Things to do in Florence.
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17 BEST Things To Do in Florence, Oregon

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There are plenty of things to do in Florence, Oregon for all of you adventurous souls out there!

Tackle some beautiful coastal hikes, take on the incredible Oregon dunes via sandboarding or dune buggies, and you can even chase some waterfalls.

Florence is ideally located along the coast because it’s almost right in the middle, meaning you can access tons of other awesome coastal locations from here. Florence is just over an hour away from Eugene as well, making it super easy to get to and from inland Oregon.

Here are all the exciting adventures you can have while visiting Florence, Oregon!

Things To Do in Florence, Oregon

A map of things to do in and around Florence.
Click the image to do the clickable map of things to do in Florence, Oregon

✋ HOLD UP! Don’t Forget…

You need some wheels! It’s nearly impossible to get around the USA and check out the best adventures without a car! Here are our top recommendations…

🚗 Rent a car

If you don’t have your own, renting a car is your best bet!

👉 Find Deals on Cars and SUVs

🚐 Rent a home on wheels

For the more adventurous, rent a van or RV and ditch the hotel.

👉 Find The Best Van For Your Trip

1. Discover the Magic of the Sea Lion Caves

The Sea Lion Caves in Oregon are pretty wild. We are talking about huge sea caves that often feel the force of the battering ocean. These caves are actually the largest sea caves in The US, so that is a pretty cool claim to fame, and surely enough to make you want to add it to your list of things to do in Florence.

As the name suggests, the caves are the perfect spot to see some blubbery friends splashing about in the water and on the surrounding rocks.

Sea lions basking on a rock inside Sea Lion Cave near Florence.
Aren’t these sea lions adorable?

The Steller sea lions are here all year round, so you have a good chance of seeing some no matter the time of year you visit, although the winter months are probably best if you want to see the spectacle of literally hundreds of creatures inside the cave.

You’ll have to pay for a ticket if you want to visit, but it is well worth it as the experience is truly unique. Your entrance fee also includes a number of nice coastal walking paths, so you can easily spend half a day here. This is a natural spectacle, not a zoo, so you can feel confident supporting this attraction.

2. Hike Heceta Head and Hobbit Trail

Distance: 3.6 miles
Type of Trail: Out & Back
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation Gain: 1,003 feet

It may sound like you are off to Mordor, but the Hobbit Trail is actually a cute little hike by Heceta Head near Florence. You’ll be hiking from Hobbit Beach all the way up to Heceta Head, where we can’t be held responsible if the views take your breath away.

Heceta Head Lighthouse perched on a headland along the Oregon coastline.
Heceta Head Lighthouse has a stunning setting on the Oregon Coast

The trail is beautiful and covered in thick moss, creating an atmosphere that actually could be compared to some of the scenes from Lord of the Rings!

Hobbit Beach is pretty stunning, with various marine life and driftwood and some cool faces carved into the hard-packed sand along the cliff face when we were here.

Hiking trail through forest with sign on right hand side at Heceta Head.
Add Hobbit Beach trail to your list of things to do in Florence

Once you’ve had your fill of the beautiful beach, head back to the trail and follow it back to the original trailhead and up to Heceta Head. You’ll be heading uphill for the majority of the hike, but remember, that just means you will be going downhill on the way back, so don’t give up!

TIP: Be sure to make time to explore Heceta Head lighthouse on the hike, as you can take a short tour inside and have a look around.

READ MORE: Exploring Heceta Head Lighthouse, Beach, and Trail!

3. Spend a Day or Two at Jessie M. Honeyman Memorial State Park

If you’re looking for a beautiful state park not too far from Florence, you’re pretty much covered with Jessie M. Honeyman.

A cabin on the shores of Cleowax Lake with a backdrop of pine trees in Jessie M Honeyman Memorial State Park.
A cabin on the shores of Lake Cleowax

With sand dunes, hiking trails, two huge lakes, and plenty of opportunities for nature sighting and so much more, it has much everything you want from a park, and that’s before even mentioning that on one side it is bordered by the rugged Pacific Ocean.

