Flying kites in Lincoln City isn’t just for kids. For many, it’s a lifelong passion. And, as the experts will tell you, it’s something anyone can do — with a little practice.
David Gomberg has been making and flying kites since childhood. Decades later, he drove his sweetheart (now wife) to Lincoln City and, on their first date, they flew kites. Today, he’s a Lincoln City-based lawmaker in the Oregon House of Representatives, and in his free time, makes and sells kites worldwide through his company, Gomberg Kite Productions.
Rod Thrall is another enthusiast who lives in Newberg but calls Lincoln City his kite-flying home. He and his wife began flying kites in town in 1992, when they visited the Oregon Coast for a wedding jubilee. “Kiting at Lincoln City has provided a creative outlet for us,” he says. “We consider it our ‘home’ beach. The best part is when people walk up and thank us for flying and putting on a show. There’s nothing better than putting smiles on peoples’ faces.”
Where to fly: Tips from the pros
Lincoln City’s cool oceanic northwesterlies guarantee steady fuel for high-flying fun. “The entire length of the beach is world-class for kiting,” Thrall says.
Along the seven miles of sand and smack in the center of town, D River State Recreation Site is ground zero due to its large parking lot, easy to access restrooms and a well-stocked kite store across the street. If you don’t want to hoof your gear from the parking lot, Thrall suggests simply driving onto the beach (four-wheel-drive vehicles strongly recommended!) at the west end of Northwest 15th Street. For a quieter vibe, head up to the beach at Roads End. Also, most of the city’s beachfront hotels offer direct access to the sand. (Thanks to Oregon’s Beach Bill, which just turned 51 in 2018, all 365 miles of coastline are public.)
Gomberg says Lincoln City’s beaches are perfect for kite flying — there are no obstructions and the wind is reliable year-round. “In the summer,” he jokes, “we can strip down to just one sweatshirt.”
How to fly: Go for simple or fancy
Sometimes kite-flying can be trickier than it looks. But practice makes perfect, right? The experts are here to help. “The fundamental decision a beginner needs to make,” Gomberg says, “is whether they want to fly a multi-line kite they can steer around the sky, or a one-line kite that’s more decorative or artistic.” In other words: Try something fancy, or keep it simple.
Addressing the high number and possibly confusing types of kites, Thrall says most beginners start with a simple “delta” (broad triangle) kite or a diamond kite that comes ready-to-go. He recommends fabric kites instead of plastic as they last longer and fly better.
The best wind speeds are between five and 12 miles per hour, Gomberg advises. “That’s from when tree branches are slowly moving and flags are fluttering lightly to when branches and beach grass begin to move and flags wave straight out.”
Any hazards? Look out for people nearby, Gomberg advises: “Always be careful not to inhibit others’ enjoyment of our beaches.” And mind the tide, and rolling logs in the surf. “It’s easy to get caught up in what you’re doing,” Thrall says. “Then the tide comes in and you can get caught unaware.”Make sure to follow Oregon State Parks’ beach safety tips at all times.
Where to buy: Visit these one-stop shops
Lincoln City’s top two kite shops, Northwest Winds Kites & Toys (facing the D River Wayside) and Winddriven (a few blocks east of the Northwest 15thStreet beach ramp) are your handy one-stop shops, staffed with kite experts and packed to the gills with everything you’ll need to get started. Both stores stock seven “official” types of kites; among them are hundreds of sizes, patterns and shapes. Newbies to skilled kite fliers can find designs for all levels of wind and ability, including flat kites, bowed kites (like the popular and easy-to-fly diamond kite) and complex stunt kites. Visitors can also find eye-catching novelty kites (that aren’t typically built for aerodynamic performance, but are tons of fun nonetheless) in the form of big bees, butterflies, octopuses, dragons, mermaids, airplanes, fish — the possibilities are endless.
“Don’t be afraid to ask questions,” Thrall says. “You’ll find most kiters love to share knowledge and help you along the way.”
When you go
Each year’s Summer Kite Festival (the third weekend of June) kicks off the season, but there’s plenty more high-flying fun set for the Fall Kite Festival (Oct. 6-7, 2018). Try to arrive early, as the D River Wayside parking lot fills fast. (Tip: shuttles are available). Keen to just watch the event from the comfort of your own room? Check in at the beachfront D Sands Motel or Sea Gypsy. Tent and RV enthusiasts will love the nearby (but not beachfront) Devil’s Lake State Recreation Area. For more options, see the Lincoln City lodging page.