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27 Ways to Enjoy Pacific City Oregon with Kids

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Looking for an amazing family-friendly beach vacation? You’ve found it! Visiting Pacific City, Oregon with kids gives you so many options, everyone in the family will find something to interest them. Read on for 27 ways to enjoy Pacific City, Oregon with kids of all ages.

Panoramic shot of Cape Kiwanda and Pacific City from the cape's high dune. Don't miss visiting Pacific City Oregon with kids!
Above: Cape Kiwanda and Pacific City from the cape’s high dune.

Why Pacific City?

Pacific City is the local secret of the North Oregon Coast. This beach city is within easy driving distance of Salem and only two hours from Portland International Airport, making it a perfect road trip stop for a full Oregon Coast exploration.

Early morning view of Pacific City beach with the Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area at right. There's lots to see in Pacific City Oregon with kids.
Early morning view of Pacific City beach with the Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area at right.

Better yet, it’s not well known outside of Oregon, so it doesn’t draw the kind of crowds that you find at Seaside or Cannon Beach. We’ve curated 27 ideas for adventures in and near Pacific City, as well as lodging options, day trip notes, and seasonal considerations.

Adventure 1: Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area

View from the top of the Cape Kiwanda sand dune in Pacific City Oregon with kids.
Above: Oregon’s best is on display at Cape Kiwanda natural area.

Cape Kiwanda is renowned for its dramatic beauty. In fact, this cape is better known than the coastal town nestled up against it!

The cape’s most striking feature is the 240-foot high sand dune on the north end of the beach. The dune crowns a large natural area encompassing the entire cape. 

Pacific City beach in Oregon with sand dune at right, haystack rock at left
View of Pacific City beach. The sand dune at the right looks small from this distance, but don’t let that fool you!

Well-worn paths traverse this natural park, so you can explore nearly all of the cape, including a hike to the top of the majestic dune.

man in red shirt at bottom of sand dune
Above: Brian follows three of our children as they scramble up the steep side of the dune.

However, you may find it best to do some people watching before you get started. You see, the steepest side of the dune faces the beach and that means that you may be in for a show if you know where to look.

Many people take the dune head on, having little idea of just how hard it will be. 

Kid climbing sand dune. The dune is a fun thing to do in Pacific City oregon with kids.
Above: Rattlesnake (our son) romps about on Cape Kiwanda’s mighty dune.

Let your kids have at the big heap of sand! They’ll burn a lot of energy and learn a thing or two.

Exploring the bluffs

boy and girl atop the sand dune at Pacific City.

The best entrance into the natural area can be found by moving toward the seaward side of the great dune. This involves cutting across its lower face instead of ascending its formidable front face.

By trekking toward the seaward side of the dune you gradually ascend up onto the the sandstone bluffs that make up Cape Kiwanda.

View of the Ocean and the haystack rock. Pacific City, Oregon with kids.

The bluffs not only provide better footing, but also lead you into the unmarked paths that allow you to enjoy stunning views of the many coves that punctuate the cape. Crashing waves, lively creatures, and swaying trees give plenty to consider and contemplate. 

Safety first!

Beautiful bluffs and Oregon coastline. Visiting Pacific City, Oregon with kids is a great summer activity.

But don’t let the beautiful scenery bring you too close! Posted fences are provided to protect visitors from the sandstone cliffs and people have died from ignoring of the danger.

Another view of the bluff trails at Cape Kiwanda.

The bluff trails provide the easiest access to the top of the cape. Unlike the dune face, they are predominantly made of sandstone, meaning that you won’t have to scramble much until you get toward the top of the dune.

Best of all, this side of the dune offers greater protection from the sun and the wind!

Cooling off in the grove that tops the Cape Kiwanda dune. Exploring Pacific City Oregon with kids.
Above: Cooling off in the grove that tops the Cape Kiwanda dune.

That said, you should know that it gets hot on that pile of sand! We were grateful to have some good hiking sandals and especially thankful for the grove of trees that awaited us at the top.

The views are nothing short of spectacular. 

Panoramic view from the top of Cape Kiwanda’s sand dune.

Cape Kiwanda is largely barren and the scarcity of trees provides hikers with vistas that they simply can’t get on many of Oregon’s thickly wooded headlands.

Perched high on the summit, you can take in the entire cape and see miles of coastland both north and south of your position. It’s a great place for whale watching too, so bring along your binoculars!

