As one of the world’s, and indeed America’s, largest sea cave, and the only known mainland home of wild Stellar sea lions in the world, the Oregon Coast’s Sea Lion Caves near Florence, Oregon, is a must-see. There is lots and lots of free parking and admission ranges from $8 for kids (age five to 12) to $14 for adults.

Visiting Sea Lion Caves, near Florence on the Oregon Coast, will make for a memorable trip for everyone in the family! And it’s only 11 miles north of the Old Town Inn. “Nothing short of wild” has defined a visitor’s experience at the Florence area’s Sea Lion Caves for 90 years. In fact, Sea Lion Caves officially celebrated their 90th anniversary in August 2022.

A Brief History of the Sea Lion Caves

Since 1932, Sea Lion Caves has been a privately-owned wildlife preserve and bird sanctuary for the animals and birds that live there. It’s not a zoo. From the visitor’s center you will enjoy expansive ocean views where visitors often see gray and humpback whales, orca, and dolphins at different times of the year. There are more than a dozen kinds of birds that make the area home. Bring your binoculars!

sea lion on rock
orca whales
grey whale

Since the beginning, visitors to the area have been able to descend, first by wooden stairway, nowadays through solid rock by elevator, about 200 feet from the clifftop above Sea Lion Caves down into the cavernous environs of the multiplied hundreds of frolicking pinnipeds. From the visitor’s center at the top of the cliff it’s just a short outdoor walk to the elevator that takes you into the sea lion’s cathedral. According to NOAA, “the Steller (or northern) sea lion is the largest member of the family Otariidae, the ‘eared seals,’ which includes all sea lions and fur seals.”

Prime Time to Visit the Sea Lion Caves

inside a sea lion cave

The fall and winter seasons may be the best time to visit as barking seals and sea lions lounge inside the cave’s natural 12-story underground amphitheater. During the spring and summer, sea lions breed and typically stay on the rocks outside the caves.

Wintertime Visits:
Don’t be surprised by the weather in November and December. We often enjoy a decent amount of mild, even beautiful days. Keep an eye on the weather reports – and don’t assume it’s always cold and dreary on the coast. Many coastal locals note how it’s warmer at times in December than in June. Here at the Old Town Inn, we know that the weather is almost always a lot nicer in Florence than the meteorologists in Eugene (about an hour away) or Portland (just three hours away) say it will be.

Family Fun in Florence!

While the Sea Lion Caves may be the main attraction for your trip, there are many other reasons why visiting the Oregon Coast in the fall and winter is a great idea. Call us ahead of your visit and we’ll help you plan a memory-making, fun-filled itinerary during your stay at the Old Town Inn in Florence.

The Old Town Inn is a perfect choice to use as a home base as you travel up and down the Oregon Coast. See all the beautiful fall and winter sights and enjoy the lineup of events in Florence. Sea Lion Caves is approximately 11 miles north along Highway 101. Book a room at the Old Town Inn directly through our website or front desk (call 541-997-9131) to save money and to get the best, most accurate availability of rooms. As they say at our Florence Area Chamber of Commerce, there’s no bad weather, just poor clothing choices! Be sure to plan accordingly. Layers and a rain jacket are always advisable.

heceta head lighthouse

Photos courtesy Steve Saubert/Sea Lion Caves