Road trips to the Oregon Coast are a favorite among Portlanders who want a break from the downtown congestion and high-octane city energy, even if it's only for a weekend. Whether you call it "detoxing" or just an elaborate quest for good clam chowder, the coast is one of the benefits of life in the Pacific Northwest, for more reasons than just the shellfish—although it is a perk. The Coos Bay area is one of our state's coastal gems, making up for the four-hour drive with gray whales, scenic hikes and excellent clamming, alongside the "mardi gras of sports betting". As the weather warms, spring might just be the best time to make a trip, book a waterfront room at The Mill Casino • Hotel & RV Park, and take advantage of all that the Coos Bay area has to offer:
Spring Flowers at Shore Acres State Park
All things considered, there's not really a bad time to visit Shore Acres State Park, which sits on the jagged sandstone cliffs south of Coos Bay. In the winter and summer months, guests can watch the whale migrations with aerial views of the Pacific Ocean and over the holidays the park comes alive with a technicolor light display. But spring visitors are treated to the gardens in full bloom, with rhododendrons, azaleas, daffodils and tulips lining the Japanese-style gardens, perfect for a mid-morning stroll or curated photo-op.
Crabbing & Clamming
Portland's beloved seafood joints know that the best in marine life might not be found in the Willamette River. Coos Bay is considered one of Oregon's best locations for crabbing and clamming, as the lower areas of the bay are marine dominated, meaning there is little freshwater influence and ample opportunity for shellfishing. For those looking to get their hands on some of the season's best, follow the lead of locals and tourists who strap on their waterproof boots and head to the nearby Charleston boat basin area; you can crab from the docks and just steps away are active clam beds.
Whale Watching Week
In the final weeks of March, up to 20,000 gray whales begin to swim north to the colder Alaskan shores, leaving their winter posts in the Baja Peninsula. Coastal Oregonians have the privilege of watching these creatures as they make their journey, with approximately six whales migrating past the bay per hour. This year, the designated "whale watching week" runs from March 21st to the 29th, allowing visitors and locals to camp out in Charleston, peering at the 40-foot beauties through binoculars.
Hiking Along the Coast
With a mild winter mostly behind us, we can now turn our sights to all of the outdoor adventures that the warmer weather has to offer. After all, no one wants to wear six layers just to enjoy a hike. North Bend's sculpted sand dunes, Charleston's towering cliffs and clear views of the Pacific Ocean make the region a natural fit for both regular hikers and folks who just enjoy a good landscape. Try the Sunset Bay State Park for views of the Cape Arago Lighthouse, or the Golden and Silver Falls State Natural Area for the best cascading waterfalls south of Mt. Hood.