View of Pacific City Oregon from above.

Taken as a whole, Cape Kiwanda’s natural area is reason enough to visit this remarkable beach.  

Here is the Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area official page.

Adventure 2: Tide pools

rocks at Cape Kiwanda. Visiting Pacific City Oregon with kids.
This shot shows most of the tide pools underwater.

At the base of the Cape Kiwanda dune there are several rocky areas at the water’s edge. It’s a great spot to check out tide pools teeming with marine life.

pink-tipped sea anemones in natural tide pool
Pink-tipped sea anemones are abundant in the tide pools.

Crabs, sea anemones, starfish, and all sorts of other small creatures make their home in the pools that can be explored when the tide goes out. Make sure to wear sturdy shoes!  

Exploring the tide pools. Pacific City oregon with kids.

Also, keep an eye on the water since sneaker waves are a common occurrence on the Oregon Coast. Sneaker waves are extra large waves that show up unexpectedly in between normal-sized waves. Posted warning signs on many Oregon beaches provide additional information. 

boy dipping foot in sea water near tide pool
The tide pools have lots of sharp barnacles, so tread carefully and watch where you sit!

Adventure 3: Chief Kiawanda Rock

Haystack rock at Pacific City beach
Haystack rock (AKA Chief Kiawanda Rock) as seen from Pacific City beach

The Oregon coast is famous for its rugged natural beauty and this is no less the case with Cape Kiwanda.

Not far from the cape stands an iconic sea stack commonly known as Haystack rock. The name fits, but it breeds confusion because Cannon Beach has its own (and more famous) Haystack Rock.

Cannon Beach's Haystack Rock, as seen from the Silver Point Interpretive Viewpoint.
This is the Cannon Beach Haystack Rock (seen from the Silver Point Interpretive Viewpoint)

Google uses an earlier name: Chief Kiawanda Rock. The name both predates “Haystack Rock” and ties the landmark back to some of its earliest inhabitants. Chief Kiawanda was a well known chief of the Nestugga Tribe, who also provided the name for Pacific City’s river, the Nestucca.

The Nestugga and the Killamook tribes (compare to Tillamook) inhabited this part of the Oregon Coast until they were forced onto the Siletz Reservation near Lincoln City. 

But how did it get there?

The rock’s natural history is equally colorful. It doesn’t take much to notice that the dark sea stack is an oddity, having nothing in common with the sandstone bluffs of Cape Kiwanda. What is a basalt sea stack doing out there in the ocean?

Geological research has discovered that the basalt stacks and cliffs of Oregon’s coast actually had their origins in incredibly powerful eruptions in what is now eastern parts of Oregon and Washington. 

Oregon State Parks Adventure Book
This book makes a great way to remember your trip!

Massive volcanic pressure split open cracks in the earth’s crust, unleashing enormous amounts of lava. The flows were so extensive that they covered most of Eastern Oregon and Washington, dammed the Columbia, and proceeded into the Pacific Ocean.

Today’s sea stacks are what remains of heavy, molten lava that sunk under the the ocean’s sand and cooled in place—incredible stuff!

woman in hoodie and sunglasses in front of haystack rock at Pacific City.
Got my hoodie to keep me warm in November at Pacific City beach.

In spite of its volcanic history, Chief Kiawanda Rock is now the gentle host of a wide range of marine life. Flocks of sea fowl abide on the rock with seals and sea lions resting along its shore line.

Often the seals swim closer to shore near the tide pools. From time to time, migrating gray whales can be seen out just past the rock.

If that wasn’t enough, the rock has its own natural arch that is easily visible from the shoreline. Photo ops abound if you have a family shutterbug! A good camera or pair of binoculars will provide you with plenty of fun and beauty to take in. Iconic shots are everywhere when visiting Pacific City, Oregon with kids.

Adventure 4: Pacific City’s Famed Dories

Jennifer and I have seen our share of beaches. She grew up in on Jamaica’s South shore and I was a SoCal surfer boy.

But we were both stunned when a fishing boat literally flew onto Pacific City beach. That was a first for us! 

@dinkumtribe One of the best things to do at Pacific City beach is to watch the dory boats launch up onto the beach. #oregonexplored #pacificcityoregon ♬ original sound – dinkumtribe

What we’d witnessed was a dory boat returning home. Pacific City boasts a well-respected, seasoned dory fleet. Dorymen and dorywomen fish Oregon’s coastline for salmon, Dungeness crab, albacore tuna, and rock fish.

