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Newport Oregon is an amazing coastal town, with plenty of fun things to do on vacation. This family vacation destination has everything from outdoor adventures to historical buildings.
No wonder why it is one of my family’s favorite Oregon vacation destinations.
If you are planning a trip to Newport Oregon, here are some of the best things to do on your vacation.
Where To Stay in Newport Oregon On Your Vacation
When planning a trip to Newport Oregon, there is no shortage of lodging options. From hotels to vacation rentals, camping sites, and RV parks near Newport, Oregon, you have a TON of options.
Nye Beach is one of the more popular areas to stay in Newport because of the sandy beach area and the neutral location to area attractions.
Hotels and Vacation Rentals
There are hotels in Newport, but not as many as some of the other Oregon Coast towns. You will be able to find something though, as long as you book far enough in advance. The summer months are very popular, so be sure to book several months before summer vacations start.
Vacation Rentals are the most popular lodging option in Newport, Oregon. Not only are they easier to find where you have close proximity to the beach, but they are able to fit larger groups, and also allow you the comforts of home. (But don’t let that stop you from exploring some of the great places to eat in Newport, Oregon.)
You can use the map below to search for hotels and vacation rentals in Newport, Oregon that will be the perfect fit for your family.
Most unique lodging option in Newport, Oregon
The Sylvia Beach Hotel – a hotel with no wifi, television, or phones in the rooms. In fact, you have to call to make a reservation. There is no online booking option. The hotel has rooms all named after famous poets and authors.
Known as a retreat for those who like to read or write, the hotel is a quiet getaway for those looking for a relaxing vacation.
Camping in Newport, Oregon
My family chose to stay at the Thousand Trails RV Resort called Whaler’s Rest. We loved this specific RV Park near Newport, Oregon because it also had cabins we could rent and tent sites. The Cabins were separate in their own little area, so it almost felt like a small, tiny home community.
That is right, we stay at RV parks without an RV… and it is actually a great compromise between camping and hotels for those who aren’t a fan of tents and RVs.
Note: My family did receive a complimentary stay the first time we stayed at Whaler’s Rest but we have since stayed there a few times.
Search Outside The City Limits
When visiting Newport, remember that you do not have to stay in the city limits. You will be able to find a lot of great lodging options if you widen your search a bit. Even if you end up being a little out of town, the drive along the Oregon Coast is beautiful so you won’t feel like the commute is a chore.
What to Pack For Your Newport Oregon Vacation
Before we get into the things you will want to do in Newport, just a reminder that the Oregon Coast is not your sunny, hot beach destination.
Even when visiting in the middle of July or August, temperatures can be quite cool.
You will want to be sure to pack in layers, and include hoodies and jackets. Much of the coastline in the Newport, Oregon area is also quite windy, so if you have long hair, be sure to bring something to hold it out of your face, and be ready to hold on to your hats.
Things To Do In Newport Oregon For A Fun Vacation
You will easily be able to fill your vacation with fun activities in Newport, Oregon. And the best park is that many of the activities are free are extremely affordable. From seeing marine life, to touring historic lighthouses, here are our top picks of things to do in Newport, Oregon on your family’s vacation.
Newport Is Home to TWO Oregon Coast Lighthouses
Oregon Coast Lighthouses are beautiful and unique buildings. While you can find several lighthouses along the state coastline, Newport has two lighthouses.
The historic Yaquina Bay lighthouse which is believed to be the oldest structure in Newport, Oregon is free to visit. It is located near the Yaquina Bay State Recreation Site
Alternately, the Yaquina Head Lighthouse is a currently operating lighthouse located in the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area. Tours are available for this lighthouse, but reservations are required and there is a fee. As Oregon’s tallest Lighthouse, it has a very picturesque setting with the Pacific Ocean as a backdrop.
While you can easily visit both lighthouses in one day, both lighthouses have beautiful natural areas and other attractions to visit surrounding them. I personally suggest you visit each of them on a separate day.
READ MORE: Oregon Coast Lighthouses Complete Guide
Yaquina Bay Lighthouse
The Yaquina Bay Lighthouse is unique in that it is privately maintained. The Lighthouse was in commission from 1871-1874. After that, the Yaquina Head Lighthouse became the main lighthouse in the area and the Yaquina Bay one was shut down. In 1996, Yaquina Bay Lighthouse was privately restored and is used as a navigational aid.
