15 Best Things to Do in Florence, OR

Things to Do in Florence, OR

Driving over the Siuslaw River Bridge, I always feel my heart flutter with a sense of homecoming, that familiar sensation of peace and tranquility.

Florence, my cherished hometown, with its ocean-kissed charm and the rhythmic dance of the majestic Pacific waves, beckons all with open arms.

It's a place where the salty sea breeze whispers tales of lush forests, sprawling sand dunes, and unique local culture.

A place that's more than meets the eye, where every corner, every trail, every local shop, and every piece of history silently waits to share its story with those willing to listen.

Interested to know more about this place?

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

About this article: This article was written by a local contributor based on their own experiences and those around them. While this list showcases some remarkable places, it's important to note that this is an opinion piece, and there are many other exceptional places to visit that are not featured here.
Our aim is not just to guide you to popular places but to encourage you to venture out and experience the city for yourself.

Discover the Charm of Heceta Head Lighthouse

Scenic view of the Heceta Head Lighthouse
Stas Moroz / Shutterstock.com

The Heceta Head Lighthouse is not just an old 19th-century lighthouse; it's also a picturesque B&B with six rooms that offer the most breathtaking views you could imagine.

Naturally, the lighthouse is still in operation.

When you live nearby, the Heceta Head Lighthouse turns into a beloved destination for weekends.

View of Heceta Head Lighthouse from afar
Jessi Jonas / Shutterstock.com

The place is nestled in a secluded beach, surrounded by lush forest, and with the lighthouse standing majestically above the water.

I am always captivated by the view, no matter how many times I've seen it.

Sunset at Heceta Head Lighthouse
Kyle Kephart / Shutterstock.com

Witness the Magic of Hobbit Beach

I can't count the number of times I've wound my way down the half-mile trail to Hobbit Beach, marveling at the beauty of the coastal forest that lines the path.

The trail is uneven, with plenty of roots jutting out, challenging you to watch your step.

It adds an element of adventure to the journey!

There's something distinctly magical about the thick Sitka Spruce Forest you have to navigate through.

It feels like stepping into a Tolkien novel.

The trailhead starts innocently enough, just across Highway 101 from the small parking area.

You wouldn't suspect the wonders that lie beyond the roadside.

Around mile marker 177, the scenery starts to change.

The path becomes less even, and the trees begin to twist and curve in eerie, enchanting shapes.

While the route isn't the easiest, it's rewarding.

It's like the trees themselves are ushering you toward the ocean.

Have a Fascinating Trip to the Oregon Coast Military Museum

Whenever the grandkids come around, I make sure to swing by the Oregon Coast Military Museum.

I guess there's something about the artifacts, combat vehicles, and life-sized dioramas devoted to various conflicts that light up their eyes.

You know, it's not one of those oversized flashy museums - it's a small war museum, but it's rich in history and very well-organized.

I always tell people it can give those bigger places a run for their money.

You can easily spend 30-60 minutes walking around, and that's if you don't stop to watch any of the informational videos.

Discover the Local History at the Siuslaw Pioneer Museum

I've been living in this area for years, and I've always been fascinated by the rich history that surrounds us.

When I need to feed my historical curiosity, I know where to go: the Siuslaw Pioneer Museum.

It's always an adventure stepping into this treasure trove of local lore.

The museum itself is packed full of artifacts generously donated by the community, and every item has a story to tell.

As you walk through the main floor and the upstairs areas, you can't help but be drawn into the past.

The wide variety of "homestead" artifacts, from farming tools to kitchen utensils, offers an intimate glimpse into the lives of our predecessors.

And it's not just the indoor exhibits that draw me in; the outdoor exhibits are equally fascinating.

I'm captivated each time I explore the model sawmill that greets you outside.

And right next to it is the museum's bell, a poignant reminder of a bygone era.

Explore the Unique Darlingtonia State Natural Site

A sign post and landscapes of Darlingtonia State Natural Site
RickObst, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

I've always been a fan of the unusual, and the Darlingtonia State Natural Site is the epitome of unique, with its home to the rare native cobra lily.

These aren't your usual flowers; they're carnivorous, living off insects in a protected bog.

Darlingtonia flower
Muriel Lasure / Shutterstock.com

The trail itself is a breeze, hardly five minutes in length.

But don't be fooled by its brevity - the boardwalk, though slightly loose in parts,

Darlingtonia californica on the ground
RickObst, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Wander Around the Harbor Vista County Campground and Park

When I need to get away from the daily grind, my sanctuary has always been the Harbor Vista County Campground and Park.

This vast scenic haven is my city's hidden gem, a place where I can reconnect with nature and take long rides on my bike.

The campsites are intimately nestled among luxuriant greenery, offering a sense of privacy despite their small size.

I often find myself sequestered in these cozy spots, with only the birds chirping as my soundtrack.

The vegetation indeed provides a natural barrier between sites, which further enhances the ambiance of seclusion and serenity.

One of my favorite activities in the campground is cycling to the North Jetty, a short but picturesque ride.

