An Oregon coast road trip is without a doubt one of the best ways to get to and from Wet Planet. The Oregon coast is full of spectacular views, charming towns, and delectable seafood. Paired with a whitewater rafting trip on the White Salmon River, there’s no better way to experience the Pacific Northwest! There is so much to do and see that it can be difficult to decide exactly what to add to your itinerary. For this very reason, we have created an Oregon coast road trip itinerary full of can’t-miss destinations from Tillamook down to Brookings.


Tillamook is the cheese capital of Oregon, which is why you can’t take an Oregon Coast road trip without stopping at the Tillamook Creamery. Here, you can take a self-guided tour, sample their famous cheeses, or get a scoop of ice cream. They also have a café where you can grab some lunch; and don’t forget to stop by the gift shop on your way out! If you don’t have time to stop by the creamery or if dairy just isn’t your thing, Blue Heron French Cheese Company is a great alternative. They have a deli with fresh baked bread, a large gift shop, everything you could possibly need for a picnic, and even a petting zoo. Tillamook is also the gateway to the Three Capes Scenic Route which includes Cape Meares, Cape Lookout, and Cape Kiwanda. Grab some cheese and enjoy the perfect picnic at one of the Three Capes!

Depoe Bay

Be sure to pack your binoculars because Depoe Bay is best known for its whale watching. You’re most likely to spot them anytime from March through December, so folks taking their Oregon Coast road trip before or after the busy summer season can still see the whales while escaping the crowds. You can spot the whales from the Whale Watching Center, multiple observation areas, on a tour boat, or even from downtown while grabbing a bite or shopping. About 5 miles south of Depoe Bay is Devil’s Punchbowl. This geological marvel is a hollow rock formation most likely created by the collapse of a couple sea cave roofs. During winter storms, you can watch ocean waves violently crash into the punchbowl in an awe inspiring display of nature’s force.

Depoe Bay, Oregon

Depoe Bay, Oregon, at high tide on a windy day. Photo by Bonnie Moreland via Flickr.


Stop in Newport on your Oregon Coast road trip to do some brewery hopping and gorge yourself on seafood. You can either go to South Beach Fish Market, Mo’s Seafood, or Local Ocean Seafoods; all have stellar seafood fresh from the ocean! After enjoying some delicious seafood, take a stroll through the historic Nye Beach neighborhood. This neighborhood is considered the “art heart” of Newport and offers unique shopping, dining, and lodging.

Nye Beach, Oregon

Nye Beach bench, Oregon. Photo by Bonnie Moreland via Flickr.


Yachats is a cute little town that offers some great coffee at Green Salmon Coffee Co. Make sure to also stop by Bread & Roses Bakery for some fresh bread and pastries. Just south of Yachats are two jaw-dropping destinations – Cape Perpetua and Thor’s Well. At 800ft in elevation, Cape Perpetua has the highest viewpoint accessible by car and is one of the most scenic areas along the coast. Thor’s Well is described as a “drainage hole” and seems to be bottomless. This hole created by a cave roof collapsing can be peered down into during low tide but fills up with water during high tide. It was a true example of the powerful forces of nature – a must-see on any Oregon Coast road trip.

Heceta Head Lighthouse

Heceta Head Lighthouse sits 1,000 feet tall, and its beacon is the strongest light on the Oregon coast. There is a half-mile trail that leads to the lighthouse or you can take the Heceta Lighthouse trail that has a great view of the lighthouse from behind, with the ocean as the perfect backdrop. The trail continues 7 miles through the forest to a beautiful beach. If you’re lucky, you might even see Roosevelt elk!

Heceta Head Lighthouse, Oregon Coast

Heceta Head Lighthouse. Photo by Bonnie Moreland via Flickr.


Bandon is an Oregon coast road trip destination best known for its beaches and rock formations. The most popular rock formation is at Face Rock State Scenic Viewpoint. Here, you have the opportunity to walk down to the beach and check out some sea stacks, which are a geological formation formed by wave erosion that leaves steep, vertical columns of rocks that seemingly appear out of nowhere. The sea stacks in Bandon have Native American legend tied to them. The legend comes from the Nah-So-Mah tribe and tells of Ewanua, a beautiful Indian princess, who was grabbed by Seatka, the evil spirit of the ocean, while going for a swim. Knowing all of his power was in his eyes, the princess refused to look at him. She now can be seen lying face up in the ocean, continuously refusing to look Seatka in the eyes. Some say they can even hear a woman’s voice in the wind.

Face Rock State Park, Oregon Coast

Face Rock State Park in Bandon, Oregon. Photo by Bonnie Moreland via Flickr.

Gold Beach

Gold Beach is a quaint little town on the Oregon Coast that offers uncrowded beaches and top-notch hiking. While in Gold Beach, meander into Gold Beach Books, an awesome local bookstore, then stop into Barnacle Bistro to fill up on some seafood. If you’re feeling like strengthening your legs, Otter Point and Cape Sebastian State Scenic Corridor offer spectacular hikes. Otter Point Trail is a 0.5 mile beginner friendly hike that offers beautiful wildflowers and Cape Sebastian Trail is a 3.80 mile out and back hike that boasts epic views and diverse scenery. For those who are interested in learning a bit of history while on an Oregon Coast road trip, check out the wreck of the Mary D. Hume steamboat, which was the longest serving vessel of the Pacific Coast and now lies to rest just a few hundred feet from where it was built in 1881.

Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor

No Oregon Coast road trip would be complete without a drive through the Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor. This 12 mile corridor between Brookings and Gold Beach along Highway 101. With a multitude of easily accessible viewpoints, there’s no reason not to stop and take it all in. Possibly, the best view of the entire corridor is of the Natural Bridges. Take the 0.7 mile viewpoint trail to experience the seven iconic arch rocks and blowholes but be sure to use good judgement and not attempt to cross the bridges or climb down any treacherous areas.

Natural Bridges at Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor. Photo by Doug Kerr via Flickr.

White Salmon River Rafting

Start or end your road trip with a rafting trip on the White Salmon River. The Columbia River connects the White Salmon River to the North Coast of Oregon. With its stunning basalt cliffs, cascading waterfalls, and exciting whitewater rapids, it makes an excellent addition to any Oregon coast road trip. Join Wet Planet for a whitewater rafting adventure to round out your Oregon Coast Road Trip!

Rafting near Mt. Hood

Views of Mt. Hood at the confluence of the White Salmon & Columbia Rivers.

Author Hattie Fletcher works as a photographer at Wet Planet. She enjoys being able to capture photos of guests rafting the White Salmon so they can look back and reminisce on their epic
adventure for years to come.