25. Siuslaw Pioneer Museum
Relocated in 2006 from its batty old digs along the highway, the Siuslaw Pioneer Museum, now occupying the 100-year-old schoolhouse in the center of town, makes for a fascinating trip back in time, to the days before the highway connected the rural, central coast to the outside world. Crammed with Native American artifacts and bizarre Victorian-era relics (check out the musical toilet-paper holder), this museum, curated by Lewis Campbell (left), is also a treasure trove of oddities that have washed up on area beaches over the years, like a slab of yellow beeswax likely spilled from a Spanish galleon and a mammoth’s tooth that some speculate to be 12,000 years old. Which pretty much beats out the whole sand dollar you found earlier in the day. Open noon to 4 p.m., closed Mon; $3; 278 Maple St, Florence; 541-997-7884
26. Oregon Dunes
Tromp your way up the steep, sandy dune near this unmarked pullout to one of the area’s best viewpoints. Here, the barren, undulating sandscape sprawls out for miles—looking for all the world like some forgotten corner of the Libyan desert. And though an ATV or two might muck up that lonely panorama, take solace: You’ve dodged the crowds up the road at Honeyman State Park. Park at the milepost 196 pullout.
27. Umpqua Aquaculture
When you see the mountains of shells piled up outside this oyster-growing business’s nondescript gray building (just beyond the marina at Winchester Bay), this is is what you must do: Stop, fill up your cooler, and make for the picnic table at the northwest corner of the parking lot by the Umpqua River’s south jetty. Here, with just an oyster knife and a few lemons, some crusty bread and a cold beer, you will enjoy a kingly picnic, slurping down Umpqua Triangle oysters—among the most sought-after delicacies on the coast. What makes these mollusks so plump and sweet and beautifully pearlescent is how Umpqua Aquaculture owners Cindy and Vern Simmons cultivate them: Grown from seed in a triangle-shaped breakwater that’s protected from the pounding surf by two jetties, the oysters spend their lives clinging to ropes in calm, 30-foot-deep waters. As such, they contain nary a trace of dirt or mud. And since the oysters also never spawn (the sub-50-degree ocean water renders them sterile), they’re available (as are the lemons and the beer) all year round. 723 Ork Rock Rd, Winchester Bay; 541-271-5684
28. Hall and Schuttpelz Lakes
The familiar brown signs along the highway, festooned with white icons of tents and boats and RVs, all point traffic east to Tugman State Park. But directly across Highway 101, just a half mile up Wildwood Drive, lies the unadvertised day-use area of Hall Lake. Clamber your way up the sandy hills that ring the water and you’ll be privy to views that stretch for more than two miles to the ocean. Once you’ve had your fill of that arid vista, head down to the forest trail that wends through the trees on the banks of the Schuttpelz Lake, where you can bask in an oasis of shade. 541-271-6000; www.fs.fed.us/r6/siuslaw