Road Tripping up the Oregon Coast

“Lots of yummy munchies!” exclaimed the perky checker at the Hillsboro Trader Joe’s in Oregon on an overcast Sunday morning. She wasn’t wrong-I’d loaded up on some old reliables like Epic brand protein bars and Fall favorites like pumpkin seed chocolate bark to munch on my road trip. Destination? Long Beach, Washington. Yet, instead of taking a faster inland route, I decided to head to Tillamook and then up the historic 101.

You know I’m no stranger to road trips. I love them. While I’ve yet to do a massive cross-country trek, there’s nothing like a beautiful route to feel some inner peace and enjoy the ride-literally. As I enjoyed my trail mix and discovered the best radio stations (I even heard the Smashing Pumpkins new single!), I made some wrong turns that were the best turns. I popped in and out of coffee houses and shops to chit-chat with locals. I attempted to stop for a photo opp at all of the vista points.

While I couldn’t tell you the names of every beach side village I encountered, these are a few that stole my heart. Driving through Oregon and the Pacific Northwest should be on everyone’s bucket list. The shades of green amongst the ocean and fog rolling in are stunning views you need to see for yourself.

Tillamook, Oregon

If you’re thinking, I love their ice cream and cheese, you’ll be in luck when you make a pit stop in Tillamook at the Tillamook Creamery. Open 7 days a week, get ready for a lactose-overload as the dairy mogul’s headquarters welcome guests to take an interactive tour and learn how they make their creamy goodness. There’s plenty of fun photo opps and an ample gift shop with every kind of cheese available from Tillamook as well as pints of ice cream and the more traditional goods like T-shirts and souvenirs.

Hungry? Then don’t miss their Food Hall. While I passed (the lines were long-but the plates looked worth the wait), the creamery offers common plates like burger and fries, grilled cheese…and plenty of ice cream. They’ve also got a hopping yogurt and espresso bar.

No one leaves the creamery without cheese, of course. Upstairs after you take your tour, guests are invited to help themselves to a variety of cheeses for sampling at a self-serve sample bar.

(c) Mary Farah
Cheese making in action. (c) Mary Farah
Don’t mind if I do. (c) Mary Farah
One of the pull-off stops in Tillamook Forest. (c) Mary Farah
Abandoned boats in Bay City. (c) Mary Farah
Tillamook State Forest

If you’re a fellow tree hugger or just appreciate the great outdoors, don’t miss checking out Tillamook State Forest. Spanning over 360,000 acres and 4 counties (Washington, Tillamook, Yamhill, and Clatsop counties), this was one of my first stops before arriving to Tillamook.

Overwhelmed with the beauty and nature all around me, I decided to drive through as far as I could-hoping a back road would get me to the creamery. Unfortunately due to fires, there were closures as I reached the end. Despite having to retrace my way back down, it was a breathtaking ‘wrong turn’.  Numerous hiking trails cover the land, and it’s worth a day trip in itself.

Bay City, Oregon

Reminding me a bit of Morro Bay here in California, Bay City is one of those tiny but mighty towns off the beaten path I love to find. Located on the Tillamook Coast, I stopped for a few minutes in Bay City and admired its small town charm and watched the fishermen out at sea. With the overcast and grey weather by the water, Bay City is a photographer’s dream.

Rockaway Beach, Oregon

You have to love a town that has an old railroad train as its Chamber of Commerce. In Rockaway Beach, road trippers and visitors can enjoy several shops, beaches, trails and even catch the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad train ride. I decided to stop into their Offshore Grill and Coffeehouse where I learned from the barista that life is always pretty awesome and laid back in Rockaway. While Portland and Seattle are easily accessible, most just enjoy the small beach community, she explained.

If you have a sweet tooth, don’t miss their local salt water taffy.

Bay City on a Grey Day. (c) Mary Farah
Rockaway Beach’s Chamber of Commerce. (c) Mary Farah
Candy shop in Rockaway Beach. (c) Mary Farah
Wheeler, Oregon. (c) Mary Farah
Hug Point. (c) Mary Farah
Wheeler, Oregon

Like I said-some of my stops were merely a quick photo, admire the beach and keep driving. Wheeler was one of those places but somewhere I’m glad is on my radar now. Beautiful views of the water surrounded me, and Wheeler is known for its budding art and foodie scene. What’s not to love? While I just admired the beach for a bit this time, I hope to return and dive further into the gems of this Oregon Coast town.

Hug Point, Arch Cape, Oregon

Another stunning stretch of beach, Hug Point brought to mind one of my favorite California places, Carmel. Fee-free and plenty of parking, it might have been cold but it was worth the stop and walking on the sand.

Seaside, Oregon

A popular Oregon Coast destination, Seaside is just that….an adorable seaside community with a variety of shops, restaurants, galleries, all just steps from the beach. This is such a great ‘pit stop’ town but be prepared to not want to leave.

I enjoyed a hot tea at Seaside Coffeehouse, then cruised the aisles at Beach Books. Down the way from there you’ll find a fun kids carousel and souvenir shops. Like most of the Oregon Coast towns I visited, the streets ‘roll up’ on the earlier side but that just means more time to go enjoy the beach.

Visit The Oregon Coast

As I continued up the 101, another highlight was crossing the Astoria–Megler Bridge in Astoria, Oregon into Washington. The Pacific Northwest is such a tranquil, gorgeous part of the United States and any nature and beach lover will fall to their knees at the raw beauty throughout these parts. While I’m sure it’s amazing when the sunshine is out, I really felt I saw Oregon at its best with the overcast and showers.

Learn more and plan your visit to Oregon HERE. xo