Hidden Oregon: Coastal Spring-Break Family Getaway

by | Feb 28, 2022 | Destinations, Family Adventures, Traveling with Teens, USA, Weekend Trips, West Coast

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The Oregon Coast during spring break is a brisk but exhilarating family adventure. Though the weather might be Los Angles cold, dancing through the 60s, it’s nothing a couple of layers can’t handle. The payoff is stunning, clear skies, waves crashing against razor chiseled cliffs, and the joy of your kid’s laughter.  


coastal rock with lighthouse on edge - best oregon coast spring break family trips

Peek-A-Boo Surprises On The Oregon Coast Photo by Nathan Anderson on Unsplash


These Oregon Coast beaches have been our favorite to visit because there’s so much to do, often for little or no cost! We’ve collected several souvenirs beachcombing, and each of us has a (different) ‘favorite’ thing to do on our low-key coastal family trips.





Cannon Beach

Listed as one of the “21 Best Beaches in the World” by National Geographic, Cannon Beach is anchored by Oregon’s most recognizable rock formation, Haystack Rock. This expansive beach has low-lying dunes and tide pools to observe. Families can fly a kite, mountain bike on the beaches and nearby trails, and play in the sand! Cannon Beach’s west-facing orientation provides spectacular sunsets that extend into the reflection of the wet sand during low tide. 


sunset red colors reflecting off sandy beach - best oregon coast spring break family trips

Two sunsets for the price of one  Photo by Jean-Philippe Boulais on Unsplash


What To Do In Cannon Beach

Be on the lookout for Japanese glass fishing floats while you’re on the beaches at the Oregon Coast! These are hollow glass balls held together by a hand-sized net once used by fishermen. Many detached from the fishing lines they had served to keep afloat and often wash up on the shores of Pacific Ocean beaches. 

This year, artists will put over 3.000 glass floats onto many Oregon Coast beaches like Lincoln City, Nebraska, Newport, Cannon Beach, and Astoria! If you find one, you get to keep it! Float sharing started back in ‘97 in Lincoln City; however, the activity became so well-loved, it has driven the tradition. Thus, it has grown into a multi-city event and includes many artists throughout many months.


hatstack rock - best oregon coast spring break family trips

Hidden treasures between the stacks. Photo by Tim Peterson on Unsplash


State Parks By Cannon Beach


As a bonus, there are four state parks near Cannon Beach, Oregon.


Arcadia State Recreation Site

 Arcadia State Recreation Site has a beautiful beach that extends more than a mile. It’s an excellent location for relaxing and playing with the kids in the sun. In addition, it has epic waves for surfing or bodyboarding – just remember to bring a thick wetsuit. Arcadia also offers a chance to investigate tidepools with the kids and see starfish and other critters up close during low tides! 


Hug Point State Recreation Site 

Hug Point State Recreation Site is 5 miles south of Cannon Beach. At low tide, walk down the beach to the north of the parking area and find the wheel ruts carved into the rock from stagecoaches driving over it long ago (how cool to show the kids?!). Also, there are two caves around the point where visitors can investigate and look at the tidepools.


 PRO TIP  “Make sure you are aware of the changes in the tide levels when exploring the beaches and caves because you could become stranded if the tide comes in while you are out at the point!


Oswald West State Park 

Oswald West State Park is known for its many trails and overlooks. There are four parking lots, so your family can choose where to park based on which trail(s) you want to explore. Here, a short hike (less than a quarter-mile) will get you to one of the best-preserved coastal rainforests in the state.


Ecola State Park

Ecola State Park is a fantastic location for families to do many different activities, including tide pooling, surfing, hiking, picnicking, and wildlife observation! It includes over 1,000 acres and 9 miles of coastline wrapping around Tillamook Head, with a beautiful view of the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse, which dates back to 1880.


trees and beach peaking through - best oregon coast spring break family trips

En route to Ecola State Park – Photo by luke flynt on Unsplash


DON’T MISS! Family Fun In Portland, OR For All Seasons


Where to stay in Cannon Beach

The Surfsand Resort is a fabulous resort that is steps from the beach! This family-friendly resort has a little bit of everything a vacation needs. All rooms have memory foam beds and adjoining rooms (if you have older kids); if you have younger children, they also have great kids activities. They also offer spa services, complimentary beach cruisers for kids and adults (with helmets too), nightly bonfires on the beach (weather permitting) with everything for s’more making! Guests can choose from in-room dining or on-site dining that’s available for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and they’ll even pack a picnic for you to take down to the beach! 


