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Oregon Coast

Photo by Loren Kerns

Oregon Coast Itineraries

Pacific City Party: An Oregon Coast Family Weekend

Exploring the ruggedly beautiful Highway 101

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It’s called the coast. The 363 miles of Oregon shoreline are publicly owned, thanks to the 1967 Oregon Beach Bill and is always called the coast, never the beach. Oregon doesn’t do beach. It’s too cold and rainy most of the year to evoke images of bikinis and board shorts. Nope, in Oregon we visit the coast with our Gore-Tex jackets on to take a hike. We walk our dogs all bundled up past the iconic Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach. We gaze out at the white wash of waves from a cozy picture window from a rental house. Going to the coast is not the same as going to the beach and us Oregonians like it that way.

The Oregon Coastal Region is broken up into four distinct areas, the North Coast, the Tillamook Coast, the Central Coast and the South Coast. Each area takes on a unique hyper-local profile but you can be sure to find great coffee, breweries, wineries, miles of public beaches and vistas that will beg of you to stop the car and soak in the beauty of the Oregon coast, all along the way.


Beauty, Hiking, Surfing and More

The unrefined beauty of the Oregon Coast speaks to travelers who want more than just a pretty beach. The conifers lining Highway 101, the coastal road that winds it’s way from the Columbia River in the Northern tip of the state by Astoria to the California border, frame the panoramic views of the seemingly never ending Pacific.

Although it’s cold, the Oregon coastal waters average temperatures in the low to mid 50’s Fahrenheit; it’s also a great place to surf. Whether you are new to the sport or have been surfing for decades, the powerful Oregon waves make for great riding. There are great surf spots all along the coast, but some favorites are Seaside Cove, Indian Head Beach, Short Sands Beach, Pacific City, Otter Rock, and Florence

Since the average rainfall in Newport, Oregon on the central coast is nearly 70 inches per year, hanging out on a warm beach might not be a part of your Oregon Coast holiday. Instead, many Oregon Coast vacationers find hiking through the stunning and varied landscape of the windswept coast region to be a great alternative. Likewise, flying kites on the beach, looking at tide pools and storm watching from a cozy rental house are key ingredients to a full immersion in an Oregon Coast holiday.


Local Food, Local Drink

The Farm to Table movement is having its moment on the Oregon Coast. From North to South you will find meals that highlight the local bounty. Clam chowders featuring locally foraged clams in Cannon Beach, that day dory caught halibut in Pacific City, seasonal produce from coastal farms in Newport are the norm. Brew masters and spirit purveyors have also discovered the Oregon Coast where you will find locally made beers and cocktails in each community up and down Highway 101.

You may need a raincoat when you visit, but the Oregon Coast will not disappoint.


Explore an Oregon Coast Itinerary

Pacific City Party: An Oregon Coast Family Weekend … Family-friendly spot for beach, beers and surf


When To Go

There really isn’t a bad time to visit the Oregon Coast. Temperatures are moderate year-round, cooler (but not cold) in the winter and warmer (but not hot) in the summer months.

Expect more automobile traffic on Highway 101 as locals and tourists’ head to their favorite seaside resort destinations between Memorial and Labor Day weekends

How Much Time To Spend

While a person could drive the entire span of Highway 101in a single day, plan a minimum two day drive with an overnight somewhere in the Central Coast.

While a four day trip itinerary allows for basic exploration in each of the distinct regions (North Coast, Tillamook Coast, Central Coast, and South Coast), an adding extra three days between Tillamook, Cannon Beach, and Bandon would fill out a full week quite nicely.

High and Low Season

There really isn’t a bad time to visit the Oregon Coast. Temperatures are moderate year-round, cooler (but not cold) in the winter and warmer (but not hot) in the summer months.

Expect more automobile traffic on Highway 101 as locals and tourists’ head to their favorite seaside resort destinations between Memorial and Labor Day weekends.

Weather and Climate

Oregon weather is unpredictable. You may experience rain and sunshine at the same time, with bone-chilling cold and fog at sunrise and temps hot enough to send sweat dripping down the back of your neck after sunset. Dress in layers and keep a waterproof (not water resistant) jacket or shell in your vehicle or backpack.

Events and Holidays

National Holidays

January (1st): New Year’s Day
January (third Monday):  Martin Luther King Jr. Day
February (third Monday):  Presidents Day
May (last Monday):  Memorial Day
July (4th):  Independence Day
September (first Monday):  Labor Day
October (second Monday):  Columbus Day
(not the same as Native American Day, which is only celebrated officially in two states, on September 25th)
November (11th):  Veterans Day
November (fourth Thursday):  Thanksgiving Day
December (25th):  Christmas

Time Zone

Oregon is located in the Pacific time zone.

To check the local time on the Oregon Coast, click here.

