How to Visit the Oregon Coast on the Cheap

In this article: Looking for budget friendly travel tips? Here are some pointers on how to visit the Oregon Coast on the cheap!

Update: This post was originally published in August, 2018. Since it is approaching peak vacationing season, I thought it might be fun to stroll down memory lane to the vacation we took on the Oregon Coast. It may help you if you are considering this beautiful location for a vacation, too. We had a great time and highly recommend it!

My husband and I love to travel. Unfortunately, our previous line of work made Summer vacations out of the question.

That all changed last year.

Exactly a year ago today, we loaded ourselves into the car and headed out for our first summer vacation since our honeymoon in 1990.

Destination? The Oregon Coast!

We had more time than money (ha!), so we tried to think of ways to be as budget friendly as possible, without being miserable pinching pennies.

On this anniversary of our trip, I thought it would be fun to dig out the pictures and list some of the things we learned.

How to Visit the Oregon Coast on the Cheap

1. Map out a Plan

Before we even left our house, we spent some time with a map and determined a basic plan. We aren’t detailed vacation planners, but having a rough idea in place is helpful.

We knew we didn’t want to rush our time, so we planned our stops near the north end of the coastline. With only 5 nights to stay, we chose to only go as far South as Waldport.

Since we were travelling from Montana (after visiting my sister), our first scenic stop was in Multnomah Falls.

tall waterfall with tree in foreground

As a long time lover of waterfalls, I enjoyed this stop very much. Despite wildfires being close by and the sky filled with a smokey haze, it was a beautiful site.

rock wall beside a walking path

2. Reserve Accommodations

Friends warned us that we should reserve accommodations early as the area is SO BUSY with tourists in the Summer.

We wish we would have heeded their advice earlier.;)

We quickly realized that even old, simple hotels are very pricey.

Air BnB is a cheaper alternative, but by the time we started searching for them, they were very picked over.

We did manage to find a cute little cottage in Tillamook through Air BnB, and we absolutely loved it! The hosts were friendly, but let us have our privacy too. The cabin itself was detached from the house with a wrap around porch. This Air BnB experience was our first, and it was wonderful.

Beyond that one Air BnB stay, though, we found little  nothing remotely in the “budget friendly” area of accommodations.

So, although I am not a camper, much to my husband’s surprise, I suggested we pack our tent and save ourselves some super big bucks.

A devout camper friend of ours highly recommended KOA campsites, so we booked 2 locations online a few months before we actually hit the road.

Here was where we stayed:

Air BnB [that’s my affiliate link. If you sign up with it, you should get a little money off your first stay. Let me know if it doesn’t work for you.]: Tillamook 2 nights ~ Unfortunately the cute little cottage we stayed at is no longer listed as an Air BnB property.


Waldport/ Newport KOA – 2 nights

Lincoln City KOA – 1 night

I’ll totally admit that I’m not the keenest camper in the world. But, I’m tellin’ you what, the money we saved made it totally worth it. Only having to spend 30$ a night verses over $200 per night (for something not very nice) worked fine for us!;)

3. Enjoy exploring

lady standing on a path in a park with ferns and trees
Munson Falls Trail, Tillamook

The Oregon coastline is really something to see. Beauty is around every bend.

tall trees with a meandering path
Munson Falls Trail, Tillamook

We purposely planned our stays to be 2 nights in one place so we had time to leisurely explore the areas.


a man looking at a waterfall
Munson Falls

If you are looking for cost saving activities, exploring trails and pulling over on scenic outlooks don’t cost a penny!

the ocean splashing against a rocky cliff

In fact, some of our favorite memories were stopping to see what was the scenic lookouts were all about!

greenery with the ocean behind
Depoe Bay

In fact, at this stop, we watched a whale feeding below for quite some time…

sea grass with the ocean behind

We enjoyed sauntering through little towns and beaches…

white caps on the ocean with a tall rock standing in the middle
Rockaway Beach
a sandy beach with cars and people on it
Cars parked on the Pacific City Beach!

…and visiting iconic places we’d only seen pictures of.

the ocean with a big rock in it ~ Haystack Rock in Canon Beach
Haystack Rock, Canon Beach
fence by the beach made with posts and rope
Cannon Beach

4. Tour A Lighthouse

Lighthouses dot the edge of the coastline. You find a list of all the Oregon lighthouses here.

We chose to take a tour of the Yaquina Head Lighthouse.

Lighthouse standing on a rocky cliff ~ Yaquina Head Lighthouse
Yakquia Head Lighthouse

It was fascinating!

oil lantern by a window
Yaquina Head Lighthouse

A tour guide explained what the life of a lighthouse keeper used to look like. Then she led us up the stairs to the top.

black iron spiral staircase
Yaquina Head Lighthouse

I admit, those backless stairs and treads with holes freaked me out a bit. But, I made it almost all the way to the top (despite my terrible fear of heights…).

man looking out across the ocean with a lighthouse in the background

Although the wirefires of the summer left a haze in the sky nearly the whole time we were on the coast, we were glad to see little glimpses of blue every now and then.

5. Take Pictures

The Oregon Coast is a photographer’s dream. If you already own a camera (or iPhone), practicing new skills on beautiful scenery won’t cost you a dime.

cars parked on a sandy beach

And- bonus!- you just might end up with a photo you’d like to enlarge for your own art!

close up of white flowers with the ocean behind

6. Save money on meals by strategically plan meal times

coffee shop with bikes parked in the front

Since we live in a location that gets a ton of Summer tourists, we’ve learned a budget saving trick in the dining out department:

Eat in the nice restaurants at lunch time!

man sitting in a restaurant

The lunch menu is less expensive, and yet you get the beautiful atmosphere of  high end restaurants.

We dined at the Wayfarer Restaurant in Canon Beach for my birthday lunch. Our table looked out over the beach and Haystack Rock. It was beautiful and delicious! We also enjoyed lunch with a view at Georgie’s Beachside Grill in Newport.

Of course, in between those delicious lunches and simple suppers (like take out pizza or subway sandwiches), we were always on the hunt for cute and quaint coffee shops.

Even though we like to be careful with our money, eating out is one of our favorite parts of vacation.

We did try buying lunch items in the grocery store one day, but discovered we ended up paying as much as we would have at a fast food or sandwich place. So, we ditched that idea for the rest of the trip.

A Few More Tips

  • Be sure to pack a sweater and jacket. Those ocean breezes are really chilly on the Oregon beaches!
  • We weren’t aware that it is against the law to pump your own gas in Oregon. We just thought the gas station attendants were “old fashioned and friendly”… ha ha!:)
  • Be aware of the restroom situation. I’ve never traveled anywhere else where I’ve found it so difficult to find public restrooms! Scope out where the nearest restroom is well in advance of when you actually need to use it.
  • If we ever go again (and we’d like to) we’d spend some time in Astoria (we just drove through it) and Canon Beach. Those are two places we’d like to explore more.

Other Travel Posts:

Vancouver Island, BC, Canada – (where we live!)




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  1. What a beautiful place to visit, Rita, and not one that I would have thought of. Being out in nature is one of my favorite ways to spend a vacation. Love your budgeting tips! Eating at nice restaurants at lunch is a good one!

  2. That trip sounded marvelous! Thank you for your tips! Lunch at great restaurants is a great idea, because that can then be your main mels at cheaper $!
    We went to Canon Beach years ago and stayed there for 4 nights. We absolutely loved it. The beach there is a photograoher’s dream!

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