A Look at the Southern Oregon Coastal Town of Port Orford
Port Orford, Oregon is one of those preverbal, “diamond in the rough” destinations. One does not typically expect such wonderful amenities from a smaller town, but this southern Oregon coastal community is not only worth a stop, it’s worth a stay. With a vibrant art scene hosting over a dozen galleries, a number of quality restaurants and some outstanding accommodations, Port Orford would make any discerning traveler feel comfortable, and might I add…at home. As a matter of fact, Port Orford laid claim to several Mike’s Road Trip “Best of 2010” awards.
Small in stature (only a few square miles), but unexpectedly authentic and rich in character, Port Orford presents mountainous forests uniting with rugged coastline. The Natural beauty will beckon your sense of discovery, you’ll find all kinds of nooks and crannies as you roam unbeaten paths. The sense of isolation with quality amenities is the perfect blend for those who desire a slower pace, coupled with tranquility.
Port Orford’s “claim to fame” if it were, is the fact that it’s the farthest westerly community (note: for those emailing me corrections, note that I said “community,” I realize that Cape Flattery is the farthest “point.”) in the contiguous U.S. and is the oldest town on the Oregon coast. Additionally, a famous skirmish was fought at Battle Rock, an iconic area landmark. A battle between Native Americans and soldiers in 1851 is how the landmark got its name and what signaled the start of the town. Battle Rock makes for a great hike and offers spectacular views of the coastline.
The Port of Port Orford is located in the heart of town—you’re actually able to drive down and park, which allows you to enjoy the views and the waves crashing against the jetty. This natural harbor has one of only two “dolly docks” in the U.S., where boats are lifted in and out of the water by huge cranes. Port Orford is a working fishing port and home to nearly thirty commercial vessels. There is a small restaurant, seafood processing plant and gift shop to visit as well.
There are a number of not-to-be-missed attractions in and around Port Orford, here is a list of some of the things I did during my visit:
- Heads State Park – This park has some spectacular trails that provide different vantage points high above the community and rugged coastline below, including views of Nellies Cove and various “heads (rock cropping off the coast)” in which the park derives its name. There is also a lifeboat museum to tour, however it was closed during my visit.
- Wetlands Interpretive Walkway – The boardwalk through the area shows you how the wetlands filter water into nearby lakes. This area is great for birdwatching.
- Agate Beach – This is a wonderfully long stretch of sandy beach…great for flying a kite, romantic strolls or laying out on a warm summer day.
- Cape Blanco Lighthouse– This park area is an awesome place to explore. The lighthouse was built in 1870 and is located 256’ above sea level. Unfortunately for me, the attraction was also closed during my visit, however there is still a lot to do and explore.
Dining Out in Port Orford…here are a few of the restaurants I enjoyed, all of which I would recommend:
- RedFish is a contemporary, first-class restaurant serving up northwest coastal cuisine, with a distinctly French flair. The views from RedFish are absolutely stunning (which pleasantly equal that of the cuisine), right in front of Battle Rock.
- Paula’s Bistro is a Port Orford staple…it’s a lovely restaurant serving French food in a casual, but whimsical atmosphere.
- Crazy Norwegians is also a local staple serving up quality casual food…their fish & chips are well known—as a connoisseur, I can attest that they are outstanding…not the best I’ve every had, but still very good. The Thai chicken salad is also quite good.
As far as local accommodations…from what I saw, there are several nice places to choose from. I happened to stay at WildSpring Guest Habitat, which is simply outstanding and made my “Best of 2010” list for the most romantic B&B. Click here to read my full review and to see a video overview of the WildSpring Bed and Breakfast.
If you are from, or have visited Port Orford, please post a comment below and share your experiences.