9+ Unusual Things to Do in Coos Bay

Unearth Coos Bay's fabled past through its maritime treasures, but what secret does the Historical Collection safeguard? Discover if...
Date Published
March 8, 2024

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Ever pictured yourself standing at the edge of the continent, with the salty breeze in your hair and a panorama that looks like a checklist of everything an outdoor lover craves? Yes, we're talking about Coos Bay—a place where history and nature intertwine to create a treasure trove of experiences. From paddling through the serene South Slough Reserve to the flash of a Dungeness crab caught at sunset, this is your playground for every whim and fancy. But what exactly sets Coos Bay apart? Is it the whispers of seafarers echoed in the historic sites or is it the rhythmic lighthouse beams that danced with countless starry nights?

Coos Bay is not just another dot on the map; it's a living, breathing gallery of the Pacific Northwest's charm. A place where adventure is served on a silver platter at places like Cape Arago Lighthouse and the wildlife calls to you from the Charleston Marina. It's here that farmers, artisans, and free spirits converge every week to the rhythm of the Coos Bay Farmers Market—a feast for your senses and a toast to the culinary scene that only locals can name. And let's not overlook the antique shops where history's hidden gems await the touch of a new generation.

But hold onto your hiking boots, because we're about to swing open the doors to a cultural and recreational adventure unlike any other. Your wanderlust-spirited itinerary starts right here, as

Uncover the Charm of Coos Historical Maritime Collection

Imagine you're diving into the depths of time, surrounded by tales of seafaring adventures and the salty scent of the Oregon coast. Well, that's exactly what you get at the Coos Historical Maritime Collection. With every step, you're sidestepping through history where maritime wonders come to life, and for anyone with a love for the sea, historic sites in Coos Bay like this are true treasures.

What makes this place unique? It's not just about old boats and dusty exhibits; it's an experience. Trust me, you’ll almost hear the distant calls of sailors and the creaking of wooden decks beneath your feet. This collection is the beating heart of maritime history in the region, and it's perfect for everyone – family folks, history buffs, and curious kids!

Now, don't just rush through. You’ll want to give yourself a solid hour or two to soak in all the stories and artifacts. Stroll around, snap some pics—this is your chance to get up close and personal with maritime history. And guess what? You're just a stone’s throw from other local gems. So once you've had enough of the past, step back into the present and enjoy the rest of Coos Bay's charming downtown.

Whether you're a local or just cruising through, Coos Historical Maritime Collection is a not-to-be-missed stop. And if you're coming with tykes, they’ll be in awe – because let’s face it, kids love anything that’s got to do with ships and the sea!

There's something truly romantic and awe-inspiring about the intertwining stories of sailors, the mighty Pacific, and the rugged Oregon coast. So, take a moment, breathe in that salty air, and embrace the legacy that's been preserved just for you and yours. And hey, while you’re at it, why not learn a sailor’s knot or two?

Paddle Away at South Slough Reserve

Picture yourself smoothly gliding across tranquil waters, the afternoon sun warming your face and the gentle sound of nature serenading your ears. That's what you get when you dive into Coos Bay's outdoor recreation at South Slough Reserve. Grab a paddle, hop onto a kayak, and leave your worries on the shoreline!

This reserve isn't your everyday pond in the backyard. It’s a natural treasure, perfect for those who crave the thrill of the paddle without being swept away by rapid currents. Whether you're going solo, with your better half, or the whole gang, South Slough offers something that feels just about custom-made for your kind of adventure.

Here's why you'll love it:

  • Peaceful and Scenic: With winding water trails framed by lush greenery, it's a heaven for peace seekers.
  • Wildlife Galore: Keep your eyes peeled for river otters playing tag and herons striking a pose. Wildlife watching here is second to none.
  • Perfect for Every Skill Level: Calm waters make it excellent for rookies and pros alike, ensuring a splendid time for all paddlers.

