Bandon by the Sea

A quirky festival-focused town with galleries, fine dining, art and theatre, world class recreational opportunities and beaches unlike any you will find anyplace in the world; Bandon has rebuilt itself from the ashes of disaster to a place of style and grace that is famous worldwide as a vacation destination.

In 1936 a devastating fire wiped out the small coastal logging and fishing community of Bandon, Oregon. My mother remembers that fire and talks about the unusually dry summer and the strange sound of the east wind that kept the normally moisturizing affect of the coastal fog offshore. The wind, hot and dry, brought disaster and spread the flames. The town burned and so did some of the residents. Bandon residents rebuilt their town and the Old Town area dates back to the time just after the fire.

The largest part of Bandon is the no nonsense support town for a very busy rural area. But the Old Town section is an appealing collection of galleries, shops, restaurants and historical remnants. Tourists from around the world come to stroll along the waterfront and search for the marvelous creations of local artist Holly Armstrong and other local artists in the galleries.

Artists and crafts people work throughout the Old Town area. Look for the 2nd Street Gallery 210 2nd St; It has a collection of art pottery and blown glass creations as well as paintings and sculptures. (541) 347-4133 Open daily from 10:00AM to 5:30 PM. If jewelry or fine arts in wood is more to your liking check out the items in the New Gallery on 155 Baltimore St. (541) 347-8221 .

Local teachers, actors and artists frequent Winter River Books and Gallery 170 2nd St.; (541)347-4111; Amongst the rich selection of travel titles, photo essays, fiction and coffee table books are tapes and crystals, and an eclectic collection of art objects.

Shopping for souvenirs or gifts is made easy at the Big Wheel General Store 130 Baltimore St. (541)347-3719; The Big Wheel houses the Bandon Driftwood Museum and Art Gallery and the famous Fudge Factory where you can find dozens of flavors of homemade ice cream and handcrafted fudges. Summer hours are Monday through Saturday 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM, and Sunday 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM. Winter hours may be different so call for winter hours.

There is a museum at the corner of highway 101 and Fillmore Street that is housed in the old City Hall. The Coquille River Museum has displays honoring the history of the Coquille Indians and the pre 1936 fire history of Bandon. One room is devoted to the resort years when Bandon was know as the “Playground of the Pacific” before the massive fire destroyed the resort facilities; Another room is devoted to the history of the cranberry industry in the region. Look for the exhibits that chronicle the fires and shipwrecks of the Oregon coast.

Bandon By The Sea is one of those magical places that always have something going on. Every Memorial Day Weekend the Community Center hosts the annual Wine and Seafood Festival; there is no admission charge. (Community Center, in City
Park off West 11th St.) The event features arts and crafts booths and of course wine tasting. There are grand old fashioned horse-drawn buggy rides and live music. On the same wonderful weekend there is a Sandcastle Contest on the beach at the end of Seabird Lane where it intersects with Beach Loop Drive. Information on the Memorial Day festivities is available at the Chamber of Commerce (541) 347-9619.

Fourth of July celebrations include a fish fry, kayak and drift boat races, a great small town parade, the obligatory classic car and motorcycle show and of course the fireworks which are launched over the Coquille River. Fireworks begin at dusk but you should think about securing a vantage point early.

The Cranberry Festival is an annual event the second weekend in September. The festival features tours of a cranberry bog, parades, crafts fair, and the traditional Cranberry Bowl football game with a rival team from up the river, Coquille High. There are generally booths for face painting, t-shirt booths, local greeting card offerings and many activities and events happening all over town.

In December the Festival of Lights is a delightful and traditional holiday occurrence. The shopkeepers in Old Town and the boats in the marina are decorated and lit up in marvelous and creative light displays. The Coquille River Light house on the North side of the river is decorated by the Bullard’s Beach Park staff and reflects in the river in a picturesque display that inspires photographers to set up those nighttime shots.

Accommodations in Bandon run the gamut from the European style hostel in Old Town to the Best Western Inn at Face Rock 3225 Beach Loop Drive; (541) 347-9441 or 1-800-638-3092. Satisfied guests return year after year to the Windermere Motel 3250 Beach Loop; (541) 347-3710 to stay in rustic cedar wood efficiencies or two story condo like units on a cliff above a dramatic beach. There are tiny economy motels scattered around the area so if you are on a budget look for one of the smaller motels.

