Looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city? Gearhart is your antidote. There’s no traffic in this Oregon Coast town — in fact, there’s not even a traffic light — and quiet sandy beaches stretch for miles in either direction. Cozy lodging options and amenities like public tennis courts, wide streets for cyclists and great razor-clamming and kite-flying spots mean everyone in the family can have the perfect getaway.
Day 1: Play Lawn Games, Touch Sea Life and Watch the Sunset
Gearhart is located about one and a half hours’ drive from Portland, just 3 miles north of Seaside. Tucked in the center of town is the Drifthaven. In 2022 the Drifthaven underwent extensive renovations. It reopened in May, debuting uniquely decorated rooms and family-friendly amenities like in-room kitchens and a private garden and barbecue area. A full library of beach gear like bikes, clam digging kits and lawn games is free for guests to borrow.
With 12 rooms ranging from studios to two-bedroom suites, the Drifthaven is the ideal home base for families of all sizes. Each room features a thoughtfully decorated, kid-friendly sitting area with a fireplace, board games and smart speakers as well as a small kitchen stocked with local coffee and Smith Teamaker tea and a curated honor bar.
Once you’re settled into your room, complimentary welcome cocktail in hand, head to the inn’s garden. It’s a welcome spot for younger kids to get out their post-car-ride wiggles and a chance for you to officially relax. A lawn dotted with picnic tables and lounge chairs also has a barbecue and a fire pit. Grab a bocce ball set or pair of tennis rackets and settle in for a little friendly competition.
If the kids are still raring to go after that, hop back in the car for a quick drive to the Seaside Aquarium. Little kids will love the touch tanks, where they can feel spiky urchins and delicate sea anemones. For older kids (or just fearless ones), a visit to High Life Adventures — just 20 minutes north in Warrenton — makes for a fun high-flying afternoon experience. The park has eight zip lines where riders (minimum 45 pounds) can soar through trees and above a 7-acre lake.
After a busy day traveling and playing, satisfy everyone’s appetite with a hearty dinner at Sand Trap Pub. Located a half mile north of the Drifthaven in the Gearhart Hotel, this McMenamins-operated restaurant has plenty of options for little picky eaters, like a cheese pizza, grilled cheese or crispy chicken tenders. Adults will appreciate the rotating draft specials and fresh seafood dishes in a cozy tavern setting with a wood stove.
A visit to the Oregon Coast isn’t complete without watching the sun dip into the Pacific. You won’t have to travel far to visit Gearhart Beach; it’s less than a mile away from the Drifthaven, and you can drive on the beach itself (four-wheel drive is recommended). To make it even more memorable, order a bonfire kit from the Drifthaven, which includes a wagon stocked with firewood, fire starters, chairs and a blanket. Kids will love the s’mores kit that comes with everything needed to make a simultaneously gooey and crispy treat. (If you forgot about these fun specials when you booked your room, just visit the front desk.)
Day 2: Pedaling, Golfing and Sightseeing on Oregon’s North Coast
Start the day off right with a hearty breakfast without leaving the room. The Drifthaven offers a complimentary breakfast box complete with fresh, locally baked pastries, fruit and juice.
Once everyone is properly fueled up, visit the Drifthaven’s storage area, aptly named the Garage. Just like your garage, the inn has all you need to take advantage of the outdoors, including bicycles, tennis rackets and razor-clam-digging kits.
Adults or families with older kids can hop on the inn’s comfy full-sized cruiser bikes (helmets included) and pedal through flat, low-traffic Gearhart for souvenir shopping and treats. Stop at By the Way cafe and gift shop across from the inn for steaming cups of local Sleepy Monk coffee, ice cream, fun trinkets and more.
If your family prefers exploring in the form of a round of golf, a visit to the seaside Gearhart Golf Links, just up the road, is a must. Designed in 1892, the 18-hole course is the oldest golf course in Oregon. Another bonus: Drifthaven guests get 10% off greens fees, and kids 13 and under may golf free.
After all that exercise, everyone’s stomachs might be growling again. Pacific Way Cafe, a block from the inn, is a crowd pleaser. There are kid favorites like cheeseburgers and hot dogs, plus beloved coastal dishes like Dungeness crab legs and pan-seared chinook. Or call ahead and order takeout to have a leisurely lunch at a picnic table in the Drifthaven’s garden.
After lunch, hop in the car to continue exploring the Coast. Fort Stevens State Park is about 12 miles north of the inn. Highlights of this sprawling 4,300-acre park include the iconic Peter Iredale shipwreck, a military fort used as a lookout from the Civil War to World War II; and the 18-hole Columbia Shore Disc Golf Course. With 15 miles of trails, it’s also a great place to stretch your legs, fly a kite or play on the beach. If it’s a low tide you can even try your hand at razor clamming.
To see another historic monument, head south to view the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse. The storied lighthouse, nicknamed Terrible Tilly, was built in 1881 and withstood record-breaking storms until its closure in 1934. While you can’t actually visit the lighthouse — it’s located on a tiny offshore islet — you can take in sweeping vistas of the shoreline and the lighthouse by visiting Ecola State Park in Cannon Beach to hike the 4.7 mile out-and-back Indian Beach Trail. This moderately difficult trail can be muddy, but the reward is views of Terrible Tilly and, at the end, a beautiful stroll on Indian Beach.
Whether you’ve planned an action-packed getaway or you’re simply looking for an easy place to unwind on Oregon’s North Coast, Drifthaven at Gearhart has you covered. It’s off the beaten path, but still close to all the attractions this windswept stretch of coast has to offer. And with easy online booking, the only hard part is deciding which activities to do.