• April 15, 2024

Coastal State Park Offers Gardens, Winter Storm Watching, and Artisan Market

The Shore Acres Gift Shop and Gardens

A former private estate turned state park on a coastal bluff draws visitors for its elegant gardens and majestic ocean views. It’s also a great spot for winter storm watching and whales on their migration route.

The “jewel of the south coast” has unique features you won’t find anywhere else — including a 7-acre botanical garden with showy seasonal blooms and rare plants and trees, hiking trails, and a secret beach. Plus, holiday lights each night from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve.

Artisan Market Series

The annual holiday artisan market series offers one-of-a-kind gifts from local, high-quality makers. The event includes wooden chalets and seasonal fun. There are also mimosas and food vendors on site.

The museum exhibits Native American-inspired work and “pays tribute to indigenous people across the United States.” Shoppers can find jewelry, paintings, flutes, rattles and pottery here.

Other unique items for sale include a variety of clothing and home decorations. The shop also sells books, gifts and souvenirs.

The market features artisans and business owners from the Englewood and Ravenswood communities. It is a great way to support local businesses and artisans. It also gives visitors the chance to explore the historic neighborhood. Throughout the park, visitors will discover markers that explain the history of Shore Acres and Simpson. There is also an Information and Gift Center (IGC), designed to resemble the original Simpson Mansion. The IGC is an excellent resource for gardening and nature-related activities.

Holiday Lights

During the holidays, the beloved Shore Acres State Park is aglow with 325,000 twinkling lights. Visitors can stroll the gardens and view light-sculptures of frogs, crabs, birds and other animals in their natural habitat. The display also includes 30 decorated trees, each sponsored by a local community organization.

Volunteers like Shirley Bridgham, who has volunteered since the first year of the display, say it’s a labor of pride. She once logged eight miles of walking the seven-acre garden directing, advising and motivating her team of volunteers.

The display opens Thanksgiving night and runs through New Year’s Eve. Tickets are available online and include the parking fee. Hot cider, punch and cookies are served in the pavilion each evening and live entertainment is offered some nights. Reservations are recommended. This popular family tradition benefits local groups, including a food bank. The park is located at 89039 Cape Arago Highway, Coos Bay, Oregon. BOOK YOUR TICKETS now!

Garden Tours

The botanical gardens at Shore Acres are a jaw-dropping combination of rugged ocean views and immaculately manicured landscaping. Originally lumber baron Louis Simpson’s private estate, the garden offers visitors an unexpected experience. Visitors can explore the lush grounds, including a formal garden, Japanese-style zen garden surrounding a 100-foot lily pond and two rose gardens featuring All American Rose Selections.

From the observation building, you can also view spectacular ocean vistas of sandstone bluffs where Simpson’s mansion once stood. A trail leads down to a secluded beach at Simpson Cove.

Shore Acres is open for day visits only, with no overnight camping available. Parking costs $5, but the fee is covered if you have an annual Oregon State Parks pass or a receipt from Sunset Bay campground, which will be honored at Shore Acres. Pets are not permitted in the park or gardens, but service dogs are welcome. A gift shop and information center is located in the garden gazebo entrance.

Hiking Trails

The South Coast boasts a wide variety of state parks, but few are as unique and special as Shore Acres State Park. This jewel of the region 13 miles southwest of Coos Bay is a botanical garden with year-round displays of flora and fauna, an easy hiking trail that leads to a secret beach, and majestic ocean views.

The Shore Acres Gardens Trail is an easy 0.6-mile out-and-back that traverses the scenic gardens. The gardens are inspired by the original grounds of the Simpson mansion, as well as the sandstone bluffs that flank them.

Hikers on the coastline can use a pedestrian tunnel to access the trail from Sunset Bay State Park’s day-use area or campground, or they can start at the trailhead at Shore Acres State Park. The moderate hike features a number of short side trails and brief steep sections. Be sure to wear closed shoes with good traction. Bring water and a snack.

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