The Southern Oregon coast town of Port Orford, OR is interesting in the fact that, as many of the cities in the southern section, you'll find it taking you inland from the Pacific at first and all of a sudden....WOW!
As you drive in, it seems like a small town where you're likely to find blue collar workers, retirees, and not a lot more.
There simply is not anything to the town...at first glance. That's exactly what I thought the first time I visited. Once you take a closer look and spend some time, that is where the surprises begin.
As you look beyond the city streets sparingly lined with gas stations, cafes, and hotels, you'll quickly discover some of the most breathtaking coastline on the entire Oregon coast.
You've heard me say many times that the coast of the state of Oregon is lovely, but the southern part takes that a step above lovely. The tourism-side of the coast abruptly takes a back seat to rugged beauty. This is NOT a tourist trap, but a tourist-friendly place.
Port Orford is the oldest town on the southern Oregon coast. Part of what is known as Oregon's Adventure Coast (because of the wealth of outdoor activities and natural beauty), the area takes you back to an older coastline, where towns were small and the landscapes were a lot wilder. Where life slowed down a bit.
Established 1851 and housing only 1200 locals, may seem a tad dull, but it is anything but. You just have to know what you're looking at. In town, you'll find eight art galleries, lush forests on one side of Hwy 101 and the gorgeous Pacific on the other, and the only open-water dock on the entire Oregon coast. Don't leave town before you hit the docks, grab some lunch there, and watch the waves crashing all around you.
The dock is one of only six "dolly" ports in the world. It's quite amazing to watch these huge dollies lift the recreational and commercial boats parked there from the land and into the sea, and back again. If your timing is right and you hang around long enough (remember lunch?), you may get to see some of that boat-lifting action.
Fishing, camping, hiking (Humbug Mountain State Park includes one of the highest headlands on the Oregon coast), biking, crabbing, golfing, whale watching, kayaking, scuba diving, and surfing are big recreational activities there. It's home to Cape Blanco Lighthouse, the oldest operating lighthouse in Oregon. It's open to the public, so you may consider a tour. Click here for more information on the Cape Blanco lighthouse.
Head over to the city's Lifeboat Station to wander around and learn about some of the heroic Coast Guardsmen who risked their lives every day to keep people safe at sea. No cost involved.
As I've told you, my idea of roughing it is a Motel 6. When I'm in town, out of the Port Orford hotels, I like to stay at the Redfish Loft. It's a luxury loft that sits atop the Redfish Restaurant and on a hill above the ocean. The winter storms are fierce and the summer months are warm and soothing. Both can be enjoyed from their deck. It's a great place to bring my laptop for some work and get away from the rest of the world for awhile.
I mentioned the forest areas. Wildspring Guest Habitat is an exceptional resort of charming cabins that are surrounded by trees on all sides and reach to the sky. It's strange to think that two places so polar opposites sit in the same town. One rustic and away from it all, the other upscale and something you'd expect to find in the Pearl District of Portland. If you're more of a camper than I am, Port Orford offers up full-service RV Parks.
One thing you'll discover down south that you won't find anywhere else on the Oregon coast are Oregon Myrtlewood shops. Only between the southern Oregon coast and the tip of northern California will you find these hardwood trees growing.
When you see the furniture, home decor, and more made from it, you'll totally fall in love. The reason I bring it up is I believe I spotted three or four shops in Port Orford alone that were selling Myrtlewood. The cranberry industry is huge in these areas, too.
Now that you know how much there actually is to see and do in Port Orford, make sure to stop and stay for a spell. Don't forget to bring your camera, too!