The lighthouse is unique in that it is the only Oregon Coast Lighthouse that is still standing featuring attached living quarters. These quarters are now used to show what the living area looked like in the 1870’s when the lighthouse was first used.
The Yaquina Bay Lighthouse is open to visitors 7 days a week from 12 -4. The lighthouse is up a long flight of stairs and inclines, but alternative access is available for those unable to climb to the lighthouse.
Nearby Attractions (which we will cover in this article) include the Oregon Coast Aquarium, Hatfield Marine Science Center, Yaquina Bay State Recreational Site to name a few.
Estimated Time for this activity: 45-75 minutes (includes climb to lighthouse.)
Yaquina Head Lighthouse
Yaquina Head Lighthouse is Oregon’s tallest standing lighthouse. Located in the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area the lighthouse offers tours daily. Usually, the tours allow you to climb up to the light, but at the time of this update, the stairs are closed for restoration.
At this time the lighthouse is still offering shorter tours of the main floor. Tours are announced the day of, and you may sign up for them at the Interpretive Center at Yaquina Head. Doors open daily at 10 am. Tour groups are limited to 6 people.
When the stairs reopen, if they reopen that part of the tour, there are limits on ages, physical abilities, etc to tour that part of the lighthouse.
While the tour is free, there is a fee to access the Yaquina Head Recreational Area (we will cover that in the next section) unless you are biking or walking in.
Other activities in the area include visiting the tide pools in the recreational area, whale watching from behind the lighthouse,
Estimated Time for this activity: Varies based on tour length, approximately 45 – 60 minutes for a full tour
Bonus – Third Lighthouse Near Newport, Oregon
If you LOVE lighthouses and are wanting to visit another one, take a short drive down the coast to the Heceta Head Lighthouse. This lighthouse is located between Newport and Florence, Oregon.
It is a short hike to the lighthouse, but this hike is one of the best Oregon Coast Hikes and is a pretty mild hike with beautiful views.
READ MORE: Best Oregon Coast Hikes With Stunning Views
Explore the Yaquina Head Recreational Area
If you are visiting the Yaquina Head Lighthouse, I suggest spending half to a full day in the Yaquina Head Recreational Area. This area is home to lots of marine life, as well as gorgeous views and picnic areas.
Visitor Information: Fees and Hours for Yaquina Head Recreational Area
If you are heading to the Yaquina Head Recreational Area here are some quick facts you will need to know before planning your visit.
Recreational Area Hours: 8 am – Sunset
Interpretive Center Hours: 10 am – 4 pm
Recreational Area Fees as of 6/2023:
- Bike or Walk-in – Free one-day pass
- Motorcycles – $3 for a three-day pass
- Personal Vehicles – $7 for a three-day pass
- Tour Vans/Busses – $25/$50 depending on the vehicle capacity for a one-day pass
Estimated Time for this activity: You could easily spend half to a full day in the area.
Activities Available in the Yaquina Head Recreational Area Near Newport, Oregon
One of the main reasons my family loves this area is because there was so much to do and see.
Yaquina Head Interpretive Center
The Interpretive Center offers a variety of educational displays and hands-on exhibits. It also has a gift shop, several picnic tables, and large bathrooms.
Whale Watching and Exploring at the Yaquina Head Lighthouse
The Yaquina Head Lighthouse is gorgeous to look at, and is tourable (as mentioned above). But even if you do not want to tour it, the area around the lighthouse is great for whale watching. Gray Whales are common in the area. While March and April are the best times to view these whales, we have often seen some from this location in July and August.
Explore Marine Life at Cobble Beach – Tidepools and more!
Cobble Beach Tidepools is a great spot to explore marine life. The website for the recreational area has a great guide to help know the best times to visit the tidepools (aka low tide), as well as offering help identifying marine life.
Additionally, Cobble Beach is often visited by sea lions, harbor seals, and even sea otters. Remember to keep your distance from these animals as this is their natural habitat… you are the visitor here.
