written by Isabella Golasi
The Oregon Coast’s other season is the dead of winter. Yes, it may rain a bit here in the late winter months, but with a little planning for weather, you’ll find mild maritime temperatures in the midst of the most hauntingly beautiful scenery Oregon has to offer. All without the summer crowds.
The Southern Oregon Coast from Coos Bay south to the California border is home to the towns of Coos Bay, Bandon, Port Orford and Gold Beach among others. They all have three things in common—a direct connection with the Pacific Ocean, remarkable beauty and unexpectedly exceptional restaurants that enhance your coastal experience.
Over the next three days, you’ll walk through these places as if in a misty dreamscape.
Working your way down the Southern Oregon Coast, Coos Bay was Oregon’s largest coastal town in the late nineteenth century, when shipbuilding was in demand. Many of the ships that sail out of Coos Bay today are of the smaller commercial fishing variety.
One of the top reasons to spend time in Coos Bay is its massive 40-mile span of sand dunes and the photo opps that come with them. Pack a bottle of water, some chocolate and rain gear, and head out along the Umpqua Dunes and the John Dellenback Trail for a 5.4-mile out and back for a great hike. Head out to Cape Arago State Park to see the historic Cape Arago Lighthouse, first lit in 1866 with a Fresnel lens on an octagonal tower. In 1933, the lighthouse was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
When done, grab a bite at the iconic Crazy Norwegian Fish & Chips and eat like a local. Don’t forget to sample the local terroir at 7 Devils Brewing’s new waterfront ale house, overlooking the bay.
Dinner is best procured at Restaurant O, an upscale Italian venue from the perspective of Irish chef Eoghain O’Neill. O’Neill and his wife, Kariktan Cruz, a pediatrician, opened to fanfare in December 2017 and immediately rose to the top of the list for Oregon Coast fine dining.
Nearly 25 miles south of Coos Bay, Bandon is the next stop on this Southern Oregon Coast exploration. Named after Bandon, Ireland, Bandon is now more likely to be associated with Scotland. Known for its highly sought-after world-class golf at Bandon Dunes Resort, Bandon is both recreation and world travel in one space.
Bandon Dunes Golf Resort has five links courses that, if you were brought here blindfolded, you would swear you had been transported to Scotland. The fiery yellow gorse blossoms, the long and fast fairways, the tall grasses of the rough and the undulation of the land put you virtually in Gleneagles. The views out over the Pacific Ocean at various junctures, and how the greens and browns meet blue sky and gray water, places you in an oil painting from an adoring master artist.
Don’t stop touring Scotland-cum-Oregon after the last hole, head to McGee’s at the resort for shepherd’s pie and Scotch eggs with a single malt sipper.
If golf is not your preference, head into Old Town Bandon, the town center, where arts and culture thrive along the Coquille River. Before you settle down for an evening meal, work your way into it with the 5-mile boardwalk loop that takes you along the Coquille River, out to the Bandon Beach and back into the Old Town.
Tony’s Crab Shack is a good place for fresh local seafood in the form of the Bandon Famous Crab Sandwich, a quarter pound of Oregon Dungeness crab on toasted sourdough with Swiss cheese, greens and dressing. For the more formal, white-linen dining, reserve a table at Alloro Wine Bar and Restaurant and sip and savor elements of the seafood and pasta menu.
Mosey on down the coastal highway to Port Orford, another 25 miles south, for your final day and out to Oregon’s westernmost point of Cape Blanco State Park for a vista-filled hike. Possibly named by Spanish explorer Martín de Aguilar in 1603, Cape Blanco didn’t get its own proper lighthouse until after 1867, when the United States government bought the land from private citizens John and Mary West. Take to Port Orford Heads State Park for an easy 1.2-mile loop hike with gorgeous views.
If you’re staying for happy hour, hit Redfish Restaurant in Port Orford for amazing views and inventive coastal food.
Going deeper into the Southern Oregon Coast, Gold Beach is a remote gem. The scenery around Gold Beach is the stuff of the best Instagram accounts.
You’ll find these places along the coast, at Kissing Rock and along the Frances Shrader Old Growth Trail, a nearly 1-mile loop of beauty.
It may be best to cap this trip at Arch Rock Brewing and with its signature porter that will help you remember that elsewhere it’s winter in Oregon, but right here, on the Southern Oregon Coast, it’s a mild-weathered escape to a misty beauty.
7 Devils Brewing (Coos Bay)
Alloro Wine Bar (Bandon)
Arch Rock Brewing (Gold Beach)
McGee’s Pub (Bandon)
Redfish Restaurant (Port Orford)
Tony’s Crab Shack (Bandon)
Bandon Dunes Golf Resort (Bandon)
Bay Point Landing (Coos Bay)
Pacific Reef Hotel (Gold Beach)
WildSpring Guest Habitat (Port Orford)
Bandon Dunes Golf Resort
Cape Arago State Park
Frances Shrader Old Growth Trail
Port Orford Heads State Park