LINCOLN CITY: OREGON’S AMAZING TREASURE HUNT
By Linda Kissam “Food, Wine & Shopping Diva”
From treasure hunting and flying kites to art, gardens, fine dining and casino entertainment, travel writer Linda Kissam ‘Food Wine & Shopping Diva’, discusses her adventures in coastal Lincoln City, Oregon, along with Donna Riani – Manager of the Culinary Center and Eric Johnson – Lincoln City Visitor & Convention Bureau, on Big Blend Radio.
Get your kites tuned up, your treasure hunting skills focused and your art groove on… Lincoln City, Oregon awaits you!
Lincoln City is located about an hour from Salem, Oregon. The promotional name “Lincoln City” was created in 1965 by stringing together a half dozen smaller communities: Taft, Nelscott, Cutler City, Delake, Oceanlake, and Wecoma Beach. It is not an uncommon move on the part of small, but savvy tourist bureaus, to rename a tourist area. These were all small end-to-end communities along U.S. Route 101, which now serves as Lincoln City’s main street. The name “Lincoln City” was chosen from contest entries submitted by local school children. The contest was held to head off controversy of using any one of the five community’s names as the prominent promotional focus.
The result is one quirky, endearing and colorful, coastal town with seven miles of wind-swept beachfront. Lincoln City has two primary economic resources: retirement and tourism. The later has greatly increased since 1995 when the Confederated Tribes of Siletz opened Chinook Winds Casino at the northern end of the city, on property overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
Although primarily a summer-time destination, this town presents a case for year-round visits.
Finders Keepers Glass Float Treasure Hunt
One of the best tourist incentive programs in the USA, volunteer “Float Fairies” hide one-of-a-kind, numbered hand-blown glass floats along the seven-mile stretch of beach from October – May (call for exact dates). The number of floats hidden correspond with the year. In 2017 for example, 2017 floats were hidden between the embankment and the tide line. In addition, special drops to commemorate specific holidays or programs increase everyone’s chance of finding a special treasure. Register your treasure with the visitor’s bureau to find out who the local artist is who created the float. It’s memory making time as the hunt brings out the pirate in all of us. Fun and joyful. This should be your first activity to get you into the spirit of Lincoln City.
Pottery and Glass Studios
Lincoln City is an art lover’s paradise. Special treasures can be found at a variety of shops throughout the area. My favorites included stops at Mossy Creek Pottery, Alder House and Jennifer Sears Glass Art Studio.
Mossy Creek Pottery is a celebration of local potters. It is one of the only “pottery specific” consignment studios in the Washington or Oregon area. Featuring 30+ rotating artists, you can find everything from contemporary to traditional, to whimsical items. How about a $55 Sasquatch coffee cup? Owner Melanie Richardson shared they can’t keep them in stock. If you’re looking for mirrors, jewelry, teapots, plates, bowls or even totem poles, they’re all here. Affordable prices with a variety I’ve never seen before, this is a must stop.
Once you find your first float, you’ll be on a further hunt to understand how these beauties are made. This Alder House glass blowing studio founded by Buzz Williams is a small artsy retail and demonstration studio out in the woods (located next to Mossy Creek Pottery). It has a long history, best told by Buzz…who, by the way, is there every day at some point, and more than willing to share his story of success with you. He defines success this way, “If you’re nice to people it’s returned somewhere down the line.” His joy, pride and enthusiasm of 50 years of glass blowing experience is tangible anywhere you step in the studio. Daily demos are offered by one of five artists. Affordable beauty.
The Jennifer Sears Glass Art Studio not only showcases one-of-a-kind blown glass art, but also allows visitors to blow glass with local artisans. Guests work alongside artists through the process of working with molten glass. You can make three sizes of floats, a fluted bowl, a smaller fluted bowl, a paperweight, a votive candle holder or a heart. They supply everything you need except your own vision and heart.
Another side to the “arts” offerings in Lincoln City is the Culinary Center where a wide selection of classes, subjects and cuisines are available to all tourists. In an intimate demonstration class just sit back, relax and enjoy the wonderful food and wine while you learn from local guest pros. My Native American cooking class was provided by Chef Jack Strong, representing Chinook Casino. The coastal tribal menu was memorable and at the cost of $60 for a three-hour class, I couldn’t have asked for more. Our host (and chef) Donna Riani, suggests visitors visit their Website for upcoming demo and hands-on classes.
One of the things I especially like about this town is the wide range of available accommodations. There are larger resort style properties, casino lodging, as well as condo and house rentals right along with my favorite – the family owned inns. On your first visit consider being right on the beach. I can highly recommend Pelican Shores Inn. Literally steps from crashing waves and wind-swept beaches, it offers just the right combination of larger updated rooms, affordable prices, to-die-for views and personal service. Throw in a continental breakfast every morning and it spells success to me.
What’s your pleasure? Fast-food eateries are represented here, but so are mid and upscale dining. I like supporting local independent establishments. Two that you will be delighted with are Mist at Surftides Resort (mid-range dining, excellent bar and live music on the weekends), and The Bay House (higher-end white tablecloth dining). Come as you are at either establishment. Both have killer views and personable service.
Try the five-course tasting ($78) at The Bay House. Under rising star Chef Kevin Ryan and the watchful eye of owner Steve Wilson, I can promise you a night to remember. Course after course was tasteful and creative.
Try the Lobster Mac & Cheese at Mist and BE SURE to ask manager Mark to create a cocktail just for you. Presented with flair and good taste, you’ve never seen this kind of imaginative bar service in a small coastal town before.
Chinook Winds Casino Resort is Oregon’s premiere Casino. Think large-scale operation with 1200+ slot machines, several restaurants (try breakfast or the extensive oyster bar at their Seafood Grill), table games, live poker, live music and performances, food festivals, keno and bingo. Owned and operated by the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians of Oregon, the spirit of the Tribe can be felt not only in the casino but in the community as well. Always ready to give back to the community in whatever way they can, there is a beautiful spirit present. An outstanding destination for culture, cuisine and casino entertainment.
The beaches are often filled with flamboyant kites, taking advantage of the sometimes dramatic winds. Did you know Lincoln City was named Kite Capital of the World by “Kitelines” Magazine? Who knew? Each year they hold two kite festivals that attract kite buffs and competitors from around the world. Every weekend from July to October, kite experts will bring giant show pieces to the D River Wayside. Some of these flying wonders are as large as 90 feet long.
I love small gardens and Lincoln City has one of the best I’ve seen in some time, The Connie Hansen Garden Conservancy. Located smack in the middle of a neighborhood development, this community treasure is an acre and a quarter of winding paths. The garden is most remarkable in the spring when the rhododendrons, lilies, and azaleas are blooming, but it is worth a visit anytime. Open from dawn to dusk every day, admission is free but donations are welcome. As an added bonus, they sell plants and they encourage a rest-and-renew look at the gardens. Pets on leashes are welcome.
Enjoy the beds of shade loving hosta, hellebores and primroses. Bridges cross the creek that lead you past iris beds, sunny rock gardens and colorful heather berms. This is a gardeners paradise.
Linda Kissam ‘Food, Wine & Shopping Diva’ is a professional travel, food, and wine writer based out of Southern California, who specializes in easy, breezy destination stories sharing her favorite things about the places she visits. Visit www.AllInGoodTaste.info.