In Portland, it's rare to witness the makings of a bar fight.
But while working on this guide in Astoria, I saw just that. I looked up from a stool in a dive bar called the Chart Room to see big guy in a cycling cap taking loud offense to the Confederate flag on another guy's shirt. They exchanged tense words until the bartender told them both to shut up or get out.
Certain Portlanders have gotten into the habit of avoiding our coast because they've had a bad experience in the taffy line in Seaside or a tacky gallery in Cannon Beach. The beauty of a hike up Saddle Mountain may be unimpeachable, but unless you know where to look on the coast, it's easy to get sucked into a tourist trap. That's because the coast still sports that Old Oregon dynamic that's been pushed aside in New Portland. Folks from the West Hills fly around the tight curves of Highway 101 in F-type Jags on their way to the Whale Cove Inn and down to Bandon Dunes. In Seaside, hordes of families decked out in Realtree camo grub down at Pig 'n Pancake.
If you want small town "authenticity," you won't have to dig very deep—just stop anywhere with an Oregon Lottery sign in the window. Our goal is to create a different sort of guide, to what mariners might call safe harbors: the spots where you can drink a quality cocktail, get a serious Neapolitan pizza at a camp store, or buy some rare vinyl.
This edition of WW's Outdoor Guide starts with our very favorite hikes on the northern coast, and continues with spots where you can get wet. But, in truth, you can pretty much stop at any beach with a cooler full of beer and a stack of firewood and have a great night. So what we've created are picks for where to stay, where to eat, where to drink and where to get something to smoke. These choices are based on extensive research in the past three months. We close things out with some of our favorite hidden beaches.
It's probably fair to say this is a guide to the Oregon coast for people who use Uber and drink pricey sour beer. As far as we know, it's the first such guide to be published by anyone. We hope you find it useful, and that you find our blustery and beautiful coastline a little more inviting for having read it.