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Weekender: Fall in Lincoln City, Oregon 

In this coastal town, fall means clam chowder, waterfall hikes, and one of the biggest treasure hunts on sand. 

  • Cascade Head view to Pacific Ocean at Lincoln City, Oregon, picture
    Photo credit
    Photo: James Bueti
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    Cascade Head delivers views of the gleaming Pacific Ocean.
  • lemon turnovers at Captain Dan's Pirate Pastry Shop in Lincoln City, Oregon, picture
    Photo credit
    Photo: James Bueti
    Photo caption
    Lemon turnovers tempt at Captain Dan's Pirate Pastry Shop.
  • dinosaur tail fossil at Prehistoric Oregon in Lincoln City, Oregon, picture
    Photo credit
    Photo: James Bueti
    Photo caption
    Prehistoric Oregon shows off a dino tail fossil.
  • halibut and crab cakes with an ocean view at the Bay House in Lincoln City, Oregon, picture
    Photo credit
    Photo: James Bueti
    Photo caption
    Halibut and crab cakes come with an ocean view at the Bay House.
  • glass float by Finders Keepers glows at sunset in Lincoln City, Oregon, picture
    Photo credit
    Photo: James Bueti
    Photo caption
    One of the glass floats hidden by Finders Keepers glows at sunset.

New England might be considered the center of the clam chowder universe, but for one day this fall, Lincoln City puts its own stamp on the briny, rich stew at the Chowder & Brewfest (Sept. 8). Sample the best local recipes alongside Oregon craft beers from Ninkasi and Three Creeks brewing companies. Held at Lincoln City Outlets, 1500 SE East Devils Lake Rd.

On Oct. 14, Lincoln City kicks off its yearly Finders Keepers season, which turns everyday beachcombing into a spectacular scavenger hunt. From mid-October through Memorial Day, organizers hide more than 3,000 handblown glass floats along the high-tide line of the city's beaches. If you find a float, register your treasure at the visitor information center (540 NE Hwy. 101) to receive a certificate of authenticity.

At the annual Lincoln City Fall Kite Festival, Oct. 6-7 this year, the country's top fliers take to the wind with giant octopuses, jellyfish, and other displays choreographed to music. The fun isn't limited to the pros: The festival includes kite-making classes, a children's parade, and a footrace in which participants pull six-foot-wide stringed contraptions. D River State Recreation Site, Hwy. 101. at SE First Street.

Take a peek at the Oregon Coast from 1,200 feet above on the Nature Conservancy's Cascade Head Preserve trail. The five-mile round-trip hike climbs through a forest of spruce and western hemlock before depositing you in a meadow with a panoramic view of the Salmon River estuary and the frothy breakers of the Pacific. Trailhead in Knight Park, at Three Rocks Road, Otis.

The Drift Creek Falls trail has all the charms of a dozen Oregon hikes in one walk, 15 miles east of town. The three-mile round-trip stroll features a 240-foot suspension bridge, a 75-foot waterfall, and scads of ferns, alders, and vine maples. Trailhead off Forest Service Road 17.

Follow the shoreline adjacent to Roads End State Recreation Site north to Roads End Point, then round the point at low tide to find a secret beach. Some of the area's best tide pools form a thriving ecosystem, with critters from sea anemones to baby crabs. Head back before high tide. Logan Road near NE Neptune Drive.

Read More: Whale Watching Getaway in Depoe Bay, Oregon

The white-tablecloth Bay House boasts an attentive waitstaff and a menu that reflects both the region and the season. But the real star is the wine list, 64 single-spaced pages with around 2,100 selections hailing from as far away as the south of France and as near as the Willamette Valley. 5911 SW Hwy. 101.

Read More: 7 Up-and-Coming Winetasting Regions in the West

At the homey Blackfish Café, chef-owner Rob Pounding serves seafood with a flourish. Start with oysters on the half shell before savoring skillet-roasted chinook salmon with a fennel-lime-butter sauce. 2733 NW Hwy. 101.

At Captain Dan's Pirate Pastry Shop, co-owner and chef Kathy Draper stocks her case with made-from-scratch goodies, including the house favorite Shipwreck Turnover, a medley of apples, cream cheese, caramel, and bacon. 5070 SE Hwy. 101.

The owners of Bob's Beach Books pack their shelves with best sellers, local travel guides, kids' classics, and a huge collection of pocket sci-fi just right for whiling away an autumn afternoon. 1747 NW Hwy. 101.

Buying a kite is a breeze at Northwest Winds Kites and Toys, with its deep inventory of spinners, lifters, and more, including custom sport kites designed by state representative and local pro flier David Gomberg. 130 SE Hwy. 101.

The old-fashioned storefronts downtown may take you back in time, but only Prehistoric Oregon drops you in the Jurassic period. Along with affordable meteorites, minerals, and excavation kits for kids, the shop sells a trove of museum-quality dinosaur fossils. Pick up a 65-million-year-old Edmontosaurus femur for a cool $7,500. 1425 NW Hwy. 101.

Up Next: Perfect Weekend Trip to Portland

This article was first published in Fall 2017. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.