8 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Newport & Along the Oregon Coast
A fishing village turned attractive beach resort, Newport sits roughly in the middle of Oregon's Pacific Coast. As such, it has many sightseeing attractions both in the Victorian town itself and in the surrounding areas. Offshore, migrating whales pass viewing points such as Yaquina Head and Cape Perpetua, while smaller ocean critters make their home in beach tide pools. And if you miss whale season, there are plenty of animals to see at the impressive Oregon Coast Aquarium.
See also: Where to Stay in Newport
1 Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area
The focal point of this scenic park, Oregon's tallest lighthouse towers 93 feet above a basalt headland that was once lava. There has been a lighthouse here since 1873, and guided tours take visitors into the structure and up the many steps. Wildlife viewing at Yaquina Head includes migrating whales and harbor seals, and the tide pools are a favorite with families who come to search out bright sea anemones and starfish. There's also an Interpretive Center introducing the landscape and the lighthouse's history through its exhibits.
Admission: $7 per car
Address: 750 NW Lighthouse Dr, Newport
2 Oregon Coast Aquarium
Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport introduces visitors to life underwater. The highlight are the glass walkways that let you look up at sharks and rays swimming overhead. Seals, sea otters, and giant Pacific octopus also make their homes among the aquarium tanks. Try to catch daily feeding times. Trails and gardens are an added draw (but unusual) for an aquarium.
Hours: Daily 9am-6pm (late May-Aug), daily 10am-5pm (Sept-late May)
Admission: Adults $20, seniors and students $18, children (3-12) $13
Address: 2820 SE Ferry Slip Rd, Newport
3 Newport Bayfront
The sheltered Newport bayfront sweeps around Yaquina Bay, protected from Pacific rollers by the narrow harbor mouth. Yaquina Bay Bridge is certainly the largest area landmark, and an important link in the Pacific Coast Highway. A commercial fishing fleet finds shelter on the waterfront, just as visitors find seafood restaurants, small shops, and art galleries along Newport's Bay Boulevard.
4 Yaquina Bay State Park
Yaquina Bay State Park is located on the north side of its namesake bay. The 32-acre park is home to the restored 1871 Yaquina Bay Lighthouse, one of the first navigational aids on the Pacific Northwest coast and later used as a Coast Guard Lifeboat Station. The interior of the wooden building features period furnishings; visitors get a glimpse inside during guided tours.
5 Hatfield Marine Science Center
Hatfield Marine Science Center is a research facility operated by the Oregon State University. Located next door to Oregon Coast Aquarium, the science center also has aquariums and tide pools filled with bright marine creatures. Activities include watching octopus feedings, viewing marine research exhibits, and walking the Yaquina Estuary Trail. Also in this southern side of the bay, South Beach State Park offers coastal access, beachcombing, and camping.
Hours: Daily 10am-5pm (Memorial Day to Labor Day), Thurs-Mon 10am-4pm (Labor Day to Memorial Day)
Admission: By donation
Address: 2030 SE Marine Science Dr, Newport
6 Nye Beach
Nye Beach faces the wild Pacific Ocean, edging a historic area of Newport that has long been a popular vacation destination. As the beach looks west, visitors often come to catch the sunset. Newport's cultural hubs are also centered in this area of town. The Newport Visual Arts Center features a variety of art works including paintings and photographs in its three gallery spaces. One area of the gallery is dedicated to experimental artists in the northwest region. For a mix of theater, music, and community performances, visitors can head to the nearby Newport Performing Arts Center.
7 Whale Watching
A number of whale watching expeditions operate from Newport, taking in migrating grey whales as they make the journey along the Pacific Coast (mid-December through January and again from late March to June). Some resident grey whales stay along the coast during the summer. Coastal parks throughout the region offer glimpses of whales from the land. And about 13 miles north of Newport, Depoe Bay also provides the opportunity for wildlife watching charters.
8 Oregon Coast History Center
The Oregon Coast History Center in Newport is comprised of two main buildings: the 1895 Victorian Burrows House and the expansive Pacific Maritime & Heritage Center. The Victorian mansion features period clothing and furniture. At the interactive Pacific Maritime & Heritage Center, the exhibits (from historical artifacts to paintings) illuminate maritime life with lovely views of the bayfront.
Hours: Thurs-Sun 11am-4pm
Admission: Adults $5, children (3-12) $3
Address: 333 SE Bay Blvd, Newport
Where to Stay in Newport for Sightseeing
Most of the hotels in Newport are pet-friendly and cluster along the Bayfront near the Oregon Coast Aquarium and Hatfield Marine Science Center, or along Nye Beach, with its many art galleries. The area further north around Agate Beach, near the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area, is also popular. Here are some highly-rated hotels in picturesque waterfront locations:
- Luxury Hotels: Newport lacks true luxury hotels, but the following properties are at the top end of the accommodations. Right on the seafront with beautiful beach views, the immaculately clean Hallmark Resort has a heated indoor saltwater pool, spa, sauna, and exercise room. Further north, near Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area, the well-appointed Starfish Point Condos come with two-bedrooms, beach views, and big kitchens. In the heart of Nye Beach, close to restaurants and shops, the eco-friendly, boutique Inn at Nye Beach overlooks this sweeping stretch of sand from a bluff. Rooms feature ocean-view balconies, cozy fireplaces, loose leaf tea service, French press coffee makers, and luxury linens.
- Mid-Range Hotels: Sitting on a beachfront bluff, the four-story Elizabeth Street Inn, with free breakfast and parking, has wonderful views of the beach, and the rooms have fireplaces and balconies. Great for families are the BEST WESTERN Agate Beach Inn, with an indoor pool and hot tub and wonderful beach views, and the homey Agate Beach Motel, which offers private beach access. All the cottage-style rooms at this charming 1940s-era motel have kitchens or kitchenettes and ocean-view decks.
- Budget Hotels: Steps away from the Oregon Coast Aquarium, Holiday Inn Express Hotel and Suites Newport, with free breakfast and an indoor pool, is one of the few hotels in Newport that doesn't allow pets. Next door, La Quinta Inn & Suites Newport also offers a free breakfast and indoor pool, as well as a spa and fitness center, while the Embarcadero Resort Hotel features bay and bridge views from its affordable suites.
Other Nearby Oregon Coast Attractions
Siuslaw National Forest
Spectacularly diverse, Siuslaw National Forest covers 630,000 acres of rivers, mountains, and coast. It is unusual among national forests in that it extends to the coast, where Cape Perpetua Scenic Area is a popular whale-watching viewpoint and the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area features a rare landscape of sand and forest. The Pacific Coast Scenic Byway Highway cuts along the western edge of the forest, with valley roads providing access to campgrounds and hiking trails.
Devil's Punch Bowl State Natural Area
One of the popular tourist sites along the coast is the Devil's Punch Bowl, located a short drive north of Newport. When the surf pounds the Oregon coast, it surges into this interesting rock formation at high tide and makes a roaring sound. Visitors can look down into the cut in the rock to see the white water swirling below. The area is also a good spot for picnics while watching for whales (look for spouting water offshore).
Seal Rock State Recreation Site
To the south of Newport, Seal Rock State Recreation Site features attractions both large and small. On the big side, a number of distinctive rocks are picturesque coastal landmarks amid sweeping beaches. Seals, sea lions, birds and other marine life are among the wildlife watching draws. For families, rich tidal pools make this area an interesting stop.