Oregon Coast

Trip Planning

Underrated Destinations: Oregon’s Adventure Coast

Jeremy Puglisi shares his tips for visiting the underrated destination of Oregon's Adventure Coast.

Oregon’s Adventure Coast consists of the towns of Coos Bay, North Bend, and Charleston and the stunning coastal landscapes that surround them. The area is filled with lighthouses, museums, gardens, and locally sourced seafood and beer that wins praise and applause from across the state. Those that love surfing, fishing, paddling, and ATVing will also find endless opportunities for outdoor adventure here. Whether you want to spend a day casting a line in Coos Bay or do some cold-water surfing in the mighty Pacific, you will never get bored when visiting Oregon’s Adventure Coast. This section of the state is about four hours south from Portland, and 2.5 hours north from Crescent City, California. So, if you are road tripping up and down the Oregon coast, then you should definitely plan on stopping here.

One of the reasons why RV owners love this section of the state is because the area is filled with great camping options from rustic to resort. There is truly an option at every price point. Those that love affordable public campground options will enjoy the state park camping in the area. Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area is a world unto itself when it comes to camping options and has over 12 campgrounds within its borders. There are also excellent options for those that love resort-styled camping with luxurious amenities and spacious sites. You will find more information about all these options below.

Oregon’s Adventure Coast is truly an underrated destination for RV travel. Here is a short overview of the best that the area has to offer for activities, food and drink, and camping accommodations.

Family Fun and the Great Outdoors

Oregon’s Adventure Coast has something for everyone--especially if you love coastal landscapes, sparkling bays, and windswept beaches. The Umpqua River Lighthouse and four other lighthouses are within an hour’s drive of the Coos Bay area. So taking a lighthouse themed day trip could be a great way to explore the coastline. The Charleston Marine Life Center is operated by the University of Oregon and is great for kids and adults who want to learn more about coastal habitats and the animals that call them home. Opportunities for fishing, crabbing, and clamming are abundant here. So, make sure you pack the necessary gear in your RV. If you are traveling light in a smaller RV, equipment rentals are available at several locations. Basin Tackle in Coos Bay even offers a free clamming class with rentals available at a modest additional price.

Thrill seekers are drawn to Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. The magnificent sand dunes here are incredibly popular with RV owners that have Toy Haulers and like to transport their own ATV’s. There are options for camping both inside and outside of the dunes area. You can also pull your RV in for the day and set up a basecamp if you are staying somewhere else at night.

ATVing is not the only outdoor sport that is prominent along the adventure coast. There are also many good spots for surfing along this stunning stretch of coastline. But be forewarned, the ocean can be chilly--even in the summer. Bahama Boards rents surfboards, bodyboards, SUPs, wetsuits and more at their location on the corner of Highway 101 and Ivy Street. 

A Trio of Stunning State Parks

Every inch of the Oregon Coast is spectacular, but the stretch that is occupied by Sunset Bay State Park, Shore Acres State Park, and Cape Arago State Park cranks it up another windswept notch. These three parks are all connected and have hiking trails that link them together. A day hike along this stretch of coast is filled with breathtaking views of dramatic cliffs and sparkling blue water. Parts of the 8.5 mile out and back hike meander through shady coastal forests, while other stretches provide panoramic views of the Pacific.

Make sure you visit the gardens at Shore Acres State Park while you are exploring the area. They were once part of the home of a timber baron and have been lovingly recreated. The Japanese Garden and its lily pond are absolutely enchanting.

Where to Eat and Drink

So, it Goes Coffee House in Coos Bay opens at 7am and offers great coffee, baked goods, and breakfast burritos. Make sure you fuel up here before you head out to go fishing, surfing, or ATVing.  When it is time for lunch or dinner put Shark Bites Cafe in Coos Bay at the top of your list. Their seafood is locally sourced and the Dungeness Crab Cakes with sweet chili sauce and lemon are dreamy. If you are looking for great local beer after a long day of exploring the area, then try 7 Devils Brewing Co. They specialize in Northwest Style Ales and offer great locally sourced grub.

Campground Recommendations

Bay Point Landing

If you want to park your rig at a luxury RV resort during your trip to Oregon’s adventure coast, then look no further than Bay Point Landing. The RV sites here are spacious and the sunsets are spectacular. The amenities, like a heated saltwater pool, fitness center, and communal fire pit, are excellent. Make sure to check out the food truck (on weekends) that serves great burgers and fish and chips. They will even deliver right to your RV site.

Sunset Bay State Park Campground

This campground is rustic and cozy--and just steps away from a magical spot where sunsets melt into the ocean. Sunset Bay State Park Campground offers full hookup sites for RVs that are very popular--so plan on booking ahead. These sites are not huge but offer shade and privacy in a beautiful natural setting--and getting full hookup sites in a state park is very rare.

Oceanside RV Resort and Campground

The beachfront location of this campground is simply beautiful. You can stroll right up to the sand from your site, and you can hear the sound of waves crashing at night as you fall asleep. The setting is just as beautiful as a state park, but this campground has full hook ups and can accommodate the big rigs. The camp store here is cute and has souvenirs and basic RV supplies.

Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area

Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area has over a dozen rustic campgrounds to choose from that are very popular with toy hauler owners that like to ATV here. Those that have RV’s that are well-equipped for dry camping will love it here. If you want full hookups, there are plenty of other options nearby.

Best Time to Visit

Most experienced travelers will tell you that summer is the best time to visit coastal Oregon--and they would be right. Rain is minimal, and daytime temperatures are typically warm without being hot. But fall is also a lovely time to visit Oregon’s Adventure Coast. Temperatures can get a bit cooler, but overall, they are incredibly pleasant for exploring the area. Crowds are also much thinner in September, and it can still feel like summer.

If you are looking for your next great RV adventure, and want to avoid the crowds, but still go somewhere spectacular--then look to the adventure coast. Just remember to pack a warm sweater for evenings around the campfire.

Jeremy Puglisi

Author and co-host of the RV Atlas podcast

Jeremy Puglisi is the co-host of the RV Atlas podcast and the co-author of See You at the Campground: A Guide to Discovering Community, Connection, and a Happier Family in the Great Outdoors, and Where Should We Camp Next: A 50 State Guide to Amazing Campgrounds and other Unique Outdoor Accommodations. He loves nothing more than hitching up and heading out to the next campground with his family.