The roughly 1,500-mile stretch of the Pacific Coast that extends from the Mexico border north through California, Oregon and Washington to the lower third of Canada’s Vancouver is home to some of the most dramatic scenery in the world.
Picture tower coastal headlands and jagged sea stacks; windswept beaches and coves teeming with seals and sea lions; and bustling marinas and fishing piers that attract everyone from anglers to rollerbladers.
What’s remarkable about the rugged Pacific Coast is how relatively undeveloped it is. Once you get beyond Southern California and the San Francisco Bay Area, it’s pretty easy to find peaceful, unhurried seaside villages without a building taller than three stories and without more than two or three — if any — traffic lights. You don’t have to drive far to find sandy crescents and pine-shaded bluffs all to yourself.
Part of the reason the Pacific shoreline has remained less developed than many coastal regions is its challenging topography. Jagged, rocky, densely wooded, buffeted by massive waves — especially during the dramatic winter storm season — the West Coast is North America’s wild coast.
Unless your hotel has a hot tub or a heated pool, there’s not much reason to pack a swimsuit — summer temperatures, even as far south as San Francisco, rarely creep higher than 68 degrees Fahrenheit. And with a lack of deep harbor, few major ports have been developed on the West Coast.
The dozens of charming coastal hamlets in this part of the world tend to attract hardy adventure seekers — folks who love vertiginous hikes and vigorous sea-kayaking excursions.
The towns are also known for boutique hotels and romantic inns with breathtaking views; sophisticated bistros and wine bars that show off the amazing bounty of regionally sourced ingredients; and chic shops and galleries stocked with gorgeous seascape paintings, colorful art glass, ceramics, fashionable yet sturdy sportswear and, let’s not kid ourselves, raincoats.
You’ll find exemplars of this inspired form of weekend vacationing along every part of the Pacific Coast, from the consistently sunny climes of California’s Orange County to the tranquil whale-infested waters of Washington and British Columbia’s Salish Sea.
Here are 10 gems close enough to major cities or airports to be ideal for a long weekend yet small enough to provide ample peace and quiet.
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Situated on the final stretch of the mighty Columbia River before it empties into the Pacific, Astoria has one of the most storied histories of any community on the West Coast. It was the endpoint for the intrepid Lewis and Clark Expedition in the winter of 1805-06. You can learn more about this legacy by exploring the recreated fort and hiking to the beach at Lewis and Clark National Historical Park.
Fur trader John Jacob Astor established the town just five years later, making it the first permanent American settlement west of the Rockies. For decades the then-rough-and-tumble downtown thrived as a salmon-canning center for Bumble Bee Seafoods.
Over the past three decades, industry has given way to leisure and a burgeoning influx of creatives have relocated here. The walkable downtown’s gorgeous Victorian buildings now house hipster coffeehouses, artisanal bakeries, trendy seafood restaurants and craft cocktail bars. In many respects, this town of around 10,000 residents feels like a little sister of Portland, about 100 miles upriver.
The superb Columbia River Maritime Museum has outstanding exhibits on the region’s seafaring history. You can take in stunning views of the ocean from as far inland as Mount Hood and Mount Rainier by ascending the 164 stairs to the observation deck encircling the Astoria Column.
The town is a perfect base for myriad outdoor activities, including tidepooling and beachcombing just across the gracefully arching Astoria-Megler Bridge in southwestern Washington’s spectacular Cape Disappointment State Park. Or, head down the Oregon coast to Haystack Rock and Ecola State Park in the upscale village of Cannon Beach.
From Portland, it’s a two-hour drive along the Columbia River via U.S. Highway 30 or, even more scenic, over the Coast Mountain Range to Cannon Beach by way of U.S. Highway 26 to U.S. Highway 101. It’s only a slightly longer drive to get to Astoria from Seattle, taking Interstate Highway 5 to U.S. Highway 30.
Where to stay in Astoria
The spacious, sun-filled (when the sun decides to shine in coastal Oregon) rooms at the Cannery Pier Hotel (rates start at $429) have gorgeous views of the Columbia River and soaring arches of the Astoria-Megler Bridge. Bliss out with a massage and Aveda facial in the spa, and dine on freshly caught seafood and Oregon wines next door at casually stylish Bridgewater Bistro.
