EAT, DRINK, PLAY IN OREGON, 11M
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.
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.
A lionfishwas on display at the Oregon Coast Aquarium in 2008. The aquarium is a prime attraction in Newport, Ore.
Waves crash past the Yaquina Head lighthouse in Newport, Ore.
The Yaquina Bay Bridge in Newport, Ore.