Only about two hours from Portland, the popular beachside town of Lincoln City is great for beach bums and adventure lovers alike! A ‘godly” hike, tide pools teeming with marine life, whale watching, the best damn salmon jerky you’ll ever have, epic surfing, bonfires, and more all await you here.
Here are some of the coolest and most adventurous things to do in Lincoln City, Oregon!
Things To Do in Lincoln City, Oregon
1. Devil’s Lake State Recreation Area
There are plenty of things to do at Devil’s Lake State Recreation Area to make use of the great outdoors. Kayaking is one of the most popular activities in Lincoln City, thanks to the pure abundance of water.
There are lakes, streams, estuaries, the ocean, and the bay in the surrounding area – it really is a kayakers paradise, with Devil’s Lake being a favorite spot.
The waters are calm and sheltered from the coastal winds, and the scenery is beautiful. Paddleboarding is another popular water-based activity, and in the summer months, grab your swimsuits and discover life under the water.
Devil’s Lake is a great fishing spot, with salmon, steelhead, rainbow trout, and largemouth bass in abundance. The hiking opportunities around the lake are beautiful, with several well-known short hikes to enjoy. The trails wind their way around the old forest and over the trickling springs.
Spring Lake Trail is one of the most scenic, with gorgeous views of the lake along the way. There are camping opportunities around the lake, with many sites in the campground right next door to the lake. Legend says that a great, tentacled creature resides within the lake, so watch out for that!
2. God’s Thumb Hike
- Distance: 4.3 miles
- Type of Trail: Out and back
- Difficulty: Moderate
God’s Thumb Hike is a must-do hike when looking for what to do in Lincoln City. You’ll see why the rocky outcrop was named God’s Thumb as soon as you set eyes on it, the way it juts up towards the heavens like a giant…thumb!
Covered in lush green grass, with stunning views of Lincoln City, when you reach the summit, it will be difficult to find a better hike in the area.
The Knoll is often skipped by people taking the hike, but it is worth stopping by if you can hunt out the trail that detours there, about a mile into the hike on your left. This spot will give you unparalleled views out over Lincoln City and the beach as far as the eye can see.
After visiting the Knoll, continue heading up through the thick forest for about another mile or so, and you’ll begin to hear the sounds of the waves below you. It won’t be long before God’s Thumb emerges in front of you.
This is where the real climb begins. The path is very narrow, so take care, and it’s very steep, but you won’t be climbing for too long. From the top, the views are even better, reaching all the way to Cascade Head.
3. Cascade Head Trail
- Distance: 6.3 miles
- Type of Trail: Out and back
- Difficulty: Moderate
The Cascade Head Trail is a 6.3-mile hike up a wild, foggy headland just north of Lincoln City. As you’ll see, the headland gets its name from the cascades that pour off the cliffs down into the sea below.
There are a few different trailheads you can use to begin this hike, with only the lower Nature Conservatory Trail open all year round. The others are shut from January through to July in order to protect the wildlife of the area. While hiking, be sure to stick to the paths and keep your pets at home.
The most used route starts at Knights Park, following a trail made up of wood shavings. After walking near the roadside for a while, you’ll begin climbing steeply through old-growth coastal forest.
You’ll cross a few streams and enter a tunnel of undergrowth before reaching the Nature Conservatory Land made up of headland meadow. Looking to the south, even here, the views are breathtaking. After several switchbacks, you should reach the 1200-foot upper viewpoint.
When you reach the head, you’ll be rewarded with views of craggy islands in the distance, a cove of frolicking sea lions, the Salmon River Estuary, and incredible views of the Pacific Ocean. If nature is your thing, the grassy headland is the home of an endangered species of butterfly, the Oregon Silverspot, so keep an eye out for it.
4. Harts Cove Trail
- Distance: 5.6 miles
- Type of Trail: Out and back
- Difficulty: Moderate
The Harts Cove Trail is a beautiful hike and makes for a great thing to do near Lincoln City; just make sure you visit between July 16th and December 31st when it is open to the public. The rest of the year, it is shut due to wildlife conservation.
It is the lesser-known of the two amazing hikes along the headland’s bluff, with the Cascade Head hike usually being more popular, yet this one shouldn’t be missed if you have the time.
This trail is not for the faint of heart, with different terrain and several elevation changes, yet once you stumble across beautiful Harts Cove, all the effort will be worth it. The cove is often filled with seals and sea lions, and even whales are frequent visitors to the area. Chitwood Falls cascades off the backside cliff, making for a very scenic outlook.
This scenic trail descends 900-feet in elevation, opposite to the many other hikes in the area where you’re heading up to a lofty viewpoint. Most of the way, you will be hiking through a rainforest made up of Sitka Spruce and Western Hemlock, crossing two seasonal creeks along the way.
5. Beaches and Surf
If sunsets, surf, and 7-miles of soft sand beaches are what you are looking for, Lincoln City has you covered. With more beaches than any other Oregon coastal town, there are plenty of beaches to go around, and the sand is just a stone’s throw from Highway 101. There are 17 beach accesses, making them very easy to get to.
