Road Trip to Yachats/Waldport – Best Places to Stay, See, Eat and Discover
Stunning coastline views, breathtaking sites like Cape Perpetua, Thor’s Well and sunsets over the Alsea Bay Bridge. Award-winning craft beer, popular local restaurants and coffee shops, and a bustling farmer’s market – the beloved beach towns of Yachats and Waldport have something for everyone. Tucked into the southern-most part of Lincoln County these towns are slightly less frequented than larger cities to the North, and that makes all the difference.
The drive to these two cities is a beautiful one, and opportunities for scenic vistas and memorable stops abound. We have assembled a few of our favorite stops to make along the way and focused them toward the area South of Lincoln City and north of Waldport/Yachats – and an area rich with natural beauty and an impressive marine science center.
Stops to Make Along the Way to Yachats/Waldport:
Yaquina Head Lighthouse and Cobble Beach
A stop by the Yaquina Head Lighthouse and Cobble Beach is the perfect place to learn a little about the Lighthouse’s historical past and do a little exploring. The lighthouse began operations in August of 1873, when Head Keeper Fayette Crosby climbed the 114 steps to light the wick of the oil burning fixed white light. At that time, the light was on display from sunrise to sunset. Today the lighthouse runs a fully automated Fresnel lens light on commercial power, and it flashes a unique pattern of 2 seconds on, 2 seconds off, 2 seconds on, 14 seconds off, 24 hours a day.
The area around the lighthouse is just as interesting as the light inside – and it is a favored spot for natural wildlife. Situated on the migratory path for Gray Whales, visitors may spot them just offshore in early December and January on their travels South – or again in March and April as they return North toward the Bering Sea. Birdwatcher’s also have a lot to be excited about at Yaquina Head. One of the West Coast’s largest nesting colonies of common murre’s resides there along with Brandt’s and pelagic cormorants, western gulls, and bald eagles. Yaquina Head is also home to a mated pair of peregrine falcons, easily spotted most days in the cliffs above the Interpretive Center.
For beachcombers, a stroll around the Cobble Beach Tidepools is a must. The beach is named for the dark, smooth rounded stones that cover it and it is an excellent place to explore tidepools. No matter where you explore near Yaquina Head, you will find staff and volunteers nearby to help you make the most of your visit. PLEASE NOTE: Summer 2020, parts of Yaquina Head recreational area are currently closed so check for their hours of availability.
Oregon Coast Aquarium
The Oregon Coast Aquarium, located in Newport, Oregon, first opened its doors to visitors in 1992. This award-winning facility is the pride of the Central Coast and attracts regional, national, and international visitors to its world-class programs and exhibits. Showcasing marine mammals, seabirds, plants, fish, and invertebrates native to the Oregon coast, The Aquarium endeavors to share its well-informed view of the wealth of coastal resources and promote environmental awareness, conservation, and stewardship with visitors of all ages.
Located on 39 picturesque acres overlooking Yaquina Bay and across from Newport, Oregon’s Historic Harbor, The Aquarium makes for an ideal way to spend part of your day when visiting Newport or nearby cities Lincoln City, Depoe Bay, Waldport, and Yachats. The facility is considered one of the nation’s top aquariums, and has been recognized as such by the Travel Channel, USA Today, Coastal Living, Parents Magazine, Forbes Traveler and 10Best.com . Open by reservation this Summer, please check for hours of availability.
South Beach State Park
Another beautiful stop to make when traveling South on US Highway 101 is South Beach State Park. Sitting next to the Yaquina Bay Bridge, the park begins in south Newport and stretched for several miles down the Oregon Coast, offering many recreational opportunities for visitors.
There is an equestrian trail for those wanting to explore on horseback (sunset views on horseback are extra special!) and the Jetty Trail is a beautiful place to go for a jog or take a bike ride. The park also offers a 9-hole disc golf course, horse shoe pits, a playground, and a camping area. When open, park’s Hospitality Center is a great place to get park maps and brochures, shop for souvenirs and check out free discs or horse shoes. Please note the park has limited facilities available this Summer and check online to see what is open before your visit.