The best things to do in Florence, Oregon to immerse yourself in the local culture & natural beauty of the Oregon Coast.
The Oregon Coast has its own kind of magic. I don’t recall ever coming across a coastal region that is as versatile, rugged, and serene. There are various hideaways waiting to be discovered in this underrated part of the world, including one of my favorite spots on the coast – Florence.
The great thing about this beautiful coastal city is that even though it’s a small town, there are still tons of things to do in Florence, Oregon.
The last time I had been to Florence before my year and a half of living in Oregon, was over eight years ago when I was a 17 year-old road tripping up the Pacific coast.
On my most recent trip, I took a day trip from Eugene to see more of what Florence, Oregon had to offer.
I rocked up to the coast after a winding forested drive, my eyes were drawn to the Siuslaw River, Art Deco Bridge, and, of course, the expansive ocean laid out before me.
When I stepped out of the car, I took in a big whiff of salty air and a sharp nostalgia took ahold of me. If I’m near the ocean, I’m home.
I ended up spending the day in Florence, Oregon, checking out the best sights and unique things to do on this part of the Oregon Coast and came up with this complete bucket list.
These are my recommendations for the best attractions in Florence, Oregon to see or experience at least once.
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So, What is There to do in Florence, Oregon?
Even though it is a relatively tiny town, there are tons of things to do in Florence, OR and around this part of the Oregon Coast in general. The natural landscape is beautiful, as well as the wildlife and the busy little downtown. There’s really a little something for everyone.
This is my guide for the best things to see in Florence, Oregon, whether you just have a day or a little longer to spend in this coastal hideaway.
Note: if you need to get your bearings or you want further recommendations for local things to do in Florence, Oregon this weekend or the week that you’re there, head over to the Florence, Oregon Visitors Center, aka the experts in Florence, Oregon tourism.
The visitors center is located right next to the Siuslaw Pioneer Museum on Hwy 101 (the address number is 290). They’re open from 9 am to 5 pm Monday-Friday, 10 am to 5 pm on Saturdays, and they’re closed on Sundays.
Recommended Experience: Oregon Coast Tour – Florence to Yachats
Take in the Siuslaw River
The first thing I did when I arrived in Florence? I sat down at one of the many public benches facing the Siuslaw River Bridge to take in the sea air and stretch my legs from the drive.
To give you a bit of Florence, Oregon history, the bridge was built in 1936, hence the Art Deco style. It was built over the Siuslaw River where once the Siuslaw people lived 8,000 years ago.
There is a lot of history to discover in Florence from a variety of different eras. As a history buff, I loved the signage and plaques demarcating the memorable historical parts of town. The area around the Siuslaw River Bridge was no exception.
Walk Around Old Town Florence, Oregon
One of the best places to be immersed in the city’s history, the Florence, Oregon Old Town lies right next to the Siuslaw River Bridge and therefore the perfect next stop on your Florence itinerary.
The Florence Old Town is is where you’ll find some of the best restaurants in Florence, Oregon, art galleries, boutique shops, and a lot of historic architecture.
The Old Town in Florence, Oregon is my favorite part of the city for how scenic it is and how many boutique shops and delicious food options there are in the area.
If you’re wondering what to do in Florence, Oregon and you’re short on time, definitely do not miss out on a walk around Old Town.
Get Some Fresh Air at the Dock & Peruse the Boardwalk Market
Once you mosey through the small Florence, Oregon downtown area, walk along the water and the dock on the other side of town.
In the Florence dock area, there is fresh fish sold straight from the boat. Everyone seems to know each other and there are plenty of friendly locals to strike up a conversation with.
And, if you’re in Florence, Oregon on the weekend, don’t miss out on the Boardwalk Market right next to the dock.
The market is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 am to 5 pm, and features fresh produce, local handmade goods, jewelry, and professional photography for sale.
Stop in for Ice Cream at BJ’s Ice Cream Parlor
One of the many fun things to do in Florence, Oregon is to stop in for some delicious ice cream at an old-fashioned ice cream shop called BJ’s Ice Cream Parlor.
This place is a classic and very much a local favorite. I could imagine that a lot of locals who grew up in the city probably worked here at one point or another when they were in high school.
Even though it’s a chain, BJ’s is a family friendly spot to stop at in Florence and they have some outrageously fun flavors. When I was there last, I went with their pistachio ice cream that the guy behind the counter recommended, it was delicious!
Enjoy the Fresh Seafood and Local Foodie Spots
What to do in Florence, Oregon? Eat!
Florence, Oregon food is all about that fresh seafood and homestyle cooking. One of my favorite things to eat in the city is a crab melt at 1285 Restobar, Mo’s, or Bay Street Grill in Old Town.
These are a few more foodie spots and best restaurants in Florence, Oregon that are worth a try.
One of those quintessential Old Town Florence, Oregon restaurants, the Beachcomber Pub is a long standing bar right next to the Siuslaw River. They serve up comforts in the form of pub food and rotating draft beers and you can expect a lot of locals to hang out here.
Sweet Magnolia Bakery
If you’re looking for a good breakfast option in Florence, Oregon that has the small coastal town charm, Sweet Magnolia Bakery is a good place to start. They have fresh baked pastries, quiche, and good coffee to start your day.
If really good coffee is your main concern and you love the smell of roasted beans, River Roasters is another option near the Siuslaw River and Bridge. This is also a good place to warm up with a hot drink if you happen to be in Florence on a stormy day.
Waterfront Depot Restaurant
For a great wine list, great view, and fresh and tasty seafood, head over to the Waterfront Depot Restaurant. This is one of the best places to eat in Florence, Oregon for a nice dinner, where they serve up a variety of tapas and scrumptious seafood dishes.
Try the crab cakes, fried oysters, or scallop pasta. Reservations are recommended.
Homegrown Public House
Homegrown Public House is one of the few Florence, Oregon restaurants that focuses on organic Pacific Northwest Cuisine that is mostly made from scratch.
Their menu is seasonal, but definitely try the cajun oysters or clam chowder if they’re on the menu. Homegrown Public House serves both lunch and dinner.
Big Dog Donuts & Deli
If you’re just looking for a quick bite on your way our of town or to start a busy day, Big Dog Donuts & Deli is known for their tasty apple fritters and homemade donuts. If you like sweet things for breakfast, a stop here is a must.
With all that good seafood going around you might be wondering if there’s a good sushi restaurant in Florence. The answer is a resounding yes in the form of The Hukilau.
Grab a few rolls and one of their signature tropical cocktails for a full meal. Just make sure you have ample time because the food takes a while to come out, but once it does it’s worth it.
Say Hello to Sea Lions at the Sea Lion Caves
Visiting the Sea Lion Caves should be on your list of must see things in Florence, Oregon. The Sea Lion Caves are quite the roadside attraction on the Oregon Coast.
Just a 15-minute drive north of Florence, this stop is America’s largest cave. Although it is a year-round home for the Stellar Sea Lion, The sea lions aren’t always home so make sure to ask before you buy a ticket to go down and see them in the cave.
The Sea Lion Caves are one of the best things to do near Florence, Oregon, especially if you’re traveling with kids, or if you simply love animals and want to see them in their natural habitat.
If you love marine life and rugged coastal views, this is a great place to stop near Florence. The cliffs on this part of Hwy 101 are breathtaking, so if you like feeling as if you’re at the edge of the world the Sea Lion Caves may just be the perfect stop for you.
Antique Shopping in Florence, Oregon
To get a feel for the local community and atmosphere of the city, shopping Florence, Oregon is a must. There is a good selection of boutique shops around downtown Florence, Oregon and really all over the city.
Seaside towns can be a treasure trove of unique finds and the city of Florence, Oregon has plenty of antique shops and colorful ocean-themed storefronts to explore.
Although there are a few antique shops in Old Town Florence, the official Florence Antique District (or Antique Alley as it’s called by some locals) is located along Hwy 101 at Kingwood.
A few favorites for antique shopping in Florence, Oregon include Treasures by the Dunes, Resto-Arts, and Thrifty Threads.
Additional options for Florence, Oregon shopping that isn’t just antiques is Silver Lining and Bonjour Boutique for clothes, Books ‘n’ Bears for new and used books, and Wizard of Odds for quirky gifts.
Being located in the Pacific Northwest, you can bet that there are a few good Florence, Oregon hikes in the area that are the perfect activity for any active traveler.
Hiking is actually one of my favorite things to do in Oregon because the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest is out of this world. Florence is no exception.
These are my picks for the best Florence, Oregon hiking in the area.
Heceta Head Lighthouse Trail
A popular and heavily trafficked trail near Florence, Oregon, but for good reason. This short out and back trail is under a mile and takes you to the historic Heceta Head Lighthouse with grand views at the top.
This hike is good for all skill levels with a 131 foot gain in elevation. And as an extra bonus, if you hike this coastal Oregon trail in the spring, you might see wildflowers blooming. Dog are also allowed on a leash.
The trailhead for the Heceta Head Trail is just past the Sea Lion Caves north of Florence and about a 15 minute drive from the city.
If you’re looking for a slightly more strenuous hike, the Hobbit Trail is a good beach hike at Carl G. Washburne Memorial State Park.
I would recommend combining the Hobbit Trail with the China Creek Trail for a good mix of beach and mossy forests – aka very Pacific Northwest. This is one of the best hikes near Florence, Oregon.
The full combined trail is a 4.6 mile loop and also features wildflowers in the spring.
This is a moderate trail, so some mobility is important but you don’t have to be crazy in shape to hike it. In total, there’s a 365 elevation gain for the duration of the hike.
Dogs are welcome as long as they’re on a leash. The Hobbit Trailhead is right near the Heceta Head Trail, so you could easily do both hikes if you’re up for it.
John Dellenback Dunes Trail
Located in William M. Tugman State Park, the John Dellenback Dunes Trail is a good option if you want to explore more of the expansive sand dunes on this part of the Oregon Coast.
The trail is a 5.5 mile loop and rated moderate, so again you don’t have to be in really good shape but you should be mobile enough to walk a few miles. Dogs are welcome on a leash.
It’s about a 40 minute drive to get to the trailhead from downtown Florence, Oregon, so it’s a good half day hike.
Cummins Creek Trail
If you’re a serious hiking and you want more of a workout as a opposed to just scenic views, definitely check out the Cummins Creek Trial to get your calves burning and work up a sweat.
This more difficult loop trail is 5.6 miles and has an elevation gain of 1,240 feet. It passes alongside a river and dogs can be on the trail as long as they are on a leash. This is also a popular trail for mountain bikers and to spot wildlife.
The Cummins Creek Trailhead is about a 30 minute drive from Florence, and I would give yourself most of the day for this inland hike.
Explore the Rugged Beaches
Oregon beaches may not be as pristine as some of the ones you’ll find in California, but there’s a special charm to the ruggedness of the beaches on the Florence, Oregon coast, even if you might not want to swim at most of them.
These are my picks for the best beaches to visit in the Florence, Oregon area.
Hobbit Beach Oregon
I mentioned this one above already, but Hobbit Beach is one of the most popular beaches near Florence and worth a visit. The beach can be crowded during the nicer months, but there is still a secluded nature to this spot because you have to hike in to access it.
And, if you’re willing to walk a little ways down from where the trailhead lets out to the beach you can have large stretches to yourself.
Just make sure to check the tide table in Florence, Oregon before making a visit, because the Florence, Oregon tides can come all the way up to the cliffs during some parts of the day.
As mentioned above, it takes about 15 minutes to drive up to the trailhead for Hobbit Beach from Florence, and then you want to make sure to give yourself time to hike down to the beach.
Stonefield Beach State Recreation Site
If you’re looking for a more accessible beach with no hiking involved, make a visit to Stonefield Beach State Recreation Site and keep your eye out for whales swimming near the coast. This is also a good spot to watch the sunset.
It’s about a 25 minute drive from downtown Florence to get to Stonefield Beach, past Hobbit Beach to the north.
If you want to stay close to Florence, Heceta Beach is a good quick beach to visit right near the city, only an eight minute drive from downtown.
Although the beach can get foggy at times, it’s a long beach that’s great for walking and dogs love to run around here too.
Ride a Dune Buggy or Go Sandboarding at the Sand Dunes
One of the great outdoor things to do around Florence, Oregon is visiting the famous sand dunes. Oregon sand dunes can be found in different places along the coast, but the dunes just south of Florence are the largest and most well known.
There are popular dune tours in Florence, Oregon that are a fun and adventurous way to explore the sand dunes with a professional guide.
The company to go with for this experience is Sandland Adventures, which provides a family fun center in Florence, Oregon for a full day of dune adventures.
If you would rather explore the dunes on your own there are a few ATV rentals in Florence, Oregon. If you go this route, I’d recommend renting from Torex ATV Rentals because they conveniently have direct access to the dunes.
Another adventurous option to take full advantage of the dunes is going to the Sandboard Park in Florence, Oregon.
This is where you can test out your sandboarding skills and, if you’re like me, make a complete fool of yourself when you realize that it’s a lot harder than it looks. Or maybe that’s just me.
Sand Master Park offers rentals and lessons if you want to give it a try.
However you decide to explore the Florence, Oregon Sand Dunes, the 40 miles of dunescape can be accessed at multiple points along Hwy 101. The dunes stand as a testament to millions of years of wind and rain erosion on the coast.
It’s a unique and memorable spot on the Oregon Coast that shouldn’t be missed with a trip to Florence, Oregon.
Visit to the Local Museums
Florence, Oregon has a couple of unique museum that are worth a visit, especially if it’s blustery day on the coast and you’re looking for a warm sightseeing option.
Siuslaw Pioneer Museum
The Siuslaw Pioneer Museum is the best place to get an overview of the history of Florence, Oregon and the Siusalw River aream including pioneer history and how the city was founded.
You only need an hour or two to see the museum, but it’s a good place to start to understand more about the first settlers who came to the area.
Oregon Coast Military Museum
If you’re a fan of military artifacts and history, a visit to the Oregon Coast Military Museum is a must.
The museum features vintage military vehicles and life size dioramas depicting the wars the US has been involved in from World War I to the Iraq War and Operation Desert Storm.
Win (or Lose) Some Money at a Casino
The Three Rivers Casino in Florence, Oregon is an award-winning casino that offers a full resort experience. If you want to just gamble and test your hand at blackjack, that’s fine.
But, if you want the full experience, Three Rivers Casino sits on 100 acres and has three onsite restaurants, an 18 hole golf course, live country music performances, holiday brunches, comedy shows, and a full hotel attached to the casino.
Get the Best View in Town with Aero Legends
For the best view in town, book a tour with Aero Legends to see Florence, Oregon from above. The plane they use for flights is the Stearman “Kaydet”, which was built in 1944 and was the most common trainer for the US Army Air Corps and the US Navy during World War II.
Horseback Riding at C&M Stables
Located just north of Florence, C&M Stables offers a variety of horseback riding tours, including beach rides and dune trail rides. Horseback riding is a great option if you love horses and want a unique way to see this beautiful part of the Oregon Coast.
It would also be a fun activity in Florence, Oregon for those are who in town for a romantic couple’s getaway since they also offer sunset beach rides.
Art Hunting at One of the Many Art Galleries
Similar to the abundance of antique stores in Florence, Oregon, there are also quite a few art galleries if you’re interested in exploring some of the artistic talent in the area.
Popular art galleries include Backstreet Gallery, Sticks & Stones Gallery, Of Land & Sea Gallery, Wind Drift Gallery, Blue Heron Gallery, and the Studios at Jayne Smoley Design. All of these can be found in Old Town Florence.
Catch a Flick at City Lights Cinema
If you want to just relax and enjoy the comfort of going to the movies on a rainy day, head to City Lights Cinema in Florence, Oregon. There aren’t many Florence, Oregon movie theaters, in fact this is the only one in the city of Florence. But, the good news is that it’s a good one.
City Lights Cinema is a four screen movie theater that offers Oregon craft beer, wine, and gourmet popcorn. The great thing about City Lights Cinema is also the variety of what they show, from Hollywood blockbusters, to indie flicks, and even the performing arts in HD.
Spend Time With the Animals at the Florence Humane Society
I love visiting (and usually volunteering) at animal shelters when I travel. I’m a huge animal lover so it’s my way of still having furry friends in my life even when I travel all the time.
If you love animals too and want a quick cuteness fix to brighten up your day and give animals in need some attention, stop by the Florence, Oregon Humane Society.
Who knows, you might even be inspired to adopt (or foster if you live in the area) if you have a loving forever home to provide.
Related: Jet Boating the Rugged Rogue River
Other Places to Visit Near Florence, Oregon
If you want to explore more of the outdoors around this part of the Oregon Coast, or you’re looking for ideas for the best day trips from Florence, Oregon, these are the spots I’d recommend visiting.
Cape Perpetua Scenic Area/Thor’s Well
Jessie M. Honeyman Memorial State Park
Neptune State Park
Tokatee Klootchman State Natural Site
Muriel O. Ponsler Memorial State Scenic Viewpoint
Places to Stay in Florence, Oregon
Hotels in Florence, Oregon
Le Chateau Inn
Le Chateau Inn is a great budget-friendly hotel in Florence, Oregon. This hotel offers guests access to a seasonal outdoor pool, hot tub, sauna, fitness center.
Guests at Le Chateau Inn can enjoy free WIFI as well as rooms with a TV and microwave. The Chateau Inn is about 11 miles from the Sea Lion Caves and other Florence, Oregon attractions.
Old Town Inn Florence, Oregon
The Old Town Inn in Florence, Oregon is located a few minutes from the Antique District, amazing restaurants, shopping, and the stunning Siuslaw River.
The inn is in a prime location for guests to participate in the most popular Florence, Oregon attractions including, golfing, fishing, beaches, and dunny buggy tours. The Inn is known to have friendly, helpful staff, a comfortable environment, and be impeccably clean.
Best Western Florence, Oregon
The Best Western Pier Point Inn is a great location to stay for anyone who is wanting to visit Florence, Oregon and enjoy a little luxury. It is in nestled on the banks of the Siuslaw River, giving guests stunning views of the river and Old Town Florence.
The Best Western Pier Point Inn is located about 12 miles from the Sea Lion Caves and offers guests with free WIFI, continental breakfast, as well as access to a fitness center, hot tub, sauna, and indoor pool.
Where is Florence, Oregon?
Florence, Oregon is located on the Central Oregon Coast, right on the Siuslaw River and north of the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area.
Florence, Oregon Directions
How Far is Florence, Oregon from Portland, Oregon
It is about 170 miles or a three hour drive from Florence, Oregon to Portland, Oregon.
Directions to Florence, Oregon From Portland
- Get on I-5 S from SE 7th Ave, SE 8th Ave, Ross Island Bridge, and OR-43 S
- Follow I-5 S to OR-126 W/W 11th Ave in Eugene
- Follow OR-126 W to 18th St in Florence
How Far is Florence, Oregon from Eugene, Oregon?
The distance from Eugene, Oregon to Florence, Oregon is about 61 miles, a 1.5 hour drive.
Directions to Florence, Oregon From Eugene
- Take Coburg Rd and E 4th Ave to E 6th Ave
- Follow OR-126 W to Spruce St in Florence
- Follow Spruce St to 18th St
As you can probably tell, there are so many wonderful things to do in Florence, Oregon and around this section of the central Oregon Coast. Even if you don’t have a ton of extra time, the city is great escape for a day trip from inland Oregon.
It feels like the real Oregon in its small town nature and raw beauty.
As I mentioned above, whether you want to eat good seafood, go antique shopping, explore the Florence sand dunes, or simply relax at the best beaches in Florence, Oregon, there is a little something for everyone in this small seaside city. Enjoy!
PRACTICAL INFO FOR FLORENCE
Book a vacation rental on AirBnB (and get $40 off your first booking).
Buy your Oregon Travel Guide here.
Looking for more travel inspiration for Oregon? Check out my related posts below!
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