You don't need an entire day; a few hours at the South Slough can repaint your mood with brighter colors. Located just a splash away from the heart of Coos Bay, it's super easy to include in your day's itinerary. You might just find it's the perfect intermission between land-based excursions.

And hey, if you've worked up an appetite with all that paddling, the surrounding areas are peppered with charming spots to grab a bite. Indulge in the local flavors while sharing tales of your water-logged journey.

South Slough Reserve is not just about paddling. It’s an invitation to connect with the natural beauty of Coos Bay, to float your stress away and absorb the serenity. Trust me, you'll want to bring your camera because these memories are the ones that stick, just like the water on your back (which, by the way, makes a great story!).

Get ready, set your GPS to this outdoor haven, and paddle away!

Stargaze at the Cape Arago Lighthouse

Picture this: you're wrapped up in a cozy blanket, the faint sound of waves crashing in the distance, and above you is an infinite canvas dotted with sparkling stars. Welcome to the Cape Arago Lighthouse, where the night skies are a breath-taking spectacle, and romance fills the air.

Nestled on the rugged cliffs, the Cape Arago Lighthouse sets the stage for an otherworldly stargazing experience. And listen, if you're into making memories that stick like your favorite fridge magnet, this is the spot. The lighthouse doesn't just guide ships; it lights up romantic evenings for couples looking to make hearts hover like drones in the ether.

During the day, take one of the tours and engulf yourself in the history that's as rich as grandma's chocolate cake. But once the sun dips below the horizon, the real show begins. It's the perfect place to get lost in the cosmos with someone special. You might even forget that your smartphone exists, and isn't that the dream?

Here's the scoop - you don't need to be a star buff with a telescope. Just show up, lay back, and let the universe dazzle you. Whether you’re flying solo, making it a date night, or sharing the magic with your little stargazers, the lighthouse provides an uninterrupted view of the starry spectacle.

Now, how long should you linger here amongst the stars? Honestly, as long as the night sky holds your gaze. The lighthouse may not be open 'round the clock for tours, but the sky's nightly performance doesn’t need a schedule.

So, if you're up for a serene evening under a luminous sky, make sure the Cape Arago Lighthouse is high on your to-visit list. It’s not just about looking at pretty lights in the sky, it's about feeling infinitesimally small yet undeniably connected to the universe. And hey, sharing that feeling with others is what makes it truly cosmic.

Explore Local Flavors at Coos Bay Farmers Market

Picture yourself strolling through rows of fresh produce, the sweet and pungent fragrances of local herbs wafting in the air, and friendly vendors from the Coos Bay culinary scene showcasing their bountiful harvests. That's right, you're sauntering along at the Coos Bay Farmers Market, and your taste buds are about to embark on a journey of delight.

The farmers market is more than just a place to snag the juiciest tomatoes or the crispiest apples. It's an experience that connects you with the heart of Coos Bay's agricultural community. You'll find everything from soils' seasonal bounty to handcrafted cheeses, and it's all about the freshest ingredients you can get without pulling them out of the ground yourself.

Whether you're a 'veggie' virtuoso or a confectionery connoisseur, the Coos Bay Farmers Market is your haven. With typically 1-2 visits, you'll soon be on a first-name basis with the artisans who bake the bread you can't stop thinking about or the farmer who picks the blueberries that explode like sweet fireworks in your mouth.

Not to mention, the market is a swirling hub of activity enticing all walks of life. It's a fantastic spot for singles looking for organic chitchat or families teaching the kiddos where food comes from (spoiler: it's not the supermarket!). Spend an hour or two here, grab a bite, and don't forget to chat with the locals—good luck leaving without a smile and a basket brimming with goodies.

And hey, you're not just tantalizing your taste buds and filling up your pantry. Each time you purchase a plump peach or a hearty hunk of artisanal cheese, you're supporting local farmers and keeping the Coos Bay community vibrant and thriving. So go on, take a bite out of Coos Bay at its flavorful best. You're not just exploring the local fare; you're becoming part of the story that makes this place unique.