Daylight Savings Time (DST) happens in the spring (on the second Sunday morning of March at 2 a.m.). It’s when clocks are advanced one hour so there is more daylight later into the evening. In the fall (on the first Sunday morning in November at 2 a.m.), clocks shift back one hour to standard time. The entire U.S. (except Hawaii and most of Arizona) participates in this ritual of ‘springing forward’ and ‘falling back.’

What To Pack and Wear

The best way to prepare for every possible Oregon weather combination is to dress in layers and keep a waterproof (not water resistant) jacket or umbrella in your vehicle or backpack.

In many places the coast is almost always windy; if you see more than one shop selling kites, plan on a wild hair day at the beach. A baseball cap or visor is not a bad idea if you have rented a convertible for your journey.

If you hike on many of the trails along the coast or dense and verdant forests, a decent pair of hiking boots will help protect against mud and slick and sharp volcanic rock.

Other

Filling Up Your Gas Tank

Oregon is one of two states in the United States where passengers are not allowed to pump fuel at the gas station. When you pull up to the pump, an attendant will come to your window and take your form of payment (cash may be slightly less per gallon than paying by credit card). You are not expected to tip, but may wish to do so if the attendant washes the windshield or checks the oil.

Tide Tables

If you are planning an adventure on or around the ocean (clamming, tide pool exploration, spouting horns, etc.), spend a few minutes studying the local tide table. Note that the most extreme tides are in late June and late December when the earth is closest to the sun. There are two high tides and two low tides every day. One of these high tides is much higher than the other, and one of the lower low tides is lower than the other. The average of the lowest low tides is set at zero; in tide tables, “plus” or “minus” tides are above or below this zero, not mean sea level.

What it Costs

Abstract Pricing at a Glance

Prices often fluctuate dynamically depending on capacity, seasonality and deals. We don’t want to lead you astray by quoting exact prices that quickly become wrong. To give you a rough idea for budgetary planning purposes, though, we have indicated general price ranges for all points of interest.

Price ranges are quoted in $US.

See & Do
N/A => Not applicable
Free
$ => Tickets less than $10 per person
$$ => Tickets $11-25 per person
$$$ => Tickets $26 per person

Sleep
$ => Rooms less than $100 for a double
$$ => Rooms $200 for a double
$$$ => Rooms $300 for a double

Eat
$ => $1-15 per person for a meal (without alcohol, tax, tip)
$ => $16-40 per person for a meal (without alcohol, tax, tip)
$$$ => $41 per person for a meal (without alcohol, tax, tip)

Shop
N/A => Not applicable

Tours
$ => Tickets less than $10 per person
$$ => Tickets $11-25 per person
$$ => Tickets $26 per person

Airfare and Car Rental Prices

Fly the Friendly Skies

Airfares are a fickle thing. When you need it to be low, it’s high. And when prices dip, what happens? You can’t get off work to travel. Sigh.

But you can get notifications from companies like Kayak, which will email you when airfares drop. Type your destination and the dates you are watching and boom, when there’s a deal, you’ll hear about it immediately via your inbox.

Sites like Momondo also display prices for multiple airlines, so you can compare rates without visiting individual airline sites.

That said, there is an advantage to visiting an individual airline’s site. Why? Because some of their really great deals don’t show up on the aggregator airfare sites. Most airlines share limited-time, super-specials via their Facebook pages or email blasts. So it pays to be their ‘friend’ or subscribe to their e-mailings.

Have Car, Will Travel

Like airlines, car rental rates are all over the map. Companies like Expedia and Hotwire offer comparison price shopping.

There are also name-your-own-price sites, like Priceline, where you tell ‘em what you want to pay and they hook you up with a car rental company who can fit the bill. There are some great deals here, if you are not too picky about the make and model of your rental.

Zipcar is another choice for rentals. Available in many major cities and college towns in the U.S., Zipcar is a great alternative for super-short term rentals. Picture this scenario: you are in a big city with terrific public transportation, so you don’t need a car. But then you hear about an amazing restaurant 20 miles away in the suburbs. You can’t go home without trying it. A taxi would cost a fortune. You’d have to wait a long time to get a return taxi. Open the Zipcar app; search for a nearby Zipcar locale. You need to apply for membership and download the app in advance. Memberships cost about $7 a month; rentals are about $8 to10 per hour; gas and insurance are included. Foreign drivers can apply and you don’t need to pay a monthly fee if you’re an occasional driver (from $25 per year for a membership).

Ride-sharing companies, Uber and Lyft, are also ubiquitous in major cities. Through a smart phone app, you can line up rides all over town. It’s convenient because no money changes hands (payment is made through the app) and it’s usually cheaper than a taxi. Another bonus? After requesting a ride, you can see where the driver is on a map, so you know that they are on their way and how long it will be. Try that with a cab.

