Where to enjoy nature things to do in Newport, Oregon
Fourteen nature things to do in Newport, Oregon — from a Pacific Northwest local. Oregon coast beaches, aquarium, lighthouses, forests, planning information & more.
This article is for you if:
- You’ve never been to the Oregon Coast and want a local spin on a popular destination.
- You live in the Pacific Northwest but are looking for new ways to experience a local favorite.
- You always seem to do the same things when visiting the Oregon Coast.
- You’re interested in deepening your connection to the Natural World and want a great place to practice.
- You’ve seen the Oregon Coast, but it was just okay — something felt missing.
- You value combining nature and spirit into your travel and want reliable ideas to incorporate into your experience.
- You love the Oregon Coast but want to get off the beaten path while enjoying the travel services in a popular place.
The allure of the Oregon Coast draws travelers from around the globe. They visit to breathe in the fresh salty air blowing through the coast pine while enjoying frothy waves crashing against dramatic rock stacks. From endless sandy beaches to dense rainforests, the 363-mile coastline offers a little something for everyone.
And, while it might seem like the secret is out — the Coast looks very busy in the summer and on weekends — it can be surprisingly easy to get away from it all.
This article can help you grow awareness of things to do in Newport to get off the beaten path in your unique connection to nature on the Oregon Coast.
Only limited time in Newport, Oregon?
Like many who wander down Oregon Coast Highway 101, you can string together several Oregon Coast Towns to understand the diversity of the land. Which means you may only have a day in Newport. If you only have a day, read my other article: “How to see Newport, Oregon, in one day.”
Nature-forward things to do in Newport, Oregon. Table of Contents
- Why should you listen to me?
- Let me help you plan an epic PNW trip.
- Facts about Newport
- How does Newport stack up to the rest of Oregon Coast Towns?
- Why nature-forward matters
- My Newport favorites
- Nature things to do in Newport
- Attractions in Newport
- Other mentions of things to do
- Nearby Newport — Yachats & Depoe Bay
- Planning a trip to Newport, Oregon
- Getting to and from Newport
Why should you listen to Matthew Kessi (that’s me)?
- The Coast is my lifelong playground — I grew up in Oregon.
- In addition to other frequent visits, I make yearly drives up and down the 363-mile Oregon coastline, updating my list of nature things to do. And the map always includes unique places to eat, drink, and rest your head at night.
- My friend CM lives in the historical Nye Beach area of Newport — which is walkable and charming. I visit her regularly, so I get great local insights to test myself.
- I’m a practical mystic, which means I actively integrate spiritual sensitivities and meaningful applications in daily life. I can help you find more rewarding experiences grounded in nature — and you can be more present to yourself, your companions, and all the wonders of travel. In another article, “Six steps to deepen your nature connection, “ I write about the fundamentals to do this.
- Unless specified, I don’t receive compensation for naming specific locations — my recommendations come from the heart.
Let me help you plan an epic trip to Oregon Coast or Pacific Northwest.
If you’re new to Oregon or interested in detailed nature-forward options — let me help you plan an epic Oregon Coast road trip. I offer Zoom meetings where our conversation leads to two potential itineraries for an exciting and thoughtful journey. Or, I will provide honest feedback about your planning work-in-progress. Click here for more information.
Facts about Newport, Oregon
- Newport is the commercial hub of the Central Oregon Coast, between Waldport and Depoe Bay.
- The local population of Newport is 10,000 people, but that rises substantially in the busy tourist seasons.
- The weather is reliably mild year-round, essentially staying between 55-75f.
- Newport was originally part of the Y’aquin’a land, which spanned the Coast between present-day Depoe Bay and Seal Rock.
- The largest fishery on the Oregon Coast hails from Newport’s Bayfront. Tuna, Oregon bay shrimp, crab, salmon, and rockfish are caught and processed here.
- Newport has two lighthouses protecting its Coast.
- It is about a three-hour drive from Portland — Oregon’s largest city.