Also along the river with access to the quaint Astoria Riverwalk path, the Bowline Hotel (rates start at $219) offers beautifully appointed rooms with water views and deep soaking tubs. A hip bar and cafe, the Knot, serves creative breakfasts in the morning and inspired cocktails at night. The Bowline is part of the local Adrift Hospitality boutique lodging brand, which has additional properties down U.S. Highway 101 in Seaside and across the river on Washington’s breezy and beautiful Long Beach Peninsula.
The Selina Commodore Hotel (rates start at $149) has cozy, minimalist-chic rooms just steps from many inviting downtown eateries and boutiques. Just off the lobby, feast on contemporary Scandinavian fare at Broder Strand cafe.
This little town on central California’s famously spectacular Highway 1 may not get as much attention as ritzy Carmel or quirky Big Sur. Still, it’s a beautiful town with a nice variety of independently owned beachfront hotels and a laid-back downtown with just enough good restaurants to entice foodies.
A major reason to spend a night or two in Cambria is that it’s a great base for visiting legendary Hearst Castle, the 127-acre estate of the eccentric media mogul William Randolph Hearst. Visits are by guided tour only — the Grand Rooms Tour is the best option for first-time visits.
There are several notable wineries in town or close by, and Cambria is a daytrip distance from the acclaimed wine-touring towns of Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo.
A tip for sweet tooths: If you pass through the cute coastal village of Cayucos, about 15 miles south, definitely drop by the flagship location of Brown Butter Cookie Company for some of the most addictively delicious cookies on the West Coast.
Heading north up the coast, you enter the iconic Big Sur stretch of Highway 1, where you can stop to admire throngs of napping and sometimes cavorting elephant seals at the overlook by San Simeon’s Piedras Blancas, and venture out for amazing day hikes to Pacific Valley Bluff, San Carpoforo Creek and Pfeiffer Falls.
Following U.S. Highway 101 inland, it’s just a two-hour drive to the rugged spires and eerie caves of Pinnacles National Park.
Cambria is about equidistant from Los Angeles (220 miles south) and San Francisco (230 miles north). Following Highway 1 south, it’s a 40-minute drive to San Luis Obispo, which has the nearest commercial airport. In the other direction, it’s a 2 1/2-hour drive to Monterey.
Where to stay in Cambria
Flanking the town’s golden-sand Moonstone Beach, which is lined with a beautiful boardwalk, you’ll find about 15 lodging options. Most of them are quite inviting.
Standouts include the moderately priced Cambria Beach Lodge (rates start at $209) with its cheerful, art-filled rooms outfitted with comfy wool blankets and Malin + Goetz bath products, and the more high-end White Water Cambria (rates start at $349), whose amenities include a convivial lobby wine bar and in-room minibars stocked with well-curated snacks and libations. Both properties loan out stylish Linus Bikes.
Adjacent to Moonstone Beach Park and overlooking estuarial Santa Rosa Creek, the luxurious, Tuscany-inspired El Colibri Hotel & Spa (rates start at $174) is closer to Cambria’s charming downtown. All the spacious rooms and suites have gas fireplaces and plush premium bedding, and several have Jacuzzi tubs.
Half Moon Bay, California
This laid-back town with gorgeous, wind-swept beaches feels a world apart from San Francisco and the Silicon Valley even though it’s less than 40 miles from both.
It’s an idyllic place to relax for a couple of days. You can stroll along the coastal bluffs and the more than a dozen beaches, or rent a kayak for a stand-up paddleboard adventure among the seals and sea lions at Pillar Point Marina. Leave time to browse the boutiques along Main Street, and from spring through fall, scoop up fresh produce and snacks at the Saturday morning farmers market.
If you’re craving big-city attractions, San Francisco is close enough for a half-day excursion up the coast; the museums and gardens of Golden Gate Park are especially easy to access from Highway 1.
