: Susan Dimock

Family-Friendly Festivals and Events on the Oregon Coast

August 25, 2021

Editor’s note: Face coverings (ages 5 and up) are required at all indoor and outdoor public spaces statewide, regardless of vaccination status. Learn more here. It’s also wildfire season — plan ahead and do your part to prevent wildfires.

Oregon’s 363-mile-long coastline is one of the state’s top destinations for adventure seekers, so why not plan your visit around one of the Coast’s annual events? Joining in on a community celebration is one of the best ways to discover the local culture, history, food and outdoor traditions — whether it’s wading in a cranberry bog, feasting on Dungeness crab or joining a derby duck race. Family-friendly events happen throughout the year, so there’s always something new to experience each season. Check ahead of time to confirm event dates, times and details. 

A long bridge spans the Columbia River
Seize the opportunity to traverse the Astoria-Megler Bridge, North America’s longest continuous truss bridge, on foot instead of by car. (Photo by Joni Kabana)
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Fall

Bandon Cranberry Festival, Bandon: This September tradition celebrates Bandon’s abundant cranberry harvest. This town on Oregon’s Southern Coast is known as the Cranberry Capital of Oregon since cranberries thrive here thanks to the temperate climate. Festival events include a huge lineup of cranberry-centric culinary offerings, a parade, games and a cranberry-eating contest.

The Great Columbia Crossing 10K, Astoria: Every October, take part in the epic legacy of crossing the mighty Columbia River in this all-ages 10K run or walk over the magnificent Astoria-Megler Bridge. Normally closed to pedestrians, it’s a rare opportunity to traverse North America’s longest continuous truss bridge on foot instead of by car. 

Trick or Treat Street at the Oregon Coast Aquarium, Newport: Families with kids under 12 get a safe and dry way to trick-or-treat among the sea life at the aquarium. Mock storefronts are arranged in a looping “street,” and local businesses hand out treats to all kids who enter. The event is free with a donation of two cans of food (for people or pets) per entry, all of which goes toward the Food Share of Lincoln County.

Wild Rivers Mushroom Festival, Brookings: Bring your nature-loving kids to this hands-on, two-day festival held the first week of November. Join in the workshops, learn about mushroom identification, and enjoy local vendors, food, hikes, demonstrations and more fungi fun.  

Stormy Weather Arts Festival, Cannon Beach: Discover why Cannon Beach is known as one of America’s 100 best art towns at this November festival, featuring gallery shows, live music, painting classes and art walks in November, a perfect head-start to the gift-giving season. 

Lights are formed in the shape of a spouting whale
See the 7 acres of Shore Acres State Park all lit up for the holidays between Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve each year. (Photo by Oregon Parks & Recreation)

Winter

Shore Acres State Park Holiday Lights, Coos Bay: Held from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve, the 7-acre botanical gardens at Shore Acres State Park are decked out in 325,000 Christmas lights, with lit-up whales, crabs, octopuses and other marine creatures. 

Yachats Agate Festival, Yachats: Have little ones who enjoy searching the beach for stranded flotsam and jetsam? Bring them to the Yachats Agate Festival in January, where they can safely beachcomb for agates, fossils and other precious stones unearthed by heavy winter seas and storms. There’s also an exhibition where vendors show off their collections, educational talks and a “Rock Doc” to help ID your finds.

Gingerbread Christmas Tea at Butterfield Cottage, Seaside: Prepare for an enchanting afternoon at this Victorian cottage as you sip tea, cocoa or cider while nibbling on gingerbread with whipped cream and enjoying live music. 

Finders Keepers, Lincoln City: Avoid the summer crowds and take a blustery walk along the shoreline in winter instead. Year-round, more than 3,000 hand-blown glass floats made by local artisans are hidden along 7 miles of beach near Lincoln City. Find one of these treasures and it’s yours to keep forever. Comb the beaches to find these glassy jewels just after they’re dropped by Lincoln City’s float fairies during a shoreline beachcombing walk. Just remember to never turn your back on the ocean, and beware of sneaker waves and riptides. 

