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Florence, Oregon Travel Guide
 
Last Updated: Nov-18-2011, Hits: 2,869, Rating: 0, Reviews: 0, Votes: 0 Bookmark and Share
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Florence, Oregon Travel Guide Restaurants (26)
Hotels and Lodging (19)
Bars and Nightlife (6)
Attractions (27)
Services (13)
Maps (3)
Links (4)
Oregon Travel Forum (20)
 
Location: North America
Geography: Beach, Forest
Vacation Type: Family, Relaxation, Adventure
Popularity: Off-the-Beaten Path
Costs: Budget
Attractions: Golfing, Scenery, Boating, Camping, Ecotourism, Fishing, Hiking, Surfing, Windsurfing

Facts and Stats:
Population: 8,466
Land Area: 4.9 square miles
Country Dialing Code: +1
Area Code: 541
Languages: English
Electricity: 110V
Currency: U.S. Dollar
Time Zone: Pacific (PST) UTC-8/UTC-7 (Summer)
Current Time:

Note: This travel guide also covers the communities of Heceta Beach, Glenada, Dunes City and Westlake.

Introduction:
Florence is a small town on the Central Oregon Coast that is best known for its unbelievable sand dunes and sea lion caves. Florence also offers plenty of beach as well as numerous lakes and rivers that are perfect for a variety of water sports.

Florence's restored Historic Old Town district features a number of quaint shops and restaurants on the waterfront.

Geography:
Florence is located in Lane County on a bend in the Siuslaw River approximately half way between Newport and Coos Bay. The Siuslaw river is 110 miles long originating near Loraine and emptying into the Pacific Ocean just northwest of Florence.

Across the river to the south on the northern portion of the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area (ODNRA) begins on the west side of Highway 101. The ODNRA is the largest area of coastal dunes in North America with some dunes reaching nearly 500 feet high. Desert-like landscapes, lakes, rivers, ocean, and forest blend together, creating diverse ecosystems of plants and animals.

The sand in the Oregon Dunes is from the Coast Mountain Range, which is sedimentary rock that was uplifted 12 million years ago. As rock was moved downstream by rivers, it tumbled and abraded itself into sand. The present shoreline stabilized 6,000 years ago. Tides, wave action and strong coastal winds moved sand up to 2.5 miles inland for thousands of years. This area of dune development rests on a gently-sloping terrace of solid marine sandstone called the Coos Bay Dune Sheet. This low rock surface stretches 56 miles from Heceta Head to Cape Arago and contrasts with steep headlands found on most of the Oregon coastline which prevent inland movement of sand.

To the east of Highway 101 are numerous lakes that provide plenty of outdoor recreation such as fishing, camping, kayaking, windsurfing, boating, and swimming.

Brief History:
The Florence area was originally inhabited by the Siuslaw Indians. Today, they are organized under the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians.

Although Europeans had previously sailed around the area, the first settlers came to the area in 1836. Some claim the town was named after A. B. Florence who was a senator representing Lane County from 1858-1860, while others say that it was named after a French ship that sank at the mouth of the Siuslaw River in 1875.

The city of Florence was incorporated in 1893.

The community sustained itself with fishing and logging industries and by 1900, the city had about 300 residents, 2 canneries and a lumber mill.

The Port of Siuslaw was built in 1909 to support the growing fishing and lumber industries.

In 1936, the Siuslaw River Bridge was built and became part of Highway 101. Transportation across the river was previously done by ferries.

Florence is unfortunately famous for the exploding whale incident that occurred in 1970. A 45 foot sperm whale had beached itself, died, and began decomposing. The Oregon Highway Division, after consulting with the U.S. Navy, decided to blow up the whale with a half ton of dynamite. The thought was that the smaller resulting pieces of the whale could more easily be removed by scavengers. The resulting blast sent large pieces of blubber near buildings, and one piece flattened a car, but most of the whale remained. Many years later, the story was often dismissed as urban legend until the internet came around and video footage of the event was released. The story became a worldwide internet sensation and you can still easily view the video on YouTube.

During the 21st century, Florence's economy has been shifting from timber and fishing to tourism, retirement, and real estate.

People & Culture:
Like most of Oregon's coastal towns, Florence is casual and laid back. The town has grown at a rapid rate of nearly 19% since 2000. Some of this influx is the result of Florence's growing retirement community. In fact, nearly 1/3 of the town's population are retirees. Retiree growth received a boost in 2004, when the book "Retirement Places Rated" selected Florence as the best place to retire in the USA. The study of 203 places uses data in six categories: cost of living, climate, crime, economy, ambience (historic preservation, performing arts, restaurants) and services (hospitals, libraries, continuing education).

Since 1908, Florence has been home to the annual Rhododendron Festival.

Food & Nightlife:
Florence is a small town so there aren't a ton of dining options available. Most of what you will find are casual cafes and eateries, although there are a couple of finer dining restaurants available. Regardless of how expensive the restaurant is, fresh, locally caught fish is easy to come by. There is a good selection of restaurants in Historic Old Town.

There isn't much of a nightlife scene in Florence. Probably the largest late night venue is the Three Rivers Casino.

Money & Costs:
Florence is pretty affordable. Most restaurants in town serve dinner entrees for under $20. Tipping follows the U.S. standard of 15-20%.

Lodging in Florence tends toward the affordable and there are many options available for under $100 per night. In fact, there are no high-end accomodations available, and most places offer limited amenities. The most common form of lodging are motels, many of which have been refurbished. Camping and RV parks are a very popular and inexpensive form of lodging here. See the Attractions section of this guide for more information.

There are several major banks in town and ATMs are easy to find. Almost all of the restaurants and bars accept credit cards.

Getting There & Around:
The only flights to Florence are charter flights to the Florence Municipal Airport. The airport in Eugene is serviced by a couple of major airlines and it is only a 1 hour drive from there to Florence. If you are driving to Florence, you will most likely be driving up or down I-5 and then cutting over to Florence from Eugene. If you have the time and it works for where you are coming from, a drive up or down the Oregon Coast on Highway 101 is absolutely beautiful with many attractions to stop and see. Keep in mind that the coastal route is very slow going.

In town, a car is best for getting around, although there is limited public bus service. There is also a taxi company available.

The table below shows the distances between Florence and other nearby Oregon cities.

CityMiles
Bend178
Portland172
Salem128
Corvallis88
Lincoln City74
Bandon73
Eugene61
Newport49
Coos Bay49
Waldport34
Yachats25
Reedsport22

Weather:
Florence has a moderate climate characterized by very rainy winters and springs with a snow dusting or 2 per year. Summers are long and warm (not hot). Below are the current conditions and weather forecast for Florence.


The table below shows the average high and low temperatures.

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Avg High 48 51 53 56 60 63 66 66 66 59 52 47
Avg Low 38 38 39 41 45 49 51 51 49 45 41 38
Precipitation 11.04 8.58 8.53 5.24 3.82 2.78 0.78 0.96 1.98 5.48 10.53 11.57

Tips & Additional Information:
  • Florence is known as Oregon's rhododendron capital.
  • Florence was the inspiration behind Frank Herbert's "Dune".





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