Summer 2016 has been a great one for RVers here in the Pacific Northwest. The weather has been fantastic and gas prices are lower than they’ve been in 12 years. The only negative is that it’s already August, which means we only have enough time to get in one more summer road trip or epic camping adventure before the kids go back to school. If you’re trying to figure out how to end your summer with a bang, we have a recommendation—pack up the RV and head to the Oregon Coast. Whether you want to get the motorhome out for a great drive, or you want to find a sweet campsite and stay put, this is the place to be when you want to beat the late summer heat.
We Oregonians love our beaches, so much so that in 1967 we passed the Oregon Beach Bill. This piece of landmark legislation declared that all land within sixteen vertical feet of the average low tide mark belongs to the people of Oregon. That means we have free and uninterrupted access to 363 miles (584 km) of gorgeous coastline year round. Whether you’re into beachcombing, old growth forest walks, whale watching, crabbing, antiquing and shopping, ATVs, horseback riding, or whatever, there is something for you on the coast.
Staying Put: Family-Friendly Destinations on the Oregon Coast
If you’re looking for a spot to park the RV and stay put for a week, a place you can relax and recharge while the kids have a great time, there are a number of excellent choices, but one of our all time favorites is Jessie M. Honeyman Memorial State Park. Located just south of Florence, Oregon (about an hour and a half from Guaranty RV), this park is open year round and offers everything you need for family fun. With 45 full-hookup sites and more than 120 electrical sites with water, it’s well set up for RVs. There is firewood for sale on site and there is an RV dump station, so you won’t have to haul wood in the RV and you can empty your tanks before you leave.
In the park itself, there are two freshwater lakes. Cleawox is the spot to be when you want to swim, and has a beach that slopes gradually into the water, making it a great place for kids of all ages. Woahink Lake has a public boat ramp and you can rent a canoe. There are two miles of sand dunes between the park and the ocean, so if your family loves ATVs, bring them along. Access to the ocean is an easy two mile drive north (there are no trails through the dunes, so you shouldn’t try to walk from the park to the ocean). And if you need groceries or you want to get a little shopping therapy in while you’re on your vacation, Florence with its charming Old Town is just three miles south.
Another family-friendly option to consider is Fort Stevens State Park in Hammond, Oregon, just 20 minutes outside Astoria. Fort Stevens was a military defense installation from the Civil War to WWII, and is now a 4,300 acre (1740.15 ha) park that offers camping, beachcombing, swimming, hiking, and more. There are nine miles (14.48 km) of paved bicycle trails, fishing and canoeing opportunities and historical activities galore. Take the kids to see displays at the military museum and information center. Visit the only Civil War era earthen fort on the West Coast, explore turn-of-the-century artillery gun batteries, and in the summer take a tour into an underground gun battery that was a WWII command center. We guarantee the whole family will love it. And if that isn’t enough, you’ll be just 20 minutes from the Lewis and Clark National Historical Park, the winter encampment of the Corps of Discovery from December 1805 to March 1806. There you can visit a replica of Fort Clatsop similar to the one built by the explorers and visit with costumed rangers in the fort. This is also a great place to stretch your legs and take a hike along the Fort to Sea Trail and the Netul River Trail. And of course, don’t forget you’re only 20 minutes from beautiful, historic Astoria.
Fort Stevens has approximately 170 full-hookup sites and more than 300 electrical sites with water. There are flush toilets, hot showers and an RV dump station.
One Last Road Trip 2016: Visit Oregon’s Best Kid Spots on the Coast
With 363 miles of rugged, beautiful coastline, there’s a lot to take in on the Oregon Coast and you could spend weeks just walking the beaches and taking hikes, which might make the kids perfectly happy. But if you’d like to plan the perfect road trip with the family in mind, we’ve mapped out a great itinerary.
To see some of the best of what the north coast has to offer, start in Astoria (climb the Column for the best view of the Columbia, ride the Riverfront Trolley, see the seals under the docks) and Cannon Beach (bring some shoes that can get wet and visit the tide pools at Haystack Rock). There are also a load of fun things for families to do in nearby Seaside, including a carousel at the Seaside Carousel Mall.
Heading south, the Tillamook Cheese Factory in Tillamook, Oregon is a very family-friendly stop and is free, so it’s both educational and a great place for everyone to stretch their legs.
From Tillamook, it’s about an hour to Depoe Bay, Oregon. August and September aren’t prime whale watching season on the Oregon Coast, but this sweet little coastal town has resident gray whales that make their home there year round and in the summer months they come in close to shore. You can also charter a boat here if you want to get a closer look.
The central coast might be the place you’ll plan to slow down for a day or two, so you can spend some time in Newport ( Oregon Coast Aquarium, the historic bayfront, Hatfield Marine Science Center, tide pools, Nye Beach). Just an hour south of Newport, the Sea Lion Caves is a must-stop. And as we said above, a great place to camp is Jessie M. Honeyman Memorial State Park, just 20 minutes south of the caves. This is also in close proximity to the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area, so you can get some hiking in. And if your kids are a little older, be sure to check out sandboarding in Florence.
If the kids are up for more travels and you want to keep heading south, point your RV towards Bandon, Oregon. Check out Bullards Beach State Park as your campground, and then set out to have a good time with a horseback ride on the beach (kids have to be at least three years old), and a visit to the Coquille River Lighthouse, then go feed the fish at the Bandon Fish Hatchery. And if you happen to be there September 9 – 11, take in the 70th Annual Cranberry Festival.
Finally, if your crew has enough steam for one more summer adventure, keep heading south another half hour to Port Orford, Oregon, where you’ll find Prehistoric Gardens. This rainforest park features life-size replicas of dinosaurs in a gorgeous setting that has been delighting children for decades, and it is the perfect end to a great family road trip.
On your way to the coast this summer, stop in and see us at Guaranty RV. Whether you need to fill up your propane tanks, get some supplies or parts, or you just want to say hi, we’d love to see you. Contact us with any questions.
Photo: Kirt Edblom