The trail leads to a quaint little beach, an underappreciated corner of tranquility that I've come to adore.

Though I don't own an RV, I've noticed the full hook-up area is well-equipped for those who do.

The campground is vast, with various loops to accommodate different needs.

The 'Loop U,' for instance, is a favorite among many who prefer close proximity to the beach.

The dedicated new host and staff have been working tirelessly to maintain cleanliness, resulting in a noticeable improvement.

The park has never been as pristine or as peaceful.

Spend a Day at South Jetty Beach

Cloudy day at South Jetty Beach
Tony Monoogan / Shutterstock.com

If you ever find yourself on the Oregon Coast, I'd suggest you take a detour and spend a day at South Jetty Beach.

It's not the easiest beach to reach, I admit; there's a bit of a walk, and the persistent wind might try to dissuade you, but once you get there, it's all worth it.

First off, you'll notice a huge sign at the parking lot stating that motor vehicles are banned on the beach from May to September.

But trust me; there's always someone who thinks it's a rule that doesn't apply to them.

More often than not, you'll find them stuck in the sand, providing an amusing spectacle for the rest of us.

Explore the Redwoods at Trees of Mystery

One of the most treasured spots in my hometown area is the Trees of Mystery.

Nestled in Klamath, California, on U.S. Route 101, it's an enchanting place where the magic of nature and history seamlessly blend.

The towering redwoods take center stage, providing a spellbinding backdrop to the enchanting forest.

Among the unique redwood formations, the Cathedral Tree and the Brotherhood Tree have always been my favorites.

These unusual tree formations fill you with awe and a newfound respect for nature.

And then there's the colossal Paul Bunyan and his faithful companion Babe the Blue Ox, watching over the park as the largest statues of their kind in the world.

These 50 feet tall and 30 feet wide statues make for the perfect family photo op.

But it's not just the towering redwoods and the giant statues that make me love this place.

The park is home to many hiking trails, a museum, a quaint gift shop, and an array of shows and exhibits that keep my visits interesting and enjoyable.

As a lover of the great outdoors, there's nothing like a walk amid these ancient trees that stretch up to 300 feet toward the sky.

What really sets Trees of Mystery apart is its commitment to education and conservation.

You can uncover the secrets of the redwoods, the tallest and oldest living organisms on Earth, which are found exclusively along the Pacific Coast of North America.

The park is a testament to the importance of redwoods in our ecosystem, supporting a diverse species of plants and animals and promoting clean air and water.

Appreciate the View of the Siuslaw River Bridge

Side view of the Siuslaw River Bridge
Stas Moroz / Shutterstock.com

The ornate architecture of the Siuslaw River Bridge stands out against the stunning backdrop of the Pacific Northwest.

My daily route to work takes me across this beautiful arch bridge, one of many along the Oregon 101 highway.

The sight of the river flowing beneath it never fails to take my breath away.

It's like a scene from a postcard, with the serene water, sand dunes, and the coastal landscape all converging in one place.

A colorful sea lion statue near Siuslaw River Bridge
Victoria Ditkovsky / Shutterstock.com

After work, I often find myself wandering along the waterfront on Bay Street, where the view of the bridge is particularly breathtaking.

It's a constant reminder of my hometown's historical charm.

On the weekends, I explore the clean, strolling city filled with interesting shops and galleries.

Not to forget the wonderful selection of Oregon beers on tap and the great food that can be found at every turn.

The Siuslaw River Bridge is not just a structure but a symbol of the fantastic scenery and rich history that makes my city so special.

Experience the Fun at C & M Stables

Throw on your boots, grab your cowboy hat, and get ready to hit the sandy trails with us at C & M Stables.

I’ve always had a soft spot for horses, and riding one on the beach has been an extraordinary experience.

The tranquil surroundings mixed with the rhythmic clip-clop of the horses' hooves make you feel at one with nature while the soft rustle of the Pacific breezes and the distant crashing of the waves round off this idyllic experience.

C & M Stables has always been my go-to place for horse riding. The horses are well-trained and beautifully kept.

And, if you're lucky, you might even get Cinco, my personal favorite, who loves to take leisurely walks along the beach regardless of any persuasion to trot.

See Sea Lions and Other Animals at Sea Lion Caves

Sea lions on a rock at Sea Lion Caves
Frank Fichtmueller / Shutterstock.com

Every now and then, when the sun is shining bright, and the sea breeze feels just right, I head over to the Sea Lion Caves, a privately-owned wildlife preserve and bird sanctuary right in our backyard.

The experience never gets old, no matter how many times I've been there.

The first thing that strikes you upon arrival is the breathtaking panorama of the ocean, with the silhouette of the lighthouse in the distance.

If you're a nature lover like me, this view is worth the trip alone.

But the real stars of this place are, of course, the sea lions.

Their playful antics make it a joy to watch them, and their barks echo through the cave, creating an enchanting symphony.

Walking on the wooden walkways, you can get a closer look at the sea lions.

