Beach Trips,  Oregon Coast

A Stop-By-Stop Guide to the Oregon Coast with Kids


Kids at the oregon coast dig in the sand
Oregon Coast with Kids

A friend recently told me about her upcoming Oregon Coast trip, and asked, “Where should I stop along the Oregon Coast?” So I’ve made up a quick itinerary of where I’d go and what I’d do if driving the Oregon Coast, from Astoria to the California-Oregon border.

This stop-by-stop guide down Hwy 101 along the Oregon Coast shows great stops and kids activities. Plan frequent stops into your day, and you’ll discover less complaining and more cooperation.

Drive along the Oregon Coast’s Hwy 101 with my Google Maps directions. (But always double-check directions and open hours, etc. before going anywhere)

Stop 1. Start your trip in Astoria. Pick up pastries for a snack from Blue Scorcher Bakery Café.

Stop 2. Drive 8 miles, about 16 minutes to Lewis and Clark National State Historical Park. Check out the recreated cabins where Lewis and Clark spent their first dreary winter and check out some of the kids activities.

Stop 3. Drive 14 ½ miles, about 22 minutes to Seaside. Ride the Carousel in Seaside Town Center or play a few games in the Funland Arcade.

Stop 4. Drive about 9 miles or 12 minutes. Stop at the gorgeous Haystack Rock and Tolovana Beach and poke around in the tidepools.

Stop 5. Drive 38 miles or about an hour to the Tillamook Cheese Factory for a quick tour (if available) and a sample or two – plus lunch.

Stop 6. Drive 45 miles (about one hour) to Lincoln City and visit The World’s Shortest River: D River.

Stop 7. Drive 27 miles or about 45 minutes to Oregon Coast Aquarium. Eat dinner. Sleep!

Stop 8. Drive 37 miles or about 1 hour 15 mins to the Sea Lion Caves and meet some stinky lions of the sea. (Kids love this attraction, but it is a little … redolent). If Sea Lions aren’t your thing, visit Heceta Head Lighthouse, two minutes away.

Stop 9. Drive about six miles to the 18-acre Darlingtonia State Natural Site (or Darlingtonia Wayside), where the kids can meet another sort of wild creature – carnivorous plants that only grow in S. Oregon and N. California.

Stop 10. Drive 12 minutes to and stop in Florence at Nature’s Corner Café and Market and pick up sandwiches, chips and an almost-bad-for-you drink.

Stop 11. Drive about 21 miles or a half-hour to Umpqua Lighthouse State Park and the Oregon Dunes National Recreational Area, where towers of beach sand reach up to 500 feet high. Enjoy a picnic.

Stop 12. Drive 75 miles or about two hours to the Prehistoric Gardens, a wild, weird spot that dino-loving kids will adore and older kids may find a bit cheesy, but still amusing.
Order fish and chips at at Crazy Norwegians in Port Orford.

Stop 13. Drive 30 miles or about an hour. Stop in Gold Beach, Oregon and go crabbing.

Stop 14. Drive those last 36 miles (about an hour) to Alfred A. Loeb State Park to visit the only stand of Myrtlewood and Redwood trees in Oregon. Cook your Oregon crabs and sleep in an Oregon yurt!

Read more about the Oregon Coast with kids at Travel Oregon.


Lora Shinn writes about family travel, Pacific NW travel, grown-up travel...and travel in general. Her travel-related articles and essays have appeared in Family Fun, Parenting, AFAR, National Geographic Traveler, AAA magazines and Redbook, among others.


  • Bridget Smith

    Sounds like an amazing trip. I am dying to drive up the Oregon Coast, but so far starting in San Diego it makes for quite a road trip. Hopefully when my kids are a little older.

  • Jean

    Your stop #6 is a bit hokey and a stretch to be that interesting to kids. Instead, I’d check out the awesome playground at Regatta Park in Lincoln City (West Devils Lake Rd & Regatta Park Road.) It is a fantastic park for all ages. Very cool wooden structures. A lot like St. Edward’s State Park in Kenmore, WA, if you are familiar with it. The city doesn’t have a good website for it, but here is a link with more info:

  • Milagros

    This is a great post! Big ditto on stop one, the Blue Scorcher is wonderful plus they have a kid’s menu and a fun play area.

