversary of the event, November 12th, is known by Oregonians as Exploding Whale Day.

Today the town is a popular recreation spot for OHV’ers as it is located right next to the Oregon Dunes. Here, riders can zoom their dune buggies up and over miles of sand dunes.

Depoe Bay

The Depoe Bay Harbor and concrete arch bridge at Depoe Bay on the Oregon coast.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

Known as being home to the smallest harbor in the world, Depoe Bay is a small but incredibly picturesque Oregon coast town. With quaint hotels lining the waterfront around the bay and an almost impossibly small passage into the harbor it is no wonder that tourists flock here for the chance to catch of photo of a boat entering or exiting the harbor.

The town is also home to the OPRD Whale Watching Center which has large decks looking out over the ocean. This allows visitors and staff alike to catch a glimpse of the estimated 20,000 gray whales that migrate up and down the coast each winter and spring.


A view of Harris State Park in Brookings, Oregon.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

Brookings is the furthest south town on the Oregon coast and is also known as having the warmest weather. This is due to it being the furthest western coastal town, which puts it closer to the warmer offshore ocean currents, and the geography surrounding the area, which funnels warmer inland air over the town.

The city itself is also a beautiful place, sitting high on the bluffs above the ocean with plenty of access to secluded beaches that are ringed with sea stacks and rock formations that keep the surf at bay.


Sea stacks on Bandon beach on the Oregon coast at sunset
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

Bandon is a well-known destination for golfers due to it being home to the world-famous Bandon Dunes Golf Course. The area is also one of the only places in the country where wasabi is grown, making it a bit of a foodie destination for those in the know.

Downtown Bandon is full of quaint shops serving up typical Oregon coast fare like fresh fish and chowder. Don’t miss Face Rock Creamery, which makes some of the best cheeses in the state (sorry, Tillamook!).


Manzanita Beach and Pacific Ocean surf on Oregon coast.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

Manzanita is one of the most beautiful Oregon coast towns, with miles of sandy beaches to the south and stunning cliffs rising up out of the ocean to the north. The town itself is the perfect combination of touristy while retaining much of its small-town charm. It is this reason why so many people consider it to be their favorite town on the entire coast.

Don’t miss stopping for a bite to eat at Yolk. They serve up one of the best breakfasts on the entire coast.

About the author
Derek Carlson
Pacific Northwest native, cross-country skier, hiker, mountain biker, wannabe fly fisherman, writer and owner of Roam the Northwest