A vacation in Oregon is one that your family will never forget. With majestic forests, historic landmarks and miles of unspoiled coastline, Oregon is the ideal destination for lovers of the ocean. Some beaches offer gentle waves that are fun for younger children to play in, while others offer the perfect conditions to go surfing or body-boarding. Some amenities are seasonal but there’s always something to do year-round.
Agate Beach takes its name from the semi-precious stone that’s found abundantly amid the sand and shingle. It’s a prime spot for surfing and other ocean sports that require more energetic waves, making swimming or paddling here a bit challenging for younger children. This beach is noted for its razor clams, which you can harvest with a permit. Fishing is also available. Parking is fairly generous, with RVs permitted. There are restrooms close to the beach. No lifeguards are present — exercise caution, especially since the waves can be very strong.
Cannon Beach is known for its spectacular rock formations, particularly the imposing haystack rock. It’s a beautiful beach which hosts many annual cultural events, including a spring arts fair and a sandcastle competition every June. The beach is broad and largely sandy, making this a fun place to spend the day. Amenities are good, including restrooms. The town is close to the beach and offers boutique shopping, dining and stores to buy food or those essential beach items. The sea can become a little rough at times so monitor children carefully if they’re near the water. You can rent surfboards and wetsuits here. Lifeguards are on patrol.
Cape Kiwanda Beach
If anyone in your family enjoys surfing, this is the beach for you. It’s strikingly beautiful and offers perfect conditions for surfing and body-boarding. Other ocean sports are permitted, although you will probably need to bring your own equipment. The sandy beach is broad and fun for younger children to play on but look out for those big waves. Stay away from the sandstone cliffs, as these are prone to unexpected rockfalls. Activities on offer include kite-flying and hang-gliding. Boating is permitted and you are allowed to bring your own vessel. Restrooms are situated by the parking lot. Be aware of the tides, which can turn suddenly, and of the dory boats that come and go nearby. Lifeguards are not present.
Fort Stevens State Park
The beach at Fort Stevens State Park will keep children enthralled for hours. One of the most dramatic landmarks is the Peter Iredale shipwreck, a vast skeletal hulk that looms over the south shoreline. Waves are less dramatic here and it’s a good spot for families. Fishing is a major industry here. If you want to set out in a boat and fish for halibut or salmon, you’ll find no shortage of experienced guides. Angling from the shore is also permitted. During the spring and early summer, razor clamming is a popular activity. This is a good spot for ocean sports, as long as you’re careful when the waves are high. If the waves are too rough for ocean swimming, there’s another swimming beach by Coffenbury Lake. This also has restrooms, picnic tables and a boat ramp. There are no lifeguards at either beach.
This rocky beach is a prime spot for surfing. The rougher terrain and less gentle waves make this beach more suitable for families with older children. As well as surfing and other ocean sports, this is a popular beach for kiting. There are restrooms and concessions at the visitor center. There are no lifeguards.
Whether you’re here to enjoy a range of ocean sports or simply to admire the incredible rock formations and the forest of petrified spruce tree stumps, Neskowin Beach is a great destination. The rocky shore makes sections of the beach less safe for swimming or water-sports, but great for paddling and investigating the pools left by the retreating tide. Away from the rocks you can enjoy swimming, surfing and kayaking — there are plenty of kayak rentals available in town. Restrooms are available near the parking lot. Stop at the nearby farmer’s market for some great food options. There are no lifeguards.
Oceanside Beach forms part of the Oceanside Beach State Recreation Site. It’s a pristine and unspoiled stretch of sandy beach with some nice secluded spots that are great for paddling. Less experienced swimmers and small children should be monitored if they go into the sea, as the waves can be rough at times. There is a distinct lack of amenities along most of the beach itself, with one restroom at the north end. You can find cafes and restaurants close by on the streets behind the beach. There are no lifeguards.
A well-known and well-developed beach, Rockaway is beautiful and offers plenty of amenities. There are amazing rock formations and vast expanses of soft sand. Families gather here to play in the relatively gentle surf, fly kites, swim and enjoy strolls along the shore. You can rent boats and equipment for ocean sports like surfing and kayaking, swim and snorkel on calmer days, and enjoy the scenery. Amenities are plentiful, with playgrounds, marinas and lots of places to eat. It’s fairly easy to find restrooms here. Lifeguards do patrol here but staff shortages mean that they may not always be on duty.
Seal Rock Beach
The community of Seal Rock takes its name from the many seals and other marine mammals that can be found on these rocky shores. There are broad swathes of sand to play and run on, sheltered areas with more gentle waves than elsewhere on the Oregon coast, and lots to do. Children will want to spend hours exploring tide-pools full of starfish and anemones, flying kites and building sandcastles. The town is very close by, with boutique shopping, accommodations, and plenty of places to eat. There are restrooms near the main parking lot. The beach is unguarded.
One of the safest beaches on this stretch of coast, Seaside Beach is outstandingly beautiful and has lots going on. The surf is energetic but not too wild; this, and the presence of lifeguards throughout the summer, make it a good choice for novice surfers. It’s a very family-friendly spot with lots to recommend it, especially if your family includes lots of different age groups. The golden sands are great for sandcastles and beach games — don’t forget your balls and Frisbees. Amenities are plentiful, including public restrooms. Lifeguard towers along the beach make this a very safe spot for kids.
South Beach Oregon State Park
South Beach Oregon State Park includes a wonderful stretch of sandy beach, perfect for beach games and sunset strolls. You’ll find trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding, including the paved Jetty Trail. The beach is backed by picturesque sand dunes and offers fairly energetic waves, perfect for surfing. Other activities include boating, fishing, and crabbing. This is a wonderful place for beachcombing, with lots of colorful shells and pretty sand-dollars. The campsite nearby is open year-round and has restrooms. There are plenty of attractions nearby such as two historic lighthouses, an aquarium, and the Hatfield Marine Science Center. The beach is unguarded.