Although the ocean is pretty impressive, the lakes are the real highlight here. You can go swimming in the summer, or utilize the boat ramp and explore every corner of the oddly shaped Lake Woahink.

Person walking on beach in the distance on a foggy day at Jessie M. Honeyman State Park.
Us running down the dunes at Jessie M. Honeyman State Memorial Park

If you want to spend the night, it is the ideal place to pitch a tent, as it is home to the second-largest state park campground in Oregon. There are over 350 places to stay the night. This is our fav campsite to base at while exploring Florence.

4. Take a Whale Watching Tour

One of the most magical things to do in Florence is actually one of the most magical things to do in the whole of Oregon! Take a whale-watching tour for a chance to see some of these majestic beasts in the wild.

Whale tail surfacing from the ocean during a whale tour in Florence.
Don’t miss whale watching – one of the best things to do in Florence, Oregon

There are a few places near Florence where you may be able to spot whales from the shore, such as Heceta Head and Cape Perpetua. However, for the best experience, we really recommend a tour since it gets you out there in the deep blue sea for a closer look.

The prime months to see whales are March to June and then December to January, as this is when the whales migrate right through the area on an epic 12,000-mile journey. With around 18,000 whales making the trip every year, you have a good chance of spotting some.

5. Stroll Around Old Town Park

Situated along the Siuslaw River, Old Town Park is the perfect place for a relaxing stroll. This historic spot wasn’t always a park—it was once the old ferry landing before the Siuslaw River Bridge was built.

Small, white bandstand framed by trees next to the lake in Old Town Park in Florence.
Enjoy a stroll at Old Town Park

The main draw here is the scenic views, which can be best seen from the little viewing deck looking out across the water and the bridge. There’s not a whole lot to do here other than take in the views, but it’s a nice spot to come and get some quiet time in nature without leaving the city center.

6. Visit the Siuslaw Interpretive Center

For more great views of the river and bridge, make your way to the Siuslaw Interpretive Center. The center is comprised of informational placards, some art, and some great scenery.

There’s even a short trail along the river that leads to some benches right underneath the bridge. As you meander around the area, you can admire local native plants, which are part of a rain garden that naturally filters runover water from the roads before it goes into the river.

Tables and chairs with a view of a concrete bridge at Siuslaw Interpretive Center in Florence.
Check out the view from the Siuslaw Interpretive Center

UPDATE: We were just here in 2023, but Google Maps now has this spot marked as closed! The trail and outside areas are still available.

7. Hit the Beach at Exploding Whale Memorial Park

The Exploding Whale Memorial Park is aptly named after an incident that took place in the ’70s – a dead whale washed ashore, and the only way to get rid of it was… to explode it with a bunch of dynamite?!

Luckily, there’s no evidence (read: blubber) of this interesting solution present today—just a sandy beach and some views of the Siuslaw River Bridge and the sand dunes to the south. This is a great spot for beach bumming, picnicking, and simply wandering.

8. Explore the Oregon Dunes

If you’re staying around Florence, then you’ll easily be able to squeeze a visit to the Oregon Dunes into your trip, or at least a part of it. The dunes stretch for an incredible 40 miles, with some of the towering piles of sand reaching around 500 feet.

Boy in red enjoying sandboarding at Oregon Dunes.
The tall sand dunes make them perfect for sandboarding

If you’re feeling a little bit daring, why not give sandboarding a go? Essentially, you’ll be sliding down the dunes on a board, which is great fun! With hills of varying levels, this is an activity that can be enjoyed by everyone.

When you're exploring at the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, make sure you go to the South Jetty area.
But a hike along the beach will give you just as much of a workout

If you would prefer to stay safely on two feet, then there are also a number of trails through the sand that give you some unique dune viewing vantage points. The John Dellenback Trail is a favorite, as you’ll not only be able to navigate the dunes but also the beach area.

READ MORE: Your Adventure Guide to The Oregon Dunes

9. Kick Up Dust on a Dune Buggy Tour

One of the best ways to see the Oregon dunes is via a dune buggy tour. They are so much fun and allow you to cover a lot of ground in a much shorter amount of time than walking would!