Bird Watching in Charleston Marina

So, you've got your binoculars, and you're ready for some avian action? Charleston Marina is the spot for bird watching in Coos Bay. Picture this: a crisp morning by the docks, the scent of saltwater fills the air, and a symphony of seagulls and pelicans soundtrack your adventure. Pure bliss, right?

At Charleston Marina, every glance treats you to a flurry of feathers and beaks. Whether you're a seasoned birder ticking off species in your logbook or a casual observer marveling at the winged wonders, this is your haven. You could spot the majestic osprey diving for breakfast or hear the haunting call of the loon. It's not just birds — the Charleston Marina area is loaded with crabbers and fishermen, adding an authentic touch to your birding quest.

Grab your comfiest shoes and a fleece because this marina is peppered with perfect spots to hunker down and watch the show. If you're wondering what makes this spot magnetic for the birds and birdwatchers alike, here's the worm — Charleston Marina offers an undisturbed habitat with a smorgasbord of seafood that our feathery friends just love.

It's a hit with locals and tourists, and it caters to all ages and preferences. Whether you're flying solo or with your flock, you've got to carve out at least a couple of hours here to truly appreciate the avian acrobatics. Just a stone's throw away, you can grab a hot coffee or a fresh catch at the local eateries. So, it's not just a feast for the eyes!

A day spent here promises to leave you with a bird-soaked memory card and a heart full of nature's unfiltered beauty. And, if you’re keen on expanding your bird-watching escapades, take a detour and explore the South Slough Reserve – more paths, more perches, more birds!

Alright, birding brigade, ready those binoculars – Charleston Marina's feathered friends await! 🐦

Catch Dungeness Crab at Sunset Bay State Park

Imagine the sun dipping below the horizon, painting the sky in shades of pink and orange as you hold a line into the waters of Sunset Bay State Park. You're not just here for the view; you're about to engage in one of the most authentically Oregonian experiences—crabbing for the famous Dungeness crab. Now, let's dig into the juicy details. You can actually catch these critters yourself! Yes, you! It's the perfect activity for families or even a solo adventure.

First things first, you'll want to ensure you have a shellfish license—gotta keep it legal, folks. Sunset Bay is more than just a pretty face; it's a hot spot for crabbing excursions, especially from late fall through early spring when the Dungeness crabs are most abundant. Now, if wielding a crab pot or a ring net sounds intimidating, fear not. There are plenty of local experts ready to show you the ropes.

But why should you specifically target Dungeness crab? They're not only delicious but also abundant in the area, making your chances of a successful catch pretty darn good. Also, it's a hands-on way to connect with the local ecosystem and respect the marine life. Plus, nothing beats the taste of a crab you've caught yourself - talk about a fresh seafood dinner!

While you're there, take a walk on the beach. Let the crashing waves be the soundtrack to your crabbing tale. You can spend a good half-day here soaking up the beauty and excitement. And who knows, you might just want to make it a full day's adventure.

Oh, and when those pots come up teeming with crabs, remember it's all about the celebration! Grab your friends, your family, or just enjoy your own company 'cause, at the end of the day, you're the crabbing champion of Sunset Bay. And if you’re a bit of a lone wolf on the hunt—say no more—you'll fit right in with the focused tranquility that comes with catching these coastal treasures.

So, put on your adventure hat and head to Sunset Bay. It's not every day you get to snatch up your dinner from the sea. Get ready to tell the tale of how you conquered the bay, one Dungeness crab at a time!

Antique Treasures in Coos Bay

Picture this: you're strolling down a charming street, the salty breeze from the bay flirting with the air, and there it is—a treasure trove masquerading as an antique shop, just begging to be explored. Welcome to the wonder of antique shopping in Coos Bay—it's not just shopping, it's time travel for the curious soul. So, what kind of bygone goodies can you snag? Well, let's dig in!

