In 1896, the Coquille River Lighthouse was built at the mouth of the Coquille River. The lighthouse with its fourth order Fresnel lens was decommissioned in 1939, then was vandalized and fell into disrepair. However, through community involvement, the Oregon State Parks and Army Corps of Engineers have restored the lighthouse to its former glory and original beauty. Today, there is a highly informative guided tour of the lighthouse from May through October. Access to the lighthouse is through Bullard’s Beach State Park, just two miles north of Bandon on Hwy 101. The park is endowed with grassy fields, lowland forests, bike paths, over four miles of beach, and is a popular place for horseback riding. There are campgrounds as well. For more information, call (541) 347-2209.
The Old Town Dock offers crabbing and fishing opportunities, considered to be some of the best on the coast. Bait and tackle needs are met at Port of Call, Bandon Bait & Tackle, or Prowler Charters (where reservations for fishing can also be made). A number of area restaurants will serve up your catch, and offer robust menus to tide you over if the fish aren’t biting. Charter boats are available in Bandon to carry sport fishermen out onto the water, or catch Dungeness crab right off the pier. In these waters you’ll also find steelhead, salmon, halibut and sturgeon. Surf fishermen can cast their lines for Perch right on the beach. For more information on angling opportunities,
lodging and activities in Bandon, contact the Visitor Center at (541) 347-9616.
The Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge provides sanctuary for 1.2 million nesting seabirds on 1,853 picturesque rocks, reefs and islands along the Oregon coast. From nearly every viewpoint on the Oregon coast, colossal rocks can be seen jutting out of the Pacific Ocean creating postcard images. Each of these rocks is protected as part of Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge. A wide variety of birds and mammals including puffins, oyster catchers, seals and sea lions, which use the areas for breeding, can be observed. A spectacular place to observe seabirds and harbor seals, as well as explore the beach, is Coquille Point, a mainland unit of the Refuge. The point overlooks
offshore rocks that provide habitat for Common Murre, Tufted Puffin, Western Full and Brandt’s Cormorant, as well as harbor seals and intertidal invertebrates. A paved trail makes its way over the headlands and features interpretive panels that provide insight about the area’s wildlife and its rich Native American history. Stairs on opposite sides of the headland allow visitors to make a loop on the beach (tides permitting). Coquille Point can be accessed by taking Hwy 101 and turning west on 11th St. in Bandon, but other parts of the refuge can be seen from all along the highway. For more information and directions to the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge, call 541-867-4550.
In 1936, a devastating fire spread throughout the small town of Bandon and only a few buildings survived. These 19th century buildings can be found in the recently renovated Old Town District. A brick chimney on the site of the old bakery stands as a memorial just off Hwy 101. The Sprague Theatre is the venue for live-theater productions. A visitors information center is located at the entrance to Old Town near the welcome arches. This district is a haven for local artists, galleries and quaint gift shops. There are numerous places to grab a bite to eat, from restaurants to coffee shops. The city park is a venue for many varied activities throughout the year. Down by the water you will encounter windsurfers, fishermen and crabbers, and there is ample access to picturesque beaches. For more information, call the Visitors Center at (541) 347-9616, located at 300 Second St, Old Town Bandon.
For bird watchers, the Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge is a “must do.” The refuge sits at the mouth of the Coquille River, located just north of Bandon on Riverside Drive off Hwy 101. Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge protects the largest remaining tidal salt marsh within the Coquille River estuary. This 712-acre refuge is an oasis for migrating shorebirds, waterfowl and endangered birds. This may be the premium shorebird site on the Oregon Coast. Thousands of shorebirds of numerous species are routinely found here, and peak counts have reached 60,000. An observation deck allows viewing of species such as sandpipers, whimbrel, dunlin, California brown pelican and bald eagle. Stairs lead down to the mudflats. The observation areas are open daily from sunrise to sunset. For more information, call (541) 347-1470.
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The Bandon Historical Society Museum is located at the corner of Highway 101 and Fillmore Avenue, a short walk from the waterfront boardwalk and a half block from the Face Rock Creamery. It exhibits the story of a town blessed by water and cursed by fire. Shipbuilding, shipwrecks, beach combing, Native American basketry, the Coast Guard, disastrous fires, cheese, trees and cranberries are just some of the subjects on display. Housed in a former Bandon City Hall, the museum displays a breadth of artifacts and information that can keep a visitor looking and reading for several hours. Admission is $3 for adults, children are free. Be sure the kids take the History Detective’s Challenge. The Bandon Historical Society Museum is open 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM Monday through Saturday and is also open Sundays in the summer. The museum closes during the Christmas holidays and stays closed through January. The museum gift shop carries a good selection of books on local history and features the work of Oregon authors. The gift shop sells decorative boxes, stationery, shipwreck maps and other nautical themed collectibles. Shop for old-time kid’s games. Order historic custom photographs drawn from a collection of thousands of unique images. There is no fee to visit the gift shop. The Bandon Historical Society was founded in 1976 and is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization with the mission of preserving and sharing the history of Bandon, Langlois, and the lower Coquille River.
Call 541-347-2164 for more information.
Visit their website at www.bandonhistoricalmuseum.org and on Facebook.
If you’re driving along the Oregon coast, you’ll want to make a point of spending at least one day in Bandon to take in the full beauty of the beach. Walk along the beach or take a leisurely drive along Beach Loop Drive and you’ll be amazed at the unique and stunning views. Bandon beaches include some of the most gorgeous and spectacular rock formations. Keep your camera handy for shots of these most interesting craggy sea stacks. Look for Table Rock, the Garden of the Gods, Elephant Rock and Cat & Kittens Rock. The most famous and stunning formation is known as Face Rock. Local legend says that Face Rock is the face of an Indian maiden that was frozen into stone by an evil spirit. Legend also says that Cat & Kittens Rock had been her animals who were thrown into the sea and turned to stone by the same evil spirit. Bandon is likely one of the most beautiful beaches along the Oregon coast and shouldn’t be missed.