A Beach Getaway That’s Only An Hour Away

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What comes to mind when we say, “kid-friendly beach town 70 miles from Portland?” If you’re thinking Seaside, you’re almost right. Just two miles north of Seaside lies a sleepy little beach town with just enough activity to keep everyone in the family happy without frying your nerves. We’re talking about Gearhart, your next family day trip destination. Gearhart is no major metropolis. If you happen to sneeze while driving by, you just might miss it entirely. It would be a crying shame if you did because Gearhart is gem of a town.


Gearhart boasts the oldest public golf course this side of the MIssissippi and it happens to be a stone’s throw from a deliciously quiet beach. The tiny downtown strip is sprinkled with art galleries and shops and the town bakery offers some of the most tantalizingly flakey pastries outside of Paris, France. If golf and sand castles aren’t enough excitement for you, the town bowling alley is open 7 days a week. And if the weather’s behaving, grab your bike and toodle around town, or take a hike.

Where To Stay
The rooms at McMenamin’s Gearhart Hotel are cozy and comfortable but fairly basic. The place does have it’s benefits. Each room is equipped with a quart jar so you can grab some of their craft brewed beer from downstairs and enjoy it in your room. With live music every friday and a full restaurant with outdoor seating in nice weather, you can catch breakfast, lunch, or dinner without leaving the hotel. For larger broods, the Gearhart Ocean Inn has one and two-bedroom suites with full kitchens. There are also many fine offerings for rental houses and condos on VRBO all close to the beach.

McMenamin's Sand Trap Pub
Fill ‘Em Up
You won’t want to miss the clam chowder and artisanal pizzas at Pacific Way Café but it would be a downright crime to leave Gearhart without tasting the ridiculously delicious morning pastries at the adjacent Pacific Way Bakery. Grab a hearty plate of classic American diner food at Gearhart Junction Café. For breakfast they serve up fresh biscuits and pick-your-poison omelettes. A beach vacation wouldn’t be complete without an afternoon scoop and Pop’s Sweet Shop has got you covered. Homemade waffle cones, and fresh baked scones with jam. Don’t forget to take home some fudge.


Fun Factoid: James Beard vacationed in Gearhart as a small boy where he developed a love of Pacific Northwest seafood and wild berries.

Get Your Shop On
Discover local talent at the Trail’s End Art Association or find an antique treasure at Ike & Debbie’s Red Barn. Watch nationally known artist John Cook blow glass in his studio before picking up one of his famous fish glasses from the studio shop. Grab a gift for someone special (like you!) from the selection of locally crafted goods at Pacific Crest Cottage.

Raining Here? Never Fear, Pool is Near
Too cold and wet for the beach? Take your flippers indoors. The Sunset Empire Pool in Seaside just east of 101 on Broadway has 3 indoor pools and is well worth venturing into touristy Seaside for. The 90° learner pool is heavenly and there are loads of floaties and balls to play with in the water. Be sure to check the schedule, open swim times for each pool only happen one to two hours per day.


Have a favorite spot in Gearhart that didn’t make our list? Let us know in the comments below. 

–Alanna Risse

Photo credits: Sand Trap Pub photo from McMenamin’s website, girl with ice cream cone from Pop’s Sweet Shop website.

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After examining the evidence it’s not surprising Portland takes it’s music scene so seriously. With a long lineage of great musicians from the Decemberists to M. Ward, Viva Voce, and The Dandy Warhols, there’s no shortage of inspiration. Let’s not forget, nearly every home in town holds the potential for a totally awesome basement practice space. So this is a call to all Portland future musical maestros, grab your sticks and your picks, and let’s get rockin’.

Rookie Rock at Treehouse for the 0 to 6 crowd

Toddlers can break in their blue suede shoes with Rookie Rock at Treehouse four days a week. Be ready to shake, rattle, and roll with some of Portland’s favorite kindie rockers. The current line-up includes the rock stylings of Johnny Keener, the funky beats of Tyleena Fairyfunk Mother, soulful country tunes with Taya Jacobs, and Americana roots rock with Mo Phillips. This one hour rockstravaganza includes a big basket of musical instruments so kids and parents can join in. Shows start at 10am every day except Tuesdays (when Treehouse holds regular weekly toddler art classes). It’s just $5 per kid ages 0 – 6.

