Even if you race right through, it’s quite apparent that Coos Bay (pop. 15,967), once the world’s largest lumber port, retains a core of heavy industry. Many of the big mills have closed, and one has been replaced by The Mill Casino, a popular resort complex operated by the Coquille Indian Tribe. You can still watch huge piles of wood chips, the harbor’s number-one export, being loaded onto factory ships in the harbor east of US-101. The chips are sent to Asia, where they’re turned into paper.
There’s good seafood and other meals available at Sharkbites Café (240 S. Broadway, 541/269-7475), on southbound US-101. Microbrews and a wide range of beer-friendly German dishes are served at the Blue Heron Bistro (100 Commercial Ave., 541/267-3933), across from the visitors bureau. There’s no shortage of easy-to-find lodging, including Motel 6 (1445 N. Bayshore Dr., 541/267-7171, $50 and up) on US-101.