The California Coast gets all the love. But the Oregon Coast has its own allure and some cool c-stores, too.

It’s nobody’s fault, but a lot of people equate the West Coast with a single state: California. It’s understandable; it’s hard to overshadow L.A.’s beach culture; romantic San Francisco and its hills, bridges, and fog; and our personal favorite—we can get there in almost an hour—Big Sur (check out the SSCS Blog’s illustrated travelog, starting here).

While we’re fond of the state in which our company was founded and thrives, we feel obligated to point out that the West Coast of the U.S. doesn’t start and end with California. It includes our state’s neighbors to the north, Oregon and Washington. Highway 1[1], the scenic coastal roadway that rivals Route 66 in the traveler’s imagination, doesn’t stop where California ends, either: it winds all the way up to the Canadian border.

In the northernmost reaches of California’s coast, the landscape becomes remote, a little unkempt, and dotted with small hamlets and isolated residences, a few small towns along the way. The trend continues as you cross the border into Oregon, where Highway 1 hugs the shoreline tightly for the next 362 miles, when it reaches the Columbia River Gorge.

There are reasons that the Oregon Coast doesn’t get much hype. For one thing, the state’s only major city, Portland, is about 50 miles inland, unlike L.A., S.F., or San Diego. You have to make an effort to get there, and you need a car to really enjoy it. For another, the water is cold, in the 45 to 55 degree range, and its beaches are rocky[2].

The state’s reputation for rainy weather probably doesn’t help, either, although it is an unfounded stereotype for the Oregon Coast. In summer, the temperature pushes into the upper 70’s and low 80’s on a regular basis. Average days of rain from June through September: 12 total. That’s four months.

Plus every mile is a coastal mile. There’s open space. A lot of blue. Breezes clearing the air. There’s non-commercial charm in the small hamlets and isolated residences you pass along the way, whether they’re kept up or not. The remoteness can grow on you. Especially when it features towering cliffs and great ocean views.

Nature isn’t the only attraction here, though. Some of those little towns and outlying business interests—c-stores included—can be pretty interesting. For proof, look no further no than the Tillamook Creamery on Tillamook Bay, known far and wide for the cheese bearing its name. There are daily tours, sample cheeses, a gift shop, ice cream counter, and a café that likes to feature the local product. A lot. There’s a c-store, too; more than one.

Then there’s the Sea Lion Caves of Florence, Oregon. People around the Monterey Bay get kind of jaded about sea lions, they’re here all the time, they make a lot of noise, but hearing that baying echoing through a network of huge caves is next level, and they’re just stuffed full of the mammals. Florence happens to be a pretty interesting town to catch some refreshment in afterward (and take a break from that smell). Shout out Circle K Florence!

Now let’s turn our attention to the dinosaurs—oops! Looks like we ran out of time. That’s alright, next week we’ll take a trip back in time, not to mention up and down the rest of the coast, visiting attractions and c-stores along the way. See you then!

[1] In California, especially around L.A., it’s the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH).

[2] Although it has at least one great resort beach, as we’ll elaborate on in Part 2.