Vibe of Portland Unites Art & Music 

Dedicated to inspiring creativity in Portland youth, Vibe of Portland introduces kids to general art and materials as well as a variety of music classes ranging from piano and guitar to choir. Started to supplement the lacking art and music classes in many public schools in the Portland/Vancouver area, Vibe now shares a passion for creativity with kids ages K-8.

With affordable lessons and small class sizes, your budding musicians really get one on one attention. Some scholarships are available, so check the website for details.

Sound Roots School of Music Now Delivers

Kids, gather your guitars, drums, keyboards and bass. Sound Roots is goin’ mobile! Once located on North Williams, they’ve picked up their roots to bring their power of rock signed, sealed, and delivered to your door. With tailored-to-fit private group lessons, and a team of pro musician teachers at the ready, you assemble the band and Sound Roots will come straight to your door and help mould your little rockers into Portland’s next big thing. They have a knack for helping kids craft their own musical style and focus on songwriting techniques. Along with group and private lessons, Sound Roots offers winter and summer rock camps in some über cool venues and practice spaces around town. The next camp on the schedule runs December 26-29 and will be at the YWCA building downtown.

Ethos Music Center One-Stop Shopping

If fashion really does run on a 20 year trend cycle, we predict the 80’s saxaphone solo will be coming back in style somewhere around the year 2020. That gives your kid about 8 more years to hone their saxaphone skills to be market ready for some serious sax. With an army of instructors at their beck and call, there’s no instrument they can’t tackle. Etho’s huge three-story building in North Portland is home to private and group classes ranging from tamborine to tuba. This non-profit musical epicenter has amassed a huge library where kids can borrow instruments for the duration of their class sessions. And If electronics is what gets your kid jumping, The Hip-Hop and Urban Music Project™ (THUMP) will get their blood pumping. Tiny Teslas can toy around with samplers, drum machines, and a smorgasbord of digital audio software programs. Kids learn about hip hop styles, break dancing, djing, with a bit of video editing thrown into the mix.

Musicwerks Studio Foundations and Fun

What do Eddie Van Halen, Nora Jones, Randy Rhodes, and Ben Folds have in common? They were all classically trained. At MusicWerks Studios in Northeast Portland, the instructors are steeped in all kinds of old thymey music, from classical piano, to jazz and blues. They know how to bridge the gap between today’s music and teaching strong foundations so that whatever music’s future holds, you kids will have the building blocks to keep current. If your kid’s heart beats to a different kind of drum, perhaps their Samba camp is the place to play. Pipsqueaks, there’s fun for you here too. Though the general consensus is that kids aren’t really ready for formal lessons until about age 5, they can still get a head start. Kids three to five get to tickle the ivories in the Piano Pixies class, designed to introduce musical instruments through fun games and activities.

School of Rock for Stage Hams

Was your kid born for the stage? School of Rock’s performance program gets them stage ready in no time. With a team of seasoned professional musicians, they combine group and private lessons where kids 7 and up can learn a set list and ultimately perform in front of a live audience. School of Rock is on Southeast Hawthorne.

Family Band at Music Together

Did you play Mozart for your little one when they were an infant? Then you probably agree it’s never too early to foster a love of music in your little ones. Family Music at Music Together gets parents or caregivers and kiddos a chance to learn and play together through musical exploration. From rhythm basics to rhyming, chants, and instrument play, it feels more like 45 minutes of playtime rather than a music lesson. And we all for having fun and learning at the same time.

One little article can’t do justice to all the great music teachers out there. Where are your kids flexing their musical muscles?

— Alanna Risse

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Wondering how you’re going to sneak in the kid’s Christmas shopping without blowing Santa’s cover? Or maybe you just need to sneak in a little R&R before the in-laws arrive for the holidays. We’ve found some super fun drop-in daycares that your kids are going to love. Let them play away while you stuff the trunk with secret Santa loot.

Downtown/Pearl/Nob Hill
On NW 18th and Quimby kids 3 to 12 can get their hands dirty at The Art Cubby while channelling their inner Matisse. Painting, drawing, clay, collage and jewelry making abound. Who knows maybe they’ll create a present for grandma while you’re out shopping. The Art Cubby is 5 blocks from NW 23rd street where you can stock up on toys at Child’s Play or kid’s clothes at Duck Duck Goose and Mako. Stuff their stockings with handmade candies from Northwest Sweets at NW 23rd and Johnson.

