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.
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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.