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PNW Road Trip: Oregon Coast Drive: Florence, Newport, Lincoln City

We planned on staying Wednesday night in Lincoln City – basically the half way point along the coast between Crater Lake and Portland.  When I was a child we would visit Lincoln City a few times a year, but rarely stayed over night. It was a 90 minute drive from where I grew up.  

I hadn’t been back to the Coast since I left Oregon in 2001 and it isn’t likely I’ll make it back there again, so this was the perfect time to revisit and show MS a side of Oregon that he hadn’t seen.  

We started working our way through the coast range with our first stop for lunch being Florence, Oregon. I had only been to Florence once – it made for a very long day trip from the Willamette Valley, so we never did it growing up.  All along the drive along the coast we found some great Art Deco Public Works – like this bridge in Florence.  The WPA really made some amazing looking bridges, don’t you think? Sorry for the quality, I took it with my phone, for some reason.

We had a quick lunch at Bridgewater Seafood Restaurant, which was our third choice, since the first two weren’t open for lunch (their websites nor did TripAdvisor reference this closure). The menu had an amazing salad with a poppy seed dressing, but the rest of the food was just acceptable. 

After Florence we work our way north to a place I visited once as a child, Sea Lion Caves. This place is a natural cave along the ocean, where Sea Lions come to weather rough seas and it provides protection from natural predators.  The day we visited the seas were pretty calm and the sun was out, so most of the animals were sunning themselves on the rocks below.  I remember, as a kid, being frustrated by this place as there were so many people I couldn’t see the animals and the smell of Sea Lion shit was just overpowering.  This time, not so much. We visited on a week day in the summer and the animals were outside.  I think this is a great stop along the coastal drive, but not a destination in and of itself.  We spent about 20 minutes here and it was plenty of time.

The next stop on our trip north to Lincoln City was Newport.  Growing up we would go to Newport once every 3-4 years, again because of the distance from home and the idea of making this trip in a single day.  Newport is an active fishing port with processing plants on the waterfront.  We walked along the waterfront, stopping by a shrimp processing plant – I was surprised at how manual the process was. There was a large amount of shrimp shells waiting to be picked up, outside the processing plant.

One of my favorite things about Newport was a trio of museums along the waterfront. You can buy a single ticket to enter Ripley’s Believe It or Not, The Wax Works and Undersea Gardens. I loved these when I was a child.  Now, they are very warn and dated.  The Wax Works had been updated with some figures from the “new” Star Wars films, Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, but most items were the same as they were in the 1980s.  All three of these museums needed a good scrubbing – some lemon pledge and windex would do them wonders!

There was a family of sea lions hanging out on the docks at Newport Harbor too.

This bar was along the main waterfront road in Newport – I like the description of who visits this place, don’t you?

The waitstaff from the lodge near Crater Lake recommended we visit Gracie’s Sea Hag in Depoe Bay (between Newport and Lincoln City). She said they had great seafood and the bartender would “play the bottles”. We didn’t know what that meant, but since she was so confident we’d love this place, we had to stop for an appetizer.  The dungeness crab cocktail was really great – I would have eaten two or three of these myself.

One of the other patron’s asked the bartender to play the bottles and she declined…but we did watch the YouTube video of the show – while I wouldn’t go for the show, I’d definitely go for the crab cocktail.

Have you taken the great American Road Trip this summer?  Where did you go? Do you enjoy the drive along the Oregon Coast? Do you have a go to place you always stop along the Coast?  

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