Western Traveler

Bandon, Oregon

2014 was my first-ever opportunity to visit the spectacular Pacific Northwest.  Most of my Western jaunts had been to Utah and surrounding states, but when my friends the Campbell’s moved to Oregon, the door was open for yet another adventure into the unknown.

As is often the case on early visits to a new area we mixed in both wilderness and urban experiences.  This trip was no exception.  While cruising up the Pacific Coast Highway we ended up in a wonderful little town called Bandon.  Mostly we were taking time out for lunch and what better place than this scenic village right on the Coast.

Bandon #1

Located in Coos County, Oregon, Bandon sits on the south side of the mouth of the Coquille River which drains a mountainous area of 1,059 square miles of the Southern Oregon Coast Range into the Pacific Ocean.  With a population of just over 3,000, Bandon was listed as one of “The Coolest Small Towns in America” by Budget Travel, and having visited, I agree.

Bandon #5

We parked in the downtown area and began walking by several interesting local shops on our way to the ocean side park area.  As is always the case in Oregon, this town’s economy leaned heavily on the timber and fishing industries, which have diminished significantly in recent years.  Today; wood products, fishing, tourism and agriculture carry the economy.  One odd, but interesting thing to do in Bandon is storm watching as they roll in off the ocean.

Bandon #9

Our experience in Bandon was no less than awesome.  We spent about an hour touring the ocean side area, complete with countless wood carvings, cool gift shops, incredible restaurants with world-class seafood (by Kentucky standards).  We thoroughly enjoyed watching the locals and other tourists take in the scene; people walking everywhere, folks eating the wonderful fares offered and locals fishing off of the piers.  We even saw one guy pulling a crab pot out of the bay, complete with crab.

Bandon #2

Bandon #6

One item worthy of note is the care given to the architecture of this area, complete with ornate decorations of all kinds.  Even the sidewalks were elaborate murals of various stones and shells, fantastic by any definition.

Bandon #7

One feature I really enjoyed was the prevalence of wayside exhibits giving insight into the area.  There were many to read and learn from, making this a great place to take the kids to learn about life on the Coast.  Anytime you can visit a place that’s beautiful and informative, hard to beat.

Bandon #3

Adding to the experience was the abundance of wildlife, both in the air and in the water.  We saw countless birds, seals, and of course the catch of the day as they were reeled in or trapped.  This was a perfect seaside experience on a beautiful autumn day.  The warm sun, the smell of the ocean and the breezes bringing with them the aromas of countless edible treasures.

Bandon #4

Jeff and I stopped at Tony’s Crab Shack right on the ocean and had a fantastic lunch; he got fish tacos and I got a cod dinner.  I thought I’d had cod before but was mistaken.  The freshness and flavor of this made it clear that we don’t get anything resembling real seafood where I live, very sad.

Bandon #8

Before I wrap up this Travel Log, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Bandon is the undisputed Cranberry Capital of Oregon, raising 95% of the state’s supply, and about 5% of that of the US.  They grow and harvest about 30 million lbs. per year of the juicy treat.  Though we were a couple of weeks late, you may get the chance to check out their annual Cranberry Festival, held the second weekend in September.  Begun in 1946, this event draws folks from up and down the Pacific coast from California to Washington state.

If you get the chance to visit Bandon, do so.  This is a perfect example of life on the Oregon coast and this little town has it all.  Take time to eat, stroll the boardwalk, take in the sights and above all, breathe in that wonder ocean air.

Last modified on: May 26th 2017.
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