Thursday, September 4, 2014

Newport, Oregon

We have decided that Newport is our favorite town on the Oregon Coast. While there are other candidates, they each have something that takes away from its appeal. Yachats, Waldport, Florence, Coos Bay, Bandon, and Brookings all have their appeal, but anyplace south of Newport is just too far away and none of them have the size or appeal anyway.

Our favorite place to actually stay on the coast is the Worldmark just north of Depoe Bay. Boiler Bay just north of the Worldmark and Depot Bay itself offer two of the best ocean viewing spots on the coast. A few years ago we watched three whales cavorting within just a few feet of the shoreline of Depoe Bay. They were so close I was worried they might get stuck. Meanwhile, the units at Worldmark all overlook the ocean with only a few feet of grass to divide us from the Cliffside. Even so, Depoe Bay is just too small for my taste.

Many people like Lincoln City, but it has always seemed like the perfect place for the outlet mall because Lincoln City is really just one long strip mall anyway. They do have some good restaurants, blues venues, a small local theater and an arts center so we do like being close, but otherwise it is just a long drive through an otherwise beautiful section of coastline.

We love Pelican Brewpub in Pacific City which has been named best brewpub in the country on more than one occasion and has had several of its brews named as best of the year. Situated right on the sandy beach by Pacific City’s Haystack Rock, the pub offers great viewing while drinking and eating. One winter we were entertained by a local trying unsuccessfully to dig his four-wheel drive pickup out of the sand proving, I guess, that even the locals don’t know everything about driving on the beach. But other than the brewpub, a couple of restaurants, and two top-notch art stores, there just isn’t much there either.

Further north, Cannon Beach is nice, but a bit pretentious. Seaside is great for families, but won’t ever lose that schlocky aura that every coast line needs. Astoria is doing a great job of refurbishing and rebuilding from its heyday as a fishing port and has enough to be attractive to cruise ships on their way to and from Alaska.

That leaves Newport which is close enough to be easily accessible from the Portland/Vancouver area and has more to offer on its own than any of the alternatives. Newport starts with its great old town area. This is still a working waterfront with two fish processing plants mixed in with the shops and restaurants along the same waterfront street.

Fish processing plants on the right
The fishing fleet

Over 100 memorial markers line the sidewalk

Wander up and down the street and you will pass by several art stores ranging from touristy knick-knacks to the truly artistic. You can visit a wax museum or look at life under the water. You can stop for lunch at two different Mo’s, famous for its chowder, or eat at some much nicer restaurants and pay for that, too.
Mo's is nestled between the processors

Believe it or Not and the Wax Museum
 We always spend Saturday night at the Rogue Public House for trivia night. Bill has been hosting this weekly event since the pub opened almost 25 years ago. The questions are challenging and he gives our enough prizes so that everyone wins something. Last time we were there, we won a $19 certificate good on any clothing item. I got a new bicycle jersey.
The Rogue Public House

One of the several old tavern and restaurant buildings
Across the Yaquina River Bridge which they have finally finished refurbishing is the Oregon Coast Aquarium, the Mark O. Hatfield Marine Science Center, NOAA’s main office in the Northwest, and Rogue Brewery’s head offices, brewery, and distillery. The aquarium is big enough to have an underwater walkway which they crafted after Keiko (remember Free Willy) was sent back into the wilds of the North Atlantic. Of course, they also have the requisite otters, seals, sea lions, and sea bird exhibits which are always fun.
The view from our window

Newport has another fun neighborhood at Nye Beach. Nye Beach overlooks the ocean instead of the Bay and is high on a cliff providing good distant views. What used to be a couple of old hotels and restaurants has in recent years been remade into an eclectic mix of restaurants, shops, and performing arts center. The most interesting hotel has been and continues to be the Sylvia Beach Hotel where each room is based on an author. We have never stayed there, but people who have extol the atmosphere which includes no television, telephone, or Wi-fi. The small restaurant continues the theme. Food is served family-style at tables for eight and is enjoyed by locals along with the hotel guests. See for yourself at

One of my joys of staying in Newport is the great choices for a bicycle ride. Even though it is touted as one of the great touring rides in the country, not all of the Oregon Coast Highway is really suited for bicycles. However, the roads north and south from Newport (other than crossing the bridge which I will walk across thank you) are wide, include some good hills, and the vehicles are accommodating. The road between Newport and Salishan includes the Otter Crest bypass where I have yet to meet any other cars. Something easier with less traffic is the road along Yaquina Bay to Toledo.

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