Explore the Many Sides of Newport
Published: 10/07/2015  Updated: 08/13/2019
Photo by Gary Hayes

Known for incredible natural beauty, beaches and an array of family-friendly activities, Newport can offer up new discoveries on every visit.

Located at the mouth of the Yaquina River where the Coast Range dramatically descends to the Pacific, the City of Newport has attracted visitors since the turn of the 20th century. With its backdrop of spectacular coastal scenery, Newport doubles as one of the most important fishing ports in Oregon and as a popular beach resort destination. Known for incredible natural beauty, beaches and an array of family-friendly activities, this Central Coast city can offer up new discoveries on every visit.

Go Sightseeing
You don't have to drive far out of Newport to take in its natural and scenic attractions. In fact, you can begin right in town at the Yaquina River's north jetty where you'll find Yaquina Bay State Park. Here, you'll see two of the most photographed icons on the Oregon Coast: the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse and the Yaquina Bay Bridge. The picturesque lighthouse, dating back to 1871, is open to the public; take a guided docent tour to learn its fascinating history. Bridge design fanatics will marvel at the Yaquina Bay Bridge from the park's vantage point; the bridge opened in 1936 and was designed in Art Deco and Gothic motifs that were in vogue at that time and remain icons of design today.

From Yaquina Bay State Park, drive about 4.5 miles north on US 101 to the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area. At 93 feet, the Yaquina Head Lighthouse (Oregon's tallest) was an important beacon when it first guided ships in 1873. It could be seen from such a distance that it put the smaller Yaquina Bay Lighthouse to the south out of business. At this natural area, offshore islands and rocks shelter birds and marine mammals; and tidepools are abundant with intertidal marine life that you can view at low tide.

Drive about 6 miles north on 101 to the tiny village of Otter Rock and, where the road meets the Pacific, you'll find Devil's Punchbowl State Natural Area. This park showcases a natural feature on the rocky shoreline: a well in the rock formations that opens to the surf below. On the incoming tide, seawater swirls violently in the well, creating a fascinating spectacle. Pause to watch the Pacific for whales and inspect the tidepools at low tide north of the punchbowl.

Continue north via Otter Crest Loop, which parallels 101, for scenic vistas along the way. For one of the best views, stop at Otter Crest State Wayside. Then, for the ultimate coastal panorama, drive 2.5 miles north to Cape Foulweather, a promontory 500 feet above the Pacific.

Stroll Newport's Distinctive Districts
Back in town, get acquainted with Newport by getting to know its two main historic districts, Bayfront and Nye Beach: both quaint; both loaded with shops, galleries and restaurants; and both just made for strolling.

Bayfront borders the north shore of Yaquina Bay. It's a working waterfront that is home to large commercial fishing fleets, chowder houses, fresh fish markets, galleries, shops and fun family attractions. Stroll along the collection of historic storefronts, watch the sea lions napping on the docks and grab a meal of fresh seafood at one of the cafes. If ocean fishing is part of your itinerary, Bayfront is where you'll find a charter. For a close encounter with the bay's marine life, reserve a spot on Marine Discovery Tours. You'll enjoy a two-hour cruise departing from Bayfront on the 65-foot Discovery with a naturalist guide. (Reserve your spot at marinediscovery.com.)

Newport's other historic district, Nye Beach, has been attracting seaside vacationers since the late 19th century. This walkable village is just made for browsing galleries, shops, tempting cafes and cozy bars. Perched above the beach, it offers easy beach access. Nye Beach has become a haven for the arts. Besides its independent galleries, it is home to Coast Arts: Newport's Performing Arts and Visual Arts Center.

Find the Perfect Beach
The Newport coastline is made up of undulating hills, rocky outcroppings and headlands. What better place to find your ideal beach? Whether you prefer long stretches of sand, tucked-away crescent coves, beaches rich with tidepools, or a beach for surfing, you'll find just what you're looking for. Agate Beach State Recreation Area is popular with surfers, clam diggers and beach walkers. It's a long beach less than 2 miles north of the center of town. Closer in, Nye Beach sits right below the district of the same name. From this beach, you can easily walk to restaurants and shops when you've had enough sand. Beverly Beach State Park is about 6 miles north of Newport; this expansive sandy beach stretches from Yaquina Head north to the headlands at Otter Rock. This is a full-service park with a Visitor Information Center, camping, picnicking, hiking and more.

Next to the south end of Yaquina Bay Bridge, you'll find South Beach State Park. One of the best features of this park is the paved jetty trail with dramatic views of the mouth of the river on one side and the Pacific on the other. This park also offers a self-guided native plant walk (pick up a map at the Hospitality Center). Of course, if you came for the beach, you're in luck. Eight miles south of Newport, Ona Beach State Park offers a more isolated beach that beachcombers love to visit.

Take in the Attractions
In Newport, your dilemma will be deciding what to put on your itinerary, especially if you are traveling with kids. When it comes to attractions, five main venues will vie for your time and attention. In the historic Bayfront district, kids plead with parents to visit Mariner's Square, home to Ripley's Believe it or Not, Undersea Gardens and Waxworks.

In south Newport (across the bridge), Oregon Coast Aquarium is a world-class facility geared for kids and adults. One of its most popular features is "Passages of the Deep," an undersea glass tunnel that allows optimal marine life viewing. Nearby, at the Hatfield Marine Science Center, science is fun; the center offers interactive displays and educational experiences to help make marine science approachable and understandable.

Wind down from all that learning with an adult tasting tour, your pick of wine or beer. If you choose wine, head north to Flying Dutchman Winery at Otter Rock. This small production winery and tasting room produces some fine wines that are often hard to find outside of the winery. If you choose beer, head to Rogue Brewery in Newport and take a tour of the brewery and distillery complete with product sampling, of course. If you worked up an appetite, end your tour in Rogue's café upstairs.

To learn more about things to do in Newport, visit discovernewport.com.
Explore the Many Sides of Newport