More Family Fun in Southern Oregon

Genie Davis September 12, 2010 1 Comment


Yesterday I began describing a coastal adventure based at Heceta Head Light Station near Florence, in wonderful Oregon. A second day’s coastal adventures can spin you north from Yachats. Take in the very famous, very large Haystack Rock – one of the sea stacks – on the open, flat Cannon Beach. This resort town is touristy but charming, with salt water taffy shops vying for space next to antique stores.

Your little ones will love the long beach and the great rock formations of which Haystack is the most famous. No small coves here, the beach goes on forever, and its easy contours are perfect for running, walking, or bringing out the pails and shovels.
For accommodations, you can easily continue to base your activities at the charming bed and breakfast plus communal kitchen at Heceta Head, but Cannon Beach also offers a plethora of lodging choices.

We stayed at the Cannon Beach Hotel which allows you to make choices within choices, a small historic hotel, stylish studio type apartments, or quaint cottages. We picked The Courtyard which offered a kitchenette ideal for preparing breakfasts or lunches in – we’re big on that for savings and convenience – a fireplace, and a very short walk to the wide expanse of sand that makes Cannon Beach such a pleasure.

The rooms are beautifully and spaciously laid out with large bathrooms, warm cherry wood furnishings, lovely linens and original art. Most rooms have patios or balconies, and it’s a quiet setting, a small building situated among galleries, cafes and restaurants, and a short walk to the downtown shopping area as well as the beach.

For a meal try The Lumberyard Rotisserie & Grill, which appeals to locals and visitors in a relaxed, casual setting. They have outdoor patio dining with a menu ranging from organic greens, fish, and chicken to high quality, fresh ingredient hearth-stone pizzas. Our kids loved the cornbread, made in a skillet. The emphasis on organic and fresh ingredients makes it a highlight. There’s plenty of antique, gallery, and even toy stores to browse, all of them family friendly. Whenever you’ve finished shopping and strolling, take a short drive south again – and west – clinging to the sea.

Off the beaten track, there is a lovely ocean loop drive to Oceanside and the Cape Meare’s Lighthouse. The road literally hugs the bay, so close you could pull to the side, open a car door, and wade in. Slowly, the road climbs to the beautifully preserved lighthouse with self-guiding tours and astonishingly deserted sea views. The lighthouse is easy to reach and the climb to the top via interior stairs is easy, even for small legs.

Lighthouse at Cape Meare Oregon

And if you skipped a meal in Cannon Beach, drive a few miles farther to the hamlet of Oceanside, where exotic sandwiches and coffees can be found at the Brewin’ In the Wind coffee shop. A real locals spot, friendly and funky, there are fruit drinks and hot chocolate that the kids will enjoy. And there are more enchanting, imagination firing coves for walking and exploring, too.  We found this the ultimate in excellent beach combing for rocks and shells. Make sure you save some room in your vehicle and your luggage- you’ll find many of your best souvenirs just lying in the sand in this area.

Exiting the loop road, you’ll find cormorants wing overhead at the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse in Newport; another beautiful landmark to explore. In the same town you’ll find whales, sea otters and puffins at the Oregon Coast Aquarium. Well stocked and beautifully maintained, you and your kids will enjoy the exhibits. Reasonably priced, you’ll find over five hundred species in both indoor and outdoor exhibits. Our kids really enjoyed an undersea adventure area featuring sharks, and rays, and Swampland, designed to inspire an understanding of wetlands areas often ignored by standard aquarium exhibits. Featuring an alligator and a 12 foot anaconda, there are other exotics as well, snapping turtles, tropical fish, red tail boas and piranhas. Anaconda feeding is managed by two people and looks just dangerous enough to draw a few gasps from viewers.

South Oregon Coast

And if its feeding time for your family, Newport is the “Dungeness crab capital of the world” and you’ll find lots of it in area restaurants. We enjoyed The Chowder Bowl, a comfortable spot with excellent chowder, and sweet, fresh crab. Steamer clams were also delicious.

If you have time for one more stop, check out the Salmon River fish hatchery near Newport. At this unique and friendly venue, workers are eager to show off huge salmon and the ways in which fish are hatched for release in the river. Not far away is the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology, a one of a kind organization. Stunning photographs, crafts exhibits from basket weaving to shell art, and artists and scientists exploring art and nature in cooperative projects all serve to make this a unique stop in a beautiful setting. From April to October the center offers craft and art workshops many appealing to all ages and using materials indigenous to the region. Check out their website for current offerings and information at

avatarAbout the Author:

Genie Davis is a multi-published fiction author, screen and TV writer, and travel writer. If it was possible, she'd like to spend every day traveling.

Tags: Tips and Hints, Travel Excursions
One Comments to “More Family Fun in Southern Oregon”
  1. avatar From the Sea to the River – More, Marvelous Oregon « Tots and Travel – Family Vacations and Reviews says:

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