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For some reason, even among many Native Northwesterners, there is a mindset that there is no real reason to visit the coast at any time beyond the limits of summer. That assessment would be wildly inaccurate. Additionally, and perhaps because of proximity to Portland above all else, the northern Oregon coast sees the brunt of love, while the southern coast lies in relative turbidity. It would be an oversight on the verge of shameful. For a number of reasons, the winter season is without a doubt one of the best times to visit the coast and especially the southern Oregon coast. Here are just a few of the reasons why Coos Bay, North Bend and the Charleston area, collectively known as Oregon’s Adventure Coast, are the perfect Portland Getaway right now. Starts with the drive.
Heading south on I-5, the total driving time from Portland is only 4 hours. However, it feels faster as a good portion of the drive is spent either tracking the scenic Umpqua River through the dense wooded Coast Range or parallel to the Pacific Ocean on the home stretch to Coos Bay.
The area’s pristine natural beauty is perhaps the biggest draw, marked by the best storm that can be seen anywhere in the Pacific Northwest – and that’s not up for debate. Shore Acres State Park, just southwest of Coos Bay, has become the pole star for stormwatchers from across the country. When conditions are right, swells can create wave crashes that can be up to 300 feet high. The park’s springs, sandstone rock formations and coastal anomalies provide some epic photogenic scenery and a landscape ripe for exploration. But most notable is the opportunity to see some winter storm that leaves a lifelong impression on anyone privileged to witness the show on their own, with several crescendos emerging through the winter storm season.
In addition to watching the storm, there are really impressive hiking opportunities in the area. The South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve boasts a mix of traditional trails and boardwalks that visit a diverse landscape with eye-catching landscapes and surprises around every corner. There are a handful of trailheads around the reserve, but perhaps the best place to start is at the Interpretive Center. The trails can be customized with a variety of loops or back and forth options. Some trails provide more elevation gain than others, but everything is family-friendly, and some trails are dog-friendly as well.
Winter is also one of the best times to visit waterfalls – when the rain ensures that streams and rivers flow robustly and the bogs and lichens reach their highest greens. And one of the best one-two waterfalls in the state can be found about 45 minutes outside of Coos Bay at Golden and Silver Falls State Park. A few trails lead to dueling views of the 225-foot-high Silver Falls that runs beyond a rounded dome of bedrock in fascinating strings of water that dance through the air to the cliffs below. Meanwhile, Golden Falls, a 254-foot monster cascade, is accessible via a stroll through an impressive grove of Myrtlewood trees.
Back in town you can enjoy a beer after the hike at the Liberty Pub, 7 Devils Brewing Company Pub or the new 7 Devils Waterfront Alehouse. For more of a sit-down affair, check out some of the best sushi on the entire coast at Tokyo Bistro, some serious old-school awesomeness at Hilltop House, or the comfort food meets worldwide culinary influence at Restaurant O.
The Oregon coast is also known for its Dungeness crab. And the city of Charleston is one of the best places to get that tasty crustacean. Even if you’ve never been crawling before, the learning curve is not very steep. Check the tide, get a license from Bi-Mart or Wal-Mart, or your favorite sports shop, get some equipment and instruction at Basin Tackle, and throw some rings in the water from the dock. That said, if you’re more of the “let’s just pop up, eat, drink and be happy” type, then the annual Charleston crab feed might be your jam. This year’s event will be held on February 12 and features a range of crab dinner specials thanks to the over 900 pounds of the sweet, sweet Dungeness crab that will be ready. Get tickets early!
Finally, winter on Oregon’s adventure coast is particularly wallet-friendly. Featuring a range of properties including The Mill Casino Hotel & RV Park, Best Western Holiday Hotel, Edgewater Inn and Motel 6 offering a two night stay at a 15% discount on the Storm Watching Lodging Special from January 1, 2022 to 28th. February, 2022. Given all of this, there may not be a better time or better place for an Oregon Coast vacation than winter along the Oregon Adventure Coast.