Heading south along the coast, it’s just a 20-minute drive to the picturesque farming and ranching town of Pescadero, where you can sample creamy artichoke soup at Duarte’s Tavern and mingle with cute farm animals at Harley Farms Goat Dairy.
Continuing in this direction, Highway 1 curves down around a spectacular stretch of oceanfront to the lively college town and surfing mecca of Santa Cruz, about an hour south.
It’s a quick and scenic 25-mile drive from San Francisco down Highway 1. From either San Francisco International Airport (SFO) or San Jose and Silicon Valley, take the U.S. Highway 101 or Interstate 280 to Highway 92, for a short drive over the mountains into town.
Where to stay in Half Moon Bay
Set on a 15-acre patch of coastal bluff and a links-style golf course that fronts Three Rocks Beach, the 261-room Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay (rates start at $910 or 88,000 Bonvoy points) is a popular hideaway among affluent residents of San Francisco and Silicon Valley. The spacious, refined rooms and suites abound with creature comforts, like marble bathrooms with oversized tubs and separate showers. Deluxe rooms open onto private terraces with Adirondack chairs and fire pits. There’s an impressive spa, and Navio seafood restaurant is acclaimed for its weekend brunches and water views.
In the beautiful Miramar section of Half Moon Bay, a few minutes north of town’s charming Main Street, the Cypress Inn (rates start at $345) has 18 warmly appointed rooms with gas fireplaces, heated terra cotta floors and eye-popping ocean views. Rates include a full breakfast, which you can enjoy in the inn’s inviting Great Room or, better yet, get delivered to the privacy of your guest room.
Overlooking Pillar Point Marina, next door to the famous Sam’s Chowder House restaurant, the casually chic three-story Beach House Hotel (rates start at $395) offers an array of services in its soothing spa room. It has a pool and hot tub overlooking the ocean. All of the airy, contemporary rooms have balconies or patios, most facing the water.
Laguna Beach, California
A jewel among several inviting coastal towns in Orange County, Laguna Beach has been known for its vibrant art and cultural scene for generations. The annual Pageant of the Masters art festival, held over two months starting in July, has been a major draw here since 1932. The small but excellent Laguna Art Museum is right in the center of town.
Just 50 miles down the coast from LA and 80 miles north of San Diego, the town has a wealth of upscale hotels and boutique resorts along the beach. Not to mention, there are plenty of see-and-be-seen restaurants with breezy terraces and pool bars.
It’s also a popular getaway among LGBTQIA+ travelers, and a who’s who of celebs have resided here at various times, including Diane Keaton, Rock Hudson, Bette Midler and Bette Davis.
Beachfront rooms come with steep rates here (and pretty much everywhere in Orange County). With a population of around 23,000, Laguna Beach isn’t quite a small town, but it’s still pretty easygoing and intimate for this part of Southern California. It also has some of the region’s most beautiful beaches.
Laguna is a good base for visiting coastal Orange County’s several interesting attractions, including historic Mission San Juan Capistrano, the Ocean Institute marine wildlife center in Dana Point and the seaside amusements of Balboa Island.
Bearing in mind that traffic in Southern California can be a little daunting, it’s a pretty easy one-hour straight shot down either Interstate 405 or I-5 to reach this sunny beach town. From San Diego, allow about 75 minutes without traffic for the drive up I-5.
Where to stay in Laguna Beach
For its attentive, personalized service and world-class amenities, it’s hard to beat the Montage Laguna Beach ($808). The celebrated resort chain’s flagship property opened along a breezy stretch of sand on the south side of town in 2003. When you’re in deep need of pampering, there’s nothing better than lazing away the day with wildflower massages and Hydra-dermabrasion facials in the sybaritic spa, followed by seafood tacos and watermelon margaritas by the pool.
With 167 rooms that tumble down a cliffside overlooking the ocean, the chic and contemporary Surf & Sand Resort (rates start at $899) offers cushy digs as well as fine, sophisticated dining in Splashes seafood restaurant. There’s also a gorgeous pool and an indulgent spa.
Set just a bit inland along tranquil Aliso Creek, the sprawling 87-acre Ranch at Laguna Beach (rooms starting at $474) is a great fit for those seeking a more active vacation. There are miles of hiking trails nearby, and the resort has a beautifully designed nine-hole golf course. The farm-to-table restaurant Harvest is one of the top dining experiences in town.
