An Oregon Road Trip on the Central Coast and Willamette Valley

Winter is an exceptional time to road trip and visit the state of Oregon. The main roads and byways support all kinds of weather.  In a car, you will quickly see how diverse the landscapes can be, it makes road trips exciting!
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This article was created in partnership with the Oregon Coast Visitors Bureau & Willamette Valley Visitors Association.

You can easily fly into a regional airport like Eugene or the international airport in Portland, and grab your bags.  Breeze through the on-sight rental car center and hit the road for a romantic road trip filled with wines, wings, and whales.

Miles and Miles of Public Space

Once you reach the People’s Coast (named that way because all 362 miles are open to the public) you’ll travel north or south on Highway 101. You’ll find plenty of opportunities to connect with nature whether it’s whale watching or winter birding at any of the fantastic wildlife refuges. The Central Coast made up of beautiful Lincoln County, Florence, and Reedsport caters to those who love the outdoors. Whether you’re looking for historic lighthouses or sprawling state parks to explore, the Central Coast is sure to astound you with its natural beauty and architecture.

A Coast of Marvels

Visit the city of Florence, once a quaint fishing village, located almost smack dab in the middle of the Oregon Coast. Race across sand dunes on a dune buggy. Stay in a reputedly haunted lighthouse.  You can also chase storms, if you so choose. There’s Depoe Bay, the Whale Watching Capital of the Oregon Coast.  You can marvel at the resident pod of grey whales who make their home from March to December in the world’s smallest navigable harbor. You can choose to visit the Central Coast’s largest city Newport and the Oregon Coast Aquarium. Lincoln City has seven miles of soft sandy beaches. Visitors can investigate tidepools, beachcomb for treasures left over after a storm, or even fly a kite!

Get Cozy

Facing inclement weather? No problem! Cozy up in front of the fireplace with a nice glass of wine. Watch the crashing waves or look for more magnificent whales. Nearly 20,000 gray whales migrate south along the coast heading to Mexico. They return with their babies between March and June. There are 24 designated whale-watching points.

Wonderful Wine

Once you’ve had your fill of rugged coastline, lighthouses and walks on the beach, hop in the car. It’s time to head to the Willamette Valley. This stunning area is known as Oregon’s leading wine region. It plays home to two-thirds of the state’s wineries and vineyards and more than 500 wineries. Known especially for Pinot Noir, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better area to try your hand at becoming a sommelier (or at least, gain an increased and enhanced appreciation for wine). The wineries come in all shapes and sizes: traditional, organic, biodynamic. Collectively they are young, dynamic and fiercely independent, but above all friendly.

A Culinary Disposition

The abundance of coastline and rich soil means there is a natural disposition towards food. Whether it is the delicious chowders, fish and chips, herbal cheeses or hearty meats, the restaurants have extensive offerings to appeal to nearly every taste. Oregon regional cuisine distinctly highlights the pioneer spirit woven into the Oregon culture. It is more than just farm-to-table, it is also forage-to-table and seed-to-table.

A Trip To Remember

Healthy wetlands and marches are why Oregon is also the choice habitat for many wintering birds. There are several wildlife refuges and parks. Animal preservation and habitat go hand in hand with the region’s focus on rehabilitation and education.

Between days spent viewing wildlife, wine tasting and eating well, your road trip on the Oregon Coast and through Willamette Valley will be something you remember forever!

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