22. Strawberry Hill
Cape Perpetua, just south of Yachats, is well known for its tide pools, geyserlike spouts, and heaving, surf-pounded chasms. But a sunny weekend in June can find this forested headland nearly as crowded as Black Friday at Jantzen Beach. Give yourself some breathing room by heading just two miles south to Strawberry Hill State Park. Tide pools, playful harbor seals and sea lions, the thunder of crashing waves—they’re all here, surrounding the black basalt island that you can walk to at low tide. The long, sandy beach stretching to the north is perfect for letting your car-bound kids run free (an expanse of space that’s hard to find up the road at Cape Perpetua), while to the south you’ll find a vastly different shoreline of dark cobbles, popular with agate hunters who search for the bright, translucent stones among the rocks that calve off the cliff. Park at the Strawberry Hill parking area near milepost 169.
23. Hobbit Trail and Hobbit Beach
The quintessential postcard shot of the lighthouse at Heceta Head is taken from the wayside at Devils Elbow State Park, a shot so common, in fact, that it underscores the intrepid explorer’s need to seek out a fresh perspective. This you’ll find via a pullout just up the highway at milepost 177 (look for the China Creek Trailhead marker), where a network of footpaths known as the Hobbit Trails lead through the Sitka spruce and rhododendron (in bloom this month) to a close-up view of the lighthouse. After you’ve had your fill of the luminescence glinting off Heceta’s massive Fresnel lens, make your way back up the hill and turn left at the fork. Here, a half-mile descent through a dark, Middle-earth-like maze leads to Hobbit Beach, an enchanting stretch where the sun’s rays are often filtered through a fine gauzy mist. Park at the pullout at milepost 177.
24. Waterfront Depot
Tucked away at the far corner of Florence, the Waterfront Depot is one of the oldest-looking restaurants on the coast. Housed in the 1913 Mapleton train depot (which was sawed into three parts and floated 15 miles down the Siuslaw River to reach its present location), the kitchen now occupies the original ticket office. But the food is the real draw. Dutch-Indonesian owner Marianne Brisbane brings subtle but inspired international flavors to her daily-changing seafood menu—like her herbed Portuguese fish-and-shellfish stew, or her famous halibut, seared under a golden crust of sweet Dungeness crabmeat and offered for the remarkable price of $10. This is the kind of place you’ve been looking for on the coast for years. Unfortunately for you, the locals found it first, and unless you’ve called ahead, they’ll be ahead of you in line. Open daily for dinner; 1252 Bay St, Florence; 541-902-9100