Thanks to many of you for advice on this forum. We planned a nice family vacation (2 adults, 8 y.o. son) to enjoy the coast and also some brewery time.
Traveled Friday, August 25 to Friday, September 2. Made almost all reservations on Orbitz, as that was the cheapest prices. They continued to send me coupons so I would cancel and rebook at a lower rate several times.
8/25: Had a late flight into PDX. Chose to get rental car even though it was late, versus shuttle to hotel and back in the morning. Rented through Enterprise; super quick and easy. Stayed at Country Inn and Suites at airport which was nice. Good breakfast.
8/26: On the road too early, since we’re on EST time. I was bummed that the wineries I wanted to see wouldn’t be open yet! But while driving into Portland we saw a cable car and took a random detour to the Portland Aerial Tram. Ended up being awesome. Fun one hour diversion, perfect sunny day. Took our first pictures of Mt. Hood and also Mt. St. Helen’s. Then on to one winery – Stoller. It was just awesome. Sitting enjoying some wine on their back deck, blue sky over the fields. Also got a meat and cheese tray. Just a beautiful way to start our vacation.
After that, kept on to Newport for 3 night stay at Best Western Agate Beach. Stopped at McMenamins in Lincoln City which for a chain was really good. This was a great location and room for us. Lots of space, good wifi, pool for kiddo. Note we stopped at a couple road side beaches for beachcombing and sightseeing: Moolak and Beverly. We saw several whales right from the road this day. Dinner at Rogue on the Bay, brewery #1.
8/27: Breakfast at diner in Newport, was tiny, hot inside, and took forever. Headed south on coast. Eddie on this forum is spot on – this is by far the most scenic drive. I wish we’d spent more time on this route. We did drive up to Cape Perpetua Overlook, did a tiny hike, found the stone shelter. Amazing pics and enough height to almost make my husband unhappy. Could not find hike to Giant Spruce. Next a reservation at Sandlands for a Sand Rail ride. My husband and son loved it and I was scared out of my mind. Note, after this ride, you are sandy head to toe and windblown. The dunes were amazing and beautiful though! Going back north we stopped at Devil’s churn and hit that at high tide. It was beautiful; got great pics. There was enough tidepooling here to keep us entertained too. Back to Yachats for dinner at Yachats Brewing – this was a flop. They close so early. Forget it, went across to the street to a fish and chips place with picnic tables in tents. It was great. Yachats was ulta quiet and not someplace that was for us.
8/28: Depoe bay day. North on the coast. Yaquina head for tidepooling, which was closed due to a sea lion nearby. Ranger directed us to another area down a few residential side streets where we did a nice beach walk and a little tide pooling. We could see the lighthouse not far away. On to Depoe bay. Wandered around town, did a little gift shopping, ate at the Horn Brewery which was good. No whales in Depoe Bay but did see a tour boat that broke down and the coast guard had to go get it and tow it back in. I was thinking of a boat tour but I think my son and I would have been too ill. Dinner at Shark’s near Nye beach which was a-ma-zing. Some candy store stops and some time watching and listening to resident sea lions.
8/29: Cooler and rainy so today was aquarium day. Checked out of hotel in Newport. My son was really looking forward to this and it didn’t disappoint. It was nice, and we liked the indoor and outdoor exhibits. I think we did Devil’s punchbowl this day? Hit at wrong tide. But we did see several Humpback (not grey) whales. Then north to Pacific City and Cape Kiwanda. Hiked the sand dune, ran down, went to eat and drink beer. Got a big early dinner which turned out to be a good idea. They had great beer so we got some to go. Night in Rockaway Beach at Surfside. I wasn’t finding lodging in Cannon Beach that was reasonably priced so thought this was a good alternative. It was not. There were no open restaurants so I’m glad we ate enough earlier. It was cold and rainy so no beach time. We basically checked in to this 1970’s place, let my son swim for two hours in the pool while we drank beer, and then went to bed. I woke up so much in the night just counting down until check out. We had a “pets allowed” room and I am certain there was pet urine in there because I smelled it all night. However, on the upside, it was a huge room, pretty fireplace, nice little kitchen and nice beach view. It is older so be prepared. I just wish I would have dropped another $50 and gone elsewhere. But onward…
8/30: On to Cannon Beach which was beautiful, walked just about all the way to Haystack. That is when we found out my husband was an enormous Goonies nerd and decided we were going to divert to Astoria for pictures of the house (not legal to park in front of their house for pictures) and to see some Jeep from the movie. Check, check. Also a brewery for lunch, check. On to Portland downtown for two nights at the Paramount. This was a nice hotel. I was worried there was no pool (my son’s joy in life, plus it was about 100 degrees) but for two nights it was alright. Breweries that night: FatHead’s, Backpedal, 10 Barrel. All were good. I liked FatHead’s the best but that could have been the 9% beer and fried mushrooms talking.
8/31: Columbia River Gorge day. Drove out to see all the sites which were lovely. Hiked Wahclella falls which was very pretty but too hard on such a hot day. We were starving and thirsty at the end. Ended up going to the Fish Hatchery and eating hot dogs from the stand!!! Spent maybe 45 minutes there seeing the fish and giant sturgeon. Back to Portland for some showers and more beer. I was having a hard time getting to places that allowed my son in or that we could walk to. Ended up at a game place at a mall.
9/1: Last full day with red eye flight home. Did Science Museum – we all loved this 110%. We did the submarine tour and it was amazing. The whole museum is very good. We were there for the Pompeii exhibit which was really well done also. Then, we went to a few breweries on that side of the river before our flight out. Cascade, Hair of the Dog, Basecamp, Hopworks.
A few points that I learned:
My son likes nature, animals, and being outside, but we’d planned just too much “outdoor” time for him. The Sand dune tour and museum were great to break it up. This actually is going to help me adjust my family plan for Yellowstone next year.
I wish I made better notes on the breweries we visited, so I could look for some of that beer back home maybe. I learned I like sour beer which was a fun discovery for me. We made it to 16 breweries so I’m happy with our success there.
I loved the coastal scenery. I could watch the waves crash on those rocks for days on end. However, hubby and son don’t share that same sentiment!
I do a ton of internet research before trips and this was the first trip where many of the things I investigated did not pan out for several reasons. Being on EST time was one. All of the “top” and “best” things turned out not to be… The best beach for fossils – didn’t see a single one. Same for the “best” agate beach. The tide pools at Yaquina were a pain due to so many flies. It was hard to hit the sites at the “right” times (low/high tide). So, this was unusual in my planning. The best parts were spontaneous and unexpected; again, a help for me when overplanning Yellowstone.
Overall we had a great trip to a beautiful area of the country!