Destination Newport: Winter Sparkles on Yaquina Bay
Newport is a jewel with many facets. From one angle, it’s a rough-hewn port that’s home to Oregon’s largest commercial fishing fleet. From another, it’s a quintessential seaside town with family-friendly attractions, sweeping beaches, saltwater taffy by the pound and souvenir shops aplenty. Regardless of how you view it, Newport sparkles year-round.
Along the historic Bayfront, boats unload their catch straight into canneries or into the hands of waiting chefs from area restaurants. Kids will enjoy the wacky sideshow-style Ripley’s Believe It or Not! or watching the resident seas lions beg for shipboard scraps. The walkable Nye Beach area, adjacent to the Pacific, is a bit more refined and dotted with cafes, boutiques and a cozy bookstore.
Food and drink options are plentiful, including the headquarters of the renowned Rogue Ales. The Brewer’s on the Bay offers 50 Rogue brews on tap and a terrific vantage point for watching storms roll across the bay. (Brewery tours are also available.) Sample the sweet, briny Yaquina Bay oysters at Local Oceans, a popular bistro that also operates a fresh fish counter. Don’t miss delicous fish and chips at South Beach Fish Market.
Indulge at The Newport Seafood & Wine Festival during the last full weekend in February (February 20-23, 2014), with fresh catch interpreted by regional chefs. Artisans and winemakers from throughout the Northwest also attend. Bring home a taste of the sea from Oregon Oyster Farm, harvesting Yaquina Bay oysters since 1907.
The undisputed heart of Newport is Yaquina Bay, spanned by a gracefully arched art deco bridge. Stroll across for spectacular views of the city and sea, or drive it to explore the area’s two historic lighthouses. The 1871 Yaquina Bay Lighthouse is the only wooden lighthouse on the Oregon Coast. Yaquina Head Lighthouse, with its 93-foot tower (the tallest on the coast) features an interpretative center and access to tide pools, as well as glimpses of passing whales, seals and seabirds. Both are open year-round.
If the weather’s uncooperative, delve deeper into the region’s marine life at Hatfield Marine Science Center (where feeding time for the resident Giant Pacific octopus ranks as one of the most popular activities), or at the top-ranked Oregon Coast Aquarium.