Apparently I needed to hijack my vacation fund and my last minute travel destination was Lincoln City, Oregon. When I visited in September 2018, I seemed to spend much of those two days checking out Newport and the grey whales at Cape Foulweather.
Fast forward to late May, 2019 and this time I decided to stay for four nights before heading home.
Once again I stayed at the wonderful Ester Lee. In fact, I booked the same cottage. Check out my video for what I can see from the Ester Lee. Sorry for the quality. I just picked up my Kindle Fire and wandered around with it.
Explore the beaches
There are three beaches in Lincoln City that I’ve walked on. All dog friendly beaches. Keep your pooch on a leash so s/he doesn’t make a nuisance of itself or get into the ocean when the waves are crashing.
The first beach is in the downtown “business district” of Lincoln City. There’s a large, free parking lot off Highway 101. Very easy to access. Cement stairs lead the way to the beach. Nice sandy beach, great for going for a walk. Good place to enjoy a picnic or a fly a kite. It didn’t appear to have any rocks where one could find tidal pools at low tide. At least not in that area. If you walked further down the beach there would definitely be rocks showing at low tide.
On the south end of Lincoln City is Siletz Bay. There’s a large, free parking lot and restaurants, including the popular Oregon seafood chain, Mo’s. I walked along there one evening last September and there were a lot of fishermen and women. Apparently this is a very popular spot for Chinook salmon in the fall and spring.
The beach below the Ester Lee Motel is excellent for beachcombing and tidal pools. People come here to collect agates.
The bad news is it’s not easy to access unless you’re staying at the Ester Lee or next door at the Inn at Spanish Head. Guests of the Ester Lee register their cars and license plates and the staff checks their private lot to make sure random beachgoers aren’t parking here. The lane going down to the beach is narrow and steep. There is nowhere to pull off the road and park. There are a couple of houses at the bottom of the lane close to the beach with no parking and no trespassing signs posted.
I suppose you could park at one of the public parking lots I mentioned above, in the city center or Siletz Bay and walk around. I’m not sure if you can park at the Inn at Spanish Head. They have a weird parking set up. Their lot is across the street (aka Highway 101) and guests walk through a tunnel to get to the Inn. I’m guessing they don’t want random people parking in their lot, but they have services that people who aren’t inn guests would use like meeting rooms and a restaurant, so it might be easier to get away with parking there for a short time. The inn has an elevator that goes to the beach level.
It’s a lovely wide sandy beach with rock outcrops along the shoreline, where tidal pools are uncovered as the tide goes out. I picked up a few shells and agates. Free memories of my visit. If you’re collecting shells, just make sure no one’s still living in it!
There are lots of dining experiences in Lincoln City from seafood places to fast food to craft beer pubs to ethnic choices.
J’s Fish and Chips
In 2018 when I stayed at the Ester Lee I went to J’s Fish and Chips twice. You’d think I would have taken a photo of the darned meal at least once! Oh well. I have some interior shots, and on my last visit I remembered to take photos of their weird signs!
Ironically, I went twice this last visit in June 2019 too! I like their fish tacos that come with tortilla chips and coleslaw. To go, so I can enjoy with the view from the Ester Lee. Very reasonably priced at $5.
The thing with this place with their lunch specials they get very busy. It’s quieter around 4 or 5pm, the times I’ve gone. The fish tacos were different on this latest visit, smaller, more rectangular. Still, for the price I’m all over it.
It’s a small diner with a few tables and there are signs everywhere telling you what you can and can not do. Like don’t sit at a table if you’re waiting for a to go order. If you order your food to go, then take it and get on out of there. And don’t come back with your garbage! Ha ha!
They close anytime after 6pm. It gets quiet and they shut it down for the night.
Mazatlan Mexican Restaurant
I love Mexican food. I find the further south I go, the better it tastes! In other words, Mexican food sucks in Canada! I saw the Mazatlan Mexican Restaurant every time I drove past it on Highway 101 and stopped there for dinner one night. It’s part of a chain with other locations.
