Note for 2020: Confirm openings and availability before heading out as there may be closures or changes at any time.

When it comes to winter activities in the PNW, I have conflicting feelings. On a regular basis, i.e. every Friday night in February, I have a recurring conversation with myself. It goes like this:

Fun Me: It’s the weekend! We live in a beautiful place! Let’s go outside and explore!
Cozy Me: Hold your horses! It’s very cold and rather wet.
Fun Me: Yes. And it will be cold and wet for several months. Stop being a wimp and get those kids outside.
Cozy Me: But I don’t feel like braving the elements.
Fun Me: That’s your problem! Stop trying to “brave” the elements and EMBRACE the elements!
Cozy Me: Touché. Okay, let’s go. But we MUST incorporate hot beverages.


My family and I seem to make our best memories while adventuring outdoors, so I’m glad that when push comes to shove, my cozy-side climbs aboard. Regardless of the season, one of our favorite weekend destinations is the coast. While we may not be shedding layers and running barefoot on the sand year-round, there is still plenty to enjoy during the colder months. A few Saturdays ago, we bundled up and headed out for some fun around Cannon Beach.

Our first destination was Ecola State Park for a morning hike. With our three kids, one in a pack and two on foot, we trekked the Clatsop Loop Trail. It’s a kid-friendly 2.5-mile loop that offers amazing views of the coastline, lighthouse and forest. The tide was high, so we didn’t stick around at Indian Beach after our hike, but instead headed into Cannon Beach for a hiker’s treat. Sleepy Monk is our cozy spot of choice for espresso, hot chocolate and croissants; Sea Level and Insomnia are tied for second.

With warm bellies, we wandered to the beach to explore the dunes while keeping our eye peeled for migrating whales, which we failed to spot this time around. Since the weather was dry, we decided to stretch the fun into the afternoon and headed to the corner of Spruce and 2nd Avenue. It’s our favorite place to kill time, and the kids love running between the playground and skatepark. With our snacks depleted, the family was ready to head indoors for some food. We treated ourselves to burgers (and beers) at Public Coast Brewing. It’s our go-to because of all the indoor seating, family vibe and locally focused menu. Tom’s Fish and Chips on Hemlock is also great for quick, budget bites.

It was an awesome winter’s day at the beach and I’m eager to head out again soon—rain or shine.

While embracing the elements is great, us parents know that sometimes the combination of cold and wet can prove to be too much for our little ones. In the case that you find yourself on the coast when the weather is especially nasty, here are a few indoor escapes to check out:

Natalie Bodenhamer
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