The big thing here is, of course, the biggest the thing on earth, the Pacific Ocean. But along with the dramatic seascapes, Newport has some special attractions that make it the perfect destination on the Oregon coast.
Oregon Coast Aquarium and Hatfield Marine Science Center
The magnificent Oregon Coast Aquarium, located on the south side of the bay, is an absolute delight. Everyone is here – giant octopus, playful puffins, otters, sharks, you name it. I could spend hours watching the seals and puffins frolic about. But for me, the real rock stars of the place are the giant jellyfish – glowing, graceful, mesmerizing.
A stop at to the nearby Hatfield Marine Science Center will compliment your visit to the aquarium. Operated by Oregon State University, the Science Center also features live marine animals, as well as exhibits on marine research.
You’ll need lunch so pop over to the Rogue Brewery for a bite to eat and brew to quench your thirst. If you like hops, I recommend Brutal Bitter IPA.
Historic Bay Front
Newport’s Bay Front offers a delightful stroll, savory restaurants and quaint shops. But this is also a working town and I like to watch the fishing boats coming and going (yes, you can charter a fishing trip), and to check out the action on the docks of the canneries. More often than not, this is a good place to see some lazy seals who have come in to take advantage of the cannery’s left overs.
Sylvia Beach Hotel
Perched on a bluff above Nye Beach, the Sylvia Beach Hotel makes is a cozy spot for a weekend getaway. This is not your typical hotel. As the name suggests, this is a place for people who love to read. There’s no wi-fi, television or phones, but there are dozens of printed volumes just waiting to be perused as you nestle in on a stormy night.
Rooms are decorated in a style reminiscent of specific authors; Agatha Christie, Mark Twain, Amy Tan, Dr. Seuss, JK Rowling. I was sorry to learn that they discontinued the Edgar Allan Poe room, but I guess not that many people wanted to sleep with a stuffed raven staring at them from the bedpost. This is friendly place, and I’ve been allowed to look at unoccupied rooms even when I wasn’t staying at the hotel.
Newport Seafood and Wine Festival
During the last full weekend of February (February 21 -24th for 2013), Newport hosts its annual Seafood and Wine Festival. Wines from throughout the Pacific Northwest are served and local chef’s show what they can do with fresh seafood. Artists showcase sculpture, pottery, photography and jewelry.
You must be 21 years old to attend and have valid ID. Parking costs $5, but there are also free shuttles from downtown and major hotels - a good idea since you’ll be enjoying wine.
Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area
Just north of town, the Yaquina Head juts out into the Pacific. It really is an outstanding natural area. Tours are available of the lighthouse, there is an informative interpretive center, and of course, a spectacular view. However, the reason to come here is the tide pools. Wear sturdy shoes, as the beach is rocky, and time your visit for low tide. Starfish, hermit crabs, anemones… a huge variety of marine life awaits your discovery.