WeVillage in the Pearl offers drop-in daycare for 2-12 year olds. The cost for one child is $15 per hour for non-members with a two-hour minimum for drop-ins. They’ll even serve lunch or dinner for a few extra bucks. While you’re in the Pearl, grab some baubles and bangles at Cargo Imports or pick up some toys for tots at Posh Baby. For some new threads, stop by Hanna Andersson on NW 10th. Freshen up their bookshelves with kids books or comics from Powell’s City of Books. And what would Christmas be without a stop at Finnegan’s toys, Portland’s largest independent toy store.

Both weVillage and The Art Cubby are a quick drive from Pioneer Place where you’ll find H&M, Gap Kids, Toys R Us Express, and GameStop for video game junkies. Don’t forget to validate your parking ticket!

North/Northeast Portland
Village Childcare has two locations in N/NE portland. The one on NE MLK is a quick hop from NE Alberta street where you’ll find adorable toys and clothes at Grasshopper, noisemakers at Trade-up Music for your little rock stars, art supplies at Collage, and Green Bean Books. The N Mississippi location is just down the street from Black Wagon Toys and Bridge City Comics.

Realign your chakras at Yoga Shala. They’ll watch your kids ages 3 to 12 years for up to 4 hours off premises so you can hit up the stores on North Williams after class (Reservations are highly recommended). Just down the street you’ll find Treehouse children’s boutique and Spielwerk Toys. A couple blocks south of Yoga Shala is the sweet vintage shop Little Edie’s Five & Dime.

Beaverton/Lake Owsego
Take advantage of Play Boutique’s Drop & Shop Daycare December 1st, 15th, and 22nd from 9:30am to 12:30pm. The three-hour bundle includes lunch and holiday gift making activities. There’s a downtown Lake Oswego location and a Beaverton location at Progress Ridge Townsquare. It’s just $10 a hour for non-members but they require reservations 24 hours in advance. In Lake Oswego, stop by the totally awesome Frog Pond Toys. In Beaverton, Piccolo Mondo Toys and a sweet little boutique shop are handily in the same shopping center as Play, or head to Washington Square for some serious power shopping at the Mall.

In Store Drop-in Daycare
Most Fred Meyer stores have free supervised play areas for kids 2 to 5. The rules are you must stay in the store but Freddy’s is a great place to grab toys (battery operated bulldog on skateboard, anyone?), stocking stuffers, pjs, hats, scarves, or a snuggly soft throw blanket. Be sure to sneak in a little coffee break for yourself at the in-store Starbucks.

The totally awesome kid’s play area at IKEA is a free one-hour drop-in service for kids between 37 and 54 inches tall. Stock up on kid’s art supplies, expand the train set, or grab a new plush toy. Might as well grab a quick slice of pie before picking up the kids. With slides, a ball pit, fun things to climb over and crawl through, and a bevvy of art supplies, you’ll need the extra energy to convince them play time’s over.

Play it safe!
Each drop-in daycare place has it’s own set of forms and reservation requirements, so be sure to contact them ahead of time to ensure you’re shopping plans go off without a hitch.

Did we miss any totally cool drop-in play spots? Where’s your favorite place to drop the kids for a mommy/daddy break?

Written by: Alanna Risse

Photos provided by the Facebook pages of The Art Cubby and weVillage

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It seems like an epidemic. Everywhere you look, Portland is going gluten-free. It’s a veritable gluten-apocalypse. The good news is, when it comes to food, Portland knows how to bake, no matter what the limitations. The city abounds with delectable gluten-free goodies and this season promises to deliver plenty of sugar and spice for us all, wheat or no wheat. So if you’ve been fretting over what desserts to bring to the holiday party, worry no more. Here’s your in-depth holiday gluten-free goodie guide.

The plethora of gooey goodness at Crave is well worth the short drive to Lake Oswego. If you’re looking for Christmas morning treats, look no further. Soft, delectable donuts, cinnamon rolls, sticky buns and orange rolls await you. Hosting a holiday party? Crave’s famed holiday themed cupcakes like Peppermint Hot Chocolate, Cranberry Apple Cider, and Candy Cane will knock the socks off your party guests.

