Plan some quality time at a family friendly hotel in a beautiful, beachy location. Florence, Oregon is a great getaway destination for a few days or a full week. Anchor your vacation plans around a comfortable hub where family can relax and unwind.
Set Up Base Camp
There are a lot of hotels in and near Florence that are great for families. Depending on what you plan to do, you can choose a hotel within walking distance of Historic Old Town Florence like the River House Inn, the Old Town Inn or the Lighthouse Inn. Or you can choose the Best Western Plus Pier Point Inn with amazing views, breakfast and pool just across the river. Camping nearby at Honeyman State Park is also a popular family-friendly option — they even have yurts! For this itinerary suggestion, we've picked Driftwood Shores which is right in Florence but a little farther from the main stretch of restaurants and shops.
Driftwood Shores' beachfront resort offers a variety of privately owned condos managed as a hotel. All the hotel rooms look straight out to the ocean — perfect for spring whale watching, storm watching and sunsets. This is a special Florence destination because it sits directly on a vast expanse of sandy beach. The kids can run for miles, so bring a kite and some sand buckets! With its kitchen options, onsite marketplace, and amazing indoor pool featuring spray play and a hot tub, Driftwood Shores is truly family friendly.
Now, you could easily spend your stay just playing on the beach or hanging out in the hotel, but Driftwood Shores, and all the suggested hotels, are super close to many fun family activities. So add on a couple excursions for that total vacation experience.
Ramble in Historic Old Town Florence
Cruise the sidewalks along the riverfront in Historic Old Town Florence. Have lunch at Mo's on the docks, then treat the kids to taffy or ice cream. There is a lot going on here – shops of all kinds from kites to socks, and great restaurants from seafood to Mexican. Pull up a seat on an outdoor deck overlooking the docks, listen to live entertainment and order a boat drink.
Swim or Paddle at Cleawox Lake
Cleawox is a beautiful coastal lake at the base of the sand dunes. The bright blue waters are calm and edged in bountiful white sand. If it's warm enough to swim there is a roped off swimming area and a floating diving platform. Seasonally, you can also rent a canoe or paddle boat and paddle the family around the lake. Restrooms and picnic tables make this an easy place to spend the afternoon.
Brush the sand off and head back to Old Town for a snack or dinner. Have a "tea party" experience at Lovejoy's tearoom offering an amazing selection of loose teas, pastries and sandwiches. Check the events calendar at the Florence Events Center for any local theater performances or head to the movies at City Lights Cinema.
Venture further out! Drive north along Highway 101 with its dramatic sea cliffs, vast beaches and wayside agate hunting. Bring your breakfast with you and picnic at a turnout along the way.
Hike the Hobbit Trail
Many coastal trails will delight the family, but the Hobbit Trail is a particular favorite for children. Short and easy, the roadside trail scoots under thick tree canopies and through mossy rocks and ferns until you emerge onto the bright, open beach. It is easy to imagine the woodland full of fairies watching you!
Visit the Sea Lions
This is a family must-stop destination. View sea lions in their natural habitat, free to come and go as they please. Walk along the cliffs to spot them lounging on the rocks below, then take an elevator ride down 200 feet into the largest marine cave on the mainland. Like a real adventure ride, find yourself in the dim cavern listening to the bellowing sea lions and smelling the cave's animal habitat. The Sea Lion Cave's gift shop is also a treasure trove of educational materials, mementos and treats.
Horseback Riding at C&M Stables
Another vacation must is C&M Stables horseback riding on the Oregon Coast. The clop clop of hooves, the jangle of the bridle, the heat and smell of the horses, the sound of their breathing and the feel of the coastal air coupled with a child's empowering accomplishment of riding will make a lasting impression. Children must be ten years old for the morning two-hour beach ride, eight years old for the shorter afternoon beach ride, six years old for the dune trails and children five years and under can enjoy corral rides.
Return to Historic Old Town Florence for dinner and early bedtime after a full day of sand, sun, wind, water and horses!
Wake up slow, have breakfast at The Little Brown Hen on Highway 101. Poke around in the antique and thrift shops along the highway.
Sandland Adventures Amusement Park
Along with Sandland Adventures' giant dune buggy tours (which are very family-friendly), families can play miniature golf in a fanciful 18-hole putt putt course. And thrill your kids with good old classic fun in bumper boats and go-karts. An open air train ride also overs a twelve minute ride around nine acres of property, chugging through a tunnel, a western town and flower gardens.
Explore Local Museums
Make time to tour the local museums and galleries. Highlights include the Siuslaw Pioneer Museum which showcases a saw mill replica in miniature, explains the whole "exploding whale" incident that the kids will love hearing about, and provides an in-depth look the region's indigenous people, pioneers and Florence's early history. The Oregon Coast Military Museum is another excellent and educational experience. With huge dioramas (not graphic) showcasing the nation's military history and exhibits of local veterans' memorabilia, this visually rich museum honors those that served from Oregon.
Check out a Floral Novelty
Still time? Make a quick stop at the Darlingtonia Wayside Garden to walk among meat-eating flowers! These rare blossoms are fascinating and rival Florence's famous Rhododendrons for visitor interest. The wooden board walk through the flower patch is a short and easy stroll.