Visitors to Oregon should experience the Oregon coast at least once. Historic Florence is a must-see to incorporate the rich history that makes Oregon what it is today.
The ICM Restaurant (International C-Food Market Restaurant) sits along the shore of the Siuslaw River, home to coho and steelhead salmon. With the closeness to the ocean shores, other seafood is available, such as Dungeness crab. It’s hard to beat the freshness of seafood ICM serves, as it is caught and delivered within a couple of hours. Any unused seafood ICM may have left over after the day is complete is packed up and shipped to the San Francisco Bay area to be served to guests of some of the top restaurants. A closeness to San Francisco’s top chefs means exchange of recipes to keep meal service fresh, modern and vibrant. ICM is located on Bay Street, the main thoroughfare in Old Town Florence.
After a nice lunch, walking through the main street of Old Town is a must. The quaint, unique storefronts along Bay Street lead visitors into a dog-friendly day of shopping. Newport Bay Candle Company offers hand-poured candles made from mineral oil, car scents and bath salts. The candles burn two to three times longer than wax candles and the scents available are amazing.
Included in the wide array of shops is the Wind Drift Kite Shop. Pick up a kite and hit the shores for a perfect summer day of fun. The Wind Drift Kite Shop has kites of many shapes, sizes and come in many character designs. The Oregon coast is known for summertime kite flying, especially for those who enter kite festivals held along the Oregon-Washington coast.
Other shops along the Bay Street walkway in Old Town Florence are a couple of outdoor/indoor cafe storefronts, art galleries galore and even an olive shop to serve olives the way they are meant to be eaten; stuffed with bleu cheese or habaneros, just to begin to list the unique flavor combinations. All About Olives offers a collection of extra virgin olive oils and balsamic vinegar choices as well.
Gift shops, clothing stores and book shops add to the Old Town feel of Bay Street. Want comfortable shoes for the walk through Old Town? On Your Feet With a Splash is a shop that is home to many comfortable shoes to keep your feet in style while providing unbelievable comfort.
During the walk through Old Town, a visit to the gazebo at the end of Bay Street is the perfect spot to rest while having a beautiful view of the Siuslaw River as it winds its way to the Pacific ocean. The cool breeze touches the sitting area, keeping things cool enough to enjoy the afternoon.
Harbor Vista County Park
Harbor Vista County Park gives visitors a chance to look at the ocean from a birds-eye view from the viewpoint a couple of miles south from the Heceta Head lighthouse. The north jetty runs east and west on either side of the Siuslaw River and winds north and south along the Pacific Ocean. Harbor Vista is a favorite of the local surfers and beachcombers. With caves, awesome views, sandy beaches and access to the Heceta Head lighthouse trail, it is often visited by tourists as well.
The Heceta Head Lighthouse
Walking the trail to the Heceta Head lighthouse is a simple journey. The lighthouse offers tours for visitors, however it is not a dog friendly site. Dogs are allowed in the outer area, but taking a dog inside the lighthouse or the assistant lighthouse keeper’s house is not allowed. The Heceta Head lighthouse is the most photographed lighthouse on the Oregon coast.
Heceta Head stands 1,000 feet above the Pacific ocean. The lighthouse is located on the south side, among rhododendrons, Sitka spruce groves and a meadow. Parrot rock stands to the left in the ocean.
Heceta Head is named after the explorer, Bruno de Heceta, who explored the Pacific Northwest in the 1770s. As de Heceta and his crew traveled up the west coast, scurvy struck, forcing the ship to head back to Spain. The final notes in his journal included the shallow waters and headland now known as Heceta Head.
One hundred years later, mariners who traveled the ocean between Coos Bay and Newport requested a lighthouse be set up to guide them along their journey. Building the lighthouse on Heceta Head was an exhausting task. A single lane wagon road caused slow travel for materials to build the lighthouse and both Queen Anne-style light keeper’s homes. Besides the small path to carry materials by house and wagon, builders used the ocean for delivery of materials. They placed the materials on rafts and let the incoming tide deliver the items to the shore. On March 30, 1894, the lighthouse shone its light for the first time.
The lighthouse was automated by the use of computers to operate the light in 1963, ending the need for lighthouse keepers. The keeper’s home was turned over to the U.S. Forest Service who opened it up for Lane Community College to use as a campus for students in 1970 to 1995. Classroom space was created for students who enjoyed the Oregon coast while they were taking courses. The upper level of the keeper’s house was used as a sleeping quarter for students with the addition of bunk beds.
Heceta Head lighthouse was put on the National Registry of Historic Places in 1973. The Forest Service chose to make the keeper’s house available to the public to make visitors aware of the rich history behind the structure. Opening the home up as a bed & breakfast was a nice option.
In 1995, Heceta Head bed & breakfast was operated by Mike and Carol Korgan. The Korgans began a restoration project of the interior, but kept things as authentic as possible. Heceta Head bed & breakfast was operated by the Korgans until they retired. Their daughter Michelle and her partner, Steven, took over to keep up with restorations and the bed & breakfast visitors.