Brookings is such a fun little town to visit; though, I don't know anywhere that isn't awesome to visit on the Oregon coast, because every town has its own personality with fun offerings. Brookings is the first beach town you hit as you cross the southern Oregon border and if you live inland like we do (the Rogue Valley), we can hardly wait to get out of the car when we see the coastline! It is such a cool little place to visit with the kids and it's beautiful all year long. Sometimes it's even warmer there than it is in Medford. Rain or shine there is always something to do so we have gathered some of our favorites for you here with, 11 family-friendly things to do while you are visiting Brookings!
Harris Beach is an amazing spot to view the sunsets. You don't even have to get out of your car since you can see the horizon right from the parking lot! Along with the beautiful, clean beach you can explore the tide pools where you can see crabs, sea anemones, and lots of other sea creatures. There are two areas to view sea life; on the south side of the parking lot, before you go down the hill there is a trail that takes you down into the first tide pool. The second one is located on the north side of the parking lot where there is a trail to take you to the other side of the beach. You just walk over the waterway coming out of the side of the bluff and out to the rocky intertidal to the Harris Beach Marine Garden. And then of course there is the obligatory sand castle building and playing in the water.
During the spring you can enjoy the beautiful blooms and walk around the gardens and let the kids play at their amazing playground much like what we have here at Bear Creek Park in Medford. During Memorial Day weekend they have their annual Azalea Festival with a parade, car show, live music, and lots of fun events on the Port of Brookings marina and if you visit during the summer you can even enjoy live music at their American Music Series every Sunday. To top it all off if you go during the Holiday season enjoy Nature's Coastal Holiday a beautiful walk-thru light display run by volunteers in the community!
If you head down to the marina they have a couple of cute little shops to check out, a coffee shop to wile away the day and relax, a couple of restaurants like, The Hungry Clam or Sporthaven Marina to enjoy fish n chips and other seafood staples, and a little ice cream and fudge shop called Slugs 'n Stones, to enjoy some sweet treats.
If you go on the weekend they have their Port of Brookings Harbor Saturday Market where you can listen to live music and shop from local artists and vendors, always one of our favorite things to do! It runs every Saturday, the last Saturday of May through the second Saturday of October.
Just half an hour south of Brookings is a sweet little aquarium, Ocean World. You take a guided tour that starts you at the touch and feel tide pools, where Olivia held a starfish and Ilias touched a sea anemone. The guide then took us to a huge aquarium downstairs where we viewed huge fish like halibut and small sharks, stingrays, and seals. When we went back upstairs we visited the shark petting pool; when we were there we were lucky enough to see a nursery full of baby sharks that were newly birthed. In that same room they had all of the fun cutouts to take pictures of the kids in, including the shark jaws. To finish things off we were treated to the fun and hilarious seal show where we met Cora and her friends. Cora was such a show off to Ilias and Olivia's delight! It's an inexpensive way to spend the day with the family and get educated on the sea life that we may run across while visiting the coast!
Just 51 miles North of Brookings is another fun and unique place to visit, the Prehistoric Gardens in Port Orford. You take a self-guided tour through a rainforest where there are 23 life-size prehistoric dinosaurs. If you don't have time to take the tour, they do have a dinosaur out front that you can take a picture with. We can't wait to go back to see the expressions on Olivia's face because she has never been!
Now this is something we have not participated in yet but we fully intend to! February through April Gold Beach has their treasure hunting where they hide 125 glass floats each week on their beach for visitors to find. As if just playing at Southern Oregon's beaches weren't fun enough!
If you haven't experienced a jet boat cruise then you need to take an excursion on Jerry's Rogue Jets! You get a huge adrenaline rush, taking a high speed jet boat up the wild and scenic portion of the Rogue River. It is a lot of fun and a memory you all won't forget.
Go to any of the many festival's throughout the year - Starting in January with The Crab Festival, Azalea Festival on Memorial day weekend, Kite Festival in July, Pirates of the Pacific Festival in August, Slam'n Salmon Derby in September, Nature's Coastal Holiday in December. There is something fun and exciting going on every month. All of them kid-friendly!
While whales can be seen along the Oregon coast all year long there are two 'Whale Watch Weeks' that are designated days that you can talk to 'Whale Spoken Here' volunteers. They are always the last week of December for the winter and then the last week in March for the Spring migration. For a map to show you the best spots to whale watch and more details go to Oregon State Parks Whale Watching
There are two ways to get to Secret Beach. The shorter trail starts at a small parking spot on the side of the highway at the end of the guardrail or you can hike from Thunder Cove Trail. We took the Trail but unfortunately my battery had died so no personal pictures of the trip were taken (that will teach me to take so many pictures. :)) So, darn it we will have to go back again so we can catch some great shots for you!
Here is a great description of how to get there from Brookings on www.alltrails.com
Hard to find the trailhead but if you are headed north on 101 it is shortly after the natural bridges viewpoint. Look for the guardrail on the left side to end and there is a small parking area right at the end of the guardrail. There are two trails one right and one left of the lot. Take the one on the right and it is a short hike down to the beach. Plan to go at low tide and you can reach all three beaches. Waterfalls, sea stacks and just stunning views!
I probably should have added this to the Harris Beach State Park but the campground stands on its own. We are often on a budget when we visit the coast so we camp at Harris Beach, where you get the best of Brookings. During the summer you can experience the beautiful campground that is right on a bluff overlooking Harris Beach. If you make your reservation early enough you can even get spots that have an amazing view of the beach. If you want to visit during the cooler months they have yurts to stay in, that cost only a fraction of what hotels are, making them the perfect budget-friendly place to stay. They have power and heaters and Ilias loves the fact that they have a bunk bed. At the campground they have the Junior Ranger Program that I have talked about in past posts. We've drummed with Native Americans, learned about owls, whales, and other native birds. We've done crafts and have listened to some great music. Always fun. Always educational. They also have a big playground and of course the vicinity to the beach just tops it all off!
There are so many other places to explore in Brookings but at least this can get you started. Our next post about Brookings will share restaurants and breweries, hikes, and other places to go that are more of the couple's things to do! Either way Brookings is a great little beach town that has a lot to offer in the way of family-friendly things to do.
I'm sure there are things that we don't even know about. What are some of your favorite things to do while visiting Brookings? We'd love to hear from you!
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