12 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Newport, Oregon

Written by Chloë Ernst
May 4, 2020

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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, plenty of animals are waiting to be seen at the impressive Oregon Coast Aquarium.

For ideas on more things to do and places to visit, see our list of the top tourist attractions in Newport, Oregon.

See also: Where to Stay in Newport

1. Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area

Yaquina Head Lighthouse
Yaquina Head Lighthouse

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 sea stars. There's also an Interpretive Center introducing the landscape and the lighthouse's history through its exhibits.

Address: 750 NW Lighthouse Drive, Newport, Oregon

2. Oregon Coast Aquarium

Oregon Coast Aquarium
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. The aquarium provides other interactive experiences like behind-the-scenes tours and animal encounters.

Other notable attractions at the aquarium include the Secret of Shipwrecks exhibit and Sea Lion Kiss Encounters. For a fun overnight outing, the Oregon Coast Aquarium also provides a Sleep in the Deep program, which allows families and groups to spend the night in the underwater tunnels.

The aquarium also offers the unique opportunity to dive into the tanks with a professional guide.

Address: 2820 SE Ferry Slip Road, Newport, Oregon

Official site: http://aquarium.org/

3. Newport's Historic Bayfront

Yaquina Bay Bridge in Newport
Yaquina Bay Bridge in Newport

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 for Oregon's Pacific Coast Scenic Byway. 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.

The popular Marine Discovery Tours depart from the Bayfront, enabling cruise riders to spot various wildlife including gray whales, seals, and the many resident sea lions.

4. Yaquina Bay State Recreation Site

Yaquina Bay Lighthouse
Yaquina Bay Lighthouse

Yaquina Bay State Recreation Site 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, and free, self-guided tours are available to the public every day of the year, except major holidays, with limited hours during the winter.

Thanks to its seaside location, Yaquina Bay State Recreation Site is popular for whale watching. The winter, between December and January, as well as the spring, starting in March, are the best times to spot migrating grey whales. Binoculars or telephoto lenses help to see the massive mammals from the viewpoint at Yaquina Bay State Recreation Area.

Address: Yaquina Bay State Recreation Site, Newport, Oregon

Official site: http://oregonstateparks.org/index.cfm?do=parkPage.dsp_parkPage&parkId=148

5. Hatfield Marine Science Center

Hatfield Marine Science Center
Hatfield Marine Science Center | Oregon Attractions / photo modified

Hatfield Marine Science Center is a research facility operated by the Oregon State University. Located near the Oregon Coast Aquarium, and connected by the half-mile Yaquina Estuary Trail, the science center also has aquariums and tide pools filled with bright marine creatures.

Activities at the Hatfield Marine Science Center include watching octopus feedings, viewing marine research exhibits, and taking part in a variety of educational programs.

Also in this southern side of the bay, South Beach State Park offers coastal access, beachcombing, and camping. This historic state park includes a paved jetty trail that is popular with cyclists. The park also encompasses a disc golf course, pet-friendly yurts, and a Hospitality Center with gear rentals available.

Address: 2030 SE Marine Science Drive, Newport, Oregon

Official site: http://hmsc.oregonstate.edu/

6. Nye Beach

Nye Beach
Nye Beach | Sasquatch I / photo modified

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. Local shops and popular restaurants line the streets near the shore, offering a cool vibe and a fun beachside experience.

The Newport Visual Arts Center features a variety of regional artworks in its three gallery spaces. For a mix of theater, music, and community performances, visitors can head to the nearby Newport Performing Arts Center. This area of town is also home to several cozy cafés and restaurants, including the Nye Beach Cafe.

Official site: https://nyebeach.org/

7. Whale Watching

Whale Watching
Whale Watching | OCVA / photo modified

A number of whale watching expeditions operate from Newport, with views of 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.

Popular charters in Newport include Yaquina Bay Charters and Newport Tradewinds. Coastal parks line the region, offering glimpses of whales from the land. The Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area is one of the best places in Newport to see whales without stepping on a boat.

8. Historic Burrows House and Pacific Maritime Heritage Center

Burrows House Museum
Burrows House Museum | OCVA / photo modified

The Lincoln County Historical Society owns and operates two historic buildings: the 1895 Victorian Burrows House Museum and the expansive Pacific Maritime Heritage Center. The Victorian mansion features period clothing and furniture. Admission to the house museum is by donation, and visitors are encouraged to take a self-guided tour.

The Lincoln County Historical Society also maintains the Log Cabin Research Facility next to the Burrows House, which contains an extensive archive of photos, newspapers, maps, and first-hand information related to the history of the region.

At the interactive Pacific Maritime Heritage Center, the exhibits illuminate maritime life, with lovely views of Newport's historic Bayfront. The Heritage Center itself has a unique history and was originally built as a private estate. The facility now features a diverse collection of aquatic memorabilia and artifacts, including an impressive collection of sunken treasure.

Burrows House Address

  • Address: 45 SW 9th Street, Newport, Oregon

Heritage Center

  • Address: 333 SE Bay Blvd, Newport, Oregon

Official site: https://oregoncoasthistory.org

9. Beverly Beach State Park

Beverly Beach State Park
Beverly Beach State Park

Seven miles north of the Newport Bayfront, Beverly Beach State Park is one of the most popular beaches on the Oregon coast. Ocean goers head to Beverly to spread out on almost five miles of beach, and surfers can find good waves at the north end of the park. The lighthouse at Yaquina Bay can be seen from Beverly Beach State Park, as can migrating whales during season.

Beverly Beach also hosts a large campground with more than 200 campsites available, including 21 different yurts to choose from. Many of the campsites at Beverly Creek are in forested surroundings near Spencer Creek, while some sites are within earshot of the ocean. The state park also features a hiker/biker camp for those traveling the coast by foot or bicycle.

Address: 198 NE 123rd Street, Newport, Oregon

10. Devil's Punch Bowl State Natural Area

Devil's Punch Bowl State Natural Area
Devil's Punch Bowl State Natural Area

One of the most popular tourist sites along the coast is the Devil's Punch Bowl, located a short drive north of Newport, just past Beverly Beach State Park. 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). The Devil's Punch Bowl has its most dramatic affect at high tide. During low tide, the north side of the punch bowl reveals a colorful collection of tidepools to explore.

Address: Devils Punchbowl State Natural Area, Otter Rock, Oregon

11. Seal Rock State Recreation Site

Seal Rock State Recreation Site
Seal Rock State Recreation Site | Doug Kerr / photo modified

About 10 miles 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, and sea birds are among the wildlife-watching draws. On the small side, the many different tide pools lining the shore host a variety of marine life for the whole family to discover.

Other fun things to do at Seal Rock include long picnics and seaside strolls, as well as simply enjoying the ocean views.

Address: 10032 NW Pacific Coast Hwy, Seal Rock, Oregon

12. Siuslaw National Forest

Cape Perpetua
Cape Perpetua

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, U.S. Route 101, cuts along the western edge of the forest, with valley roads providing access to campgrounds and hiking trails.

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.

    Farther 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 Oceanfront Suites, 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.

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