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Oregon Coast Aquarium
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Entrance to the Oregon Coast AquariumWhat’s to Love: The Oregon Coast Aquarium is located in Newport, Oregon, and its proximity to some lovely beaches in Newport, Waldport, and Yachats (yah-hots) is definitely a plus. For a relatively-small operation, this is a quality destination with some nice attractions. The layout of the exhibits works well, and it moves people through in an efficient manner. Even when it’s busy, it doesn’t feel too crowded.  Give your family at least a few hours to make it through without feeling rushed. 

Maze of rocks at the Oregon Coast AquariumThere are two things I must mention when addressing the aquarium: 1) Make sure you check out “Passages of the Deep,” which brings you through a glass tube surrounded by all kinds of fish including small sharks. This was probably my son’s favorite exhibit; and 2) The outdoor area where they have the sea lion exhibit – it’s like walking around in an outdoor maze with fake-rock structures. The sea lions put on quite a show.  For small children this outdoor area is as much fun as the exhibits themselves.  Here is a short clip of our tip to the Aquarium.

Hand blown glass in the aquariumsCaveats: Is the Aquarium worth the 2 1/2 to 3 hour drive from Portland?  Yes it is; however, I would recommend coupling the trip with some beach time, and perhaps, a walk around Newport.

My good friend said it best, “The Aquarium ain’t cheap!” Since I first wrote this article just 8 months ago, the prices have increased by $1.00!  Adults are $14.25, youth 3-12 $8.75, under 2 is free, but that’s a rather pricey day for my family. There are very few things for which I’ll spend that kind of money, but I felt like the price was fair considering the overall quality of the experience.

Website: Oregon Coast Aquarium

Distance from Portland: It’s roughly 135 miles from downtown Portland to Newport. Plan on at least 2 1/2 hours, especially if you’ll have to take a few pit stops.  If the traffic is bad, plan on at least 3 hours. 

Recommended Ages: All ages – kids love aquariums. Under age 2 will probably need a carrier of some kind (see Family Tips).

Parental Stress Factor: Low/Medium Stress! This really depends on how crowded things get while you’re there. Fortunately, they have a good design, as I mentioned previously, but too many people and an outdoor maze, may make things stressful for you.

Physical Difficulty: Low – fully accessible to all.

Family Fun Factor: High – It’s a great little aquarium, and your kids will surely have a wonderful time. I enjoyed it, but I want to make sure I qualify the fun factor.

Pet Friendly: No pets.

Weather Considerations: Year round, but watch for closures and hour-changes via their website. Usually I would recommend an indoor place in bad weather, but I’d rather go here on a sunny day combined with some serious beach time. It makes the semi-long drive worth it.

LionfishInsider Info: If you’re on a tight budget, don’t plan on eating at the Aquarium.  Instead, bring some snacks, or a picnic lunch with you. Take the picnic lunch down to the beach if the weather is nice. If you don’t mind spending some money, eat your snacks at the Aquarium and head into Newport for some fish-n-chips, chowder, or other comfort food. If you’re feeling more health conscious, check out the Oceana Natural Foods Cooperative on 159 SE 2nd Street (541-265-8285).

If your family is up for a little hiking, drive south passed Yachats to Cape Perpetua Scenic Area.  Follow signs to the day-use area for some excellent hiking options for the whole family.

Family Tips: You’ll need a good stroller for toddlers. Backpacks don’t work well, because you’ll probably bump into people, and your child will inevitably ask to get down to walk around, or see something up close. We brought our Bob Jogger, but an umbrella-type stroller would work better.


Giant Shark’s MouthThere are a bunch of rentals in and around Waldport, Newport and Yachats. We stayed at a wonderful place that we found through Dolphin Real Estate (541-265-6515). We never actually met anyone at their office in Newport. We just picked-up our keys, stayed in a great place on the ocean, brought back the keys and left a check. It was so easy – no hassles!

Technorati Tags: Oregon Coast Aquarium, Aquarium, sharks, Newport, Oregon coast, Waldport, beach rentals, Dolphin Real Estate

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  1. I just took my family and it was the best staycation ever!

  2. This looks amazing place to experience the marine life and know about the different species in it.

  3. Great! I think there is no word to express to the beauty of marine life, thanks for sharing about this place will surely visit here.

    It's a really amazing all-inclusive tropical getaway. In Orlando. Honestly, it feels like you've stepped into a lush Caribbean hideaway with both freshwater and saltwater areas featuring lots of incredible creatures that you can interact with.

  4. Great travel experience and quite handy information about coast aquarium you have described here. Traveling to coast aquarium with a young family is really very exciting and a lot of fun. It is an experience that you will never forget in your life. Thanks for the awesome share.

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