These fishermen carry on a tradition that goes back to Pacific City’s earliest days, providing a glimpse of a fishing industry that no longer exists in many parts of the country.

Cape Kiwanda’s dory launch goes along the sandy beach to the water’s edge. Big trucks can be seen towing small fishing boats to the water throughout the day.

Toddler watching dory boat and truck at Pacific City Beach.
Our son watches the trucks and boats

But the most fun is watching the dories come in. The boats have to gather speed and shoot themselves past the surf and right up onto the sand so that they don’t get stuck! 

Watching dory boats fly out of the water and onto the sandy beach was one of our kids’ favorite things to do.

Adventure 5: Watch Surfers (and Suckers)

Surfers in the waves.

Cape Kiwanda is a popular destination for local surfers, so there are usually several out at any point of the day. Watching them catch waves, or wipe out, provides lots of people-watching opportunities.

Equally entertaining is when inexperienced drivers bring their big vehicle down onto the sandy beach…and get stuck! This tends to happen a few times every day during the peak summer months. 

Don’t worry though—there are local tow trucks that make their living pulling people out of the sand, so the stuck vehicles don’t stay stuck for very long.

Adventure 6: Classic beach fun in Pacific City Oregon with kids

Our boys enjoying the sandy beach

The beach at Pacific City offers several miles of beautiful walking. Dogs and kids run happily along the waves, and plenty of sand castles rise and fall along the length of the beach. 

The shallow water area near the beach is short, as the water deepens quickly. If your kids are not yet confident swimmers, a life vest will give you peace of mind while they enjoy splashing. 

Note that the Pacific Ocean is frigid in Oregon year-round, although most kids seem unbothered by the cold water! You’ll want towels and beach blankets.

mom and child walking along Pacific City beach, Oregon

Adventure 7: Beach Combing in Pacific City Oregon with kids

The Pacific Northwest has a lot to offer to treasure seekers. The simple fact that they draw less crowds means that there’s less eyes roaming the beach. Oregon’s rugged coastline hasn’t seen the kind of development found throughout much of the Pacific Coast, so it isn’t uncommon to find nice shells and even whole sand dollars on the beach.

Piece of sand dollar collected from the Pacific City beach. Beachcombing is a fun activity when visiting Pacific City Oregon with kids.
Partial sand dollar

Adventure 8: Go Rockhounding

Streams flowing from nearby coastal mountains often bring agates and other semiprecious stones to the shoreline. You can find these occasionally at the Pacific City Beach and other local beaches.

But if you don’t mind a short drive, nearby Short Beach is one of the best agate beaches on the Oregon Coast. It’s a well-hidden and less popular beach with a unique staircase entry. Besides being picturesque, Short Beach has an abundance of agates and jaspers to be found along the shore. Our kids each found several handfuls of beautiful natural souvenirs!

@dinkumtribe Our kids and Dad fiund some beautiful semiprecious stones at Short Beach. Probably would’ve found more if we came right after a storm. @DinkumTribe ADHD family travel @DinkumTribe ADHD family travel @DinkumTribe ADHD family travel #rockhounding #rockhound #oregoncoastrockhounding #oregoncoastvibes #beachcombing #beachcombingfinds #agatesphere #jasperstone ♬ Little Smile – eas Ratta

Adventure 9: Clamming

One thing that I love about the Oregon Coast is the connection you see between the land and the people who live in it.

I remember the first time I saw a group of people digging out of an estuary at low tide. I was puzzled—what were these people doing and what was that strange tool in the fella’s hand? These normal folks were out clamming, digging up clams from Oregon’s shoals.

You can join the experience if you’re willing to get the right tools and put in some manual labor.

Oregon Adventure Book
Oregon Adventure book to remember your Oregon vacation (affiliate link).

Adventure 10: Fishing

Pacific City has a prime location for fishing. Miles of sandy beach and charter boats welcome ocean fishing.

The city is located at the mouth of the Nestucca River. The Nestucca’s calm waters are known for their 50 pound Chinook salmon! Oregon’s Coast range offers additional freshwater opportunities.