Money Saving Tip:
Costco, because of its behemoth size and price negotiating power, offers great low prices for most major car rental companies. Yes, you need to purchase an annual Costco membership first, but it more than pays for itself with what you’ll save with a typical week’s car rental (i.e. searches turn up a mid-size car through Costco for $225 and a comparable car through another aggregator for $325.)

Did You Know:
Budget Car Rental offers drivers residing at the same address (i.e. unmarried partners or BFFs) complimentary extra driver coverage. Other car rental companies charge upwards of $10/day. By the way, when renting in California, there are no additional driver fees by law.

Insurance

Hopefully, your trip to (or within) the U.S. goes without a glitch. But what if an unexpected situation arises? Will you lose the money you invested in the trip? Will you need quick cash to cover sudden costs?

Travel insurance policies are meant to cover these unexpected costs and assist you when problems arise. The fee is typically based on the cost of the trip and the age of the traveler.

Most travel insurance providers offer comprehensive coverage that usually includes protection for the following common events:

Trip Cancellation:
About 40 percent of all claims fall in this category.

Medical:
Health services in the U.S. are expensive for the uninsured. This is a major reason to consider purchasing insurance. Whether you break a leg or need a blood transfusion, you will likely incur costs far higher than you might pay in other nations. And what if you have an accident that requires transport to a major medical center? Air ambulances alone could set you back $15,000 to $30,000.

Trip Interruption: For example, if you become ill during your trip or if someone at home gets sick, and you have to get off the cruise ship or abandon a tour. The insurer will often pay up to 150% of the cost of your trip to get you home.

Travel Delay: Insurance usually covers incidentals like meals and overnight lodging while you wait to travel home.

Baggage: Insurance will typically cover lost and mishandled baggage.

Some insurance companies allow you to purchase a policy that allows you to cancel for any reason. This may cost more (often 10% or more), but it is worthwhile for certain travelers.

Do I need travel insurance?

If your trip costs $4,000 to $6,000 (or more), it’s probably a good idea. Your age and health are important factors. So is your destination. If you’re traveling to a hurricane-prone area during hurricane season, for example, you’ll probably want some coverage “just in case” … no matter what.

Your English language skills are also an important factor. Insurance policies often include concierge services with 24-hour hotlines that can connect you quickly with someone who speaks your language.

How do I choose an insurance provider?

Do your homework; check around.

The largest insurers in the U.S. include Travel Guard, Allianz and CSA Travel Protection. Smaller reputable companies include Berkley, Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection, Travel Insured International and Travelex. You may also find deals through aggregator sites like Squaremouth and InsureMyTrip.

Many airlines and travel companies also offer travel insurance when you book your flight (often contracted with the above major players).

If you have pre-existing health conditions:
Many policies have exclusion policies if you have a pre-existing medical condition. But companies also offer waivers that overwrite the exclusion if you purchase the policy within a certain time frame of paying for your trip (e.g., within 24 hours of buying your cruise package). Again, it’s best to check the fine print.

Credit card insurance: If you buy your airfare or trip with a credit card, you may be partially covered by the credit card’s issuing bank. Check directly with the company to find out exactly what’s covered, as many have “stripped down” coverage and restrictions.

The travel insurance business is expanding and evolving rapidly. As “shared space” lodging options like VRBO, Airbnb and Homeaway become more popular in the travel and leisure market, so does the need for insurance for both property owners and travelers.

For more information, visit the US Travel Insurance Association.

Exchange Rates and Currency

Currency

U.S. dollars come in $1, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 bills. They are all the same size and color, so non-Americans have an understandably tricky time telling them apart. The $2 bill is in circulation but rarely seen.

Coins in wide circulation include the penny (one cent), nickel (five cents), dime (ten cents) and quarter (25 cents). The 50-cent and one-dollar coins are seen occasionally.

Smaller businesses may not accept $50 or $100 bills, so have twenties or smaller bills in hand. ATMs usually dispense $20 bills.

Money, ATMs, Credit Cards

ATMs

If you get money from an ATM machine, you may incur charges (often $2 or $3 per transaction). Check with your bank before you leave home to find out which, if any, U.S. banks will allow you to get cash without an extra charge. Many grocery stores, gas stations and major retail outlets let you get a limited amount of “cash back” when paying for your goods — this is an easy way to get cash while on the go.

Credit Cards

Credit and debit cards are accepted widely throughout the U.S.

Don’t forget to call your debit and/or credit card company before you travel to inform them of your planned itinerary. This goes for U.S. residents traveling out of state. If you don’t do this in advance, you risk having your card denied/declined when you try to use it in a destination far from home. You should also call your company immediately to report loss or theft. The numbers to call are usually on the back of the card — which doesn’t make sense if it is lost or stolen. So make a note of them and store them where you’ll have easy access.

Recently, companies have been issuing cards with embedded chips that prevent counterfeit fraud. Banks and merchants that don’t offer the chip-and-PIN technology are beginning to be held liable for fraud. Check with your bank and credit card company for details on your specific cards.

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