There are a couple of different tours you can take, but if you don’t mind sharing with a few others, the Giant Dune Buggy is a good one, as it covers around 8 miles of dune and 2 miles of beach.

Dune buggy riding sand dunes at Sand Lake Recreation Area near Pacific City.
A dune buggy ride is one of the best things to do in Florence for adventurers

You’ll ride up and down the dunes with someone else doing all the tricky driving for you. You can sit back and enjoy the undulating landscapes and try and fail to take the perfect selfie with the wind whipping your hair up into a frenzy.

If you want a buggy for yourself, there are options for this as well via a sand rail tour, made for excitement seekers.  You’ll be driven around by a skilled driver, and the ride is catered to your preferences and where you want to go. Usually, around 12-14 miles will be covered. 

10. Discover Carnivorous Plants at Darlingtonia State Natural Site

Darlingtonia State Natural Site is one of the most unique protected areas in the state. This small 18-acre site was created to protect a single plant species – the Darlingtonia californica, also known as the cobra lily.

Nina walking along a wooden boardwalk in the forest by a huge information sign in Darlingtonia State Natural Site.
A walkway in Darlingtonia State Natural Site

This is a carnivorous plant species, meaning exactly what you think it means—this flower eats meat. Okay, it’s just insects, so it’s not as scary as it sounds. The plants are actually quite beautiful (they need to be to attract all those bugs) with long hollow tubes and vibrant-colored leaves.

Close up of a group of carnivorous plants in Darlingtonia State Natural Park.
A group of cobra lilies

We loved this easy, short trail with its weird flowers; it was a nice switch-up!

TIP: Visit in the spring if you want to see the cobra lily in full bloom.

11. Go Back in Time at the Siuslaw Pioneer Museum

Interested in the history of Florence? Head to the Siuslaw Pioneer Museum and check out what life was like in this region from the mid-1800s up to the 1950s.

There are a variety of exhibits showcasing artifacts from different time periods, including the logging and fishing industries, household items, authentic dug-out canoes, and more.

Outside of the Siuslaw Pioneer Museum in Florence.
Check out the Siuslaw Pioneer Museum

This is one of the cheapest things to do in Florence—tickets are just $5 a pop!

Things to Do Nearby Florence

If you have the time, there are some great things to do in the area surrounding Florence. Here are some of our favorites…

12. Chase Waterfalls at Sweet Creek Falls

Distance: 1.9 miles
Type of Trail: Out and Back
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation Gain: 295 ft
Northwest Forest Pass Required

Chasing waterfalls often involves conquering steep trails, but not so with Sweet Creek Falls! This is a really easy trail with a few ups and downs along the way, making it one of the best things to do in Florence if you want to get outdoors without committing to a serious hike.

Nina in a yellow puffer jacket sitting on a rock in front of a waterfall along the Sweet Creek Falls trail.
Nina enjoying her time at Sweet Creek Falls
Nina crossing a wooden bridge in the middle of the forest along the Sweet Creek Falls trail.
This trail is one to enjoy!

As you walk along Sweek Creek Trail, you’ll come across a whopping 11 waterfalls! Now, these falls aren’t massive, but they do make a nice accompaniment to this easy trail. In addition to the falls, you’ll pass by bridges, metal walkways, and tons of lush green scenery underneath the dense forest canopy.

NOTE: Start at the Homestead Trailhead to walk the whole trail or “cheat” a bit and park just a bit further up to sneak into just the last bit of the trail to see the last (and largest) of the falls.

13. Throw Back Pints at Two Shy Brewing in Reedsport

What better way to finish off your trip to Florence than by visiting the local watering hole and throwing back a few pints with the locals? Two Shy Brewing is a nice little brewery in the nearby town of Reedsport, with great beers and good vibes.

Customers at the bar at Two Shy Brewing in Reedsport.
Throw back a pint or two!

The original brewery is in Roseburg, but this annex is just as good as the OG. We had quite a few beers here, and there are tons of options to pick from. There isn’t any food available onsite, but the brewery partners with a nearby pizza place if you get hungry while you’re drinking (which we can also confirm is delicious).