Where to Eat In Cannon Beach

We loved all of our trips to this part of the coastline, partially because the food is so darn good. In Cannon Beach, try the Lazy Susan Cafe for breakfast. Their ‘My Favorite Omelet’ & the ‘Fiesta Omelette’ have rich, savory ingredients, are almost the size of the plate, and still come with a massive helping of fried potatoes or fresh fruit. They have yummy waffles and other breakfast goodies like fresh-baked scones.

For lunch or dinner, try the Pelican Brewing Company. They have everything from salads, to burgers, to wood-fire flat-breads, and they are all fantastic! I suggest the tri-tip flatbread – with creamy house-made alfredo sauce and fresh herbs, it’s a wonderful lunch. Another great one to try at Pelican Brewing is the Malt Crusted Salmon – a perfect piece of salmon (not overcooked) with this unique orange malt sauce and green onions on the top of it for a supreme taste! 




Seaside is like Santa Cruz in the 90s. It has a funky, retro atmosphere.


What To Do In Seaside

Places like Funland and the Seaside Promenade /Turnaround bring visitors right back into their childhood. Funland is the largest arcade on the North Oregon coast. They have skeeball, air hockey, pinball machines, and even bumper cars. The Prom’ is a must-do area with the kids. It gives everyone the chance to walk this town and check out some of the attractions like the Aquarium or the Lewis & Clark Monument for kids who are into history! 


Pinball machines - best oregon coast spring break family trips

Relive your childhood with your kids  Photo by Dylan Steichen on Unsplash


Where to Stay in Seaside

The Rivertide Suites are always excellent. The suites are like luxury apartments with all the amenities of a hotel. Rooms here contain a living room, dining room, full kitchen, spacious bedroom(s), and an outdoor balcony. Suites are clean, quiet, spacious, and perfect for a family or a couple! The amenities include a continental breakfast, indoor pool/ hot tub, free games and movies, and complimentary coffee service (such a nice thing at the coast!). Oh, and the staff is fabulous – they will bend over backward to help and accommodate special requests. 


Where To Eat In Seaside

Several local diners are serving up seafood and other types of cuisine. However, when visiting the Oregon Coast, consider enjoying the fantastic catches of the day! It’s hard to find oysters, crab, and fish this fresh. 

Try Maggies on the Prom if you’re looking for views as wonderful as your dinner. They serve everything from seafood to vegetarian and truly delicious steaks. Their outdoor patio is lovely to enjoy a meal al fresco or enjoy a drink and appetizer.

 Another great place to dine is Osprey Cafe, which serves delicious American and international breakfast (as well as lunch). They also make some of the best pastries in-house every day, so they’re fresh and warm when you get them. They are a  perfect ‘to-go’ snack for walking along the beach!


DON’T MISS! 5 Perfect Places For A Last-Minute Family Spring Break



With an array of Victorian-style homes perched on the hillside above the rugged bay, it’s easy to see why some call this quaint Oregon town “Little San Francisco.” Astoria is packed with breweries, diners, restaurants, and cafés.


What to do in Astoria


Fort Stevens

Fort Stevens has a wide variety of historically significant landmarks and activities, including tours of the only Civil-War era fort on the West Coast. Fort Steven has an underground tour of a gun battery that served as a World War II command center. Fort Stevens also offers visitors lots of outdoor activities like camping, beachcombing, fishing, and hiking. You’ll have plenty to do here, including exploring a shipwreck!


shipwreck - best oregon coast spring break family trips

What is left of a long-ago shipwreck at Fort Stevens Park that you can explore!   Photo by Carl Jorgensen on Unsplash


Astoria Riverfront

Astoria Riverfront stretches for just over three miles and is adjacent to the Columbia River. This historic pedestrian corridor connects many of the area’s restaurants, museums, and other waterfront attractions. Between March and September, hop aboard the Astoria Riverfront Trolley. Operating almost every day during the season, the trolley navigates a heritage streetcar line. It provides a fun and low-fare way to get around the area.



