Days 28-30 (August 27-29)
Northern Oregon Coast – Tillamook, Depoe Bay, Beverly Beach State Park, Newport.
Fresh local cheese + working fishing village + craft beer + beach + camping under the trees? Yes please!
The Oregon Coast Highway veers inland for a short distance through the town of Tillamook. There is much to do in this area, but of course many a cheese lover across the U.S. will recognize this town’s name from the famous Tillamook Dairy & Creamery.
The Tillamook Creamery visitor center is housed in a beautiful new modern building, is clean and very well-managed…and crowded! We skip the 500-person long ice cream line, although we do the self-tour through the working creamery viewing area and we walk through the cheese samples line. And of course, we buy a lot of cheese and some other fun stuff at the large gift shop. The half mile we walk to and from the overflow parking area helps us work off all of that cheese that we just sampled. It’s always worth a walk for good cheese.
Depoe Bay is a busy little tourist town – a bit kitschy – but worth a stop for a few reasons even if you’re not into that sort of thing. This part of the coast is a fantastic whale watching spot, and home to the Oregon Parks and Recreation Whale Watching Center in which one can get out of the weather while patiently scanning the harbor for whales surfacing. We don’t spy any whales today, but relish the few minutes of shelter from the cold, wet wind. The weather here can be dramatic to say the least.
The historic Depoe Bay bridge bridge spans the channel to “the world’s smallest navigable harbor”. This is just one of many beautiful 1920’s bridges that Conde McCollough designed on the Oregon Coast Highway (Hwy 101), and we will get to see several more on our journey down the coast.
Devil’s Punchbowl State Natural Area in Otter Rock is a scenic area with sandy beach access. Apparently it’s a surfing hotspot (although uncrowded today), and an easy stop along Hwy 101. The “punchbowl” itself is probably more interesting on stormy days when the sea is violent.
The park campground where we’ll spend our next two nights is a couple of miles south of this viewpoint from the Devil’s Punchbowl area.
Beverly Beach State Park’s campground is lush and lovely. Our campsite is about a quarter mile walk from the beach. With such a pretty beach and interesting towns and hiking nearby, it’s a great place to stay.
Just lounging at this campground would be thoroughly enjoyable in and of itself but for one thing: the damp, shady forest holds the campfire smoke and makes for some poor air quality. Boo.
Craving some good local seafood, we head south to Newport and stumble upon the legendary Mo’s Seafood and Chowder. Without making a mental note of it until now, we had seen a few Mo’s locations already (Astoria, Otter Rock), but it’s a treat to eat at the legendary “Original” Mo’s (established 1946).
Fish tacos and chowder. Yum. Sorry I got messy with the hot sauce. Where’s a food stylist when you need one?
Sea lions: stinky, loud, but awfully cute. Frequent early childhood visits to Sea World San Diego instilled an affection for these funny beasts that will never leave me. The iconic Yaquina Bay Bridge is another of the 158 reasons we are charmed by Newport.
The scale of the busy fishing docks is difficult to capture, and there appear to be a thousand leisure crafts (mostly sailboats) docked in Newport as well.
After some tasty chow and a long walk around town and the Bayfront, we’re ready for a refreshing adult beverage. Oh wait, isn’t the Rogue Brewery just across the bay?!
From the moment we enter, we’re pleasantly surprised by the homey feeling of the brewery. A giant portrait of the brewery founder’s dog hangs on the wall. The pub feels old and creaky and warm and inviting.
For our first sip, I select a funky limited-release sour, Robert selects an IPA of course, and for our second (maybe third? but final) beer we both order the beer that made Rogue…Rogue: Dead Guy Ale. Sooooo much better fresh from the brewery than in a bottle shipped across the country.
I want to become a regular here. Can this pub be my local watering hole please? The menu looks so good that we eat again. Mussels + frites are the perfect pairing with our beer selections and are delicious.
While staying in the area, we walk the length of Beverly Beach twice. It is a calming place indeed.
One enters Beverly Beach by walking under the Spencer Creek Bridge and crossing the tidal creek. This is a spectacular spot to watch the sun set.
We’re undecided yet where we’ll stay tomorrow night, so when we wake up we’ll just start driving and see what beauty there is to see further south.