Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Florence, OR

  • Published 2022/03/19

Nestled in lovely Lane County, Oregon, the city of Florence tickles your senses with the magic of an ocean breeze and a symphony of waves to soothe you while basking in the glory of a sun-kissed panorama along its sandy beaches neighboring rocky cliffs.

You’ll find this adorable coastal beach town nestled snugly at the mouth of the Siuslaw River with a magnificent panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean.

Said to have first been inhabited by a tribe of Native Americans called the Siuslaw, Florence is brimming with truly remarkable sights.

You’ll be captivated by the ornate decorations on the buildings, the historical artifacts within some of its museums, and above all, by the grandeur of its bridges.

Interested to know more about this place?

Here are the 15 best things to do in Florence, Oregon:

Chill Out Next to the Coast at Heceta Head Lighthouse

Scenic view of the Heceta Head Lighthouse

Stas Moroz /

First activated in 1894, the 56-foot lighthouse at the top of the 1,000-foot-high Heceta Head is a sight to behold and much more in nearly all directions due to its power being rated at 21 miles.

Named for its defining attribute, Heceta Head Lighthouse, this park also features an easily-accessed sheltered beach and a fascinating yet short hike along sections of the Oregon Coastal Trail.

View of Heceta Head Lighthouse from afar

Jessi Jonas /

There are other features in the area to enjoy, like a historic bed and breakfast where you can also indulge in a delicious meal.

The Heceta Head Lighthouse viewpoint is a prime spot for the sea lion, bird, and whale watching along the Oregon coast.

For those looking for beauty and tranquility in an easily locatable setting, this is a lovely option when it comes to taking part in chilling out next to the coast.

Sunset at Heceta Head Lighthouse

Kyle Kephart /

See the Steller Sea Lions at Sea Lion Caves

Sea lions on a rock at Sea Lion Caves

Frank Fichtmueller /

Eleven miles north of Florence lies the privately-owned seaside wildlife preserve and bird sanctuary known as Sea Lion Caves.

Since 1932, the sanctuary has offered visitors an up-close encounter with local wildlife, some impressive rocky structures, and sea lions climbing on rocks.

Aerial view of the Sea Lion Caves

Sherri R. Camp /

The largest sea cave in the United States, Sea Lion Caves is currently housing a popular number of resident sea lions, but these Steller sea mammals seldom lurk in the cave.

Once winter hits, the sea lions often come to the Sea Lion Cave, and once spring comes around and after a birthing period, the sea lions will migrate from their homes in the cave to their rookeries, where they’ll stay there through the warmer months.

This incredible Oregon attraction is a phenomenal series of sea caves and passages open to the Pacific Ocean in the great state of Oregon.

Sea lions resting on rocks inside Sea Lion Caves

B Norris /

Enjoy a Nice Nature Hike through the Magical Hobbit Trail

Direction sign for Hobbit Trail

Paul W Harvey IV /

The short Hobbit Trail is a picturesque trail that starts in the Oregon dunes and leads hikers to Heceta Head which sits just off the Oregon coast.

The trailhead begins on China Creek Road, south of the Heceta Head Lighthouse.

This short but staggeringly beautiful hike from Hobbit Beach to Heceta Head will reward you with some of the best views a hiker or photographer could wish for.

A sharp eye is needed for exactly where to park as it’s easy to miss the well-marked turnoff into the beginning of this beautiful path!

When you calmly cross a busy street away from the hustle and bustle of traffic, you’re transported into a coastal forest lined with tall, broad-leaved trees filled with rhododendrons and Sitka spruces.

If you take the left turn of this trail, you will find the Hobbit Beach, a warm, friendly secluded beach popular with hikers and campers.

Roam around Historic Old Town Florence

Buildings at florence's Historic Old Town

C and L Perry /

Historic Old Town Florence is one of the leading historic riverfront towns on the coast of Oregon.

This town boasts an international history since it was first discovered by explorers over 200 years ago.

The influx of industry brought on by lumber and rock quarries, canning, fishing, and eventually, tourism kept the district thriving economically.

A river bridge near florence's Historic Old Town

Telly /

At Historic Old Town Florence, there’s a scenic harbor and boardwalk lined with historic establishments, unique boutiques, and restaurants serving sublime coastal cuisine alongside landmarks home to public art.

All this is within walking distance of a harbor dotted with yachts and big-wave surfers.

This gorgeous coastal area is a popular getaway for tourists who want to spend a few days enjoying recreational activities within the picturesque natural surroundings.

Shops at florence's Historic Old Town

C and L Perry /

Go Crabbing and Fishing at Port of Siuslaw Campground

Welcome sign of Siuslaw Campground and port

sjswarthy33 /

If you’re looking for a campground that offers the most amenities with its scenic beauty, then you can’t go wrong by staying at the Port of Siuslaw Campground.

