Winter can be a magical time of year, but visiting the Oregon coast in the winter is an adventure all its own.
If you don’t mind even more cold and rain than you usually find on the Oregon Coast, the winter can be the perfect chance to see all the sites without all of the people.
But what is there to do?
Well, honestly, it doesn’t change all that much. Despite living in the PNW I still think that the ocean is pretty much always too cold to swim in, so that’s out anyway.
Here are the things that we do enjoy doing when we decide to visit the Oregon coast in the winter:
Outdoor Activities to Enjoy in the Winter Months
Beachcombing and Tidepooling
While the cold winter months may not be ideal for swimming, beachcombing and tidepooling are still great activities to enjoy on the Oregon coast.
We’re always sure to dress warmly in layers and wear waterproof boots or shoes so that we can explore the rocky shoreline without getting too wet.
If our kids are with us we also try to bring a bucket, gloves, and a net so we can collect any shells or other treasures without getting too wet.
Check out our Oregon Seashell Identification Guide
Hiking and Exploring Trails
Hiking is one of the best ways to experience nature in all its glory during wintertime. Just make sure you bundle up with hats, scarves, mittens or gloves, thick socks, and sturdy boots that provide good traction for slippery surfaces like snow or ice-covered trails.
Depending on how far you plan on straying from the coast, there are a few waterfalls (such as Franklin Falls) that are accessible during the winter.
I’ll say it again just make sure you wear layers so that you stay warm while exploring trails near the coast or inland forests. If it’s raining, bring a waterproof jacket and pants – nothing ruins a hike like being soaked from head to toe. And remember your sunscreen; even though it’s wintertime, UV rays still exist.
The real key to enjoying the Oregon coast during the winter is to continue with all the activities that you want to do and just dress for the weather. Never let the weather shut down your plans! (Unless it’s legitimately dangerous, with can happen…)
Whale-watching season begins in December off the Oregon coast, making it one of the best times of year to spot these majestic creatures breaching above water or swimming alongside boats.
For most people, you’ll want to pack some binoculars or a spotting scope and hang out at a viewpoint for the best chances of seeing a pod of whales.
Our kids don’t have the patience for that (they’re 4 and 6) so our only option was to head out on a whale-watching tour out of Brookings).
You can also pack binoculars if birdwatching is more your thing – there are plenty of species living along coastal cliffsides throughout winter months as well.
With the cooler weather and shorter days, outdoor activities like beachcombing, hiking, and whale watching can be enjoyed in the winter months. However, if that’s not your thing…then get out of the PNW!!
There are tons of indoor attractions such as museums, breweries, wineries, distilleries, and markets that are also great ways to explore Oregon’s coast during the colder season.
Indoor Attractions to Visit During the Colder Months
Museums and Art Galleries in Coastal Towns
If you’re looking for an educational experience during your stay, explore some of the museums or art galleries located along Oregon’s coastline.
From small local history museums to larger institutions like the Coos History Museum in North Bend or The Columbia River Maritime Museum in Astoria, there is something to learn about this region no matter where you go.
You can also take a tour through one of many art galleries scattered throughout coastal towns such as Cannon Beach Gallery.
Breweries, Wineries, and Distilleries
For those who prefer their education with a side of libations, sample some beverages from around the region at one of many breweries, wineries or distilleries located near coastal towns.
In Tillamook County alone there are over 15 craft beverage producers offering everything from beer to cider and whiskey.
Visit Buoy Beer Company in Astoria for locally brewed beers with stunning views overlooking Youngs Bay; try wine tasting at Flying Dutchman Winery just outside Lincoln City; or sip on handcrafted spirits at Rogue Ales & Spirits’ South Beach location near Newport.
Finally, if you’re looking for unique souvenirs from your trip along Oregon’s coast, head out shopping at any number of local markets found throughout coastal towns. Whether it’s handmade jewelry from Bandon’s Old Town Marketplace or vintage finds from Seaside Antique Mall, these markets offer something special that will remind you fondly of your time spent here long after you have gone home again.
Clothing and Gear Suggestions
When traveling to the Pacific Northwest, it’s important to have the right clothing and gear. It will make the difference between having a miserable experience and simply enjoying the beauty of the area.
Here are some tips that we use for staying warm and comfortable while exploring:
Layering is key when dressing for a winter trip to Oregon. You can’t simply wear an arctic parka because the weather is, above all, unpredictable.
So start with a lightweight base layer like merino wool or synthetic fabrics that wick away moisture from your skin. Add an insulating mid-layer such as fleece or down, then top off with a waterproof outer shell jacket and pants if needed. Make sure you have enough layers so you can adjust them depending on the temperature outside.
Invest in good quality boots that will keep your feet dry and warm in wet conditions.
Look for waterproof materials like leather or rubber, insulation, good traction, and ankle support if possible. If you plan on doing any hiking while visiting the coast, make sure to bring along appropriate footwear such as hiking boots or trail shoes with plenty of grip on slippery surfaces (and everything is slippery in the winter).
Hat & Gloves
Don’t forget about accessories! A hat is essential for keeping your head warm in cold temperatures; look for one made out of breathable material like wool or fleece so it won’t get too hot when indoors.
Gloves are also important; choose ones that fit snugly but still allow freedom of movement so you can do things like take pictures without having to take them off all the time. Finally, don’t forget sunglasses – even though it may be cloudy most days at this time of year, UV rays can still cause damage to eyesight over time.
FAQs in Relation to Visiting the Oregon Coast in the Winter
Can you drive the Oregon Coast in winter?
Yes, you can drive the Oregon Coast in winter.
However, it is important to be aware of weather conditions and road closures before setting out on your journey. The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) provides up-to-date information about road closures due to storms or other hazardous conditions.
Additionally, ODOT recommends that drivers use caution when driving during winter months as roads may be icy or wet from rain and snowfall.
What is winter like on the Oregon Coast?
Winter on the Oregon Coast can be quite mild, with temperatures rarely dropping below freezing. Rain is common throughout the season, but snowfall is rare.
The coastline typically experiences cool and damp conditions during winter months, with average highs in the mid-50s and lows in the upper 30s. Stormy weather is also common during this time of year, so visitors should come prepared for wet and windy days.
Is Oregon nice to visit in the winter?
Oregon can be a great place to visit in the winter!
The mild temperatures and wet climate make it an ideal destination for outdoor activities like skiing, snowshoeing, and snowboarding. With plenty of scenic views and cozy towns, you’ll find yourself surrounded by natural beauty all season long. Plus, Oregon is home to some of the best craft breweries in the country so you can enjoy delicious local beers while taking in the sights.
What is the Oregon Coast like in December?
The Oregon Coast in December is typically cool and wet.
Temperatures range from the mid-40s to the low 50s, with some days reaching into the high 60s. Rainfall can be frequent, but there are also plenty of sunny days.
The coast is a great place for outdoor activities like hiking, beachcombing, and whale watching during this time of year. Winter storms bring dramatic waves to the shoreline which make for beautiful views along the rugged coastline. Despite the chillier temperatures and rain showers, it’s still an enjoyable time to explore all that Oregon’s coast has to offer.
No matter what the weather is like, visiting the Oregon coast in the winter can be a great experience.
With a bit of preparation and knowledge of what to expect, you can make sure that your trip is enjoyable and memorable. So don’t let a little cold weather stop you from having an amazing time – just remember to bundle up!