Sometimes the best finds are ones that are off the beaten path.
Nye Beach in Newport is one of those finds.
While hundreds of thousands of tourists and locals scour Highway 101 for the perfect spot, one of the best places to enjoy everything from dining to shopping to beach access is just a few blocks off the highway.
“A lot of people know about us,” said Berniece Hammon of the Nye Beach Merchants Association. “But folks from out of town might not get down here and they will really be missing something if they don’t.”
Hammon, who is originally from Portland, said for years she didn’t know about Nye Beach and when her and her husband discovered it, they wanted to be a part of the beach-front community.“We just love it,” she said while stocking the shelves at her shop, The Cottage Door. “With all the artists and business owners it really does feel like a mini-San Francisco.”
The area sits off Coast Street and features a turnaround, parking, public restrooms, beach access and, of course, shopping. The mixed-use neighborhood – with residents living above businesses – is 12 blocks long and two blocks deep. Construction in the area continues as developers improve the area with the help of the city of Newport’s urban renewal district. Currently there are more than 40 locally-owned businesses and shops lining the historic district.
But if shopping for original artwork, unique home décor or antiques isn’t your cup of tea (which you can also get from The Tea Party on Beach Drive), beach access features public restrooms, with a foot washing station, and easy parking.
“The beach access makes this more than just a collection of really fun shops,” Hammon said. “You can come here, park the car, walk on the beach and then have lunch. It’s a great spot to enjoy everything the coast has to offer.”
The merchant’s association also puts on a number of events throughout the year. From a mystery weekend in March to Clambake & Seafood BBQ even in July, to a Christmas celebration that focuses on the unique gifts you can get at the area, Nye Beach is open for business year round.
For those that are interested in Oregon history, Nye Beach has many stories about the past – having been a resort destination in the 1800s. In fact, Dr. Henry Minthorn, President Herbert Hoover’s step-father and believer in the health benefits of living seaside, built one of his first hot sea baths at Nye Beach. His former Sea Bath Sanitorium was torn down and today the Visual Arts Center is in it’s place. His home remains and can be found on Northwest Cliff Street.
“With the history, shopping, lodging, eating and the beach there really is something for everyone,” Hammon said.
About the Nye Beach: Historic Nye Beach is a neighborhood that features more than 40 businesses, beach access, restaurants, lodging and a rich history of Newport. Events are offered throughout the year and whether you are interested in shopping, eating or enjoying the sandy beaches of the Oregon coast, there is something for just about every taste.
What to bring: Depending on what time of year you visit Nye Beach, the open-air neighborhood doesn’t offer many places to escape the weather – unless you want to spend some time in the many shops in the area. So bring weather appropriate clothing and good walking shoes. The neighborhood sits on some hills that go down to the beach, so depending on your physical abilities you should take that into consideration if you are planning a walking tour of the district.
Season: Nye Beach is open year round, with each business setting up their own hours. During the wintertime there are reduced hours.
Getting there: From Highway 101 in Newport go west on Northwest Third Street to Northwest Coast Street. There is oceanfront parking and beach access.
Tips: Make sure to visit the Newport Visual Arts Center to see the work of local artists. If you are staying in the area, you can even get into an art class that teaches people how to work in different mediums.
The Chowder Bowl at Nye Beach is a favorite with locals and features award-winning chowder, seafood , burgers and beer. After a walk on the beach it’s a great place to go to relax and rest your sand-covered toes.