Summer Breeze: The Oregon Coast’s World-Class Kite Fests

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Seriously. The best. People travel from all over the world to engage, delight, participate and otherwise be blown away by the kite-flying amazefests that happen each year at the Oregon Coast. Do a little research and you will come across blogs from Chicago, India, and Russia all describing the fine times they had along our windy edge of the Pacific, largely considered the best wind in North America for kite flying.

It is easy to forget just how lovely kites can be and seeing all those colors en masse in our often-gray coastal skies is simply breathtaking. It is also a delight to teach, coach and watch kidlets learn to fly them. As a spectator, it’s hold-your-breath impressive to behold the amateurs and pros get their huge flying art shows airborne. This is not just any old way to spend a Saturday or Sunday! No wonder these festivals are so popular and continue to draw thousands each year. Plus it’s a grand excuse for a weekend at the beach. Double header of merriment anyone? Or maybe we should call it a second wind! Beach + kites = smiles for days.  You’ve got two excellent kite fest choices coming up soon – May in Rockaway Beach and June in Lincoln City. Whoosh!

rockaway beach kite fest

Rockaway Beach Chamber of Commerce Kite Festival
On the third weekend in May each year, the Rockaway Beach Kite Festival, in its 25th-ish year, lines up incredibly thoughtful kiddo-friendly joy for two days. Every little wind lover is encouraged to participate and the Oregon Kitefliers Association helps little soarers build and fly their kites (bringing your own kite is happily encouraged as well). Sacajawea silver dollars are the prize for this non-competitive event, with the judges coming up with reasons for each little flyer to score one – highest flyer, longest time dragging before becoming airborne, best technique etc.

Watching all of the festival’s kites and colorful flags embedded in the sand is a gorgeous sight to behold that kids of all ages will love. Vendors are on hand selling funky sunglasses and snacks galore and the overall energy just glistens with family-friendly merriment. The weather isn’t always delightful, so pack for the elements and get ready for windy fun on Saturday, May 18th from 10:00 am – 6:00 pm and Sunday, May 19th from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm.

LC kite fest boy

How to Get There
Rockaway Beach is cozied up between the Coast Mountain Range and Pacific Ocean, about 85 miles West of Portland. Take 26 west to Highway 6 then follow 101N once you hit Tillamook. Rockaway Beach is 14 miles up the road.

Some other super-fly things to see and do in and around Rockaway Beach include the Tillamook Forest Center, the Blue Heron French Cheese Company with mighty-tasty onsite deli and petting zoo, the scenic railroad, tide pools a-plenty and the Cedar Wetlands Preserve.

LC Kite Festival 2**

Lincoln City Summer Kite Festival
Held the weekend of June 22-23 this year, the Lincoln City Kite Festival does its best to harness the wind at D Beach for a weekend of family-friendly delights. They offer kite-making lessons, a kite parade, a giant, colorful group ascension into the sky and the ever-exciting annual running of the bols.

This year their theme is Tales of Tails honoring the whales that migrate off the coast each spring AND the many whale-inspired kites that grace the festival each year. This festival is so fancy they even have featured flyers a.k.a. professionals who come in to strut (or fly) their stuff and the city designates parking areas and shuttles to help maintain some semblance of order to all the merriment. This summer kite extravaganza is so awesome, it has even been called the Blue Angels of Kite Flying. A soaring endorsement!

LC kite fest 1

What to Know as You Plan to Go
Late June at the coast can bring varied weather patterns. Pack for it all! There is so much to do in and around Lincoln City that making a weekend of it will be easy and likely go by much too fast. The Oregon Coast Aquarium, the local rec center with heated pool and slides, and all of the super-fun tide pools will keep the little kite lovers busy for hours.

It’s about a two-hour drive from Portland. Take I5 south to exit 258 and then head west along Highway 99. Next turn left onto highway 18/SE Dayton Bypass and follow for 25 miles then head south on 101 for about 50 miles. Rent a fam-tastic home for the weekend from either Oregon Beach Vacations or VRBO. They rock groovy options for Rockaway Beach as well.

Definitely Not Just a Pit Stop

About halfway to your seaworthy, kite-flying quest is Dundee. And just off of highway 99W, at Seventh Ave (and right by the also delish Dundee Bistro) is the uber-fabulous Red Hills Market. Talk about yummy! Boy howdy. Egg sandwiches, salads, pizzas, cured meats and cheeses, wines for sale by the bottle, and bakery treats that will make you hungry even if you’re not. This casual market also sells toys, books, crafts and games for the little adventurers in your car. If only every road trip had a Red Hills Market halfway!

Indoor and outdoor seating options, a bocce court, and a small indoor play area with chalkboards, toys and books help relish the time. You may be tempted to stay for days. But really, the coast is calling.

If traffic is heavy and you need another or longer pit stop, McMinnville has much to offer and the nearby Evergreen Aviation Museum and Wings and Waves Water Park delivers plenty of space-y education or indoor warm water exercise.

LC KIte Fest 3

Throw Caution to the Wind
The Oregon Coast is home to some amazing kite festivals. Family-friendly doesn’t even begin to do justice to the kindness and thoughtfulness of the many people who work to make these festivals such a blow-us-away success each year. If you truly cannot make it to one of these two amazefests of suspended animation in May or June, don’t fret. More windy flying fandango festivals are on tap for the Fall and we’ll keep you covered for them as well. Chicago may be the windy city, but Oregon’s got the windy coast. Go fly a kite!

Which kite festival will you be attending with your little fliers?

–Liz Overson

Thank you for the photos, Trip Advisor and Lincoln City VCB!