The Oregon Coast is one of the most visited tourist regions in the state. It’s easy to see why with the stunning rocky cliffs extending from wild seas, as well as expansive sandy beaches at the base of pine-covered mountains. Spend your trip hiking along the shoreline, looking for local wildlife, or kicking back with a cocktail and fresh seafood by the shore. Look forward to an abundance of noteworthy attractions conveniently situated close to most Oregon Coast vacation rentals. Start off your getaway the right way with these popular things to do in the area.

1. Take a Surf Lesson in Newport

The Oregon Coast is home to some of the Pacific Northwests’ most exciting surf breaks. Experience the waves for yourself with a surf lesson at Otter Rock, a scenic spot that’s famously forgiving for beginners. Ossie’s Surf Shop offers lessons for individuals or groups of up to five people. If you know how to surf, rent a board and ride the long, rolling waves with a view of the forested cliffs.

2. Ride the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad in Garibaldi

Enjoy a relaxing ride over the historic former Southern Pacific and Port of Tillamook Bay Railroads aboard the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad. As your open-top train car chugs across Smith Lake and along the rugged coast to Rockaway Beach, enjoy stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. In October, take the Fall Splendor train from Wheeler for a close-up view of changing leaves near the historic Foss and Batterson logging camps. In the winter, the railroad hosts the Candy Cane Express, where you can visit with Santa aboard a lavishly decorated holiday train.

3. Visit the Tillamook Cheese Factory in Tillamook

One of the most popular attractions on the Oregon Coast, the Tillamook Cheese Factory is a must for dairy-lovers. In the visitors center, you can learn about Tillamook’s farm partners and discover how the company’s cheese and ice cream are made. After your visit, be sure to stop in the cafe for ice cream, and pick up the cheeses that are made onsite.

4. Explore the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport

Get a glimpse of the ocean ecosystems at the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport. The highlight of the aquarium is the Open Sea exhibit, where you can travel through clear underwater tunnels as sharks and bat rays swim overhead. Other popular residents include the giant Pacific octopus and the mesmerizing Sea Nettle jellyfish. For true marine enthusiasts, the aquarium offers a Guest Dive Program that enables you to SCUBA dive into the exhibits.

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5. Ride a Horse on the Beach in Florence

Ride through the surf and explore dunes with C and M Stables in Florence. As your horse makes its way through the sand, you can take in the views of the ocean and the wild coastline. For a romantic evening, book the stunning sunset ride. The stables also offer an Adventure Ride, designed specifically for advanced riders who want to explore the beach at faster speeds.

6. Hike the Oregon Coast Trail in Seaside

Experience a section of the much-loved Oregon Coast Trail near the town of Seaside. Pick up the trail at the Tillamook Head trailhead on the southern end of Sunset Boulevard, and hike 7 miles along the rugged coast until you reach the stunning Ecola State Park. Along the way, explore a dense forest, find remarkable ocean views, and spot the abandoned lighthouse on Tillamook Rock as you follow in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark. Avoid the long return trip by booking a shuttle back to Seaside with the friendly Pacific Taxi Services.

7. Take a Whale-Watching Cruise in Depoe Bay

Witness majestic whales in the wild with a Tradewinds Charters cruise in Depoe Bay. Aboard the ship, listen to the captain’s whaling stories as you head out in search of migrating pods. Once a pod is sighted, the boat comes to a halt so you can watch the animals swim together and leap in the air. Thanks to Depoe Bay’s location and easy ocean access, whale-watching is possible year-round.

8. Go Off-Roading at the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area Near Reedsport

Sail over rolling sand dunes in an OHV at the enormous Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. With dunes that reach up to 500-feet tall, the area is great for thrill-seekers. Steve’s ATV Rentals and Spinreel both offer a selection of quad and buggy rentals, so you can pick the perfect option for your group. The most popular riding area is located between Spinreel and Horsfall Area; OHVs are also permitted in the Umpqua Dunes area.

9. Visit the Columbia River Maritime Museum in Astoria

If your vacation rentals are located in the northern section of the Oregon Coast, don’t miss the renowned Columbia River Maritime Museum. This beautiful facility focuses on the Columbia River Bar, a famously dangerous shipping passage. In the Crossing the Bar exhibit, learn about the legendary 40-foot waves that pummel ships as they enter the river from the Pacific Ocean. Tour the Lightship Columbia, and step into the hurricane wind simulator to feel the intensity of the notorious local weather.

10. Explore the Sea Lion Caves in Florence

Watch in awe as crowds of sea lions rest on the rocks at the Sea Lion Caves, a wildlife preserve and bird sanctuary located in Florence. Ride the elevator to the floor of this 12-story cave, where the sounds of the wild animals echo through the natural amphitheater. In the spring and summer, you can catch a glimpse of baby sea lions as they take their first breaths.

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