How does Newport stack up to other Oregon Coast towns?
Ask an Oregonian about their favorite spot on the Oregon Coast, and you’ll get as many answers. There is something for everyone between the 20-plus towns that hover between mountains and trees leading to the shoreline.
I appreciate Newport’s variety of food and lodging options while offering excellent ways to experience nature-forward travel. In another article, I give my picks for the best of the Oregon Coast. I call Newport among the best beach, best things to do, best adult weekend away, best history & learning, and the best day trip from Salem (Central Willamette Valley).
Newport also boasts two lighthouses, a working harbor, the Oregon Aquarium (more below), sandy beaches, and old-growth forests. In addition, its central location on the Oregon Coast allows for easy day trips to other favorites like Depoe Bay and Yachats — also mentioned below.
And the mystic vibe is superb!
Why nature-forward matters.
The difference between an “eh” experience and a memorable one is about grounding with the natural environment. You can probably think back to wonderful travel experiences, and the common denominator would be feelings of belonging — or connection — to yourself, your companions, and the destination.
Whether that is a fun conversation with a server at a quirky restaurant or sighting a rare bird landing on your veranda, the magic occurs when you’re open to the beauty of a connection. It’s the wonder that awakens in your heart and soul.
And often, the loudness of modern culture, especially on vacation in an unfamiliar place, adds static. The static prevents a total opening up to the possibilities, consciously or subconsciously. That’s why — without grounding — you might return home feeling like you need a vacation from your vacation.
Nature-forward focuses on the “loudness of the ocean” — making your connection to the land the priority of travel. But don’t worry. You can still enjoy your favorite experiences, like seeking the best cup of clam chowder, digging in the sand, or deep-sea fishing. Overlaying a nature-forward focus makes all these things more meaningful because you’re more connected to heart and soul — or intuition.
Over my lifetime, I’ve developed six steps guaranteed to help anyone practice a nature-forward connection. Staying grounded and mindful takes as little as 30 minutes daily. I give you all the information in this article, How to transform your travel experience with nature-forward vacations.
The following list of things to do in Newport is mystically tested and approved. Practicing a nature-forward focus in these soul-nourishing locations will transform how you see Newport, the Oregon Coast, and travel.
Nature-forward things to do in Newport, Oregon
Here are my favorite nature-forward activities in Newport, Oregon. While not an exhaustive list, the vibes at these places feed my spirit.
You may say, “But I’ve already been there..” I respond by challenging you to visit again with a nature-forward focus. Use my six fundamentals to elevate your nature connection:
- Have intention.
- Reach out to the land.
- Keep present.
- Slow down, and then go slower.
- Pay attention.
- Reflect afterward.
Remember, nature exists in populated places, too — like the Newport Bayfront. Of course, it takes more focus to slow down and connect to the spirits of the land, but consider giving 20 minutes on a well-situated bench a try.
Wilder Trails — Newport’s disc golf delight
Why it’s nature-forward: remaining old-growth giants host forest magic.
This nature-forward area of mature trees surrounded by velvety green moss is a collection of private and city lands. It is technically not open to the public but for requesting a permit to be on the premises. Email them here and include a photo of your driver’s license.
Once through the red tape, you’ll find a magical labyrinth of trails that weave in and out of a disk golf course and gravel service roads. Park your rig near the logging gate and venture in to find your connection with the spirits of land and place.
There are miles of trails, but the point of a nature-forward adventure is to go slow and pay attention — so you won’t have to walk far. In particular, I love “Drop Zone,” which whisks you down a steep hill through rare age-old Sitka Spruce, towering above a fairyland of moss, mushrooms, salal, and phlox. Lean against a tree and absorb the ancient wisdom, and don’t forget to look up — you’ll be transported away to another realm.
Grab a coffee, beer, or bite to eat at the friendly and fresh Wolf Tree Brewery adjacent to the entrance of the disk golf course.
Mike Miller Park
Why it’s nature-forward: succinct alchemy of sand, water, and ancient trees.
