Visit the Oregon coast one of three ways: on a budget, spending a bit more, or when the getaway calls for a splurge.
Trip tips: Along the 363 miles of Oregon’s coastline (allow 12 road hours to enjoy the entire byway north from Astoria and south to Brookings) are stunning views, seaside cliffs, charming small towns, state parks, historic bridges, dunes, lighthouses and farming valleys. During a winter visit, come prepared. Unpredictable weather could bring a mix of warm sunshine quickly followed by gale-force winds and horizontal rain. For a mile-by-mile guide to Ore. 101, visit www.oregoncoasttravel.net.
Getting there: One-way rates from $165 to Portland; code-sharing Alaska/Delta, nonstop. Round-trip rates from $400 to Eugene; connection service on Delta or United.
Stay: The new Hampton Inn & Suites offers a hot breakfast, free in-room Wi-Fi, signature bedding and use of a gym/fitness center at rates from $102 a night. 201 39th St., Astoria. 503-325-8888, www.hamptoninn.hilton.com.
Eat: The two-story Bridgewater Bistro offers wonderful views of the Columbia River and the city’s truss bridge from every table. Lunch runs about $12-$15. The fish and chips are renowned. 20 Basin St., Astoria. 503-325-6777, www.bridgewaterbistro.com.
Experience: Unspoiled Astoria is the oldest American settlement west of the Rockies and is set in a temperate rain forest. Highlights include the Columbia River Maritime Museum to soak up the rich Pacific Northwest history; $12 adults; 1792 Marine Drive, Astoria. 503-325-2323, www.crmm.org. The Lewis & Clark National Historical Park features 12 miles of hiking trails and a replica of Fort Clatsop, where the 33-member Lewis and Clark Expedition wintered from 1805-1806; $3 adults. 92343 Fort Clatsop Road, Astoria. 503-861-2471, www.nps.gov/lewi/index.htm.
Stay: The Elizabeth Street Inn is an oceanfront hotel and within easy walking distance to dining, galleries and shops of historic Nye Beach, the Yaquina Head Lighthouse and miles of pristine beaches and tide pools. Just across Newport’s bay bridge are the world-famous Oregon Coast Aquarium and the Hatfield Marine Science Center. Stays through January are $141 nightly and include accommodations with a fireplace, two tickets to the aquarium and buffet breakfast ($18.95 value, per adult). 232 S.W. Elizabeth St., Newport. 541-265-9400, www.elizabethstreetinn.com.
Eat: Local Ocean Seafoods is a sophisticated fish market and grill with floor-to-ceiling windows to take in views of the harbor fishing boats and the Yaquina Bay Bridge. Small plates, $2-$13; large, $15-$25; 213 S.E. Bay Blvd., Newport. 541-574-7959, www.localocean.net.
Experience: This central coast region begs for a road trip. Under two hours south is Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area with 42 miles and 32,000 acres of sand, forest, river and lakes (between Florence and Coos Bay). This is the largest expanse of coastal sand dunes in North America; www.fs.usda.gov/siuslaw. Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge spans 320 coastal miles with hundreds of colossal rocks jutting out of the Pacific. This is a birders paradise and the place to spot seals and sea lions; www.fws.gov/oregoncoast.
Stay: Located in a serene forest of 100-foot trees, WildSpring Guest Habitat offers five luxury cabins on an oceanview bluff. Less than a two-minute walk brings guests to a Guest Hall with floor-to-ceiling windows, sculpture garden, open-air hot tub and spa, meditation alcoves and picnic areas. Reach the beach along a half-mile trail. Rates range from $198-$248 per night, varying by choice of cottage. 92978 Cemetery Loop, Port Orford. 1-866-333-9453, www.wildspring.com.
Eat: In the same building as the U.S. Forest Service Office in Brookings is Flor de Mexico. Enjoy an ocean view with handmade tortillas; up to $8.50. 541-469-4102, www.laflordemexico.net. Or get to the hip and family-friendly Superfly Distilling Co. Martini Bar and Grill, an extension of the distillery that operates in the harbor. All menu items under $10. 623 Memory Lane, Brookings. 530-520-8005, www.superflybooze.com.
Experience: Gold Beach, located in Oregon’s “banana belt” (so called the year-round temperate climate), is an ideal spot to see migrating whales until February and again from March to May when they return north (swimming a bit closer to shore); www.whalespoken.org, www.goldbeach.org. Unique to this region is a ride on a Historic Mail Boat, one of the only “Mail Boats” in the nation, which delivers mail to Agness daily, 32 miles upriver. The 65-passenger boat travels the Pacific Coastal Estuary known for its pristine wilderness and abundant wildlife; $50 adults (5.25-hour trip with a 90-minute lunch stop), May 15-Oct. 15. 29980 Harbor Way, Gold Beach. 1-800-451-3645, www.roguejets.com. The world’s northernmost redwood grove can be found on a hillside above the Chetco River in Oregon, eight miles north of the California state line. The Redwood Nature Trail, in the Siskiyou National Forest, winds through the grove. 3040 Biddle Road, Medford. 541-618-2200, www.fs.usda.gov/main/rogue-siskiyou.
Clara Bosonetto is a retired travel consultant.