Spring Break 2023: Oregon Coast

Back in 2017, our family took a Spring Break road trip down to the Oregon Coast. (You can read about it here.) The trip was a blast and we talk about it quite a bit. The only problem was that, at the time, Pearl had just turned two and Rose was about the size of a jellybean, growing in utero, so neither girl really remembers the trip. It felt like time to do it again, with some adjustments for the family we have now. (Please be prepared for lots of photos.)

We left on the first ferry Monday morning and were at the border by about 8am. This was our first time crossing a border since 2018. It took some time since we ended up in the line with the border guard trainee but the actual crossing was uneventful. We drove on until we reached Seattle just before noon and made our first stop Dick’s Drive-in, a local chain that we discovered back in 2017.

After a trip to REI and a nearby used sporting goods store, we checked into our hotel and decided to explore the area. Our hotel was close to the Space Needle, something Pearl and Rose were very excited to see, so we walked over to check it out.

We did NOT go up to the top of the Space Needle (that’s expensive!) but we poked through the gift shop and had a snack dinner in the park beside it.

The next morning (Tuesday), after breakfast in our hotel room, we walked over the Pike Place Market. This is a Seattle classic and we got there early enough that it was relatively quiet and fun to look around at the wide variety of stalls and shops.

The girls were excited to see the infamous gum wall but I think our faces say exactly how we felt when we actually stood near it:

From there we were on the road again (yes, we listened to a lot of Willie Nelson on this trip) and spent most of the afternoon driving south and out of Washington State. We had to make one more stop though before we got to Oregon and that was Long Beach, Oregon.

I imagine Long Beach is a busy little town in the summertime as it has an amazing (and very long) beach and a lot of cute, beachy little shops. But it’s pretty quiet in March, which suited us just fine.

It’s also home to the World’s Largest Frying Pan – something that we had seen on our previous trip and the girls obviously wanted to revisit.

We live on the Pacific Coast and we spend a lot of time at our own local beaches but it’s amazing how different the beaches we saw in Washington and Oregon are from where we live. The primary difference is in how open and exposed they are. Our part of the Pacific is a strait, the Salish Sea, and we look across at Vancouver Island. This offers us a lot of protection from huge tides and big storms. It means our coastline is not so worn down by waves and wind and so we have mostly rocky shores. Nothing like these endless stretches of sandy beach. The sand at Long Beach and the places we visited in Oregon is so packed that cars frequently drive on the beaches!

We crossed the Columbia River (that is a long bridge) and entered into Oregon around dinner time, only to find all of the places we had researched ahead of time in Astoria to eat at were closed. After driving around a little, we settled on pizza at Fort George Brewing and had a great meal.

We spent two nights just outside of Astoria, in Fort Stevens State Park. We rented a deluxe cabin right in the campground and it was a fantastic place to stay. Highly recommend the cabins in the Oregon State Parks! The girls had their own separate room with bunk beds and the whole place was cozy and comfortable.

The next morning (Wednesday), we walked the trail from just behind our cabin to the beach nearby. This beach features the wreck of the ship The Peter Iredale, which wrecked on this beach over a hundred years ago. We spent time exploring the wreck, climbing the sand dunes, and playing games on the beach.

After an amazing lunch at Surf 2 Soul, a food truck in Astoria, and some time spent in downtown Astoria, we visited the Astoria Column. This is a large tower at the top of a hill. We climbed the hill and then figured we might as well climb the column too and get the full view from the top. It was a lot of stairs.

Some more explorations of Fort Stevens Park led us to another beach (sort of) and the Russell Battery, a former military outpost that was bombed by a Japanese submarine in World War II.

That night we also introduced our girls to the movie The Goonies. The movie was a little old for them and parts of it have not aged well but it was fun to spot some of the local settings and to watch it together.

Thursday was southward once more as we left Fort Stevens and spent a leisurely day driving down the coast. There were a few spots we remembered from 2017 and wanted to revisit. First on Peter’s list was Seaside, Oregon, where he remembered having the best doughnut ever. We found Dundee’s Donuts once more and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Seaside is a very touristy town and I have no doubt it’s packed in the summer!

We stopped next at Ecola State Park (a Goonies film spot) and did a short hike along the cliffside. When we visited in 2017, landslides had washed away much of the original trail so we were glad to be able to explore this beautiful spot a little more. The views were really spectacular.

We made a super quick stop at Cannon Beach because you kind of can’t go down the Oregon Coast without visiting the famous Haystack Rock.

It was way past lunch when we reached Tillamook but we’d been waiting for this moment for six years. When Pearl was a toddler, she used to pretend that she worked at a cheese store. So when we learned about the Tillamook Cheese Factory in 2017 we told her we would visit. We told her she could eat as much cheese as she wanted. We made wild promises only to pull into the parking lot and discover that it was closed that week. Determined to right our parenting wrong, we made sure that the factory was open and would be a spot on our trip. We ate a late lunch and took the self-guided tour and then partook of the free samples at the end. It was smaller than I’d expected and the factory part was shut up for the day so while we saw the machinery, we didn’t actually witness any cheese production. Nonetheless, we checked it off the list!

The sun was setting when we reached the condo we’d rented in Gleneden Beach but we had time to get down to the beach and play in the waves as the sun went down.

(Oh gosh, this post is getting so long! We’re over halfway, I promise!)

The condo we rented (which had 2 bedrooms and was bigger than our house!) was just south of Lincoln City and directly on the beach. It was also decorated exactly how my grandmother would have decorated a beachfront condo in the 1970s, which was rather delightful.

On Friday morning we decided to visit the Oregon Coast Aquarium. It opens at 10am and we were the first ones in line, which I highly recommend as we were able to go through the exhibits almost by ourselves. Rose liked the sharks best while Pearl liked the seals the most. My favourite was the touch tank and getting a sea urchin hug!

We spent our afternoon back at the beach in front of the condo. My brave (or maybe foolish) family actually put their swimsuits on and played in the waves. I read on the beach and then we all swam in the building’s pool. (Much warmer)

Saturday afternoon was back on the road, back to the north again as we began our trek homeward. We spent that night in Tukwila, Washington which is just outside of Seattle. On Sunday morning we drove into Seattle and made a final visit to Pike Place Market before crossing the border back into Canada and heading home.

If you’ve made it this far (and you’re not, like, one of my daughters’ grandparents), congratulations and thanks for sticking with me. We feel really fortunate to have been able to make this trip and that so much of it worked out so smoothly. It was a great time for our family to get away together and have some adventures. Our time in Oregon in 2017 was mostly rainy and very wet and windy overall so we had packed accordingly and were prepared with raingear for a blustery trip. But we ended up having fantastic weather with quite a lot of sun. Not hot but definitely warmer than expected which was a nice surprise.

Maybe you’ll see us down the Oregon Coast again one day!

9 thoughts on “Spring Break 2023: Oregon Coast”

    1. Actually, we found that already written in the sand and decided to pose next to it! No idea who wrote it. Peter’s natural writing is pure chicken scratch but he can write neatly when he tries!

  1. I actually just saw The Goonies for the first time this past week myself. We watched it because the actor who plays Data won the academy award just recently. And, of course, everyone remembers him as Short Round. He’s so beloved!

    1. Yes! It’s so lovely to see him being recognized now! I mostly know him as Short Round. I never watched Goonies as a kid so I don’t have quite the same nostalgia for it but it is a fun movie. And it’s got a great cast!

  2. Love the recap and all the photos! Looks like a nice mix of adventure and relaxing. We will definitely consider the National Park cabins in the future. PS – can confirm Long Beach is verrry busy in the summer!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s