Winter receives a warm welcome along the southernmost edge of the Oregon Coast.
Those who've ventured along the Oregon coast in the winter are probably familiar with the tempestuous weather that accompanies the season. There is, of course, always an exception to the rule—in this case, it's in the vicinity of the humble town of Brookings. Situated just six miles north of the California border on Highway 101, this coastal community is surrounded by clean beaches, lush rain forests, and the cascading waters of the Chetco and Winchuck rivers. But it's an unusual pocket of warmth, resulting from marine effects and a coastline that curves inland, that has helped to earn this area a reputation as the banana belt of Oregon. In fact, daytime temperatures can reach 70 to 80 degrees during any month of the year.
In July, champion kite fliers from around the West descend on Brookings for the two-day Southern Oregon Kite Festival & Regatta. For more information, call 469-2218 or visit www.port-brookings-harbor.org .
Thanks to this temperate environment, the region grows nearly 90 percent of the Easter lilies in the United States. From April through June, Azalea Park features more than 1,000 flowering azaleas and rhododendrons. You can enjoy the flowers as well as a parade and street fair during the annual Azalea Festival held on Memorial Day weekend. The 27-acre park is also home to a natural amphitheater, where a summer concert series is held, and Kidtown, an elaborate play structure on which youngsters can climb over cargo nets and shoot down slides.
A 99-foot Monterey cypress—the tallest in the state—thrives on the grounds of the Chetco Valley Historical Society Museum, where you'll also discover an Indian dugout canoe among an eclectic collection of artifacts.
Looking for fun on the high seas? Charter a boat out of Brookings-Harbor to fish for salmon and halibut or to go whale- watching. Afterward, browse the portside shops or dine at Smuggler's Cove, which offers a tasty seafood quesadilla. For lunch on the go, stop by Scampi's Fish Wagon on Lower Harbor Road and order up some fresh fish tacos, then picnic at Harris Beach State Park. Or pop over to the Brandy Peak Distillery. With offerings that include grappa, pear brandy, and blackberry liqueur, the distillery—like Brookings itself—is the perfect spot to come in out of the cold.
Photography by Rick Wetherbee
This article was first published in January 2004. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.
Area code is 541. Pick up AAA's Oregon & Washington TourBook and map. Contact the Brookings-Harbor Chamber of Commerce, 469-3181, (800) 535-9469, www.brookingsor.com .
TO DO AND SEE
Brandy Peak Distillery 469-0194, www.brandypeak.com . Chetco Valley Historical Society Museum 469-6651.
Scampi's Fish Wagon 412-9530. Smuggler's Cove Seafood and Grill 469-6006.
Best Western Beachfront Inn $99-$175. 469-7779, (800) 468-4081, www.bestwestern.com .