12 Top-Rated Things to Do in Lincoln City, OR

Written by Brad Lane
Jan 13, 2021

On the Northern Oregon coast, 60 miles west of Salem, Lincoln City is a hot spot for beach vacations. Unique districts make up this coastal getaway, many of which were independent towns before incorporating in the late 1960s. This collection of cultures gives the city several community flavors and many things to do.

Highway 101, also known as the Oregon Coast Highway, zips through the middle of Lincoln City, connecting all the neighborhoods. The adjacent beach is the main draw for most visitors, all seven miles of it — more than any other town on the Oregon coast. Visitors have several access points to choose from and an array of activities like surfing, sandcastle building, and flying a kite.

But it’s not just the ocean that keeps families coming back. Other natural features nearby include Devil’s Lake, Siletz Bay, and a suspension bridge hanging near Drift Creek Falls. With so much treasure to find off and on the beach, it's easy to understand why Lincoln City tops the list as one of Oregon's best road trip destinations.

Find your next reason to move to Oregon with our list of the top things to do in Lincoln City, Oregon.

Note: Some businesses may be temporarily closed due to recent global health and safety issues.

1. Find Hidden Treasure

Treasure hunting on a Lincoln City Beach
Treasure hunting on a Lincoln City Beach

Unique to Lincoln City is the chance to find real “hidden” treasure on the beach. As part of the city-backed Finders Keepers program, over 3,000 glass orbs are dispersed across Lincoln City’s shoreline every year. As the name implies, whoever finds one of these handcrafted glass floats gets to take it home.

A small army of “Float Fairies” hides these artisanal treasures along all seven miles of Lincoln City beaches. Orbs are placed carefully above the high tide mark in generally easy-to-find places. The chances to find one increase during Special Drop Dates that occur throughout the year.

Visitors are asked to keep their collection to one glass orb per person per year and register their find at Finders Keepers Registration.

Alongside this unique program, Lincoln City offers other glass-blowing attractions. Places like The Lincoln City Glass Center and Mor Art, in the Taft Historic District, offer hands-on opportunities to create personalized glass creations. These studios also feature curated selections of professional handblown glass art.

2. Explore Seven Miles of Beaches

Flying kites at Lincoln City Kite Festival
Flying kites at Lincoln City Kite Festival

With seven miles of beaches, Lincoln City has more sandy attractions than any other town on the coast. Entire days are well spent at the beach with activities like sandcastle building, surfing, and simply watching the surf pound the shoreline. The entire Lincoln City coastline is interconnected, making long walks on the beach also popular.

Alongside agates and seashells, lucky beachcombers also come across handmade glass orbs courtesy of the city’s Finders Keepers program. The long stretch of coast also has several great spots for tide-pooling. One of the most popular areas is from the Lincoln City Beach Access on NW 15th Street. Here, several large sea boulders reveal a rich underwater habitat when the tide is low.

Access points line the beach from Roads End up north to Siletz Bay to the south. D River State Recreation Site is one popular access point at the heart of the city, not far from the shores of Devil’s Lake. Promoted as home to the smallest river in the world, the D River State Recreation Site is also home to the spectacular Summer and Fall Kite Festivals.

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3. Kayak or Paddleboard on Devil’s Lake

Kayaker on Devil’s Lake
Kayaker on Devil’s Lake

Lincoln City is not only blessed with the ocean nearby, but the community also enjoys access to the freshwater Devil’s Lake. This 685-acre lake connects to the sea via the 440-foot D River, often touted as the World’s Shortest River. With calm waters unaffected by ocean winds, this near-coastal lake entices day trips with various activities.

Several parks lend access to the water. Devil’s Lake State Park is one of the most popular, with two units on either side of the southern shoreline. East Devil’s Lake is a popular day-use area with a boat launch, while the Devil’s Lake Campground is on the western shore. The campground is unique in that it’s within walking distance to the heart of the city.