Blessed with a dramatic setting atop steep coastal headlands on the rugged northern California coastline, this picture-perfect hamlet (which famously stood in for Crabapple Cove, Maine, in the beloved TV show “Murder She Wrote”) is a top destination among foodies and outdoorsy types.
The town lies just inland from the misty vineyards and fragrant gardens of the Anderson Valley wine country, home to such acclaimed vineyards as Goldeneye, Navarro and Roederer Estate.
Head just 7 miles up Highway 1 for a breezy ramble through glorious Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens. Just beyond that lies the fishing and lumber town of Fort Bragg, with its increasingly trendy cache of cafes and shops; there’s also the old-fashioned Skunk Train, a scenic railroad offering vintage steam-engine and rail-bike rides through groves of skyscraping redwoods.
The village center of Mendocino abounds with tony bistros and galleries. On Friday afternoons, a small but lovely farmers market proffers delicious seasonal produce and gourmet goods.
Set along a sparsely populated stretch of minimally developed coastline, getting to Mendocino takes some time. From San Francisco, allow just more than three hours without traffic by driving up U.S. Highway 101 through the heart of the Sonoma wine country. Then, pick up the twisting and turning Highway 128 through the alluring Anderson Valley.
For a longer and even more scenic adventure, you could follow breathtaking Highway 1 all the way from San Francisco up through coastal Marin and Sonoma, perhaps stopping to explore Point Reyes National Seashore. But this windy, windswept scenic route takes about five hours without stops.
Where to stay in Mendocino
Right in the center of Mendocino’s adorable downtown, the Victorian-era Headlands Inn (rates start at $216) contains just seven snug, individually decorated rooms, some with wood-burning fireplaces and ocean views. Rates include a cooked-to-order full breakfast served on English china.
Sea Rock Inn (rates start at $325) lies less than a mile north of town and consists of 14 luxuriously appointed suites and cottages, all of which offer fireplaces, private entrances and ocean views. Breakfast is delivered to your room each morning.
Steps from famously photogenic Van Damme State Beach on the south side of town, the historic Little River Inn (rates start at $255) enjoys a splendid hilltop location overlooking the sea. It offers a number of notable amenities, including a nine-hole golf course, tennis courts, the much-loved Whale Watch Bar and a wonderful restaurant serving some of the tastiest cioppino on the California coast. Rooms — one of which James Dean stayed in while filming “East of Eden” — are set in a few different buildings; some have steam showers and Jacuzzi tubs, and most have exceptional water views.
Orcas Island, Washington
The largest and hilliest of the more than 170 islands that make up the Salish Sea’s sublime San Juan Islands archipelago is still a peaceful place with a friendly small-town demeanor. The relaxed pace extends even to Orcas’ main village, Eastsound, which lies at the top of a long, narrow inlet and bridges the butterfly-shaped island’s two “lobes.”
Orcas is a hiking and paddling paradise. Trails lace the precipitous terrain, especially throughout 1,718-acre Turtleback Reserve and the 5,252-acre Moran State Park, which features a peaceful pond perfect for summertime swimming and has kayak rentals.
You can also climb several different trails to the stunning summit of 2,400-foot-tall Mount Constitution. You’ll be rewarded with 360-degree views of Vancouver Island and both Mount Rainier and Mount Baker on the mainland. Several companies around the island rent sea kayaks and stand-up paddleboards, and Outer Island Excursions offers amazing whale-watching cruises.
You’ll find several noteworthy galleries on the island stocked with high-quality pottery, woodworking and other art. For an island with only around 6,000 full-time residents, Orcas has a phenomenal dining scene; places like Buck Bay Shellfish Farm, The Barnacle and Matia Kitchen generate plenty of buzz.
A fleet of distinctive white-and-green car ferries whisk passengers, cars and bikes from the mainland town of Anacortes (a 90-minute drive north of Seattle) to Orcas as well as the archipelago’s two other most populous islands, San Juan and Lopez.
