We stayed at a campground just outside of Florence and within walking distance of the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. From here we had easy access to a bunch of attractions starting with Historic Old Town, a collections of buildings along Bay Street that helped Florence be named number 1 in a list of “The 30 Most Beautiful Towns in America” by Expedia. Local businesses, art galleries and restaurants line up along the boardwalk that follows the Siuslaw River as it empties into the Pacific Ocean.
On a daily basis there are charter and private fishing companies that return to port with their vessels loaded with seasonal fish, tuna being the primary one when we were there, but also home to fantastic Chinook and Coho salmon that run in the fall months of August through November and Steelhead which begin later in the year as well. Steelhead are rainbow trout that migrate to the sea but return to spawn in the same stream where they were hatched, then returning to the sea once they are finished with spawning. They are prized by fisherman as the premier fighting fish of the Northwest. Several of the boats offered fresh tuna for sale every day, cleaned and filleted and wrapped for you.
The open-air Old Town Market takes place on weekends with a number of artsy and craft-based kiosks lining the boardwalk, where you can find a number of sea lion sculptures adorning the walk and also found throughout the town.
The Oregon Dunes stretch from Florence southwards for over 40 miles offering a ton of fun for hikers and bikers, ATV’ers and sandboarding. Along the northern part where the south jetty is found you can see clammers and crabbers going at it hunting for prized razor clams and Dungeness crabs.
There are a couple of golf courses in town and we treated ourselves to a round at Sandpines Golf Links, a beautiful course set among pines and sweeping vistas of the dunes nestled between the course and the ocean.
We made a quick trip to the Darlingtonia State Natural Site, home to a single species of plant called the Darlingtonia californica or cobra lily, a carnivorous plant that “traps insects and digests them to supplement the low nitrogen soil of the bogs it grows in”. Hmm. Hey – we were in Florence for two weeks and had to fill some time.
Just a few miles inland is the Sweet Creek Trail which has 11 waterfalls nestled under canopies of Douglas Fir and Maple trees. A very pretty 3 mile hike.
Eleven miles north of Florence you can find one of a very few working lighthouses left in the country. The Heceta Head Lighthouse is perched 205 feet above sea level, stands 56 feet tall and is visible 21 miles out to sea, its light being the brightest along the Oregon Coast. The Queen Anne-style keeper’s house has been restored to its original condition and is now an interpretive center and a bed and breakfast. Absolutely charming and one of our most favorite places that we have visited in Oregon. And the ride home from there was stunning as we came out of the forest and back into the dunes where the mist was clearing.
One last day trip was to Yachats, one of “the ten coolest small towns in the USA”. Eclectic mixes of restaurants, motels and local shops dot this town of miles of sandy beaches and rocky promontories perched over the swirling waters of the Pacific Ocean.
And the last stop was at the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area where the forest comes right down and meets the sea, whipped into froth at Devil’s Churn providing us with one of the most memorable scenes of where land meets sea.
We love salmon, and we love asian. We combine the two in this recipe I found on the blog “Damn Delicious”. And it is. Enjoy!