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Have you spent much time exploring all of the great lakes near Florence, Oregon? Let me tell you, there are some really great ones! Who knew that this great town located next to the Pacific Ocean, home to the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area was also neighbors with some of most beautiful lakes in the state?! Sand dunes, the ocean and beautiful lakes all in the same place?! YESSSS!!!
We went camping at the Florence Thousand Trails campground a few years ago and at the last minute decided to toss our kayaks in the trailer just in case we could find a good lake to visit. It was our first time visiting the area other than just to drive through and oh my gosh was I thrilled at the number of lakes that were nearby. So many options of places to go kayaking! We did a google search of course, but I wanted some actual recommendations from people who had enjoyed water recreation at the lakes so I asked around. I asked fellow campers, camp hosts and people while we were out and about exploring other parts of Florence. We were not disappointed.
Lakes Near Florence Oregon
I know that I don’t have all of the lakes near Florence listed here, but the following lakes are the ones that I have personal experience with. These are the ones that were recommended to me and the ones I checked out myself. I loved them all!
Theses freshwater lakes are all great for various water recreation activities, so be sure and look into each one further depending on what you want to do.
Whoahink Lake is a great place for all sorts of water recreation. Fishing, boating, swimming and more! Whoahink lake is part of the Jessie M. Honeyman State Park. You’ll find campsites, picnic tables, a meeting hall with great lake views and more!
Cleawox Lake is also part of the Jessie M. Honeyman State Park area and is a very popular lake for visitors. Here you’ll find a great shallow swim area, a flat sandy beaches and even a nearby ball field. Day-use visitors will even find a picnic and cooking shelters, so pack up some food and drinks and plan for a day!
This is a great day use area with flush restrooms in the historic Cleawox Lake Bathhouse which is just one of the structures in the park that was built in the 1930s, by the Civilian Conservation Corps crews.
Mercer Lake is a great lake roughly 15 minutes from Florence that offers fun recreation activities. Check out the Mercer Lake Resort for rentals of the following: kayaks, pedal boats, paddle boards, jetskis, ski boats, and more!
Fishing enthusiasts are going to love Munsel Lake! Munsel Lake is roughly 2 miles from Florence and is a great place to fish for yellow perch, rainbow trout, native cutthroat trout and largemouth bass. The fishing here is especially great during late winter and spring. Several people in our extended family are fishing enthusiasts so good fishing lakes are always on our family’s vacation list!
Siltcoos Lake is the largest lake along the Oregon Coast and is great for fishing! There is a wide range of fishing opporunities and types of fish here so fisherman are going to love this one. We hit this lake for kayaking and found it to be a bit too windy for us, but it was still fun!
Where to Stay Near Florence
We happen to love camping so much of our time spent in Florence is camping there, but there are lots of ideas of places to stay in the area.
- Lake Houses (check VRBO, AirBNB, Vacasa, etc).
- Thousand Trails Campground (we have a membership and we LOVE it)
- Jessie M. Honeyman State Park
- Whoahink Lake RV Resort
- Private campgrounds
- Hotels, motels, etc
If you have never yurt camped, there is great opportunities in Florence to rent a large upscale yurt and oh my gosh is it awesome! We have gone yurt camping several times and honestly, it doesn’t feel like camping at all. It feels like you are renting a cabin. I love having the beds, a coffee maker and even a fridge and a TV in some of them!
Other Things to Do Near Florence
Now that you know what lakes are near the fun town of Florence, you can check out some of the other awesome things to do and places to visit in the area. Here are some of our favorite things to do near Florence:
Sea Lion Caves
Located nearby is “America’s Largest Sea Cave“! Sea Lion Caves is such a unique way to experience the Oregon coast. I highly recommend everyone check it out at least once! Be prepared for the smell though, it’s not pleasant.
Heceta Head Lighthouse
Heceta Head Lighthouse is a beautiful lighthouse located just outside of Florence. As a matter of fact, this state park is home to one of my top 3 favorite beaches on the Oregon Coast, Heceta Beach. I love taking my family here to visit!
The lighthouse sits on 1,000 foot high Heceta Head and was first used in 1984 and is listed on the national register of historic places. It even offers a bed and breakfast! This is one of the most photographed lighthouses in the state and is actually rated as the strongest light along the Oregon coast as it can be seen up to 21 miles away.
If you want to make the kids happy, take them to Sandland Adventures! We have been there twice now and our kids keep asking to go back! They have a seriously fun go cart race track, bumper boats, a miniature golf course and more. They also offer sand tours via sandrails and our personal favorite the Giant Dune Buggy Tours. We have done this tour twice now and have had so much fun! It’s an hour long, costs roughly $20 per person ($10 for young kids) and is an hour long. It’s a ton of fun and it’s educational too! Our last trip there, the whole family joined, so we had people ages 5-75 and it was a hit with every single one of them.
Sandland Adventures is open full time throughout the summer months, and most of the rest of the year, but does shut down seasonally for maintenance and has limited hours during the colder months.
Hit the Dunes
If you have never spent time on an off road vehicle exploring the Oregon Dunes, you are missing out! It’s so much fun! If you don’t have an ATV or UTV, you can find places to rent them in Florence. You can also check them out with a dune buggy tour like we mentioned earlier, or even in your own 4wd vehicle. It is very easy to get stuck out there though, so I only recommend this if you are very comfortable driving in off road conditions.
If you love the outdoors, Florence is a great place to get some fun hiking in! It’s the home of the ever popular Hobbit Trail. This trail is reminiscent of a J.R.R. Tolkien novel. It’s a very unique hike, but it’s also a relatively easy one so even beginners can enjoy this natural wonder. This half-mile wooded path leads you right down to the beach.
Heceta Head trail is another great trail nearby. This one is a bit longer at roughly 4 miles round trip, but it offers some stunning views of the area.
Visit Thor’s Well
Okay, so this isn’t exactly in Florence, it’s about 30 minutes away. Thor’s well is one of the most unique places in the country, nevermind the central Oregon Coast. It’s an experience that you won’t ever forget. Be sure to visit Thor’s well from 1 hour before and after high tide to get the best views. It’s too calm during low tide to get a real idea of the magitude of this place.
Visit a Waterfall
Waterfall hikes are my favorite and Florence is home to some really great waterfall trails. My favorite is Kentucky Falls. At just under 4 miles out and back, you’ll see 3 waterfalls along this trail and they are all beautiful. Instagram photo worthy for sure!
Florence is a great place to experience whale watching. You can pay to go on a whale watching tour, but there are some great viewpoints such as Heceta Head that are wonderful for whale watching on your own.
Grab a Great Cup of Coffee
Okay, I’ll admit that I may have a bit of a coffee addiction. I always research coffee shops before I head to a new town so I figured I’d let you know that Florence has some great coffee shops for your enjoyment. You’ll find Old Town Coffee Roasters, Ocean Grinds Coffee, Starbucks, Dutch Bros and more.