The port is conveniently located near Munsel Creek and Siuslaw River, allowing fishing boats easy access to prime crabbing and fishing grounds.

Sportfishing enthusiasts have plenty to do here in the beautiful coastal community of Port of Siuslaw.

Siuslaw Campground port's boardwalk

sjswarthy33 /

Whether it’s going out on a boat in search of salmon and sturgeon on the ocean or watching crab and other fish swimming around in the Siuslaw River, there’s no shortage of scenic venues for you to enjoy.

Within the surrounding area also lie over 30 lakes which offer heaven for anglers and boaters alike.

View of the Siuslaw Campground port

sjswarthy33 /

Go on an Extraordinary Camping at Harbor Vista County Campground and Park

The ocean can be a sight to behold, even more so if you’re standing outside Florence, Oregon.

Harbor Vista Campground offers sweeping panoramic views of the coast, and there is easy beach access for all guests.

When December comes around, whale-watching trips are available too, as well as when the month turns over to March!

The campground also features playground games, on-site caretakers, bathrooms with coin showers, picnic tables, nearby hiking trails, and RV electric hookups.

The campground is operated by Lane County Parks and is open year-round.

See the Deadly Beauty of Cobra Lilies at Darlingtonia State Natural Site

A sign post and landscapes of Darlingtonia State Natural Site

RickObst, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located at 5400 Mercer Lake Road, Florence, Darlingtonia State Natural Site has been protecting a flower species that few have ever seen in person.

This property is the only park in Oregon with the sole mission of protecting one particular plant species. (The fact that they are also carnivorous makes them extra interesting!)

Darlingtonia flower

Muriel Lasure /

This petite little botanical garden of only 18 acres offers a parking lot and even some outdoor trails that make it easy to stroll right in and mosey on out over a fen filled with the plant species Darlingtonia californica.

One of the ominous characteristics of this rare pitcher plant variety is its cobra-like leaf shape, but don’t let that put you off exploring this unique part of the state’s natural history.

This sterile flower, Darlingtonia California, also known as Cobra Lily, comes with yellow sepals surrounding its five purple petals that emerge in the spring.

Darlingtonia californica on the ground

RickObst, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Experience a Golfing Adventure at Florence Golf Links

Stretched out among towering pines and windswept dunes, Florence Golf Links sits on an unspoiled coastline that is nothing short of breathtaking.

Many courses compete to be deemed the most exciting or visually stunning, but this pristine landscape will win your heart with the rolling waters of Puget Sound and Cannery Hill.

1993’s “Best New Public Course in America” this course was a design masterpiece of American golf course architect Rees Jones.

The 6,931-yard golf course is truly a must-play for amateur and professional golfers alike.

Both nines are found in a dramatically rugged environment along the Central Oregon Coast.

Florence Golf Links’ outward nine weaves through crystal blue lakes and towering pine forest, rivaling those of the Monterey Peninsula.

The inland nine takes you back to the heart of the game, where rolling dunes and links-style fairways rhythmically get you from tee to green.

Dive with the Tide in North and South Jetty Areas

Scenic view of north jetty's waves

Jacob Kielty /

If you’re looking for a relaxing escape, head to the South of Heceta Beach, where you can explore the variety that is the North and South Jetty areas.

Diving by the North Jetty on the Siuslaw River at Florence is a great way to experience some amazing moments in Oregon.

There’s a short jetty scramble at the west parking lot close to a tower that leads down towards great fishing opportunities like crabbing and spearfishing.

Scenic view of south jetty beach

Tony Monoogan /

If you plan to drift dive from the SCUBA Park, taking the current out to the coast is a good idea as it can be a little tricky making your way back in if you choose to dive over open water.

The South Jetty area offers visitors an open beach and the opportunity to experience stunning dune formations that are truly a sight to see.

There are two different areas, a non-motorized area and an off-highway vehicle (OHV) area for people who enjoy riding their bicycles or just prefer to stroll along the beach and explore coastal dunes.

San trail leading to south jetty beach

TFoxFoto /

Visit Sand Master Park for an Epic Sandboarding Experience

While it’s fun to daydream about taking your surfboard out into the waves while relaxing in the sunshine on your patio – most Oregon coast residents have a lot more on their plates than that!

Surfing on the sand is a popular pastime for many adventurous individuals, and perhaps nowhere in America does it better than in Florence, Oregon.

Built-in 2000 by Beale, Sand Master Park transformed from an otherwise typical park into a unique one that becomes a sought-after Sandboarding attraction each year.

With two ramps and a 40-acre dune course, there’s plenty of room for everyone to test their skills on sandboards.