Each store is a mini museum of Americana where you can uncover everything from rustic nautical instruments to vintage jewelry that whispers tales of yesteryears. And who knows, maybe that velvet-lined box houses a brooch that once graced the lapel of a 1920s flapper, or that old fishing reel belonged to a bona fide Coos Bay sailor.

Now, don't just skim and dash; these antique havens demand your unhurried attention. Dedicate at least a couple of hours to weave through the aisles, because gems like these won't reveal themselves to those in a hurry. It's perfect for anyone from the solo explorer to the history-loving family.

And who comes here, you ask? Oh, just a quirky mix of avid collectors, history buffs, and folks that love a good story. So whether you're looking to expand your vintage vinyl collection, searching for that perfect retro kitchen table, or hunting down a quirky conversation piece, you're in exactly the right place.

Make sure to pop into each shop; you'll find that one-of-a-kind piece that'll have your friends going, "Wait, you found this where?" Discovering these pieces is like hitting the jackpot without setting foot in a casino. Plus, you'll meet the most endearing shopkeepers who often have the best anecdotes about your newly found treasure.

To make your antique escapade even richer, swing by nearby local coffee shops or cozy bookstores to chat with locals and get the scoop on Coos Bay's hidden gems. And hey, whether you leave with an armful of heirlooms or just a heart full of memories, you've struck gold either way!

Ready to scout out those antiques? Of course, you are! Your Coos Bay adventure is waiting.

Immerse in Art at Coos Bay Art Walks

Picture this: you're strolling down a vibrant street, your eyes feasting on a kaleidoscope of art that tells the tales of Coos Bay's soul. Yes, friends, we're talking about the Coos Bay Art Walks, a cultural experience that is as enriching as it is delightful. These walks are not just a visual extravaganza; they're a chance to connect with the community and dive into the heart of this coastal gem.

Embarking on an art walk here isn't just a stroll; it's an adventure peppered with the work of local artisans, whose brushstrokes capture the spirit of the region. Whether you're a hardcore art lover or someone who doesn't know a watercolor from a water closet, you're in for a treat. The creative energy is infectious, and who knows, you might just find your inner Picasso!

But wait, there's more! Coos Bay's art walks aren't only about painting and sculpture. You'll be swaying to live music, snacking on local eats, and maybe even shimmying with street performers if the mood strikes. Block off an afternoon for this escapade – trust me, you'll want to take your time.

Art walks typically cater to an eclectic crowd, from single art enthusiasts to families looking for a dash of culture. It's perfect for a date night, too, if you're looking to impress that special someone with your artsy side. Gather your pals, your kids, heck, even your grandma – there's something to tickle everyone's fancy.

So go ahead, let your curiosity lead the way and you might just find your new favorite artist or a piece that's begging to come home with you. And who wouldn't want a unique souvenir that's soaked in Coos Bay's local culture? For a deeper dive into the experience, and to plan your visit, check out more about Coos Bay Art Walks. Get ready to be swept off your feet!

Hike the Enchanting Coos Bay Trails

Feel that? That's the rush of fresh, salty air filling your lungs as you lace up your hiking boots, getting ready for an adventure on the Coos Bay hiking trails. Whether you're pulling the family from their screens for some quality green time or you're a solo wanderer seeking tranquility, the trails here welcome you with open arms and unpaved paths.

Strap on your backpack and let the family-friendly trails lead you through a labyrinth of lush, Pacific Northwest greenery. You're not just walking; you're witnessing a live performance by Mother Nature herself. Let the towering trees be your audience as you navigate through the paths that are just challenging enough to make you feel like a trailblazing pioneer without actually needing to whip out a compass.

Now, if you're thinking trails are just trails, then you, my friend, have not set foot here. These trails are special - they're a mosaic of hidden creeks, chirping melodies from the treetops, and if you're lucky, a deer might just escort you for part of your journey.