The recreational area, specifically the cliffs, is home to various avian species year-round. While some bird species may be more prevalent during a specific season, you will always find several types of birds in the area.
Some of the bird species you may see include Bald Eagles, Turkey Vultures, several types of falcons and hawks, and more.
Visit The Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport, Oregon
The Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport, Oregon has been open for more than thirty years. The aquarium has a lot of hands-on exhibits, a shark tunnel, and more. The aquarium is one of the main tourist attractions in Newport, Oregon as well as a conservation group.
Some of my family’s favorite exhibits at the Oregon Coast Aquarium are the Seabird Aviary, the Octopus Cave , and the Passages of the Deep.
Visitor Information: Fees and Hours
If you are heading to the Oregon Coast Aquarium you will want to plan ahead for these fees and hours.
Aquarium Hours: Varies by season. In the summer the hours are 10 am – 6 pm
Aquarium Entrance Fees:
- Adults age 18 – 64 – $25.95
- Seniors age 65+ – $19.95
- Young Adults age 13-17 – $19.95
- Kids age 3-12 – $15.95
- Kids 2 and under – FREE
The aquarium also offers tours and animal encounters, such as the Octopus encounter where you can meet their giant pacific octopus. These activities start at $15/person and go up from there. You can learn more about these activities on their website.
Estimated Time for this activity: 3-4 hours depending on group age and interest level
If the Oregon Coast Aquarium is out of your price range, you will definitely want to check out the next activity.
Hatfield Marine Science Center – An Oregon State University Facility
If the Oregon Coast Aquarium is out of your budget, I strongly suggest a visit to the Hatfield Marine Science Center. This center used to be free of charge (donations highly encouraged). After the pandemic, and in order to keep the programs running and available to the public, the science center had to begin charging a small fee.
Even with the free ($5/person age 5 and older) the Hatfield Marine Science Center is a much more affordable option for families on a budget.
In the center, there are several hand-on educational displays about marine life, the ocean, and beyond. There are several touch pools, marine life exhibits, and fun things to look at. The interactive exhibits were amazing, and my kids have always loved visiting the Marine center.
Visitor Information: Fees and Hours
Marine Center Hours: Varies by season, but summer hours are daily from 10 am – 5 pm
Aquarium Entrance Fees: $5/person over age 5, 4 and under are free
Estimated Time for this activity: 3-4 hours depending on group age and interest level
Visit the Pacific Maritime Heritage Center
Have you ever wondered about Oregon Coast shipwrecks? Or maybe you are fascinated with what happens at a working wharf, or the history of a fishing community. The Pacific Maritime Heritage Center is a great place to learn about these things in a hands-on way. Using a working wharf, education programs, and art exhibits, the center is great for visitors of all ages.
The center is run by the Lincoln County Historical Society.
Visitor Information: Fees and Hours
Pacific Maritim Heritage Center Hours: Tuesday – Sunday, 11 am – 4 pm
- Adults age 18+ – $10
- Kids age 13-17 – $5
- Kids 12 and under – FREE
Estimated Time for this activity: 2-3 hours depending on group age and interest level
Outdoor Activities To Do In Newport, Oregon
If aquariums, lighthouses, and museums aren’t your thing, there are plenty of outdoor activities you can do in Newport Oregon, (in addition to the Yaquina Head recreational area mentioned above). From a leisurely drive with some great Oregon Coast Hikes, to kayak tours and beyond. Here are some outdoor activities to add to your vacation in Newport, Oregon.
Take A Drive on Scenic Pacific Coast Highway 101 And These View Points
The Oregon Coast is so beautiful, especially the central Oregon Coast between Lincoln City or Depoe Bay and Florence Oregon. That includes the stretches north and south of Newport, Oregon. You find some of the most gorgeous views in the Pacific Northwest.
Cape Foulweather – Where Oregon Began
While Cape Foulweather is one of the smaller capes on the Oregon Coast, it has some of the best Oregon Coast Hikes, including Devil’s Punchbowl. This beautiful area is also very accessible with a lookout point and paved paths.
Known as the place “Where Oregon Began,” Cape Foulweather was the first North American landing spot for Captain James Cook (not Hook… COOK) in March 1778.
