Nothing quite beats the fun of roadtripping down the Oregon Coast to enjoy the beauty of the Pacific Northwest. While not quite as iconic as driving U.S. Route 66, the Oregon Coast offers plenty of spellbinding scenes, best beach towns and destination dining. Whether planning a family vacation, girlfriend getaway or romantic escape, why not take to the road to explore the region’s bounty?
Getaway Vehicle: Toyota 4Runner
For a family adventure at summer’s end, we hit the highway in style, taking a gleaming red Toyota 4Runner for a spin. Our drive was smooth, comfortable and easy-peasy to maneuver as we (okay, I) belted out favorite roadtripping tunes with visions of off-roading exploits dancing in our heads. Though used to packing light (think carry-on) for my flight travel, I had no problem filling the roomy back of the vehicle with you-never-know-when-you-might-need-it-but-probably-won’t items.
For the ultimate family camping experience, KOA (Kampgrounds of America) provides RV, tent camping and cabin accommodations. On this trip, our plans included a new travel experience: a two-night stay in a deluxe cabin at the Astoria/Warrenton/Seaside KOA .
Amenities at this site include an outdoor and indoor pool with hot tub, a free pancake breakfast (with lunch and dinner available for purchase), bike rentals, and a new activities center that houses arts & crafts, arcade and board games, ping pong and pool tables and basketball. Outside, the giant Jumping Pillow and mini-golf were favorites among the campers on site.
Entering the KOA site, we’re welcomed by friendly ambassadors directing us to the registration office. The friendly atmosphere continues inside the convenience store and at the registration desk. For office manager, Rosanna, “Seeing people have fun” is the best part of her job at KOA. Doris, HR manager, agrees: “When your employees like being here, it’s a good place to be.” In fact, fellow employee Hillary likes working at KOA so much that she planned her wedding to take place on site.
Happy to recommend nearby sites for exploration, the staff directs us to historic Fort Stevens across the street, Seaside with its landmark oceanfront Promenade and beachfront turnaround, and Astoria at the mouth of the Columbia River. For this short getaway, we opt for Seaside and Astoria, saving Fort Stevens for a longer visit.
Amazingly, though I’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest for many years, I discovered Seaside only recently while attending a Travel + Words Northwest Travel Writers Conference here. Northwest ocean breezes, a fun boardwalk that includes an oceanside aquarium, and plentiful outdoor recreational activities, have attracted families to this coastal town for generations.
Visitors can rent bikes, ride the carousel, stroll the Promenade or have a go at bumper cars. Be sure to stop in at Beach Books to browse the bestsellers, regional collection and everything in between, as well as other specialty gift shops and galleries. Or kick back on the beach and soak up the stunning ocean views.
Once a thriving fishing, then timber town, Astoria showcases its heritage at the Columbia River Maritime Museum with interactive exhibits for visitors of all ages.
Visitors are also welcome to board the Lighthouse Columbia, a national historic landmark, just outside the museum. Throughout the town, a scattering of Victorian mansions dot the hillside, reminding visitors of its historical roots.
To learn more about Astoria’s colorful history, ride the Astoria Riverfront Trolley. Hop on and off at designated locations or stay on for the entire one-hour journey for only $1.00.
Bowpicker Fish & Chips, a dry-docked boat, (think food truck alternative), came highly recommended, but alas! The first day of our stay the eatery was closed and the second day we stopped by, the lengthy line of customers – while an obvious testament to Bowpicker’s popular following and reputation – kept us at bay. Instead, we discovered the Blue Scorcher Bakery & Cafe, a worker-owned cooperative located in the historic Fort George Building that features delicious artisan breads, pastries and seasonal foods. Also highly recommended.
By the end of our short getaway, plans to include off-roading adventures in our rugged Toyota 4xRunner took a backseat to running trails and beach town explorations. But with so much more to see and experience along Oregon’s northern coast, it’s only a matter of time before our travels bring us back.
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Many thanks to Toyota and KOA for the chance to explore the Pacific Northwest in style for our end-of-summer family escape!
When and where are you planning your next road trip, Wanderboomers?