Southern Oregon Highlights: Seafood and Coastal Hideaways

As part of our pre-Feast Portland foodie adventure, we toured the highlights of Southern Oregon from the arid agricultural fields and scenic vineyards through the mountains to the coast. Discovering the southern Oregon coast was an eye-opener for this traveler who frequented coastal towns to the north. The southern Oregon coast is a bit wilder and less populated and therein lies one of the reasons you'll put this area on your must-visit list.

Traveling to the Southern Oregon Coast

We were visiting the Oregon Caves and so the best way to get to the coast was to take scenic Hwy 199, which dipped into California and gave us a taste of the magnificent redwoods at Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. If we had continued on, we would have ended up in Crescent City, California. Instead, we turned north on Highway 101 to explore the southern Oregon coast.

Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park - Southern Oregon Coast

On the way to the coast, we passed through parts of northern California. Photo courtesy Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park

Brookings for Seafood

We thought it would be cold, windy, and rainy at the coast. Instead, as we approached Brookings, it was sunny and rather warm for fall. We saw a sign for the “Wild Rivers Coast Food Trail,” and pulled in to park in front of the Black Trumpet Bistro eager for our first taste of southern Oregon coast cuisine.

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Settled into our small private dining room, we sampled local wines and beer and perused the menu. Black Trumpet Bistro is known for regional, fresh and house-made ingredients. It’s a family-owned local gathering place where people go for a pint of Oregon beer or a craft cocktail. I opted for the seared scallops, preceded by some wonderful house-made bread, which went well with the white wine I was sipping. Friends ordered the Caprese salad with fresh local tomatoes and mozzarella cheese to share.

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Local tomatoes for the Caprese salad at the Black Trumpet Bistro in Brookings. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

The scallops were fresh and large, served over over champagne risotto with peas and diced pork belly. It was an excellent coastal dish, a huge cut above what I expected for a rural town. It was the first of several surprises in the area.

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The seared scallops were expertly prepared. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

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Exploring the Rugged Oregon Coast

After enjoying a marvelous lunch, we traveled north to Port Orford. We were driving along the coast with viewpoints dotting the road. Oregon legislators gave us all a wonderful gift in 1967. The Oregon Beach Act was a piece of landmark legislation in Oregon establishing public ownership of land along the Oregon Coast from the water up to sixteen vertical feet above the low tide mark. This means that people have access and views are not marred by hotels and developments.

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The southern Oregon coast is rugged and dotted with small sandy beaches. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

We appreciated the stops along the Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor, a 12-mile, forested, linear park with a rugged, steep coastline dotted with small sandy beaches, some of which you can hike to. As you stop at viewpoints and take short hikes from the trailheads, you have the opportunity to admire the 300-year-old Sitka spruce trees, gaze at the sea through Arch Rock and Natural Bridges. In this area, there are 27 miles of trails weaving through the forests and affording stunning views of the rugged shoreline.

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The storms created natural bridges and caves in the rocks. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

Retreating to WildSpring Guest Habitat in Port Orford

After driving, hiking, and taking way too many photos, we watched the sunset from the hip Red Fish restaurant perched on a hill with a marvelous view of the rocks and ocean. After sunset, we headed for our accommodations.

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You can't ask for more… cocktails, seafood, and a sunset at Red Fish in Port Orford. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

It was a short drive via a forested, winding road to our getaway in the woods. WildSpring Guest Habitat is indeed a habitat. Picture having your own antique-filled cabin in the woods surrounded by towering fir trees. It was dark and the light of the cabins (and cushy beds) beckoned. There is something about being in the woods that brings peace to the soul. As much as the rugged coast had been exhilarating, the arrival in these quiet woods brought peace, relaxation, and a night of good sleep.

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You can have your own luxe cabin in the woods. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

In the morning, I explored the grounds—the art, the labyrinth, and the ocean views. In the main guest building, which has floor to ceiling view windows, there was a breakfast buffet laid out. I spied a hammock nestled between some trees lighted by sunbeams and thought this place would, indeed, be perfect for a relaxing retreat.

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There are many spots for relaxing at WildSpring Guest Habitat. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

WildSpring is a small, eco-friendly resort on five acres. The cabins are luxurious without being commercial or pretentious. My cabin had a large slate-tiled shower and fluffy white robes. But what I enjoyed most was opening the front door and smelling the dew from the trees and ferns and watching the morning sun filter through the branches. It was too quick of a stay. I decided I must return and enjoy the hot tub overlooking the ocean view and bring a book or two to read while swinging in that hammock.

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Labyrinth in the woods. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

When You Go to the Southern Oregon Coast

Southern Oregon is the People’s Coast and is ideal for leisurely driving and exploring the small coastal towns. There’s much to see and do on a southern Oregon coast driving trip. Along this stretch of coast, you can hike, bike, play a round of golf, travel up the river on a Jet Boat, go sea kayaking, or sit back and enjoy watching the storms roll in. Be sure to check out more things to do in Oregon, suggested by our Wander writers.

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Looking for a tranquil escape? During the recent Feast Portland, @southwestliz explored #thepeoplescoast of southern Oregon. A bit wilder and less populated than northern Oregon, this area should be on your must-visit list. #trailstofeast #travel #Oregon #PacificNorthwest #PNW #Coast #Coastaltrips #familytravel

Note: As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary meals, accommodations, and tour for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.

Written by Elizabeth Rose

Elizabeth Rose is back again in the Phoenix area after more than a decade living in New Mexico and Washington state. She travels throughout the West and beyond writing about destinations, accommodations, festivals, and restaurants, especially farm to table cuisine. As an expert in cultural tourism, her writing reflects that passion. She has won awards for her photography and accompanies her articles with her own images. She also provides photos for magazine covers, web sites and magazine articles (both print and online).

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1 Comment

  1. Ingrid McQuivey

    I loved following your journey, Elizabeth. Nice work!

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