Eclipse 2017 brought us to Oregon, but we didn’t just want to turn around and go home after the 2 minutes of totality! (Though it was amazingly cool and you should check out Katie’s awesome photos in This Post). So… I did my research and found activities I knew my family would enjoy, and we spent a few days exploring the Oregon Coast.
Here, I give you our stops, picked with our teens in mind, as we drove about a third of the Oregon coast during our stay:
Oregon Coast Sea Lion Caves
As I examined the options for keeping the interest of my teens, I found several public spots talked about on social media where you could often find sea lions and seals. My older teen girl LOVES animals. I don’t just mean the way all kids like puppies. I mean, she would gasp in wonder and exclaim how adorable a lizard was from the time she could talk. At age four, she would introduce herself to strangers with, “Hi! My name is KatieRose and I love bugs and birds and bats and other animals!” Yeah. We’re talking a whole other category of ‘I love animals’. And while she’s not quite as overwhelming with it now that she is a so-totally-mature 16-year-old, I know that 4-year-old is just below the surface.
So, I decided I wanted to maximize our chances, even if I knew I couldn’t guarantee it, of seeing the sea lions up close. That meant a drive down the coast to Sea Lion Caves.
We entered through the gift shop, and bought our tickets at the counter, and decided to head down the elevator to the cave first. I wasn’t so sure what to expect, and I always worry these places will be a bit hokey. BUT, the sea lion skeletons were actually pretty cool, and the view down into the cave, where the sea lions were hanging out was really fascinating to watch. The group on the rock were just hanging around, barking and groaning – LOUDLY. Most amusing was watching an alpha sea lion repeatedly ‘yelling’ at, intimidating, and chasing other sea lions away from HIS rock and HIS (I assume) females and family. He was serious about his space!
We were a bit chilly, and almost didn’t take the second path down to a coastal overlook, but I’m very glad we didn’t let the slight hill, distance, and chill deter us (we can be wussy sometimes). If you follow that path down, you may be able to watch a huge group of sea lions sunning, sleeping, and interacting on a rocky outcropping into the water. Their barking and calling and groaning has us laughing and pointing out different behaviors for about 20 minutes.
TravelTip: Take a telephoto lens if you want some good pictures. You get close, but not THAT close. Also take a Jacket/Sweater especially for the cave portion.
- Location: 91560 Hwy. 101 N. Florence, OR 97439
- Hours: 9am-5:30pm, daily except Christmas and Thanksgiving. The caves have been known to close for weather though, so double check if there is doubt.
- Parking: There is a small and very insufficient lot right in front of the entrance to the Sea Caves. However, there is more parking across the street in a series of lots that climb the hillside. Please watch and hang on to the little ones, crossing back over the road to the entrance is at your own risk!
- Check out Sea Lion Caves Website Here (They even have educational materials!)
Oregon Coast: The Lincoln City Glass Art Studio
Combing travel websites, this glass art studio caught my eye. I love glass art, and The Lincoln City Glass Art Studios actually gives you the opportunity to make a piece. I admit, this started as something I wanted to do, and I was going to do it on my own if no one wanted to go with me! When I mentioned it to my girls, Lydia, my younger teen, looked at me like “Why would I want to do that?” (Which is the look she gives for 95% of things that don’t have to do with horses.) Katie, on the other hand, was on board immediately. Scott, as always, was good for driving and relaxing somewhere while we putter.
So, I made us an appointment ahead of time (see the link just below) which I highly recommend, because there was quite the gathering trying to get a slot when we walked right in and were bumped to next in line because of our reservation.
Now, not to worry, we were teamed up, one on one, with a glass artist. They took us through the options for what we wanted to make, and color and pattern options, and had us started quickly. It is very much a team effort, and the glass artists let you do quite a bit of the work after showing you how and getting you started on each step. They do stand right there with you, giving directions and assistance quickly as needed.
I will say, though, that I would be very careful about taking young or very active children. These ovens are the real thing, extremely hot. I certainly wouldn’t have wanted anyone who was goofing off or not taking the safety aspect seriously anywhere near me. That being said, if you pay attention, they walk you through every step and are really understanding and helpful. The glass-making team has the process down to step-by-step, and anything that isn’t basic and easy to follow, they step in and help or do it for you. I made a glass fluted bowl, and the end of the process, actually fluting the bowl was done by the guy I was working with.
The final product has to cool overnight in a special oven, so you can either return the next day to pick up your creation, or have them ship it to you. We had ours shipped, and they arrived about a week later, safe and sound and beautiful!
