Spring is a busy time for our family. And as much as I look forward to a season of longer days filled with wildflowers, baseball practices and track meets, I also fear looking at my calendar, where every moment of every day is filled with something to do. So late winter is always the time when we try to squeeze in one more family vacation before we all jump into our busy season. (It helps that this time of year happens to be my favorite to visit the Oregon Coast – you can read why here.)
From Eugene, we traveled beautiful Highway 38 along the Umpqua, stopping in Coos Bay at Sharkbites for lunch as per our family tradition. If you go to Sharkbites, please order the southwestern slaw fish tacos and a hand-squeezed margarita. I have ordered different things on their menu and all their food is excellent, but if you can have only one meal here, that should be it.
After lunch, we stopped at each of the three state parks that make up the Cape Arago Loop. You could spend an entire weekend exploring these three parks, but even if you’re just passing through, it’s worth stopping to see the waves crash against the cliffs at Shore Acres, listen to the seals and sea lions bark at Simpson Reef Overlook and watch the surfers take on the waves at Sunset Bay State Park.
When we arrived in Bandon, we checked into Windermere on the Beach. I’ve been wanting to stay at Windemere since I first saw it three years ago; the cozy, beach cabin feel to the rooms reminds me of the places we used to stay on the Coast when I was a little girl. But what really makes the Windemere wonderful is the view from a private deck off your room. On that evening, we watched the sunset and then gazed at the stars on an unusually warm, clear February night.
The next morning we got up early to catch the beautiful walking labryinths at Face Rock State Park. A local artist draws these circles in the sand at low tide. It was a clear and sunny day, and we relaxed as our two little guys wandered tidepools and built sand forts.
Before lunch we decided to drive further south to explore Cape Blanco State Park, the westernmost point of the continental United States. After a quick hike, we headed back into Old Town Bandon for lunch at Tony’s Crab Shack (I recommend the Famous Crab Sandwich) and a stop at Cranberry Sweets. After sampling at least a dozen of their homemade treats, we settled on a box of their lemon meringue pie and key lime candies to take home.
Most of the afternoon was spent on the beach, but no trip to Bandon would be complete without two more delicious stops: Coastal Mist fine chocolates and Face Rock Creamery. There are many treats worth raving about at Coastal Mist, but I can’t say enough about their flight of drinking chocolates and caramels – one rich and sweet, one spicy and one a buttery caramel. We always stop by Face Rock Creamery to stock up on Vampire Slayer cheese curds, but here’s another tip about the Creamery: you can get a child-sized (which certainly looks very adult-sized) Umpqua Ice Cream cone for $1.50. Our children were officially delighted.
There was only one more must-stop before we returned home: growlers in hand, we arrived at 7 Devils Brewing in Coos Bay, eager to see what was on tap. We happily soaked up the sun on the patio and sampled seasonal brews, already discussing our next trip to the Southern Oregon Coast. Spring may be busy, but when our two boys heard that Harry Potter was playing at the Egyptian Theater over spring break, we knew we would be back soon.