Newport, Oregon, is more than just a tourist blip on the screen. It’s so much more. There is so much more to take in than what one can see simply driving through the town.
Highway 101 does, indeed, go right through, and if you’re intent on someplace further south, it’s a good guess that you’ll miss a town that is worth some exploring time.
I had the chance to walk through some of it this weekend, and I noticed a few things that the casual drive-through observer might miss. For one thing, most of the stretch along 101 caters to both tourist and resident alike. Kite and curio shops reside cheek-by-jowl alongside stationery stores and children’s clothing boutiques. However, there is a long stretch where the west side of the freeway occupies itself with hotels, while the east side is mostly residential, looking on with a tolerant view–“well, it’s how we survive, so let it happen”.
Newport has become a center for marine research and is home to Oregon State University’s
Hatfield Science Center and, since 2011, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administrations Marine Operations Center-Pacific. The Oregon Coast Aquarium,
which opened in 1992, is one of the top ten aquariums in the nation, with about
450,000 visitors a year. These facilities are all located on the south side of
I had the chance, finally, to walk the more interesting areas in Newport this past weekend. I did not know that some of the area along 101 was designated a “Deco District”, although that really came as no surprise. The buildings along the downtown area certainly attested to that, especially the old theatre building:
The most important part of my walk yesterday, however, was to actually traverse the bridge over Yaquina Bay, at least as far as the Art-Deco monoliths that guard the entrance.
Designed by Conde McCullough, work on the Yaquina Bay Bridge began on August 1, 1934. The bridge opened on September 6, 1936. The bridge uses Art Deco and Art Moderne design motifs as well as forms borrowed from Gothic architecture. The Gothic influence is seen in the balustrade, which features small pointed arches, and in the arches of the side span piers. The ends of the bridge are augmented by pedestrian plazas that afford a view of the bridge and provide access to the parks at the landings by stairways.
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I am a big fan of Art Deco architecture, so it was a happy adventure for me to walk from our hotel to the Yaquina Bay Bridge. I spent some happy moments snapping pictures of the bridge from various angles.
This is the pedestrian approach to the bridge. A work of art unto itself, it was like a visit to the past to walk up those steps. I couldn’t help but think of the generations of pedestrians who had made that trip before me.
Another great stop is at the Yaquina Lighthouse, which was decommissioned in 1873–three years after it was built. By the way, it is purported to be haunted…
There are a couple of other places I could recommend, but which I didn’t get to visit this time around. The chief among these would be the Oregon Coast Aquarium, located below the bridge. More like a zoo than a Sea World type of attraction, it has been a source of interest to my family throughout the years. Even now, my twenty-something kids find a lot to enthrall them at this attraction.
And, after the day is done, a trip to the Rogue Brewery is a must. Conveniently located very close to the aquarium, the food and brew can’t be beat.
If the kids are younger, the attractions at the Historic Bayfront would be a better bet. There is the Wax Museum, Ripley’s Believe It or Not, and many other venues to while away the day. Being on my own, I didn’t feel the need to visit these areas this time around.
In short, there is a lot to see and do in Newport. Take a weekend and visit sometime. You won’t be disappointed.