The Oregon Coast, a magical wonderland of weird other life creatures- fantasy level forests, and of course- home to the great Pacific Ocean. If I had to recommend one place to take kids it’s here; to see the sea and feel the magnitude of a great BIG, wide thing that makes us feel so small and yet infinite all at once.
I’ve lived on the coast, I’ve worked on the coast, I was married on a sand dune and someday dream of being a “beach grandma” who teaches her grandkids the treasures of the sea. It’s the best way to live out my childhood marine biologist dreams. I just can’t think of any better way to light up a child’s imagination than to take them to the beach for the day.
My good friend recently asked me the best place to take little kids on The Oregon Coast. My answer? Newport! It’s got it all: an aquarium, a lighthouse, a Bayfront with Sealions, good food, and easy access beaches.
My KID Friendly Guide to Newport
- The Oregon Coast Aquarium
Rated one of the top ten aquariums in the Northwest, The Oregon Coast Aquarium is indeed world class. Set alongside the Yaquina Bay on 23 acres, the museum has interactive exhibits both indoors and out. Visit seabirds in an outdoor aviary, laugh at the antics of giant sea otters, and quietly examine the rare Giant Pacific Octopus.
When I was a kid The Aquarium was home to Keiko, aka Free Willy. This movie started my marine biologist fantasy and so to see him was such a big deal. His gigantic tank was converted into The Passages Of The Deep- a tunnel that allows guests to walk under sea, through shark infested waters! This is an unforgettable experience that kids are sure to love!
2. Bay Street Sea-lions
Oh the childhood memories! There is nothing like going to see these big giant sea puppies lounging around on their own dock. These sea lions always put on a show and have for over 18 years! This humane and personal look at some very funny sea creatures is a great way to connect to the ocean and imagine life in the wild. The docks were recently replaced and an isolation cage was put into to catch injured sea lions so they can be rehabilitated.. Grab a coffee from Surf Town and mosey on over to Port Dock 1 to hear, see, and smell some sea life UP CLOSE!
3. Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! & Wax Works.
It rains a lot in Newport so it’s good to have a fun retreat from the weather- Ripley’s is just that! A whole other WORLD waiting to be discovered just off the BayFront. Stand beside an 8 foot Bigfoot, travel through Space, sit in The Oval Office, and hold onto your heads unless they get Shrunk! The Wax Works has all your Hollywood Favorites (it’s a selfie haven) and Ripley’s is a mini museum of oddities sure to shock and awe the whole family. This one is must see.
4. Yaquina Head Lighthouse
Step back in time and imagine a rural life guarding the rocky coast of Oregon from shipwrecks. The light keeper’s had a hard life and here you can see how they lived; read their old diaries, see their clothes and even play with their vintage toys. Learn how a lighthouse works, see local sea life and browse the gift shop full of Oregon Coast books. The staff here can answer all questions about the area and point you towards the many trails and cove filled with tide pools and playful seals!
5. Nye Beach
My favorite part of Newport- a little town within a town with quaint boutique shops, the best Irish Pub I’ve ever been to (Nana’s) and easy beach access with parking and bathrooms. This little walk around has it all- a candy store, yummy breakfast food, a metaphysical rock shop, and tap house. You could spend all day here, I know I have.
6. Mo’s Clam Chowder
You CAN NOT go to The Oregon Coast without visiting Mo’s. This is one famous Clam Chowder, loved by local’s and tourists alike. It has been served on the coast since 1946 when Mo herself opened her restaurant on the Newport Bay Front. I had the special treat of living in Mo’s old apartment just down the street above The Rogue Ales. Rumor says it is haunted. I’m not sure about that but the radio did like to turn on by itself…. maybe I should have eaten Mo’s Chowder instead of Rogue’s….
You really can’t go wrong exploring Newport with the family. A few honorable mentions are The Aquarium Village and The Rogue Brewery. The beaches both South and North of the town are some of the best on the coast and almost always not too busy. Remember to check the tides and be careful of waves and logs, never turn your back on the ocean. The ocean here can get pretty wet and wild in the winter months but Spring and Summer are mild, even warm…sometimes 😉
Roll up your pant legs, bring your sand bucket, and enjoy Newport, it’s “The Friendliest”.