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When we were planning our vacation from Seattle to San Diego, one of our hardest decisions was where to stop along the Oregon Coast. The Oregon Coast is beautiful and has so many amazing coastal towns to visit, that it was hard to choose. After some research, we decided to stay in Newport, Oregon and it did not disappoint. There are so many great family activities in Newport.
*Thank you to Thousand Trails for hosting our stay at your Whaler’s Rest Resort
My family is no stranger to the Oregon Coast. We have gone a few times. We have stayed in Seaside and visited Tillamook. I visited Lincoln City, Florencce, and much more prior to getting married. When we decided to visit Newport, Oregon I did not know if it would have a ton for us to do. It did. It had so much fun stuff, we couldn’t even do it all. My family fell in love with Newport, Oregon and here is why.
Newport, Oregon Lodging
When we decided that we wanted to head to Newport, Oregon, it was because of the activities. Why we want to return to Newport is the lodging. Sounds silly, but we fell in love with the lodging in Newport.
There are plenty of hotels and rental homes in Newport and the surrounding areas, but what I loved was the amount of camping along this stretch of the Oregon Coast. The Oregon Coast camping scene is actually pretty awesome. Oregon has a unique coast line with the mountains often meeting the ocean. Newport and the surrounding area did not disappoint in this department.
Our family stayed just south of Newport at an RV resort through Thousand Trails called Whaler’s Rest (the address is South Beach, but it is seriously like 5 minutes out of Newport). No, we did not have an RV or tent. The RV Resort actually had several small cabins that you could rent. We stayed in a small cabin and LOVED it! (You can check out the live tour on my facebook page.)
One of the reasons I loved this option is that it had some of the perks of a rental home (a cabin, WIFI, had full kitchen, etc) but it also had that community feeling of an RV park, plus the bonuses of a campground (fire ring, and such). It really was kind of the best of all worlds.
The location was amazing. Definitely, definitely, definitely check out staying here if you are ever in the area. It is one of my favorite Oregon coast campgrounds ever!
Family Activities in Newport, Oregon
One thing we wanted to make sure to do in Newport was to take in different activities then we would experience during the rest of our Seattle to San Diego adventure. There was so much to do in Newport, Oregon that we were never hurting for entertainment. In fact, we didn’t get a chance to enjoy all the activities at the resort because there was so much to do.
If you love lighthouses, you will love Newport, Oregon
There are several lighthouses near Newport Oregon. We were able to visit three lighthouses in the area. Each one was unique so I am glad we stopped and visited all of them.
The Yaquina Head Lighthouse is the tallest lighthouse along the Oregon coast at 93 feet. The lighthouse and the surrounding area have a $7 entrance fee per car. The lighthouse has tours from July – September, for a small fee. We visited in March so we were not able to do a tour but we are hoping to the next time we visit.
We did get to go inside the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse. This Lighthouse was great because it was right in town, by the other attractions we were doing that day. The lighthouse is in the Yaquina Bay Recreational Area. You have to climb a lot of stairs to get to it. (I did not see any sign showing a route for wheelchairs or strollers.) It is worth the climb.
You can tour the lighthouse and learn about what it was like to live in one. Then you can go downstairs to watch a ghost story. I have a child that is highly influenced by scary stories, so we did not watch it. I am unsure if it is saying the lighthouse is haunted or something else. But those who like ghost stories will want to take that in.
The last lighthouse we visited was actually an hour south of Newport on the way to Florence, Oregon. We visited the Heceta Head Lighthouse. This lighthouse was visible from the beach, but if you wanted to get up close, you had to climb 1/2-3/4 mile up the mountain. The trail was nice and groomed, and let me tell you, the view from the top was totally worth it!
Newport, Oregon Coast Aquarium and a FREE alternative
If you love aquariums, Newport is home to the Oregon Coast Aquarium. This aquarium is highly recommended on many travel sites. But it is expensive! So we found an alternative (and something we like more) that we recommend visiting.
The Hatfield Marine Science Center is a free (donation suggested) alternative to the Oregon Coast Aquarium. Perfect for large families or those on a budget. The suggested donation is $20 per family, which is less than a single admission to the aquarium.
The Marine Center is run by Oregon State University and it has a lot of great hands on and education activities. My kids favorites were definitely the touch pool and the water activities. They learned about tidal waves, tsunami waves and more.
Beaches are plentiful
There are several beaches in and near Newport, Oregon. Each one has a different feel to it. We stopped at the Yaquina Bay beach area after visiting the Lighthouse. Just like you had to climb up a lot of stairs to get to the lighthouse, you had to climb down lots of stairs to get to the beach (and back up to get to the parking lot). This beach was quiet, windy, and had great sand for playing in.
The Heceta Head beach at the bottom of the trail to the lighthouse is gorgeous. It is a little inlet from the rest of the coast line (is that the right term?) and behind it you see a bridge from Highaway 101. A light fog is present in the morning giving to the beauty of this area. Because the mountains jut out on each side of this small beach, you are protected more from the wind.
Hiking, biking, and other trails
There are plenty of trails in the Newport area. On one side of Highway 101 you have the coast line and on the other side you have the mountains. This gives you the best of both worlds.
Drive south and visit the Sea Lions
Just past the Heceta Head Lighthouse you can visit the Sea Lion Caves. The rocks on the coast line, and the sea cave, have hundreds of sea lions. The Sea Lion caves are definitelya tourist trap and quite pricey. We only spent an hour or so there and paid over $35 for three of us (the twins were free) but it is definitely worth a stop at least one time.
Will We Go Back To Newport, Oregon?
We will definitely head back to Newport, Oregon in the coming years. Not exactly sure when, but I know it is a place we want to go and visit again. In the meantime, be sure to stay tuned for more of our trip from Seattle to San Diego and for other adventures along the Oregon Coast.