Lincoln City is one of those places that surprises you. It’s only seven miles long and a quarter of a mile wide with a population of just 8700, but it’s packed with unexpected delights. Most people encounter Lincoln City while they are driving the 101 along the Oregon Coast, and it makes a great home base for exploring the area.
Driving through, it is so unassuming that you would never know the town is a fantastic culinary destination (they even have their own culinary center), or that they are known around the world for their glass floats. Or–and this is a big one–you can horseback ride, walk your dog, and have bonfires right on the beach! Isn’t that a thrill? It was for me. Here are my seven top things to do in Lincoln City.
Every year in Lincoln City, “Float Fairies” hide over 3000 hand crafted glass floats along the beaches. It’s a beautiful ode to the old Japanese glass fishing floats that would wash up on the Oregon Coast beaches years ago. In the late 1990’s local artists got together with the city and created the tradition of Finders Keepers.
People come from all over the world to hunt for them and when you find one, you get to keep it. The bottoms of the floats are stamped with the year and “Lincoln City,” so they make a gorgeous and unique memento. It’s very exciting to spot the sparkling, colorful glass in the driftwood and sand and I know of no other place that has such a generous offering. Everywhere you go in Lincoln City, from restaurants to pubs and other businesses, you will see these displayed.
Horseback Riding on the Beach
Technically, this isn’t Lincoln City, it is Pacific City, but Green Acres Beach & Trail Rides is less than a half hour away and for me, it’s a must if you are staying in Lincoln City. I’d recommend this to someone who has never been on a horse, or to a more experienced rider because they have rides for both. The ride includes views of Haystack Rock, black beaches that have sand dollars everywhere, and Bob Straub State Park. You can read more about that experience HERE.
Horses from this stable are rescues, isn’t that wonderful? The owner of the stable took me to meet each horse and told me their personality quirks and backstory. She is passionate about caring for the horses and community. Some trail rides are those boring head to tail rides that just aren’t that great. This one was a blast and I enjoyed it all the more knowing how well the horses are loved cared for.
Also not technically in Lincoln City, but nearby Depoe Bay, Dockside Charters offers whale watching trips and deep sea fishing trips. Depoe Bay is the Whale Watching capitol of the Oregon Coast.
You can see them without going out–we saw them from our hotel–but if you take a charter, you can get up close enough to see the barnacles on them. We saw several whales and it was a thrill to get that different perspective of the area. Pro tip: dress warmly and if you are prone to sea sickness, you might want to take meds prior to heading out because it’s cold and can get choppy out there!
Glass Blowing Studio
After beachcombing for the glass floats, it was exciting to make my own at the Lincoln City Glass Center. Instructors are patient with you while you learn some of the basics. It’s a fascinating thing to watch and to do, and they are right there every step of the way, guiding you through each part of the process. You can pick what you want to make from bowls to floats, and there is also a shop attached so that you can purchase professionally blown glass pieces.
So if you don’t find a float on the beach, you can get one here or make your own. I do recommend making your own because I think it’s more special that way and it gives you an opportunity to learn what goes into creating glass art.
Bonfire on the Beach
Most beaches do not allow bonfires. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced one in my life, not right on the beach just a few feet from the ocean. That is a big thrill! I loved walking down the beach in the evenings and seeing a string of people sitting by their fires all the way down. Families roasting marshmallows, people huddled around enjoying the sunset…it was beautiful. Watching the dancing flames with the rolling waves behind is some serious A-grade bliss. It’s such a simple thing to do that is available to everyone, but the satisfaction level is primal.
Eat and Drink!
Lincoln City has some fantastic food and beer options. If you are anywhere near Lincoln City, and you are at all a foodie, you must sample the wonderful restaurants and brewpubs. That Fish & Chips is from Blackfish Cafe, which was funnily enough the impetus for my trip to Lincoln City. Every single meal we had in the town was excellent. They even have one of only three four-diamond restaurants in all of Oregon, The Bay House. You can read about my favorite food and drink picks HERE.
Lincoln City has the cutest little bowling alley called Olde Line Lanes. It’s from the 1930’s and has been recently renovated to perfection with a fabulous retro mid century modern George Jetson vibe. They make you feel incredibly welcome and serve up great beer and I hear the best pizza in town. I haven’t tried the pizza (yet–I will for sure go back there the next time I’m in town and let you know), but it sure did smell delicious. It is the sweetest, cutest, friendliest bowling alley I’ve ever been to–you’ve got to go. UPDATE: OMG. The pizza is crazy good! Read my full review HERE.
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