Navigate Newport like a local: Insider tips from Hallmark Central Reservations Agent Jessica Spurgeon

Yaquina Bay Lighthouse

Vacationing is always an adventure—discovering new foods, new art, new beaches you’ve never explored. And the best part is, even if we’ve visited somewhere multiple times, there are still new experiences around every corner.

One thing most of us want to know when we visit a new place is, “Where do the locals go?” We want to know the spots that aren’t in the brochure, the special meals that aren’t on the menu, the places you walk in and there’s not a tourist in sight. 

Jessica Spurgeon

Insider Tips from a Hallmark Employee

This month, we talked to Hallmark Central Reservations Agent Jessica Spurgeon to get her take on the best of Newport. Jessica has worked for Hallmark for a year and a half, and she loves every minute of it—she’s always building relationships with guests and aims to make them feel like they’re talking to a family member. 

Here are just a few of Jessica’s insider tips on navigating Newport.

What’s a fun fact about Newport? 

The Yaquina (pronounced Ya-KWIN-a) Bay Lighthouse is the last standing wooden Lighthouse in the world. All the other lighthouses in the world are cement. It’s also a museum and free to explore on self-guided tours! It’s currently open seven days a week from 12-4, but call to check as hours and days sometimes change. 

What’s your favorite meal at Georgie’s?

Definitely the Baja Salmon wrap. It’s so good….it tastes so fresh with grilled salmon and this yummy mango salsa and chipotle cream cheese. Highly recommended. Of course, like everybody I also love Georgie’s Clam Chowder. The Chef makes it fresh every day and it’s won a lot of awards, so folks should definitely give it a try!  

Newport South Jetty sunset

What’s the best spot to hike in Newport? 

I love the South Beach Jetty (South Beach State Park) over the bridge in South Beach, Oregon. It’s a simple hike and it’s so relaxing to watch the boats float in and out through the bar! If you’re lucky, you’ll see some California Sea lions lounging on the shore along with some amazing sea birds. The trail is about 2 miles out and back, and when you get back you can take a break to watch the fishermen or the boats traveling back to the Bayfront marina. Don’t forget that Newport is still a working port town! 

What’s the best beach in Newport?

Not to be redundant, but my favorite beach is South Beach. It’s near the Yaquina Bay Bridge and is right next to South Beach State Park. There are miles of beautiful beaches and it’s not as busy as Agate Beach. You’ll find trails for walking and biking, and they allow bonfires at night as long as there’s not a burn ban. And even though it’s not called Agate Beach, you can still find agates to take home as a gift from the Oregon Coast. 

Newport Discovery Zoo sloth

Eve the sloth from the Newport Discovery Zoo. Photo courtesy of the Newport Discovery Zoo

What’s your favorite spot in Newport? 

In my opinion, the best spot in Newport is the Newport Discovery Zoo. It is a whole zoo of baby animals! You can bottle-feed a Kangaroo, watch a sloth eat lunch or meet a baby emu (my personal favorite). If you or your kids are animal lovers, this is a definite must-see! They’re open Friday-Sunday 12-5, but call 541-961-6371 for the latest hours. 

 Newport sunset

What’s the best place to experience what Newport is all about?

It’s no secret, but you haven’t really experienced Newport if you haven’t been to the beautiful historic Bayfront. It’s got great restaurants, really funky shops with art and gifts, and of course a working dock with fishing boats. It’s really the heart of Newport. You can see the folks at Pacific Seafood and Borstein’s work and process the fish they catch to be shipped to stores and markets or watch the Charter boats come in with guests getting their catch filleted. You can even stop and visit with our local Sea Lions, who like to lounge on the docks. You can find them on Port Dock One in front of Clearwater Restaurant, across from Ripley’s Believe It or Not! 

Newport Ultralife

If you can’t get reservations at Georgie’s, is there anywhere else you enjoy eating?

Besides Georgie’s, my favorite place to eat and shop is UltraLife Café in Nye Beach. They serve amazing coffee and homemade pastries. They also have great cafe food like sandwiches and wraps as well as healthy treats like açaí bowls and gluten-free baked goods. There’s a super cute market they own next door called Archway Market, with all kinds of local, artisanal goodies like snacks, gifts and even wine and beer. 

What’s the best thing about Newport? 

The best thing about Newport is that you can relax, because it is not too busy here and there’s a super casual vibe. You can always find a spot to hang out and read a book or get lost in the beautiful sunset or sunrise. The people here are also incredibly friendly and we have beautiful parks and activities like a Performing Arts Center and trails to explore like the Mike Miller Education Trail in South Beach. We also have a fun Aquarium Village full of shops like Pirate’s Plunder and Newport Discovery Zoo. There is so much to do, it’s impossible to do it all in one trip. Newport’s like a Pirate’s Treasure. It has a bounty of adventures and each day you explore it, you find something new to do with your friends and family. 


And there you have it—all the local secrets you’ll need from your friendly neighborhood Reservations Agent! 

Want to put them to good use? We can’t wait to see you.