Oregon coast activities that are free (or almost)

Our big vacation this year was a road trip to Lincoln City, Oregon, with my side of the family. If you’re looking for a fun trip that’s low key and inspires a whole lot of relaxation, this is the trip for you. And once you pay for gas to get there and for a place to stay, the rest of the trip costs next to nothing. Here are four fun things we did, endorsed by kids and adults alike.

1. Explore the beach.

The Oregon coast is not warm, but we lucked out and got a warm-ish day perfect for a quick splash in the ocean. The highlight of the beach, though, is all the shells and sea life that wash up on shore. I had never been to a beach with real shells, and there were plenty there. Also abundant were jellyfish, much to the kids’ delight. Okay, mine too.

All that glistening stuff is tiny jellyfish washed ashore

We spent two afternoons at the beach, and both were fun. One was windy, and we tried to fly kites. We visited another beach to whale watch. Oh, and one evening we went down on the sand and built a bonfire for making s’mores. Lots of fun.

Also fun was buying these boys matching (tiny) swimsuits—ha!

All that beach time? Free. In fact, you can gather up driftwood and burn it if you don’t want to spring for a $5 bundle of firewood at the grocery store. And I bought nine kites at the dollar store before taking our trip, so that was pretty inexpensive too.

2. See a lighthouse.

We wanted to take a drive to Tillamook for the creamery, so we stopped at a lighthouse nearby. Again, I’d never seen a lighthouse, but having read The Light Between Oceans, I was eager to see one in real life. Words can’t describe how beautiful it was there.

This lighthouse is reportedly the smallest one on the coast, but it was a treat to see it nonetheless. And I loved seeing this historic shot of the lighthouse back when it guided ships:

Visiting the lighthouse was another free activity. Boo-yah.

3. Take a hike.

If you drive a few miles inland, you’ll find Drift Creek Falls. The hike to the falls is a mile and a half in and requires (delightfully) a walk across a suspension bridge.

The terrain is not rough, so kids of all ages can walk it. And the ferns! Oh, the ferns. I counted five different varieties and loved the canopy of trees. No lie, it smelled like a citronella candle in that forest. And we spotted a toad on the trail, so that was a treat too.

Want directions to the trailhead? Go here and scroll down to “Drift Creek Falls.”

Sissy walked the whole thing (but not with a smile on her face)

To park at the trailhead costs $5 per carload—not much for a family activity, right?

4. See the Tillamook Creamery.

The newly remodeled creamery is worth the drive. Admission is free, and this is one of the sweetest, most interactive, and most tastefully done museums I’ve been to (I’ve got another post coming up about one of my favorite things there). And the cheese samples—Swiss, smoked cheddar, pepper jack, and more—were unlimited.

This display was made from screwing milk buckets into plywood, then setting spinning lids on top.

If you don’t eat your fill of cheese, there’s a cafeteria for ordering yummy things like deep-fried cheese curds or a killer tuna melt, and of course, there’s ice cream—the monster cookie is worth 1,000 calories or whatever it has.

There you have it! The recipe for the best family trip we’ve taken in a long time. Are you fans of the Oregon coast? If so, what are your favorite things to do there? •

6 thoughts

  1. Every fourth graders and family members can get into parks and some museums for free

    I think or google it is every kid in park


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