April 24, 2012

Eating Our Way Along the Oregon Coast

The scenic drive along the central Oregon coast passes through small fishing villages, evergreen forests, massive sand dunes and rocky shores.  It seems that there is something to see at every turn.  Bandon is one of the pretty seaside towns, and its old town beckoned to us.  We walked along the harbor and gazed out at the picturesque lighthouse that was visible in the distance on the other side of the Coquille River.

Welcome to Old Town Bandon
Coquille River Lighthouse
Seahorse Guarding the Bandon Harbor
Distinctive Sidewalk Pattern
Although we spend very little time shopping, we do make exceptions for specialty foods. Today’s stop was at Cranberry Sweets, a shop that specializes in every possible type of candy or confection made with cranberries, plus a few other fruits.  It turns out that cranberries are grown just south of Bandon.  Cranberry Sweets is known for its free samples, and we ate our way through the aisles.  Cranberry fudge and chocolate-covered cranberry granola were just two of the items that ended up in our bag.  We just couldn’t bring ourselves to buy the cheddar cheese fudge, a local specialty.  We did sample it, however, and it actually wasn’t bad.

I Want One of Those, and Those . . .
Cranberry Sweets just whetted our appetite for lunch.  The Bandon Fish Market on the docks seemed to be just what we were looking for since we were craving seafood once again. I ordered the jumbo prawns while Tim selected the Dungeness crab cocktail.  Both were so fresh and delicious.

Fish Swimming to the Bandon Fish Market
Crab and Prawns
After filling our stomachs, we took advantage of the beautiful weather, which lasted much of the day, and detoured onto back roads to the beach at Seven Devils State Recreation Area and then to the pretty fishing village of Charleston.  

Seven Devils State Recreation Area
What Are Those Pretty Yellow Bushes?
The character of the coast changed dramatically as we crossed Coos Bay, and we got our first view of the towering sand dunes of the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area.  The dunes extend for approximately forty miles and some are several hundred feet in height.  Mostly the dunes are covered with forests and are hidden from view.  On the east side of the highway we admired a string of very pretty lakes.

The Oregon Dunes
Although we didn’t stop to play in the dunes, we did pay a visit to the Umpqua Lighthouse, which is located at the mouth of the Umpqua River at Winchester Bay.  The lighthouse was illuminated for the first time in 1894 and is still in operation today.  It’s just one of several historic lighthouses that we’ll see along our way.

Umpqua Lighthouse
Salmon Harbor Marina at Winchester Bay
I have been very impressed by the incredible number of state parks along the Oregon coast. Like California, the state of Oregon provides all types of opportunities for access to its coastal resources.  What a contrast to so many of the states along the east coast.  The state is even creating new parks at the same time other states are closing their parks.  


  1. Sarah, I think those yellow flowered bushes are gorse. LV

    1. LV, Thanks for the ID. The bushes are very pretty and are blooming everywhere. Sarah