Winner: Highway 101
Photo by Aubrie LeGault
The Oregon coast lays out a visual feast for those who partake of the 373-mile journey on Highway 101 from Astoria to Brookings. Best savored over several days, travelers along the rugged, wild and often stormy coastline can tour museums, lighthouses and art galleries. Pull into scenic overlooks to spy brown pelicans fishing in the surf or gray whales breaching off shore, tread miles of public beaches, hike headlands for panoramic views or gaze into pristine tidal pools at one of seven marine gardens. Stop at one of the eighty-six state parks spread end-to-end, with the highest concentration along the central coast. Pitch a tent or get pampered at a luxury hotel (from the Stephanie Inn in Cannon Beach to Tu Tu’ Tun Lodge near Gold Beach). Break up the drive by surfing a wave, riding a dune-buggy, flying a kite, kayaking a stream or tossing a crab ring into a bay. Enjoy signature seafood such as fish and chips, clam chowder and Dungeness crab with an Oregon wine or craft beer.
Runner-Up: Columbia River Gorge
An embarrassment of riches aptly describes the seventy miles of the Columbia River Highway Scenic Byway, a designated National Historic Landmark. Much of the old highway was built in 1913. An engineering marvel of its time, the newer Interstate 84 showcases the area’s scenic, historic and geologic magnificence. Highlights include Crown Point Vista House, five miles of stunning waterfalls and Bonneville Lock and Dam. Twenty-five miles upstream from the dam is windsurfer mecca and orchard-laden Hood River. Visit the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center in The Dalles, cycle or hike one of two abandoned sections of the Columbia River Highway State Trail.
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