Just on the opposite side of Wilder Trails and steps from busy Highway 101, this nature enclave awaits to usher you into an oasis of tranquility. The trail is only a mile through ups and downs and big roots pushing up in what seems like every direction.
Take it slowly and get lost in the trees. Let the chirping birds drown out the ambient noise of the busy Highway 101. Sit on one of the many benches and gaze up into the canopy.
I love the peaceful pond suspended between giant dunes of sand now covered with lush vegetation. Spend thirty minutes looking into the water and allow your heart to slow to a nature-forward beat.
South Beach State Park
Why it’s nature-forward: make the journey a portal to another realm on the way to the Pacific Ocean.
This swath of land south of the Yaquina Bay Jetty offers camping, disc golf, playgrounds, biking trails, and abundant nature. Camp or rent a yurt year-round here — you’ll be well located.
Use the walk to the beach as an introductory immersion into nature-forward delight — as you weave among a forest of adolescent shore pine and Sitka spruce. Then open onto a broad sandy beach and let your heart expand with the flowing surf. The paved Jetty trail is a great place to flow with the movement of the water sloshing against giant rocks.
Lost Creek State Park
Why it’s nature-forward: Tap into your ancestral power using Oregon’s geology as inspiration.
This State Park will probably never make any “best of” lists, and that’s fine by me. The parking lot sits snugly off Highway 101 with a simple yet fantastic seascape and sunset views from a parking area clinging to an eroding cliff.
Wander down a bubbling paved pathway to a gauntlet of medium-sized rocks before emerging to an uncrowded beach known for agates. Walking north, you’ll notice layers of materials embedded into the cliff. Take a closer look and dive into the fascination that each layer represents thousands, if not millions, of years of Oregon geology.
Water streams down crevasses, pushing for a way to the mighty Pacific Ocean. This is a walk to ponder life’s mysteries and access your ancestral wisdom. A walk to the north border of the State Park and returning is about four nature-forward miles of bliss.
Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area
Why it’s nature-forward: the name implies it’s outstanding for a good reason!
The statuesque Yaquina Head Lighthouse rises like an exclamation mark on this rocky slip of land. From this landmark, nature calls in every direction. Gaze out to sight whales, watch the waves crash against the rocks, or spot seal pups on one of the accompanying islands.
At low tide, shuffle down the many steps to Cobble Beach to ooh and aah at tide pools.
Then, challenge yourself to climb Salal Hill to savor the view. Even though this area is heavily visited, there are nooks and crannies to find where it seems you’re alone with the land.
This is a fee area (see below for more details) but worth the $ 7-day-use charge.
Newport, Oregon, nature-forward attractions
Why it’s nature-forward: Historical enclave by a walkable and accessible stunning beach.
Nye Beach makes my nature-forward list because it’s easy to connect to this walkable collection of Newport history. In addition, I enjoy the tight-knit coastal hamlet vibe. Park your car and spend an hour or two wandering the streets that lead to a beautiful beach.
When I think about visiting the Oregon Coast and my connection to nature — my essence, the Sylvia Beach Hotel always pops into my mind. This reader’s haven offers cozy rooms dedicated to different authors. It’s just up the road from a variety of shops and eateries.
For morning coffee, I enjoy Ultralife Cafe or White Rabbit Espresso (not in the Nye District, but in the emerging city center Deco District). Lunch and dinner are great at Zach’s Bistro, Sorella, or Cafe Stephanie.
Why it’s nature-forward: Connect to the life of the sea by listening to sea lions and following marine vessels moving in and out of the bay.
A nature-forward connection is special in busy centers of commercial activity. It might seem counter-intuitive, but when you can see where food is sourced — be it a farm or fishery — a connection can be formed with the land or sea.
When you slowly stroll along the Bayfront promenade, taking in all the sights, sounds, and smells, you are deepening in acknowledgment of the water and people who provide seafood for you and others to enjoy.
