The charming town of Florence makes a great base for a Central Oregon Coast adventure. There is a long list of fun and unique attractions located within a short drive, from Cape Perpetua Scenic Area to the north and Reedsport to the south. The local scenery is a playground for photography buffs, so be sure to bring your camera.
Here are 10 fun things to do in and near Florence, Oregon.
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The Cape Perpetua Scenic Area, part of Oregon's Siuslaw National Forest, offers picturesque coastal and forest scenery. Miles of trails wind through the Scenic Area, taking you through old growth forests, historic sites, magnificent beach overlooks, and down to the rocky beach.
Along the shore, you can check out tide pools and blow holes, or you can sit and watch the wild ocean waves. There is a visitor center at Cape Perpetua Scenic Area that houses interpretive exhibits and offers guided naturalist programs and walks. Camping is also available for visitors planning to stay overnight.
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The Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area occupies just over 40 miles of the Oregon coastline, with Florence at its north end. The sand dunes and surrounding landscape are constantly being reshaped by the forces of wind and water, creating many opportunities for outdoor recreation.
Hiking trails in the Oregon Dunes will take you through forests, around wetlands, along the beach, or among the dunes. The Oregon Dunes are a popular destination for OHV enthusiasts (OHVs include such recreational vehicles as dirt bikes, all-terrain vehicles, and four-wheel drives). A number of local companies provide dune buggy and sandrail tours that can be as fast and wild or slow and scenic as you'd like.
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From the Heceta Head Lighthouse State Scenic Viewpoint parking lot, you can enjoy fabulous views of the famous lighthouse, the historic Cape Creek Bridge, and numerous seabird nesting sites. A short and scenic trail will take you up the hill to the lighthouse. Along the way, you'll pass the gift shop and the historic lighthouse keeper's home (now a bed and breakfast). You'll also get a fabulous view of Heceta Head Lighthouse when visiting the Sea Lion Caves, including a perfectly framed view once you step inside.
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This small nature preserve, located right off of Highway 101, only takes a few minutes for a visit but is well worth the stop. A short stroll on a boardwalk trail takes you to a wetland patch of Darlingtonia californica, a carnivorous plant also known as the cobra lily. Part of the pitcher-plant family, the Darlingtonia californica have droopy, bulbous heads with mustache-like appendages. In the springtime, the bright green plants bloom with purple flowers.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
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A visit to the Sea Lion Caves offers a chance to view sea lions both inside the cave and along the rocky ocean cliffs. You'll take an elevator down to an inner cave, where you'll be able to peer through a large opening into the mammoth sea cave. Depending on the time of day, sea lions by the hundreds lounge around the cave's rocky floor and outcroppings.
Another cave opening looks to the north, framing a lovely view of Heceta Head Lighthouse as well as the sea lions and shorebirds out on the rocks. There are also a number of interpretive exhibits inside the cave. Outside of the cave, you'll have access to a viewing platform that provides yet another chance to watch sea lions and enjoy panoramic ocean views.
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Step inside the Siuslaw Pioneer Museum and explore two floors of rooms filled with artifacts related to local history. You'll find many everyday items from the region's pioneer era as well as historic tools and machines. The Siuslaw Pioneer Museum, located in a school building built in 1905, also displays historic photographs and has an extensive collection of photos and documents available for research.
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Hiking around Florence Oregon
The diverse and scenic landscape around Florence provides many opportunities for a great hike. You'll find easy nature trails and challenging climbs, passing through forests, wetlands, sand dunes, following ridges, lake shores, rivers, and the ocean.
Some of the best hiking opportunities are found at Honeyman State Park, which offers an easy nature trail that circles scenic Cleawox Lake; Siuslaw National Forest, made up of a network of trails that wind through wetlands, along the river, and through the estuary; and Carl G. Washburne Memorial State Park, which entices hikers with its Hobbit Trail and China Creek loop trail.
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Three Rivers Casino Resort
While the gaming floor at Three Rivers Casino Resort is smaller in size, it manages to pack in the full range of Vegas-style games. You'll find all the latest slot machines in addition to keno, blackjack, craps, and roulette. Live comedy and music are available on a regular basis at Ace's Sports Bar & Lounge. Special events and concerts are held periodically at the Three Rivers Casino Special Event Center. Fine, casual, and buffet dining are also available at the Three Rivers Casino.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
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Outdoor Recreation in and Near Florence, Oregon
Searching for outdoor recreation opportunities while in Florence, Oregon? Here are a few ways to play during your Florence getaway.
- Kayaking - enjoy a day out on the water with Oregon by Kayak (541-729-2436).
- Sandboarding - find out what it's all about at Sand Master Park (541-997-6006).
- Fishing - the area's freshwater lakes, rivers, and the Pacific Ocean offer great sport for fishers.
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Old Town Florence Shops and Restaurants
Florence's Old Town area overlooks the Siuslaw River. Along with a park and marina, you'll find the standard touristy shops selling souvenir and nautical-themed items. The River Gallery features the work of local artists in a variety of media, including art glass, paintings, and pottery. Among the Old Town eateries is Mo's Restaurant, an Oregon Coast favorite for lovers of clam chowder. Other Old Town riverfront restaurants include Traveler's Cove, The Firehouse Restaurant, and Waterfront Depot.