It's the 40 miles of dunes and swaths of windswept beach that draw visitors to Florence, but once they arrive, it's clear that there's much more to this coastal community.
The approach into town over the Siuslaw River
With an Old Town that packs in browsable, one-of-a-kind shops, it's easy to spend a day in Florence and never even set foot on its famous beach. On rainy days, there are plenty of places to tuck into a bowl of chowder and enjoy views of the Siuslaw River.
Hikeable weather isn't unusual here, even in December, so don't miss any opportunity for a walk through the forests, marshes, and shifting sands of Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, stretching south from the Siuslaw.
Florence is about 60 miles west of Eugene, where State 126 meets U.S. 101.
Things to do
Funky Monkey Toys: Find kiddie gifts, including sand toys plus Foxtails and BeamOs for tossing around on the beach. Info: 1312 Bay St.; 541/997-7342.
Bonjour Boutique: Check out contemporary women's clothing, folkwear from around the world, and fun accessories you'd never find at the mall. Info: 1336 Bay St.; 541/997-8194.
International C-Food Market: The chowder is reliable and the fish super-fresh at this on-the-river restaurant. Info: $$; 1498 Bay St.; 541/997-7978.
BJ's Ice Cream: In December? Sure, when it's homemade and this good. Try Clammy Muck: dark chocolate with bits of white chocolate. Info: Two locations, 1441 Bay St. and 2930 U.S. 101; 541/997-7286.
Grape Leaf Wine Shop & Bistro: Linger over nibbles and a glass of local wine at this well-stocked shop.
Info: $; closed Mon; 1269 Bay St.; 541/997-1646.
Old Town Coffee Roasters: Attitude with a side of joe make this a locals' favorite.
Info: 1251/2 Nopal St.; 541/997-1786.
Waxmyrtle Trail: In the dunes between Florence and Coos Bay, a moderate 1.25-mile route follows the Siltcoos River to the beach for views
of teals, widgeons, and other wintering waterfowl.
Info: From Florence, take U.S. 101 South 7 miles, turn west on Siltcoos Beach Rd.; 541/271-3611.
A 1914 home at the west end of Old Town, the Edwin K Bed & Breakfast offers six decadently decorated guest rooms and a five-course breakfast (from $120; 800/833-9465). Florence's only oceanfront sleeps are found at Driftwood Shores, a large, older condominium complex on Heceta Beach (from $87; 800/422-5091).