Why our family loves to day trip to the Oregon Coast

A day trip to the Oregon Coast is good for the soul. When you live only an hour from the Oregon Coast, an all-day or partial-day excursion becomes a natural way to get a quick escape.

The Florence area is one of our favorite spots for an Oregon Coast day trip

Family travel video: Day trip to the Oregon Coast

With the town of Florence about an hour west of Eugene, it’s our go-to spot for a day trip.

The Oregon Coast has become one of go-to day trip spots for a few reasons:

  • It’s an hour from our front door. Taking Highway 126, we can head west from Eugene and be on the coast in about an hour.
  • The beach at Heceta Head Lighthouse: This Oregon State Parks property has an incredible cove, just down from one of the most scenic history lighthouses in the country. It’s our favorite spot for kid-safe Oregon Pacific splashing.
  • Coffee, cocoa, and a sweet treat in Florence: Florence has a lovely Old Town that’s great for wandering around. We always work in a stop at River Roasters for a cup of coffee, cocoa and, a sweet treat. Usually we sit on the back deck, with the Siuslaw River behind us.
  • One of Western Oregon’s best hikes is along the way. Just before you reach the town of Mapleton, there’s a turnoff for the Sweet Creek Falls trail. Tucked inside forested hills, this kid-friendly trail is a local favorite. The entire way winds along a rocky hillside. Fenced walkways follow a creek and over a dozen small and medium height waterfalls.

Why our family loves the Oregon Coast

Small towns and one city dot the 313 miles of the Oregon Coast. It’s just built up enough so you don’t have to worry about finding a place to stop. But it’s rugged enough to feel you’re getting away from it all. With free public beaches, vast green forests, and rugged black cliffs, the Oregon Coast gives you a raw taste of nature and tops up your family’s sense of wonder.

Here are a few other reasons our family loves the Oregon Coast:

The entire 313 miles of coastline is public property.

While some areas of the country have private beaches, Oregon does not. Harkening back to the Coast’s pre-road history as a public highway, landmark legislation in the twentieth century designated that the entire coastline would be public property.

You might see the Oregon Coast referred to as “the People’s Coast,” and it really is.

The Oregon Coast is accessible year-round.

On the western side of the hilly Coast Range, you can get to the Oregon Coast anytime of year. Temperatures are moderate to cool. Sometimes windy or stormy conditions may make it a better idea to stay off the coastline. Better to hole up in a cozy room with a beverage, and watch waves crash on the rocks and beaches.

Otherwise, though, pretty much anytime you fancy a jaunt to the Coast, you can do it.

From most spots in Western Oregon, you can get to the Coast in less than 2 hours.

We live in Eugene, a small city in the southern Willamette Valley. From our front door, we can head due west on Highway 126. In about an hour, we can be making footprints in wet sand at a beach around the town of Florence.

It’s a similar story for other areas of Oregon along the north-south I-5 corridor, such as Portland and Salem. Typically, you can head west from I-5 and be on the coast in less than two hours. From many spots, you can even get to the Coast in about an hour.

The drives to the Coast are as scenic as the Coast itself.

Hills and forests line the drive to the Coast, with winding scenic roads. Some of the back roads have some of the best drives, too.

A family favorite for us? When heading to the Coast, we’ll sometimes head farther south, and take Highway 138 from Drain to Reedsport. The road follows the Wild and Scenic Umpqua River alongside vineyards, hills, valleys, and forests. Most of the route follows the blue, wide, rushing waters. You finish at an elk preserve just outside of Reedsport. Generally you can see some of these huge animals from the road or from viewpoints just off the highway.

A day trip to the Oregon Coast is good for the soul and brings families closer

Whenever we go to the Oregon Coast, we leave feeling closer as a family. Maybe it’s the fresh salty air. Or it could be the tall, thick forests. Maybe it’s the jagged cliffs and the romping in the waves, through the sand, and along the winding hiking trails.

Whatever it is, we love day tripping to the Oregon Coast. It’s an easy way to get our family out and about for a day trip (or longer). Odds are it’ll be good for your family’s soul too.

About the author
Learners and Makers
We are the St. Clair Family: Anthony, Jodie, Connor, and Aster. As Learners and Makers, our family of four slows down, connects, and enjoys the world and each other's company. We have been traveling full time since 2022.