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Bordering on both the Pacific Ocean and the expansive Yaquina Bay, Newport is so many things combined into one remarkable place.

Newport is a funky town, with its classic seaside areas, a gritty working harbour and interesting tourist attractions. It has a bit of everything which makes it a great place for individuals, couples and families.

Around the harbour you will find plenty of restaurants, bars and gift stores as well as the unmissable Ripleys Believe It Or Not. You’ll also undoubtedly hear the sound of Californian sealions and find them cavorting on platforms to the amusement of passing tourists.

For the more classic seaside experience, you can check out Nye Beach with its little shops, restaurants, cafes and of course the beach.

It is a great place to base your stay on the central Oregon coast.

Things to do in Newport

1. Check out the harbour and fish processing factories

Newport is home to the largest fishing fleet on the Oregon coast. The harbour itself is extremely busy so you could spend hours here just watching the coming and going of fishing vessels. 

From the the harbour you get fantastic views of the impressive Yaquina Bay Bridge.

Right next to the harbour is a fish processing factory, which if somewhat smelly adds an authenticity to this working port.

Newport is the base of the largest fishing fleet on the Oregon coast
The harbour in Newport, Oregon with the Yaquina Bay Bridge in the background
Mo's Seafood and Chowder Restaurant and fish processing plant
Mural of whales

2. Watch the Californian sea lions frolicking on the pontoons

Harbours up and down the west coast of the United States are popular hang-outs for Californian sea lions and Newport is no exception. These busy creatures are popular draw for tourists. Finding these creatures in Newport harbour is not hard as all you need to do is follow their loud ‘barking’. They love piling onto the floating pontoons, crowding into the smallest of spaces … often on top of each other. Some of the sea lions don’t like being bumped and barged as new arrivals to the pontoon try to make space and let these interlopers know their annoyance loudly!

Californian sea lions on pontoon in the harbour at Newport, Oregon

3. Visit Ripleys Believe it or Not – World of Adventure & Louis Tussards Wax Museum

The weather on the Oregon coast can be unpredictable any time of the year so having somewhere to go, especially if you have young children with you is handy.

Ripleys Believe It Or Not is located right in the heart of the historic harbour and is a great place to spend an hour or two on those cold wet days.

Ripleys is located at 250 SW Bay Blvd. Newport and is open daily from 10 am to 7 pm. Ticket prices are Adults $19.99, children (4 to 11 years) $14.99 the under 4s are free.  

If you want to extend your trip there is a second attraction to visit on the same site as Ripley’s – Louis Tussauds Wax Museum. The entry costs the same as Ripleys but you can visit both attractions with a combo ticket that brings the price down significantly.

The large gorilla outside Ripleys Believe Or Not - made from old tyres
The detail in the gorilla statue is incredible!

4. Whale Watching

The area around Newport is well known for whale watching due to the large number of migrating Gray whales that pass through the local waters.  In winter the whales are heading south from Alaskan waters, their summer feeding grounds, to the shallow warm water lagoons off northern Mexico. In the Spring they are heading north back to Alaska. 

The whales often come close to the shore so you can easily see them with the naked eye. If you would like to get a closer look there are several whale watching tour providers in Depoe Bay and Newport.

5. Oregon Coast Aquarium

Another great rainy day activity to do in Newport is a visit to the Oregon Coast Aquarium.

An icon of Newport, the Oregon Coast Aquarium is a public aquatic and marine science exhibition facility offering educational programs. Exhibits showcase seabirds, marine mammals, fishes, invertebrates and plants primarily native to the Oregon Coast.

Location: 2820 SE Ferry Slip Rd, Newport

Hours: 9:30 am – 6:00 pm, every day 

Admission: Adults: $24.95; Seniors: $19.95; Young Adults (13 -17): $19.95; Children (3 -12):  $14.95

6. Nye Beach

Nye Beach is a lovely little historic district in the centre of Newport, Oregon. The Nye district has large open, sandy beaches and is filled with specialty shops, vacation rentals, and restaurants, the area is a perfect weekend getaway. Known for being an artistic, casual, and slightly offbeat area with plenty of character, the area is home to the historic Sylvia Beach Hotel, the Nye Beach Book House, the Newport Visual Arts Center, Yaquina Arts Gallery, and Nana’s Irish Pub among many others.

The area is named after John Nye, a pioneer who came west with a team of oxen in 1859. When the US Government opened up the coastal area to homesteaders in 1866, he claimed the semi-wilderness 160-acre area around what was known as Nye Creek. He later sold it in 1880 to Sam Irvin, a developer who saw its potential and began to promote Newport tourism

7. Yaquina Head Natural Outstanding Area

Just a few miles north of Newport is the outstanding Yaquina Head natural area.

From exploring tide pools teeming with life to witnessing Oregon’s tallest lighthouse, there is something for every visitor at Yaquina Head.

Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area extends out from the Oregon coast, one mile into the Pacific Ocean. Standing 93 feet tall at the westernmost point of the basalt headland, the lighthouse has been a bright beacon of the night, guiding ships and their supplies along the west coast since the light was first lit on August 20, 1873.

The interpretive centre features exhibits on seabirds and marine life as well as human history from the headland.

Yaquina Head lighthouse on the Oregon coast

8. The Devil’s Punchbowl

The Devil’s Punchbowl is a natural sandstone cauldron sculpted into the headlands by the powerful waves of the Pacific Ocean. This geographic formation began as a sea cave, created over hundreds of years from coastal undercurrents. At one point the cave ceiling collapsed, exposing the churning ocean at work.

Watch the heaving tide breakers surge in and out of the crater, loudly sloshing around with incredible power. Visitors can stand by the edge and observe this site, and perhaps glimpse the frequent groups of seals and sea lions congregated nearby. This is also a primes spot for Gray Whales spotting, as they feed in kelp beds close to shore.

Devils Punchbowl Natural Area

9. Seal Rock

March, needless to say, can be quite chilly on the Pacific coast in the North West and it was indeed a grey, chilly day when we headed south from Newport to Seal Rock. It is about a 10-mile journey along Highway 101. The weather was bracing when we arrived so not surprisingly the beach was empty. Braving the elements we walked the path down to the beach and took a walk along the shore. Appropriately, there were a number of seals basking on the rocks just off the main Seal Rock edifice.

Looking down on the bay at Seal Rock

10. Yachats

Yachats (pronounced Yar-harts) is a small and quaint town with a handful of small boutique shops, bars and restaurants. There is a very small bay that provides a beach at low tide, but apart from that, there is no beach to speak of. What there is are some lovely walks along the coast where there are rock pools and small patches of sand where you can find tortured pieces of driftwood.

The bay at Yachats

Where to eat & drink?

Sometimes being a vegan can be challenging when travelling, and this proved to be the case when visiting Newport. Luckily, we chose to self-cater so most of our meals were under our own control. When we did go out it was generally to enjoy a pint of the local craft beers and a bowl of fries. Luckily, we found a couple of great micro-breweries in the area to checkout. 

The Rogue Brewery

Rogue Ales was founded in Ashland, Oregon in 1988 by three Nike, Inc. executives: Jack Joyce, Rob Strasser, and Bob Woodell. The company brews their own beer, distils their own spirits, farms their own ingredients and coopers their own barrels

In February 1989, construction began on the Bay Front Brew Pub in Newport. You can sit and enjoy a pint and some food whilst gazing out onto the harbour.

Website: https://www.rogue.com/

Address: 2320 SE Marine Science Dr, Newport,

Newport Brewing Company

Newport Brewing Company is a relative newcomer opening its doors in 2019. This Craft Brewery & Restaurant located in the Historic Bayfront District of Newport.

Website: https://www.newportbrewingcompany.com/

Location: 1118 SW Canyon Way, Newport

Getting to Newport?

Distances
Lincoln City25 miles
Depoe Bay12 miles
Salem, OR75 miles
Portland, OR120 mikes
Seattle, WA300 miles
San Francisco, CA650 miles

Where to stay?

Inn at Nye Beach is located on the beach and in a walkable area with great shopping. Burrows House Museum and Yaquina Bay Bridge are local landmarks, and the area’s natural beauty can be seen at Nye Beach and Ona Beach State Park. Oregon Coast Aquarium and Oregon Undersea Gardens are also worth visiting.

Check out the listing on Booking.com to reserve your room

Sylvia Beach Hotel was named in honour of Sylvia Beach, the expatriate American bookseller and publisher who opened Shakespeare and Company bookstore in Paris in 1919. Located in Newport on the central Oregon coast, Sylvia Beach Hotel sits on a bluff above Nye Beach and the Pacific Ocean.

Originally built in 1912 as the New Cliff House hotel, the structure was renovated in the 1980s to become a 21-room literary-themed bed and breakfast with a homey and eclectic charm that attracts readers, writers, and travellers from all over the world. It has been listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. Each room includes details and books to reflect the life and writings of 21 different authors. 

Check out Sylvia Beach Hotel’s website for more information.

Each unit in this Newport motel features a full kitchen with a dishwasher and ocean views. Right on the beach, it offers private beach access. The Oregon Coast Aquarium is less than a 15 minute drive away.

Guests can enjoy a fireplace and a private terrace facing the ocean in each guest room at Little Creek Cove. A sitting area with free Wi-Fi and a flat-screen cable TV are also available.

For more information check out Booking.com

In summary …

  • Newport is a good place to base yourself to explore this part of the Oregon Coast
  • If you are interested in whale sitings then the spring months are probably your best chance of seeing the migrating gray whales
  • The Oregon coast can be wet and chilly – even in the summer so take some clothes that keep you dry and warm
  • The beaches are lovely but better for walking abd beach combing on than sunbathing
  • If like us you are vegans you might want to think about self-catering with an apartment or house renta

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