Bags Packed, Mail Stopped, Doors Locked, Heading to the Beach —
But Are You Really Ready for the Your Kid Friendly Manzanita Vacation?
Follow along, because we’re here to give you the real inside scoop on great, kid friendly things to do in the terrific Manzanita, Oregon area.
From keeping the kids busy to whole family fun, there’s lots to chose from in this fabulous north Oregon coast destination.
“I’m bored! What’s there to do around here?”
Have you been driven crazy by the universal refrain of all kids?
By this point, you’ve probably packed all the traditional beach equipment – frisbees, volleyball net and ball, football, and all the rest. But what else is there to do around Manzanita?
So Where are the Activities for Children in Manzanita, Oregon??
Don’t worry — we’re here to help! Not only is Manzanita, Oregon a fabulous and gorgeous vacation spot, it’s perfectly situated on the north Oregon coast. Sitting at the foot of Neahkahnie mountain, the weather is often fair while neighboring Cannon Beach and Seaside to the north and Rockaway to the south are cloudy, overcast, or rainy. The locals call it the doughnut effect.
But the other wonderful benefit of Manzanita’s great location is — it’s location!
Not only is it a great beachfront community, it lies west of the busy Hwy 101 corridor (so no noisy traffic through this laid-back town), is just minutes away from the activities in nearby Nehalem and Wheeler, it’s surrounded by two incredible state parks, you have the choice of ocean or fresh water fun … the list goes on and on!
The Ultimate List of Kid Friendly Activities – Manzanita, Oregon!
Yep! This list is super long, so jump down to the ones that sound terrific for your tribe!
There’s a lot to do around Manzanita, plus not only did I grow up running around this area, I also am a mother of two teenagers, so I have the real insider scoop for you!
#1 – Dam It! (Channel Your Inner Engineer)
Be sure to pack your shovels, buckets, and things that float, because you’re about to experience true beach fun.
And parent heaven.
Our incredible seven mile beach has small gentle freshwater streams that trickle down through the beach rocks, across the sand, and out to the ocean. What does this mean to you?
Kids love to spend hours digging, damming, diverting streams, creating lakes and floating things, moving rocks, breaking dams and watching the results, building new channels, creating castles with moats … you get the drift.
Sometimes this takes parents to show kids how this works, but once they get the idea they want to take over and build.
Kids are busy with little parent participation! Sometimes for hours!
Terrific for little ones, but I’ve even seen returning kids now in their teenage years grab adult sized shovels and go to work. With really BIG dams. As a side note, bring boots and rain gear if the weather is inclement. Kids love to dig away on misty days without a care for the rain.
See?? Parent heaven!
Want join in the digging fun? You’ll find clear instructions for digging for clams in nearby Wheeler here. Don’t worry, you can rent a clam gun at Cannon Beach Surf (see link below). Hint – it’s not really a gun!
#2 – Get Back To Nature
Oswald West is famous for it’s easy hiking trails, towering evergreens and incredible views. A half mile walk west of the parking area, you’ll find the locally famous Short Sand Beach, a terrific beach for watching surfers, tide pooling, exploring, and just plain fun.
Pack a picnic and spend a sunny afternoon enjoying the beach. For those kids or families interested in learning to surf, most beginner lessons are taught here at Short Sand Beach (see below).
Also within Oswald West State Park is the renowned Neahkahnie Mountain. You might not have heard of it, but you’ll have seen pictures of it. It’s one of the most popular and spectacular views beloved by photographers. And one of the highest peaks on the Oregon Coast.
A moderate 3 mile hike round trip and 900′ elevation gain, the icing on the cake for this locally cherished spot is the stunning view from the summit.
Have older kids that like a more challenging hike? Add the Pacific Coast Trail to the Neahkahnie Mountain hike up to Cape Falcon and back and you have 12.6 miles of incredible scenery.
Interested in geocaching? Check out the fun geocaching on Neahkahnie and add to the hiking fun. Kids love to geocache — finding the surprise is super exciting, but don’t forget to bring your own surprise to leave for others!
To the south of Manzanita lies Nehalem Bay State Park. Biking trails, bird spotting, and sand dunes great for jumping and rolling all lead to happy kids. The sparkling Pacific Ocean lies to the west of the Park and Nehalem Bay to the east, making this a perfect place to spend a fun filled day.
If you’re in the camping mode, this is the park for you. Not only are the showers free (as of this publication date), the park offers pet friendly yurts if you’re in the mood to try something new.
Look for seals lazing on the eastern Nehalem Bay side of the Park. In the summer, take advantage of the weather and ride horses on the 7 mile beach to the west of the Park. Your cowgirls or guys will love it!
And don’t forget your kite. Manzanita beach is a terrific place to fly a kite, especially in the afternoons.
#3 – Water, Water Everywhere
Love being out on the water? You’ve come to the right place!