Come prepared for adventure because the dunes in Sand Master can be as tall as 50 feet.

But don’t worry because you’re not against hard-surfaced concrete streets skateboarding; you’re letting your Spirit run free in the soft and forgiving sand.

Create a Photo-op Moment of the Siuslaw River Bridge

Side view of the Siuslaw River Bridge

Stas Moroz /

The Siuslaw River Bridge is 1,568 feet long in total and comes with a 110-feet horizontal clearance thanks to its double-leaf bascule that measures 140 feet.

Two tied arches with concrete reinforcement and a design similar to the original Alsea Bay Bridge that measures 154 feet flanks the Siuslaw River Bridge’s bascule section.

Wild roses near the Siuslaw River Bridge

Bob Pool /

With 4 Art Deco-style obelisks, the bridge has been mechanized complete with the bridge operator’s living quarters and a total construction cost of $527,000, which today is around $9.9 million already.

While Conde McCullough designed this local landmark, it was the Federal Emergency Administration of Public Works who funded California’s Mercer-Fraser Company of Eureka for the bridge’s construction.

A colorful sea lion statue near Siuslaw River Bridge

Victoria Ditkovsky /

Breath in Military History at Oregon Coast Military Museum

The non-profit Oregon Coast Military Museum opened on July 4th, 2015, in Florence, on the coast of Oregon, as a labor of love and honor to all military heritage eras and service disciplines.

This small museum features a 3,000-square-foot exhibit area that houses fully-sized dioramas that offer insight into the many past world conflicts.

There’s even a scale model of a village in Iraq depicting a traveling US military convoy passing by.

This particular facility is a bit smaller than average but packed with mementos, experiences, and artifacts meant to educate the public on the personal accounts of military veterans and their families.

The museum not only houses an extremely exclusive collection of historically valuable artifacts but is also home to a cute gift shop, a charming theater, a lending library, and a USO canteen.

Indulge in a Serene Escape at Jessie M. Honeyman Memorial State Park

Scenic day time view of Jessie M. Honeyman Memorial State Park

JSpannhoff /

You can’t fully enjoy your stay at Florence, Oregon, without visiting Jessie M. Honeyman Memorial State Park, just about two miles from the ocean and three miles south of the charming coastal beach town.

Dubbed as “Honeyman,” this camping haven includes the second-largest campground within the Oregon State Parks’ system and two breathtaking freshwater lakes boasting spectacular views of the Pacific coastline.

White sands and body of water at Jessie M. Honeyman Memorial State Park

JSpannhoff /

Fluorescent pinks flourish in springtime, lending a pop of color to Jetty’s beloved Jessie M. Honeyman Memorial State Park.

So be sure to visit this secluded gem in spring to witness sprouting pink rhododendrons that line forest pathways and make the courting grounds for those in love.

Summertime is a fine time to hold picnics in its diverse groves with sparkling views of Cleawox Lake in the distance, making it truly a park for all seasons.

Historic caretaker's house at Jessie M. Honeyman Memorial State Park

Visitor7, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Time Travel to Past at Siuslaw Pioneer Museum

The Siuslaw Pioneer Museum has been a part of the local landscape for more than 150 years, striving to preserve and present the history of the Siuslaw region.

The museum offers anyone who sets foot in Florence, Oregon, a sense of life in these parts during an era that predates statehood by decades.

Its exhibits take you on a trip back in time to show you life before white settlers came to the Siuslaw Region and even after.

The items you’ll find here include apparel and tools of the first settlers, domestic items of the pioneers of the past, and an authentic dug-out canoe.

There’s also one of the earliest telephone switchboards, an old drawbridge operator’s control panel, the first fishing and logging implements, and more here.

Experience Horseback Riding with C & M Stables

Conveniently nestled in the northern part of Florence, southwest of Portland, and west of Eugene, C&M Stables provides various horseback riding opportunities for new, average, and pro riders.

They offer an array of horses from young to mature, each one with its own unique personality.

Opened in 1981, C&M Stables has been home to several hundred wonderful domesticated horses and has around 60 horses under their care today.

They try to make sure that you and your horse are as comfortable as possible while you ride around the many trails through sections of stunning forest service land to windswept dunes.

Their beach rides will have you traveling with your chosen trusty steed through wetlands and forests over a pristine dune toward a breathtaking beach.

Final Thoughts

Exotic sights scatter the land of Florence, truly making it a great destination for both travelers and tourists alike.

No matter what kind of mood you might be in when you find yourself here, each trip down one of its streets will take you back in time and leave your eyes marveling at the beauty that is all around you.

Next time you move into a new area or even to a new city, seek out this guide to some of Florence’s most prominent landmarks.

It’ll help you get acclimatized as quickly as possible without skipping out on some incredible experiences!

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