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Frenetic Yet Family-Friendly Oregon Coast: Paradox of Pacific City

Published 11/11/2016 at 6:01 AM PDT - Updated 11/11/2016 at 6:02 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Pacific City Oregon coast

(Pacific City, Oregon) – Even though there's a crazed and frenetic pace to the Oregon coast hotspot of Pacific City, once you finally find a place to park and set out for the beaches, time manages to stand still. There may be masses swirling around you, some with surfboards in arms, others with grub or coffee in hand as they rush to or from their cars, or maybe even a large rig with a boat in tow, it's still the good life – the slow life – that surrounds you.

However frantic it may get, it's still the beach. Pacific City is and always will be a confirmed family destination. This tiny town at the southern tip of the Three Capes Loop somehow proves that off-the-beaten path can still be full of people, while paradoxically remaining off that beaten path and thoroughly laidback.

Jon Anderson of Portland, with his wife and two kids in tow, has been hitting these beaches for a good ten years now. It is his favorite area for many reasons. High up on the list is when things truly mellow out, and this place allows him to mellow out even further.

“What I love is usually going to the coast when we've got nothing to do, when I've got vacation,” Anderson said.

Among the attractions is Neskowin Golf Course, just south of town. This ancient beauty has been around since the early '30s, making it among the oldest in Oregon.

“We love hitting the dunes, and that golf course there – for family golf,” Anderson said. “We eat a ton of seafood, and we love watching the Dory boats come in.”

Indeed, the dunes and Dory's have been a part of this placid place for generations. Well, the dunes have actually been around for at least a few thousand years.


It's always a kick to see the Dory fishing boats shove off into the water, brought there by large vehicles descending the sandy ramp and dropping these traditional craft into the sea. But the real buzz comes from watching them come back in, a spectacle that's a tad alarming but certainly exhilarating. The Dory's come back by making a sudden and fast-paced beeline for the shore. It often looks like they are gunning for you in particular, and for a few seconds your first impulse is to run another direction.

Given the slightly sloped tide line here, you fairly quickly realize that's not the case and you simply gaze in awe as the tiny flat-bottomed craft come roaring to a speedy and sudden halt – sometimes not far from you. They've been doing this here for almost 100 years.

Those dunes that Anderson and his kids love so much are highlighted by the gargantuan pile of sand that rises above Cape Kiwanda to about 150 feet above the sea. This is one of the wildest attractions of the Oregon coast, where folks love to trek to its leg cramp-inducing top and then find a way to tumble down it. They either – literally – fall over on purpose, or they find a new and intriguing way to slide down, such as upon various objects that resemble surfboards (often known as sandboarding) or even belly flopping for a time.

It's rustic, rugged and yet paradoxically relaxing.

Then, when it comes to seafood, Pacific City has a bundle of options lying close to the cape itself. Ben and Jeff's Burgers and Tacos is a famous little eatery that's almost like a food cart tucked away on the corner of the big parking lot to Cape Kiwanda. Fat Freddy's on the main drag is a longtime tradition, Los Caporales is some of the best Mexican grub you can find along the entire Oregon coast – and not just for fish – and then there's the standout Pelican Pub and Brewery.

This, too, is a big favorite of Anderson's family, and for him there's a special glee when he comes in with growlers to fill up with the Pelican's famed brews. It almost always seems to result in some humorous situation or another, as apparently not all who are present come from this area and know it's perfectly legal to bring in a large container and get it filled with beer.

“We show up with growlers and people look around, shocked, 'cause they don't know you can get your growler filled up there,” Anderson said. “Like I don't think they're from around here.”

Back to the natural side, Anderson and his family really enjoy those tide pools at the base of Cape Kiwanda, gazing at mussels they don't know whether or not they're OK to eat. (They are fine to eat – but you cannot legally grab them out of tide pools).

Then there's that imposing Cape Kiwanda, with its myriad of oceanic vistas, sandy sections that seem straight out of the movie “Dune,” and its wild, twisted rock formations. As much as he's enjoyed that behemoth attraction, Anderson said the older that he gets the more he just lets the kidlets attack it.

“So I usually just go, 'go ahead, kids,' “ he said. Where to stay in this area - Where to eat - Maps and Virtual Tours


 

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