Summer is just a month away and it’s time to get ready for all the fun my family can handle in three short months. Everyone has an opinion; exploring the great outdoors, unique shopping experiences, and, of course, hanging out on a beautiful West Coast beach. Sometimes it’s hard to satisfy everyone’s idea of a dream vacation, but at the Tillamook Coast, Oregon’s latest coastal travel hot spot, we found something for everyone!
June is Dairy Month and there’s no better place to celebrate than in the county known around the world as one of the best producers of cheese, yogurt and ice cream. Tillamook, the county seat, hosts an annual Dairy Parade that kicks off the Tillamook County Fair. Carnival rides, horse racing, and a rodeo are all part of the week-long festivities that climaxes with the hilarious Pig-n-Ford races, a local tradition that combines racing stripped down Model Ts and pig wrestling. It’s a non-stop thrill ride for spectators, as well as its piggy passengers
Rockaway Beach hosts several fun festivals, including a well-known annual Kite Festival. Designed for both professional and amateurs, it’s a fun weekend of harnessing the wind on a very wide and beautiful beach. Have your kids run their hands through the sand and listen for the distinctive tone that comes from one of the world’s few “Singing Beaches.”
For the Foodies
Foods harvested from Tillamook county’s own farms, rivers and sea are the ingredients you’ll find in restaurants up and down the Tillamook Coast. Stop in at the Blue Heron French Cheese Factory to try the endless array of artisanal food made throughout the Pacific Northwest. Outside, the blue and white, Dutch Colonial style barn their kids will love the farm-themed petting zoo, with antique farm equipment and picnic tables.
Travel up the road ten minutes to Garibaldi to harvest your own feast at Kelly’s Brighton Marina. You can rent all the equipment you need for crabbing and clamming, then take your haul back to your own grill and enjoy your fresh catch as you watch the sun set over the Pacific.
History lessons don’t have to be boring when you visit the museums, trails, and landmarks found throughout the county. Tour the Tillamook Pioneer Museum for a comprehensive look at the county’s history, then take a short drive north to Kilchis Point to see where Joe Champion, the county’s first European settler, was greeted by the local Tillamook tribe.
The Tillamook Forest Center, 22-miles east of Tillamook on Hwy. 6, is one of the best places to learn about our beautiful Pacific Northwest forests. Interactive exhibits explain ongoing conservation efforts and audio and visual aids relive the devastating 1933 Tillamook Burn that destroyed over 350,000 acres of timber. Climb the on-site forest lookout station for a great birds eye view of the surrounding forest, then head out on the trail to fish along the Wilson River.
For a primer in maritime navigation equipment, visit Cape Mears Lighthouse on the Three Capes Loop. Take your binoculars along because it’s a great spot to do some whale watching. After that, drive the loop and explore the trails found at Cape Lookout before heading to the beautiful beach at the foot of Cape Kiwanda.
For Adventure Seekers
Fishing enthusiasts will not be disappointed when they cast their line into the county’s five rivers. Stop by the Whiskey River Fish Hatchery at Cape Lookout’s northern gate to see where many of them originated and tour the facility where thousands of salmon are raised from eggs to smolts before being released into the county’s fresh water system.
Wake up with the birds at the Pacific City Birding and Blues Festival. Each spring, informational programs and hikes led by experts from the Oregon Department of wildlife and animal refuges takes birders through the marshes, fields, and beaches to view the hundreds of species of flora and fauna. When we were there we saw over 30 different species of birds, learned to identify native flora, and saw a herd of deer splashing across an inlet, all before noon!
Plan a trip to the Tillamook Coast this year and everyone in your family, from toddlers to grandparents, will come away with an experience they’ll remember for a lifetime!