A grey whale surfaces
Put your whale-spotting skills to the test on the Oregon Coast and find friendly volunteers to answer your questions during Whale Watching Week. (Photo by RK Willis)

Spring

Whale Watching Week, coastwide: You can spot gray whales all year long on the Coast, but there are two seasons when enormous pods of whales make their annual migrations: Each spring (late March) during the northern migration and each winter (late December) during the southern migration. Oregon State Parks holds two Whale Watching Weeks, when volunteers are stationed at watching sites up and down the Coast to answer questions.

SOLVE Oregon Beach Cleanup, coastwide: This annual beach cleanup by local Oregon environmental group SOLVE organizes volunteers to clean up litter and marine debris on beaches along the Coast. Check the schedule in March for dates and locations of various events to join in. 

Crab Feed and Wooden Boat Show, Depoe Bay: Indulge in fresh-caught Dungeness crab and marvel at handmade wooden boats at this annual April show, which also includes a Ducky Derby of bathtub ducks racing around the harbor. 

Circles in the Sand, Bandon: Started in 2011 by local artist Denny Dyke, art and nature become one at Circles in the Sand. Artistic labyrinths are created on the sandy beaches at Face Rock State Scenic Viewpoint for visitors to walk and appreciate before the tide washes them away. Look for the schedule to post in late spring; the labyrinths typically run through the summer. 

Fish-shaped kites on the beach
Fly a kite, make a kite and watch the pros fly their amazing kites at Lincoln City's annual Summer Kite Festival. (Photo by Cody Cha)

Summer

Sandcastle Contest, Cannon Beach: Think your sandcastle is the best on the beach? At Cannon Beach’s Sandcastle Contest, you can put that notion to the test. This early-June contest, which has been taking place for over 50 years and is a recognized Oregon Heritage Tradition, features amazing displays of sand-based artistry, with teams working together to make creative, original sandcastle designs.

Summer Kite Festival, Lincoln City: Look at the sky! It’s a whale! It’s a squid! It’s a … kite? Fantastical marine creatures and colorful high flyers take to the skies over D River State Recreation Site at the popular Summer Kite Festival in Lincoln City. Usually held in June or July, the two-day event includes kite-flying performances, kite-making workshops and parades.

Dory Days Festival, Pacific City: Typically held in July, the Dory Days Festival celebrates Pacific City’s storied dory fleet, whose flat-bottomed boats and skilled seamen have been providing the town with fresh seafood and have acted as first responders to maritime distress calls for generations. Held for over 60 years, the festival includes a parade of decorated dory boats, fish fries, games and contests. 

DuneFest, Winchester Bay: For some high-octane fun, jump in a dune buggy to race around Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area for DuneFest, typically held in late July or early August. Watch races and stunt events, take part in treasure hunts and games, and get the family together for a lit-up sunset ride around the dunes. 

Blackberry Arts Festival, Coos Bay: Oregon’s Southern Coast serves up a bounty of flavorful berries each harvest season. Blackberries are Coos Bay’s pride and joy, so this August festival held in the historic Old Town district features blackberry food and drink, local artwork, and music. 

Pirates of the Pacific Festival, Brookings: Arrrgh! Break out your best pirate impression for this annual buccaneer-themed festival held in late August along the boardwalk at the Port of Brookings Harbor. See cannon shows and sword-fighting displays, and meet some friendly mermaids and pirates.

About The
Author

Zoe Baillargeon
Zoe Baillargeon is a Portland-based freelance writer who covers travel, food & drink, the outdoors, sustainability, culture and more. Her outlets include National Geographic, Conde Nast Traveler, Outside, Wine Enthusiast, AFAR and Field Mag. When not writing, she enjoys immersing herself in Portland's amazing food scene and escaping to the Coast or Mt. Hood.

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