Other access points include Regatta Grounds and Holmes Road Park, both with public boat ramps. Sand Point Park is another popular access point with a sandy beach and designated swimming area. All public access points provide an outlet for some of the lake’s most popular activities: stand up paddleboarding and kayaking.

Official site: https://stateparks.oregon.gov/index.cfm?do=park.profile&parkId=155

4. Get Drizzled by Drift Creek Falls

Suspension bridge above Drift Creek Falls
Suspension bridge above Drift Creek Falls

It’s not all coastal attraction in Lincoln City — the adjacent inland Siuslaw National Forest offers luster of its own. The family-friendly Drift Creek Falls provides no better example of forested appeal. This stunning waterfall hike is accessible from Lincoln City with a 15-mile drive on forest service roads.

It’s approximately a three-mile trip hiking to the falls and back. The elevation gain is minimal along the way, and the path is well marked, making it a relatively accessible hike and great for families. What makes this hike memorable is the suspension bridge encountered right before the falls. This 240-foot-long bridge sits 100 feet above Drift Creek and gives a spectacular view of the rushing water.

Official site: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/siuslaw/recreation/recarea/?recid=42681

5. Visit Siletz Bay

Siletz Bay
Siletz Bay

Situated at the southern edge of Lincoln City, Siletz Bay is a massive estuary home to marshes, sloughs, and mudflats. Much of the wetland environment is designated as the Siletz Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

Visitor activities are aplenty surrounding Siletz Bay. The half-mile Alder Island Nature Trail offers one of the best pedestrian corridors to see and listen to the resident bird population. The wildlife refuge also features a non-motorized boat dock for kayaks and canoes to get onto the water.

6. Explore the Quiet Side of Lincoln City at Roads End

Roads End Beach
Roads End Beach

The hillside homes and flat beach of the Roads End neighborhood showcases the town’s scenic coastal beauty. The aptly named area is the northernmost district in Lincoln City. Separated from the more commercial communities, Roads End offers a better connection to the ocean and scenic environment.

Most outings center around the Roads End State Recreation Site. Here, visitors traverse the open-to-the-public shoreline as far they please. The prominent Cascade Head defines the beach's northern backdrop, adding a scenic attraction to admire while hiking. Amenities like flushing restrooms and picnic tables are near the ample parking area at the recreation site.

A Secret Beach is accessible on the northern Roads End shoreline, only at low tide. For those looking to explore this clandestine cove, timing the tide is key to not getting stranded. Road’s End Recreation Site is also an optional starting point for the popular hike to the headland feature known as “The Thumb."

Official site: https://stateparks.oregon.gov/index.cfm?do=park.profile&parkId=163

7. Shop at Lincoln City Outlets

Among the many artistic, cultural, and culinary tones, Lincoln City is also defined as a great place to go shopping. While every district offers unique stores, the Delake District is the best first place to check out, much in thanks to the Lincoln City Outlets.

With over 50 name-brand stores spread across a relaxing seaside campus, this shopping mecca is one of the most popular along the coast. From jewelry to apparel and including footwear, housewares, and specialty items, this one-stop outlet mall features top-shelf items at discounted prices.

Alongside the newest name brands, Lincoln City also specializes in antiques. The Oceanlake District offers a concentrated antiquing experience with places like the Little Antique Mall and Granny’s Attic. The Taft District is also a hot spot for antiques, thanks to the collections at Nelscott House Antiques and Beach Bum Vintage.

Official site: https://www.lincolncityoutlets.com/

8. Learn Something New at the Lincoln City Cultural Center

Several local establishments bring together the community of Lincoln City. Alongside abundant tourist attractions, the town also features places for locals to gather. The Lincoln City Cultural Center best exemplifies this community mindfulness.

Housed in a historic Delake school building, the Cultural Center exudes a scholarly and hip vibe the moment you enter the door. The PJ Chessman Gallery at the center features 12 shows a year from local and regional artists. The Cultural Center is also home to the Sunday Farmers & Crafters Market.

