This Little-Known Town Is Any Nature Lover's Tranquil Paradise On The Oregon Coast

The small town of Yachats is one of Oregon's hidden gems, and the town's sleepiness is part of the charm. There's a common thread on travel blogs when people are praising it: One of the best things about the place is that there isn't much to do. That might sound a bit boring, but the promotional video on the Yachats website pitches it a different way: "Just breathe." In other words, while it may be great to spend a vacation in a bustling resort with plenty of amenities, activities, and people-watching to do, sometimes you just want to turn your collar up against the sea breeze and take a few moments for yourself on a wild and windy stretch of shoreline.

Yachats (pronounced YAH-hots, per the town website) is a community of around 1,000 people set on the beautiful Pacific Northwest coast with wide sandy beaches stretching north and south. It is just under a three-hour drive from Portland and a little further from Astoria. The latter was where "The Goonies" was shot, and '80s kids who grew up with the movie will feel the region's distinctive light and atmosphere in their blood.

While the coast is the main draw, it is also good hiking country, as the town is situated between the sea and the temperate rainforest inland. While Yachats may not have that much to do, there is plenty to soak in for visitors who love getting in touch with nature and taking a little time to relax.

Things to do in and around Yachats

The rugged coastline around Yachats is the star attraction of any visit to the town. While there are sandy beaches for strolling and building sandcastles, the rocky cliffs, coves, and capes give the area its major spectacle as long Pacific swells crash against the shore. Some of the landmark features have correspondingly dramatic names — to the south of the town, you will find Cape Perpetua, Devil's Churn, Spouting Horn, and Thor's Well. The latter is a remarkable sinkhole that appears to drain the ocean at high tide, and it's best to exercise caution along this part of the coast because sneaker waves can be dangerous. Also worth checking out is the area's abundance of tide pools, where you can find brightly-colored starfish and other sea life hanging out. For larger marine creatures, take a 20-minute drive down the coast road to Sea Lion Caves.

Surrounded by luscious and deeply verdant old-growth forests and creeks, Yachats has plenty of hiking and biking trails to explore. One of the easiest and most popular is the 804 trail, which takes you on a gentle 1.9-mile walk with spectacular sea views. Other trails nearby have typically evocative names for the area, such as Whispering Spruce, Prospect Trail, and Trail of Restless Waters. If you visit in springtime, the woods are great for foraging edible fresh greens, and October sees the town host the annual Mushroom Festival.

Eating and drinking in Yachats

While Portland is a better-known West Coast destination for foodies, Yachats has several excellent places to stop for a bite to eat or a well-deserved drink after wandering the beaches and forests. Bread & Roses is a highly recommended independent bakery serving fresh coffee and a wide range of home-baked breads, pastries, and cakes. For a wider range of meals throughout the day, head to the Drift Inn, a cozy restaurant with a colorful history. The menu caters to just about every taste, and there is a garden patio for outdoor dining in fine weather. The inn hosts live music most evenings and also has some charming rooms for longer stays.

If you have the urge to check out some locally-caught Oregon seafood, head across the road from the Drift Inn to Luna Sea Fish House, a friendly shack that doubles as a fishmonger and restaurant. It's a no-frills kind of place serving everything from shrimp, oysters, and fish tacos to big bowls of clam chowder. For slightly more upscale eats, Ona Restaurant and Lounge plates up nicely presented fare from the land and sea. For a chance to mingle with the locals, Yachats Underground Pub & Grub gives you no-nonsense bar food, a decent selection of beers and cocktails, and live music in a welcoming and unpretentious setting. Whatever you choose, you're sure to leave Yachats well-rested and eager to return.