You can also fly from Seattle to Orcas Island on a scenic 75-minute seaplane ride. If you visit this 57-square-mile island without a car, it’s possible to get around using taxis, private shuttle buses or bikes if you’re in good shape; you can rent them in Eastsound.
A car is undeniably more convenient but also much more expensive to bring by ferry. Especially during the summer high season, locals will thank you for leaving your car behind.
Where to stay on Orcas Island
On the magnificent 1909 former estate of shipbuilding magnate Robert Moran, the elegant Rosario Resort (rates start at $179) sprawls across a 40-acre peninsula that juts into East Sound. Choose a more traditional room near the resort’s main building, Moran’s elegant mansion, which contains a fine restaurant and a museum. Or, opt for a more recently built condo-style overlooking the bay and harbor.
In the center of the island’s main village, Eastsound, the stylish Outlook Inn on Orcas Island (rates start at $296) has 40 rooms with fashionably modern furnishings and, in most cases, balconies. It’s a good choice if you come to the island without a car, as it’s within walking distance of several excellent restaurants, including its very own locavore-driven bistro, Newleaf.
Set along a stunning beach 3 miles from Eastsound, the 1930s rustic-chic West Beach Resort (rates start at $205) has a wide mix of accommodations. They range from comfy cottages on the sand with full kitchens and private decks to sweet canvas glamping tent cabins to basic tent campsites. A pier juts out from the main building, which also contains a small grocery store cafe. If you’re lucky, you may spy whales out in the bay.
Port Townsend, Washington
In the 1850s, the founders of this enchanting town on the northeastern tip of the Olympic Peninsula (just a 45-mile drive from the Hurricane Ridge entrance to Olympic National Park) bet that Port Townsend would be chosen as the western terminus of the cross-country Northern Pacific Railroad, and thus blossom into the Pacific Northwest’s largest coastal city.
The railroad ended in two different and more accessible coastal communities by the name of Seattle and Tacoma, but a number of impressive brick Victorian buildings were constructed in the meantime. Today, these handsome structures contain bistros, boutiques, ice cream shops and even a funky art-house cinema.
With great views across the bay to Whidbey Island and, on clear days, snowcapped Mount Baker in the distance, the town is home to the 434-acre Fort Worden State Historical Park. The park offers plenty of diversions, including a maritime museum, beaches, trails, performance venues and restaurants. It was also prominently featured in the sentimental 1982 romance drama “An Officer and a Gentleman.”
From Seattle, you can drive here entirely by land by following I-5 south to Olympia, then cutting across and up U.S. Highway 101 along the gorgeous Hood Canal, which separates the Olympic and Kitsap peninsulas.
If you make this beautiful road trip, which takes a little more than two hours, do yourself a favor and stop for a lunch of freshly caught bivalves at the famed Hama Hama Oyster Saloon. Depending on how you time it, it may be quicker to get to Port Townsend from Seattle by taking the ferry from Edmonds to Kingston, following Highway 104 across the Kitsap Peninsula and then Highway 19 north into town.
Another scenic option is to take the ferry from the mainland town of Mukilteo to Whidbey Island, and a second ferry ride from Coupeville directly to downtown Port Townsend.
Any way that you get here will be a lovely, Insta-worthy experience. Keep in mind that from Port Townsend, it’s just an hour’s drive to the small city of Port Angeles; from there, ferries make the 90-minute international crossing to Victoria, British Columbia.
Where to stay in Port Townsend
With an easygoing, unpretentious air, Port Townsend’s hotels are mostly housed in historic buildings and typically have pretty reasonable rates (although these rise a bit on summer weekends).
A venerable red brick building that dates back to 1890, the Bishop Hotel (rates start at $235) has undergone a steady upgrade and update since new owners bought it a few years ago. Many of the spacious rooms have kitchenettes, and there’s a lovely coffeehouse-wine bar on the ground floor as well as a peaceful garden courtyard outback.
Nearby on downtown’s small and picturesque marina, the Swan Hotel (rates start at $175) offers attractive rooms with water views in the historic main building. There are a few adorable bungalows that offer a bit more privacy.