14. Hoof It to Kentucky Falls

Distance: 3.7 miles
Type of Trail: Out & back
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation Gain: 895 feet
Northwest Forest Pass Required

Everyone loves a waterfall, so the fact that there are a few really impressive ones around Florence just adds to the many reasons you should pay it a visit. Kentucky Falls is spectacular and is one of the best things to do near Florence.

A long exposure of Kentucky Falls seen from the bottom of the waterfall.
A hike to Kentucky Falls is worth it!

The falls can be reached by the Kentucky Falls Trail. There are three waterfalls along this trail, and all are stunning, with huge cascades of water tumbling over the moss-covered cliffs.

It’s not just the waterfalls that are spectacular on this trail. The hike is wonderful regardless. You’ll be heading through old-growth Douglas fir forests, which are part of a 4,000-acre area. It is one of the largest intact forest areas in the Coast Range, so make the most of it.

The tall Kentucky Falls seen from the trail and framed by trees.
Get a glimpse from the trail!

TIP: Getting out here is TRICKY! Take care, and don’t fully trust Google Maps. We have a guide coming soon…

15. Spend a Day Hiking at Golden and Silver Falls State Natural Area

Don those hiking boots and get ready for a day on the trail at Golden and Silver Falls State Natural Area. You won’t have to go far to see the waterfalls.

It does tend to take a while to reach this natural area, as you’ll have to take the windy forest roads to reach it, but with harder-to-reach destinations comes fewer crowds, and that’s always a good thing.

Golden and Silver Falls is an Oregon waterfall duo.
Golden and Silver Falls

The falls plunge over 100-foot cliffs, and when you’re done wandering around, there is a nice little picnic area, so you can really make a day of it and escape city life, at least for a while.

16. Drive North on Highway 101 to Yachats

If you’re continuing your Oregon road trip along Highway 101, continue north up to the charming town of Yachats. This has yet to become a full-fledged tourist destination, so visit before the cat’s out of the bag!

Aerial drone view over the town of Yachats in Oregon.
Take time to explore Yachats!

Small though it is, Yachats has all the makings of a great Oregon coast town, with stunning views, hiking trails, and a cute little downtown area.

17. Make a Pit Stop at Cape Perpetua and Thor’s Well

On your way up to Yachats, be sure to stop at Cape Perpetua. You could spend an age just standing on the cape and taking in the view, where the rock formations seem to stretch for miles.

Nina standing by the ocean at Cape Perpetua besides a forest covered in low cloud.
The rugged landscape of Cape Perpetua is just a short drive from Florence

There are around 26 miles of trails to explore if you are feeling up to it, or if not, no worries! Most of the ‘attractions’ can be driven to, so you can still take in most of what the cape has to offer.

If there is one thing to see while you are there, make it Thors Well. This natural wonder never fails to amaze, no matter how many times you see the waves bursting up through the 200-foot hole in the rock. The best way to see it is via the Captain Cook Trail.

Sea water draining out from Thor's well in Oregon on an overcast day.
Sea water draining from Thor’s Well

This is just one of many things to do in Cape Perpetua, so if you have more time, add Sprouting Horn, Cooks Chasm, and Cook Point to your bucket list. You should also make a quick stop at Devil’s Churn, or alternatively, take a walk on the beautiful Giant Spruce Trail. There’s seriously so much to do here!

READ MORE: 9 Things to Do in Cape Perpetua, Oregon

Where to Stay in Florence

  • Old Town Inn – For a simple place right in the middle of the action, this is the spot!
  • Park Motel and Cabins – This is a budget-friendly place also right in the center of downtown Florence.
  • River Vista – This is a stunning home right on the river with a deck that offers remarkable views of the river!
  • The Tides – This two-bedroom condo is a perfect place to relax and have amazing views of the river from your own private balcony.

👉 More Accommodation in Florence

We hope this post helped you better explore Florence, Oregon! Check out more posts on the Oregon Coast and even more adventures around the state.

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