Downtown Astoria

Downtown Astoria is filled with shops, restaurants, galleries, and the occasional “Wanted” sign for Mama Fratelli (of The Goonies fame). Shopping or even browsing at any local boutiques or galleries is also a fun way to spend the day. Downtown is the premier location for many attractions, including the George Flavel House Museum.


Lewis and Clark National Historical Park

The Lewis and Clark National Historical Park takes visitors through the Lewis and Clark expedition. Operated by the National Park Service, the park’s visitor center is the first stop. The adjacent reconstructed Fort Clatsop initially served as their winter encampment. There’s so much to explore, including hiking trails and rangers demonstrating salt mining, leather making, and other pioneer skills.


The Oregon Film Museum 

The Oregon Film Museum celebrates the movies filmed within the state.  The museum takes you behind the scenes of favorite movies, such as: the Twilight Movies, Stand by Me, Animal House, and many more!


clapperboard - best oregon coast spring break family trips

Take that! Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash


Fans will recognize Astoria’s old Clatsop County Jail as the site of the famous opening jailbreak scene of “The Goonies.” With plenty of memorabilia on display, this museum is highly kid-friendly and appealing to hard-core movie fans and casual ones alike. A great activity in Astoria, the museum gives visitors a chance to take home their own mugshots to remember their visit to the old county jail!


Clatsop County Jail - best things to do on oregon coast during spring break

Breaking Out Of Boredom at the Oregon Film Museum Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons


Where to Stay in Astoria

There are many different hotels to choose from, but Cannery Pier Hotel & Spa is a top choice for luxury. This five-star hotel provides spacious suites, comfortable yet stylish furnishings, and lovely little touches, like complimentary hors d’oeuvres and binoculars in each room. If you need to relax, book a spa treatment as an extra treat!

Best Western Astoria Bayfront Hotel has a pool & hot tub that’s always open. They offer a complimentary breakfast. This property stands out for families. Take advantage of the family-style rooms or a suite. This clean and comfortable hotel is close to the exciting attractions in Astoria.

Astoria Rivershore Motel is a simple budget motel featuring 42 clean and comfortable guest rooms. Each has modern amenities like a 50-inch TV, coffeemaker, Wi-Fi, and a river view. Some rooms offer kitchens. It’s not fancy, but this affordable motel often gets excellent reviews thanks to its quiet rooms, hot showers, and clean facilities.



Where To Eat In Astoria

Mo’s Seafood and Chowder Restaurant is great for an afternoon lunch. The portions are generous, and they have one of the tastiest Clam Chowder recipes ever. The bacon topping gives it extra flavor, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better clam chowder anywhere in the world. The fish in the Fish ‘n’ Chips is always fresh, and the chips are fried to golden perfection. Another stellar choice for dining is George Brewery. They have delicious wood-fired pizzas and desserts that will make you want to say “yes” no matter how full you are! They also have gluten-free options. 


oysters on a plate with ocean in background -

So fresh they could have walked to the plate. Photo by Tommaso Cantelli on Unsplash


How to get back to Portland – (a longer route)

Your drive back is only around 97 miles, just about 2 hours. On the way back, head from Astoria on Highway 30 and enjoy views of the Columbia River on the drive back to Portland.

Stop in Scappoose Bay for flat-water kayaking on the Columbia River. Then eat lunch at the Warren Country Inn before heading back onto highway 30. It’ll be a great break from the road trip and keep everyone happy for the rest of the ride. If you have extra time, make sure to stop by Sauvie Island to enjoy any of the roadside farm stands to sample the local bounties!

Additionally, check out Portland with Toddlers to learn more about the best places to stop at on your trip back to Portland!


When You Go



Getting There

Delta and Alaskan Air offer non-stop flights between LAX (Los Angeles, CA) to PDX (Portland, OR) – the flight is around 2.25 hours.

An excellent discount site for flights (and cars, hotels) is Expedia!

From PDX, rent a car at the airport for the trip. If you choose to rent a car this Oregon road trip guide will assure that you have both a safe and adventurous trip!

From Portland Airport (PDX), Cannon Beach is 92 miles away; it takes not quite an hour and a half to get there, depending on traffic.