Among several elegant B&Bs in town, the Victorian-style Ravenscroft Inn (rates start at $275) stands out for its broad double-decker veranda with sweeping views of the town and the water. It offers delicious breakfasts, which might feature roasted-vegetable frittatas or brioche French toast topped with whipped cream and seasonal berries.
Salt Spring Island, British Columbia
Off the southeastern tip of Vancouver Island and just across the U.S.-Canada maritime border from Washington’s San Juan Islands, the Gulf Islands archipelago comprises a number of similarly restful and relaxing land masses. The largest of these is the beautiful, mountainous Salt Spring Island.
With regular ferry service from its south and north ends, it’s fairly easy to get to from Vancouver Island. This is a wonderful destination for leisurely bike rides and kayak outings. Rugged hiking trails lace several green spaces, including Mount Maxwell Provincial Park, where the 4-mile loop trail climbs up to 1,975-foot-high Baynes Peak with its panoramic views of the surrounding bays and islands.
Another fun outing involves picking up locally made goat cheese and other snacks at Salt Spring Island Cheese, where you can also visit with the adorable goats. Bring your goodies to nearby Ruckle Provincial Park for a picnic overlooking the water. In the friendly main town of Ganges, you’ll find a great selection of restaurants and indie shops.
It’s fairly easy to reach from Vancouver Island by ferry. Boats make the short trip to Fulford Harbour at the southern end of the island from Swartz Bay, just outside the town of Sidney, near Victoria; this is also the terminal served by ferries from Tsawwassen, on the mainland near Vancouver.
There’s ferry service from Vesuvius, on the northwestern end of Salt Spring Island, to Crofton, which is a 40-minute drive south of Nanaimo; from there, ferries cross the Georgia Strait to Horseshoe Bay, just outside Vancouver. The much faster option, especially from Vancouver, is seaplane; these flights take about 35 minutes and leave right from the city’s Coal Harbour seaplane terminal.
Where to stay on Salt Spring Island
Part of exclusive Relais & Chateaux, the stylish Hastings House Country House Hotel (rates start at $450) is a 22-acre woodland oasis overlooking the harbor just outside the island’s main village, Ganges. It stands out for its romantic, exquisitely furnished rooms and suites. There’s an exceptional restaurant serving splendid farm-to-table feasts and a gracious full-service spa.
The economical but inviting Salt Spring Inn (rates start at 135 Canadian dollars or $101) is right in the center of Ganges. It’s a short walk from numerous restaurants and shops as well as the main marina and seaplane terminal. It has its own cozy pub on the ground floor, serving craft beers, poutine and sockeye salmon burgers.
For a more secluded experience, consider staying at the Wetherly Inn (rates start at CA$303 or $227), which is surrounded by 30 acres of vibrant gardens and towering conifers near Mount Maxwell. The four rooms and a cozy cottage have such pleasing touches as soaking tubs and fireplaces, and rates include an expansive continental breakfast buffet. There’s also a pool, a well-equipped fitness room and a boutique spa.
Tofino, British Columbia
It takes a bit of effort to reach this salt-aired village on the remote southwest coast of massive Vancouver Island, but that’s a big reason why fans of Tofino adore it so much.
Set along a short, paddle-shaped peninsula that flanks the ocean and juts into pristine Clayoquot Sound, this low-key, friendly town with just over 2,500 residents is nestled in a temperate rainforest. It serves as a gateway to surrounding Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.
Popular for sea-kayaking, deep-sea fishing and whale-watching excursions, it’s also become famous over the years as a place to hole up on winter weekends and watch massive winter storms pass over the town.
You can certainly go outside and battle with the fierce winds to partake in this activity (just steer clear of dangerous surf). A more comfortable option is to book a room with big windows and ideally a fireplace or jetted tub.
Artists, writers and chefs are drawn to this magical place, which remains pretty peaceful year-round despite swelling crowds during the summer high season. You’ll find some stellar restaurants here, from the internationally acclaimed sea-to-table bistro Wolf in the Fog to the down-home fish-and-chips shack Wildside Grill.