The Cultural Center hosts several happenings, including live music concerts, seminars, and children’s events. It’s also the top spot in the city for continuing education, with classes ranging from yoga to beginner ballet.

Official site: https://lincolncity-culturalcenter.org/

9. Day Trip to Yaquina Head Lighthouse

Yaquina Head Lighthouse
Yaquina Head Lighthouse | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Several great seaside destinations extend in either direction from Lincoln City. The shoreline south of Lincoln City, in particular, is stunningly beautiful and worth a day trip.

Less than a 40-minute drive away, the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area is one of the top attractions on the Oregon Coast. And the Yaquina Head Lighthouse offers one of the most postcard-pretty scenes in the region. Hiking trails at this outstanding natural area lead to spectacular views, and the on-site Interpretive Center sheds some light on the still-operating lighthouse.

The drive from Lincoln City to Yaquina Head is half the fun. The route on the 101 drives right through the Whale Watching Capital of the Oregon Coast, also known as Depoe Bay. This city sits at the edge of a sheer rock face, offering a great view of resident and migrating wildlife.

10. Stroll through the Connie Hansen Garden

Blooming rhododendrons
Blooming rhododendrons

In 1973, a retired Connie Hansen moved back to Oregon in search of a climate to continue her studies and interest in botany. Connie cultivated a spectacular garden over the next two decades in Lincoln City, filled with irises, azaleas, and many types of flowering plants. The garden became home to Connie’s favorite, rhododendrons, which still bloom today in all colors and sizes.

After Connie’s passing in 1993, the community adopted her garden as their own. Today, the Connie Hansen Garden Conservancy preserves the one-acre garden and invites the public to enjoy the botanical space. While the gardens provide seasonal interest throughout the year, the months of April and May offer the heaviest bloom.

At the facility, a Garden House and Gift Shop feature an assortment of gardening items, including plants for sale. Admission to the garden is free, though the conservancy operates solely on donations and purchases at the gift shop. Guided sightseeing tours are available by request.

Official site: https://www.conniehansengarden.com/

11. Catch a Movie at the Bijou Theatre

The Oceanlake District is synonymous with Lincoln City’s downtown. Local shops, restaurants, and community establishments line this creative and cultural district. The Bijou Theatre is one such establishment, featuring a wide variety of current and classic films.

Established in 1937, the Bijou has run movies nearly every day of the year since. Alongside first-run premieres, the theater also schedules independent showcases and cult classic favorites. Some screenings include audience members dressing up in costume for the show.

The Bijou helps set the vibe in the Oceanlake District. The stretch of Highway 101 on either side of the Bijou also offers mood-enhancing places to visit. The bright red facade of Candyland is nearby, offering a wide assortment of candied confections. My Petite Sweet is also next door to the movie theater, with some of their baked goods for sale in the lobby.

Address: 1624 NE Highway 101, Lincoln City, Oregon

Official site: https://www.cinemalovers.com/

12. Find a New Bite to Eat Every Night of the Week

Lil Sambo’s Restaurant
Lil Sambo’s Restaurant | Fred Renspies / photo modified

For a city with approximately 10,000 residents, Lincoln City covers a fantastic range of tastes. While fresh seafood is a common specialty, flavors from across the world are spread throughout each district. While there’s no one specific restaurant area, many places to eat in Lincoln City line the 101.

The Wecoma District, next to Devil’s Lake, is a sure bet to find something delicious. Places like Blackfish Café and Thai Bay Restaurant are local favorites, as is the nearby Lil Sambo’s Restaurant. Other local tastes to discover in the neighborhood include Mexican restaurants and pizzerias.

The list is long of local places to eat in Lincoln City, with new eateries opening every season. Franchise favorites also line the blocks. For those feeling adventurous, a suggested route is cruising down the 101 and stopping at wherever catches the eye.

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