On NE Alberta the all vegan, all gluten-free bakery Back to Eden is serving up mini cheesecakes in delectable flavors like eggnog and mint chocolate. The mini pumpkin cream and apple crumb pies (perfect for two and a half people) will bring tears of joy to your eyes. But the real winners are the whoopie pies. Pick up a dozen of those babies to bring to your holiday party and you’re sure to make some new friends.

Hosting the holidays at your house this year? Deck out your brunch table with croissants, danishes and quiche from New Cascadia Traditional at SE 6th and Market. They’ve also got yummy thumbprint cookies, shortbread, and oatmeal cookies plus an array of holiday themed pies and cakes. While you’re there, pick up a bag of stuffing mix and some dinner rolls for Christmas dinner.

Let Cravin’ Raven cater your work holiday party. They’ll whip up crowd pleasing batches of gluten-free cookies, muffins, and cupcakes for your event. They even have Twinkies!  Looking for some sweet treats to give out to friends? Their cookie menu includes old favorites like snickerdoodles, lemon poppyseed, and brownie whoopie pies just to name a few.

New Seasons Market has a superstar line-up of all your favorite Portland Gluten-Free bakeries including eggnog cheesecake from Gluten Free Gem and rugelach from Bridge City Bakery. They’ve got a smattering of your favorite cookies, cupcakes, pies, bark, and brownies. Each New Seasons will have slightly different offerings so check with your local store for more info. If DIY pie is what you’re after, the Bavarian Mills brand gluten-free pie crust in the freezer section is to die for.

For savory party treats, stop by Tula on NE MLK for some focaccia or olive bread to pair with your favorite cheese or salami. They’ve also got kick-ass quick breads and muffins like banana flax, lemon loaf, or pumpkin walnut with cinnamon cream cheese frosting.

Mail order your munchies. The Baker and The Book Confections has out-of-this-world gluten-free brownies, chocolate chip cookies, and brittles. There’s no shipping fee, so it’s a hassle-free way to send Portland baked goodie boxes to your friends and family. Just be sure to get your orders in by December 18th. On your way to a party? check their website for stores in SE and SW Portland that carry their goodies.

Heading home for the holidays? Bridge City Bakery will package up a little taste of Oregon in some dry ice and ship it to anywhere in the US. Send home a couple of Marionberry pies to share at the family homestead. Be warning, shipping costs a pretty penny so might as well add a coffee cake or a dozen bake-at-home biscuits the the bill! Orders take up to 6 days to arrive so plan ahead.

This town is overflowing with so much gluten-free love we could go on for days. Did we forget to mention one of your favorite Portland bakeries?

— Alanna Risse

Photo Credit: Peppermint cupcakes from Crave, olive bread from Tula.

TGIF: A Drop-In Friday Night Clay Extravaganza

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Friday nights at Multnomah Arts Center can get downright dirty. Polliwogs and their progenitors can be found transforming clumps of clay into monster menageries and goofy goblets. The MAC’s ceramics studio transforms into a magical clay playground where creativity abounds. The Fall session starts just in the nick of time too. With holidays around the corner, it’s high time to get busy creating all those crafty gifts for grandma and grandpa. TGIF, indeed.

For just $20 a session per each child-adult pair, you get a 5 pound hunk of clay to make whatever artful creation you can conjure up. Additional family members are welcome to join in for an additional $10 a head. Once you’ve gained entry, you’ll have access to super tools and hands-on guidance from the MACs generous and capable teachers. There’s no experience necessary but this workshop packs plenty of punch for both seasoned earth slingers and the uninitiated.

Clay nights are every Friday from 6:00pm to 8:30pm. Though the average age is about 7 or 8, though all ages from toddlers to teens have been known to partake. Fall session runs from October 5th to December 7th. Commitment phobic? Have no fear, all you have to do is show up, there’s no pre-registration.