There is so much to enjoy on the beaches. When the Pacific recedes, many colorful tide pools come into show, filled with mini oceans, and beachcombers will find all sorts of treasure buried within the sand, including the city’s famous hand-blown glass floats. More than 3,000 of these floats are placed on the beach every year, and those that find them get to keep them.
Big wave surfers tend to head to the Nelscott Reef for some of the most spectacular swells on this section of coast. Adrenaline junkies who are looking to kick the thrill up even further on a jet ski are welcome at both Devil’s Lake and Siletz Bay.
Sea kayaking and kiteboarding are also fun activities to try while in the area!
6. Siletz River
Kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboarding is a great alternative way to see the sights in Lincoln City. The adventures of Siletz Bay beckon, with plenty to explore, such as the Siletz Bay Wildlife Refuge.
When kayaking through the refuge, keep an eye out for a variety of birdlife, including green-winged teals, sandpipers, bald eagles, blue herons, and red-tailed hawk, to name a few.
If you’re lucky, you may even be able to see some of the river otters that call this part of Oregon home! There are organized tours that will take you on a two-hour adventure through the Millport Slough and Siletz River, which is a very fun activity in Lincoln City.
Moonshine Park is one of the best ways to access the water, located on the banks of the Upper Siletz River. Or just south of Lincoln City, boaters can launch from the southeast corner of Siletz Bay.
7. Fat Tire Biking
One of the most fun and unique things to do in Lincoln City is to hire some fat tire bikes and go cycling along the sand. The bikes allow you to explore the coastline in a whole new way, with over 7-miles of beaches to explore.
As the name suggests, the bikes have thick, 4-inch wheels that easily glide over the sand, especially tightly packed sand and other rough terrains.
Riding along the sand with the waves of the Pacific Ocean crashing alongside you is a pretty magical experience. The best place to rent fat tire bikes in Lincoln City is Safari Town Surf Shop, whether you want it just for a few hours or the whole day.
One of the best routes to take on your fat tire bike is to head north to explore the tide pools and the cape at Roads End Point, which is somewhere you can’t even get to by car. As you head north, you’ll pass many larger tide pools and cross a few streams.
You will know you have made it to the end of the beach when you literally can’t go any further, thanks to the towering cliffs blocking your way.
The hard-packed sand along the waterline is the most enjoyable to ride on, as it feels the most like riding on pavement while riding on softer sand will give you a proper workout. Before you go fat tyre biking, check the tides and try to go at as low a tide as possible, and beware of sneaker waves while riding.
8. Lincoln City Beach Bonfires
Is there anything more magical than having a bonfire on the beach? As long as you do it safely and adhere to the rules, you are allowed to have bonfires directly on the beach at Lincoln City, so you can roast your smores gazing up at the stars, and listening to the sounds of the waves.
The fires can’t be any bigger than 2′ by 2′, and you should be mindful to keep the fires away from beach grass and driftwood. When you’re done, extinguish the fire completely with water and always check the fire danger level before setting up your fire.
A beach bonfire is the best way to experience the beauty of this sandy stretch of shore, especially if you’re able to catch the sunset before it gets dark.
9. Tide Pools
There are fantastic places to go tide pooling on the Oregon coast, and Lincoln City is no exception. When the tide recedes, you never know what you’ll find hidden in the crevices of rocks and shallow pools of water.
The pools are full of life no matter the time of year, with tiny, bright starfish, darting fish, and swaying sea anemone, so it is no wonder it is one of the most popular activities in Lincoln City!
You’ll be able to see the tide pools either during or just before the low tide, so you’ll have to time it right if you want to have a go while in Lincoln City. You can always check the tide times before heading out. Although tide pools can be found all along this stretch of coast, there are some places that are better than others.
Some of the best pools can be found just north of Roads End Park along the beach. You can enjoy searching through the pools with some incredible views of Cascade Head as your backdrop.
Alternatively head to Inn at Spanish Head. The tide pools here are located in front of the resort and are very easy to find. Another spot to try is NW 15th Street, which has the most accessible tide pools in town.
10. Lincoln City
Lincoln City itself is an adventure for your taste buds. The bustling town has all sorts of culinary delights to cater to even the fussiest of eaters. Choices range from family-friendly to fine dining.
Mo’s Restaurant has been a city landmark for over 70 years, and you can dine while overlooking Siletz Bay. Its steaming bowls of chowder are said to be world-famous.
The town is made up of a series of districts including Roads End, Wacoma, Oceanlake, Delake, Taft, Nelscott, and Culture City, each of which has its own distinct character and treasures, and are worth exploring in their own right.
One of the best things you can get when visiting Lincoln City is some smoked or jerky salmon from Barnacle Bill’s! It’s going to be the best salmon you’ll ever have and it’s such good fuel for your adventurous days in the area.
