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Central Oregon Coast with Kids

My family recently returned from a short stay on the Central Oregon coast.  This was our first "true" vacation with kids - meaning, we didn't stay with family and the entire trip was geared around spending time as a family doing meaningful activities.

We began our stay by stopping at the Tanger Outlet Mall in Lincoln City.  Yes, I realize this isn't really a kid-friendly activity - and especially not a toddler-friendly activity - but the deals at the Columbia Outlet here cannot be passed up.  We left with new lightweight jackets which were perfect for the chilly coastal weather, athletic shoes and sandals, lightweight fleeces, and more.  We also stopped at the Gymboree Outlet, but I don't see much difference between this and their regular stores.

We chose to stay in a cottage at the Overleaf Lodge in Yachats.  Reservations for the cottages have to be made over the phone and there was a bit of a miscommunication when this was done.  I thought I had reserved a 3-bedroom cottage and we were given a 2-bedroom cottage.  Things worked out, the management was very thoughtful in discussing the miscommunication but, unfortunately, there were no 3-bedroom cottages available.  However, the 2-bedroom cottage worked out well for us with only one person having to sleep on a hideaway.  Our cottage was 300 steps to an ocean view where we were able to see several whales just off the coast.  A short hike down the trail and we came to a very small, sandy beach at which our children were determined to get their first experience of swimming in the ocean.  Sadly, they quickly learned that Pacific Northwest ocean water isn't warm, so swimming turned into just running through the wet sand.  We were able to buy some kites at the next door Fireside Motel gift shop which also had much needed hot chocolate mix and huckleberry jelly.  Guests of the Overleaf receive a 10% discount when purchasing items at Fireside.




We asked about local places to dine and were directed to Luna Sea Fish House.  Here we were greeted by Robert, the owner and fisherman of Luna Sea.  Robert entertained our children with questions and color sheets, making for a happy mom.  The atmosphere was very casual and the indoor dining was full so we chose to sit outside in the tented seating area underneath one of the many heaters.  We sampled the shrimp cocktail, grilled salmon and chips, grilled salmon salad, halibut sandwich, the kid's shrimp basket and, of course, bowls of clam chowder.  All of the food was delicious.  Our only hope is that, when we return, they won't be out of the crab cocktail.

While in the downtown area of Yachats, I made a quick stop at C&K Market to purchase some food necessities for breakfast in our cottage while the rest of my family enjoyed ice cream cones and salt water taffy at Topper's Ice Cream.  This was truly a treat!  While very small, they have a great selection of taffy and quite the options of ice cream.  If you do decide to grocery shop in Yachats, be prepared for the hefty price increase.  I recommend bringing nonperishables with you from home or a larger city.

On our first full day on the Central Coast, we drove the approximately 40 minutes from Yachats to Newport to go to the Oregon Coast Aquarium.  Here, we watched the feedings of the sea otters, sea lions and seals, and also saw the open dive while walking through the underwater tunnels of the Passages of the Deep.  While our 2-year-old had a bit of trouble towards the end of our 2-1/2 hour stay at the aquarium, our 4-year-old couldn't stop talking about all that she saw.  This was definitely worth our money and time, and we will be returning here again - especially once the kids turn 8 and can participate in the "experience" opportunities like getting a seal kiss.


We drove a short bit north to Historic Nye Beach to have lunch at Chowder Bowl.  I was not as impressed with this dining location.  Perhaps it's that we arrived at a very busy time of day, but the service was very slow and not very child-friendly.  However, the kid's shrimp, popcorn shrimp basket, and Slumgolian Chowder in a bread bowl were all delicious.  My husband thought that this chowder was the best of our trip.

After lunch, we let the kids take a brief run around Nye Beach.  Here, they were able to truly experience a large beach (albeit, an empty one on a foggy, Monday afternoon).  It was nice to not have to discern which kids were mine and allow them a chance to just run around and have fun.


We had a minor tire emergency when returning to our vehicle, so while my husband made a quick stop at the local Les Schwab, the rest of us went to OSU's Hatfield Marine Science Center.  This is not a stop I would make again with a very tired 2-year-old, but my 4-year-old had a blast touching sea anemones, building beaches and then watching how waves wash them away, getting a lesson in tsunamis, and finding the giant Pacific octopus (which we learned was just released and the center is in search of a new octopus).  Both kids did enjoy the movie about cephalopods (the family in which octupus and squid are a part) which helped to lengthen our entertainment until our tire could be fixed.

After returning to Yachats and getting some desperately needed naps, we dined at Ona Restaurant.  Upon entering, my husband's first comment was that he didn't see anyone else with children.  However, do not let this stop you.  We were quickly guided past the bar to a separate dining area where there was a chalkboard painted wall and chalk with instructions from the server to our children to "create art."  They also specifically asked if we would like the kids' meals brought out first.  We again sampled the chowder, and it had some very large chunks of clam that we all loved.  I absolutely loved my Ona Mixed Greens salad with Dungeness Crab and the poppyseed horseradish dressing.  The dressing added a pleasurable spice to my salad and the crab was divine.  The other entrees we ordered were just as good.  We especially liked that the Dungeness Crab Cakes did not have too much filler.  My often non-descriptive husband also commented that his 3 Meatloaf was very good (high praise for him).


On our final day on the coast, we drove up to Waldport where our kids enjoyed the beach along the Alsea River - just across from the Alsea Bay Historic Interpretive Center. While a very tiny beach, the waters were extremely calm and the kids were able to wade the furthest they dared into the chilly waters - up to their knees.  From the beach, we were able to watch many seals frolicking in the waters just off the beach.


Before heading home, we stopped off at Grand Central Pizza in Waldport where our kids were entertained while waiting for their food with some sticky stick toys (I can't remember the name) that we were able to twist and connect to form glasses, stick figures, and more.  The food was simple pizza, The Grand Central, but there was no scarcity of cheese nor toppings.

Overall, our trip to the Central Oregon Coast was most definitely worthwhile.  There is not much that I would change about the trip except to have stayed longer so that we didn't cram so much into each day.  We cannot wait until the next time we can return to the coast.

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