Factor in Time for Firing and Glazing
Though many families just come to play with clay, you are welcomed and encouraged to make your masterpieces more permanent by firing and glazing them at no additional charge. Be forewarned, ceramic firing is a two step process that takes about 4 weeks from start to finish. Once you’ve finished your masterpiece, you’ll leave it in the drying room for the capable kiln techs to work their magic on it. Once it’s dry, they’ll kiln fire it for you while you go about your busy lives. Once your pieces are out of the first kiln firing (and had their chance to cool) you can come back and add your glazes. They then go back in for a second firing to turn into the pretty, shiny things they were destined to be. Each firing has a turn around time of about two weeks, so plan on going every other week for a while to take full advantage of the studio and have some finished pieces done in time for holiday gifts.

About Multnomah Arts Center
Just 8 minutes up the hill from downtown in the heart of SW Portland’s Multnomah Village is an incredible art mecca that (sadly) many Portlanders don’t know about. This very large Portland Parks and Recs building houses some of the greatest publicly (and financially) accessible art facilities in the Pacific Northwest. From a full clay studio to a room full of looms, a darkroom, printing presses, sculpture studio, an arts based preschool, and jewelry making facilities, all at Parks and Recs prices. They’ve got art, music, and dance classes for kids and adults ages 18 months on up to infinity.

Not a creative bone in your body? Never fear, here are some project ideas to get your creative juices flowing:

  • Monster Mouth Tree Ornaments: Make a wide, flat ring and add teeth, eyes, and a tongue. Remember a loop on top for the ribbon.
  • Leaf Wreath: Get inspiration from this autumn wreath and make a bunch of fall leaves using leaves from your yard as templates. Arrange the leaves around a flat, clay ring.
  • Tiny Hands Bowl: What grandma can resist the tiny handprints of children? Roll out a round, flat piece of clay big enough for your child’s hand to make a handprint. Squish their hand into the circle to get a good indentation. Carefully shape the flat circle into a bowl without losing the hand impression.
  • Cookie Cutter Ornaments: Use your favorite cookie cutters to make ornaments. Don’t stop at Christmas themed shapes. You know you’ve been dying to put all those weird cookie cutters to use. Add facial features and clothes to give them some pizazz.
  • Holiday Themed Gobblet: Make a pinch pot by pinching some clay into a vessel shape. Add a snowman or santa face, or any other silly face you can think up.
  • Stocking Wall Vase: Using a stocking cookie cutter, cut out two ¼” thick stocking shapes. Crumble up a piece of newspaper to use as a “stocking stuffer.” With the newspaper in place, bind the edges of both stockings together, leaving an opening on the top. Cut a hole in the back layer so you can hang the vase on a nail.
  • Snowman Candle Holder: Create an upside down, round shaped pinch pot for the snowman’s head. Give him a top hat, but leave a hole at the top of his hat and head for heat to escape. Add holes for eyes, nose, and mouth. Create a round plate big enough for him to sit on.
  • Are you an Ebenezer Scrooge? Skip the Christmas season and get a jump on valentine’s day. Make some stamped clay hearts out of ceramic clay. Create a cast of monster finger puppets, just make sure you make them bigger than your fingers, they’ll shrink about 25% in the kilns.

The Multnomah Arts Center isn’t the only place to get your crafty on. Portland is bursting at the seams with dens of creativity. Where’s your favorite place to make a beautiful mess with your little ones?

-Alanna Risse (Thanks for the photos!)

Kid-Friendly Pubs with Great Outdoor Spaces

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Sure it’s fall, but when did a little chill in the air ever stop you from pursuing your favorite pastime? While the rest of the fair-weather wimps head for cover, now’s your perfect chance to soak up some suds en plein air without the crowds. We’ve scoured the greater Portland area for some lesser known kid friendly pubs and brew houses with great outdoor spaces. So grab a light jacket and get out into the great outdoors, pub style.

In the Southeast:

Spend a sunny afternoon whooping and hopping it up at the Captured by Porches beer bus in the D Street Noshery food cart pod on SE Division and 32nd. Sundays at 5:30pm catch some live local under the tent (usually talented folks playing bluegrass and old time country). The Noshery houses a plethora of kid friendly food options. The Guam inspired PDX671 cart serves mini bowls for kids on request. Order up a hot dog and garlic fries (or ask for garlic-free) from Baileys Hot Dogs. For moms and dads (or your more adventurous mini-mouths) grab a couple of korean tacos from Koi Fusion. Whatever’s for dinner, be sure to finish off dinner with a scoop from Oregon Ice Works.

