Oregon Coast Recommendations
Newport is great, but it is quite a drive from Seattle (heck, it's over 3 hours from Portland). Here are some recs a bit closer in coming down 101.
Astoria is the first thing you hit in Oregon coming over the bridge and down 101. It's a nice town with lots to see and do. A clean and inexpensive place to stay is the Crest Motel, right on the Columbia river, just out of downtown, great views, dog friendly. Check out the historic Column, Fort Stevens State Park (and the wreck of the Peter Iredale), and other stuff: http://www.astoriaoregon.com/activities.shtml
Coming south on 101 you will hit Seaside, which has a lot of tourist stuff (stores with souveneirs, a carousel, lots of hotels), but can be a nice town to stop in if you like your coastal towns bustling and commercial.
After Seaside is Cannon Beach. Cannon Beach is also bustling, but in a more upscale way - lots of galleries, a theatre, a bookstore, a wine store, also some fudge and candy shops. Lunch at the Wayfarer, with a great view of the beach and Haystack Rock is a nice stop - great salads, crab melts, etc.
Lots of folks like Gower St. Bistro too http://www.gowerstbistro.com/, though I'm not a big fan of it, ditto Newman's, the Stepahnie Inn, and The Bistro.
Going south you hit Manzanita, which is my favorite place to stay on the coast near Portland. It is a smaller town, quiet, and the beach is not crowded at all. There are a few nice shops, a couple of great coffee places, including Bread and Ocean, which makes great bread, sandwiches and box lunches.
The best place in this area of the coast to eat dinner is the Nehalem River Inn (better than anything I have found in Cannon Beach, Seaside, Lincoln City). Ryan and Nicole, the owners, are fabulous and run a great Inn with awesome food:
If you like oysters, Pacific Oyster in Bay City (right on 101, on a pier in the bay on the other side of the railroad tracks - look for the big piles of oyster shells) is a great, cheap lunch stop (also you can watch them shuck, and use very clean facilities ;o) - awesome oyster stew, oyster burgers, shooters, etc:
Another spot for an oyster burger (and lots of other stuff, including homemade pies), is at the Whiskey Creek Cafe, which is along the Three Capes Loop on Netarts Bay, not far from Tillamook. The Three Capes Loop is really nice and only a 35 mile detour that leads you right back into 101:
The Cape Meares Lighthouse is cool and there are some nice easy trails there: http://www.capemeareslighthouse.org/
Tillamook is a bit inland, but the cheese factory there is free to tour, gives free samples and has a huge selection of ice cream, cheese, etc. to buy there. http://tillamookcheese.com/VisitorsCenter/)
Just down the road from the Tillamook Cheese Factory is Blue Heron: http://www.blueheronoregon.com/ with lots of samples to try (jams, mustards, cheese, wine, sauces, vinegars, etc.
Lincoln City is the next big town going south. The Chinook Winds Casino is there (do NOT eat there!), and it is a much larger town than many on the coast. Blackfish Cafe is probably the nicest/best spot to eat in town for dinner: http://www.blackfishcafe.com/
For breakfast or lunch in Lincoln City, try the Wildflower Grill, just as you come into Lincoln City on 101 (http://www.tripadvisor.com/Travel-g51947-d618880/Lincoln-City:Oregon:Wildflower.Grill.html
)and there's the Otis Cafe (esp. good for breakfast), which is just outside of Lincoln City on Rte. 18 (just off of 101).
If you venture further south, and the whales are out, a stop at Depoe Bay to whale watch (go out on a boat if weather permits) is a neat thing.
The only other rec. I have south of there is the Side Door Cafe in Gleneden (horrible website, though: http://www.edenhall.com/page5.html)
If you make it this far, you might as well check out Newport, if you have time. I agree with Seal Rock and Yuzen (try to check out the tide pools at Seal Rock at low tide - they are amazing!). Sylvia Beach Hotel and the Chowder Bowl at Nye Beach; and Whale's Tale and Canyon Way at the Harborfront are good places to eat. If you are in Newport, you have to see the aquarium - one of the best, ever. There's also a Rogue Alehouse, if you need to get yer microbrew on.
"Going south you hit Manzanita, which is my favorite place to stay on the coast near Portland. It is a smaller town, quiet, and the beach is not crowded at all. There are a few nice shops, a couple of great coffee places, including Bread and Ocean, which makes great bread, sandwiches and box lunches. "
Manzanita is my fav. area. Bread & Ocean has great food the owner is my mom's friend from highschool. She used to own the Blue Sky Cafe in Manzanita, which was also great!
There is a small settlement between Newport and Waldport called "Seal Rock" (and I do mean small - I think only a couple hundred people live there). Within Seal Rock is a place called Yuzen Japanese cuisine. It's an odd place to find traditional Japanese cuisine, but it is quite good. I always stop by.
Also, if you make reservations at least an hour in advance, you can enjoy a very nice dinner at the restaurant of the Sylvia Beach Hotel in Newport, near the 'Nye Beach' area.
If you want to buy up some raw materials, fishermen sometimes offer fresh seafood right off the docks in the Newport harbor (depending on the season), of you can take the Yaquina Bay Road a few miles inland to the Oregon Oyster Farms, and buy up fresh-harvested oysters. These oysters are grown in the Yaquina River, which is quite a lot cleaner than most other places where oysters are grown - the taste tends to be quite fresh.