Other nearby attractions include Otter Rock, Beverly Beach State Park, and Moolack Beach.
Visit Seal Rock State Recreational Site
Seal Rock Recreational Area is a popular viewpoint on the Oregon Coast, south of Newport. The sandy beaches contrast with the rocks rising up out of the water.
The recreational site is home to California Sea Lions, seals, seabirds and other marine life. There are also tidepools to explore in the area. One of my favorite things is that this area also offers fishing, hiking, and picnic tables.
Take a Kayak Tour in Yaquina Bay
Want to explore the Yaquina Bay coastline and get up close to marine life? Then a Kayak Tour from the Oregon Boating Foundation is a great addition to your vacation.
The tour is two hours long and available to guests ages 6 and up. No experience is necessary and the tour guide will help you see various sea creatures, historical buildings, and more.
The tours are limited to those weighing under 300 lbs as that is what their life jackets are rated for. Guests weighing more than 200 pounds should contact the facility before booking.
Go Sandboarding on the Oregon Coast Sand Dunes
The Oregon Coast has such a unique coastline. While one area has cliffs, another has forests that go right up to the coastline. And then another area just a short drive away will have sand dunes leading down to the shore.
One of my family’s favorite activities we have done, and can’t wait to go back and do again, is sandboarding on the Oregon Coast. While I talk about this more in my Things to Do In Florence Oregon Guide, this is also a great activity during a visit to Newport, Oregon.
READ MORE: Things To Do In Florence Oregon
Explore the Yaquina Bay State Recreation Area
Much like the recreational area surrounding the Yaquina Head lighthouse, the Yaquina Bay State Recreation Area is a great place to explore. There is a parking lot (also used for those visiting the lighthouse) that has a great area in the middle with picnic tables. You are up on a bluff looking over the Pacific Ocean coastline.
You can follow a trail down the bluff and watch as the area turns from forest, to sandy fields, to a sandy beach. This is one of my favorite beaches in the area, but because of the location, it can get fairly windy.
READ MORE: West Coast Summer Vacation Destinations
Explore the Siuslaw National Forest
If you want to head inland a bit, the Siuslaw National Forest has a ton of outdoor activities to offer. From hiking to exploring the rivers, and even berry picking, there is a ton to do in the area.
This national forest is quite large, and has plenty to offer, depending on how far you want to venture away from Newport.
Discover Some of the Best Beaches on the Oregon Coast
Just like the central Oregon Coast has some of the best coastal views, it also has some of the best beaches. Each beach is unique based on its shoreline and offerings. When I explore the beaches, I like to just drive the coastline and stop at those that catch my eye. Besides those listed throughout the article, you may want to check out the following beaches:
- Nye Beach
- Agate Beach
- South Beach State Park
- South Jetty Beach
- Ona Beach
- Holly Beach
Other Activities To Do In Newport Oregon
I feel like I have only begun to touch on the activities that you can do in Newport, Oregon. While the ones above are my family’s favorites, I don’t want to leave out some of these other activities you might enjoy.
Explore Newport’s Historic Bayfront
This vibrant area is filled with unique local shops, restaurants, and more. You will enjoy the local dining options, breweries, and more. The area hosts a variety of seafood restaurants, including Local Oceans Seafood and Chelsea Rose Seafood.
Additionally, you can check out Ripley’s Believe It or Not, World of Adventure, the sea lion docks, and so much more.
Explore Newport Deco District
The Deco District is located near City Hall and hosts events such as the weekly farmer’s market in the summer. It also has a lot of great dining options including La Maison Bakery, Coasties Roasties, and my favorite Oregon Coast breakfast chain – Pig N Pancake (I only ever see these in Oregon Coastal towns but maybe they are elsewhere too?).
This area is also home to The Kite Company. This is the largest kite shop in the Pacific Northwest and they sell all sorts of kites, including trick kites and beyond. Yes – kite flying on the Oregon Coastline is a popular activity.
Newport, Oregon is a great place to visit year round, but I especially love this area in the late spring to early fall. There is a reason my family keeps going back to this coastal town. Whether you are visiting for a long weekend, or a full week, you will find plenty to do in Newport and the surrounding areas.