Few places are more fun for a family getaway than the Oregon coast. The coast is majestic, ruggedly beautiful with vistas mixed with small towns along the way. There is so much the Oregon coast has to offer, but I’m going to focus on a family-friendly itinerary on the central part of the coast. Here is how my family would spend a weekend away to make the most of a coastal adventure.
We will start our adventure in Newport, one of the larger cities on the coast and a core tourist destination. Home of The Oregon Coast Aquarium, multiple lighthouses, Yaquina Bay, and Rogue Ales headquarters. From there we will head North and hit a few more highlights.
Stop #1 – Oregon Coast Aquarium
We started the day heading to the Oregon Coast Aquarium. One the home of Keiko “Free Willy” the killer whale. It was rated one of the top ten aquariums in the country according to Coastal Living. This destination includes multiple indoor exhibits and you progress in depth as you make your way through the exhibits. The highlight of the indoor section is “Passages of the Deep” exhibit. Featuring three large acrylic tunnels (even with clear sections in the floor) you feel completely immersed. The final tunnel features sharks and rays that swim over your head and under your feet. The aquarium also has an extensive outdoor section including the largest outdoor seabird aviary in North America. You’ll also find seals and otters playing to entertain the little ones.
Stop #2 – Rogue Brewery
One spot you can’t miss when leaving the aquarium is Rogue Brewery. Entering the world headquarters is an experience in itself. You’ll walk through a huge silo that reverberates any sounds (this is fun for the kids). Once inside there is no mistaking you are in a brewery. It doesn’t particularly feel like a place where you are going to lunch (although they have food) and this is as no-frills as it gets which adds to the charm. Winding down a path through the tanks you will end up in their gift shop with a huge row of 22’s of some of their 37+ beers. Rogue is a good stop for lunch. They have kids menus and taster trays for the adults who want to try a few of their beers. You can learn a bit more about Rogue and their beers & spirits here.
Stop #3 – Newport Historic Bayfront
The third stop of the day would be the historic bayfront. A quick drive over the Yaquina Bay Bridge and you’re there. Here you will find colorful shops, a variety of food including another Rogue Brewery and Mo’s Chowder (I will get to Mo’s a bit later). It’s fun to stroll and pop in different shops. Specifically Newport Candy Shoppe for their in-house saltwater taffy and also 2 Kids Candy Store for novelty and hard to find candy. Before leaving make sure to head north along the water to watch the sea lions that spend their time lounging on the docks.
Stop # 4 – Dinner at Mo’s
A trip to the Oregon Coast isn’t complete without a trip to Mo’s Seafood and Chowder. This restaurant now has many locations throughout the state. With over 70 years of being in business, certainly, there is a reason for their popularity. You’ll find picnic-style tables, excellent friendly service and belly warming, hearty food. All the seafood on the menu is good, but they are most famous for the chowder. You’ll find it served in a generous bowl piping hot topped with a pat of butter that subsequently melts and adds to the deliciousness. A perfect meal at Mo’s for me is a dinner salad (chopped garlic coleslaw topped with shrimp), their garlic cheese bread and of course chowder. Dipping the hot crispy, garlic cheese bread in the chowder is next level on a cold day.
Stop #5 – Salishan Resort
After you are full of chowder and tired from a busy day you’ll want a nice spot to rest for the evening. My favorite place to stay on the coast is Salishan resort. Built by renowned NW landmark developer John Gray (Sunriver, Skamania, John’s Landing) this resort blends perfectly into the natural surroundings. Sitting above Siletz bay in the woods it feels quintessentially NW. Recently under new ownership, they’ve revitalized the resort and added many activities. We participated in their s’mores and pours evening which is fun for kids and adults. They also offer movie nights in their pool and many complimentary games. Not only is this a beautiful spot, but being less than 30 minutes north of Newport this will put you in a central location for many activities for your next day.
Stop #5 – Cape Foulweather
There are a lot of ways you could expand and add more days. One side trip is to head North and hit Pelican Brewery which features gorgeous views of Haystack rock which stands an impressive 340 feet tall. Another great spot is hiking Cape Kiwanda.
For today though we headed back South towards Newport, driving along the 101. This stretch of road is spectacular, but you have to make sure you head down the Otter Crest loop when headed South. This is one of the most beautiful drives and winds along steep cliffs high above the rocky shores below. Along the way is Cape Foulweather which is not to be missed. The viewpoint is on a basalt cliff 500 feet above the ocean. Check out the gift shop built right on the cliffs for jaw-dropping (and almost eerie) views. The last time we visited there were grey whales that could be spotted.
Another great stop is Devil’s Punchbowl. There is a fun little Mo’s here as well although it’s not open in the Winter. Devil’s Punchbowl was a sea cave that eventually collapsed. Now the top is completely open so when the tide is high the surf churns in through the opening and powers out the top. Needless to say when the tide is in Devils Punchbowl an impressive force of nature to witness.
From here it’s not far to head back to Newport, or wherever your next Oregon Coast destination takes you. For a nice add on to this trip, it’s also not far to head to the Willamette Valley for some wine tasting. If you’ve been to the Oregon Coast I’d love to hear your favorite places to visit. Cheers!