We started touring the Florence, OR area on Highway 101 20 miles or so north of town. The scenery is simply wonderful. The visitor center at the Cape Pepetua Scenic Area boasts a terrific windowed overlook of the ocean – it’s a popular spot for year around whale watching. We loved the great view of the ocean as awesome waves crashed into and over the rocks. The visitor center has a variety of exhibits. There’s a historical exhibit depicting a young Native American in costume of very early early inhabitants, a timeline of civilization of area, hands on nature activities for kids, documentary films, and a gift shop.
The nearby Heceta light house is very nice. The day we visited was clear and sunny. As we walked up the 1/2 mile trail we could see colony of common mears (a sea bird). We even saw whale spouts and then got a glimpse of the whale itself as it surfaced. At Strawberry point we saw a lot of sea lions lying on the rocks.
I enjoyed Old Town Florence with its variety of shops and restaurants. After visiting several shops we walked down onto the marina where we had good view of the historic bridge over Siuslaw river. While walking and enjoying the river we watched a harbor seal that seemed to be watching us. Across from the marina there was a small vegetable stand with good variety of vegetables.
Another day we decided to drive out to South Jetty. It was very windy when we were there and some hardy souls were kite boarding. Some of the waves coming up the river crashed against the jetty and sprayed us. I can understand why they have warnings posted about dangerous waves sweeping people away!
To the south of Florence, the Umpqua lighthouse is still operational and located inside the Coast Guard property. Although we didn’t go in tours are available through the Museum nearby. Across from the light house is a viewing platform from which whales are often spotted during the migration seasons.
On the recommendation of a friend we decided to go see Sweet Creek Falls. We drove to the trail head and then hiked about 45 minutes to the main falls. The creek has several small falls and rapids that we looked at along the way. The trail is a well marked, fairly easy trail. We saw families playing in some of the pools as we walked up the creek. At the main falls we ate lunch while sitting on rocks and enjoying the view. The trail was busy with families, couples and singles enjoying this locally known park.
We’ve enjoyed the cool weather and beautiful scenery here on the central coast of Oregon.