By Melissa Epifano

It is often hard to explain the connection that people have to the ocean. It may be a longing for sandy toes and salty hair. Or perhaps it’s the desire for a brief escape from mundane routines to a place where simply watching the waves is meditative. Florence, located about an hour west of Eugene, is just the place to satisfy your urge for a trip to the Oregon Coast. You can visit the barking sea lions in their caves, darting in and out of the churning water. Tall, windblown sand dunes serve as a prime location for hours of fun. And you can even stroll down the boardwalk near the Siuslaw River to observe the fishermen and their boats. Finding things to do in Florence isn’t an issue—narrowing down your list is the hard part.

Food can easily add positive memories to a trip, so starting out your day with a delectable breakfast at Little Brown Hen Cafe is a must-do. A piping hot plate of their rooster scramble with fluffy pancakes or a savory crab omelet will keep you feeling comfortably full and warm long after you’ve eaten.

After a warm meal and a brisk walk on the beach, Siltcoos Lake Resort should be the next stop on your itinerary. Boating is their specialty, and they have plenty of options, depending on the type of adventure you are seeking. They have canoes for a serene trip around the lake, double kayaks for exploring with a friend, and docks if you happen to have your own motorboat. You can fly off a rope swing into the lake or hike around in the forest that surrounds it.

After some fun in the water, head to happy hour at 1285 Restobar. The mod dining area is the perfect space for indulging in everything from a melt-in-your-mouth cheese pizza to a plate of buttery, parmesan-crusted salmon. Their ample wine and beer list circles the world, including some of the best brews and vino from the Pacific Northwest and Italy.

Once you’ve recharged, meet your pilot at Apex Helicopters, where a breathtaking sunset ride will provide views that you just can’t experience from the ground. If you’d rather see these panoramas during the day, the company offers a variety of tours, and not just around Florence. You can take in the splendor of the North Coast and all of its rocky jetties, long bridges, and turquoise seascapes, for example, or you can admire the South Coast and its soft dunes, shimmering lakes, and quaint coastal towns.

A dinner at Homegrown Public House is just as cozy and warmhearted as any meal you’d have at home. Starting with cheesy garlic fontina fries is a good bet for a happy stomach. Follow that with their juniper-and-maple-glazed pork chop or wild salmon and mushroom risotto; your taste buds will thank you with either option. Their ingredients are sourced from local farms and businesses. Finish off your dinner with a Homegrown cocktail, like the indulgent chocolate hazelnut martini.

While you could turn in for the night at a hotel or beachfront condo, there’s also a much more adventurous (and nautical) option. The Heceta Head Lighthouse Bed & Breakfast offers guests a chance to live like a lighthouse keeper for a night or more. With windows overlooking the endless sea and a stunning view of the stars at night, you can’t get much closer to an Oregon Coast experience than that.

1285 Restobar

1285 Bay St., Florence


Apex Helicopters

2001 Airport Way, Florence


Heceta Head Lighthouse B&B

Hwy. 101 between Florence and Yachats


Homegrown Public House

294 Laurel St., Florence


Little Brown Hen Café

435 US-101, Florence


Siltcoos Lake Resort

82855 Fir St., Westlake