If you want to avoid lines and general tourist bustle, Waldport is a nice alternative to the resort towns surrounding it. Tourism is low-key here, and you can still sense the vestiges of the natural resource-based economy, a by-product of the town’s proximity to rich timber stands and superlative fishing. Stop along US-101 at the Alsea Bay Historic Interpretive Center (541/563-2133) for interesting exhibits on coastal transportation and the local Alsea people, as well as a telescope trained on waterfowl and seals in the bay. The center sits at the southwest foot of the modern span that, in 1995, replaced the historic circa-1936 art deco-style bridge.
Halfway to Yachats, four miles south of Waldport, Beachside State Recreation Site (541/563-3220) has a popular campground, with hot showers, RV hookups, and a lovely stretch of sandy beach. They also have yurts ($47).
On the way into Yachats (pop. 757; pronounced “YA-hots”), beach loops on either side of the Yachats River give a sense of why the area is called “the gem of the Oregon coast.” It’s a great place to wander and get lost and found again, especially at the beautiful Ocean Road State Natural Site, where incredible views along a one-mile loop road look out over crashing waves, tide pools, blowholes, and, in winter, gray whales migrating offshore.
Back in town, for the past 30-plus years, Leroy’s Blue Whale (580 Hwy-101 N., 541/547-3399), on US-101, has been serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day, featuring fluffy pancakes, fresh chowders, and fine fish ’n’ chips. On US-101 there are a half dozen different lodging options fronting the beach, including the Fireside Motel (1881 US-101 N., 541/547-3636, $89 and up) and The Beachcomber Cottages (95500 US-101 S., 503/345-9399 or 503/683-7953, $95 and up).