TravelTip: Wear layers with the bottom layer being short sleeves or no sleeves. You will get hot working near the ovens – I did! Closed-toed shoes are also wise around molten glass.
- Location: 4821 SW Hwy 101, Lincoln City, OR 97367
- Hours: Wednesday-Sunday 10am-6pm
- Parking: There is plenty of parking behind the building
- To make a reservation, check out the Lincoln City Glass Art Studio Website Here
Oregon Coast: Green Acres Beach & Trail Rides
I mentioned earlier my Lydia’s usual lack of enthusiasm for most anything that doesn’t have to do with horses. This has been a truth in our life since I first put her in a week long English horseback riding camp at the age of 8, after much begging from her. I thought: All girls love horses, if I let her do this a little and she finds out it’s work, it will get it out of her system. I don’t think I’ve been so wrong about much else in raising her. We are here, 6 years later, with a lease on a horse, her riding 6 days a week (sometimes multiple horses in one day), and the most frequent clothing shopping I do for her being riding breeches and related gear.
When I asked if there was anything she wanted to do while we were on the Oregon Coast, she was immediate and passionate in her desire to go for a horseback ride on the beach.
So, back we were to Google and some travel review sites, and I settled on Green Acres Beach & Trail Rides. We arrived early, so had to wait for the previous ride to return, but that meant we got to walk around, visit the horses, and feed them the carrots Green Acres has available. Once the previous ride returned from the beach ride, and those horses got a little care, the women of Green Acres gave a group talk on the basics of horseback riding. Then they sized up each up, asking about experience and nervous level and picked horses for us. Then we were helped into the saddles and set off at a relaxed walk down the beach. The beach was on one side, and sand dunes, grasses, fields, and mountains on the other. It was really beautiful.
My daughter is an experienced hunter jumper horseback rider, and I’ve never done more than a trail ride and that being over 25 years ago – yet both of us still enjoyed our ride. We started walking down the beach, then returned walking along a path through the dunes. It was a relaxed pace, with the horses lined up head to tail and experienced riders from Green Acres interspersed in the line to keep things under control. The horses know the trail just fine, so for the most part you can just let them walk.
PhotoTip: You cannot keep your phone or anything else in your hands or use it while you ride. But, if you ask before you head out, an extra experienced person will come on the ride and use your phone to snap some photos for you.
- Location: 985 Pacific Ave., Pacific City, OR 97135
- Ride Times: 10:00am, 11:30am, 1:00pm, 2:30pm, 4:00pm
- Rider restrictions: Must be at least 8 years old and less then 240 lbs.
- Check out the Green Acres Beach & Trail Rides Website Here
Oregon Coast: An Attraction in Itself
I have to mention, that the Oregon Coast itself is a sight worth spending some time enjoying. The weather changed quickly, fog rolled in and out, and the views are just completely different than the east coast beaches we can drive to from home. Our ‘hotel room’ was actually an entire small cottage with a rooftop balcony off one bedroom. Several times while we were there, we just stood out on the balcony, watching the waves, the beach, and even whales rolling and diving in the distance.
We also spent a couple of hours walking the beach one evening, enjoying the eeriness of being unable to see the waves in one direction, or the hotels that dotted the coastline in the other. All around us was a hazy fog that people would emerge from to wave and say Hi, and then fade back into as they continued on. My girls still started talking about that evening on the beach.
Oregon was not a location I had pinned on my map, hoping one day to visit. If it hadn’t been for the eclipse and our quest to be in the path of totality, who knows if and when we would have made it out here. We thoroughly enjoyed, and tried to make the most of, our days exploring the area and making memories.
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26 thoughts on “4 Top Oregon Coast Family Activities”
Funny that you say Oregon wasn’t high on your list, because Portland is pretty high on mine! This definitely makes me want to head closer to the coast though, not only to see the ocean but those sea lions too! Looks like a really fun trip!
We drove down into Portland for dinner our last night (before staying at a hotel beside the airport to fly out the next morning), and that’s all of Portland we got to see. I would have like to take more time actually in the city, but I knew some time on the coast and the other activities planned would be more interesting to the rest of the family. The sacrifices we make!
Oregon looks awesome, sea lions are the cutest!
They were certainly entertaining!
Wow you guys really made the most of your trip to Oregon even with the eclipse! The glass sculpture creations look amazing like they should be in a museum. Haha also those sea lions are so funny, they’re very aggressive. Was on a cruise in Alaska and we could hear them from so far away on the boat barking at each other.