Things To Do Nearby Lincoln City
11. Drifts Creek Falls
- Distance: 3 miles
- Type of Trail: Out and back
- Difficulty: Easy
When in the area, the 3-mile Drift Creek Falls Hike is a must-do thing to do in Lincoln City. It offers a little something for everyone, with an incredible waterfall, a huge suspension bridge, and stunning Coast Range Forests.
The trail is wide and well maintained which makes for a nice walking experience, but unlike many hikes, you’ll be heading down to reach the falls, meaning you’ll have a climb on the way back.
The trail starts by heading down through a forest of Douglas fir, Western hemlock, and Sitka spruce, crossing a few streams and heading around a valley in a u-shape. At this point there is a trail junction, the uphill trail is the North Loop and re-joins the main trail in 0.8 miles, and takes you further into the forest if you want to extend the walk.
Once you’ve re-joined the trail, you’ll continue on adjacent to trickling North Fork, and then at one point you’ll cross it via the small footbridge and continue on the other side. Soon you’ll arrive at the bridge you have been waiting for. The North Fork here is suddenly 66-feet into the gorge below, and the only way to cross is via the huge, swinging suspension bridge.
After crossing the bridge, it is just another quarter of a mile for the best views of the falls. The bench and boulders located at the bottom of a series of switchbacks make for a great resting spot, as you watch the impressive cascade of water. Once you’re ready you can head back the way you’ve come.
RELATED: 17 Breathtaking Oregon Coast Hikes
12. Devils Punchbowl
Devils Punch Bowl is the ideal name for this natural spectacle on the Oregon Coast. During winter storms, waves smash against the rock in the rock formation that’s hollowed out like a punch bowl. Watching the waves here is pretty impressive as they roar and foam.
It is likely that the ‘bowl’ was created by the collapse of two sea caves, then further shaped over time by the waves. It sits in a state natural area and is a popular place for whale watchers.
READ MORE: Devils Punch Bowl Oregon
13. Yaquina Head
Yaquina Head is an area of outstanding national beauty, and that’s hardly surprising. The headland is home to Oregon’s tallest lighthouse, amazing hikes, and tidepools teeming with life.
Yaquina Head reaches out a mile into the Pacific Ocean, formed by ancient lava flows. Harbor seals lounge on the low rock islands and the mass migration of gray whales can easily be seen from this lofty viewpoint.
Several miles of trails connect visitors to interpretive sites throughout the headland, with plenty of observation decks so you can take in the views. There is a trail that leads from the interpretive center to an observation deck, and it offers a dramatic vista of the ocean and Newport.
14. Depoe Bay
Depoe Bay is well known for many reasons. For a start, it has the world’s smaller harbor, and is also known as the ‘whale watching capital of the Oregon Coast’.
Every March through December, the whales come flooding past, therefore the town has built shore observation decks, a Whale Watch Center, and offers charter boats for a closer look.
The town is also known for its ‘spouting horn’ where when the weather is stormy, the geological features on the coast cause a massive spray of water into the air above Main Street, very much like the spray of water from a whale. The horn is a two-foot-wide underwater cave that funnels the incoming waves, soaking any pedestrians that happen to be walking by.
One of the most notable landmarks is the Depoe Bay Bridge, an iconic marker for both locals and tourists, placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005, and it certainly deserves a spot.
Neskowin is a charming coastal village, with 3-miles of beautiful beach stretching down the coast. Although small, the town has a friendly, welcoming feel, no matter the time of year you visit.
The beach stretches from the mouth of the Nestucca River to its southern tip, where the dramatic Cascade Head can be seen rising out of the surf. Cascade Head is one of the most popular hikes from Neskowin, but there is another trailhead at the Salmon River which gives you a different outlook of this stretch of coastline.
One of the most fascinating points of interest near town is the Ghost Forest, a 2000-year-old drowned forest that can be seen when the tide is right.
Proposal Rock is a magnificent sea stack that rises right off the beach and is crowned by a scrubby Sitka spruce woodland, with bald eagles resting in the trees.
Where to Stay Near Lincoln City
Camping: Devil’s Lake State Recreation Area
This lovingly restored combines a country feel with oceanfront living. The tranquil home with a private garden includes a jacuzzi and firepit for cozy nights, and is just a 3-minute walk from the beach.
Bright and Cozy Oceanfront Home
Enjoying stunning ocean views from its hilltop location, this cozy oceanfront home has a beachy theme and a bright and spacious interior.
A beautiful cabin situated right on Devils Lake with gorgeous lake and mountain views. Only minutes from Lincoln City and its beaches.
This stunning three-level home has spectacular views over Roads End and the water from its large windows and spacious deck. Enjoy the best of the coast with easy access to the beach and miles of hiking trails.
I’ve been perpetually traveling and living around the world for years but it’s hard to beat Oregon and the PNW. After years of road-tripping the area, I guess you can say I know it pretty well! When I’m not writing guides for you, you can catch me somewhere petting a dog, attempting to surf, hiking a volcano, or stuffing my face with bread and cheese.