One of the ways that we fit more travel into our busy lives is by taking small weekend trips. A couple weeks ago my husband and I took a weekend trip to Coos Bay, Oregon.
We currently live in Northern California, so this was about a 5.5 hour drive for us. We went on Labor Day weekend, so we were able to arrive on Friday night and leave on Monday.
The short stay was a perfect amount of time to see the highlights of the area and relax for a while. Here’s a guide to the area and what not to miss!
Where to Stay:
Oceanside Beachfront RV Resort
Located near Charleston, OR, this is the perfect hub for a visit to the area. On one side you have the cute towns of Charleston and Coos Bay, while on the other you have the gorgeous state parks and beaches.
The other thing I love about Oceanside Beachfront RV Resort is the variety of accommodation options. They offer tent camping sites, RV sites with full hookups, glamping tents, and cabin/cottage rentals. All of the accommodations seem reasonably priced for what you’re getting. Check out their website for more details on the accommodation options.
Our tent at Oceanside Beachfront RV Resort
We opted for tent camping for two reasons: it was cheaper ($40/night) and we booked last minute, so it was one of our only choices. But it turned out amazing! Since it’s along the coast, it doesn’t get extremely cold at night or extremely hot during the day, which makes camping more comfortable.
Where to Eat:
Coos Bay Crab Co. Surf and Turf
Located at the Oceanside Beachfront RV Resort, the food here is outstanding! It’s a small “snack shack” at the resort which looked to us as if it would just serve frozen, microwave heated snacks.(You may not find much about it on Yelp or Trip Advisor because it’s basically the snack shack at the campground.) But it was the best food we had in Coos Bay!
The girl who works at the stand went to culinary school and wants to be a professional chef. She cooks up amazing, fresh clam chowder, fish and chips, and fish tacos.
We tried a couple of the highly rated restaurants on Yelp in Charleston, but this little shack was 10x better! Our only regret is waiting until our last day to try it out! Check them out on Facebook here.
What to do:
Picnic on the Beach
One of the best things about taking a weekend trip is being able to relax, away from the stress of everyday life. We spent a couple hours out on the beach with a picnic lunch, skipping rocks, playing frisbee, and napping.
Hike in Cape Arago State Park
We hiked the Cape Arago Pack Trail Loop which is about 4 miles roundtrip with about 500 feet of elevation gain. To get to the trailhead from Coos Bay or Charleston, follow the Cape Arago Highway as far south as it goes. The highway ends at a looping parking lot in Cape Arago State Park.
From this parking lot there are three trails. Two of them are short strolls to look out on the ocean from the cliffs above. We took one of these short trails down before we started our more substantial hike, so that we could see the sea lions barking on the rocks below!
The trailhead for the 4 mile loop begins near the group picnic area by the restrooms. The trail goes up through the forested mountains before coming back around toward the highway. You then cross the highway toward the ocean and are met with some gorgeous views of the ocean below.
The trail is very well-marked throughout. Although at some points, I began to wonder if we were truly going to make a loop as there was no trail map at the beginning. Not to worry though, you will indeed make it back to where you started. Though at the very end, you’ll need to walk along the highway for about 1/4 mile back to the parking lot, which I thought was odd. It’s fairly safe, however, since the speed limit is 35 mph and there isn’t much traffic.
Rum Tasting at Stillwagon Distillery
Photo credit: Stillwagon Distillery
Stillwagon Distillery is a very small, fairly new distillery operated mostly by one guy. Although small, it’s a great little place to check out during your trip! The owner is super nice and gives a detailed tour of his facility. Then he allows you to taste as many or as few of the rum flavors as you’d like. There’s a little something for everyone!
Go clamming or crabbing
Some of the most popular activities in the area are clamming, crabbing, and fishing. You can do this by boat, from shore, or off of a pier. You’ll need a fishing license to do any of these activities and since we didn’t plan ahead we didn’t end up doing this.
Many people staying at our campground were able to catch crabs with some minimal equipment. There are also an abundance of clams for clamming.
If you don’t want to clam, crab or fish yourself, there are plenty of local seafood markets you can buy from to cook up some fresh seafood.
Fat Bike rentals
Photo credit: South Coast Bicycles
Fat Bikes are bikes with extra wide tires that make it easy to ride on the sand. There is a bike shop called South Coast Bicycles in Bandon, OR (about 30 minutes south of Coos Bay) where you can rent these bikes.
I would really have liked to try this, but because our trip was during Labor Day weekend, they were closed most of the weekend. Also, keep in mind that they are closed on Sundays. So if you’re going for a weekend trip, you’ll probably want to do this on Saturday. The rentals are $50/ day, though the website says you can call to ask about hourly or multi-day rentals.
Smoke in Central Oregon on our way to Coos Bay
During the summer months, Oregon and California can get hit pretty hard with wildfires. This can make being outside less fun and problematic for those with asthma, due to the smokey air. Wildfires also often close highways leading to the coast.
Luckily the coastal towns aren’t usually hit as hard by the smoke. The air was not smokey in Coos Bay when we were there, even though inland it was horrible (see photo above). But be sure to check for road closures and air quality if planning a trip to Coos Bay in the summer months.
If you live in Oregon, Southern Washington, or Northern California, Coos Bay makes a great weekend trip! A weekend is long enough to see the highlights of the area. But short enough that you won’t run out of things to do and get bored.
If you’ve been to Coos Bay or are planning a trip, comment below. I’d love to hear about it! Questions? Comment below or contact us here.
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