EAT, DRINK, PLAY IN ORE­GON, 11M

Miami Herald (Sunday) - - Tropical Sunday - BY JIM HARRINGTON Mer­cury News (San Jose)

You’ll find the invit­ing town of Newport nes­tled along Ore­gon’s beau­ti­ful, un­tamed coast on Yaquina Bay. It’s a work­ing sea­port, home to Ore­gon’s largest fish­ing fleet. It’s also a great va­ca­tion des­ti­na­tion with plenty of ways to spend your time on and off the wa­ter.

Whether you’re head­ing here for a week­end or more, here are five fun ways to play.

PLAY: ORE­GON COAST AQUAR­IUM

You might not ex­pect to find one of the na­tion’s top aquar­i­ums in a city of just over 10,000 peo­ple, but get ready to be im­pressed by this gor­geous 23acre fa­cil­ity on Yaquina Bay. The out­door ex­hibits in­clude a sea ot­ter area, with glass cutouts so you can watch the happy underwater frol­ick­ing, too.

In­side, you’ll find more in­trigu­ing dis­plays and ex­hibits, in­clud­ing our fa­vorite: “Se­crets of Ship­wrecks” lets guests be underwater ar­chae­ol­o­gists, as they ex­plore how the ocean and its crea­tures trans­form th­ese sunken ves­sels into habi­tats.

LEARN: MA­RINE DIS­COV­ERY CRUISE

Board the 65-foot Dis­cov­ery boat at the His­toric Bayfront for a two-hour cruise on the calm bay and rougher Pa­cific wa­ters. The high­light for us was see­ing three large gray whales, reg­u­lar guests around th­ese parts. But we also caught – and later re­leased – dozens of crabs, with an as­sist from ma­rine ed­u­ca­tor Del­pha Krabbe, who taught us how to hold the crus­taceans with­out get­ting pinched.

It’s an in­for­ma­tive jour­ney, as well as a fun one. My fam­ily de­parted the boat with a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing and ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the Ore­gon Coast.

EAT: HIS­TORIC BAYFRONT

Run­ning along Bay Boule­vard, Newport’s pop­u­lar Bayfront of­fers all sorts of shop­ping, bar-hop­ping and touristy at­trac­tions, in­clud­ing Ri­p­ley’s Be­lieve It or Not – and if you en­joyed the Ri­p­ley’s in San Fran­cisco or Hol­ly­wood, this one’s worth a visit, too.

The biggest ap­peal, though, is the area’s fresh seafood, much of it caught just hours ago by the fish­er­men you see walk­ing down Bay Boule­vard in their rub­ber boots. I had a cou­ple of de­light­ful meals on the Bayfront, in­clud­ing a crazy-sound­ing, but de­li­cious grilled rock­fish sand­wich ($17), given an Ital­ian-style spin with the ad­di­tion of salami and served on toasted cia­batta at Lo­cal Ocean Seafood.

I also en­joyed the com­pli­cated, but de­li­cious Big Daddy roll ($16), a tem­pura-style mix of lob­ster, crab, av­o­cado and cream cheese, served with sweet wasabi and a spicy sauce at Asi­atico, a fu­sion restau­rant that com­bines sushi

with ex­pan­sive bay views.

PLAY: NYE BEACH

Newport boasts miles of good beaches, but the one that draws the most at­ten­tion is named af­ter 1860s home­steader John Nye. It’s a fine spot for ev­ery­thing from kite-fly­ing to tide­pool­ing, with nearby shops, bars and eater­ies, in­clud­ing a great hot-dog cart – MoonDoggs – at the en­trance to Nye Beach on Coast Street. Pick up hot dogs and Pol­ish sausages ($4-$5) to en­joy on the soft sandy beach, as you lounge and watch the waves.

DRINK: ROGUE BREWER’S ON THE BAY

Beer en­thu­si­asts can visit the brew­pub and global head­quar­ters of the ac­claimed Rogue brew­ing com­pany. The two-story brew­pub has 40 ales and lagers on tap, plus food and, of course, bay views. Want a be­hind-the-scenes look at the process? Sign up for a brew­ery tour, which de­parts at 1, 3 and 5 p.m. daily. mag­nif­i­cent views of the un­tamed Ore­gon coast. The sound of waves lulls you to sleep. And the lo­ca­tion is prime, too, with Nye Beach and a lively com­mu­nity of res­tau­rants, bars, shops and gal­leries a short stroll away. Stop by the lobby for a com­pli­men­tary cup of smoked sal­mon chow­der – from Seat­tle’s famed Ivar’s – in the late af­ter­noon, and freshly baked cook­ies in the evening. Head out­doors to en­joy the fire-pit area, with sand un­der­foot and, of course, those glo­ri­ous views. Rooms start at $160 and in­clude a sim­ple con­ti­nen­tal break­fast. 232 S.W. Elizabeth St., Newport; www.elizabeth ocean­frontsuites.com.

An­chor Pier Lodge: It’s easy to miss this lodge, lo­cated, with­out any no­tice­able sig­nage, on the sec­ond floor above a store­front of­fer­ing bay cruises. But this is a hid­den gem worth seek­ing out. This laid-back, ca­sual inn sits on a pier in the mid­dle of Newport’s His­toric Bayfront, a work­ing wa­ter­front where guys in rub­ber boots bring in the catch of the day, and tourists flock to bars, res­tau­rants and at­trac­tions like Ri­p­ley’s Be­lieve It or Not. The lodge is run by Fran and Don Mathews, who also run the pop­u­lar Ma­rine Dis­cov­ery Tours down­stairs. You can prac­ti­cally roll out of bed and onto a boat for a two-hour tour. Rooms start at $145. 345 S.W. Bay Blvd., Newport; an­chor­pier lodge.com.

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Nye Beach is a neigh­bor­hood in Newport, Ore. The beach there is a good place to do things such as ex­plore tide pools and fly kites.

WIN­STON ROSS Reg­is­ter-Guard

A li­on­fish­was on dis­play at the Ore­gon Coast Aquar­ium in 2008. The aquar­ium is a prime at­trac­tion in Newport, Ore.

AP PHOTO AP file

Waves crash past the Yaquina Head light­house in Newport, Ore.

BETH NAKAMURA Ore­go­nian (Port­land, Ore.)

The Yaquina Bay Bridge in Newport, Ore.

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