Pacific Northwest Oregon Coast

Ecola State Park Oregon
Hello! Thank you for visiting my family vacations on a budget blog. My family loves to travel! However my husband & I are both teachers making a budget all the more important.  We have one child, our son is 13. I want to show him as much of this wonderful world as I can before he is grown. This summer we visited the Pacific Northwest for our family vacation.  We traveled July 11th-20th throughout this beautiful area of the United States. July & August in the Pacific Northwest are known for dry & moderate temperatures, it only rained on us once & that was on the way to the airport at the end of our trip!  In this blog post I will tell you about our two days at the Oregon Coast: where we stayed, things we did, & travel tips to help you as you plan your next vacation. The Oregon Coast was our last stop on our vacation adventure. Checkout my previous posts from our Pacific Northwest vacation to learn about other great places to visit while vacationing in this part of the country.  

In the coming weeks I will feature our October trip to Washington D.C. and Colonial Williamsburg. Subscribe to my blog so you don't miss any of my posts from this fantastic family vacation (on a budget). 

Where did we stay?
Lodging along the coast of Oregon is rather expensive. In my research I looked into staying in either Astoria or Seaside, Oregon.  I quickly determined Seaside is far more touristy than Astoria.  We are not fans of tourist traps so we knew we did not want to stay in Seaside.  Once the decision was made to stay in Astoria, next I had to find a hotel.  I selected the Hampton Inn & Suites Astoria, Oregon.  The prices were more than we wanted to pay BUT when you visit the coast of Oregon during the height of tourist season, hotel rooms cost nearly double the cost the rest of the year. My suggestion for booking a room in this area is to book early.  When you book, make sure to choose easy cancellation.  Check rates frequently right up until travel dates to see if the price drops, as it usually does. 
Hampton Inn & Suites Astoria is a great hotel!
The Hampton Inn & Suites Astoria is located on the banks of the Columbia River. We sprang (cost $10 more per night) for a room with a balcony & were not disappointed.  After a long day seeing the sights it was nice to be able to relax on the balcony & watch the ships come in!
We had a room with a balcony which we enjoyed immensely. 
View from our balcony at the Hampton Inn & Suites Astoria, OR
In my research of the Hampton Inn & Suites Astoria I learned sea lions along the banks of the Columbia River can be quite noisy at this hotel. However, during the time we were visiting in mid July the sea lions were not an issue.  The Astoria locals told us the sea lions migrate away from Astoria at the time we visited.  Note, if you choose a room on the river side of this hotel, you might have a problem with sea lions barking all hours of the night depending on your dates of travel. Since it did not happen to us I do not know how loud the sea lions can get. 

The hotel was clean & comfortable.  The tasty breakfast each morning offered a variety of options both hot & cold.  The eating area was large & overlooked the Columbia River.  When I book a hotel I try to find one offering a free breakfast.  Not only does this help the budget, but it also helps save time of having to go eat breakfast at a restaurant.  

The Astoria Riverfront Trolley has a stop at the Hampton Inn & Suites.  For $1 each boarding or $2 for all day you can ride the trolley. Your trolley ride will include interesting facts and points of interest for this beautiful town.  You definitely do not want to miss riding the Astoria Riverfront Trolley! Check out their website for specific dates & times the trolley operates. 
Catch the trolley at the Hampton Inn & Suites Astoria, OR!

We would definitely stay at the Hampton Inn & Suites Astoria when we visit this area again. 

What is there to do on the Oregon Coast for a family on a budget?
You can find plenty to do on the Oregon Coast.  We could have easily spent a week in this area.  However, we only had 2 days to explore the Oregon Coast so we had to be selective about the sites we chose. The good news is, as of 1967 the entire coast of Oregon is public lands.  Yes, you read that correctly ALL of it is free to use! That is over 363 miles of coastline just waiting to be explored all for the budget friendly price of zero dollars!

Cannon Beach, Oregon - Since we were staying in Astoria we chose not to drive further than 50 miles south to explore the coast. We awoke early and headed south to Cannon Beach, which was about a 45 minute drive from Astoria. One tip I have for you is if you plan to stay in Astoria & drive to Cannon Beach & Seaside for a day trip as we did, make sure you leave early in the morning.  We experienced little to no traffic going to Cannon Beach but by the time we headed back toward Astoria, traffic was quite congested. We arrived in Cannon Beach around 9 AM looking for the best spot to view the famous Haystack Rock.  We found parking to be limited & beach access hard to find, maybe we just didn't know where to look.  We were able to find a good spot to take the photo we sought. 
Haystack Rock - Cannon Beach, Oregon
Next we drove a short distance, about 5 miles to Ecola State Park.  The fee to enter the park is a reasonable $5 per day.  Make sure you bring exact change as you pay at an automated kiosk. Ecola State Park is home to the most beautiful beach we visited during our Pacific Northwest vacation, Indian Beach.  Not only is the beach breathtakingly beautiful, the original Point Break movie was filmed in this exact location.  We spent a couple of hours enjoy the beauty that is Ecola State Park. We definitely would go back & spend more time if in the area again. 
Ecola State Park is a must stop!

The drive into Ecola State Park is narrow & very congested on a sunny July day.
Indian Beach is the most beautiful beach of our Pacific Northwest Vacation.
Ecola State Park Indian Beach
Surfing & kayaking are popular activities to enjoy at Indian Beach.

