Family Fun at the Oregon Coast
by the Oregon Coast Visitor’s Association

If you are on the western coast of Oregon and Astoria, Lincoln City, Newport, Reedsport, or Bandon are on your itinerary, take note. Listed here are six great places to take the family.

Astoria Aquatic Center , 1997 Marine Drive, located on the east end of town at the intersection of Marine Drive and 20th Street.

The AAC has made a big splash in Astoria and not just because of the 105-foot open water slide, water play fountain, and kiddie pool, all of which appeal to kids, but because of the other pools and areas designed with adults in mind. These include the main pool, actually a lap pool with six 25-yard lanes; the spa pool that can hold up to 10 adults; and the fitness room equipped with a multi-station gym, weights and benches, and a treadmill and recumbent bike. Swimming lessons, water exercise classes, and special events are offered year-round, and you don’t have to be an Astoria resident to participate. You can pay per visit or buy an annual pass, a three-month pass, or a punch card worth 10 visits. (503-325-7027; www.swimastoria.com )

Tapiola Park, 900 W Marine Drive, Astoria, located on the south side of town. Coming north on Highway 101 take first right at roundabout, go about a mile and turn left at Dairy Queen. Tapiola Park has a state-of-the-art skatepark with such rad innovations as a 12-foot plus wall, a double pump bump in a quarter pipe, and a mini cradle like cave. Got that, dude?

And the new miniature reproductions of some of the most popular sites in the Astoria area provide more reasons to visit this new park. Kids—especially little ones—enjoy climbing on, sliding down, and wriggling around Fort Clatsop, the Astoria Column, Flavel House, the Astoria–Megler Bridge, and more plus the usual playground equipment. After leaving the park, check out the real thing. Drive to Warrenton to see the newly rebuilt Fort Clatsop replica, climb Coxcomb Hill to walk up the 164 steps of the Astoria Column, descend to downtown Astoria to visit Captain Flavel’s historic mansion, and cross the Astoria–Megler Bridge to get to the Washington side of the Columbia River. (503-325-7275; www.skateoregon.com)
 
Regatta Park and Sandcastle Playground , Lincoln City, located a half mile east off Highway 101. Turn at the light at Northeast 14th Street (which becomes West Devil’s Lake Road); the park turnoff on the right sneaks up on you and has a very steep downhill entry road. This lakefront park situated on the slopes overlooking Devil’s Lake offers a boat launch, as well as a sandy beach bordering a protected swimming area. Picnic tables, some with barbecues, dot the park.

But it’s Sandcastle Playground that makes Regatta Park extra special. The creative wooden playground, built by 200 community volunteers in five days in 1992, is still a source of community pride. It’s a fantasyland guaranteed to hold kids’ attention for quite some time. Before leaving the park, enjoy a peaceful stroll on the half-mile nature trail through old-growth forest that boasts a 400-year-old Sitka spruce more than 200 feet tall. 
(541-994-2131; www.lincolncity.org )

Hatfield Marine Science Visitor Center
, located in Newport just south of the Yaquina Bay Bridge; follow signs from Highway 101. As part of Oregon State University, Hatfield Marine Science Center is a marine based campus where cutting edge research takes place year-round. Because of this, the visitor center is part aquarium and part laboratory dedicated to showcasing scientific exploration. The live Pacific Octopus is always a showstopper and the docents at the touch tank explain the best ways to feel the tide pool creatures.

For example, slipping your finger in sideways between the spines of a sea urchin makes you really appreciate the creature’s strength. Besides the touch tank, several interactive exhibits compete for your attention. One of these is the new “Invasion of the Habitat Snatchers.” Short educational films and videos are shown throughout each day in the Hennings Auditorium. And at 1:30 daily in the auditorium is Ocean Quest, a PowerPoint presentation about Hatfield’s deep-sea explorations. And all summer daily, guided, half-mile estuary walks leave promptly at 11 a.m., or you can use the interpretive signs to take your own self-guided tour. (541-867-0100; http://hmsc.oregonstate.edu/visitor

Umpqua Discovery Center , located adjacent to the boardwalk along the Umpqua River in Reedsport. Follow signs from Highway 38, turn north at the post office, and look for the totem pole and big blue tower. Learn about the cultural and natural history of the Lower Umpqua area through two major exhibit wings at the center. “Tidewaters & Time” shows the human history of a town where daily life revolved around incoming and outgoing tides.

Not only is this the story of Reedsport but also the story of other river towns along the coast. “Pathways to Discovery–Exploring Tidewater Country” shows the natural history through 16 interpretive zones that lead from sea level to the peaks of the coast range through the course of a day and all four seasons. Because of the multi-sensory nature of these exhibits—natural sounds, varying light, huge realistic murals, and a changing path beneath your feet—you’ll feel like you’re actually in a town or a forest or at the dunes. See if you can spot all the ways to interact with each of the exhibits, especially the bear cave slide. Before leaving the center, climb the tower for a view of the Lower Umpqua area and visit the gift shop for a wide selection of books and innovative toys for children.
(541-271-4816; www.umpquadiscoverycenter.com )

West Coast Game Park Safari
, located on Highway 101, 7 miles south of Bandon.
The Oregon Coast is home to America’s largest wild animal petting park, which also has a very successful breeding program. Currently in Nurseryland baby foxes, skunks, opossums, three ferrets, and a kinkiyou (related to the red panda) are being hand-raised. Wild animals raised at the game park begin meeting the public at a young age.

Currently a baby African lion, young bear, baby cougar, and a Canadian lynx are brought out during the day for petting and filming. Hundreds of other animals roam free every day. So expect to walk among big-horned sheep, llamas, numerous species of deer, African pigmy goats, many types of fowl, miniature donkeys, and several other species. Not all animals roam free, however. The lions, tigers, bears, black panthers, cougars, camels, and zebras are caged. On a visit you might see as many as 450 animals representing 75 species. This is one place you’ll be sorry if you forget your camera. (541-347-3106; www.gameparksafari.com )

These are just a few of the many family-friendly places to visit at the Oregon Coast. Whenever there is an admission fee charged, ask about a family rate.

For more information about beaches, towns, and everything else pertaining to the Oregon Coast, check the following Web site: www.VisitTheOregonCoast.com .

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The
Oregon Coast Visitors Association (OCVA) is the regional cooperative marketing organization
(RCDMO) representing Oregon’s 363 miles of coastline to the visiting public.  The Oregon Coast Visitors Association distributes information to inquiring visitors regarding the Oregon coast’s accommodations, attractions, scenic features, recreational opportunities and annual events.  OCVA works cooperatively with coastal communities and the Oregon Tourism Commission to accomplish its goals.  For additional information, contact OCVA by calling 541-574-2679, toll-free at 888-OCVA101 (800-767-2064), email info@VisitTheOregonCoast.com and on the Internet at www.VisitTheOregonCoast.com

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