Oregon Coast Aquarium
Why it’s nature forward: The otters! And all the information about this beautiful environment.
It’s difficult not to connect more deeply to nature at the Oregon Coast Aquarium. I could spend hours beneath the glass of the undersea tunnel — watching sharks swim through schools of herring, making a choreographed dance of nature.
The otters are full of life, taking their morning feast in furry pouches to the glass wall to crack open crab legs and other mollusks. While the space is not expansive, taking your time with this experience is best.
Otter Crest Loop Historic drive
Why it’s nature-forward: Perches to appreciate the integration of land, sky, and water.
Since my family stayed at the Inn at Otter Crest many years ago, I’ve loved this wild coastline section just north of Newport. The wonder still lights up my heart whenever I pull off Highway 101 to wind along the narrow historic Coastal Highway (now Otter Crest Loop).
Since part of the Otter Crest Loop road is one-way (heading north to south), I recommend driving north from Newport past the Inn at Otter Crest and turning left onto the Rocky Creek State Scenic Viewpoint. Then, go back toward Newport, taking Otter Crest Loop southbound.
You’ll cross over Rocky Creek Bridge — one of the iconic deco bridges designed by Conde McCullough in the early development of the Oregon Coast Highway system. The statuesque Yaquina Bay Bridge in Newport is another in the collection.
If it’s high tide or a winter storm, include dramatic Devil’s Punchbowl into the itinerary — and duck into Mo’s for the most scenic cup of clam chowder.
Other things to do around Newport, Oregon
Yakona Nature Reserve
Why it’s nature forward: The energy put into reclaiming and using this land to teach future generations is a vital spirit to join.
Touring the reclaimed acreage is like entering a mystical world. The lush hills of Sitka spruce, Douglas fir, and red elm make up a space not found on maps. This is on purpose, as the mission of the land is to provide learning opportunities for people to connect with the science supporting the stewardship of the land.
I had the opportunity to be escorted onto the land — a requirement — by the Yakona Nature Reserve Executive Director. We hiked about five miles through the spirited forest — to wetlands and through the old and new growth of timber stands.
Various curricula are offered here, but it always involves an escort or walking two miles along the logging road to the entrance — from Wilder Trails.
Whale watching & Deep sea fishing
Why it’s nature forward: Rolling with the sea connects you intimately to the ocean’s heartbeat.
I have yet to depart on a tour from Newport’s harbor to fish or watch whales. Still, I have done these activities in other places on the Oregon Coast, like salmon fishing in Astoria.
Whale watching can be magnificent. As you roll along the water, take a moment to allow the current to reset your heart to nature’s beat. Fishing is similar, but respect the creatures you aim to catch for food.
Why it’s nature forward: An excellent campground for connecting to the wonders of ocean, river, trees, drift logs, and beach.
This is a favorite beach and camping ground for many lifelong Oregonians. I’ve stayed here before and loved it. Yurts are also available for nature-forward car camping.
Things to do near Newport, Oregon
Why it’s nature-forward: the best place to walk as waves crash onto lava rock formations.
Yachats is a community of 1,000 locals clinging to the rocky coastline where the river of the same name enters the churning Pacific Ocean. I love this area so much that I wrote a dedicated article HERE.
Of note, the stunning 804 Trail winds through dramatic lava formations battered by saltwater day in and day out. Be careful always to face the sea; if you explore tide pools, be very mindful of sneaker waves.
Depoe Bay, Oregon
Why it’s nature-forward: this can be a great place to watch whales from the shore.
Their claim to fame is the world’s smallest harbor. But I know Depoe Bay as one of the best places to spot migrating whales from land. If that’s not nature-forward, I’m still determining what is! Although busy Highway 101 powers through the town, old-school tourist charm oozes through and through.
Planning hints when visiting Newport, Oregon
The Oregon Coastline is entirely public, thanks to legislation passed in the 1960s. The beauty of limited development spoiling views and access to natural goodness also means there are limited lodging options to match demand in busy times of the year. Therefore, it’s essential to plan to get what you want.
