Depoe Bay is a beautiful city located along U.S. Route 101, also known as the Pacific Coast Highway. Depoe Bay is known as the whale watching capital of the Oregon Coast, along with having the smallest navigable harbor in the world. Rich in history, natural beauty, and things to do, Depoe Bay is a vacation destination second to none. To help you have even more fun during your stay, we put together a list of our favorite things to do in Depoe Bay!
Need a place to stay? Check out our Depoe Bay vacation rentals, and get the best rate when you book directly with Oregon Beach Vacations.
Planning a trip to Depoe Bay, OR?
If you’re looking for the best things to do in Depoe Bay, then look no further! We’ve compiled a list of our top 12 favorite things to do in Depoe Bay to help you plan your trip. You’ll find plenty of things to do outside as well as some indoor options for when the weather isn’t ideal.
1) Go whale watching
Depoe Bay isn’t called the whale watching capital of the Oregon coast for nothing! Each year, thousands of migrating whales pass through the area on their way to Baja, Mexico in search of warmer waters. There’s also a pod of whales that love Depoe Bay so much they stick around all year long.
While whale sighting can be done year-round in Depoe Bay, the best times to do it are when the whales are migrating which is from March-May and December-January. Visiting from May through the end of the summer is another good time to visit, as the whales that live in Depoe Bay are most active during this time of the year, and swim close to shore to feed.
If you’re visiting Depoe Bay for some whale watching, we recommend checking out the Oregon State Park’s Whale Watching Center for great panoramic views of the coast, and a great place for dolphin and whale watching. Located in Newport, Oregon, it’s just a short drive from Depoe Bay.
2) Explore downtown
Downtown Depoe Bay is the perfect place to take an evening stroll or wander around on a sunny afternoon. Full of small shops, art galleries, restaurants, and scenic views of the coast, Depoe Bay has something to offer everyone. Browse local art, grab a coffee, hit some shops, and have fun exploring!
3) Walk the coastline
While Depoe Bay is known for its whales and harbor, one of the most recognizable features of the area is the massive cliff and rocky shoreline that sits between the city and the ocean. While there’s no sandy beach to explore, Depoe Bay’s rocky coast is as beautiful as it gets. With several public access points along the coast, there are plenty of opportunities to relax and take in the sights without being stuck in a huge crowd of people.
Our favorite place to see the coastline is to start Depoe Bay scenic park which is just a short drive north from the center of town, off highway 101. There are parks and public access points all over, and most streets around town will have signs that lead to lookouts. If you’re having trouble finding a quieter lookout, try finding a smaller street!
4) Explore the world’s smallest harbor
The city of Depoe Bay is named after Depoe Bay, the world’s smallest navigable harbor. Coming in at just six acres, the widest point of the channel to enter the bay is just 50-feet wide. The harbor itself is beautiful and is a great place to walk around, relax, and take in the sights. The scenic Depoe Bay Bridge allows you to walk over the channel, giving you a great view of the ocean and boats below.
For those who want to get their feet wet (not literally), Depoe Bay Harbor is home to many charter companies randing from whale-watching excursions to guided fishing trips. If going out on a boat isn’t your thing, you might be lucky enough to be around when the Coast Guard is using the bay for training exercises! The Coast Guard Station Depoe Bay has been in the harbor since 1940 and serves as the primary operating station for the area.
Depoe Bay may be small, but there’s big fun to be had!
5) Ride the Otter Crest Loop
The Otter Crest Loop is a scenic stretch of highway that used to be the main U.S. Highway 101 route and can either be driven or biked. The loop climbs over Cape Foulweather and takes visitors through the picturesque coastal landscape and scenic viewpoints, making it a great way to see the beauty of the Oregon coast.
Even though it only takes about 10 minutes to drive the 4.2 mile stretch of road known as Otter Crest Loop, there is plenty to see along the way. Here’s how to drive (or bike) the Otter Crest Loop:
- Start at Rocky Creek State Scenic Viewpoint and head south
- Follow signs to divert onto the loop. The loop runs almost parallel to highway 101
- Cross the Ben Jones Bridge, a scenic arch bridge that crosses over Rocky Creek
- Take note after the bridge, the loop becomes a narrow one-way road with a bike lane on the side. Be careful of bikers here, especially near turns and corners.
- Shortly after the bridge, you’ll reach Otter Crest State Wayside
- After the wayside, the loop turns back into a two-lane road. Before long, you’ll see signs for the Devil’s Punchbowl. From there you have access to gorgeous beaches, or you can continue on to the end of the loop.
6) Go Fishing
If there’s one thing we have a lot of out here on the Oregon coast, it’s water that’s ripe for fishing! Fishing directly from the world’s smallest bay might not sound like the best idea, but anglers in Depoe Bay have among the highest catch ratio of rockfish per angler on the entire Oregon Coast!
For those who are bank fishing, black rockfish is the most common catch along the Depoe Bay coast. If you’re fishing inside of the bay itself, you’re more likely to find perch, sea trout, and even some bass. Beyond the bay, you’ll find more of the same along with some cabezon and lingcod.
But for some of the best fishing that the Oregon coast has to offer, you’ll need to head out on a boat into the Pacific! No worries if you don’t have a boat or know anyone who does, there are plenty of charters around town that operate out of Depoe Bay.
7) Boiler Bay State Scenic Viewpoint
Boiler Bay, a stunning and rough-hewn bight, is an excellent location to watch wild surf action on the rocky spurs. This magnificent 360-degree vista gives you a fantastic view of gray whales all year. Take your binoculars because this is one of the greatest locations in Oregon to see ocean-going birds (such as shearwaters, jaegers, albatrosses, grebes, pelicans, loons, oystercatchers and murrelets).
8) Depoe Bay Winery
Depoe Bay Winery, which was founded in 1999 and produces wines from the Willamette Valley known for world-class Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Gris, is located on the central Oregon coast. They are Nehalem Bay Winery’s second tasting room as well as one of the only locations on the West Coast with a pod of gray whales making its home off-shore from March through December, with migrating whales providing year-round viewing opportunities.
9) See Depoe Bay Bridge
The Depoe Bay Bridge is a beautiful sight to see, especially when the sun is shining off of the water. The bridge was built in 1927 and spans 312 feet. It is one of the longest bridges in Oregon and it is also one of the most popular tourist attractions in Depoe Bay. The views from the bridge are absolutely stunning and there are often whales that can be seen swimming in the bay below. If you are ever in the area, make sure to take a walk or drive across the Depoe Bay Bridge, it is an experience that you will not want to miss!
Whatever you decide to do in Depoe Bay, you’re sure to have a great time and create memories that will last a lifetime. Regardless of where you choose to stay, Oregan Beach Vacations is your #1 source for all Oregon coast vacation rentals.
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