Yes, there’s a distinct smell that comes with it, but that's just part of the experience when you're near a bunch of animals - it somehow makes it feel more real and less like a sterile zoo.

Aerial view of the Sea Lion Caves
Sherri R. Camp / Shutterstock.com

Birdwatchers won’t be disappointed, either.

Sea birds nest right on the rocks near the main lookout, offering a rare glimpse into their world.

It's like a window into the wild, unspoiled by human interference.

The sea cave is a sight to behold as well. Its size and grandeur are somewhat masked by the convenience of the wooden pathways, but that doesn't diminish its magnificence one bit.

Sea lions resting on rocks inside Sea Lion Caves
B Norris / Shutterstock.com

My regular weekend routine includes heading out for a round of golf at the Florence Golf Links.

The extensive stretches of green fairways and challenging holes make this one of my favorite local spots to unwind.

It's not a course for the faint-hearted, especially during this time of the year.

With all greens and fairways winterized, the game gets a bit tricky.

And yes, you might not find it mentioned on their website, a bit of an oversight from their end, I believe.

The golf cart paths can be quite an adventure ride in themselves.

They are bumpy and, in places, non-existent, which can be confusing, given the 'cart paths only' rule.

It's quite a juggle trying to control your cart on a bumpy path while making sure you don't spill your coffee!

Speaking of beverages, you might want to carry your own, as the bar was not open the last time I visited.

The course is designed to challenge your skills. The last holes are particularly long, testing your long game.

Most holes are straightforward, with the occasional bends or dog legs peppered here and there to keep you on your toes.

Traditional links sand-traps, or pot-bunkers, add to the challenge.

The round is not just about the game; it's about the beauty of the course too.

The stunning landscape and the soothing wind, which some might find a bit much, add to the overall experience.

Explore the Wonders of Old Town Florence

Buildings at florence's Historic Old Town
C and L Perry / Shutterstock.com

Tucked away on the Oregon coast, you'll find a slice of tranquility and history mingled together in one perfect setting at Old Town Florence.

Nestled between the Siuslaw River and the Pacific Ocean, it's a place where the echoes of the past are still palpable.

You can't believe how charming the place is until you see it for yourself!

Now, let me tell you about my favorite part of Old Town Florence, which I believe is the heart and soul of this haven.

The historic district, characterized by its beautiful buildings, is a treasure trove of antique shops, boutiques, and restaurants that reflect the rich history of the place.

The moment I step onto Bay Street, I'm taken back in time.

The cobblestone streets, the carefully preserved 19th-century architecture, and the view of the harbor create a picture-perfect image that I never get tired of.

One of my favorite spots is the Siuslaw River Bridge, a beautiful piece of art deco architecture that's a sight to behold, especially at sunset.

A river bridge near florence's Historic Old Town
Telly / Shutterstock.com

The way the last light of the day hits the metalwork always takes my breath away.

It's my favorite spot to unwind and soak in the beauty of the place.

Next up, you mustn't miss the Florence Waterfront Depot, a delightful restaurant that offers the freshest seafood you can imagine.

I can't resist their clam chowder, and I assure you, it's the best you'll ever have.

Shops at florence's Historic Old Town
C and L Perry / Shutterstock.com

Shop at Sand Master Sandboarding - Park & Store

You know, we are blessed to live in a city where you can swap the usual 'board' for a 'sandboard' and the snowy slopes for sunlit dunes.

That's exactly what I did on a seemingly uneventful Monday afternoon.

I headed over to Sand Master Sandboarding - Park & Store here, and boy, was it the best spur-of-the-moment decision I've ever made!

I walked into the Park during off-hours, expecting it to be shut.

Once I got the hang of it, the fun was unstoppable.

The best part about renting a board here is that you get to keep it for a full 24 hours.

I only needed about 2-3 hours to have a satisfyingly fun day, though.

The dunes are right outside the Park, and I practically had them all to myself.

It was pure joy riding over the sculpted dunes, weaving and carving my way down.

Pay a Visit to Port of Siuslaw Campground

Welcome sign of Siuslaw Campground and port
sjswarthy33 / Shutterstock.com

Living in this city and having the Port of Siuslaw Campground right in my backyard is something else.

It's my go-to spot for a quick escape within the city limits.

Most days, you'll find me in site B19, parked right along the water's edge.

I have this amazing Class A motorhome, and I always pull in front-first to take advantage of the breathtaking view and catch a glimpse of the abundant wildlife.

The site is pretty big and has this crushed stone surface, making it very easy to level the motorhome.

And, of course, it's got a picnic table, perfect for those lazy Sunday brunches.

Getting around the campground is a breeze.

Final Thoughts

Florence is a treasure trove of experiences that beautifully balance the thrill of outdoor adventures and the charm of historical landmarks.

Whether it's spending a day golfing at the Florence Golf Links or camping at the Harbor Vista County Park, there's always something to do.

Indeed, living in Florence is like being on a never-ending vacation where there's always something wonderful waiting just around the corner.

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