At long last, the end of my summer adventure series. For those of you who are sick of reading and hearing about our summer fun, then I’ll have a new post up for you on Friday or this weekend. But I know many of you have also said you love reading about traveling and getting vacation ideas, and this is definitely one I wouldn’t want to skip. Prepare yourselves for photo overload!
We planned our annual family vacation with my side of the family very early in the year, and it felt like it took FOREVER for August to finally come. And once it did, man were we busy! We had one week in between our Suncadia trip and the trip with my family – a wonderful whirlwind.
My family flew in from Ohio, Indiana, and Connecticut and we all traveled to Arch Cape on the Oregon coast, a tiny little residential pocket just south of Cannon Beach. The day we were set to leave, the northwest had a CRAZY storm with winds reaching up to 90mph on the coast. We drove six hours through the storm and were so happy to finally reach our destination safely.
On Sunday morning, we woke up to clearing skies and a gorgeous rainbow – a sign of a wonderful week to come!
I can’t say enough good thing about the spot where we stayed, and the more we explored the surrounding area throughout our visit, the more convinced I was that we lucked out on the perfect house. We literally had miles and miles of beach almost entirely to ourselves.
We rented our beachouse (through VRBO), and we searched long and hard to find something that would accommodate our entire group (12 people!) that was also oceanfront. With little kids, we knew we’d be spending a lot of time at home during naps and in the evenings, and we wanted to soak up as much of the beach scene as possible. Our house was set up above the beach, which led to incredible views, and had a staircase off to the side that allowed for easy beach access.
Behind the house, we looked toward the mountains and evergreens – which had this awesome hovering mist whenever the rain cleared.
To the left, we had a view of Arch Cape and the many rocks, tide pools, and caves that were down there waiting to be explored.
Our first day there was gorgeous and sunny, so we headed down to the Cape area to explore just as the tide was starting to come in. So many incredible rocks and sea life to find – it was such a fun place to explore for both the kids and the adults.
To the right, from our yard – we had a sweeping view of the Arch Cape beach looking up toward the Cannon Beach area. Despite being Labor Day week and there being plenty of crowds and beachgoers in the more bustling areas, we only saw a handful of people in our area the whole week.
And perhaps most importantly, we also had this incredible oceanfront hot tub that looked like an infinity pool to the ocean when you were soaking. My sisters and significant others and I spent almost every nap time in there, and I want to jump back in right now just looking at this picture.
We did a simple grilled dinner the first night – a mix of veggies and Field Roast frankfurters for the group. We did a lot of prepping and planning in order to have food and meals cooked for such a big group of people each day, and it worked out really well.
The house also had this awesome little stretch of yard off the big deck, so the kids could run around and play while the adults all enjoyed the views and the sounds of the ocean.
We knew looking at the forecast going into our trip that the first few days would be gloomy. So when we woke up Monday morning and it was cool and overcast, but still dry – we decided to go exploring.
We went back down to the Arch Cape area again and planned to get there at the bottom of low tide. We had tons of beaches and caves to explore – I’ve never seen anything like it!
The kids loved finding mussels and anemones (and listening to Graham say “amemame” is the cutest thing ever!), and we even lucked out and found a few live starfish too.
My whole family fell completely in love with the Oregon Coast, and I have to say – of all the places we’ve visited and loved in the northwest area – so far this is my favorite. It certainly helped to have eleven of the people I love most in the world with me!
The kids were in heaven – four little boys ages four and under – and grandparents and aunts and uncles at every turn. It was pure chaos, but the best kind, and they all got along really well.
One of the big reasons we wanted an oceanfront house is that, in this area, you are allowed to do campfires on the beach. So almost every night after the kids were asleep, some of us trekked down to the beach to watch the sunset over the ocean and stuff our faces with s’mores.
There is something so magical about watching a three year old get to stay up late an eat s’mores with the grownups. Cullen was in HEAVEN.
Tuesday was our gloomiest day of the trip – the morning was mostly pouring rain and wind. We ventured out for a bit in the morning to Seaside and poked around a bit, but we spent most of our time hunkered down at home – watching the ocean swells from the giant windows, working on the 1,000 piece puzzle, and just hanging out together.