Head to Kelly’s Brighton Marina just north of Manzanita on Nehalem Bay. Rent a boat and spend the morning or afternoon fishing for salmon or crabbing. It’s easy to do and Kelly’s has all the equipment ready for your excursion. Plus owner Kelly Laviolette is a show of his own, and offers each and every guest great customer service.
Had a blast boating, but didn’t catch anything (which rarely happens)? Don’t worry! Kelly’s Brighton Marina offers some of the freshest seafood on the coast — and they’ll cook it for you, too!
Do you love fly fishing instead? Get all the information you need here for fly fishing on the scenic Nehalem River.
Prefer kayaks to motor boats? The Neahalem Bay and River areas are perfect for you. The Wheeler Marina rents single and tandem kayaks by the hour or the day.
Or contact the oldest and most extensive guide service on the coast, Kayak Tillamook and request a tour. With the guidance of Kayak Tillamook’s expert instructors, not only will you learn correct kayak techniques, you just might see river otters, harbor seals, mink, elk, raptors, or seabirds!
SUP (Stand Up Paddleboard) more your style? Both Kayak Tillamook and local Janice Gaines of SUP Manzanita offer lessons and tours. SUP Manzanita offers “free for children or dogs not needing their own boards!” You can also find SUP lessons at NW Women’s Surf Camps.
Is skim boarding or boogie boarding more your speed? Our friends and family love to do both. Educate yourself first, as the Oregon Coast is vastly different than the warmer waters of California or Hawaii.
Julie Chase, former owner of Nehalem Bay Outdoor Company gives the following suggestions for those wishing to participate in Oregon ocean water sports:
- First check www.oregonsurfcheck.com to get current information on tides, swell size, swell reports and surf conditions.
- Talk with local surf shops regarding recommendations and suggestions.
- It’s typically safer surfing (or boogie boarding) the incoming tide. Don’t turn your back on the ocean. On a skimboard, always face the ocean, watch for sneaker waves and debris in the ocean. She also recommends not surfing (or boogie boarding) alone. There really is safety in numbers.
- Wear wetsuits, even if you’re boogie boarding. Wetsuits aren’t just for warmth and comfort. It’s a matter of safety.
Surf’s Up at Local Beaches, May, 2005: Tillamook Headlight Herald
We suggest going further: educate yourself about rip tides and currents. Check out the Manzanita – Know the Beach guide. And definitely wear wetsuits, available for rental at the many surf shops along Hwy. 101 (see also the surf shops listed below).
Are your kids begging to ride the waves like others are doing? Well, we’ve got the local resources regarding local kid friendly surf lessons. You’ll find local lessons are held at nearby Short Sand Beach at Oswald West State Park.
Check at the following places and find the best fit for you and your kids:
- Northwest Surf Lessons
- Cleanline Surf
- Oregon Surf Adventures
- Seaside Oregon Family Adventures: nonprofit, offering some free and some low cost lessons.
- Cannon Beach Surf
- NW Women’s Surf Camps
#4 – Other Fun Stuff
Did you know that Manzanita has a city park, offering tennis and basketball courts, beach volleyball, horseshoes, and children’s play equipment?
Looking for a swimming pool? You can find one at the nearby Nehalem Parks and Recreation Department, along with exercise equipment, various classes including yoga, and other activities.
Yoga Roots in Manzanita holds specific yoga classed for kids, and word is the classes are lots of fun.
Check out Hoffman Center for the Arts in Manzanita. You’ll find classes, workshops and camps for kids such as dance, drama, fine arts, circus arts and skills, writing workshops, puppetry, and even visits by the reptile man and his incredible array of traveling reptiles!
Have you heard of the lost Treasure of Neahkahnie? Many have searched for it, but the only trace has been shards of pottery, beeswax, and gold doubloons found along the beach. Want to keep the kids occupied and have fun too? Rent a metal detector from Cannon Beach Surf Shop and your kids will be occupied for hours looking for treasure.
Be sure to check with the rangers at nearby Nehalem Bay State Park to see if there are any restrictions in effect regarding treasure hunting on the shores or state park. And sorry – if any true treasure of historical significance is found, you must turn it in to the nearest park ranger.
You’ll often see people on the beach with metal detectors, hunting for “treasure,” such as lost rings, money, and anything else metal. It’s lots of fun!
Take a ride on a historic steam engine powered train on the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad in nearby Rockaway. Enjoy unique and wonderful views as you ride along Tillamook Bay and the Nehalem River Canyon.
Saturdays in Manzanita mean Storytime for Children at the Manzanita Public Library, from 11:00 am to noon.
Lastly, if you have a child who uses a wheelchair, the Manzanita Visitor’s Center has child sized beach wheelchairs you can borrow so that everyone may join in on the fun.
Manzanita is a familiar destination for a lot of families, many where kids who grew up visiting now bring their own families. Be sure to check back often, as we regularly update activities. And if you have wonderful kid friendly Manzanita Beach Activities of your own, please feel free to share them!
Happy Travels Everyone ~
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