Connie Hansen Garden
Connie Hansen Garden

Lincoln City is along the beach, and basically, if you turn west when you’re in the town, you can get to the ocean. But I have to let you know: Oregon beaches aren’t the balmiest things ever; it has to do with cold ocean currents from Antarctica, good ol’ sun, and the rain that’s just a fact here in Oregon.

But you’ll still be on vacation. And you’ll still want to get out of the hotel and see something unique to the area that doesn’t include a McDonald’s playground. And just like Moose and Muffins or Mice and Cookies, it’s bound to happen if you don’t have places like these handy. I’ve checked them both out personally; you’re welcome.

Connie Hansen Garden: When your ears start hurting because of the cold wind at the beach but you still want to be outside so you can burn off some of that energy bouncing around from certain wee ones, head to the Connie Hansen Garden.

When I first discovered this place’s existence, I was expecting a building to walk through with a gate and someone at a desk and a gift shop, like a botanical garden I’ve visited. The gate doesn’t exist, the building was locked up, and the tour guides weren’t volunteering when I went. But I’m still listing it here; kids don’t care about all that stuff.

It’s simple and beautiful—a garden with well-developed gravel and dirt and concrete paths. The paths wind such that it’d be a perfect place to play freeze tag and a perfect place for you to catch your breath. There are trees and flowering shrubs and a stream with lots of bridges. You can practice with your macro setting on your camera on all the different non-moving textures. Or you can just look around while holding someone’s hand.

I love that you can enjoy as much or as little as you want, so if your kids decide the place is dull, you don’t feel obligated to stay because you paid an entrance fee. I might suggest cheap disposable cameras to keep them occupied for a little longer. Or you could bring a picnic: deli sandwiches from a grocery store or a pick-up meal from your favorite diner.

An extra feature–the garden is small enough that you can shout someone’s full name if you need to find them and they’ll hear from just about any part of the garden. Can you do that at the zoo? It’s also big enough that if they want to whisper disgusting words at each other on one end, your peace is not tainted. Connie Hansen was a talented woman with the most brilliant green thumb; I’m sure, no matter when you go, there will be something blooming or something green to enjoy. The garden is at 1931 NW 33rd Street.

The Crystal Wizard: While the kids are splashing away in the hotel pool and you’ve got relatives watching them happily, this is the place in which to slip away. It’s not exactly in Lincoln City, but a short, scenic drive to a neighboring town called Gleneden Beach. It’s tucked away amid green and more green; enter in the left side of the building.

You can bring your kids if they’re used to going into shops with delicate things—this one has bowls of precious rocks sitting out in the open, beautiful displays of products draped over chairs and open wooden racks, and a business card display near the entrance with all sorts of massage, psychic and mind-reading services. It’s filled with incense and delicate music and has all sorts of Wiccan, Tibetan and New Age objects. There are two cats who wander around freely through the shop and there’s not one empty wall in the whole space.

For me, it was like entering into an unfamiliar world with all sorts of interesting things, a place that represents all sorts of beliefs I know little about. I found I could ask all the questions I liked and the shop girls didn’t mind a bit. The shop is just stuffed with cool stuff; you can do some souvenir shopping and walk out with unique things that don’t have a location name stamped or printed on it. I saw statuettes in cases, clothing, housewares, organically friendly products and dragons, and I just couldn’t look enough.

The colors that come to mind when thinking of this shop are saffron yellow-orange, bright purple, and obsedian black. You’ll want to use a GPS, study a map, or find the directions elsewhere online before you go. The address is 7150 Gleneden Beach Loop. It tends to pop up on you. When you get there, take a look at the sand pendulum they have next to the money counter; spend a few minutes playing with it, and then move on toward the depths of this fascinating shop.

Also, if your kids really want to be on the beach, but not in the water, there are other activities to do that don’t involve the surf. Lots of Lincoln City stores sell cool kites, and there are definitely no trees or buildings in the way at this landscape. Bring one of the many frisbees you have—there are lots of frisbee-related games. Want a list of ideas? Try here and here. Then come back and read my other Lincoln City posts. You’re welcome again.

about author Kate Twitchell

Kate is originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico. As much as she’s learned to seek out the subtle colors of the desert, Kate has found that she really is a tree girl at heart. She spent seven years in Utah, where she got a bachelor’s degree, a husband, and a baby boy. She got her fill of mountains and then got out. Kate posts on parents’ tips for kid-friendly traveling havens from a curious newcomer’s perspective; Kate is a very recent resident of Salem. To read more about Kate and her adventures, she writes with more personal ties here:

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