Editor’s note: Call destinations before you visit to make sure they’re open. Stay posted on what Oregon’s new COVID-19 guidelines mean for you, and follow these steps for social distancing outdoors. Also, remember to bring your face covering, required for all of Oregon’s public indoor spaces and outdoors when keeping 6 feet of distance isn’t possible.
Like most Oregonians, my family has been hunkered down since mid-March 2020, logging in to work and school remotely and limiting our exposure to the outside world to prevent the spread of COVID-19. So when it’s time for a local road trip, we’re always game for the adventure.
Salishan Coastal Lodge in quiet Gleneden Beach, on Oregon’s Central Coast, is a short two-hour drive from Portland along Highway 18, a few miles from the bustle of Lincoln City. You’ll know you’re close when you see the shops and hotels give way to the tranquil beauty of the Siletz River and Siletz Bay National Wildlife Refuge, which is full of wetland trails for hiking and marshy waterways for paddling.
Our primary goal was to travel in our bubble to a COVID-safe location with everything on hand — food, drink, outdoor activities and comfortable space (with needed Wi-Fi) to be able to juggle our work and virtual learning duties. Salishan, a family-favorite destination for generations with a unique summer-camp vibe, fit the bill.
Bikes, Aerial Play and Spa Time
The property has been an Oregon Coast icon since 1965, when developer John Gray sought to create a place on the Coast with dedication to sensitivity toward the environment and in harmony with the region’s natural resources. Salishan is best known for its 18-hole Salishan Golf Links, which has enjoyed a multimillion-dollar restoration overseen by Oregon golf legend and PGA Tour pro Peter Jacobsen.
Families can also enjoy the state-of-the-art indoor Tennis Center or put their mountain-bike skills to the test at the on-site Pump Track (ages 12 and up), featuring a variety of wooden ramps, banked turns and other obstacles. Bikes and helmets for the course are available to rent at the front desk. For even more of an adrenaline rush, thrill-seeking families can book a memorable experience soaring through the trees at the on-site Aerial Park (ages 8 and up), with its self-guided maze of 15 platforms and 21 challenge elements. If a massage and facial are more your speed, the Salishan Spa (including large outdoor jacuzzi and lounge) is available by reservation only.
Beach Time, Paddling and Pizza
What’s a trip to the Coast without getting on the water, or at least close enough to see and hear the pounding surf? There are several easy ways to explore local waterways. One is to ask the friendly front-desk staff to help you rent gear or book a tour for a guided kayak or stand-up paddleboarding adventure on nearby Siletz Bay. Even the kids won’t miss their screens when they’re gliding through the water, spotting red-tailed hawk, osprey, great blue herons, bald eagles and other wildlife.
You can also follow a mile-long nature trail to the sandy beach at Salishan Spit, starting from the Salishan Marketplace parking lot just across the street from the main lodge. The tree-lined path leads to a pristine stretch of shoreline with likely no one around except seagulls and sand crabs. (Make sure you check the tide table and visit during low tide, or there won’t be much shoreline to enjoy.) Here, you can hunt for agates, shells and unique pieces of driftwood. Pick up a few bagels, parfaits and doughnuts at Provisions Market for your beach picnic, making sure to pack out everything you bring in. If you’re toting a load of sand toys or prefer to drive, ask the front desk for the key to a private, gated access road that leads to the same location.
Less than a mile south of Salishan, a second top-notch beach experience awaits at Gleneden Beach State Recreation Site, which has a large parking lot and restroom facilities. My kids loved running along the shoreline on the wet sand, rippled from the movement of the tide. During low tide there’s plenty of space to toss a Frisbee, fly a kite or try your hand at a fat-bike adventure (look into renting one at Safari Town Surf, 8 miles north in Lincoln City). Never turn your back on the ocean, and avoid visiting during king tides, as the waves can be dangerous.
Sunset and S’mores
Make sure to catch the spectacular sunset — from either the lodge or the beach, or head just north of Siletz Bay, a 4-mile drive to Lincoln City’s historic Taft District, for another stunning viewpoint. My boys couldn’t get enough of the sight, snapping photos with their phones as the sun sank lower and lower onto the horizon.
Then head back to the resort and cap your day under the crystal-clear, black night sky with s’mores at one of Salishan’s two large outdoor fire pits. S’mores kits — complete with marshmallows, graham crackers, perfectly portioned chocolates and long sticks — are sold inside at Provisions Market, a one-stop shop for everything from bagels and smoothies to sunscreen, sweatshirts, wine and other essentials. The ritual of gathering around the fire after a day of adventure is a comfort to us all, a chance to feel gratitude for our beautiful surroundings and each other.
With everyone plugged into their own devices these days, the pause to appreciate nature and enjoy Salishan’s easy adventures brought us back together — and it was precious to reconnect.
When You Go:
- Rooms: Families that are doing remote work and school from the Coast may want more room to spread out, with a deluxe room or larger for ample space. Check for a variety of Salishan’s special offers throughout the year.
- Dining: When it’s time to eat, there are choices aplenty, all on-site. Go for the wood-fired pizzas at Attic Bar & Lounge (and get it delivered to your room), or dine outside on the lounge patio and soak up the sunset views. Kids are welcome at Beachcrest Brewing Company, in the Salishan Marketplace, which offers plenty of pet-friendly outdoor seating, including a heated, covered tent for cooler days. Right next to the brewpub there’s a toy store, clothing boutique, bakery, Italian restaurant and wine bar, and coffee shop, covering all the bases. For true indulgence, treat yourself to a multi-course tasting menu dinner with wine pairings at The Bay House at Salishan, one of just a few AAA 4-Diamond restaurants in Oregon. Find more at Salishan’s dining page.
- Visiting tips: Whenever you visit the Oregon Coast, remember to visit responsibly — stay on designated trails, respect local wildlife and look to visit midweek for the fewest crowds.