Romantic Beach Towns Along Oregon’s Southern Coastline

By Rachel Puryear

If you’re driving through Oregon and you have time to take the scenic route, you’d be in for quite a treat to explore Oregon’s wonderful coastal towns. Here are a few we visited: Brookings, Gold Beach, and Coos Bay.

To explore Oregon’s coast, you’ll want to travel along Highway 101. Highway 101 runs up most of the USA’s Pacific coastline, including all of Oregon’s coastline. In Pacific metro regions like the San Francisco Bay Area and the Los Angeles metro area, 101 runs through some of the heaviest urban traffic in those cities – but along Oregon’s coastline; it’s a peaceful, less-traveled route with lots of redwood forests, beautiful beach views, stunning sunsets over the water (when the sun’s out); and when it’s cloudy, the treetops are shrouded in a tranquil, misty fog.

There are lots of small beach towns along the way to enjoy, including:

Brookings, Oregon

Brookings is a relaxed, unpretentious beach town just on the Oregon side of the California-Oregon border. There is a marina if you have a boat, and plenty of RV parks if you’re looking for glamping. There are plenty of delicious food choices in the local restaurants. There are long, romantic walks on the beach, and the beaches were low-key and not crowded while we were there.

If you’re looking for a hotel on the beach in this town, the Beachfront Inn offers a beachfront view from every room, and a nice warm outdoor pool and hot tub. From your room, you can listen to the sounds of the ocean lull you to sleep at night! The hotel isn’t cheap, but actually delivers on its name. Accessibility note: Be sure to ask for an accessible/ground floor room if stairs are a problem for you, as there is no elevator.

View of the beach from a balcony in Brookings, Oregon.

Gold Beach, Oregon

Less than an hour north of Brookings is Gold Beach. Although you might think it’s named for the golden glow of the sunsets over the ocean water – and certainly, that would be fitting, too – it’s actually named for its history of gold mining. You probably won’t strike it rich panning for gold there today, but you can enjoy a small, laid-back beach town with some pretty gorgeous beach views, and dramatic topography out at sea.

Sea stacks at sunset near Gold Beach, Oregon.

Coos Bay, Oregon

Coos Bay is gorgeous and fun, and a must-see for this road trip!

Coos Bay is larger than Brookings and Gold Beach, and is more of a small city than a town. So while it’s not quite as slow and quiet as the the other two, there are far more amenities in terms of libraries, restaurants, shops, and also local parks.

While you’re in Coos Bay, be sure to check out Mingus Park:

Mingus Park

Mingus Park is a must-see if you’re visiting Coos Bay. It’s large with plenty of walking and hiking trails, plus a Japanese garden. It also features a skateboarding area. There are fountains on the lake which light up with different colors at night. There are lots of lily pads on the water, where you can watch birds and frogs and other creatures enjoy a little place to sit and rest.

Me and Kwame at Mingus Park in Coos Bay, Oregon, with a lake and fountains in the background.
Lily pads on the water in Mingus Park, in Coos Bay, Oregon.
A Japanese-style red bridge in Mingus Park, in Coos Bay, Oregon.

Beautiful Highway Views

Even while you’re on the road between cities and towns, you can enjoy beautiful views while you drive. It’s a scenic route all the way up the coast. If your goal is to drive through Oregon as quickly as possible, I-5 will be faster – right along with every truck also driving through the state. I-5 is more utilitarian than pretty, just like in the rest of the Pacific region. So if you’re passing through, and can take the scenic route along Oregon, I highly recommend it – or, the Oregon coast is worthy of its own road trip, as well.

A view of the coast from Highway 101 near the California-Oregon border.
Forested highway along Highway 101 near the California-Oregon border.

Note: The climate along this region tends to be cool, is frequently overcast, and is often rainy. Therefore, plan accordingly for a trip here – bring warm layers, umbrellas, and shoes that will hold up in wet weather. Happy and safe travels, my friends!


Thank you, dear readers, for reading, following, and sharing. Here’s to relaxation and romance in small coastal towns.

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