Best Small Towns to Visit on the Oregon Coast
By Gary Hayes
Published: 10/07/2015  Updated: 08/13/2019
Coquille Point in Bandon, Oregon
Coquille Point in Bandon, Oregon  Photo by Gary Hayes

Coast Explorer publisher Gary Hayes answers questions from travelers as Travel Oregon's "Ask Oregon" expert for the Oregon Coast.

What are the best small towns to visit on the Oregon Coast?

There are many great small towns along Oregon's 363-mile coast that offer a variety of experiences. I'll give you a few of my favorite small towns (under 3000 population) that are on the beach and offer a good selection of shopping, dining and sightseeing options nearby.

On the North Oregon Coast, Cannon Beach offers a beautiful setting and is know as one of the Northwest's top art towns. The small, picturesque downtown area is filled with nice boutiques, galleries and restaurants. Oregon's famous Haystack Rock is on the beach where you can explore tidepools at low tide and observe a variety of bird life. Ecola State Park is in the north end of town, offering panoramic views, easy walking trails and several miles of hiking trails.

On the Central Oregon Coast, consider Yachats. It is the smallest town of those I am suggesting. It is close to the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area, which is one of the most interesting scenic areas on the coast. Here you will find rainforest hiking trails, beach access and dramatic rocky shoreline. Just to the north is the scenic Seal Rock State Recreation Site and to the south, you can visit Heceta Head Lighthouse and State Park and the 80-year-old attraction Sea Lion Caves.

On the South Oregon Coast, I would recommend Bandon. It has one of the most spectacular beaches adjacent to a town, with many interesting rock formations on the beach and just offshore. Nearby is the Coquille River Lighthouse. You can rent crab gear on the public docks, catch your dinner and have it cooked just steps from where you caught it. One of my favorite day trips is following the Charleston to Bandon Tour Route where you can visit three beautiful State Parks on Cape Arago, southwest of Coos Bay.
Best Small Towns to Visit on the Oregon Coast