We tried our best! I really struggled to strike a balance between letting everyone have rest time, and packing in the cool things to do. I kept thinking, who knows when we’ll ever be back in Oregon again! And the Sea Lions – YES!!! – They were SO LOUD. We kept laughing at them and marveling had how much noise they made. It was really surprising.
I want to know where you stayed….the little cottage on the beach! Great descriptions. I loved the glass making etc. thought of ever being a travel agent???
Hey Selah! First, love your name. We stayed at the Inn at Nye Beach: Inn At Nye Beach, 729 NW Coast Street, Newport, OR 97365
, 541-265-2477/541-272-5018. I’m sure when I booked it, I had seen that I was booking a cottage – but it had been so long I had forgotten! So when we arrived, we couldn’t find our room. Our eyes kept skipping over the cottages thinking those surely weren’t ours. 😀 But it wound up being a really nice way to do it, with a full, updated kitchen, living room, and two bedrooms and two baths. It wasn’t all modernized and fancy, but for what we were there for, it was actually perfect. Even had one of my girls up sick one night 🙁 and it was really nice that she could stay on the couch in the living room and not even disrupt sister’s sleep.
And, yes, it has crossed my mind to be a travel agent! I brought it up to my husband about a year ago, and he said he could totally see it – as long as it didn’t interfere with all the travel I want to do myself. 😀 Right now, I’m homeschooling two teen girls, so I’m not about to take on anything else. But after they’re gone, it’s definitely a thought. You have a good day!!
Oregon is so beautiful. And the beaches are the best, unique compared to the Cali beaches. Glad you enjoyed.
I really like the glass work! Quite amazing! And the Oregon Coast realky looks amazing. Great experiences
I love the Oregon coast and really appreciated that you had new things on this list that I’ve never done before. I guess I need to schedule a trip from Seattle ASAP!
That is so sweet of you looking for things to do your kids would be interested in! Sea lion and glass blowing .. please talk to my mom and give her advice on doing these things!
A sea lion cave was an interesting choice. I probably would have gone too. I got to interact with a sea lion in Atlantis once. They have so much personality!
Yes! This looks awesome! I have always wanted to see Sea Lions somewhere other than Sea World. I love watching people blow glass; I would be so excited to get the chance to try it myself. What a great way to use the eclipse to get in an awesome trip!
What a brilliant few days you must have had. I am seriously impressed at your glass art! I always have good intentions but very poor execution lol. Were you scared of the ovens yourself, they must have been ferocious.
The ovens were absolutely ferocious. It was actually a little nerve-wracking. I had to step away at one point and let the artist take over, because it just got really hot on my skin. I was never in danger, it just got uncomfortable. Gave me a real respect for the people doing it day after day!
Wow, didn’t even know there were sea lions in Oregon! Such a beautiful four day trip with so much to do!
I love the Oregon Coast! That last picture is priceless 🙂 Would love to go horseback riding there on my next trip.
Very entertaining post! I remember doing glasswork once, but there was no one to help me, so I just got a weird glass lump at the end. Glad it worked out well for you 🙂
If I hadn’t had the artist there with me, I’m sure I wouldn’t have gotten a weird glass lump – and burned many times over! But it was so creative fluid, I really liked it.
OMG, the sea lions are adorable ❤ Definitely going on my USA travel list 🙂
So much fun stuff to do on the Oregon Coast.
One of my close blogging buddies – internet marketing pro David Boozer – used to live on the Oregon Coast, literally. He had a house on the beach. He has since moved but I swear, his background shots where like something out of the Twilight movies. So much raw nature. Loved it.
I also dig those sea lion shots above. I am a sucker for nature, especially seeing wild animals in their home environments. I betcha they smelled fishy if you could get close enough. And I don’t mean suspicious either.
Awesome shots here. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks so much, Ryan! The Oregon Coast was so different and fascinating for me as an east coaster. I’m not used to the rugged shoreline, and the fog that rolled in and out was creepy and amazing. I really loved it. I only wish I had had more time, just me and my camera, to explore. I could have spent days just looking at the place the through my lens.
Thank you for stopping by, and for your kind words. 🙂
the place is so beautiful…..
Seal lions caves stink
Really? We didn’t find it bad at all. I mean, it smelled like sea and seal, but I didn’t find it bad. Maybe we hit it on a good day?
wow that glass blowing looks so cool!! What a fun family adventure!