To non-Oregonians, it may seem counterintuitive to head to the beach in the midst of a winter storm—but our coastal tempests are an experience worth driving for. Indeed, with prime Pacific access along Oregon’s coast, it isn’t difficult choosing a spot to post up and cower in awe of nature’s fearsome wrath. We’ve selected our favorite locations to witness the oncoming storms.
At this state park situated 200 soaring feet above the ocean, you will be all up in that storm. This 240-acre state park just south of Tillamook Bay provides visitors with unparalleled lookouts for storm viewing and whale watching during the spring. Come prepared with your sturdiest rain gear and a change of clothes. Once you are emotionally spent from the turmoil of the storm, steel yourself with free curd samples at the Tillamook Cheese factory then head north to the Inn at Manzanita. We dig the Mariner Room, with cedar walls and a Jacuzzi tub. (Fun fact: This park has both Oregon’s shortest lighthouse and largest Sitka Spruce.)
This popular summer beach is even better (and emptier) during storm season. Score an oceanfront room at the Stephanie Inn that offers guests first-rate views of Haystack Rock rising 235 feet out of the water. Order off their room service menu in preparation of the natural show or head to Ecola State Park and look out upon the waves cashing against rock formations and capes that lay miles to the south.
Fort Stevens State Park
Originally used as the primary defense installation at the mouth of the Columbia, Fort Stevens saw 84 years of military service from the Civil War to World War II. Now the 4,300 acre park offers a variety of habitats from wetlands to dunes. Reserve one of the eight cabins or the ten yurts that are available to visitors year-round, offering warm refuge to retreat to after returning from the shores.
This coastal town (newbies: it's pronounced YAH-hahts) offers much to the eager storm watcher. Relax at the luxurious Overleaf Lodge & Spa situated on cliffs that provide an unparalleled lookout for approaching squalls. Head to the spa for a full body massage in between Mother Earth’s dramatic displays. On your way home, grab pastries at Bread & Roses Bakery to sweeten the return trip.
Around two and a half hours out of the city, the world’s smallest navigable harbor offers stormy sites that will not disappoint. Put your feet up at the boutique Whale Cove Inn, where in addition to break-taking coastal scenery, you'll enjoy some seriously local, innovative modern fare at Restaurant Beck, helmed by chef Justin Wills, a James Beard semi-finalist.