Good sized parking lot. Cute decor inside the restaurant. Friendly staff. A plate of tortilla chips was brought over as soon as I was seated with fresh salsa and something else, maybe a bean dip, that I didn’t care for. I’d say the restaurant is more Tex Mex than Mexican due to the high influence of cheese and sauces that were included with just about every item on the menu. I would have liked to have seen a taco salad on the menu that came with grilled shrimp instead of the chicken and beef options. Especially since Lincoln City is known for shrimping! I ordered the enchilada plate (vegetarian) that came smothered in cheese and sauces, and rice and beans and a small salad. It was pretty good and reasonably priced.
When I was a kid there was a restaurant chain called Sambo’s based on a book called Little Black Sambo’s. I remember stopping for meals at some Sambo’s when I was 9 years old and my parents took me down to California over Christmas to visit my aunt who lived near San Diego. We ate at Denny’s and Sambo’s, very similar style foods, pancake houses.
I remember these wonderful gift shops inside the restaurants, and they had stuffed dolls of little black Sambo and the tiger. Back in the days before being politically correct came into play! I’m pretty sure my parents bought me one. I just don’t remember which one! Whichever stuffed doll it was, it’s long gone out of my life.
Long story short, the Sambo’s chain pretty much closed down. By the 80s they went for rebranding and name changing, and I think the franchise finally ended, though some independently owned restaurants renamed and some of them kept close to the original name.
Lil Sambo’s in Lincoln City claims it was never part of the Sambo’s chain. It features pancake breakfasts but the website toots itself as a seafood restaurant.
Oddly, they close at 5pm. So much for the dinner crowd! I didn’t know they closed early and went there too late. That was the night I ate at Mazatlan!
I arrived at 11:30 one morning, not sure when lunch begins. Fortunately, lunch menu was available starting at 11 and I ordered the clam chowder in a sourdough bowl. After making sure there was no meat products in it. I’m a pescatarian, so seafood is OK. Chicken or meat broth to start a soup – uh, no!
The clam chowder was brought out quickly, and was overflowing in the sourdough bread bowl! The soup was thick and creamy with plenty of clams and potatoes. The sourdough bread bowl had the right amount of tang.
As you may recall, I’ve been working on portion control as part of my weight loss plan, and so I didn’t eat all the clam chowder. I asked for a take out container and brought most of the bread portion back to the car where my dogs were waiting to polish it off.
They gave Sambo’s clam chowder in a sourdough bowl two paws up!
Sambo’s still has a gift shop and souvenirs for sale. Some of the toys are strung up on walls behind the diners and a dedicated section for their wares. Even though I’m not much of a hot drink person, I did buy a coffee mug while I was here.
It was $16 – yikes! Overpriced tourist trap. They got me.
I wanted to eat at the Wildflower Grill on my last visit to Lincoln City, but didn’t manage to fit it in.
Better late than never!
It’s a house that’s been converted into a restaurant, located at the north end of Lincoln City on Highway 101. In 2018 when I was researching my Oregon vacation, I found information online that the Wildflower Grill is dog friendly. That means a patio area where you can eat outside with your dogs at the table.
There is no patio or outdoor seating area at this restaurant. Fortunately I was able to park my car beneath a huge oak tree for shade and left the windows and sunroof open for my dogs. It wasn’t particularly hot this June day, in the 60s and windy, but the sun was out. In the shade with windows open to provide a breeze, the dogs would be OK.
I’d already seen the menu online last year when researching the restaurant and knew I wanted to eat a shrimp po-boy sandwich.
Breads are baked onsite and I had the whole wheat bun that was stuffed with shrimp, lettuce, tomato, and onion. It was so huge the bun tops weren’t on the sandwich. I had to slap them together and try to open my mouth wide enough to get it in! I was loving it so much that I forgot to take a picture first before devouring. The fries were thick cut and delicious.
Alas – no doggie bag for my babies on this meal! I can’t believe I ate the whole thing!
