The Oregon Coast is one of my happy places, and Lincoln City is one of my favorite destinations along the coast. With miles of sandy beaches, treasure hunting for hand-made glass floats, estuaries with crabbing and clamming opportunities, fabulous birding opportunities, and a fresh-water lake next door, there are a myriad of options to enjoy the area.
There are two routes to choose from Portland, Oregon. One is to travel on Highway 99 from South Portland and join Highway 18 to the coast. This route can be very slow. I prefer to travel the I-5 South to Salem, merge onto Highway 22, and then take Highway 18.
Here are my recommendations of 13 fantastic experiences in beautiful Lincoln City, Oregon.
1. Stroll The Beach
Stroll the 7.5 miles of sandy beach throughout Lincoln City, which has the most beaches of any city along the Oregon Coast. Enjoy the breathtaking views, listen to the pounding of the surf, feel the sand between your toes and the ocean mist on your skin. Build a sandcastle or fly a kite. Search for agates and jasper.
My favorite beaches are D-River Wayside and Taft Bay. As you are driving Highway 101, you will be awe-struck when you reach D-River Wayside. A second favorite beach is along Taft Bay, where you will find lots of driftwood. Check this link for other popular Lincoln City Beaches.
Lincoln City offers beachcombing “exploriences” during which local guides lead walks along the beach. Check this link for available dates.
Pro Tip: Do remember beach safety as you enjoy your stroll. Never turn your back to the ocean; sneaker waves can appear anytime. Avoid walking amongst large logs along the beach. The logs can soak up the water and weigh up to a ton. They roll very easily, so stay off!
2. Search For Hand-Blown Glass Floats
Daily, throughout the year, Lincoln City’s Float Fairies hide thousands of hand-blown glass floats for you to enjoy searching for. You may find the glass floats in the area from Roads End to Siletz Bay. Check for basic rules of the hunt. There are even “Special Drops” throughout the year. While hunting, be mindful of fragile ecosystems and remember your beach safety.
Crafted by local artists, it is yours if you find a float. You may register your find at this link. Once registered, you will receive a Certificate of Authenticity and the artist’s bio.
3. Create Your Own Glass Art
Watch glass work demonstrations, learn about local glass artists, then create your own paperweight or float at local studios. Lincoln City Glass Center and Mor Art Glass are two venues to check out. You can become as involved as you like. Mor Art Glass offers several glassmaking classes. Plan to spend a morning or afternoon learning about glass blowing.
Pro Tip: If you choose to become involved with glass blowing, be aware of safety issues. Do wear sturdy closed-toe shoes and avoid loose fleece garments.
4. Learn About History At The North Lincoln Historical Museum
Enjoy several hours learning about the history of Lincoln County at the North Lincoln Historical Museum. Housed in a historic 1941 firehall, the museum features Native American exhibits, pioneer life exhibits from the late 1880s to mid-1920s, and exhibits from 1920 to the city’s incorporation in 1965.
Rotating exhibits such as “What If Heros Were Not Welcome Home” examines the prejudice against Japanese American Veterans after WWII. “The Devils of North Lincoln Country” tells the story of a tourism campaign of 1933.
Enjoy also the interactive virtual exhibit where you can “dig into” the story of specific artifacts.
5. Enjoy Water Sports At Devil’s Lake State Recreation Area
Located adjacent to the east side of Lincoln City is Devil’s Lake State Recreation Area, a three-mile fresh-water lake. The shallow lake is great for water sports including paddle boarding, kayaking, fishing, canoeing, and water skiing.
The area is also great for bird watching as the wetlands are wintering grounds for migrating birds. You will find osprey and eagles nests in the area.
Miles of hiking trails entice you to enjoy the natural beauty. There is also a year-round naturalist program.
6. Search For All The Birds
Birders will delight in the variety of species in the Lincoln City area. Look for western snowy plover, western sandpipers, bald eagles, osprey, and many other birds of a feather. Be careful of the western snowy plover nests along the open sandy beaches and dry mudflats.
