cannon beach with kids
Beach Trips,  Pacific Northwest Spring Break with Kids

Beachy Keen! 5 NW Spring Break Spots

kid-friendly cannon beach

Sure, some families are heading to Mexico, Hawaii and Florida for spring break. But you don’t have to fly thousands of miles to get your sand fix. Save time and money by checking out one of the five sweet Northwest beaches.

Okay, you won’t find 80-degree temps or swim-ready water — not in the spring, at least — but the following destinations offer cool prices to match the chilly days.

cannon beach with kids

1. Family-friendly Cannon Beach, Oregon.

Why go? Cannon Beach in the off-season offers mellow charm, mild weather and no summer-crowd insanity. But the infrastructure is ready year-round, whether you want to buy a kite, nosh on Haystack cookies or browse for books.

Go tidepool-peeping for anemones and barnacles. Or take it easy –while the kids create sand McMansions, watch the still-gorgeous sunsets from your Pacific-front hotel — at one-third to one-half the price of a summer stay.

Sites to explore: Cannon Beach Chamber of Commerce and Our Cannon Beach

astoria museum with kids

2. Kid-friendly Astoria, Oregon

Why go? If forecasters are calling for rain, Astoria’s Victorian-era architecture and art-rich community is a sure bet. Enjoy great kid-friendly breweries and bakeries, an indoor water recreation center and downtown Astoria’s toy store and comic shop.

After visiting Columbia River Maritime Museum, make a splash at the Astoria Aquatic Center. Not far out of town, visit the atmospheric Fort Clatsop, where Lewis and Clark spent their first dreary winter. Then retreat to your heated hotel and praise modern conveniences.

Sites to explore: Astoria and Warrenton Chamber of Commerce and Astoria Oregon

kid-friendly long beach washington lighthouse

3. Kid-friendly Long Beach, Washington State.

Why go? On Southwest Washington’s tip, Long Beach hosts funky curios like Jake the Alligator Man, chainsaw-carved logs and beachfront houses with eccentric decor. Personally, I love the house with hundreds of buoys displayed out front.

But beyond the video games, go-karts and beach trappings (and kids love all of it), you’ll also find an amazing foodie community’s restaurants in Long Beach and neighboring towns of Ilwaco, Seaview and Nahcotta. And gentle hikes through Cape Disappointment State Park provide see-forever views of the Pacific Ocean before you come upon a stately lighthouse.

Sites to explore: Long Beach Peninsula Visitors Bureau and Bailey’s Bakery and Cafe, which serves up some of the best baked goods I’ve ever enjoyed.

4. Kid-friendly Newport, Oregon.

Why go? The furthest south (a little over 120 miles from Portland), Newport embodies that taffy-in-your-teeth memory of childhood beach vacations. Fly kites, ride bikes on the beach, tread water in the Oregon Coast Aquarium’s underwater tunnel, or go whale-watching in the early spring.

The Oregon Coast is famous for great crabbing and clamming, plus warm, California-sent breezes. Although spring brings iffy weather, nothing could  ruin that fresh batch of caramel corn and bubblegum-flavored taffy.

Sites to explore: Newport Oregon (Don’t miss that free child’s admission on the “Special Deals & Promos” page) and the Oregon Coast Visitors Association

kid-friendly westport donuts

5. Westport, Wash.

Why go? Westport’s rocky shoreline is about as far as you can get from the silky sands of Mexico or Cannon Beach’s art galleries. But that’s part of the fun — this is old-world Washington, rugged and unrefined.

Pick through sea-smoothed rocks for a favorite, walk down Westport’s tourist-tacky marina, and down a cup of hot clam chowder at Merino’s Seafood. In winter and spring, watch storms create spectacular, crashing walls of water.

Sites to explore: Westport Washington

What’s your favorite taffy flavor?

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.