Here is a summary of our trip. We had a great time and owe so much thanks to all those who helped plan this trip! It was my husband and I, and our three kids who traveled (ages 4, 3, and 1).
Two nights in Portland: I absolutely loved Portland! Two nights was not enough here and wish we could have spent more time. We visited Washington Park, which we thought was gorgeous. I wish we had a park that beautiful in my hometown. We visited the Pittock Mansion, which had beautiful views as well. We paid to get into the mansion, but probably could have done without. It was very crowded and it was hard to keep our three young kids from touching things, which made for a rushed visit. Forest Park was beautiful as well and our kids loved walking down the trail (my son said it looked like Jurassic Park and was pretending there were dinosaurs in the trees :). The playground in the park was great too! We also had visits to the Portland Children's Museum (fun for the kids, somewhat pricey) and the Japanese Gardens (again just beautiful!). We enjoyed just driving around the city and looking at the many beautiful homes and scenery. We stayed at the hotel, Oxford Suites, which was suitable. If going back, I would get something in downtown though. Great visit! Would love to come back!
On our drive from Portland to Seaside, we dropped by Astoria. We were going to take the kids on the ferry ride, but we barely missed it and decided not to wait. We opted not to take the kids to the Maritime Museum (I think that is what it is called). We felt that maybe the kids were just to young to make it a pleasant visit. We drove over the bridge and visited Cape Disappointment, which turned out to be a nice little hike with a nice view. We did have to pay $10 to visit, which I thought was a little high. From what I understand though, the 10 dollars will cover the cost to visit other Washington parks, too bad we weren't going any further into Washington.
Three nights Seaside: After hearing mixed opinions of Seaside, I have to say that we thoroughly enjoyed our stay. We stayed at a vacation rental near town, which was nice. However, I have decided that I prefer hotels to vacation rentals. We loved what many described as the coney island feel of Seaside. We rented a suri bike and drove it around town (both adults and kids had a blast). My kids loved feeding the seals at the aquarium. The aquarium was small, but worth it. We watched people crabbing over the bridge and they were kind enough to teach us about it and let my son pick up a crab (he thought that was pretty awesome!). We had a fire on the beach and cooked jiffy popcorn over it, again, adults and kids had fun! We made a day trip to Cannon Beach and we saw the Haystack Rock and played around in the sand. We also visited Ecola State Park and Indian Beach. It was all just so beautiful!
Three nights Newport: Here we also stayed in a vacation rental, which was located right on the beach. I was somewhat disappointed with this part of our vacation and let me tell you why...FOG. Thick fog that prevented having any real views of the ocean even though it was in perfect view from our living room. It was very foggy, windy, and cold (I know, this is probably typical and I should have better prepared myself for this). The fog did not let up for our entire three day stay, which was just so disappointing. No sunrises or sunsets to be seen. We had scheduled a whale tour with Marine Discovery Tours and although they tried to make it great, it was too foggy on the ocean to see anything and after just a few minutes of being out there, the captain decided to go up river instead. So no whales were seen. We still enjoyed ourselves though and had fun. Our first day there, we visited the aquarium, which I hate to say, I found to be pretty average. My kids had fun, which is always what is most important to me. I guess I just expected a bit more and I also felt like the price was just too high. I actually enjoyed the Seaside aquarium better. We all loved feeding the seals! We also visited the bayfront and completely enjoyed seeing the sea lions on the docks. We bought live crab (first time ever) and cooked them up at our rental, which was delicious! We opted not to visit the Wax Works or Ripley's, we felt that the kids were probably too young (they let my daughter peek into the first part of the Ripley's Believe or Not to see if she would be okay and she was scared). We visited the Yaquina Head Lighthouse, which was really neat. We weren't able to actually take a tour due to getting there after hours, but it was still enjoyable. We drove through the Nye Beach area, we didn't stop, but it looked like a nice area. We visited Devil's Punch Bowl State Park, which had some beautiful views. We wanted to visit the Hatfield Marine Science Center, but failed to make it.
Our last two nights were spent in Bend. We didn't have much time here due to arriving late and leaving early, but it was enjoyable. Driving into Bend, we saw Sisters, which looked like a beautiful little town, we would have loved to be able to stop and visit. We visited Tumalo Falls, which was a beautiful waterfall and easy hike for the kids. We visited the Old Mill district and did some shopping and walked the pathway by the river, which was fun. We went to visit the Lava River Cave, but our GPS led us very, very, astray and ended up not going. Bend seems like a wonderful place.
Overall we had a great time. We actually enjoyed our time in Portland the best, which was somewhat surprising for us since I am not a big city kind of girl. I just found it to be beautiful! We enjoyed our time in Seaside somewhat better than Newport. I enjoyed the atmosphere (that people have mixed opinions on) in Seaside. Great for families! We had an enjoyable time, but probably won't be back in the future. We found that we do in fact enjoy warm, tropical beaches best. Although, this was a nice break from that and provided some absolutely stunning scenery! A couple things I might have changed-
1) Spent an extra day or two in Portland.
2) I personally think two nights in Seaside and two in Newport would have been better than three in each.
3) I had originally planned this trip to include Seattle and move down the coast from there. Many people suggested that I would be spreading my time to thin on the coast, I have to disagree. I personally think 10 nights would have been plenty to travel Seattle and go down the coast. Perhaps an itinerary of three nights Seattle, two Seaside, two Newport, and three in Portland would be nice. I guess it depends on what you prefer. I had also debated about making time to visit the Redwood Forest. Again, it was suggested that maybe that would be too short of a trip to include, I have to disagree with that. With all that said though, it depends on what you find enjoyable. I love moving around a lot and much enjoy driving.
4) I would never go the route of a vacation rental again. It locked us into staying somewhere even though we were ready to leave. With hotel reservations, you can easily cancel (usually if within 24-48 hours), this was not possible with a rental. I like flexibility though. In every other vacation we have ever taken, I have not even made any reservations, which works for us. I am not a planner :). Our trip to California last year was not planned whatsoever. In fact, we decided to leave on a Friday night with no prior talk of taking a trip to CA and we had a wonderful, wonderful time. To each their own I say! I also like the idea of having fellow travelers nearby, instead of being tucked away in a vacation rental all to ourselves.
I want to sincerely thank all of you for helping plan this trip. You spent much time answering all my many, many questions. Thanks a million!