I grew up in Oregon, so making frequent trips to the Oregon Coast throughout the year wasn’t uncommon for my family. Every summer we would spend a week at Rockaway Beach (right outside of Tillamook, hint hint!). We spent hours playing in the sand, building forts and convincing our parents that we should be allowed to sleep outside, combing the beach for treasure, traversing the jetty, taunting sea anemones, and building bonfires.
Some of my best childhood memories were spent on the Oregon Coast! I’ve grown out of taunting sea anemones, but still enjoy spending time out on the Oregon Coast. If you’re new to Oregon, just visiting, or if you’ve lived in Oregon your whole life but happened to live under a rock during your childhood, here are some of my recommendations for your trip to the Oregon Coast!
Tillamook Cheese Factory
This is a no-brainer. I would be crazy to not include it. Like I said, Rockaway Beach is right down the road, so every summer on our way to the beach we would stop at the Tillamook Cheese Factory! We never had to be told we were stopping or even ask to stop, it was a given! Just like every other kid at the factory, we would press our noses against the viewing area window and watch as the cheese was being made and packaged. I appreciate the history and other attractions that are scattered around the factory now, but back then it was all about the viewing area, the cheese tasting line and the ice cream counter! My favorite Tillamook Ice Cream flavor as a kid was Udderly Chocolate (formally known as Brown Cow), but there’s a Tillamook Ice Cream flavor for everyone!
Ecola State Park
Ecola State Park is a beautiful spot for those looking for a great view; make sure to bring your camera! Just a short drive from Cannon Beach and sitting above the ocean, it’s a great place to stop for a picnic and watch as the waves roll in. There’s a $5 daily day-use fee, so make sure to stop by the guard station on your way in. After you’ve taken in the sights, make your way down to the beach for a little beachcombing or mussel harvesting (but make sure you get a shell fish license first!).
About 35 minutes south of the Cheese Factory you will find the quaint town of Pacific City. Don’t let it fool you; it’s known for some of the most epic sand dunes around. A 4-wheeler’s paradise! If you have some extra energy to spend, the sand dunes have a great leg workout for you. You will find other beach goers climbing the massive dunes and sliding or sandboarding their way down. After you’re done conquering the sand dunes, make sure to stop in at Pelican Pub & Brewery for a bite to eat and a hand-crafted draft brew (for those over 21!).
Rockaway is a great destination if you don’t want to venture too far from Tillamook. About 20 minutes north, through Bay City and Garibaldi, you will find Rockaway Beach. It’s a small town with much to offer, but if you’re short on time, I would recommend making your way out to the jetty first. Traversing the jagged rocks to get to the edge of the jetty is something you won’t want to miss.
In my opinion (and experience) Seaside is the best beach for kids. There’s plenty of sand to run free, play football, and build sand castles. After you have had enough sun and sand, you can make your way to the arcade. Seaside is also home to Phillip’s Candy Kitchen, which has the best butter taffy around. If you have never had butter taffy, you might be thinking “gross, butter taffy.” But trust me, it’s delicious! If you’re in Seaside and ready to move on, jump north to Fort Stevens…
Fort Stevens State Park
Fort Stevens State Park is a short drive from Seaside (and on your way to Astoria, where The Goonies was filmed!). It’s a great place to get a glimpse of history and let your little ones get out and explore. While you’re there, don’t pass up a trip down to the beach to see the remains of an old ship wreck.
Learn more about the Oregon Coast for more fun ideas and must-see stops for your Oregon Coast vacation.
What are your must-see destinations and stops along the Coast?