Covering 180 miles of Oregon coast travel: Astoria, Seaside, Cannon Beach, Manzanita, Nehalem, Wheeler, Rockaway, Garibaldi, Tillamook, Oceanside, Pacific City, Lincoln City, Depoe Bay, Newport, Waldport, Yachats & Florence.
Family Fun and Finery on the Oregon Coast
(Oregon Coast) - A day at the beach. What else can be more perfect for the family with kids in tow, or for a pair of romancers looking for the finery?
Often, those two missions are conflicting: taking the little ones can prohibit partaking in the upscale pleasures the coast has to offer.
Or does it? There are options for kid-friendly lodgings, restaurants and towns which pull out the stops for the kidlets or bring out the kid in everyone – yet don’t force Mom and Dad to sacrifice the good stuff.
On the north coast, for those craving the Oregon coast staple of seafood, don’t miss the ecstasy-inducing former ocean dwellers to gobble down at Pacific Oyster, on the scenic, pristine Tillamook Bay. It’s literally on the bay – on a dock jutting into out over the water. You can’t get much fresher than this.
They have a cioppino to die for. It’s thick, hearty and so stocked full of a variety of fish it puts a hatchery to shame. The oysters are like tender little chunks of beef: extremely rich and flavorful, quite powerful for their miniscule size. The smoked salmon burger is wonderful as well, and the view of the bay magnificent. The recent addition of homemade pies (created on the premises) gives it a special touch.
How to entertain the little ones? This one's so easy it hurts: they also have a self-guided tour where you can watch the workers shuck the oysters and pack them up. Something like 10 tons of little fishy creatures get processed here each day. It's like going to a maritime OMSI.
There are plenty of delicious goodies for the kiddies on the menu, and kids will enjoy ogling the two shipwrecks sitting near the pier, which are very visible at low tide. Now that it's nicer weather, you can also dine outside and take in the fresh air and ambiance of the bay.
Beginning every Memorial Day weekend, Pacific Oyster hosts a massive outdoor fresh fish market for the summer, which maximizes the atmosphere for your fresh fish shopping jaunt. Huge, whole fish are sold - a huge variety of them - and about as fresh as humanly possible. It's as if they hopped out of the water onto the dock. 5150 Oyster Drive. (503) 377-2323.
On Oregon's north coast, the tiny town of Manzanita is endowed with a mysterious, woodsy vibe just above its vast expanse of crystalline beach. Here, the San Dune Inn provides a vast array of freebies like bikes, game equipment, popcorn and movies. Stay at this charming, unassuming place just blocks from the beach and you'll find stuff for volleyball and other games suitable for the sand, as well as beach balls, bikes and simple sandcastle-making gear like buckets. Owner Brian Hines have an enormous selection of movies, and their choice of board games is a kick as well. It's a kid's dream come true.
Hines said he’s having steadily increased repeat business in the several since they took over this little charmer. People are coming back more and more, bringing their kids, their dogs – or both, since it is very pet friendly. www.sandune-inn-manzanita.com. 503-368-5163.
Head northward, and you'll encounter dozens of sandy and rocky beaches perfect for playtime. Drive about 12 miles and you'll find the ritzy resort town of Cannon Beach. Near a famed Lewis & Clark landmark, Fultano's Pizza sits and emits wonderful smells of Italian cuisine. With an outdoor patio here, you can still see some of the sights available at the end of Second Street, and enjoy exceptional - even gourmet quality - cuisine at a family pizza joint price.
Fultano's delivers to local hotels, and they feature slices for lunch. They have a special thin crust recipe that's especially tasty, crunchy and yet still tender in a way that manages to combine both those latter qualities seamlessly.
There are many of the standbys, as well as gourmet varieties like the Margherita (garlic and herb olive oil, three cheeses, red onion and more), a Greek-themed specialty, a Goat Cheese pizza, and specialties with Teriyaki Chicken, Linguica, BBQ Chicken and a variety of seafood selections. One item features a distinctive sausage with mashed grapes for the sauce, providing a subtle, sweet tang. The sausage is spicy and zippy, making a nice balance to the slight sweetness.
One must-try is their pasta (about $10). They have a homemade tomato sauce that is one stunning, mother-of-all sauces, and their meatballs are a serious delicacy. Still, even with its decent wine and microbrew selection, this is a place that welcomes the kiddies nicely. 200 N. Hemlock and Second Street. (503) 436-9717. www.CBfultanos.com.
Drive north again, to Seaside, and you'll find a beach town full of things to do for children - most notably Broadway Ave. with its almost dozen arcade businesses, kooky gift shops, bumper cars and other attractions. See the Seaside Virtual Tour for more. Then there's always the landmark Seaside Aquarium, which allows you to feed the seals and watch them play and do goofy things.
One option for the connoisseurs as well as the kiddies is Zinger’s Homemade Ice Cream, featuring – you guessed it – gourmet ice cream. Mike Exinger makes his own here, including his own cones, and the difference is remarkable. Highlights include the powerful fresh fruit taste of the marionberry, using real Marion County berries, and the seasonal mango, which is tangy and unforgettable, often coming with juicy chunks of mango to chew on. Sugar free and diabetic options are available, but mostly Zinger's specializes in frozen excess. Singles are as big as two scoops and doubles - well, they're twice as large.
Exinger admits his prices aren't arcade-cheap (cones are almost three dollars), but they are bigger than usual and it is ice cream of almost snooty standard. 210 Broadway. (503) 738-3939.
One highlight is Seaside Helicopters, which whizzes you around above the town for about $38 per person. It's thoroughly spectacular, as the helicopter takes you over the headland of Tillamook Head and Cannon Beach as well, allowing you extraordinary glimpses of the sea and these landmarks from this unusual vantage point. You even get to see "Goonies Rock" (pictured here) - where part of the cult film was made. Hwy 101, S. Seaside. www.seaside-helicopters.com. (503) 440-4123.
Down on the Central Oregon Coast - about 100 miles south - it's a vast playground for kids and adults. Lincoln City is filled with miles of super clean beaches and tons of shops and restaurants.
Just south of Lincoln City, you'll find another haven for families in a very unique resort called Bella Beach. Really, it's a collection of rather upscale, gorgeous beach cottages that are vacation rentals or for sale. There are about 40 rentals available inside this pretty place, and more are still being built.
The philosophy of Bella Beach is to create a place with a "neighborly feel," and indeed they've succeeded. Set in the midst of a Central Coast wooded area, there are the rustic architectural themes common to places like Manzanita or Cannon Beach, where garages are tucked away behind the buildings and front porches are the emphasis.
There's a playground for the kiddies, and the homes vary from hideaway lodgings for two with oceanfront hot tubs, to larger accommodations for bigger groups. Bella Beach also offers up accommodations for groups as large as 60, if you happen to have a business retreat or reunion of some sort.
Then there's that wondrous beach. Like many of the
beaches in the area, the tide line is at a rather steep slope, so waves
come in fast and hard, but dissipate quickly to shyly lap at your feet.
866-994-7026 or www.bellabeach.com.
There's also Olivia Beach, not far away, in the southern end of Lincoln
City. It's a creation by the same group as Bella Beach, with similar aesthetics,
although it's brand new.
Day or Night Mysteries and Merriment on Oregon Coast It's more than just nightlife that comes to life, but the beaches offer major opportunities
Oregon Coast Travel Site Goes Wireless Provides Lodging Reports - Oregon Coast Beach Connection now has mobile lodging and dining listings, along with weekly lodging availability reports