The Southern Oregon Coast is a wonderful place to raise an active and inquisitive family. The local ocean life and plants are respected, studied, and honored in area aquariums and at the University of Oregon’s marine biology research and teaching field station. Wildlife from around the world is cared for and presented to curious minds at local zoos and animal parks. There is plenty of skiing, snowboarding, sandboarding, surfing, and hiking trails to keep the family active, healthy, and happy all year long. Here are some of the top attractions for families along the Oregon coastal paradise.
Sand, Board, Ski & Surf
Sandboarding: Sandboarding is the perfect summertime activity for active families. It will be a great workout, as you will do your fair share of walking back to the top of the dunes before taking your next ride down. There are excellent locations for sandboarding along the Oregon Coast, including the expansive Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area with over 30 miles of dunes up to 492 feet tall.
The Sand Master Park in Florence is a great place to start sandboarding. The 40 acre private sand dune park has equipment rentals and instructions to get your family started with the sport. Check their site for rates. Recent specials included the Sand Blast: 2 sandboard rentals, 1 hour lesson for 2, and 2 souvenir t-shirts for $120.
Once you know what you’re doing you can buy sandboarding gear for the family and explore all the dunes at your leisure. Be aware of traffic on the dunes, as dune buggies and other OHVs (off-highway vehicles) will be joining in the sand dune fun where permitted. There are areas that separate motorized traffic from non-motorized traffic. Honeyman State Park is popular with families looking for a quieter place to sandboard in the summer, as OHVs are only permitted from October to April.
Skiing & Snowboarding: The local ski & ride mountains are Mt. Ashland in Ashland and Willamette Pass Resort in Crescent Lake. Each of the resorts is a good 3+ hour drive from the Bandon/Coos Bay area so it’s best to secure lodging and stay a night or two for the perfect family weekend ski and snowboard trip. Lift tickets at Willamette Pass Resort start at $9 and kids 12 and under ski for free!
Surfing: The Southern Oregon Coast is the perfect place to hang ten with the family. The lineups are sparse, the waves are consistent, and the beaches aren’t crowded. North of Bandon is Otter Rock. It is a great place for beginners. It is often called the Waikiki of Oregon: providing small, consistent gentle waves from June through August (September through May is a different story, with much larger waves). Pura Vida Surf Shop in Otter Rock offers 2 hour lessons with equipment for $100. Otter Rock is 129 miles north of Bandon, so once you and your family cut your teeth on the baby waves you’ll be happy to know that Coos Bay is considered the epicenter of surfing on the Southern Oregon Coast. You can check the local breaks at Bastendorff Beach (another popular beginner's spot), talk to locals, and take another lesson from the staff at Waxer’s Surf & Skate in Coos Bay. You are sure to find the perfect family surfing beach just a couple of miles from your home.
Aquariums & Zoos
Charleston Marine Life Center: Faculty and students from the University of Oregon, local tribes, local businesses, local government and local organizations have all played their part in making the Charleston Marine Life Center a wonderful place to visit with your family. It is the University of Oregon’s marine biology research and teaching field station. Located just a short drive away (under 20 minutes) from Coos Bay the CMLC features a touch tank and living representatives of local marine life including Pacific Red Octopus, Big Skate, and Buffalo Sculpin. Spotting scopes are provided by the windows overlooking the fishing harbor. Visitors can watch fishing boats loading and unloading gear, seals, sea lions, and shorebirds. Admission is free for children/students and $5 for adults.
Oregon Coast Aquarium: Located 96 miles north of Coos Bay, the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport is worth the drive. It is considered one of our nation’s top aquariums. It opened in 1992 and features indoor and outdoor exhibits with animals and plants native to the Oregon coast including octopi, seals, sea lions, sea otters, and sharks. There are four species of sharks including the Broadnose Sevengill Shark. The sharks are experienced through a series of underwater walkways in the Passages of the Deep exhibit. The aquarium recently opened a new Outdoor Amphitheater, Nature Play Area, and Headwaters Feature in 2022. Admission in 2022 is $24.95 for guests ages 18-64, $19.95 for guests ages 13-17 and 65 and older, and $14.95 for guests ages 3-12 (an interactive octopus encounter is available for an additional $40).
West Coast Game Park Safari: 7 miles south of Bandon is the West Coast Game Park Safari. There are over 75 species of animals, and some are roaming around the zoo free as they please (so watch your fingers and toes): these include goats, sheep, deer, and peacocks. The Bengal Tigers, African Lion, African Leopard, Cougar, Bobcat, and Black Bear feel more at home in their habitats but will sometimes visit with guests during interactive learning presentations (which are included in the price of admission). Admission in 2022 is $21 for guests 13 and older, $14 for guests ages 7-12, and $11 for guests ages 2-6.
Wildlife Safari: A short 78+ mile drive east of Bandon lies a 600 acre drive-through animal park. It is the only one in Oregon. Wildlife Safari opened in 1972 and features over 600 animals including lions, tigers, bears, rhinos, zebras, cheetahs, elephants, and giraffes. Admission price in 2022 is $23.95 for guests ages 13-59, $17.95 for guests ages 3-12, and $20.95 for guests aged 60 and older. It takes 60-90 minutes to drive through the park. Motorcycles are not permitted.
Hobbit Trail: There are some truly amazing hikes along the Oregon Coast. Perhaps the best way to ease younger family members into the beginnings of a family weekend hiking tradition is to start with a smaller hobbit sized adventure but not not the kind that takes you away from the paradise of the shire. The short one mile Hobbit Trail north of Florence is a great way to stretch out your legs after a day of sandboarding at the Sand Master Park. The trail is lush and green and can feel like walking through a tunnel of branches and foliage before arriving at the secluded and magical Hobbit Beach on the Pacific Ocean.
We look forward to helping you discover more about life in Southern Oregon and find your perfect home in our coastal paradise. Contact Coastal Sotheby’s International Realty today!