Wild Rhododendrons & Coastal Adventure Details
Oregon’s nearly 363 miles of pristine, public coastline is made up of diverse terrain that changes from rugged cliffs to evergreen forests to Sahara-like dunes and boundless sandy beaches. From Astoria in the north to Brookings in the southern tip, follow the shoreline past a smorgasbord of one-of-a-kind attractions including scores of quaint towns with a penchant for serving up legendary seafood, historic lighthouses, breathtaking viewpoints, stunning state parks, a cornucopia of galleries and museums and a world-class aquarium. Mild temperatures, dramatic scenery and a wide range of recreational activities make the coast one of the state’s most popular regions.
Your coastal adventure begins in Florence, which is situated on Highway 101. Florence is a short 1.5 hour drive from Eugene, Oregon (on the I-5 corridor). This scenic coastal town is bursting with activity, and they are very proud of their Rhododendron Festival, the second oldest flower festival in Oregon. It is just one year younger than the Portland Rose Festival, having gotten its start in 1908. Today, this annual festival takes place the 3rd weekend of May (May 20-22, 2011) and boasts a special arts and crafts show among its many activities.
Once you’ve experienced the Rhodies, try another Oregon Coast adventure – a dune buggy ride! Sandland Adventures (www.sandland.com) offers an exhilarating tour of the Oregon DunesNational Recreation Area in its giant 30-passenger dune buggies. In one hour, you’ll cover eight miles of dunes and learn a lot about this unique geographical wonder.
Next, see the most photographed lighthouse in Oregon – Heceta Head (www.hecetalighthouse.com) – with a stop to see this breathtaking beacon of sea safety. The lighthouse keeper’s house, Heceta House, is a working bed & breakfast and is available for group events as well. Then, pay a visit to the nearby Sea Lion Caves (www.sealioncaves.com), where Steller sea lions gather by the dozens to rest, recreate, and vocalize their joy at seeing one another. End the day with shopping and dining in the fantastic shops and restaurants found in the heart of Old Town Florence (www.oldtownflorence.com).
Finally, test your luck with an extended stay at Florence’s Three Rivers Resort & Casino (www.threeriverscasino.com). Florence is fabulous no matter what time of year you plan to visit. Continue your journey along the Oregon Coast heading north to Newport, Lincoln City, Tillamook, Cannon Beach and Seaside, or South to Coos Bay or Gold Beach
Accommodations, Restaurants, and Attractions:
A LaQuinta Inn & Suites Waterfront
B Best Western Pier Point Inn
C Three Rivers Resort & CasinoD Mo’s Chowder
E Tavolo Restaurant and Lounge
F The Bridgewater Restaurant – 541.997.1133
G Willamette Pass Resort/Oregon Skyway
H House of Myrtlewood
I Oregon Coast Aquarium