It’s a winding and rather solitary three-hour drive on Highway 4 from Nanaimo, which is served by ferries from Horseshoe Bay, near Vancouver. It takes 4 1/2 hours to make the trip from Victoria, at the southeastern tip of Vancouver Island. That makes driving here a bit impractical if you’re coming for just a weekend.
You could extend your trip, of course, or save a lot of time by flying here on a seaplane, which takes just under an hour from Victoria and Vancouver. The views during these flights are stupendous.
Where to stay in Tofino
The concept of storm-watching has long been associated with the fabulously posh yet unpretentious Wickaninnish Resort (rates start at $483), a Relais & Chateaux property with an incredible setting along gorgeous, driftwood-strewn Chesterman Beach. Even if you don’t stay here, try to book a meal at the incredible Pointe Restaurant, with its panoramic water views. Other pleasing amenities include complimentary bike rentals and shuttle service around town as well as an exceptional full-service spa.
With a bold contemporary design and a playful vibe, Hotel Zed Tofino (rates start at $381) lies on the Clayoquot Sound side of the peninsula but is just a few minutes’ drive from the ocean and oft-photographed Chesterman’s Beach. It features such whimsical touches as a miniature disco with sequined walls, a bike path that runs through the lobby, and a barrel sauna and hot tub set amid a lush rainforest.
An easy walk from downtown’s many restaurants, galleries and wharves, the laid-back Tofino Motel Harborview (rates start at $176) offers two floors of attractively furnished rooms with picture windows and balconies overlooking Tofline Inlet.
Situated along a magnificent stretch of the central Oregon Coast famous for migratory whale watching (the best seasons are December through mid-January and then again from mid-March through May), this tiny village pronounced “yah-haaths” is a lovely spot to do absolutely nothing but curl up with a book by the fireplace.
You can, however, find some amazing hikes nearby, especially at Cape Perpetua Marine Reserve. Here, trails lead through forests of towering Sitka Spruce trees to an 800-foot-high panoramic ocean overlook as well as down around craggy coves and geological formations with poetic names like Thor’s Well and Spouting Horn.
The entire village center consists of a barely 1-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 101. Still, it is blessed with an impressive collection of about a half-dozen exceptional restaurants, from a humble fish-and-chips place called Luna Sea Fish House to the casually refined Ona Restaurant and Lounge, which serves perfectly prepared local Dungeness crabcakes.
Craft-beer enthusiasts should be sure to check out the selection of funky sours and saisons at Yachats Brewing + Farmstore. There aren’t a ton of actual hotels here, but you’ll find some splendid options on Airbnb. If you’re seeking a bit more in the way of formal attractions, drive 25 miles up the coast to the small port city of Newport, which has a bustling harborfront and is home to the excellent Oregon Coast Aquarium.
It’s just less than a two-hour drive west from Oregon’s second largest city, Eugene, along Highway 126 to U.S. Highway 101 north. From Portland, the drive takes a little more than three hours. You can make a whole day of it by driving through the Willamette Valley wine country and stopping at a few famous Pinot Noir producers along the way. (Sokol Blosser and Remy Wines are good bets.)
Where to stay in Yachats
By far the largest and the swankiest resort in town, the 54-room Overleaf Lodge & Spa (rates start at $300) sits along the area’s coastal trail at Smelt Sands State Recreation Site. Many of its accommodations enjoy sweeping ocean vistas. You can book a slew of massage and body treatments at the resort’s soothing spa, and nearby Adobe Restaurant serves great seafood.
Several miles up the coast, the retro-charming, single-story Tillicum Beach Motel (rates start at $109) has few frills, but its 19 rooms are immaculately kept and cheerfully furnished. Some have kitchenettes, and most have water views.
The most unusual lodging in the region offers guests the opportunity to stay in the lighthouse keeper’s house: The red-roofed Heceta Lighthouse B&B (rates start at $298) sits on a famously photogenic peninsula just steps from the working 56-foot-tall lighthouse; both were built in the 1890s. Rooms are furnished individually with antiques and country quilts, and a lavish seven-course gourmet breakfast is included. The inn is midway between Yachats (15 miles up the coast) and the larger but also quite inviting coastal town of Florence.