When the weather cleared in the afternoon, we decided to go out and explore again. We went over to Oswald West State Park to do the short hike down to the beach with all the little boys. It was about a half mile hike through the woods, with all sorts of awesome Northwest vegetation and gorgeous ferns everywhere. We stopped a lot to let the boys play in old tress and find giant banana slugs.
And eventually the path cleared to a big open beach that was also a big surfing spot!
It’s all about the layers – right? :)
On Wednesday we headed a few miles north into Cannon Beach. I’d read about renting bikes from Family Fun Cycles and knew we had to do it! We were out on the beach super early for low tide. Anyone recognize this from Goonies!?
We rented these amazing recumbent bikes, and they were way more fun than I’d even expected. They even had child trailers you could pull! (We asked about getting helmets, and the bike shop did not have any because these were exclusively for riding ON the beach – we got off and walked them from the shop to the beach access).
Check out our hardcore biker gang!
We biked down to Haystack Rock, where we found tons of purple and orange starfish and bright green anemones.
It was so much fun that we actually went back and did it again on our last day of the trip. Also, a great workout – my legs were screaming after riding back into the wind!
Totally impossible to get four little boys to all look and smile.
That night was homemade pizza night, and it was out of this world. My brother in law makes pizza weekly at home, and so he offered (or perhaps he was volunteered…) to made pizza for the group on vacation.
The oven turned out to not heat very evenly, so we improvised and used the grill to finish cooking the bottom. It turned out perfectly!
Just two of about ten slices I inhaled straight from the pan. Definitely inspired me to start doing homemade pizza night back in Seattle!
That night we had another crazy storm roll in – thankfully the last one – and the storm clouds hovering above us were incredible.
We woke up Thursday morning to glorious sunshine and blue skies. We all trekked up to Ecola State Park (another Goonies landmark!) for a family hike to the beach. But first, we had to take in the views…
Pictures, as pretty as they are, don’t even come close to doing it justice. It was breathtaking and I could have stayed there and watched the waves roll in and out for hours.
We hiked the Oregon Coast Trail down to Indian Beach, which was much more challenging than we’d expected. We also saw several of these signs, which led to a lot of discussion about what we were going to do when we faced a cougar (my plan was to climb on Casey’s shoulders and “appear large”). Kind of terrifying!?
It was a tough, steep hike with two grandparents and four little ones, but we all got there eventually. And the views along the way did not disappoint.
Once we got down to Indian Beach there were tons of rocks, tide pools, and little streams to explore. Also, lots of surfers to watch! And I met a sweet blog reader down on the beach who had a little boy close to Graham’s age – such a small world!
As a side note, I posted in my Suncadia post that I was so glad I had my Brooks PureGrit trail shoes with me on that trip, and it was the same thing on the coast. I was so comfortable hiking and climbing all through the rocks and caves because of the extra grippy bottom – they were perfect!
During nap time, I finally went for a long-awaited beach run (it had been either raining or high tide earlier in the week). I ran about four miles barefoot in the shallow water, and it was everything. So much happiness.
We spent the evening on the beach and enjoying another family meal at home. Just looking at these pictures makes my heart long for my family and our lazy afternoons in the sand.
Friday was our last day, so we made the most of it. We did a long beach walk in the morning with the kids, and headed off to a little waterfall area I’d discovered on my run the day before, located about a mile from our house.
You could climb the rocks up to the top of the waterfall, and the view was gorgeous.
The water was cool, but the kids all loved splashing and dancing around in the little stream.
That night, for our last night together we headed to Manzanita for a group dinner out in town. We stopped along the way to take in the insane views of the beach area down below, and mountains in the distance.
We had one final evening down on the beach – flying kites, making smores, and soaking up the last bit of vacation – and being all together – for a while.
It was pretty much perfect.
We ended our trip with the most incredible sunset of the whole week. The perfect goodbye.
It was such an incredible week, both with my family and also in such a beautiful place. I’ve always been a beach girl, but I fell head over heels in love with the Oregon Coast, and I hope to get back there time and time again.
Thanks for joining me on remembering all the summer fun we had this year. The boys were at such wonderful ages to have fun and do so much more than we could the summer before, and I really feel like we made the most of it. And now it’s cool, and we’ve pulled the tags off the new raincoats, and we’ve even baked pumpkin cupcakes already. So I’d say fall has most definitely arrived in Seattle.