Late fall is a wonderful time of the year to visit the Oregon Coast. The summer crowds are long gone and the area settles into a slower pace. Midway down the coast, Lincoln City makes a good centrally located base for all the seaside has to offer. When planning a getaway, it’s fun to design a trip around a theme. When visiting Lincoln City, it has to be the renowned Finders Keepers project and art glass.
Lincoln City’s Float Fairies are busy this time of year as they scurry to hide a super drop of the beautiful glass floats the town is well-known for before the Thanksgiving Holiday week. The Float Fairies are volunteers who pass a screening process, are sworn to secrecy and much like a superhero they remain anonymous. Each year they hide more than 3,000 floats on seven miles of beach from Roads End on the north to Siletz Bay on the south as part of Lincoln City’s Finders Keepers program. During the holiday week from November 22 through 25, they will hide an extra 50 floats.
Finders Keepers began as a way to mark the millennium. A local artist recommended the idea of hiding the glass floats, and Lincoln City sponsored the project. The first season took place in 1999-2000 and was hugely popular. The Finders Keepers project is a perfect mix of history, art and the outdoors. Searching for glass fishing floats has long been a popular pastime on the Oregon Coast when floats can wash ashore from as far as Japan. Art glass is a great medium for capturing the beauty of the area. For the 2018 season, eight different art studios make the brightly colored glass floats, and each are signed and numbered. Add in a nice stroll on the beach and you have a perfect activity.
Learn about the history of the area at the North Lincoln County Historical Society Museum. The museum is in the midst of the Historic Taft District of Lincoln City. After visiting the museum the district is an interesting area to explore with shops, restaurants and art glass. Your stop at the museum is to view the spectacular collection of Japanese fishing floats donated by Jim Watson and Nick Simpson. The glass floats were used to hold up fishing nets and range in size from a few inches to 2 feet in diameter. There are many unique examples of floats made in Japan for their fishing industry. Somehow they made their way all the way to the Oregon Coast by wave and ocean currents. Many an Oregon native has combed the coast hoping to find one of these treasures.
Nearby is the Lincoln City Glass Center. Stop by to just watch the talented artists working with the challenging molten glass or try your hand at glass blowing yourself and make your own glass float. The whole process is very interesting and even children can participate (height restrictions). The center also has a shop where the artists have exercised their creativity with a large variety of art glass. Insider Tips: Make a reservation and know that glass art takes 24 hours to cool down so allow time to create your piece and pick it up the next day. The center can also ship your piece to you.
The SW 51st Street Beach Access is nearby and a great place to start your search for a glass float. There are some basic rules when you embark on your hunt for art glass. Floats are hidden above the high tide line and below the beach embankment. Float fairies hide the glass globes every day rain or shine, and they are placed only during daylight hours throughout the day not just all at once. If you are lucky enough to find a float, call 541.996.1274 or text FLOATS to 24587 to register it. You will receive a Certificate of Authenticity as well as information about the artist who made it. During your trip to Lincoln City, plan a number of searches at different locations; you have 7 miles to choose from.
You won’t be bored spending a few days in the area. Begin your Christmas shopping at the Lincoln City Outlets or some of the many unique stores and shops that are along Highway 101. Make sure to stop at the Christmas Cottage, which has been a visitor favorite for 45 years. The store carries over 25,000 ornaments from around the world.
The Lincoln City Culinary Center offers a variety of classes during the month of November. Relax and watch a demonstration class while learning about local foods or take a hands-on class. The center also offers custom classes. With enough notice they can arrange a class for you and your family. This is a good experience for extended family groups, a girls’ trip or a get together with your friends. Chef Donna Riani is tons of fun, and she knows how to find local experts for interesting culinary experiences.
Siletz Bay is the place to crab, clam and fish. The bay is much calmer than the ocean, and everyone will enjoy the many sea birds and sea lions that frequent the area. Bill Paterek is a local resident expert. and although he only offers his free clinics during the spring and summer months, you can tap into his expertise at his website CrabMax.com. Learn how to use a folding crab trap by watching one of his videos. You can purchase his traps at local stores or online. His website also has links to all the websites you will need regarding “the rules” and local tides. Beach crabbing is much easier to do than fishing with a quicker reward. There is something so satisfying about yanking in a trap and finding it full of crabs.
Where to Stay
Lincoln City has a variety of Mom-and-Pop beachfront hotels, fancy resorts and chain hotels with many options to choose from and most are on the beach, near the beach or a short walk to the beach. The Chinook Winds Casino Resort is an out-of-the-box choice for a family stay, but it is a surprising family friendly option. Non-smoking rooms are available, and the suite building is located well away from the main casino building and is ocean front. The junior suites are equipped with an oceanfront balcony, fireplace, microwave and refrigerator, and have plenty of room for a family stay. There are stunning sunset views of the Pacific Ocean from the room’s spacious balcony, and a long stretch of beach provides miles of peaceful walking. Located across the parking lot is the Play Palace, which offers safe childcare for children 3 through 11. This is a nice option if you want to enjoy a meal without the kids. At $17.95 for four hours per child, it is a bargain.
Where To Eat
Lincoln City’s dining scene is very eclectic. I love off-season because you find where the locals eat. Don’t miss breakfast at Vivian’s Restaurant and Bob’s Barbeque (but locals just call it Vivian’s). This hidden gem is tucked on a side street just past the “D” River Bridge. Enjoy your breakfast with views of the world’s shortest river. The Wild Flower Grill cooks made-to-order, and the food is well worth the wait. I am still thinking about the delicious white chocolate and huckleberry cheesecake. If you like seafood you will want to have dinner at Kyllo’s Seafood and Grill. Delectable dishes are made with fresh locally sourced seafood and grass-fed beef. The crab stuffed halibut is a culinary masterpiece of halibut stuffed with Dungeness crab and ricotta, topped with a garlic sauce and garnished with wild large gulf shrimp. Plan ahead; they don’t take reservations, and you may have to wait—but oh so worth it. The Chinook Winds Casino’s premier restaurant is the Rogue River Steakhouse located at the top of the casino with 180 degree views of the Pacific Ocean. Their bone-in ribeye steak is one of the best I’ve ever eaten. The newly remodeled eatery definitely provides an upscale dining experience.
The Oregon Coast is just what you need to relax and rejuvenate before the holiday season, and you can’t go wrong making Lincoln City your base.
Explore Lincoln City – OregonCoast.org
Where to Stay
Chinook Winds Casino Resort – ChinookWinds.com
Where to Eat
Vivian’s Restaurant – 1115 SE 1st St, Lincoln City, Oregon, 541.994.3367
The Wildflower Grill – TheWildFlowerGrill.com
Kyllo’s Seafood and Grill – KyllosSeafoodAndGrill.com
Rogue River Steakhouse – ChinookWinds.com/dining
Things to Do
Crabbing on Siletz Bay – CrabMax.com
Lincoln City Glass Center – LincolnCityGlassCenter.com
North Lincoln County Historical Museum – NorthLincolnCountyHistoricalMuseum.org
Lincoln City Culinary Center – OregonCoast.org/attractions/culinary-center