We live here and often take a drive on camping trips from Cape Lookout to Lincoln City. We love the drive along the coast. We are only used to the west coast. California is a long drive for the coast. I am not faimiliar with Washington Coast but in mapping it, and the few visits we've taken because of the shapes of it and the water bodies that you must go around it seems like it would be a longer drive for a coastal drive. I don't wonder onto the Washington forums much for that reason.
Most people I know go to a region to spend their vacation but don't travel the whole state. In the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area there are so many geological attractions (waterfalls, rivers, creeks, mountains, swimming holes, hikes)and attractions like the Mt. Hood Steam Train, Fruit Loop, Stern Wheeler, Bonneville Dam and Locks (AND MORE) that it makes sense to stay in that 77 mile area for 2 or 3 days (or more) Booking those attractions and taking them takes days.
On the coast, it's a lovely drive but we prefer to stay in one location and drive up and down the coast. We have tried Pacific City but we both agree that we like Cape Lookout when we go. If you are in Astoria, it takes more time to go up and down the coast. It's at the tip of the state. Cape Lookout is somewhat Central Oregon Coast.
I take a lot of heat in here, but neither Bend nor the coast nor any other place in Oregon have the distinction of being a National Scenic Area. Only the Gorge. I have never questioned anyone else about their recommendations But I constantly get quizzed.
Of course maybe I am more old fashioned than many travelers. I don't think so. I think vacations are for exploring and resting. Not a mad dash to exhaust you.
I hesitated to offer Cape Lookout. That is not the location the OP requested. But it is within normal drive times to not wear them out. He asked for dog friendly beaches and this beach is very dog friendly. Long walks with the dog and not too crowded in the early morning walks we have taken. We are trained to offer something reasonable, not deter the visitors from visiting what they want.
Thanks for asking.
Edited: 1:55 pm, February 11, 2012