Hot Tip: Don’t forget other Southeast favs like Hedge House and Muddy Rudder.

In The Southwest:

Directly across the street from the Multnomah Arts Center and in the heart of Multnomah Village is the Lucky Labrador Public House. They’ve got slices and whole pies so grab a slice of cheese for the pickier eaters and try one of their more odoriferous combos like Dog Breath (two kinds of garlic, onions and olives) for more sophisticated palettes. Snag a bowl of pretzels or peanuts in-the-shell while you wait for your pizza. Try their home brewed Ginger Ale or Root beer. Since your pooch is welcome on the patio, make a stop at the 2 acre fenced-in dog park just down the street at Gabriel Park.

Hot Tip: Lucky Lab’s SE location also has a great covered patio that’s kid and dog friendly.

In the Northeast:

Mash Tun’s patio has picnic tables and plenty of room to run around. The kids menu is bar none and the adult menu offers some of Portland’s finest burgers and sandwiches including a wicked cheesesteak. Don’t miss cheap pints on Tuesday nights when all house brewed beers are just $2.50.

Radio Room NE Alberta
Beermongers rejoice! Steal a deal on Microbrew Mondays at Radio Room. This converted Texaco gas station serves up fabulous food and has a killer happy hour 3:00pm-6:00pm daily. Kids are welcome to sit outside or in the open air covered dining room until 9:00pm (no kids allowed on the rooftop patio). When not in use, the blocky modern fire pit and seating area makes a fun maze for the kids to run around. They’ve got a kid’s menu for both brunch and dinner, but the ala carte menu also offers some great kid-friendly options like grilled chicken breast and seasonal veggies. Get the wings with the sweet BBQ sauce and watch them disappear.

Hot tip: Radio room clearly marks their vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free menu items.

In the North:

Pause’s backyard patio has picnic benches and a patch of grass for the kids to go hog wild on. Sumptuous seasonal specials and out-of-this-world pork schnitzel are stand outs on their grown up menu. It’s also one of the few places in town that offers a healthier option of grilled chicken and seasonal veggies on their kid’s menu. If your kid is a grazer and you’re tired of shelling out cold hard cash for food that doesn’t get dented, go for the free noodles with butter.

Skip the bedtime bath and have a late dinner at McMennamin’s Chapel Pub in time to catch the beginning of Steve Kerin on the solo pipe organ from 8:00pm to 10:00pm. He takes requests and will cover just about any rock song you can think of, from In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida to Total Eclipse of the Heart. Or get nostalgic with your kids and request The Addam’s Family Theme or Rainbow Connection. There’s never a wait for a table and the garden patio has been known to host some wicked toddler dance parties.

Unbeknowns to most, Mississippi Studio’s burger joint BarBar has a sweet little kid-friendly, smoke-free patio just outside the back door. Kids are welcome to munch on their yummy burgers, sliders, fries, and onion rings until 9:00pm each night. They also serve killer root beer floats.

For more North Portland pubs with patios Check out our post about North Williams where you’ll find Lompoc’s 5th Quadrant or the Hopworks Bike Bar. Both have great patios and are very kid friendly. In St John’s try the Captured by Porches at the Kruger Farm Stand.

Portland certainly has no shortage of great outdoor eateries that showcase the Northwest’s wealth of fine Microbrews. Where’s your favorite place to grab a fam-friendly cold one and a bite?

— Alanna Risse

The World’s Longest Beach is in Our Backyard

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Looking for one final beach getaway before the chill of fall returns to the Pacific Northwest? Directly over the Columbia river from Astoria Oregon you’ll find the world’s longest beach, weighing in at a hefty 28 miles of continuous coastline.  But sand isn’t all that Long Beach Peninsula has to offer. You’ll find the perfect combo of touristy taffy towns, spectacular nature walks, and a rich host of historical museums and monuments. Bring your bike, pack your kite, and head on up for one last summer hurrah.

Where to Play
Hop on your bike and take a leisurely ride on the Discovery Trail. A Whale skeleton, marine birds, and miles of beach await you along this 10 mile stretch of the peninsula. Hike your tike through Leadbetter Point or Cape Disappointment State Parks. Woodpeckers, eagles, owls, and osprey are some of the happy inhabitants of the peninsula so bring your binoculars. Picnic at the beach and hunt for crabs or razor clams, build sand castles, or splash around in warm beach streams.

