The Oregon Coast is a beautiful hidden gem to visit during the spring. There you can see the Pacific Ocean meet the mountains and gorgeous rocky cliffs and sand dunes. If you plan to head there this spring with your kids, there are plenty of things to do and unique sites to check out to share memorable moments and incredible scenery.
Whale Watching at Depoe Bay
One of the most popular highlights is whale watching at Depoe Bay. Known as the “whale watching capital of the Oregon Coast,” it’s the perfect spot to watch gray whales travel north with their calves beginning in late March. You can continue to spot them on their northbound migration until June.
The Whale Watching Center has a large viewing deck where you can park and take a look at the ocean with volunteers and staff available to help you spot the whales. Unfortunately, the center is temporarily closed due to limited staff and budget related to COVID-19, but you can use the viewing deck year-round. You can also book a whale watching tour with different agencies on the bay.
Oregon Coast Aquarium
In Newport, you can check out the Oregon Coast Aquarium for some fun and interactive activities. If you go in the morning, you and your family can watch the sea lion and otter feedings and stay for the afternoon shark feeding.
You can easily spend a whole day at the aquarium looking at all the sea creatures. There are also indoor and outdoor play areas for kids, as well as a shallow pool where kids can feel anemones, urchins, and sea stars.
Hatfield Marine Science Center
If the Oregon Coast Aquarium is too pricey, the Hatfield Marine Science Center is a wonderful alternative with lots of fun activities. The marine laboratory is part of Oregon State University and has touch pools and other hands-on exhibits with unique sea creatures.
Online reservations are required ahead of time, and visits are limited to one hour long. Masks are also welcomed but not required in accordance with OSU guidelines.
A unique experience on the Oregon Coast is sandboarding in Florence at Sand Master Park. There are 40 acres of private dunes set apart just for this sport. It’s a fun activity for the whole family to try.
Sandboarding is similar to snowboarding or sledding, except the dunes act more like water in the way it moves as you ride on it. You can rent a board at a nearby shop and receive lessons for about $45. There’s a beach nearby, so you can take your younger kids to play while your older kids or the adults can try sandboarding. Make sure to wear goggles to keep the sand out of your eyes!
Yaquina Head State Park
There are tons of things to do during a day trip at Yaquina Head State Park. Beautiful spruce and pine trees grow all around the park, and there’s a large deck where you can view Yaquina Bay and the Yaquina Bay Bridge. During low tide on the west side of the park, you can go to the beach and see sea creatures in the tide pools.
From the platform, you might be able to spot whales and seals throughout the day. The highlight of the park is Yaquina Bay Lighthouse, which sits on the cliffs. It is the only wooden lighthouse in Oregon with living quarters attached. Unfortunately, there are no lighthouse tours currently available, but the grounds are open from 12 to 4 PM on Wednesday through Sunday.
If your family enjoys hiking, the Hobbit Trail is a moderate and fairly short trail that starts north of Florence from Highway 101 and goes down the mountain to a secluded beach. The path is surrounded by twisted trees covered in moss and hobbit-sized hollows. The sunlight peeking through the trees gives the whole hike a magical feel. The secluded beach at the end has gorgeous white sand and luscious green cliffs reminiscent of Hawaii. At low tide, you can check out tide pools with various plant life and sea creatures.
You can park at either the Heceta Head Lighthouse for a $5 fee or try to find a spot in the smaller lot at the Hobbit Trail trailhead. From Heceta Lighthouse, the hike is about 4 miles roundtrip, while the hike is only one-mile roundtrip from the Hobbit Trail trailhead.
There are eleven lighthouses still standing on the Oregon Coast, each with its own history and beautiful views. While not all of them are in use, you can pay a visit and book a tour at each place. While it may not seem like the most exciting getaway, kids will love exploring the lighthouse and the area around it.
If you want to try hitting each lighthouse or want to learn more about it, there’s a free app you can download to locate and read about the history of each one.
Seaside Inverted Experience
If you want to take some fun family photos, you can visit the Seaside Inverted Experience, which is just a three-minute walk from Seaside Beach on Broadway Street. You can book an experience ahead of time on their website and take unique photos with a vintage Seaside theme. They offer various packages to fit your family size that come with glossy souvenir prints.
The Seaside Inverted Experience is closed for the winter but check their website to see when they open for the spring!
Emily currently lives in Orange County, California after spending four years in Illinois and half a year teaching in Florence, Italy. She holds a B.A. in English Literature from Knox College and an M.A. in Counseling from the University of San Diego and has taught English to native speakers and ESL students for over three years. When she’s not working as a School Counselor or writing, she enjoys traveling the world, playing instruments, and blogging about Millennial experiences at Long Live the Twenties.