Many Vacationers drive their own accommodations along with them. Bandon has a selection of easily accessed recreational vehicle facilities:

Bandon RV Park
935 2nd St Se,
Bandon, OR
phone: 541-347-4122

Beach Loop RV Park
53877 W Beach Loop Drive, Bandon, OR 97411
phone: 541-347-2100, email:

Blue Jay Campground & RV Park
885-c Beachtop Drive, Bandon, OR 97411
phone: (541) 347-7904

Bullards Beach State Park
Bandon, OR 97411
phone: (541) 347-2209

Bullard’s Beach State Park has 190 camping sites, 13 yurts, and 8 sites set aside for horse camping. To get there from Bandon drive north on Highway 101; it is about a mile, just across the bridge. The park entrance is on the West side of the highway. The camping fee is $16 to $20 a night and the yurts rent for $27. For more information write to Bullard’s Beach State Park, P.O. Box 25, Bandon Oregon 97411, or call (541)347-2209 or 1-800-551-6949, Reservations 1-800-452-5687. There are drive through RV sites here that accommodate large RV’s.

Recreation in Bandon is wildlife and outdoors focused. There is world famous bird watching at Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge (541/347-3683). The migratory season in the fall attracts flocks of birds including strays from as far away as Asia and . Birds seen here include Red Phalaropes, plovers, curlews and dunlins. In the estuary salt marsh habitat there are bald eagles, California brown pelicans and other waterfowl and migrating birds. Fishing and crabbing off the docks on the water front at Old Town is a favorite for folks who prefer to do their fishing from land. Kayaking is a popular activity. Adventure Kayak is located on the waterfront in Old Town and rents kayaks, teaches classes on technique, and offers guided sea-kayak tours of the Coquille ecosystem and beyond. Kayaks rent from around $10/hour and a naturalist guided tour from around $35. for two to three hours. Adventure Kayak can be reached at (541)347-3480 and is located at 315 1st Street.

Bandon Dunes Golf Resort 57744 Round Lake Drive, Bandon, Oregon 97411 (541)347-4380 or 888/345-6008 was named the third best course in the by Golfmagazine and the number one new course in 1999 by Golf Digest. It is located just north of Bandon on Highway 101. It features seven holes right on the Pacific Ocean and has stunning ocean views from all 18 holes. My mother and I wandered the pathways and watched avid golfers and took in the views and the ambiance shortly after it opened. Aside from the fact that it is a world class course the sweet freshness of the breeze and the classy ambiance make it attractive to the not so savvy golfer as well as the experts and professionals. In 2001 the second 18 hole course, Pacific Dunes also opened on this site and a third major course is being built. This is designated as a Scottish links course and in order to preserve the natural surroundings along the ocean bluffs the course does not allow golf carts but caddies are available for around $35. per bag. This is a luxurious resort with a top class restaurant and wonderful accommodations. The Green fees are $160. for hotel guests and $200. for non guests from June through September. Call for rates during the rest of the year.

Bandon Face Rock Golf Course 3235 Beach Loop Road, (541)347-3818;offers less spendy but just as scenic golfing on the south side of town. These links offer 9 holes for a reasonable $10. and 18 holes for $16. call for hours.

Oregon Coast food delights feature such famous delicacies as Yaquina Bay oysters, bay shrimp, Dungeness crab, razor clams and salmon. Wonderful places to eat in Bandon are the Minute CafÃ?© in Old Town where I remember going with my Dad before Old Town found its Artsy Touristy persona. It is still a favorite with locals and visitors alike. Bandon Boatworks, located out on the South Jetty at 275 Lincoln Ave.S.W. (541)347-2111 has famous views of the Coquille River Lighthouse, a cozy lounge with entertainment and serves wonderful traditional breakfasts and brunches, lunch and dinner entrees are fresh seafood and steaks. It is closed Mondays and for a couple of weeks in January so call ahead for reservations and hours. Bandon Fish Market serves up takeout only fish and chips which you can enjoy at their picnic table by the harbor. Located at 1st Street and Chicago next to the boat basin; (541)347-4282. For more formal dining there is the Wheelhouse Seafood Grill across the street also on 1st and Chicago; (541) 347-9331, they grill, broil or deep fry fish with a light beer batter that enhances the taste of the food. The homemade soup is a specialty and the Ciopino Rick uses a widely diverse selection of shellfish and other seafood in a marinara base. For more exclusive dining experiences try Lord Bennett’s on the Southwest side of town at 1695 Beach Loop Drive; (541) 347-3663. The view is west over the beach and the breakers that are dramatic and exciting during winter storms and picturesque and lovely at any time. The food is described by some food critics as elegantly rendered seafood dishes. Choose from crab cakes, blackened ahi, bouillabaisse and many other selections in season.

There are many fine eating establishments, bread and breakfast accommodations, cabins to rent, motels and camping facilities I have not mentioned. There are endless beaches, and hours of activities that I have hardly touched on; for more information on festivals, the best river fishing and crabbing sites and the art and theatre attractions of the area contact the Bandon Chamber of Commerce at 300 W 2nd Street, Bandon, Oregon 97411 or call (541) 347-9616.

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