Adventure 11: Crabbing for dinner

Crabbing informational sign. Crabbing is a fun activity available at many parts of the Oregon Coast.
A sign at nearby Tillamook Bay describing crabbing regulations

Crabbing is another fun way to experience the beach. We got to go crabbing with a family at Newport Bay and never forgot our time.

You purchase or borrow a crab trap, a rope, and some bait. The trap is a metal cage that looks kind of like a basic, collapsible dog kennel. 

Our group went a public dock that provided access to Newport Bay. We secured the a rope to the cage, baited it with some meat, and let it sink to the bottom of the bay. That’s it!

Pull the cage up after an hour or two and see if you have some crab to cook.

Adventure 12: Pelican Brewing Company

Pelican Pub & Brewery logo and sign on a tower in Pacific City.

Pacific City is home to one of Oregon’s best craft breweries. Pelican Brewing Company has developed a wide range of award-winning beers. Their flagship Pelican brew pub has a fantastic location on Pacific City Beach.

The parents can finish the day with a good meal and a good beer before getting those kiddos to bed!

Street view of the Pelican Brewery in Pacific City.
Pelican Brewery with the Chief Kiawanda rock to the left in the background.

Favorite Pelican Brewery beer recommendations

We are particularly fond of their Kiwanda, a pre-prohibition cream ale that makes you think twice about what beer can be. This soft, creamy beer is simply a delight for the senses. We’ve also come to love their American Style Hefeweizen, which has a refreshing, but subtle flavor.

For those of you who are looking for a kick in the pants, Pelican has a crisp Pale Ale brewed with a heavy dose of New Zealand hops. 

And for those of you who like a kick in the face, Pelican has a double India Pale Ale that features an overwhelming dose of Mosaic, Citra, and Centennial hops. I can’t get through a bottle of Pelican’s double IPA, but it may be just what you’re looking for.

Bottles of beer from Pelican Brewing Company.

Pelican Brewing Company has three additional locations on the Northern Oregon Coast. You can find them in Tillamook and Cannon Beach, plus the glamorous new Pelican pub in Siletz Bay (Lincoln City).

Adventure 13: Stimulus Coffee and Bakery

No trip to Oregon is complete without good coffee. In fact, no day in Oregon is complete without good coffee!

Right across the street from the Cape Kiwanda State Natural area is the Stimulus Coffee and Bakery. This convenient location also provides tasty baked goods and excellent coffee and espresso drinks.

Grab a window seat (if you can find one!) and enjoy the ocean views over a steaming mocha.

Coffee with foam.

Adventure 14: Oregon Wine Tasting

Are you able to catch a date on your family vacation? If so, take the chance to try Oregon’s renowned pinot noir.

If you’ve never tried Oregon’s wines, prepare to be impressed! Pinor noir may be Oregon’s top wine, but it’s not the state’s only winner.

Pinot gris, Syrah, and Gewurtztraminer are only a few of the many varieties cultivated in Oregon’s wine regions. So there are plenty of options to try and explore at Oregon wine tasting rooms.

Wine bar menu
Menu from Twist

Not far from the Cape Kiwanda State Natural area is a fun wine tasting room called Twist Wine Company. They offer reasonably-priced wine flights and tastings, and you can purchase wine to be shipped to your home. 

Adventure 15: Sweet treats

Pacific Coast Candy interior with rows of saltwater candy and other sweets.

Got a craving for some saltwater taffy or local chocolate creations? Your family will love Pacific Coast Candy, just a few steps away from Twist Wine Company. Our kids thought they had gone to candy heaven as they carefully selected their favorite treat from this boutique candy shop and ice cream store.

@dinkumtribe When you take your six kids into a candy store and realize that it’s gonna take a while… @@DinkumTribe ADHD family travel @@DinkumTribe ADHD family travel @@DinkumTribe ADHD family travel##oregontravelideas##familytravelcreator##oregoncoast##candystore##kidinacandystore ♬ Lollipop – The Chordettes

We tried several different gummy candies, enjoyed a bag of assorted saltwater taffy, and our friend Aly love the chocolate marionberry truffle (a local Oregon flavor). There’s a coffee shop and deck with picnic tables right outside so you can enjoy the sunshine.

Teens and kids outside Pacific Coast Candy, deciding which saltwater taffy flavor to eat first.

