Located on the north central coast, Newport is just far enough away from Cottage Grove (about 2½ hours) that it makes for a rather long day-trip destination, however it is perfect as a close-by weekend get-away. When I learned that Newport was having their annual Lighted Boat Parade the same weekend that we were planning a get-away there was no question where we would be going. The only question then became — what would we be doing besides the parade?
The thing about the Oregon Coast, especially in the winter, is that you need to plan for any kind of weather. We kept our plans loose, so we could flow with the weather – we had beach activities planned if it was nice, a few destinations “in land” should that be advantages, and indoor activities planned should it be storming and rainy. As we left the valley on Friday night, the weather forecast for the coast was 100% chance of heavy rain. I was glad I had stashed some Christmas DVDs in our luggage to tide us through any wild storms.
When we reached our hotel, the Hallmark Inn, it was clear a big storm was coming in. Tired, we checked out our room – including the great deck looking right out at the ocean – and then walked down to the hotel restaurant. I am not usually a fan of hotel restaurants, but I had read good things about “Georgie’s” online, and we were not disappointed. Their appetizer special – roasted garlic, basil, and prawns – was very memorable. It stormed hard that night – the front desk staff said some wind gusts got up to 60 mph — but the hotel felt solid, safe, and secure in the driving wind.
The next morning, we watched darkness fade to reveal blue skies dotted with light clouds. We headed to Old Town for breakfast and were delighted to find The Coffee House. The weather had cleared enough that we sat outside on the front deck, basking in the sun, and enjoying the view of the harbor. It was in the mid-50’s and perfectly comfortable in our jackets. We were treated to excellent food as well as the nice view.
After a leisurely breakfast was over, we headed out to Yaquina Head. It was high tide, so it meant we wouldn’t be able to see the tide pools, however my experience on the coast is that morning times are always the best weather and it looked like our sun shine would be leaving us soon. We wanted to be out on the headlands in the best weather possible. Yaquina Head was beautiful and since it was winter time, there were very few people out there with us.
We found a similar lack of crowds at the Oregon Coast Aquarium. Viewing the otters, seals, tide pool area, and the Passages of the Deep was a very personal experience since we were often by ourselves or with just two or three other people.
We had scattered bits of rain throughout the afternoon, and the rains came in earnest about 4:00. Admittedly, waiting for the Lighted Boat Parade was somewhat soggy. But again, we were lucky as the rains subsided when the boats came out.
All in all, I highly recommend winters on the coast, especially if you can be flexible and go with whatever Mother Nature hands you.
About our lodging: There are many excellent-looking lodging options in Newport. We actually had a hard time picking what we wanted – protected bay view or ocean view? Larger hotel, smaller motel, or an intimate B-and-B? In the end, we chose the Hallmark Inn because it fit many of our needs. The ocean view with a private deck to enjoy it was one factor, an in-room gas fireplace was another, the attached restaurant which had good reviews was another, and proximity to downtown Newport was another. We came away impressed. Not only did it deliver in all the extra amenities, it delivered in the basics as well– the rooms were clean, the front desk staff exceptional, and the bed comfortable.