Located on the central Oregon Coast is Florence, Oregon, the coastal gateway to the world's largest natural dunes, 15 freshwater lakes, and a natural salmon estuary known as the Siuslaw River. Florence offers a variety of activities for visitors and locals alike and is also known as āThe City of Rhododendronsā for its abundance of gorgeous rhododendrons. Originally Florence was known for its rich history in harvesting timber, along with commercial and recreational fishing, including Pacific King Salmon. The town has developed quickly and now offers a multitude of activities and entertainment, taking you from dense forests to sprawling dunes, from locally owned restaurants and shops to the only full-service casino in Lane County.
The Florence area offers a variety of camping and RV destinations, giving you a choice of lodging alongside lakes, rivers, the Pacific Ocean, or in the historic āOld Town.ā
The Florence Events Center and the Florence Area Chamber of Commerce host annual events, including the Rhododendron Festival, Oktoberfest, Rods āN Rhodies Invitational Car Show, Veterans Day Parade, Community Wide Garage Sale, Wings and Wheels, and 4th of July Celebration.
The fine art of living.
Close your eyes and picture your dream town -- the place where you would love to live, work, play or raise your family. It's more than likely that the town in your mind resembles Florence, Oregon. Why? Itās really simple: Florence is one of the best places to live in the United States.
Florence is a small town with a strong community. It is small enough that residential neighbors know one another, where one encounters plenty of familiar faces at the post office or in a grocery market. It is a town where citizens voluntarily staff our fire department, work together to clear land or another city park and raise funds for a new acute-care hospital. In Florence, we rally together to keep the town functioning at its highest potential.
And as for potential, in Florence, it is endless. The town is a commercial center, serving an area wide population of nearly 22,000. It is accessible by highway, sea and air. There are department stores, a community college, a winter concert series and a taxi service. But, one of Florenceās most attractive features is its wide array of natural attributes. We are located on the beautiful Oregon coast and have miles of beaches. To the north, there is a 25-mile stretch of clean sand, driftwood, crashing surf and high promontories. Southward, the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area sits, 42 miles of shifting dunes, lakes and forests make it one of the country's most popular seaside attractions.
Forests and rivers and lakes, oh my!
Florence is surrounded with beautiful, towering pine trees that extend to the doorsteps of the residential areas. Its backdrop is the Siuslaw National Forest, one of the nation's most productive tree growing areas.
Florence is a river town, too. From more than one hundred miles deep within the Coastal Range, the Siuslaw River begins a meandering trip to the sea. About half a mile west of Florence, new jetties have extended the riverās mouth. Two walls of massive stones extend a quarter mile into the Pacific Ocean. This $30 million project was done to enhance river navigation. More and more often the traffic whistle blows, the center of the Siuslaw Bridge raises and another fishing boat or lumber barge passes the historic riverfront district.
There are over a dozen fresh water lakes, which serve anglers, boaters, and swimmers. All of these features add up to a whole lot of tourism. Whether one's recreational needs call for sand, surf, golfing, lakeshores or a deep forest, Florence has all of it close at hand. Recently half a million dollars was spent improving a lighted 3,000 foot runway at the airport. And right across the street from that, an Industrial and Business Park is booming.
The young, the old, and the restless.
The young and the old find Florence to be a perfect town to live in. About 1/3 of its 8,600+ residents have chosen it as a home for their senior years. Most of these residents are active seniors, participating in community singing, travel clubs, nature study groups and volunteer work in government and social services.
The young also find Florence to be an excellent place to grow up in. Florence and the nearby community of Mapleton provide schooling for 2,000+ students. Kids have strong groups of friends and have a myriad of activities that surround them daily.
Florence is also neighbors with some other quickly growing towns. Dunes City is a few miles south of Florence; its 1,100+ residents have established homes between two of the largest coastal lakes, Woahink and Siltcoos. For them, it's only a walk to recreational opportunities, whether the choice is water skiing, hunting, or access to dunes and ocean beaches.
East of Florence, farther up into the Coastal Range is Mapleton. This unincorporated community at the junction of Hwy 126 and Hwy 36, is the gateway to water sports on the upper Siuslaw and Lake Creek. Mapleton has a small, but enthusiastic business community, offering a surprising number of services to locals and tourists. Many of the storefronts reflect a quaint reminder of earlier days along the river.
Florence Activities & Recreation.
Florence and its surrounding area offer a limitless supply of recreational opportunities for people of all ages.
The first stop on the itinerary is a visit to the historic Old Town shopping district, which is comfortably situated by a collection of antique malls, clothing boutiques, wine shops, and galleries that offer arts and crafts. There are also a variety of stores along Highway 101 that are sure to pique your interest.
Florence is especially known for its selection of fresh, delicious seafood. Restaurants around Florence offer a wide variety of dining opportunities from picnics to family dinners to fine dining.
Want to sit back and relax? Visit the popular multiplex cinema that always offers the newest releases. Make sure to check out the Florence Events Centerās schedule. The Events Center is a well-known venue that schedules a wide array of performances. Also, try your luck at Three Rivers Casino, Lane Countyās only full-service casino.
Those who are active feel right at home in Florence. On any day, you can find virtually any recreational activity on land, in the water, or up in the air.
Land activities include golfing, hiking and biking, camping & RVing, birding, mushrooming, hunting, horseback riding, skateboarding, beachcombing, and a variety of dune activities.
Water activities include fresh water fishing, boating, kayaking & canoeing, wind surfing, wave-boarding, scuba diving, swimming, surfing, whale watching, crabbing, clamming, crawdadding, saltwater fishing.
Feeling a little more adventurous? Explore Florence from up in the air with one of our unique scenic aerial tours in a by-plane which takes off from our local airport. In the fall of 2004, Florence gained the title of number one retirement community in the United States by Retirement Places Rated. Florence has a modern hospital, library, and events center. Old Town is a vibrant riverfront district with many shops, restaurants, and offices and on Hwy 126 just east of town is the newest casino on the Oregon Coastāthe Three Rivers Casino.
A short distance to the north of town are the popular Sea Lion Caves and one of the most photographed sites on the Oregon Coast, Heceta Head Lighthouse. Florence serves as the northern gateway to the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, which begins south of the Siuslaw River.
Florence is also home to the first designated State Park Dive Park, which is located on the Siuslaw River just off North Jetty Road, and the worldās first sand-board park on the north end of town, which includes jumps, rail slides, and 40 acres of private sculpted dunes.
For those who enjoy golf, two 18-hole courses, Ocean Dunes and Sandpines, provide plenty of challenge.
At the southern gateway to Florence is the Siuslaw Bridge. It was one of five major bridges built in 1936, and like the others, replaced ferry service across the river. This combination steel double-leaf bascule drawspan and reinforced concrete through tied arch structure, is also noted for its many decorative touches, such as the approach pylons, ornate railings, and obelisk towers.
Hospital: Peace Harbor, 541-997-8412
Chamber of Commerce: 290 Hwy 101, 541-997-3128, 800-524-4864
Merchants of Old Town: PO Box 2646
City Hall: 250 Hwy 101, PO Box 340, 541-997-3436
Located a short 14 mile drive along scenic Hwy 126, the community of Mapleton has managed to keep that small town, slower pace of life feel. The business area is located along the beautiful Siuslaw River and many anglers are attracted to the area. The market is a perfect place to stop on the way to the coast for a cold drink and a snack. The business strip also offers a cafe with home style cooking, an old time tavern, cottage gift shop, and a hardware store complete with a wood stove that the locals gather around in the winter to share fish stories.
Hwy 126 continues on to Eugene and the Iā5 corridor.