Growing up, one of my family’s favorite vacation spots was the Oregon Coast. We usually visited Cannon Beach, stayed in hotels right on the beach, enjoyed morning walks to Haystack Rock, ate in fun restaurants, and walked inside each and every shop buying special shells or trinkets. Now that I’m grown with a family of my own, I really wanted my husband and kids to experience a little bit of the magic that comes with a family vacation to the Oregon Coast. The only problem was, it wasn’t in our budget to vacation like I did when I was growing up.
But with tips from a friend and a little research, I put together a budget-friendly vacation that my family will never forget!
On the Road
Travelling with three little kids can be tough, so I built in fun stops along the way to break up the long hours of driving (we drove from the Boise, Idaho area). Our first stop was Multnomah Falls. It was a Saturday, the #1 visited natural attraction in Oregon, and it was BUSY!
We found a parking spot about 1/2 mile from the falls and walked in along a beautiful, well-maintained dirt path right along the side of the mountain. The waterfall was truly majestic! It was just like all the pictures we had seen, and it was special to feel the mist from the falls on our faces.
We stayed the night with family just outside Portland, and headed out early the next morning for the Coast. But we had to make one important stop before we got to the beach… no family vacation to the Oregon Coast is complete without a stop at the Tillamook Cheese Factory! Even though the Visitor’s Center was being remodeled with a temporary space set up, my kids still loved all the exhibits, the free cheese samples, and of course, the ice cream!
At the Coast
Just a short while later, we made our way to the Coast! Our first stop was the Devil’s Punchbowl – a really neat hollow rock formation that, when the tide is high and the rock is filled with water, looks like a punch bowl! It was windy, so we didn’t stay long, but it was nice to finally feel the cool ocean air and be out of the car for a while.
Our next stop was the Beverly Beach campground. We had reservations to stay in a yurt. The nice thing about Oregon State campgrounds is the community bathrooms with flush toilets, sinks, and showers! We arrived at the campground before the regular check-in time, but our yurt was ready so we checked in early. We spent the afternoon making sand castles on the beach, which was literally a two minute walk from our yurt. That evening we headed into Newport (just a few minutes down the road) and had dinner at Mo’s (they have the best clam chowder and fish ‘n chips!) and browsed in all the fun shops.
The next morning, after looking for shells on the beach, we headed to the Yaquina Head lighthouse. We arrived early to get tickets for one of the first tours of the day. Unfortunately though, you have to walk all the stairs on your own to participate in the tour, meaning I couldn’t carry our 1-year-old in my carrier. So, just my husband and 8-year-old daughter did the tour, while my 1-year-old, 3-year-old and I walked around finding cool creatures in the tide pools. They even let you touch some of the creatures, which my boys loved.
Inland to More Waterfalls
After the tour, and after watching some whales in the distance off shore (so cool!), we headed to our final trip destination – Silver Falls State Park. This Oregon State Park has 13 waterfalls all within the park! We checked into our cabin, and then went off to explore.
We “hiked” to some of the more popular waterfalls (more of a leisurely walk on some very nice trails), and were impressed with the majesty of the falls. There is something extra special about walking BEHIND a waterfall! We hiked to another waterfall on our way out the next morning. It wasn’t one of the more popular falls, so we had the trail all to ourselves! The beauty is indescribable.
This trip was back in 2017 and my kids STILL talk about how much fun they had and how they want to go back to the beach. And you know what? They don’t even know/care that we did that trip on a very tight budget! Below is a breakdown of where we spent money:
- 1st night – Free (we stayed with family)
- 2nd night – $63 (Yurt at Beverly Beach)
- 3rd night – $49 (Cabin at Silver Falls State Park)
We brought cereal/milk, yogurt, and fruit from home for breakfast. And sandwich fixings, fruit, and chips from home for our lunches. The only food we bought was ice cream at Tillamook, dinner in Newport (night 2), and dinner outside Silver Falls State Park (night 3).
FREE! Everything we did the entire trip for entertainment was free… viewing Multnomah Falls, Tillamook Cheese Factory exhibits, Devil’s Punchbowl, playing on the beach (we brought our own sand toys from home), Yaquina Head Lighthouse and tide pools, and hiking to the waterfalls in Silver Falls State Park.