Most places to stay are available on various booking platforms like Airbnb, Expedia, and VRBO. Remembering the distinction between ocean or beach “view” and ocean or beach “front” is essential. Both can be lovely, but only one is likely to provide the soothing sound of waves crashing while you sleep. In Newport, Oregon, I suggest starting your search with “Nye Beach” and see what comes up.
Also, I’ve noticed lodging establishments release only some of their rooms (or the ones with the best views) to the booking platforms. It can be worthwhile to give a place a call if you’re interested, but it shows “sold out” on Expedia or Booking.com.
Sunsets range from an early 4 pm in winter to almost 10 pm in summer. So there is more daylight to immerse in nature in the summer. Still, the brooding coastline is also magical in winter, albeit with much less daytime. Pricing is also more economical in the off-season.
There are chain restaurants up and down the Oregon Coast. Still, part of the nature-forward focus is acknowledging the terrain. This includes the folks who grow, raise, catch, and cook your food. So why not support local businesses and food providers by buying locally?
When you do, keep in mind hours of operation might be more limited mid-week, so plan if there is a place you want to enjoy.
The Oregon Pacific Coast Passport is a multi-agency day-use passport that covers entry or day-use fees at dozens of federal fee sites (Forest Service, National Parks Service, and Bureau of Land Management) and Oregon State Park sites along Highway 101 and the Siuslaw National Forest. The passport is sold at the entrance to Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area. A few sites covered in and around Newport:
- Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area
- Heceta Head Lighthouse State Park
- Cape Perpetua Scenic Area
- Oregon Dunes
- Drift Creek Falls Trail
The annual passport is $35, or a $10 5-day vehicle pass. Otherwise, the America the Beautiful (National Parks) Pass works to enter federally managed sites.
If you don’t have a pass, no problem. The locations sometimes only take cash and other times only credit cards, so be prepared with a few extra 5s and 10s for day-use fees.
The best time to explore tide pools is one to two hours before low tide. You can look up the Newport tides here. Remember always to face the ocean and leave no trace you were there. And, in general, pets are not allowed near tide pool areas.
Are you eager to see Newport but only have limited time? Check out a sister article, “How to see Newport in one day.”
Travel to and from Newport, Oregon
Newport is the third largest commercial area on the Oregon Coast (next to Coos Bay & Astoria). If you’re visiting by airplane, you’ll want to fly into Eugene (EUG), Portland International (PDX), or Seattle-Tacoma International (SEA) and rent a vehicle. Here are some distances from crucial transportation hubs:
- Eugene Airport (EUG) — 82 miles (typically 1:30 to 1:50 hours)
- Coos Bay — 98 miles (typically 2 to 2:40 hours)
- Astoria — 133 miles (typically 2:50 to 3:40 hours)
- Portland International Airport (PDX) — 142 miles (typically 2:40 to 4 hours)
- Oregon/California State Line on Highway 101 — 216 miles (typically 4:10 to 5:10 hours)
- Seatac Airport (SEA) — 293 miles (typically 4:50 to 6:40 hours)
Keep in mind traffic varies greatly in Oregon. For example, Oregon Coast Highway 101 gets congested in summer and on weekends due to big trucks, recreational vehicles, and limited passing lanes. Therefore, I recommend traveling more considerable distances in the morning or later in the evening.
Around dusk, look for deer and elk on the highway. These animals are beautiful, bold, and dangerous.
Newport’s central location makes it easy to customize an excellent nature-forward trip to the Oregon Coast. Here are some estimated travel distances to nearby popular places (north to south):
- Tillamook Creamery — 70 miles
- Lincoln City, Oregon — 25 miles
- Depoe Bay, Oregon — 13 miles
- Yachats, Oregon — 24 miles
- Cape Perpetua — 26 miles
- Heceta Head Lighthouse — 38 miles
- Florence (Oregon Dunes) — 60 miles