Hit the Beach and Search for Treasure in Lincoln City
Characterized by 7 miles of beachy coastline and the glass fishing floats locals hide along it, Lincoln City is a lesser-known alternative to some of the Oregon Coast’s more crowded destinations. Cultural events and experiences complement scenic lakes and recreation areas, making Lincoln City ideal for a family vacation or a relaxing beach getaway.
Lakes, parks, rivers and bays are among Lincoln City’s best outdoor charms. The beach is a great place to start, particularly for those looking to kayak, kite surf or paddleboard, and large waves make Lincoln City an internationally recognized surfing destination. Beachcombing and exploring tide pools are more laid-back pastimes. Storms can wash seashells, agates and driftwood ashore, but stay off the beach during dangerous weather and always keep watch for the Northwest’s potentially deadly sneaker waves, even when the water appears calm.
Just a short drive from the seashore, the 685-acre Devil’s Lake boasts shallow waters and miles of beach ideal for a mid-summer dip. Regatta Park (featuring a unique sandcastle playground) and Sand Point Park have pristine beaches and protected swimming areas on Devil’s Lake, while nearby shops rent canoes, pontoon boats and other equipment. The campsites at Devil’s Lake State Recreation Area include full RV hookups, tent sites and even pet-friendly yurts.
Cascade Head (pictured) is a popular hiking destination with a handful of trails of various difficulties a few miles north of Lincoln City. The Nature Conservancy Trail is one of most popular for its stunning views of the coastline and Salmon River Estuary below. Hart’s Cove is a great pick for those looking for a challenge: 5 miles of difficult terrain leading to secluded views of the cove and marine life. For easier year-round routes, consider Drift Creek Falls or the Spring Lake to Devils Lake Trail.
Lincoln City is ideal for kid-friendly activities. Active families can explore the beach by bike or horseback. Annual events on the beach throughout the year include the Sandcastle Contest at Siletz Bay, a two-day, family-oriented festival that gives children of all ages the chance to compete and win prizes. There are also two kite festivals that take place each year — one in the fall and one in the summer — where kids can witness some of the world’s most extravagant kites and make their own. For the days when you can’t count on the weather, Game Over Arcade is a kid-friendly venue until later in the evening and has new hits and old favorites. For sweet treats, there’s Candyland and Read’s Homemade Candies (make sure to try the saltwater taffy). Lincoln City is also home to one of Oregon’s largest outlet malls. The Oregon Coast Aquarium is about 45 minutes south, in Newport. Between Newport and Lincoln City is the Oregon State Parks’ historic Whale Watching Center in Depoe Bay — known as the world’s smallest navigable natural harbor — where you can scan the sea for the resident pod of gray whales from March to December.
Visitors to the Culinary Center can take part in seasonal cooking classes, attend demonstrations and learn about the local foods and ingredients harvested in the Pacific Northwest. Dim sum, pasta-making and Colombian cuisine are just a few samples of what’s on the menu. One of the oldest of Lincoln City’s traditions is Finders Keepers, a treasure hunt for glass fishing floats (pictured) that used to take place in the city every fall and now takes place year-round. Nearly 3,000 floats are handcrafted by local artisans and hidden on the beaches each year. Blow your own glass, watch demonstrations and take classes at the Lincoln City Glass Center, a one-stop-shop including an on-site gallery with sculptures, jewelry and other unique glass creations. The Lincoln City Cultural Center and the North Lincoln County Historical Museum are both worth a visit, hosting special events, classes and performances throughout the year.
–Written by Maggy Lehmicke, last updated in September 2022.