    Here are a few friendly additions to this great list (only going as far South as we normally go):

    Stop 3 – Also go down to the promenade (aka The Prom) and hit the small but homey Seaside Aquarium. The main attraction here is being able to feed the seals. Kids under 5 are free, adults are $7 and fish for the seals is an extra buck.

    Stop 4 – If you are hungry at Tolovana, go to Mo’s and enjoy a bowl of their famous clam chowder.

    Stop 4.5 – Make a stop at Oswald West State Park to check out the tide pools, about 10 miles south of Cannon Beach just off the 101. This is also one of our favorite camping spots and there is some great hiking in the area including a hike to Cape Falcon (about 3.5 miles round trip, uphill getting to the top but still a nice family hike).

    Stop 5.5 – Not right off 101 but check out Munson Creek Falls, about 8 miles from Tillamook this is the highest waterfall in the Coast Range. Dropping over 300 feet, the falls are a dramatic sight and the hike is an easy mile each way. Take US 101 about six miles South of Tillamook and then head east on Munson Creek Road for 2 miles.

    Stop 6.5 – A great tidepool area on the Central Coast is the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area (it lives up to its name!) Walk to the top of the lighthouse there while you are at it!

    Stop 7.5 – An alternative to the Oregon Coast Aquarium if you want to make a shorter stop is the Hatfield Marine Science Center. It’s free (although donations are welcome) –

    Stop 7.6 – Oh but you must stop at Yachats and Cape Perpetua!

    Stop 7.7 – Heceta Head Lighthouse. This area is just a little north of the Sea Lion Caves. The beach next to the parking area is a great spot for a picnic, wading in the water, and kite flying. The trail to the lighthouse is only mile (1 mile roundtrip) and you may be able to enjoy a tour of the lighthouse at the top. On US 101 about 13 miles north of Florence.

    As a final note, the Oregon coast can really be enjoyed any day of the year. Most of our traveling there is in during non-summer months.

    So many wonderful memories! Thanks for sharing.

  • Lora

    Those are fabulous suggestions, Milagros. Love them!

    I wasn’t too excited about the Seaside Aquarium, personally, but I know plenty of families do like it.

  • pdxamy

    We’re camping at Fort Stevens next week and will be sure to stop at Blue Scorcher and hit the Lewis and Clark National State Historical Park with the cousins from Vermont. And we’ll tromp to the top of the column, of course (am I wrong or was it called the Astor Column in the 1970s?). Thanks for the tips!

  • Shannon

    Where do you stay on this trip? We used to live in Portland, so would do these activities as day trips. Now we live in Kirkland, WA, and would love to bring the kids down, but don’t know where to spend the night. How many days do you think this itinerary needs? Thanks! I just discovered your site today and can’t stop looking. Every article is relevant to us. Thanks!!!!!!

  • Lora

    I left that open, didn’t I? Ha. Your stay options are varied along the Oregon Coast, but many people prefer rentals when staying with kids. Our family tends to stay in Cannon Beach and Newport, but I like the hustle and bustle. The traffic (particularly when there’s construction) gets gnarly when you’re traveling along the Coast, so I would be generous with your time. Younger kids love just hanging out, so I’d spend at least two nights at any destination, honestly.

  • Jennifer

    Thank you so much for posting this. I have been dreading the trip to Lincoln City for a family reunion, but now I have a great itinerary lined up for the drive. The kids will be much happier and so will I.


  • Caitlin

    I am really enjoying looking at all your trip suggestions. I am wondering which you may recommend more for Spring Break timeline and weather. We are located in Olympia, WA and looking for something in WA and OR.

  • Jeannie shaver

    Wow! This is terrific! We have some time this August and are going to drive south from Vancouver island and see where the wind takes us! I’d love to get to California, but this gives us some great stops along the way. What would be your ” must sees” from Vancouver to California in two weeks? We have a six and two year old! Many thanks!,