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Your guide to Florence
At once artsy and outdoorsy, the old fishing port of Florence ranks among the most scenic small cities on the Oregon coast. Co-op galleries, antique shops, and fish markets fill its walkable Old Town, a waterfront district with several blocks of restored 19th-century buildings. Florence’s popular historic core sits in the shadow of the art deco Siuslaw River Bridge, and outlying neighborhoods sprawl toward Heceta Beach. The city is the jumping-off point to the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, where you can wander the largest expanse of coastal dunes on the continent. Rivers, lakes, and towering mountains of sand make this a go-to destination for paddling, fishing, hiking, and, yes, sandboarding.
When is the best time to stay in a vacation rental in Florence?
Raincoats are your best friends here on Oregon’s Central Coast, known for its wet and temperate climate. July and August are the only months that typically receive little to no rain, when the sun shines bright and long. No wonder, then, that summer is the busiest season. You’ll still want to pack a windbreaker, as the average highs rarely exceed 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Rain falls more frequently starting in October. It intensifies through winter, when monthly rainfall averages more than 10 inches. While the drizzle does not often let up in the cooler months, temperatures won’t drop too much, either, with a typical high of 50 and average lows in the upper 30s Fahrenheit. Even though the usual winter and early spring forecasts do not call for freezing weather, you’ll still want to layer up with sweaters and wear your warmest waterproof gear, as the coastal air has an infamous chill this time of year.
What are the top things to do in Florence?
Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area
Wind-sculpted dunes pile as high as 500 feet along this 40-mile sandy stretch, which doubles as a playground for all kinds of outdoor activities. ATVs are the quickest way to see this ever-changing landscape, and sandrails and giant dune buggies zip up and down the hills like roller coasters. You’ll find “tree islands” (patches of forest) mixed in with the 31,500 acres of sand, as well as hiking trails, lakes, rivers, and marshes to explore.
Heceta Head Lighthouse State Scenic Viewpoint
Built in the late 19th century, this working lighthouse still shines its beam out to sea for some 21 nautical miles — warning ships of this especially rugged segment of the Oregon coast. The small state park that surrounds it, about 12 miles north of Florence, gives you one of the most photographed views along the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway.
Sea Lion Caves
This iconic roadside attraction opened in 1932 to give West Coast road-trippers easy access to one of the world’s largest sea caves. This privately owned wildlife sanctuary is a year-round home for Steller sea lions, whose barks and roars echo through the cave system.