When there is good weather on the Oregon Coast, there is paradise within three hours of the Rogue Valley. There are many excellent beach choices. Knowing you may not make it back for a while, sometimes it’s nice to beach hop! A great drive from Medford takes you along the infamous Hwy 199 to the 101. Heading north on the 101, a great stop is Harris Beach just outside of Brookings, Oregon.
Harris Beach is a great place to get out and run around. It is a soft sandy beach with plenty of room to roam. The rocky backdrop allows for some private seating and protection if the wind decides to kick up. There is a restroom located in the parking lot. There is a set of stairs from the parking lot, but they are well made and wide enough for three kids and a whole picnic to get down.
There are spectacular formations throughout the coast line, and Harris Beach showcases some of the most unique rock features. It is a great place to let the kids roam. From Medford, Harris Beach State Park is only two and a half hours away.
From the Brookings, area, Gold Beach is a mere half hour drive. Gold Beach offers a wide-open, soft sandy beach with grassy dunes buffering the highway.
It is also an excellent place to look for agates. Agates are abundant throughout the West Coast, but I have been rock hounding for a few years and I have never found agates with as much ease as I do in Gold Beach. I have never gone home empty handed. A great web site I consult before heading out on a rock hunt is Rock Hounding 101.
From Gold Beach, Bandon is one hour North on the 101. Bandon is one of Oregon’s best beach towns, and food places, in my opinion. There are a few tourist traps in Old Town Bandon to be weary of if you are watching your pocketbook, such as the Old Fudge Factory. However, there are many unique gift shops such as the Cranberry Sweets shop, where free samples are hidden all throughout the store and the homemade products they sell are actually reasonable. And Bandon boasts some of the best Fish and Chips on the West Coast. Right on the bay, next to all of these shops, is an epic boardwalk full of one of a kind art pieces and an excellent view.
The beaches of Bandon are worth the drive alone. It is where to go to view tide pools and it is best to hit low tide so you can access all of them. Otherwise, it is nice to sit in the sand and watch the waves roll in.
From Bandon, you can take 42 East to Winston. It is a beautiful drive through Camas Valley. It connects to I-5 in Winston and takes about 3 hrs to get back to the Rogue Valley. Although a long day trip, it is definitely one that will make lasting memories and remind you what a special place Oregon’s coast is.
Mary Jane Feetham