Insider Tip: This is the coast, so be prepared for both sunny and foggy weather. Bring your jacket along with your sunscreen.

History buffs can relive the Corps of Discovery’s journey to the Pacific at the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center. The Lighthouse room offers spectacular views of the Cape and Lighthouse. The interpretive center is built on the remains of Fort Canby, and kids can tramp through the old corridors of this civil war era fortification.

A visit to Long Beach Peninsula would not be complete without a quick trip to Marsh’s Free Museum. Pick up a pair of piratical pjs, funky flip flops, or a sandcastle snow globe for your collection. Don’t forget to sneak a peak at Jake the Alligator man. This mummified half alligator, half human was once part of a travelling freak show. Pop into the World Kite Museum and pick out the perfect kite in the shop or make your own upstairs. This sweet little museum has Asian and American kites of all shapes and sizes and the World War II kite collection includes a Barrage kite that flew on piano wires strong enough to shear off the wings of an enemy plane.

What to Eat
After some obligatory window shopping in downtown Long Beach, stop by the Hungry Harbor for some fish and chips or a satisfyingly greasy burger (be sure to upgrade to the curly fries). The back room has plenty of space for the kids to run around. On foggy days, this is the place for clam chowder in a sourdough bowl.

Gourmet gets casual at 42nd Street Café & Bistro in Seaview.  This is the spot to enjoy some regional seafood. There are plenty of non-fishy options on the menu, which touts natural (hormone-free) meats, organic vegetables, and lotsa love (read: butter). There’s a kid’s menu and they’ll make smaller portions of most menu items if you ask nicely enough. Young fidgeters can noodle around with Wikki Stix while grown-up gourmands sip on custom cocktails like a Café 42 Old Fashioned.

Stop by Bailey’s Bakery Café Sunday mornings for their ooey-gooey sticky “Thunder” buns or stop for lunch and savor one of the finest grilled cheese sandwiches known to man. Bailey’s is a great pit stop on your way to or from Leadbetter Point State Park, the Willabay/Oysterville Sea Farms, or a walking tour of Oysterville Town.

Where to Stay
Satisfy your inner bohemian at the Sou’Wester Lodge in Seaview and stay in a funky vintage travel trailer or get cozy in one of their cabins or lodge rooms decorated in 1940s to 1960s vintage furniture.

The Breakers hotel is nothing fancy, but the rooms are clean, equipped with kitchens, and the hotel is handily located on the North end of the Discovery Trail in downtown Long Beach. Your poochie pal can come too for just an extra $15 a night. With an outdoor BBQ area (complimentary charcoal), kid’s play area, two hot tubs and a pool, you won’t have time to notice the ugly bedspreads.

If you’re planning on staying more than 3 nights, the Historic Coast Guard Station at Klipsan Beach just south of Ocean Park offers full-size kitchens, laundry room, fire pits, outdoor grills, croquet and horseshoes all within fenced grounds.  Keep them busy with a hefty selection of books, movies, puzzles, games and toys. Plus there’s  a DVD player and over 100 kid friendly movies to choose from. Bring the family fido for a $150 refundable pet deposit.

There and Back
No matter how you slice it, the drive from Portland takes about two hours and fifteen minutes. So stay off I-5 and take the scenic route. You can take (mostly) tree-lined U.S. 30 all the way from NW Portland to Astoria. Take a break at the Fort George Brewery for a sausage or burger on the patio before heading over the bridge. There are plenty of options on the kid’s menu and they can peak out the window at the tugboats and barges in the harbor.

On the way back, take Hwy 101 south from Astoria and drive along to Oregon coast through Seaside, then East on Hwy 26. Make a pit stop at Camp 18 Restaurant and Logging Museum at the 18 mile marker on Hwy 26 for some Marionberry cobbler and coffee. Stretch your legs and skip some stones down by the creek before completing the last leg of your journey.

Did we miss any of your favorite go-to spots in Long Beach? Let us know your tips for making a trip to this awesome destination a memorable one. 

–Alanna Risse