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article imageBeach Camping and Wine and Cheese Tasting on the Oregon Coast Special

By Mat Elmore     Jul 8, 2009 in Travel
Oregon's coast offers some of the most spectacular vistas in the West with its long beaches, steep cliffs, and old-growth forests. Don't spend all your time observing nature though, make sure to experience some of the coast's culinary treasures too.
If you are departing from Portland on your way to the coast, be sure to stop by at least one of a number of tasting rooms in the Dundee area. Some of the best wineries in Oregon are located in the hills surrounding Dundee and while all of them charge a tasting fee, many of them wave the fee with purchase. For exceptional quality and value, stop by Sokol Blosser just past Dundee and north of 99W. Their tasting fees range from $5-15 and they encourage you to picnic amid the vines.
If you are want a more illustrious tasting, check out Domaine Drouhin in the Dundee Hills. Drouhin is owned by Maison Joseph Drouhin, a famed Burgundy wine producer and offers four wines to taste - three recent Oregon releases and one of their wines produced in Burgundy. Tasting fee is $10 for four wines, but it is refundable with a $100 purchase.
A view from a picnic table outside Sokol Blosser
A view from a picnic table outside Sokol Blosser
Mat Elmore
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The coast offers a wide variety of options for camping, but to ensure your group a spot in the summer months you should make a reservation at least a week ahead, regardless of the campsite. Most of the campsites are huge with hundreds of sites that can house a thousand or more people. When you reserve a site, make sure to check each individual site's "info." It will tell you if the site is near a highway, without shade, or anything else that may want to know.
If camping near a beach is a must for you, try out Beachside State Recreation Area, just south of Waldport. The campsite is large with bathroom and shower facilities and is located right next to the beach.
If you head north from Beachside you will hit Newport, the home of Rogue Brewery. If beer is your choice alcoholic beverage, this is the place for you. Make sure to stop by the actual brewery location at 2320 OSU Drive in Newport, not the Rogue public ale house in the "historic" area of Newport. The public ale house is a depressing venue. For how delicious and impressive Rogue beer often is, this public ale house is not. The food is lackluster and generally lacking inspiration.
Farther up the coast in Pacific City is Pelican Pub and Brewery. They offer reasonably price pub food and five of their own brews, in addition to a seasonal brew.
For anyone traveling on the coast, a visit to the Tillamook Cheese Factory is a must. Make sure to arrive early, preferably in the morning, because the crowds can get absolutely ridiculous in the afternoon. You can sample five of their cheeses and fresh cheese curds for free, but beware, the tasting line leads conveniently into the gourmet cheese shop. If you have to buy something, check out the "end-cuts" in the refrigerated section. End-cuts are what is leftover after the blocks of cheese are cut into perfect rectangular blocks. They are just as good, but half the price.
Travel upstairs and you will can take a first-hand look at the cheese cutting and packaging process. Hundreds of workers below the windows help to sort, cut, and eventually package thousands of pounds of cheese an hour.
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Oregon State Archives
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If you are looking for something more low-key, try out Blue Heron Cheese Company just down the road from the Tillamook factory. The Blue Heron Cheese Co. is located just south of the factory on Highway 101 and offers a more subdued and admittedly pleasant experience. You can sample a variety of delicious brie cheeses made by the company, taste four wines for $2 from their large selection of wines, and even feed the llamas outside. The wines are not amazing, but they offer more than twenty to taste. Four tastings for $2 cannot be beat in Oregon. Spend $8 and you are guaranteed to find a bottle you will enjoy, especially if you dabble in the dessert and late harvest wines on the bottom of the list. They have a large, if not huge selection of Oregon and Washington wines.
Cape Lookout State Park is another great campsite for beach lovers that is just southwest of Tillamook, a little bit farther up the coast. It offers all the necessary amenities and a huge beach awaits you just seconds from the campground.
There are also number of farmers' markets on the central coast and all of them offer a wide selection of fresh produce, specialty and baked goods, flowers, arts and crafts, entertainment, and more. Lincoln City, Newport, Yachats, Tillamook, and Toledo each have vibrant markets during the summer months.
If you are in the early summer months and traveling back to or through Portland on your way back, make sure to stop by one of the strawberry U-pick farms near Hillsboro. Groveland Acres charges $1/lb for some of the best strawberries you will ever taste. Don't forget to bring your own container.
Fresh strawberryie from U-pick farm
Fresh strawberryie from U-pick farm
Mat Elmore
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