When I’m on a vacation, I want to find unusual places to eat and shop and visit, places that I can only find in the place I’m visiting. The last thing I want to do is visit Arby’s or Applebee’s or Target on vacation when there are two of each of these at home. But finding those one-of-a-kind places is hard—it takes too many laps around the town or hours of research.

It also takes lots of sticking your neck out—finding a phone book and sitting dutifully while the kids terrorize the hotel halls or fry their brains out in front of cartoons. Even if you ask the hotel clerk for recommendations, they might not understand that you want a locally owned and operated shop, something cool and child-friendly and unique. And because you asked, and you’ve only got a particular amount of time, you go where they directed and then you feel gypped.

To avoid that empty pit in the stomach as you’re sitting in a parking lot, bookmark this post instead. On my fourth visit to Lincoln City in the little-over-a-year I’ve lived in Oregon, I scoped them out for you in person. You can vary these small shopping trips with jaunts to the beach and save your research time for restaurant research instead. And you’ll be satisfied that you’re experiencing stuff you can’t find at home on a real vacation.

Bob’s Beach Books: Despite the bare-chested mermaid at the top of the site, the shop itself has an awesome children’s section. Kid’s-sized chairs are in a little nook with walls stuffed with children’s books. They can tuck in there and bury their voices in picture books while you look something to read on the beach. This store focuses on light reading: humorous or interesting books with short chapters, nothing too deep that needs the quiet of a library or that induces a nap.

While you’re there, pay attention to the walls between the ceiling and the tops of the shelves. Bob collects book cover art, and he displays his 20+ year collection in his two bookstores. He’s also got a ceiling covered with book posters.

Visit his other shop, Robert’s Bookshop, to see the custom framed stuff—he’s got the actual book cover and then the original painting that the artist created to be shrunk down to the cover. It’s a cool collection, and the shop itself spans several houses all connected. Robert’s Books also has a children’s section; it’s a tad smaller in selection than Beach Books, but it has more room for legs to spread out.

You can find Robert’s Books on 3412 SE Hwy. 101 and Bob’s Beach Books at 1747 NW Hwy. 101. When you’re visiting either shop, remember that shopping for used books is like shopping in thrift stores—there’s lots of treasure, but it’s best not to expect to find specifics. Instead, just discover the unexpected and relish your treasures on the trip home. (And when you get home, you can peruse the art that Robert is selling)

Captain Dan’s Pirate Pastry Shop: If you’re dubious about whether cookies and pirates will mix, then you’re probably right; the shop has traditional bakery cases, glass-topped tables with tablecloths, paper doilies and all, and yet it’s filled with pirate décor. If you love the fist-shaking spirit of scoundrel pirates, then you’ll love that the two themes exist in the same shop. You’ll also love Oregon Coast Today’s scurvy-winking article series.

The kids will love that most of the items in the bakery case have pirate names on the place cards, and if they stand around taking pictures for awhile, maybe they’ll even see a real pirate with a real pirate hat walk out of the men’s restroom and toward the back, where he works. Or you can catch a look at the custom cakes they make for weddings and birthdays, covered in edible seashells and chocolate sea horses.

I have a friend who lives in Salem but makes the drive to Lincoln City as often as she possibly can just to step inside the door of his shop. Their décor may be incongruous, but if each of you gets a little something from those glass-covered cases, you’ll be making the sounds of adoring she-wenches: mmmmm. Yaaaar. Tell ‘em Red-headed Kate sent ye, and that she loves their plunder bars.

Drop by Captain Dan’s right after you’ve visited Siletz Bay; it’s right across the highway from the turn-off to get to the bay parking lot. Their address is 5070 SE Hwy, 101.

Kids, books, art, and food—include writing in the list, and you have the components of my life right now. It’s pretty simple, but this isn’t all of the original shops in Lincoln City—just the ones I’ve been to that are kid friendly. Look for my posts on Lincoln City parent escapes and activities to do in Lincoln City that don’t involve shopping; kids get tired of that after awhile.

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: http://explorewithtwine.wordpress.com.

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  1. MICHELE says…

    GREAT PICKS! What would we do on long winter weeks without books from Roberts or Bobs or or or or.
    Books and Beach go together.
    So much to see and do in Lincoln City but we love books!!

    Written on June 6th, 2011 / Flag this Comment
  2. Wily says…

    Howdy just wanted to give you a quick heads up. The text in your post seem to be ruinnng off the screen in Firefox. I’m not sure if this is a format issue or something to do with browser compatibility but I figured I’d post to let you know. The design look great though! Hope you get the issue resolved soon. Cheers

    Written on May 30th, 2012 / Flag this Comment
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