Newport, Oregon is full of exciting things to do for both locals and tourists visiting the Oregon Coast. Whether you’re looking for something adventurous to do or just a relaxing way to spend an afternoon, Newport has what you’re looking for. This small town offers some of the best beaches and state parks in the Northeast and is one of the most visited tourist destinations on the Oregon Coast. Below is our list of the best things to do in Newport along with some activity recommendations for specific questions you may have!
Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum
Prepare to be amazed when you enter Newport’s Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum. The museum is jam-packed with creepy, silly, and crazy facts you won’t believe! The exhibit is great fun for the entire family and is one of the best ways to spend an afternoon in Newport.
Connected to the museum is the Wax Works exhibit, where you can see life-size wax replicas of your favorite celebrities. The exhibit includes Marilyn Monroe, Johnny Depp, the cast of The Lord of the Rings, the American Idol judges, and many more! Make sure your camera or cell phone is charged because both Ripley’s and Wax Works allow photography within the exhibits.
Yaquina Bay Lighthouse
The Yaquina Bay Lighthouse is the oldest standing structure in Newport. The lighthouse was built to guide travelers on the Yaquina River in 1871. The Yaquina Bay Lighthouse is different from most other lighthouses in the sense that it has living quarters attached to it. It is one of Newport’s most iconic landmarks and should be on the bucket list of any history-lover traveling to the Oregon Coast.
The lighthouse is open for the public to tour every day of the week (excluding certain holidays). Unfortunately, the lantern room is unavailable to the public, however, the watch room and the downstairs area are open to anyone touring the lighthouse. There is a video playing when you first enter that gives background information about the lighthouse and its history. From the watch room you’ll be able to take in the gorgeous views overlooking the river.
Oregon Coast Aquarium
The Oregon Coast Aquarium has been recognized as one of the best aquariums in the country by major publications such as USA Today and Coastal Living magazine. This massive aquarium has more than ten exhibits including a sea lion exhibit, a giant pacific octopus exhibit, the largest seabird aviary exhibit in the country, and the Passages of the Deep exhibit, which was once the home to Keiko, the orca from the movie Free Willy.
The aquarium offers a behind-the-scenes tour, which is a great experience for anyone who would like to see how the aquarium’s staff tends to the over 15,000 animal species that reside in the exhibits. The aquarium also offers a separate excursion that allows you to get up close and personal and touch the non-stinging jellyfish. If neither of those excite you, they offer visitors the chance to dive into the aquarium and swim with sharks and other sea creatures. What better story to tell your friends and coworkers when you get home from your Oregon Coast vacation than about how you swam with sharks?!
Yaquina Head Lighthouse
The Yaquina Head Lighthouse is another lighthouse you’ll want to check out while you’re in Newport. This 93-foot lighthouse is the tallest lighthouse in Oregon and is one of the oldest structures in the city. The lighthouse began being built just a year after the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse and has been helping travelers navigate the Pacific Coast for well over a century. The lighthouse sits on a strip of land at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area, just north of Newport. The lighthouse is open to the public daily and is one of the most visited lighthouses on the west coast, bringing in nearly half a million visitors each years.
There are also rumors that the lighthouse is haunted. There have been many reports of ghost-sightings in or near the lighthouse and reports of ship compasses not working when they come close to it. If you’re a thrill-seeker or if you’re just fascinated with the supernatural, the Yaquina Head Lighthouse might just have a ghost or two hiding out around the grounds. For everyone else, don’t worry…we’ve been in there and we made it out just fine.
Bay Front District
The historic Bay Front District is the most popular area in town and is a must-visit for anyone staying in Newport or the surrounding areas. The Bay Front District is home to some of the best restaurants and things to do in Newport. This is where you’ll find the Ripley’s Museum as well as the Pacific Maritime Heritage Center, The Undersea Gardens, the sea lion docks, and a large variety of shops and restaurants.
Many of the restaurants in the Bay Front District have views overlooking the bay, so you can watch the boats coming into the port as you enjoy your meal. Once you’re finished eating, you’ll want to walk around and experience all that the Bay Front District has to offer. There are quite a few unique shops to check out and plenty of places you’ll want to stop and take pictures!
Things to Do When it Rains
Don’t let the rain put a damper on your time in Newport! While the beach and the state parks aren’t exactly an option on a rainy day, there are still plenty of fun things to do in Newport when it’s raining. One of the best ways to spend a rainy day is to visit one of the museums. We’ve already talked about how much fun the aquarium and the Ripley’s Museum can be, but those aren’t the only museums in the area. The Pacific Maritime Heritage Center, the Hatfield Marine Science Center, and the Burrows House, are all great options on a rainy day.