Adventure 16: Explore Bob Straub State Park

You don’t have to go far for outdoor adventure in this quiet corner of Oregon. Bob Straub State Park borders Pacific City. The park encompasses the Nestucca Sand Spit, allowing for beautiful beach walks, fishing, hiking, and horseback riding.

When you’re done exploring the Pacific City beach, check out the beach at Bob Straub. Kids can spend hours exploring these tide pools, looking for crabs, sea stars, and other marine life. They can also climb sand dunes or build sandcastles. 

The park has several hiking trails, including a one-mile trail that is open to horses as well. The Nestucca River borders one side of the State Park, and is a popular spot to fish for salmon, trout, and bottom fish. You can fish from the shore or rent a boat from a local charter company such as Haystack Fishing or Nestucca Adventures.  

Adventure 17: Enjoy horseback riding on the beach

Close-up of face of brown horse with white star on a cloudy day.

Just north of the Bob Straub SP beach is Green Acres Beach (privately owned and operated). Green Acres Beach & Trail Rides offers horseback riding on the beach and through the surrounding forest. The beach is open to the public for day use, but horseback riding is only available to guests of Green Acres Beach & Trail Rides.

Adventure 18: Get into Nature at the Nestucca Bay NWR

Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge also borders Pacific City. The Refuge provides a haven for waterfowl, salmon, songbirds, and Oregon’s threatened Silverspot butterfly. Nestucca Bay NWR is open year-round, but the best time to visit is during the spring and fall when the weather is mild and the birds are migrating.

@dinkumtribe I didn’t expect this to be such a beautiful place, and with the early summer wildflowers it was stunning! This is a native habitat for the endangered Oregon silver spot butterfly. @DinkumTribe ADHD family travel @DinkumTribe ADHD family travel @DinkumTribe ADHD family travel #oregonhiddengems #oregontravelideas #lepidoptera #butterflies #endangeredspecies #travelwithkids #conservewildlife ♬ original sound – DinkumTribe ADHD family travel

The Nestucca Bay Wildlife Refuge is home to over 200 species of birds, including bald eagles, ospreys, and herons. You can spot birds from the trails or from the observation deck near the front entrance. Our kids enjoyed looking at the bird identification guides and signs to figure out what birds they were seeing. 

Girl looking at Canada Geese identification placard at the Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge observation deck.

We recommend driving in past the observation deck to take a hike if you have time. There are two easy hiking trails at the refuge, the Pacific View Trail and the Two Rivers Nature Trail. The Pacific View Trail is a 0.6-mile paved trail with great views of the ocean and the bay. 

Signage in front of the Two Rivers Peninsula area at the Nestucca Bay NWR.

The Two Rivers Nature Trail is a 2.2-mile loop trail that takes you through forests, meadows, and along a river. We only had time to take a short walk, but we were awed by the fields full of wildflowers in early July. We also got to meet some conservationists who are working to understand the endangered Oregon Silverspot butterfly. 

@dinkumtribe There were so many wildflowers in bloom! Beautiful and serene. @DinkumTribe ADHD family travel @DinkumTribe ADHD family travel @DinkumTribe ADHD family travel #oregontravelideas #wildliferefuge #threatenedspecies #lepidoptera #butterflies #oregonexplored ♬ Dream Away – Ramol

Hunting, fishing, birding, clamming, hiking, photography, and wildlife watching are a few of the outdoor activities offered at Nestucca Bay NWR. The refuge has several fishing spots where you can fish for salmon, trout, and other fish. You can fish from the shore or rent a boat to fish in the bay.

Adventure 19: Ride on the Wild Side at Sand Lake

Sand Lake Recreation Area is another great option in the Pacific City area. The park includes acres of coastal sand dunes and the Sand Lake Estuary. OHV riding and camping is permitted.

Blue Heron.

Other activities include fishing, swimming, crabbing, and kayaking. Sand Lake RA is located 10 miles north of Pacific City on the stretch of coast between Cape Kiwanda and Cape Lookout along the Three Capes Scenic Route.

Adventure 20: Join the Party at a Local Event

Small town warmth is one of the great charms of the Oregon Coast. Pacific City has little more than a thousand residents but offers a surprising array of events. Here are four of the best:

For animal lovers

Music and migration meet at the Birding and Blues Festival. The weekend festival includes guided bird walks, special speakers, and blues music.

Yappy Days has been one of the city’s most colorful events. The one-day festival celebrates the simple fact that dogs and the beach belong together. The city hosts the festival to raise funds for the Tillamook Animal Shelter.

