Lincoln City (pop. 7,926) lies along the most developed section of US-101, a very busy and at times congested highway. Five fishing and logging towns were combined to form Lincoln City in the 1960s, which accounts for its larger size compared to most neighboring coastal towns.From fall to spring caches of spherical blown-glass floats can be spotted.Before early settlements infiltrated the region, it was inhabited by the Salish Indians, which included the Tillamook, Nehalem, and Siletz. Local rivers teemed with salmon, and homesteaders fished for extra income. By the 1920s, the numbers of fish had diminished and many turned to logging, which became the lifeblood of the town’s economy, until it too dried up in the 1980s.
Today, Lincoln City has become a home to retirees and a destination for tourists seeking its beautiful 7.5-mile beach. From fall to spring caches of spherical blown-glass floats can be spotted, reminiscent of the floats used by Japanese immigrants that, like so many, made their living on the sea.
Lincoln City’s main attraction is its beach, a mecca for beachcombing, kite flying, and sand-play. But its most intriguing sights are the colorful blown-glass floats seen above the tide line and below the beach embankment from mid-October through Memorial Day.
These elegant glass orbs, emblematic of Northwestern coastal culture, are part of “Finders Keepers,” a city-sponsored event where artist-signed and numbered floats are buried in the sand to be discovered and kept as souvenirs. If you find one, call the Visitor and Convention Bureau (800/452-2151 or 541/996-1274) and register your float to receive a certificate of authenticity.
You can also watch the 2,000-year-old art of glassblowing at the Alder House III Glassblowing Studio (611 Immonen Rd., 541/994-6485, 10am-5pm daily May-Oct.) or blow your own colorful spheres at Jennifer L. Sears Glass Art Studio (4821 SW US-101, 541/996-2569, $75 per float, call for appointment).
J. Marhoffer Shipwreck
In 1910, a gas explosion on board the wooden steam schooner J. Marhoffer set the 175-foot ship ablaze before it smashed into the craggy basalt lava rocks at Boiler Bay. The ship’s boiler and driveshaft drifted ashore and are still visible at low tide. A large chunk of rusted steel sticks up from the bluff above, blown there by the force of the explosion and firmly embedded into the ground.
Connie Hansen Garden Conservancy
Enchanting pathways meander along lush greenery and colorful blooms at the Connie Hansen Garden Conservancy (1931 NW 33rd St., 541/994-633, dawn-dusk daily, free). A San Francisco artist who moved to Lincoln City in 1973 created it over a 20-year period—an amazing accomplishment considering the salt air and sandy soil. In the summertime, it bursts with color as everything is in bloom, including roses and rhododendrons. Rare trees and shrubbery can be seen throughout the year. Tours are available by appointment.
North Lincoln County Historical Museum
Local history and culture are preserved at the North Lincoln County Historical Museum (4907 SW US-101, 541/996-6614, noon-5pm Wed.-Sun. summer, noon-5pm Wed.-Sat. winter, free) with 19th- and 20th-century exhibits on the lives of early pioneers and homesteaders, and an amazing display of glass fishing floats.
Along US-101 is a collection of galleries and souvenir and specialty shops. 101 Coastal Creations (4840 SE US-101, 541/614-1525) specializes in blown glass, fine art, and handcrafted jewelry. Cap’N Gulls Gift Place (120 SE US-101, 541/994-7743) stocks glass floats, wind chimes, clothing, and specialty gifts. Browse handcrafted jewelry made from Pacific Northwest gems at Rock Your World (1423 NW US-101, 541/351-8423, 11am-6pm daily).
The Crystal Wizard (7150 Gleneden Beach Loop Rd., 541/764-7550, 10am-5pm Wed.-Sun.) is a magical place stocked with metaphysical merchandise, carvings, statuary, books, and jewelry.
Lincoln City Farmers and Crafters Market (540 NE US-101, 541/921-5745, every Sun.) offers locally grown produce, baked goods, prepared foods, and handcrafted items from inside the Lincoln City Cultural Center during the cold months, and outdoors when the sun is shining.
Tanger Outlet Center (1500 SE Devils Lake Rd., 541/996-5000, 10am-8pm Mon.-Sat., 10am-6pm Sun.) encompasses over 50 discount name-brand stores that will satisfy quality tastes without emptying your wallet.
Kites vie for sky space at Lincoln City’s summer and fall Kite Festivals (D-River Wayside, late June and early Oct.). The weekend events feature demonstrations, kite-making activities, and some of the biggest, most colorful kites in the world.
Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip.