Capturing Kids’ Imaginations in Newport

Family exploring coast tidepool

The best thing about a beach trip with the kids is that it sparks their imagination in ways a trip to the city simply can’t. According to a 2016 study by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, playing in nature fuels kids’ innate creativity, helps them practice higher-level thinking and sparks their curiosity about the world around them. Here are just a few activities to help you do just that.

Oregon Coast Aquarium octopus close-up

Photo courtesy of the Oregon Coast Aquarium

Explore the Oregon Coast Aquarium

The Oregon Coast Aquarium is a must-visit destination for families, and you can buy tickets right at the front desk of our resort in Newport! You may think you’ve already “done” the aquarium, but there are so many experiences on offer that more than one visit is always in order—especially since it’s home to over 15,000 marine animals. Check out the website to plan your trip around feeding times, and you can watch the sea otters, seals or seabirds as they clamor for their daily snacks. 

You can even touch some of the animals at the interactive exhibits! The aquarium also offers behind-the-scenes tours and animal encounters, like The Octopus Encounter and the Sea Jelly Encounter, where kids can get hands-on with the aquarium’s Moon Jellies (Aurelia aurita), whose stinging cells are thankfully too weak to be felt by humans. 


Yaquina head

Photo courtesy of Friends of the Yaquina Head Lighthouse

Visit the Yaquina Head Lighthouse

One of the tallest lighthouses on the West coast, the Yaquina Head Lighthouse towers against the sky on a rugged cliff 163 feet above sea level, where you can see huge waves crash into Colony Rock with a booming rumble. This is an authentic Oregon Coast experience that will fuel your kids’ passion for exploration.

The interior of the lighthouse is equally as majestic. It’s one of the only lighthouses in existence with a marble floor, hosts a 114-step staircase, and it still uses the original Fresnel Lens fabricated in France in 1868. The warmly-colored light is clearly visible 19 miles out to sea. 

Guided tours of the bottom floor are announced “the day of” in the Interpretive Center at Yaquina Head. The lighthouse stairs are currently closed due to ongoing restoration work, but it’s still worth the visit—just a quick 15-minute drive from Hallmark Resort Newport on 101.

Kid at yaquina bay

Go on a scavenger hunt at Yaquina Bay

Scavenger hunts are a fun and engaging way to get your kids to explore the world around them and see things in a whole new way. Yaquina Bay, just six minutes SE of Hallmark Newport off Highway 101, is a great spot for a scavenger hunt, with sandy beaches, tidal pools, and rocky outcroppings. 

If you want to avoid sandy hands and encourage respect for the delicate ecosystem, encourage the kids to take pictures of the items instead of collecting them. This will also ensure that you’ll have some great shots to remember your trip! Some ideas for the list include: 

  • A piece of seaweed
  • A tidepool creature
  • Their sibling making a face in front of the ocean
  • Something made of wood
  • Three different-colored rocks
  • Any shell
  • Bird tracks
  • A wet dog
  • A person’s footprint in the sand
  • A sand castle
  • A sand dollar

You can also find some great beach scavenger hunt templates online! 

Ride fat bikes on the beach

The beach is the perfect place to ride bikes with kids, as sand is a much more welcoming surface than concrete to wipe out on. 

But you can’t just ride any bike on the beach. Fat bikes, with tires at least 2.2 inches wide, provide the perfect amount of traction in the sand and are much easier to balance on for growing kids.

That being said, be prepared for a strenuous ride. Unlike on concrete, you’re constantly pushing the pedals. Experienced riders compare it to riding a stationary bike with resistance on medium. It’s always easier to stay in the firmly-packed wet sand near the water – the softer the sand, the harder you’ll have to pedal. 

If you’re interested, the good folks at Bike Newport, a quick 5-minute drive from Hallmark Resort Newport on Northwest 6th Street, can set you up with bikes for the whole family, and their smart, bike-obsessed staff can recommend all the best spots for riding.

Oregon Coast Aquarium playground

Photo courtesy of Angelique L on Yelp

Visit Newport Coast Park

We know it’s hard to beat the beach as far as “things to do” go, but if your kids tire of the beach (is that possible?), consider a trip to the coast’s newest park, Newport Coast Park—also known as “Pirate Park”. It features state-of-the-art play equipment, a detailed shipwreck kids can explore like old-timey pirates, a wetland garden and even a giant tube slide for kids and adults alike! 

Kid with glass art

Photo courtesy of Oregon Coast Glassworks

Rainy out? Take a glass-blowing class at Oregon Coast Glassworks

If it’s rainy in Newport and your kids are 8 or older, give them an afternoon to remember by taking a one-on-one, personalized glassblowing lesson with Oregon Glassworks—five minutes northeast of Hallmark on Olive Street. Kids can create floats, starfish, bowls, hearts or even tide pool bowls. Sessions take about a half hour and their art piece will be available the next day. Reservations are highly recommended but they do have limited walk-ins based on space available. 

As you can see, there are plenty of activities that can spark your kids’ imaginations in Newport. The easiest, of course, is simply playing on the beach right in front of your room at Hallmark. Try that one first—it pairs nicely with “parents lounging on beach chairs in the sun.”