7. Learn About History At The Lincoln City Cultural Center
Located in the historic Delake School right along Highway 101 is the Lincoln City Cultural Center. Here you will find a variety of classes for all ages. Classes are offered in dance, music, art, literature, and theater.
A variety of events throughout the year feature musicians, dancers, and theatrical productions.
Also housed here is the Visitor Information Center. As well as a great place for finding information about the city, this is where you can pick up a certificate of authenticity for your found glass float.
Pro Tip: Look for the Sunday Summers Market and other arts and craft celebrations hosted at the Cultural Center.
8. Explore The Tide Pools
Explore the tide pools and discover some of the amazing creatures that live in the Pacific Ocean. Look for sea anemones, sea urchins, starfish, and hermit crabs. The two areas with the most accessible tide pools are at NW 15th Street and the Inn At Spanish Head.
The best time to explore tidepools is around low tide. Check the tide tables for the latest information.
Pro Tip: Remember that tide pools are very delicate ecosystems. Take nothing and leave nothing behind. Remember also your beach safety.
9. Enjoy All The Wildlife And Action At Siletz Bay Wildlife Refuge
Located at the southern tip of Lincoln City, the Siletz Bay Wildlife Refuge is a 568-acre area composed of salt marsh, brackish marsh, tidal sloughs, mudflats, and forestland. Home to numerous species of birds, fish, and sea life, you can choose from activities such as hiking, crabbing, clamming, bank fishing, paddleboarding, kayaking, and birding.
The Alder Island Nature Trail is a short, easy walking trail. Bring a field guide to help you identify the various species you may encounter.
Pro Tip: Be careful not to disturb the wildlife.
10. Learn To Catch Crab And/Or Dig For Clams
What great fun it is to catch or dig for your dinner! One of the best spots for crabbing and clamming is Siletz Bay. Check the Shellfish Hotline before heading out to ensure that conditions are safe for crabbing and clamming. Check the Shellfish Hotline link for a map of the best areas.
Dungeness crabs are a favorite in the Pacific Northwest. Crabbing classes are offered at Siletz Bay. Clamming courses are also offered. Bring your own equipment or rent equipment at venues such as Ace Hardware.
Pro Tip: Folks 12 years of age and older need a shellfish license. You can purchase online or at retailers in town.
11. Lace Up Your Hiking Boots
Lincoln City and its vicinity have several hiking trails ranging from easy to moderately difficult. Some trails are closed at times to protect endangered species. You will find detailed information about trails and closures here.
A local favorite is Drift Creek Falls, an easy 3.2-mile trail with a gorgeous waterfall and suspension bridge.
Pro Tip: Drift Creek Falls is a day-use fee area. Check for pass information here. Purchase a day pass or consider an annual pass.
12. Stroll The Connie Hansen Garden Conservancy
Enjoy a morning or afternoon strolling the Connie Hansen Garden Conservancy. Wander amongst azaleas, rhododendrons, irises, geraniums, and lavender beds — many of the beautiful plants of the Pacific Northwest.
The site is open year-round and some pathways are wheelchair accessible. Pets on leashes are welcome. Many seniors and others enjoy volunteering at the site each Tuesday at 10 a.m.
Guided tours are available: Check this link for information.
13. Watch For Annual Events
- January: Beachcombing Clinics (January–April)
- March: SOLVE Oregon Spring Beach Cleanup
- April: Tidepool Clinics (April–July)
- June: Crabbing & Clamming Clinics (June–September)
- July: Birdwatching Clinics (July–December)
- August: Sandcastle Contest
- September: Cruisin’ the Bay Car Show
- October: Fall Kite Festival
A visit to Lincoln City is sure to delight you! With all the activities and beautiful scenery, there is something for everyone. Plan a visit soon. You will be glad you did!
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