They only serve the sandwiches on the lunch menu. If they’d served it for dinner, I’d have come back – that’s how good it was!
I was seated in an area that was probably a sundeck in its former life as a private residence. I had a window seat with a lovely view of the woods and a pond.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a shout out to Dutch Bros in Lincoln City, Oregon.
I’m not a coffee drinker. I’ll drink a mocha that hopefully has enough chocolate in it to disguise the coffee taste and if it’s iced – even better!
In other words, I’m not a huge fan of Starbucks or the big Canadian chain of Tim Horton’s, though I’ll probably go to each once or twice a year.
Dutch Bros is a chain of drive up coffee shops, but they’re not in Canada. Ah man, I’d even consider buying into a franchise if they were! That’s how taken I am. I first heard of Dutch Bros on an Undercover Boss episode a few years ago. Check it out on Youtube.
Dutch Bros was founded by two brothers in Oregon, and eventually other locations opened and they expanded to a few other states, mostly the ones closest to Oregon! I was drawn in by the spot on Undercover Boss episode where they were serving cold drinks. I checked out their website and when I spotted the Crazy Hawaiian, I knew I’d found the mocha for me! Caramel, dark chocolate, and chocolate macadamia nut. Perfect! It took me a few years before I had my first one while enjoying the view at the Ester Lee.
Yes that was a hot mocha – in more ways than one!
Absolutely fell in love with the cold version of the Crazy Hawaiian called a freeze. I just asked for the one that’s like the frappuccino!
When I stopped at the Dutch Bros in Newport, Oregon, in 2018, I ordered the iced Crazy Hawaiian, but I didn’t enjoy it as much. It seemed a little watery.
Lincoln City, Oregon has no shortage of souvenir and gift shops. I’ve wandered in and out of souvenir shops all down the Oregon Coast. I can tell you that you’ll see the exact same T-shirt or hoodie in gift shops in every town, and the only difference is that town is in the lettering. Same price, same shirt, different town.
Lincoln City also has a couple of unique art and glass blowing studios where local artwork can be purchased.
As for me, I kind of liked the candy shops. I found two in town!
The main reason people come to LIncoln City to shop is for the Lincoln City Outlets Mall with over 50 shops and restaurants. It’s just off Highway 101. Don’t worry, you’ll see the big sign. They want you to find them! Even with the Canadian/US dollar exchange rate doing crazy things, there are still good deals here. Oregon doesn’t have sales tax, so right there is a little bit of savings. I’ve been very happy with my purchases at the Levi and Jockey stores in this outlet mall.
Fly a kite
Wide sand beaches and plenty of wind make Lincoln City, Oregon a great place to fly a kite.
That’s the Inn at Spanish Head in the background. If you stay there, the elevator has beach access. Rather interesting design. A hotel that is built down against the cliffs instead of built up towards the sky.
I was fascinated by the kites a man was flying. They’re all on one string and some of them were spinners. A far cry from those handmade kites I made in school as a kid! Just about every beach town along the Oregon Coast has a shop dedicated to kite sales.
Lincoln City Museum
The North Lincoln County Historical Museum is on the north side of Lincoln City, in the Siletz Bay area. I’m not a huge museum person, but I do enjoy small town museums because they offer up an incredible array of local artifacts and information about the history of the area.
Absolutely loved the story behind this beautiful, vibrant quilt.
The quilt started off life in Chicago and nearly ended its life there in the great fire of 1871. The owners had bundled up some of their belongings in a sack and tied a rope around it and immersed it in the river, managing to save this quilt and retrieve it later. The quilt made the move to Oregon with them. Amazing!
The museum is free! Perfect place to check out and learn more about life in Lincoln City.
Lincoln City, Oregon is a great place to watch the sun slipping into the Pacific. The sunsets are amazing from the Ester Lee. I took photos every night.
There are no further words.
Check out my video slideshow of things to do in Lincoln City, Oregon.
Have you visited Lincoln City, Oregon? What are your favorite things to do?