My son enjoyed climbing the rocks & exploring Indian Beach.

Seaside, Oregon - While we did not choose to stay in Seaside, Oregon we did decide to make a stop on our way back from Cannon Beach to see the sights. Seaside, Oregon is home to the final stop on Lewis & Clark's journey westward.  This was our primary reason for visiting Seaside.  The other touristy type attractions offered in Seaside did not appeal to us. When we visited on a Wednesday we found crowds of people throughout this tourist town.  While it is not our "cup of tea", Seaside offers a variety of activities for vacation. 
The end of the Lewis & Clark trail is found in Seaside, Oregon.
Seaside, Oregon beach located at the end of the promenade. 
We spent a couple of hours in Seaside where we had lunch at the Dairy Queen (offering above average fast food) & spent some time exploring town.  We all agreed we made the right choice staying in Astoria instead of Seaside.  I am glad to have had the opportunity to visit Seaside but I do not think I will be in a hurry to return to this tourist destination. 

Astoria, Oregon - Mid-afternoon we headed back to Astoria to see some of the sights.  Astoria is the location for several popular movies from the last 40 years including The Goonies, Short Circuit, & Kindergarten Cop. It is built on a hillside making for dramatic scenes in real life as well as on film. 
Astoria, Oregon
We rode the Astoria Riverfront Trolley & learned all about this quaint seaside town. The cost to ride the trolley is an affordable $1 per ride or $2 per day. Check out their website to learn more about dates/times of operation. We highly recommend the trolley when visiting Astoria!

Dinner: After our trolley tour of Astoria, we headed to dinner.  This would be our last "real meal" of our vacation.  We wanted to splurge a bit & enjoy some Pacific Northwest culinary delights. We had dinner at the Silver Salmon Grille in Astoria, Oregon
A good restaurant if you are looking to splurge for your meal.
Our food was tasty, but we found the prices to be a bit steep (around $28 each) for the food received. My husband had the smoked salmon, my son had the fish & chips, & I had the chicken Oscar.The waitstaff were phenomenal! The restaurant was nicely decorated.  I would recommend this restaurant if you are wanting to splurge, otherwise I would suggest finding a more budget friendly restaurant. 
Smoked salmon

Chicken Oscar
Astoria Column - The Astoria Column is a 125 foot column you can climb for spectacular views of the Columbia River & surrounding area.  There is no cost for visiting the column other than a $5 parking fee. We visited the column after dinner around sunset when the park was about to close.
Visit the Astoria Column for unparalleled views of the Columbia River. 

Day 2 Oregon Coast - On our final day in Oregon we awoke early & headed to nearby Fort Clatsop National Historic Park in Astoria, Oregon. Fort Clatsop is the final stopping place for Lewis & Clark on their westward journey.  At Fort Clatsop Lewis & Clark along with the Corps of Discovery spent the winter of 1806 within the walls of the fort. This national historic park is a must see when you visit this area.  Anyone who is a fan of history or just adventurers at heart will find the story of Lewis & Clark to be quite interesting. The cost to visit the Fort Clatsop National Historic Park is $5 per person over the age of 16 good for 7 consecutive days. Children under the age of 16 are admitted for FREE. We had the national park annual pass so the cost was nothing for our family.  Note, if you plan to visit many national parks or national historic sites I highly recommend purchasing the annual pass.  Our pass has paid for itself 2 times over. 
A must stop on your vacation!
A replica of the fort built by Lewis & Clark. 
When you visit Fort Clatsop you will find a museum & replica of the fort built by Lewis & Clark & the Corps of Discovery.  There are also hiking trails that will take you to the ocean following the path taken by Lewis & Clark.  We did not have time to hike the trail. If we were not needing to leave around lunch that day we would have participated in a ranger led kayaking tour of the nearby creek.  Check out the Fort Clatsop National Historic Park website for upcoming events & ranger led programs. 

It is appropriate (but was not planned) our final stop on our Pacific Northwest vacation would be the same spot Lewis & Clark ended their westward journey.  Much like Lewis & Clark we had many great stories to tell about our westward journey when we headed back home to the east. 

To the airport we go!
A slow rain fell as we took the scenic route from Astoria to Portland International Airport - Highway 26.
The ONLY time it rained on us during our 9 day Pacific Northwest vacation was on the way to the airport on the last day.  
Portland International Airport is ranked one of the top airports in the world!
Mo's Seafood is located in the Portland airport past security check in.  The food was great!
 Restaurants in the Portland International Airport are not permitted to increase prices over their non-airport menu prices.
Mod Pizza was a great place to have a custom pizza.  My son thought it was one of the best pizzas ever!
Goodbye Pacific Northwest!
As we flew back home we happened to glance out the window to find Mount Hood.  This would be our only time to see Mount Hood & I must say it was glorious!
Mount Hood from our window on Southwest Air.
Another 1gr8vacation comes to a close!  During our trip we met new people, experienced waterfalls, mountains, remote islands, rapidly growing cities, temperate rain forests, beaches unlike any we had seen before, & countless adventures we will remember all of the days of our life. 

Subscribe to my blog so you won't miss any of my posts about our 1gr8vacation to Washington DC & Colonial Williamsburg on a budget! 

May God bless you each day of your journey!