Florence: The Heart of the Central Oregon Coast

Florence, Oregon is built around the last bend of the Suislaw River and just before the South Jetty pokes out into the Pacific Ocean. Numerous rivers, lakes and tributaries draw paddlers, anglers, and surfers to this mid-sized city on the southern edge of the Central Oregon Coast.

Florence has two distinct parts of town, a historic district along the waterfront and a newer, more commercial, row of restaurants and businesses running along both sides of Highway 101.

Historic “Old Town” Florence is a lovely place to dine and shop in many of the galleries and gift shops. Warmer weather brings farmers and artists out to stalls in the market located near the marina and riverfront boardwalk.

While Highway 101 features many modern-day conveniences for shopping and entertainment, you can still expect a peppering of glass blowing studios, salt-water taffy and ice cream parlors, and the occasional rock and souvenir shop. We like Florence because you can cover a bunch of different territory over the course of a full day.

Begin with history. Start at the Suislaw Pioneer Museum, built into a historic 1905 schoolhouse, and learn about the region’s early settlers, loggers, and fisherman. Then head over to the 140-foot tall Suislaw River Bridge to admire the double-leaf bascule design and the four Art Deco-style obelisks that house mechanical equipment.

Port of Florence

Transition to adventure. Florence, Oregon is the birthplace of sandboarding; ten different key sandboarding locations are located within ten miles of Florence, including the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, a 40-mile stretch of sand dunes between Florence and Reedsport. If you have kids, strongly consider Jessie Honeyman Memorial State Park, as it features picnic and swimming areas, and access to canoe or kayak the pristine Cleawox and Woahink lakes.

Buggy on the Oregon Dunes

If you need to rent sandboarding equipment, head to Sand Master Park, a 40-acre privately owned expanse of sand dunes between Highway 101 and Harbor Vista County Park on the Oregon coast. Sand Master Park also offers dune buggy rides and free sand sculpture competitions that run throughout the summer months.

Now relax. Grab a picnic basket and head down to Driftwood Shores at Harbor Vista County Park. Kids will loveflying kites, watching the surfers, exploring the tide pools, hunting for seashells and sand dollars, and exploring the many driftwood creations built by man and nature.

Driftwood Shores in Florence, Oregon

About the Author

Julie Henning
Julie Henning is a freelance writer and journalist based out of Eugene, Oregon. She is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers and owner of the family-travel website RoadTripsForFamilies.com. She is a recent past member of the Midwest Travel Writers Association and the Association for Great Lakes Outdoor Writers. Julie is the Oregon Coast destination specialist for Bindu Media, an itinerary-focused website launching in Spring 2016 and featuring the work of 200+ professional, indie travel writers. Julie has been published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Wisconsin State Journal, The Daily Journal (Kankakee, Illinois), the Rochester Post Bulletin, Wisconsin Natural Resources (DNR) Magazine, Sustainable Chicago Magazine, Group Tour Magazine, Student Group Tour Magazine, Silent Sports Magazine, Intercom Magazine, Roadtrippers.com, and FTF Geocacher Magazine. Julie has appeared on Wisconsin Public Radio, Ohio Public Radio, and KCBX FM Central Coast Radio and is an affiliate producer with the Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer, a National Public Radio travel podcast. She has blogged for TravelWisconsin.com, Travel Oregon, and VISIT Milwaukee. Julie travels with her three kids and black lab as much as possible and lives by the motto, "Not all who wander are lost." Check out some of her best work at www.juliehenning.com.