South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve

Southern Oregon Coast

Charleston sits at the mouth of South Slough, a tidal river basin that turns into a vast, muddy estuary full of wildlife. Four miles south of Charleston on Seven Devils Rd is this excellent interpretive center, with exhibits on estuarine ecology, also showcased in a 12-minute video. It runs events and programs all year.

Several walking trails, ranging from 0.25 to 3 miles, offer glimpses of the local ecology. Canoeing is also possible but you'll need your own canoe.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Southern Oregon Coast attractions

1. Charleston Marine Life Center

3.74 MILES

This fantastic new little museum/aquarium has lots of interactive displays plus views out over the harbor. Touch a whale on a screen to hear its song, pet…

2. Sunset Bay State Park

4.07 MILES

Three miles southwest of town on Cape Arago Hwy, this state park is nestled in a small, protected bay that once served as a safe harbor for fishing boats,…

3. Shore Acres State Park


Beautiful rehabilitated gardens are the highlight of this unusual state park, 4 miles southwest of Charleston. Louis Simpson, a shipping and lumber…

4. Cape Arago State Park

4.33 MILES

About 5 miles south of Charleston at blustery Cape Arago you can scan the horizon for whales, seals and watch ships passing into Coos Bay. The 0.2-mile…

5. Coos Art Museum

7.25 MILES

The Coos Art Museum, in a historic art deco building, provides a hub for the region's art culture. Rotating exhibits from the museum's permanent…

6. Coos Historical & Maritime Museum

7.77 MILES

In gigantic and fancy new digs on Coos Bay's waterfront, this museum displays exhibits from Native American culture to maritime shipwrecks, plus mining,…

7. Bandon Historical Society Museum

12.84 MILES

This museum has exhibits on the area's historical industries and the Coquille Native Americans, along with memorable photos of Bandon's two devastating…

8. Washed Ashore Gallery & Workshop

12.88 MILES

This tiny but cool gallery features gigantic sculptures made from trash washed up from the sea. Walk through a life-sized whale skeleton made from plastic…