Events range from face painting and parades to grooming and adoptions. This would be an ideal event to catch while visiting Pacific City, Oregon with kids!

dog at the beach. Visiting Pacific City, Oregon with kids would be even more fun with the family dog!

Ocean fun

Dory Days is a summer festival that has been running for sixty years. The July festival celebrates local fishing culture with boat displays, including a kid’s dune climb and a fire fighter dune climb.

The Cape Kiwanda Longboard Classic and Brewfest is much more than the name implies. The surf competition also features skilled artisans and handcrafted surfboards. The festival include silent auctions, live music, and Pelican beer.

Adventure 21: Tillamook’s dairy delights

Tillamook cheese factory

Pacific City is located on a fantastic stretch of the Oregon Coast. The Tillamook Coast offers so much to families in the way of interest, fun, and convenience. Tillamook is a fun town within easy driving distance of Pacific City.

Girl wearing a mask sitting in the orange Tillamook van.

The Tillamook Creamery has become nationally renowned for its cheese and ice cream. Our kids love to visit the Creamery whenever we’re in Tillamook, and we never tire of the self-guided tour of the factory. Try the Tillamook Mudslide ice cream, or the PepperJack cheese!

Adventure 22: Blue Heron

Peacock walking along the deck with the Blue Heron statue and picnic area behind
Blue Heron picnic area guarded by a peacock

This fun place has a little bit of everything! A huge gift shop, a separate candy shoppe, a picnic area, petting zoo, double decker bus and lots of fun photo ops… If you need a little change of pace from your beach vacation, stop by the Blue Heron!

Adventure 23: Aviation history at the giant blimp hangar

Tillamook also boasts one of the most unique aviation museums in the world. You can’t miss the hangar as you drive past on Highway 101! We spent several hours at the Tillamook Air Museum exploring the huge collection of aircraft, historic vehicles, and fascinating exhibits.

Adventure 24: Three Capes Scenic Loop

Headland at Cape Meares. Pacific City Oregon with kids.

The Three Capes Scenic Route is a beautiful drive along the Oregon Coast that takes you past three stunning capes: Cape Meares, Cape Lookout, and Cape Kiwanda. 

The iconic Cape Meares lighthouse is a great place to stop and take in the views of the surrounding area. Besides the lighthouse, our kids always want to see the Octopus Tree, a large spruce tree that has grown into the shape of an octopus. Be sure to also check out Cape Meares National Wildlife Refuge, one of the best wildlife refuges on the Oregon Coast.

Man sitting in front of the "Welcome to Cape Meares" sign.

Cape Lookout State Park is another amazing spot. This park has stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and Netarts Bay. There are several hiking trails in the park, including the Cape Lookout Trail, which is a great option for families with young children.

Adventure 25: Nearby Rockaway Beach

Rockaway Beach sign at entrance to city.

Rockaway Beach is a charming beach town with wonderful sandy beaches and great winds for kite flying. This town has real character! One of our favorite stops was the Troxel’s Gem Shop and the Rock Garden / mini golf right next door.

@dinkumtribe Definitely one of the coolest rock shops we’ve visited! Also the cute robotic assistant was so fun! Don’t miss this family friendly shop in Rockaway Beach, Oregon! @DinkumTribe ADHD family travel @DinkumTribe ADHD family travel @DinkumTribe ADHD family travel #rockhounding #oregoncoast #oregontraveltips #robotictok #familyfriendlytravel ♬ Happy Day – 文武贝

Be sure to stop by Pronto Pup, the home of the original corn dog. Our kids loved riding the mechanical corn dog!

@dinkumtribe This mini golf course is themed on the Wizard of Oz movie and also includes a large collection of rocks and semi precious stones that you can purchase for whatever price is fair to you! @DinkumTribe ADHD family travel @DinkumTribe ADHD family travel @DinkumTribe ADHD family travel #oregonhiddengems #oregoncoast #rockhounding #minigolfing #beachvibes ♬ We're Off to See the Wizard – Judy Garland & Ray Bolger & Buddy Ebsen

Adventure 26: Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad

If you’ve got a train-loving kid, it’s hard to beat a trip on the historic Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad! The Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad (OCSR) starts in Garibaldi, Oregon and operates a 46-mile line between Garibaldi and Rockaway Beach, with additional special trips to Wheeler, Nehalem River, and into the Salmonberry River canyon.

Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad car in Rockaway Beach.

Check the website for special ride options, such as the holiday Candy Cane Express and fall foliage trips.

Adventure 27: Neskowin Ghost Forest

Girl looking at a stump in the Neskowin Ghost Forest.

If you’ve never heard of a Ghost Forest, you’re in for a treat! The Neskowin Ghost Forest is a remnant of an ancient Sitka spruce forest that was destroyed by an earthquake or tsunami in the 1700s. The stumps of the trees were buried under sand for centuries, until they were unearthed by storms in 1997-98.

Plan ahead of time for your visit by checking the tide tables and weather. We arrived at a negative low tide (lowest of the day) and we still had to wade through a creek in order to access the stumps. It was well worth it though: the tide pools on the bigger stumps and the foggy day made the experience eerie and otherworldly.

@dinkumtribe Somehow, none of the Google reviews online explained that the only public access to the Neskowin Ghost Forest requires you to cross the creek even at low tide! We managed it all right though! @D@DinkumTribe ADHD family travel@D@DinkumTribe ADHD family travel@D@DinkumTribe ADHD family travelo#oregonhiddengemsg#ghostforesto#oregoncoasto#oregonbeacht#travelwithkids ♬ Green Green Grass (Sped-Up) – George Ezra

Planning Out Your Adventure in Pacific City, Oregon with kids

girl above cape kiwanda

Parking and Bathrooms

There is a small parking lot adjacent to the Pacific City beach that charges a $10 day-use fee. It fills up quickly, so plan to get there early if you want to find a space. There are free public portable toilets at the parking lot as well. 

Parking is prohibited on most nearby residential street for non-residents.

Family Accommodations

information for rental house. sandcastlevacationrentals.com
This sign was by the front door of one of the houses I stayed in. Excellent accomodations.

Pacific City is a popular destination for Oregonians, and there are numerous houses available for rent within a mile of the Cape Kiwanda State Natural area. Jennifer has stayed in two different rental houses, and both were well-maintained and comfortable. 

The easy walking distance from the beach, shops, restaurants and grocery store made staying in a rental house an enjoyable getaway. Check out AirBnB, VRBO, and other similar home rental sites for some great options. 

Blue and gray tent

If you have an RV, or are looking for camping sites, there is a fantastic facility right across the street from the Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area. The Cape Kiwanda RV Resort and marketplace offers tent camping, rustic cabins, RV spots, and has any other needed facilities. Plus it backs onto a path through the woods, so there’s lots of places for families with kids to let the children run around. 

Couples Getaway Lodging

For those looking for a luxurious getaway in Pacific City, the Headlands Coastal Lodge and Spa is your spot! Set on a hill above the Cape Kiwanda Natural area, you will enjoy incredible views of the Oregon coastline. 

The in-house restaurant, Meridian, has won several traveler’s awards and will give you the opportunity to savor some of Oregon’s incredible foods and wines. Enjoy quiet rest and rejuvenation in the Headland’s spa too.

The Inn at Cape Kiwanda is a beautiful hotel directly across the street from Cape Kiwanda. Every room has an ocean view, and the Inn is a more affordable, but still comfortable, option for staying in Pacific City. For sheer convenience and easy access to everything, you can’t beat the Inn.

Seasonal Considerations

cloudy day at Pacific City beach
Cloud cover at the beach

The Oregon Coast can be downright frigid in the winter! If you are visiting at that time, be sure to pack gloves, hat, heavy jacket and whatever else you need to stay warm and dry. 

Rain is a possibility year-round, although in the summer and early fall it is least likely. The best time of year to visit the Oregon Coast is typically from June through October, which  is also the busiest tourist season.

@dinkumtribe When is the best time to visit the Oregon Coast? Anytime really. #adhdfamilytravel#familytravelcreator#familytraveltiktoker#oregonfamily#pnwfamily #pnwfamilies#oregonfamilies #familytravelvlog#familytravelblog#familytravelblogger#familytravelvlogger#familytravelinfluencer #travelwithkids #oregoncoastlife #oregoncoastvacation #oregoncoastvibes #oregoncoastcheck ♬ original sound – DinkumTribe ADHD family travel

Even so, Pacific City is rarely as crowded as other, better-known coastal cities.

