The Holiday Lights at Shore Acres display is one of the most famous seasonal attractions on the Oregon Coast and attracts thousands of visitors to our area each year.
If you’re among those traveling from out-of-town to see the holiday lights this year, we hope you’ll stick around and experience more of what Oregon’s Adventure Coast has to offer! There’s a reason why our region is known as the place “Where the Soul Meets the Sea”. Here are some tips to help you enjoy the very best of Coos Bay, North Bend and Charleston, Oregon during your visit this holiday season.
The 6,000-square-foot Charleston Marine Life Center,, located on the campus of UO’s Institute of Marine Biology features permanent exhibits including a Marine Ecosystem Gallery, an Underwater Oregon Gallery (where after just a few minutes exploring, you’re likely to see a multitude of marine life you may have never known existed) and an Oregon Fisheries Gallery (an open-air deck where visitors can see fishing vessels coming and going from the harbor). Visit t oimb.uoregon.edufor more info.
We also recommend spending a day at the South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve Interpretive Center learning about our local culture, history and natural resources. There are miles of beautiful hiking trails and waterways to explore in addition to classes/workshops for all ages.
There are a number of local restaurants dishing out the freshest seafood and chowder you could possibly hope for! Though there are too many to mention in one post, here are a few ideas to whet your appetite.
If you’re in Charleston, grab some chowder at Chuck’s Seafood or High Tide Café. You can’t go wrong with the popular Fish ’n Chips at Miller’s At the Cove Sports Bar & Grill. The Wildflour Cafe in North Bend along with these new locally owned restaurants are getting rave reviews from locals and visitors alike. There are a number of establishments that have stood the test of time like Shark Bites in Coos Bay, Hilltop House Restaurant and Lounge, Fisherman’s Grotto, Blue Heron Bistro, Fisherman’s Seafood Market, Captain’s Choice Family Fish House and many more. At the end of the day, grab a craft beverage at 7 Devils Brewing Co in Coos Bay.
On a nice day, spend some time exploring the beaches and state parks along the Cape Arago Highway. Take a walk and watch the surfers on Bastendorff Beach or search for natural treasures in tidepools in the protected beach in Sunset Bay State Park. We recommend grabbing your binoculars and taking some time to explore the Simpson Reef and nearby Shell Island to view and listen to the seals and sea lions. Be sure to look for sea lions, harbor seals, and occasional elephant seals in the viewing area overlooking Shell Island. Download this guide to help on your route. )
Charleston is home to a marina and boatyard that support thriving commercial and recreational fleets. With nearly 200 commercial fishing boats and 250 or so recreational boats, the docks and boatyard are busy year-round. Our fishermen bring in fresh Oregon Dungeness crab and pink shrimp, both officially sustainable seafood fisheries. The Coos Bay Boardwalk along with the North Bend Boardwalk are also lovely to explore.
Fun fact- it’s migrating season for grey whales mid-December through mid-January! Whale Watching Spoken Here® volunteers volunteers will be available December 27th - December 31st, 2018 at various locations including Shore Acres State Park to help visitors view the migrating California gray whales as they travel south to the warm lagoons of Baja Mexico.
You never know what you’ll find in our unique shops on Oregon’s Adventure Coast. The Charleytown Marketplace is a popular spot for visitors looking for special Oregon-made and other hand-crafted items. With its top-notch outdoor clothing and fishing gear, Englund Marine (next door) is the place for outdoor enthusiasts. Don’t miss Kinnee’s Gifts and Shells, featuring trinkets and other coastal items along with Boat Basin Plaza featuring an eclectic mix of merchandise.
While you’re here, shop for treasures in the eclectic retail stores in the Coos Bay downtown area. Local favorites include: Tru, Vintage 101, Leaf’s Treehouse, Organic Glass Art & Gifts, Katrina Kathleen’s and Canard Labs, Oregon Wine Cellars, Checkerberries, Artist Loft Gallery and so many more! The Coos History Museum Gift Shop provides visitors with a look at our history and culture. And a visit to Coos Bay is not complete without a stop at Cranberry Sweets for their unique take on cranberry candies and other delicious selections.
North Bend’s quaint downtown offers shoppers a blend of gift, antique and clothing stores to choose from, including, Painted Zebra, Petal to the Metal, Books by the Bay, Fat Cat Antiques, Mossy Rose, and many others. Other shopping options in North Bend include the Pony Village Mall, The Myrtlewood Factory, and Ko-Kwel Gifts at The Mill Casino.
Our area has a rich and unique history, making this region an antique lovers playground. In fact, a treasure trove of beautiful antiques and collectibles are waiting to be discovered on Oregon’s south coast. Click here to see more.
Fall and winter is the best time to watch dramatic waves resulting from winter storms on the pacific during the months of November through March. Click here for tips on how to have the best winter storm watching experience. Important: watch for dangerous sneaker waves! Never turn your back to the ocean and don’t climb on beach logs.
Spend some time browsing the museums, galleries, and other cultural gems in our area like the Coos Art Museum, the cornerstone of visual arts on Oregon’s Southern Coast and the Coos History Museum, Oregon’s oldest continuously operated historical society boasting more than 250,000 historic photographs. Click here to see more wonderful additions to our network of museums and galleries.
Did you know North Bend is home to beautiful beaches, eclectic stores, antique shops, music, theatre, friendly locals, nightlife, restaurants, majestic sand dunes, the historic McCullough Memorial Bridge and much much more? You do now for a sample itinerary.
Have a charming adventure as you hit some of our favorite local destinations. The Southern Oregon Coast Charm Trail is a wonderful way to get a true sense of our region and collect special souvenirs you will not find anywhere else. To get started, stop by The Coos Bay Visitors Center or Charleston Marine Life Center and pick up your map. You can also download your Charm Trail Map here.
The Cape Arago Highway and the Charleston to Bandon tour route are amazing on their own, but when combined, it makes for an inspiring adventure packed with natural wonder and fun along a remote stretch of shoreline here on Oregon’s South Coast. This 41-mile route is a delightful alternative to the Pacific Coast Highway (Highway 101) and will take just about 2-3 hours to drive (depending on the number of stops you make). The drive will lead you past six state parks, two National Wildlife Refuges, and America’s first National Estuarine Research Reserve. Travelers of all ages and experience levels will enjoy it as it has everything you could hope to see along the Oregon Coast — iconic views of the Pacific ocean, marine life, sea lions and seabirds, untouched beaches, secret coves and more! Click here to learn more.
Need more ideas and inspiration? Check out some of these adventures by Oregon guru and journalist Rick Dancer from That Oregon Life and his wife Kathy as they explore some of our favorite places and spaces in Coos Bay, North Bend & Charleston.