Yachats(Yah-hahts), Oregon is a tiny blip on the map located between the larger coastal towns of Florence and Newport on Highway 101. To treat it as just a drive through to another destination however would be a grave error indeed. Yachats is in my opinion, one of the coolest small towns I have ever had the pleasure of visiting. Arthur Frommer of Frommer's travel guides fame lists it as number 7 on his favorite places in the world list! You get wild mushroom festivals, historic watering holes, and a big natural rock bowl in the ocean where the surf churns and spews like some wicked witches brew. There's also great restaurants, unbelievable scenery, and a hard to explain vibe about this place. Here's the low down on this pretty little coastal town.
The scenery and the scene
Like much of the Oregon coast, the scenery in Yachats is spectacular. What sets this area apart are two things. First, you are right on the water. In many towns on the coast the city itself is set back quite aways from the actual ocean. Not so in Yachats where you can dine and stay practically in the surf if you choose. Secondly, there is a very small distance between the ocean and where the coastal mountains rise up to the east. The town is sandwiched right between the two, creating eye popping views of the sea and the mountains. Yachats is also the home of The Devil's Punchbowl. This is a state scenic area where the surf rolls into a natural rock formation creating sometimes violent, always photogenic results.
As to the "scene" in Yachats, it's a bit tough to explain. There is everything from first class seafood restaurants and steakhouses to true, down home, small town watering holes in this town of 700 residents. Sprinkle in a little Italian restaurant, some great coffee houses, and a mafia style pub and Yachats may win the prize for most restaurants per capita of any city in the U.S.! There are also artisan shops of every kind imaginable. Artists lofts, wood working shops, and pottery stores to name a few. Accomodations range from small motels to spa style resorts, most with ocean views and some right on top of the surf.
The annual Yachats mushroom festival is another unique event that has to be experienced first hand to be fully appreciated. The third week of October brings wild fungi enthusiasts from all over the northwest to this tiny coastal berg for the enjoyment of all things "shroomy". Local restaurants get in on the fun and prepare special dishes featuring wild mushrooms. There are workshops, lectures, people dressed as giant toadstools, and even a guided mushroom hunt in the forests surrounding the town. I'll admit to being a bit partial to this celebration as I am an amateur mushroom hunter myself. However, the event really is an interesting and fun time.
All of the previously mentioned things about this special place are good reasons to visit by themselves. However, it's the vibe of Yachats that really draws me back. It's a little tougher to put into words though. It's a mix of old hippie retreat, artisanal farmer's market, foodie heaven, and resort getaway set in one of the most beautiful places on the Oregon coast. Whatever your reasons for being in this part of the world, stop in Yachats and spend a little time. I'll bet you either end up staying a day or two, or planning on a future visit.