Kids will love spotting the variety of birds, and let’s be real, nothing beats seeing your little ones marvel at the wonders of the wild. As for you? Well, standing atop a cliff with a view of the bay, you'll feel on top of the world, and guess what? That's the perfect time to pull out that granola bar, take a bite, and soak in the panoramic spectacle.

Plan to spend a sweet slice of your day here - a couple of hours should do the trick. But who's counting minutes when each step brings a new discovery? So go ahead, join the symphony of creaking pines and babbling brooks on the Coos Bay hiking trails - it's where your heart beats in tune with nature's rhythm.

Safari Adventure at Coos Bay Wildlife Safari

Bold zebras, gallant giraffes, and mischievous monkeys: say hello to the wild residents of Coos Bay Wildlife Safari! Yes, you can embark on an African safari right here in Oregon, and I promise you, it's as family-friendly as it gets. Bring the kids, the grandparents, and yeah, even that uncle who swears he's seen every animal on the planet. They'll all love it!

Pack a lunch, grab those binoculars, and get ready for a real-deal safari adventure. Here, you can spot a flurry of exotic species from the comfort of your own car. That's right, it's a drive-through wildlife park—so feel free to have that “Lion King” soundtrack playing as you traverse this animal kingdom.

And, in case you're wondering, Coos Bay Wildlife Safari is the hotspot for family fun. Whether your little ones dream of being the next great zoologist or just love a good ol' game of ‘I Spy’, they're in for a treat. After all, it's not every day you see a cheetah sprint or a bear chilling by the road, right?

You'll need a couple of hours to fully immerse in this experience because trust me, time flies when you're having fun. And guess what? It's not just a hit with the kiddos. Anyone with a thirst for adventure and love for wildlife will be grinning ear to ear—yup, even the too-cool teens.

Are you a solo explorer? A group of friends seeking thrills? Or a family hunting for the next great holiday card photo? Perfect. Coos Bay Wildlife Safari is as good as it gets. It's a blend of excitement, education, and pure, unadulterated joy. So buckle up, adventurers, and get ready for a memory-packed safari right at the edge of Coos Bay.

Windsurfing at Bastendorff Beach

Hold onto your hats folks because Bastendorff Beach isn't your average stretch of sand! It's a place where the winds come to party, and you're invited to ride them like a boss. Yes, windsurfing is the name of the game here, and trust me, it's an epic one!

Picture this: you're gliding over the waves, the salty breeze spraying your face, and you're feeling more alive than a seagull on a French fry run. This beach is one of the prime spots for coastal activities in Coos Bay that'll get your adrenaline pumping harder than a teenager's heart at a pop concert. And when you're done harnessing the power of the wind, there's still so much more to do!

Bastendorff isn't just about the epic windsurfing. Oh no, my friend. It's a treasure trove for beachcombing too. So, after you've sailed to your heart's content, take a leisurely stroll, and hunt for natural souvenirs. From intricate shells to the occasional piece of driftwood that's begging to be turned into art, you'll find all kinds of beachy keepsakes.

If you're thinking, "But what if I've never windsurfed before?"—fear not! There's a vibe of patience and encouragement in the air, with locals and fellow thrill-seekers keen to share tips. Whether you're a newbie or an old pro, you'll feel at home among the waves and the welcoming community.

Here's the scoop: spend at least half a day here, because, between riding the wind and combing the beach, time flies faster than a frisbee on a windy day. Bastendorff is a gem for all ages and skill levels, making it a perfect hangout for families, groups of friends, or even solo adventurers looking for a breezy escape.

So grab your board, or rent one on the spot, and join the windsurfing crew at Bastendorff Beach. It's not just a sport, it's the kind of jaw-dropping, selfie-worthy action that'll make your social media followers greener than seaweed with envy. Ready to make some waves? Good, because Bastendorff Beach is waiting!

Enjoy a Secluded Picnic in Mingus Park

Picture this: a secret little nook of nature right in the middle of the hustle and bustle, where you can listen to birds chirping as they flit from tree to tree. That's Mingus Park, folks. It's basically the hidden gem of Coos Bay, waiting for families or anyone looking for a calm retreat to come and enjoy!

Fancy a family picnic? This park is tops! You've got pretty much everything you could want: grassy knolls, a charming pond, and even a gazebo that looks like it popped out of a Victorian postcard. It's ridiculously family-friendly, too. There's enough space for the kids to play tag, and for you to stretch out and maybe dig into a book while surrounded by nature's soundtrack.

And just when you think it's all about quiet picnics, discover the park's extra surprises, like the winding trails around the pond — perfect for a little post-lunch stroll. Mingus Park is the spoonful-of-sugar kind of place that makes the medicine of daily life go down in a delightful way.

Oh, and let's not forget about all the photo ops – because let's face it, if it's not on social media, did it really happen? Get your phone's camera ready for those ducks waddling by the pond or the sunlight peeking through the leaves. Seriously, the lighting here? #NoFilter needed.

So grab that checkered blanket, pack some sandwiches, and make your way to Mingus Park. Spend an hour or the whole afternoon; it doesn't matter because time seems to slow down a bit here. Whether you're with your family, your significant other, or just hanging solo, this park is ready to welcome you with open branches.

In short: Mingus Park is the perfect spot in Coos Bay if you're craving a serene, nature-filled pause in your day. It's made for those moments when you just want to pack a basket, round up the crew (or enjoy some me-time), and soak up the peaceful vibes.


Q: Things to do in Coos Bay this weekend?

A: You're in for a treat! Coos Bay has amazing outdoor activities, fresh seafood spots, and local events on weekends.

Q: Things to do in Coos Bay Aquarium?

A: Get ready to meet some cool sea creatures! They've got hands-on exhibits and lots of fish to see.

Q: Things to do in Coos Bay today?

A: Today's your lucky day! You can explore trails, hit the beaches, or check out Coos Bay's charming downtown.

Q: Things to do in Coos Bay with kids?

A: Your kiddos will have a blast! Visit the playgrounds, the aquarium, and don't miss the candy stores!

Q: Things to do in Coos Bay at night?

A: Coos Bay at night is cozy! Grab some dinner at a local eatery, stroll the boardwalk, or catch a movie.

Q: What is Coos Bay, Oregon famous for?

A: Coos Bay stands out for its gorgeous bayside views, dunes, and a history rich in lumber and fishing.

Q: Is Coos Bay Oregon worth visiting?

A: Absolutely! Coos Bay dazzles with its natural beauty, outdoor adventures, and down-to-earth vibe.

A: Coos Bay pulls crowds for its stunning scenery, outdoor sports, and the friendliest folks around.

Q: What does Coos Bay have to offer?

A: Coos Bay's full of surprises! From beach bumming to dune buggying, it's a playground for nature lovers.

Q: Where to stop in Coos Bay?

A: Make a stop at the boardwalk, hit up the Oregon Dunes, and warm up with clam chowder at a local spot.

Final Words

Phew, we've buzzed through some pretty sweet spots, right? From the maritime marvels to the night sky magic at Cape Arago Lighthouse, and not forgetting the enticing local flavors at the farmers market. And hey—bird watching over at Charleston Marina, crabbing at sunset, or digging for antique treasures? Adventure's just brimming at every corner!

Whether you're an artsy soul or a nature enthusiast, Coos Bay's got the charm to reel you in. On your next trip, cramming every single one of these amazing things to do in Coos Bay is practically a must. Trust me, with an itinerary this jam-packed, your only regret will be that you didn't come to Coos Bay sooner. So, lace up those hiking boots, grab your binoculars, and get ready to make some epic memories!

Meet the Author
Isabella Kai
Isabella Kai, the Instagram wordsmith, crafts tales that captivate hearts worldwide. A dedicated foodie, she whips up culinary delights and pairs them with stories that make your taste buds dance. Beyond the screen, she's on a mission to visit every artisan bakery in town.
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