We hope you have a blast at our favorite beach! Be sure to check out our post about the best beaches in Northern Oregon for other great nearby spots. We also have a family beach packing list to help with your visit. Happy Travels!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is Pacific City Oregon worth visiting?

Absolutely! Whether you’re looking for a beach day, surfing, people-watching, amazing natural wonders and wildlife, or delicious food and drink, Pacific City has it all! It’s a local Oregon favorite.

What is the best beach in Oregon for kids?

Depends on who you’re asking, but Pacific City Beach is generally right near the top of the list. With incredible tide pools, a huge sand dune to climb, boats and surfers and seals to watch, and easy access to basic amenities like food and shops, Pacific City Oregon is a popular spot for family beach days and beach vacations.

Other kid-friendly Oregon beaches to check out are Seaside Beach, Rockaway Beach, and Cannon Beach.

How big is Pacific City?

Bigger than it looks at first glance, since it’s arranged around the Nestucca Bay and Nestucca River. It’s just under 4 square miles (Wikipedia).

Where is Pacific City Beach?

It’s directly next to the Pelican Brewery in Pacific City and across the street from the Inn at Cape Kiwanda.

© Copyright 2021 Brian A. Warren and Jennifer D. Warren. Updated and expanded August 11, 2023.

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About the author

Brian Warren is a native of California and has traveled extensively throughout the United States, Canada, and several other countries. He's husband to Jennifer, Dad of six children, and taught middle school history for several years. His special interests include craft beers, the American Old West, and geology. Brian is also an online marketing specialist and cofounder of Dinkum Tribe, a website dedicated to healthy, happy families. Feel free to send Brian a message at [email protected].

Comments

  1. I visited Oregon this October and absolutely loved it. The coast was beautiful, this town looks beautiful. I really want to go back to Oregon some time and spend some time exploring the entire coast. I went to Pelican Brewery in Cannon Beach and loved it, the cream ale was definitely delicious!

  2. The Oregon Coast has been on my bucket list for ages. Pacific City looks stunning and I like that fact that it isn’t as crowded. I bet it’s a fun playground for the kids, but I would enjoy the landscape just as much. Thank you for sharing.

    1. I have never been to Oregon nor heard of this area but now I want to go. It looks beautiful and your tips are great. Will not drive onto the dunes!

  3. Oregon is a part of the US I know very little about but this looks and sounds like it should not be missed! I can’t get over how beautiful it is and the size of those sand dunes!

    1. The Oregon Coast is epically beautiful, and not as well known as California, so it gets fewer visitors. Definitely worth visiting!

  4. Thank you for sharing! I love ice cream so I’ll definitely be in Tillamook at some point! But those tide pools are amazing! That pink anemone is beautiful!

  5. You’re fortunate hat this is an easy drive from your home. I’d love to explore the bluffs, sand dunes and tidal pools.

  6. This looks amazing, you’ve given me a great new place to add to my list next time I’m in Oregon, which I hope is very soon. Of course it wouldn’t be Oregon without some craft beer, love the sound of the brewery

  7. Pacific City sounds incredible. I’ve wanted to visit the Oregon Coast for quite some time now, so I’ll have to add this to the places to visit! Plus, my husband loves Tillamook cheese, so that would be a necessary excursion, haha. Thanks for sharing!

    1. We didn’t realize how beautiful the Oregon Coast was either, until we moved here. So much to see and do!

  8. We want to road trip out to Oregon and stop in Pacific City. The area is so beautiful. I loved your first panoramic photo. You can catch me at Tillimook too! Haha. Thanks for sharing.

  9. I would love to lay on that white sand beach. I would probably just spend an entire day there haha. A great article full of amazing travel tips. Thank you!

  10. My son would absolutely love this trip! You can’t beat those views, and you had me sold when you mentioned Tillamook cheese and creamery. I am such a sucker for great food!

  11. We are definitely going to have to plan to visit Pacific City the next time we get to Oregon. The outdoor places are simply stunning. With so much to see along the beaches. Crabbing and fishing would certainly get us the fresh seafood we crave. Perfect to go with an award winning beer. All of this and a luxury couples getaway too!

  12. Great Post ! I have read your post which are really informative for any traveler. Thanks for sharing such a beautiful informative information on the blog. Articles that have meaningful and insightful comments are more enjoyable.

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