A girlfriend’s getaway on Oregon’s Adventure Coast? Totally! One text to my girls and we were all in! We had such a great time exploring all Coos Bay, North Bend and Charleston had to offer…together.
We arrived midday on a Thursday and our first stop – the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area . We took a wild ride through the almost 500 foot tall sand dunes at the southern portion of the more than 40 miles of dunes that stretch from North Bend to Florence on Oregon’s beautiful south coast. With a choice of an experienced Tour Guide and driving ourselves, we decided to test our metal against the dunes. It was exhilarating to careen over hills of sand and we even got to ride along the ocean. Such a rush!
Then it was time to check in to our hotel, get cleaned up and head out for a wonderful dinner at Front Street Provisioners , one of Coos Bay’s newest dining options. There is a whole list of restaurants to choose from and we tried several during our long weekend. This was just the first and we enjoyed the celebratory atmosphere with wine pairings and gourmet wood-fired pizza.
Friday dawned with gorgeous sunshine and a morning boat tour of the Bay with Coos Boat Tours . The 2 hour trip took us from City Dock in downtown Coos Bay all the way to the McCullough Bridge, the iconic bridge over the Bay where you enter this coastal paradise into North Bend. We grabbed lunch in the quaint fishing village of Charleston. Fish is so fresh here because it comes right off the boats in the marina. Next we headed out to the beaches along this rugged part of southern Oregon. Here, cliffs rise 100 feet above the ocean and, from what we heard, during storm season (October through March), you can see wave crashes along these cliffs that reach up to 300 ft in the air !
We visited Sunset Bay State Park where we kayaked in the protected cove under a cloudless blue sky. Next we hiked through Shore Acres State Park along the amazing cliffs and into the surprising botanical gardens. As we trekked through the coastal forest, we discovered a zen-like area where we just had to stop and do a few yoga poses. It was so peaceful and quiet – until the sea lions and seals started barking! We couldn’t see them yet, but we could definitely hear them. We spied the Cape Arago Lighthouse (unfortunately closed to the public now) and took some great, iconic photos to take home as a memory.
A quick drive along Cape Arago Loop took us to Simpson Reef Overlook where, with the aid of binoculars, we were finally able to see the colony of seals and sea lions and see what all the noise was about. We were surprised to find half the colony asleep while the other half put up such a cacophony we wondered how the sleepers could actually sleep!
As the day wound down, we headed back to Sunset Bay State Park – the absolutely best place to watch the sun set on what was a great day filled with adventure.
Saturday we took time for ourselves. Having pastries and coffee for breakfast was a real treat followed by the spa-like atmosphere of the salon where we had mimosas and pedicures. We can be such girls some time! We visited the Coos History Museum which is filled with artifacts and dioramas depicting life along the Bay and rivers that make up the waterways of the South Coast. We were amazed to find the Fresnel lens from the Cape Arago Lighthouse on display here. If we couldn’t visit the lighthouse, at least we are getting to see a part of it up close.
Then it was shopping time! North Bend and Coos Bay have some eclectic shops to choose from. There are few strip malls or big box stores here and we were happy to see that shops here are locally owned and carry a wide array of unique merchandise. Plus Antiques! There are quite a few interesting antique shops along Hwy 101 in both North Bend and Coos Bay. We found many great treasures to take home.
And we wrapped up our day trying our luck at the casinos . There are two in the Coos Bay and North Bend area. One of us got very lucky but we all had a great time!
Sunday, we knew we had to head home but we got in one last adventure before we did. A morning hike through South Slough National Estuarine Research Center . While the Interpretive Center was not open when we went, we were able to download the trail map and easily follow the trails through thick forest land down to the water of the estuary. It was strenuous but a great hike. We saw mushrooms and newts and so many plants we couldn’t identify!
Then it was time to say a teary goodbye to my best friends. We know we will visit here again because there were so many things we didn’t get to do this time around – mountain biking on Whiskey Run , visiting the Charleston Marine Life Center , going crabbing or clamming or even out on a charter fishing boat to name just a few.
Oregon’s Adventure Coast is so full of adventures, no wonder it’s their middle name!