Back in 2009, Newport appeared on our culinary radar when we ate a remarkable cioppino at Sharks Seafood Bar. It would be enough of a reason to come back again (and again). Aside from its many seafood restaurants, this town of 10,000 residents has several other attractions.
The most obvious physical presence in the city is the historic Yaquina Bay Bridge, one of many designed by Oregon engineer Conde McCullough. It is a steel and concrete arch bridge spanning Yaquina Bay that used to be crossed by ferry before the bridge’s completion in 1938. We walked partially across it to admire McCullough’s artistic touches: gothic pointed arches cut out in the balustrade and the art deco design of the four obelisks that flank both ends of the arch.
One of the finest aquariums in the country is also located here, the Oregon Coast Aquarium. Though my recall is vague of what I saw the last time I visited many years ago with my family, what did stick in my mind was a stunning display of jellyfish in a large cylindrical tank in which many diaphanous specimens floated up and down in dancelike movements, illuminated only by a single light from above. It was simple but spectacular. Our visit today was rewarded by another beautiful display of jellyfish (above) and equally fine exhibits of fascinating creatures and ecosystems that live off the Oregon coast.
A walk in the historic Bayfront area along Bay Boulevard still reflects Newport’s heritage as an important fishing village. It still is a port off Yaquina Bay where fishing fleets continue to work, has a fish processing plant and hosts several businesses, including many fine seafood restaurants. Murals by Rick Chambers adorn the sides of buildings, all of them paying homage to Newport’s maritime history.