This month’s Delicious Destination is a double-header! Originally the trip was to be solely focused on the Oregon Coast, but after my travel planning started, I realized I’d be remiss not to add a familiar favorite – the Long Beach Peninsula – to the tail-end of this roadtrip. It’s on the way home after all!
This month’s destination led me to where towering Pacific waves met the rugged Oregon coastline. While I’ve always thought that Washington’s coast offered everything I’d need in a PNW experience, I found immense beauty, delicious food, and gorgeous views in Oregon, too! Washington’s craggy, tree-lined coast is beautiful and pristine, yet much of it isn’t particularly accessible without a lengthy hike. While I appreciate the protections given to this vast, breath-takingly beautiful area on Washington’s most northwest coast I also enjoy the ease of access of Oregon’s coastline. Highway 101 runs smack-dab through it north-south – dotted with small cities and towns practically every dozen miles or so.
Where to stay? My internal compass pointed me to the area between Newport and Astoria – for no reason other than it being a reasonable day-drive from the Puget Sound area. Having not taken into consideration Spring Break and the swarms of travelers with similar road-tripping dreams as mine, my options were a bit limited, however. I settled on a small rental – situated just a few miles north of Seal Rock, to call home for five days. The area – roughly 10 miles south of Newport – was quiet and scenic, yet was a mere minute’s drive from groceries, sundries, and a protected harbor.
As you’d expect, once settled-in at my AirBnb I immediately made a pilgrimage in search of fresh crab – and I found the motherlode! The Chelsea Rose sits just off Public Dock #3 in the shadow of the famous Newport bridge. Tucked between seafood markets, and down a rain-soaked plank, this boat sells Dungies fresh off the dock. These deep-water crab were enormous – definitely the biggest, fullest and sweetest crab I’ve ever consumed. Weighing-in at well over two pounds each, these ended up being eaten fresh (with clarified butter). Leftovers becoming the star of an eggs Benedict the following morning, and again as crabcakes for dinner the next day.
Donning my official tourist-cap I found one of the area’s most advertised restaurants: Mo’s. Well-known up and down the Oregon coast for their chowder, Mo’s made for a perfect seaside lunch – with pick-up from their SW Bay Boulevard location (their original) and in-car noshing nearby at the Yaquina Bay viewpoint. While their “Slumgullion” chowder (with pink shrimp rather than clams) was a bit too potato-rich for my liking, their fish tacos were loaded with cod, and accompanied by a perfectly-spicy jalapeño-cilantro sauce. Just around the corner and up the hill I found Newport Brewing – with delicious Korean-style wings and locally brewed ales. Bonus points for having an outside area that’s dog-friendly!
Driving further up the coast, to the town of Tillamook, was a surprise find at Recess – a roadside hamburger truck. With spot-on service, fabulous burgers (their special Recess sauce makes these burgers!), and a little picnic-tabled dining spot well off the highway, I’ll highly recommend this gem to anyone passing through. I’d hoped to step across the street and enjoy ice cream at Tillamook’s famous creamery after lunch, however lines there looked uncomfortably-crowded for this COVID-cautious traveller.
Heading back north across the Columbia River between Astoria, OR, and Chinook, WA, my internal compass was already pulling me heavily to The Depot in Seaside (just south of Long Beach). Their Dungeness mac-and-cheese seemed the best stormy-weather comfort food, but played second-fiddle to their silky, rich, 3-day French onion soup.
Just down the road a few miles at Ilwaco’s Salt Pub, I tucked in after an afternoon of storm-watching and noshed their salmon fish and chips. Adorned in a delicious, crunchy golden breading, and accompanied by their own homemade tarter, this lunch was worth the drive alone! Paired with Fort George Brewing’s Fanzine IPA (a hoppy, 6.7% ale), it was about as close to perfection as you’ll find on this 28-mile peninsula.
But enough about the food – you’ve heard me gush about the dreamy, sandy beaches and miles of boardwalk on the Long Beach peninsula before, so I’ll just send you back to that post if you need a refresh. My favorite spots on the Oregon coast? Agate-picking at a beach wayside just south of Strawberry Hill (about 20 miles south of Yachats) just off the waters of the Cape Perpetua Marine Reserve. Agates were abundant, and (thankfully with a low tide) so were hundreds of tidepools teeming with life. Continue further down the road (and undoubtedly join swarms of others) at the famed Sea Lion Caves.
The Oregon Coast Aquarium (on the south side of Newport) gave a well-rounded view of the wildlife in, near, and under the Pacific just off the city’s shore. Puffins, seals and sea cucumbers were at home in the Aquarium and a multitude of docents gave a deep insight into their lifestyle should questions arise. Visitor tip: Arrive just after the first-of-the-day ticket time and you’ll be surprised with lighter crowds and more time to enjoy exhibits safely-distanced.
If your travels didn’t lead any further south than Newport, you won’t be disappointed. Yaquina Head’s State Park and lighthouse are within the city of Newport and boast spectacular views of crashing waves. Less than five miles north, Agate Beach (aptly named) covers the rocky coastline within a hearty walk of downtown.
I’ll look forward to longer trips in the next few years, perhaps further south on Oregon’s windswept coast, but for now I’ll be looking forward to my next Delicious Destination!