Newport, Oregon Travel Guide
Newport, Oregon (the Dungeness Crab Capital of the World) is a great base from which to explore the sand and surf of Oregon’s Central Coast.
Located 90 minutes southwest of Portland, most people drive the scenic and winding Pacific Coast Highway to Newport. Much of Newport is accessible by foot or by the free City Loop Shuttle.
Nye Beach District
There are numerous hotels and resorts located in Newport, but for a centralized location, check out the historic Nye Beach District . Named after the nearby beach, this area has attracted visitors for many years. President Herbert Hoover’s uncle, Dr. Henry Minthorn, built his Sea Bath Sanatorium here in 1902. Long since torn down, the site is now occupied by a visual arts center.
Several options for sleeping may be found in Nye Beach. Set upon a bluff overlooking the ocean, one option is the Sylvia Beach Hotel that is a funky mix of private and dormitory rooms. Created for the book lover, the hotel has a literary air that envelops its patrons. From the “shared tables” at the Table of Contents Restaurant to the lack of televisions in the rooms, this location is for reflection or writing the Great American Novel.
Oregon State Park Campgrounds
Two Oregon State Parks near Newport – South Beach and Beverly Beach – have campgrounds equipped with yurts, electrical hookups, or tent sites. Make advanced reservations on-line for the summer season, for these popular sites book early.
Central Oregon Coast Beach Activities
The coastal weather will dictate the day’s activities. But no matter rain or shine, there are a lot of inexpensive ways to enjoy the area. Or course, there are plentiful beaches to walk like South Beach (South Beach State Park), Ona Beach (8 miles south of Newport) or Agate Beach (1 mile north of Newport). Keep an eye out for agates, seashells, beach glass, or “whale burps” – rounded masses of vegetation, seaweed and flotsam wrapped together and churned up the sea.
Keep an eye out for off-shore whale blows – telltale signs of migrating or summering gray whales. Though charter boats offer whale tours, these gentle giants can be seen from headland promotories like Yaquina Head, Otter Head, and Boiler Bay.
Explore Tidal Pools at Devil’s Punchbowl
The Devil’s Punchbowl State Recreation Area is north of Newport off US 101. Pounding waves and relentless tides have carved several arches and a huge punchbowl-like opening in this headland. Trails descend from a parking area to either side of the promontory. Surfers and beach walkers head south, tidepoolers and beachcombers take the paved trail down to the north side. Be aware of slippery surfaces, sneaker waves and strong currents, so proceed with enthusiasm and caution.
Another tide pool area is at the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area. Located 4.5 miles north of Newport, this volcanic headland supports Oregon’s tallest lighthouse, built here in 1873. Though no longer active, the BLM maintains the lighthouse and offers tours to the top.
In addition to visiting the tidepools, check out the viewpoint decks at Yaquina Head and search the off-shore sea stacks for nesting seabirds or loafing harbor seals. Thousands of seabirds nest on these isolated rocks, so there is a lot of activity to watch during the summer. The elevated view might also turn up a gray whale or rare orca sighting.
Rain or Shine Activities Near Newport
The Oregon Coast Aquarium , located south of Newport Harbor, is one of the top 10 aquariums in the United States. Plan plenty of time to visit the touch tanks, see the exhibits, catch a sea lion feeding, check out the seabird aviary, and walk the underwater tour through the Passages of the Deep exhibit.
Located near the aquarium is the Hatfield Marine Science Center (free, donations encouraged). Associated with Oregon State University this center is a treasure chest of exhibits highlighting on-going research on the ocean and its inhabitants. There are touch tanks, interactive displays, and, if you time it right, a free behind the scenes tour on Sundays.
If the weather turns rainy, there are a couple of glass blowing studios along Highway 101 that are set up for visitor viewing. Warm-up and watch the artists demonstrate their craft. For the adventuresome, sign up for a workshop session and make a glass creation.
So rain or shine, there are many ways to enjoy Newport and to explore the wonders of this portion of Oregon’s coast.