With its stunning landscape, windswept beaches and crowd-free attractions, a Southern Oregon Coast family trip is a great way to make memories you’ll enjoy forever. But while you might be content beachcombing on the uncrowded beaches and dining on fresh oysters every night, your teens and tweens might need a little more action — and Instagram-worthy sights — to stay engaged. Here are 10 family-friendly activities to ensure your entire crew has a blast at the beach.
1. Ride ATVs on the Sand Dunes
The 40-mile Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area extends from Florence to Coos Bay. Zooming over them on an ATV is a rush for all ages. Family-owned Spinreel Dune Buggy and ATV Rental, just north of Coos Bay, offers an impressive selection of new quad rentals, including youth-size quads for drivers age 9 and up, as well as “we guide, you drive” tours where you follow professional guides across the dunes. Nearby Steve’s ATV Rentals and Dune Bugs are also solid choices.
2. Explore a Prehistoric World
Dinosaur-obsessed kids will love the 23 life-size dinosaur sculptures at Port Orford’s Prehistoric Gardens. Take an easy, self-guided stroll through the Oregon rain forest, spot the dinosaur sculptures along the way and learn fun facts from the educational signs. Older kids will love the opportunity to snap campy social pics.
3. Hit the Mountain Bike Trails
The trail systems in this region offer something for beginner and expert riders alike. Little shredders can tear it up on some of the 32-mile Whiskey Run trails just north of Bandon. Don’t have your own wheels? Whiskey Run Rentals will set you up with bikes and gear. The Siltcoos Lake Trail south of Florence offers a smoother pedaling adventure on a 3.5-mile loop, following an old logging road before ending at the lake.
4. Turn Your Gamers Into Foodies
The Wild Rivers Coast Food Trail lets you taste the magnificent bounty of Oregon’s South Coast. While there are plenty of restaurants, farms and markets for your kids to get excited about, they can also download the Bandwango app and gamify your family’s location-hopping along the trail. Have your teen check in at each spot and earn points for cool prizes.
5. Hit the Open Seas With Your Crew
A fishing charter or whale-watching tour is an awesome adventure for even the pickiest teens. The captains at Sharky’s Charters in Coos Bay will guide your crew to the best spots and help you reel in a prized tuna or ocean salmon. At South Coast Tours in Port Orford, it’s all aboard the Black Pearl, an inflatable vessel like the Coast Guard rescue boats, to spot gray whales, sea lions and harbor seals.
6. Make Art From Beach Plastic
Your kids can check out giant sea-life sculptures made entirely from plastics and beach debris at Bandon’s waterfront Washed Ashore gallery. A visit is a great opportunity for kids to learn about environmentalism, and your budding artists can volunteer to help build sculptures during a workshop (check the nonprofit’s website for opportunities).
7. See Tigers and Jaguars Up Close
If you have cat lovers in your crew, West Coast Game Park Safari in Bandon is home to over 450 animals, including big cats like tigers, lions, leopards, and cougars, that you can see and photograph up close. Kids will learn about the importance of protecting these magnificent creatures, and their social posts will be a roar.
8. Experience a Super-Cool Sand Labyrinth
Artsy kids will have a blast at a Circles in the Sand drawing event in Bandon. Local artists create intricate, freehand labyrinths on the beach, and then the public is invited to walk the sand path until the tide swallows it up. Get your kids in on the action by signing them up on the website to be a labyrinth groomer.
9. Go Fly a Kite
Oregon’s beaches are ideal for newbie kiters and teens looking to master their skills. On the southern point of Oregon’s coastline, the Kite Field at Port of Brookings Harbor is popular among fliers. Just outside of Reedsport, Umpqua Beach is a great spot to catch a mighty wind. If you need a kite, Reedsport Pharmacy carries a small selection.
10. Play a Game of Disc Golf
Get the family pumped for a round of disc golf set among the magical scenery of the South Coast. Competitive siblings can throw down at Buffington Park in Gold Beach, a challenging 18-hole course nestled in the forest with peeks of the Pacific. After a game at Azalea Park in Brookings, catch an outdoor concert in the park and level up your vacation-planning cred with your teens.