We booked it down the Oregon coast much faster than we’d intended to, because Nick had a work gig in Southern Cali that put us in a bit of a crunch. Despite this, we did our best to explore the coastal towns we could make it to while stopping along the Pacific Coast Highway to soak in those incredible views!
Depending on when you go, Bandon can either seem like the most dead town there is or the cutest, liveliest little spot on the Oregon coast. We saw it in both modes! Labor day weekend it was very lively with tons of people and all the shops and restaurants were open and bustling.
Our first day in Bandon, we met an awesome couple at Bandon Brewing Company who joined us at our table. They were from one of the Baltic countries but were living in the United States temporarily for work. This is one of my favorite parts of traveling so far. We have met so many people because we are in areas where we often don’t know another soul! So we put ourselves in more of a position to meet new people. We realized when we are in our comfort zone and know we have a support system of family and friends nearby, we inadvertently are more closed off. But that’s another post entirely, so I’ll end that tangent there by saying we really enjoyed getting to know these people and learned a lot about their culture and lifestyle.
Face Rock Creamery is one of the more well-established places to go in Bandon. And not without reason! It has some of the most delicious cheeses and ice cream, as well as sandwiches, beer, and wine. I mean, everyone will be happy here! You can sample the cheese for free, but be forewarned, you’ll want to buy some! We got some of the extra aged cheddar and peppercorn harvest cheddar to bring home. We also grabbed a beer and split a sandwich and ginormous ice cream. This place is also named after the actual Face Rock in Bandon, which is exactly what it sounds like - a rock that looks like a face. More about that later though.
Needless to say, we needed to walk off all we ate at Face Rock Creamery so we decided to explore Bandon a bit by foot. There are lots of local artisans with pottery, paintings, and photographs along with the more typical touristy shops. We decided to go see what this Face Rock was all about, and despite the wind managed to snag a pic with the infamous rocky formation.
After a day of exploring, we decided to finally get some of this Pacific coast Dungeness crab we kept hearing so much about. So we stopped at Tony’s Crab Shack and tried to order some, only to find out the commercial season hadn’t opened yet! We were pretty bummed until we learned we could rent a crab pot and catch them ourselves and Tony’s would cook them up for us!! That settled our plans for the next day, when we spent half the day out in the freezing wind for us to each catch a Dungeness crab large enough for us to eat! I don’t know if I actually love the taste of Dungeness or it was all the effort that went into catching them, but that was the best crab I’ve ever had!
Port Orford, OR
One thing that stands out to me about the Oregon Coast is the wind. It is always windy with a bite in the air! Port Orford was certainly no exception!! Thankfully, our campsite was shielded by the wind with beautiful tall tree. They were so tall and narrow you could see them swaying in the wind if you looked up, but they kept us from feeling the brunt of these coastal gusts. This first-come-first-serve campground was one of our favorites. We had a little trail from our Airstream to an area at the top of a cliff that was just perfect to watch the sunset. I also could run on another trail that went along the cliff-line to the nearby lighthouse!
We did tour this lighthouse which was my first time being in one. West coast lighthouses differ from those I’m familiar with on the East coast because they are much shorter. This must be because they’re located on cliffs so don’t need any extra height. This tour was pretty cool because they let us up to the top where we could see the intricacy of the lens surrounding the light. This was mesmerizingly cool! Unfortunately, it did have some damage from teenage vandalizers in the past.
After the lighthouse, we also toured the Historic Hughes House. This was a ranch house for the Hughes family - many of whom lived together here in order to help their father run the ranch. A lot of it was still original and it was made of cedar framing which holds up very well against elements. It was a beautiful home!
Port Orford wasn’t much to speak of as far as towns go, but the beauty of the area itself made up for it. It is a cape that extends from the coastline, and is actually the westernmost incorporated space in the contiguous 48 states. If you can catch the night sky at Cape Blanco state park on a clear night, the stars are unimaginably beautiful.
One night we walked down to where they put the boats in, which was really interesting. I’d never seen a marina where the only option is to lift the boats into and out of the water - there was no in-harbor storage. They were dredging at the time, so we watched that for a while then headed to eat at Griff’s on the Dock. Let’s just say we recommend passing on the restaurants in Port Orford - there’s not many good options here.
After Port Orford, it was time to head to the California coast! Let me tell you, some people told us to avoid towing the Airstream on the Pacific Coast Highway but I’m convinced they just wanted to keep it all to themselves. It is the most gorgeous drive we’ve done to date, and we took it any chance we could!! Check out some of these views: