Things to Do in Florence, Oregon

Things to do in Florence, Oregon

Explore the small, coastal town of Florence. Discover things to do in Florence, Oregon and the best ways to immerse yourself in the local culture & natural beauty.

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 many hideaways waiting to be discovered in this underrated part of the world. Just last week I went to Pacific City to enjoy the silhouetted rocks, the dunes, and the craft beer that is uniquely Oregon. But that story is for another day. This blog is about my experience in Florence, and some of the things to do in Florence, Oregon.

I went to Florence – Oregon, not Italy – over the summer when I was visiting my parents who live in Veneta. Veneta is a perfectly situated little town just outside of the bustling counter-culture of Eugene but only an hour away from the most beautiful parts of the coast.

I took a day trip while I was down there to see Florence, a city I had not laid eyes on in 8 years and one in which I hardly remembered through the memories of my 17-year-old mind. When 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. I don’t get see the ocean nearly as much as I would like to now that I live in Portland.

When I stepped out of the car, I took in a big whiff of the salty air and a sharp nostalgia took ahold of me. If I’m near the ocean, I’m home.

Downtown Florence, Oregon
Downtown Florence, Oregon is filled with unique restaurants and shops.

Things to do in Florence, Oregan

Even though it is a relatively tiny town, I was surprised at all things to do in Florence, Oregon. The natural landscape was beautiful, as well as the wildlife and the busy little downtown.

I first wanted to get a feel for the local community and atmosphere, and it was hard to resist poking my head into the small boutique shops that lined the main streets of downtown Florence, Oregon. Seaside towns can be a treasure trove of unique finds and Florence had plenty of antique shops and colorful ocean-themed storefronts to explore.

Siuslaw River

But before I headed straight into town, 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. The bridge was built in 1936, hence the Art Deco style, and 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, my history buff self loved the signage and plaques demarcating the memorable parts of town.

Things to do in Florence, Oregon - Siuslaw River
Take time to enjoy the Siuslaw River, while you visit Florence, Oregon.

Walk By The Dock

Once I moseyed through the city center, I walked along the water and the dock on the other side of town where there was fresh fish being sold straight from the boat. Everyone seemed to know each other and was friendly and talkative with passers-by. There was a market set up on the other side of the street with fresh produce and local handmade goods, jewelry, and professional photographs for sale.

Visit Florence, Oregon and walk on the dock
Enjoy a relaxing stroll by the dock while you take a break from all the fun things to do in Florence, Oregon.
Things to do around Florence, Oregon is to shop at the market by the docks
Another on of the great things to do around Florence, Oregon, shop at the artisan market by the docks.

Stop For Ice Cream

One of the many fun things to do in Florence, Oregon is to stop for some delicious ice cream. On my way back from the docks to the main stretch of town, I stop in at an old-fashioned ice cream shop, called BJ’s Ice Cream Parlor. Apparently, it’s one of the classic places to eat in Florence, Oregon and very much a local favorite, I could imagine a lot of people working here when they were in high school.

Even though it’s a chain, it came off as a family-orientated business and they had some outrageously fun flavors. I went with a type of pistachio ice cream that the guy behind the counter recommended, it was delicious!

Places to eat in Florence, Oregon, BJ's Ice Cream
Indulge at one of the classic places to eat in Florence, Oregon, BJ’s Ice Cream Parlour.

Enjoy The Food In Florence, Oregon

What to do in Florence, Oregon? Eat! The food in Florence, Oregon is to die for. I had a chance to try one of the restaurants by the time lunch rolled around. Florence has some great seafood options being so close to the water, so I went for a mouthwatering crab melt for lunch and read more about what there was to do in town. My agenda quickly settled on two points of interest: sea lions and sand dunes.

The food in Florence, Oregon - seafood restaurants.
The food in Florence, Oregon is amazing. Stop into one of the town’s restaurants for some of the best seafood you have ever had.

Sea Lions

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.

What do to in Florence, Oregon, visit the Sea Lion Cave
The Sea Lion Caves is a beautiful stop and one of the top fun things to do in Florence, Oregon for any wildlife lover.

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.

Sea Lion Caves - Things to do in Florence, Oregon
The drive to the Sea Lion Caves is beautiful.

Sand Dunes

One of the great outdoor things to do around Florence, Oregon is visiting the sand dunes. The 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. If you are looking for some great hiking near Florence, Oregon you need to explore the sand dunes.

I didn’t go on one of the dune buggy tours in Florence, Oregon this time around but I did go hiking on the trail that led through the dunes in and down to one of the nicest Florence, Oregon beaches. I hadn’t seen the beach in a good few months so I just sat there for a while to enjoy the view and the breeze.

Sand Dunes - Florence, Oregon attractions
One of the top Florence, Oregon attractions is the sand dunes.
Sand Dunes in Florence, Oregon - hikes near Florence, Oregon
This is a great location for hiking near Florence, Oregon.

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 is home to some of the best hikes near Florence, Oregon.

Florence, Oregon beaches
The sand dunes are also home to some of the best beaches in Florence, Oregon.

Overall, Florence was the best seaside escape for a day trip. There are so many wonderful things to do in Florence, Oregon and around the city. It feels like the real Oregon in its small-town nature and raw beauty. Next time I would love to have more of a chance to explore the Florence sand dunes and the best beaches in Florence, Oregon. In any case, I wanted to share this special spot with you guys, it is a fond memory of my time in Oregon this past summer.

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 Wi-Fi as well as a room with a TV and a microwave. The Chateau Inn is about 11 miles from the Sea Lion Caves and other Florence attractions.

Old Town Inn 

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 the 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, be a comfortable environment, and be impeccably clean.

Best Western Pier Point Inn 

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 bank 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 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 Oregon coast, right on the Siuslaw River and north of the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area.

Directions to Florence, Oregon From Portland 

  1. Get on I-5 S from SE 7th AveSE 8th AveRoss Island Bridge, and OR-43 S
  2. Follow I-5 S to OR-126 W/W 11th Ave in Eugene
  3. Follow OR-126 W to 18th St in Florence

How far is Florence, Oregon from Portland? 

It is about a three-hour drive from Florence to Portland.

Directions to Florence, Oregon From Eugene

  1. Take Coburg Rd and E 4th Ave to E 6th Ave
  2. Follow OR-126 W to Spruce St in Florence
  3. Follow Spruce St to 18th St

How far is Florence, Oregon from Eugene? 

The drive from Florence to Eugene is about an hour and fifteen minutes.

Anyone else looking forward to nice weather and more road trips soon!?  Yay spring! 

PRACTICAL INFO FOR FLORENCE

Find accommodationbook your rental car, or sign up for a local tour.

Book a vacation rental on AirBnB (and get $40 off your first booking).

Buy your Oregon Travel Guide here.

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A Day Trip to Florence, Oregon - USA Travel

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Travel Writer/Blogger at The Atlas Heart
Mimi founded The Atlas Heart to create a community of travelers inspired to see the world. The Atlas Heart is a space where you'll find anecdotes on slow travel, craft beer, outdoor adventures, and all the eccentric bits in between that this world has to offer.
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11 comments

    1. It really is, I’m only just discovering the Pacific Northwest more now with the slightly nicer weather. I need to explore more of the Washington coast soon – it sounds like the perfect spot to get married!

  1. I have been there! I lived in Eugene for a couple months in 2014 and took a day trip to Florence. Once there, I realized I had been there before many years earlier on a trip with my aunt! Beautiful pictures!

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