The Pacific Maritime Heritage Center is a former nightclub that was converted to a history museum in 2013. The center features quite a few exhibits including the “Then and Now” and “Rescued, Recovered and Lost: Oregon Shipwrecks” exhibits. The “Then and Now” exhibit shows side-by-side images comparing different areas in Newport in the 1940s through the 1980s with recent images of the areas. The “Rescued, Recovered and Lost: Oregon Shipwrecks” exhibit displays a collection of artifacts from different shipwrecks around the Oregon Coast.
The Hatfield Marine Science Center is a marine science research center that is operated by Oregon State University. The facility has a visitor’s center that offers tours year-round. On these tours, you’ll learn about the local marine life and get to see live marine animals including sharks, jellyfish, and a giant pacific octopus. Kids will love the interactive exhibits, especially the lego exhibit, which allows kids to build lego structures and see if they’ll survive the simulated tsunami.
The Burrows House is a late 1800s Victorian-style home that was converted to a museum in the 1970s. The house is a few blocks inland from the Bay Front District and should be on the agenda for anyone that wants to learn about the history of Newport. Much like the Pacific Maritime Heritage Center, The Burrows House features many exhibits that display interesting facts, historical images, and different artifacts from the town over the past few centuries.
Things to Do For Kids
Newport is a very kid-friendly town, and nearly all of the things we’ve mentioned are fun for visitors of all ages! Outside of the aquarium and the Ripley’s Museum, two of the things in Newport that kids really enjoy are the Newport Coast Park and the sea lion docks on the Bay Front District.
The Newport Coast Park is a great way for kids to burn off some extra energy and have fun in the process. The Newport Coast Park is a fairly new park that features a state of the art playground with a detailed shipwreck for kids to play on and a large enclosed slide that runs from the top of the adjacent hill down to the play equipment. This park is a perfect way to get kids outside and being active!
Visiting the sea lion docks is another activity that all kids need to experience while in Newport. While you’re walking around the Bay District, be sure to take a few minutes to check out all of the sea lions that come onto the port docks. These docks have been a haul-out for sea lions for decades, and depending on the time of year you visit, you can see dozens of them swimming around or relaxing on the docks. Both kids and adults love to watch as the sea lions play and bark at one another.
Things to Do With Pets
There are plenty of things to do with pets in Newport. If you’re planning on visiting the state parks or recreation sites, you are welcome to bring your dogs along as you hike or explore. Also, all of the Oregon beaches allow you to bring your dog onto the beach as long as you have them on a leash that is six feet or shorter. A few of the beaches even allow you to bring your dog without a leash as long as they stay within voice command range.
You can also take your dogs to the Agate Beach Dog Park, which provides a large fenced-in play area for dogs as well as a picnic shelter and a BBQ grill.
If you need somewhere to stay that allows you to bring your pets, you can browse our pet-friendly rentals, and we can get you in a vacation rental home that lets you bring the entire family!
Things to Do in the Winter
The first thing that comes to most people’s minds when they imagine a vacation to the Oregon Coast is a sunny day relaxing on the beach. Newport and the nearby towns are often overlooked as a tourist destination from November to February because people don’t realize how much the area has to offer during the off-season. There are plenty of things to do in the winter, and Newport should most definitely be tossed into consideration next time you’re planning a winter vacation.
All of the aforementioned things to do are open year-round, making the winter an ideal time to visit if you don’t like the hustle and bustle of the peak season. You’ll often find there are no waits at the restaurants during the winter, and you can peacefully tour the lighthouses and state parks without being overwhelmed with the large summer crowds. The beaches are a little chilly, but you’ll be surprised to find that it’s fairly common for the temperature on the beaches to reach the high forties and fifties during the winter months. This is the perfect time to hunt for seashells or explore the beaches, because there are very few people on the beach in the winter.
One of our favorite things to do on a chilly night in the winter is to warm up and relax in a hot tub. If you decide to plan a trip to Newport in the winter, we have quite a few rentals with hot tubs you can check out.
If you visit during the Christmas time, you’ll want to visit the Sea of Lights exhibit at the aquarium. Every Friday and Saturday night in December, the Oregon Coast Aquarium is lit up with over half a million colorful Christmas lights. This is a great way to get into the holiday spirit while visiting some of your favorite sea creatures! You’ll also get to witness SCUBA Santa as he dives into the exhibits and poses for pictures with visitors.
We guarantee you’ll find no shortage of things to do in Newport. Regardless of whether this is your first time visiting or you come to town every year, there is always something fun to experience! If you’re planning on visiting the area and would like to learn more about our vacation rentals, feel free to contact us. We’d love to be a part of your Newport vacation!