Oregon’s six months of winter are coming to an end, which means now is the time to dust off the barbeque, stock up on sunscreen, and chart your next weekend trip to explore a new part of the state. One place to add to your road trip shortlist this spring is Lincoln City, Oregon. The coastal town stretches alongside seven miles of sandy beach, cushioned by Devil’s Lake to the Northeast, and Siletz Bay to the south. Though Lincoln City is small in size - with a population of just under 9,000 residents - there is no shortage of activities to fill a weekend getaway.
Lincoln City History and Traditions
The town’s most notable claim-to-fame is its long-time history with glass floats. Since 1997, the city has carried on a tradition of hiding glass floats on the beaches every day (from October through May) for beachcombers to discover. Those who find the hand-crafted, locally-made floats can register them with the visitor’s center to get certifications of authenticity, and are then invited to keep the floats. For those who are not lucky enough to find the much-sought-after floats, there are many glass artists with shops throughout town who sell their work as well. In some stores, customers are even able to blow their own glass floats.
In addition to glass blowing studios, Lincoln City is home to an abundance of antique shops and art galleries. At least an entire afternoon should be dedicated to window shopping and admiring the art and vintage goods. For those with an interest in Oregon’s history, the Lincoln City Historical Museum provides an incredible amount of information through its engaging exhibits on topics such as Native American history and art, life on the coast during World War II, and even the quirky annual event known as the “Redhead Roundup” (a festival to celebrate people with red hair), which took place throughout the 1930s. Museum admission is free, but the hours vary seasonally, so checking the website ahead of time is advised.
For an outdoor activity, you can head to the north side of town where there are several hiking trails leading to ocean views. One of the less difficult hikes ends atop Knob Hill, which looks out over the town and coast. The hike is barely a mile round trip, but makes for a stunning nature excursion.
After an eventful day exploring Lincoln City, a bonfire on the beach is the perfect way to bring an evening to a close. Fires are permitted on most parts of the beach, so visitors can build fires and enjoy their time roasting marshmallows, playing frisbee, or simply enjoying the sounds of the ocean.
Where to Eat
Like most towns on the Oregon Coast, Lincoln City is prized for its fresh seafood; however, there are a number of delicious options that go beyond fish and chips. A personal favorite is Nepali Kitchen, which serves traditional Nepalese dishes cooked with fresh ingredients and rich spices. Not only is the food incredible, but the atmosphere is captivating as well, with the restaurant’s wood-paneled interior and vibrant decorative details.
Two breakfast spots that should not be missed are the Wildflower Grill, and the Otis Cafe. Wildflower Grill sits above a large pond covered in lily pads, which guests can admire through full-length windows covering an entire wall. The breakfast dishes are made well, and it has been said that Wildflower has one of the best benedicts in town.
When driving East from Lincoln City, Otis Cafe is the perfect place to stop on the way out of town. The quaint cafe has a retro appearance and a hometown feel which is reinforced by the friendly staff who welcome customers as if they are dear old friends. Their freshly baked cinnamon rolls and cheese-smothered hash browns are pure breakfast perfection as well.
After spending time in Lincoln City, it quickly becomes apparent that the town takes pride in its friendly, community-centered spirit. It’s kind residents, beautiful beaches and unique attributes make Lincoln City a great destination for a weekend trip to the Oregon Coast.
Over the past month I’ve had the opportunity to visit Bend, Oregon several times: once for a dance workshop, and once with friends from out of town to visit my friend Jenn’s new bridal shop (Bliss Northwest Bridal). The time I spent there was no where near enough to see and do all that I would like to in Bend, but I was able to explore some pretty cool places while in the area, even in a short amount of time. Although I visited these stops over the course of several trips, one could easily pack them into a day trip!
Exploring the Lava Fields
One of my favorite discoveries from my first trip was the Lava Fields at the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, about 20 minutes south of Bend. The coarse lava rock covers miles of flatland, and is met by thick evergreen forests in the distance, with the snow-topped peaks of Mount Bachelor as a backdrop. The neighboring Lava Butte is a 2-mile hike from its base, but due to time constraints I opted for the much shorter path which winds through the Lava Fields and has various viewpoints and informational plaques along the way. The walking path loop took less than an hour - which was perfect, because the temperature was well below 40 degrees, and I did not wear nearly enough layers! For being such a brief and convenient stop, the Lava Fields were incredibly beautiful, and even otherworldly in a way. A definite must-see if you travel to Bend!
Breakfast in the Snow
After reading a number of highly complimentary online reviews, I decided to try the McKay Cottage Restaurant on the North side of Bend. Upon arrival, my friend and I were told that we had two options: either we could wait 45 minutes for a table inside the century-old cottage, or we could eat outside and be seated immediately. Hungry as we were, we quickly chose the latter. Seated at an outdoor stone table complete with a personal table-fire and warm fuzzy blankets, we enjoyed a delicious meal of biscuits and gravy and breakfast hash with fresh berries. Midway through brunch it began snowing lightly, as children from another table continued to build a snowman on the lawn out of leftover snow from the day before. The meal and atmosphere were well-worth the cold, and if I were to return, I would choose the outdoor seating again without hesitation!
On these brief trips to Bend, I was able to appreciate a number of beautiful views simply by pulling over and spending a few minutes at the roadside viewpoints on the drives there and back. There are a number of these stops on the main roads leading to Bend, and all are surrounded by stunning landscapes. Going north of highway 20, there are a few viewpoints next to open fields where the mountains can be seen in the distance. Driving west on 58, one can park next to the glassy blue Odell Lake, and walk down to the water. These stops are perhaps the easiest ways to enjoy more of the area if you have tight time and budget constraints!