Where can you stay in a historic sentinel — rumored to be haunted — on a rugged coastline? Or watch a towering beacon cast beams of light that extend 21 miles out to sea? Nowhere, except at Heceta Head Lighthouse Bed & Breakfast on Oregon's central coast. My husband and I explored this icon and coastal region for a weekend in November. Besides airfare and car rental, we spent about $536, including $133 per night for two nights in a room in the lightkeeper's cottage, dinner at the Waterfront Depot in Florence (1252 Bay St.;  902-9100, www.thewaterfrontdepot.com) and groceries purchased for the cottage.
The Heceta Head Lighthouse B&B ( 547-3696, hecetalighthouse.com. Rooms from $133 a night Nov. 1-April 30; rates higher May 1-Oct. 3. Includes seven-course breakfast.), once the lightkeeper's cottage, is now a six-room inn. There are two large parlors with fireplaces on the main floor as well as a large outdoor deck with seating. Each night we burrowed under the thick duvets on our bed and listened to the crashing surf and howling wind. The shared bathroom across the hall had a porcelain claw-foot tub in which I could sit and gaze at the forest and beach below while soaking. I felt as if I were floating back in time. And yes, thick terry-cloth robes are provided.
I'm not big on sharing a breakfast table with strangers, but each of the seven courses, introduced by the chef, who explained the source of the local ingredients, was so mouth-watering that it was fun to share the delight with others. "The Lighthouse Breakfast Cookbook" is for sale and loaded with the B&B's recipes, as well as family stories of the innkeepers and a history of the lighthouse.
The Art Deco-style Siuslaw River Bridge and the Cape Creek Bridge, which resembles an aqueduct, are both on Highway 101, the route to the lighthouse. Both were built in the 1930s, are on the National Register of Historic Places, and are as beautiful from below as they are from above. They rival the natural surroundings they span.
The lesson learned
Stop in Eugene, Ore., on your way to the coast for groceries. Once you're at the lighthouse, you're 15 miles from Florence, the nearest town. The cottage has a full kitchen for guests' use.
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