When it’s time to plan a beach vacation, there are few places as scenic and relaxing as the Oregon Coast. The small coastal town of Seaside sits along the Pacific Ocean in northwestern Oregon, adjacent to the Oregon Coastal Highway. The stunning beaches feature white sand, protected dunes, and incredible rock formations. In some areas, cliffs fall away to the ocean below, and many of the beaches are protected from development by the state park system. Book a stay at one of numerous Seaside vacation rentals, from lovely cottages with ocean views to deluxe condos in the downtown area. That said, here are the most unforgettable places to visit on the Oregon Coast.

1. Seaside

Source: Flickr / timothy_ckc

Learn to relax as you spend your days flying a kite on the beach, biking around town, and kayaking along Neawanna Creek. Take the kids to Captain Kid Amusement Park to race each other on go-karts and see who the best golfer is on the mini golf course. When you want to head indoors, take the kids to Seaside Aquarium to learn more about the seals that are native to the area, and let your kids plunge their hands into the touch tank filled with sea creatures.

2. Gearhart

Source: Flickr / Ginny

Choose a fun-filled holiday in the town of Gearhart, where you can walk on the beach, enjoy breathtaking views, and indulge in some shopping. Take the family for an evening at Gearhart Bowl & Fultano’s Pizza to see if anyone in your family can bowl a strike, and then let the winner pick the toppings for the pizza. With 18 holes, the Gearhart Golf Links lets the public book tee times so you can practice your swing.

3. Surf Pines

Source: Flickr / liquidcrash

In the small coastal town of Surf Pines, you’ll spend your days exploring Del Rey Beach State Recreation Site, fishing, biking, and walking along the beach enjoying the scenery. For something a little more structured, contact Lor’s Tours for a tour on kayaks or a hike through the state park with a knowledgeable guide, or spend an afternoon sailing through the air on the company’s zip lines.

4. Sunset Beach

Source: Flickr / ((brian))

Continue north up the Oregon Coastal Highway to the low-key community of Sunset Beach. This town features the Pacific Ocean to the west and Sunset Lake to the east, so you can kayak, canoe, and fish on the lake and then collect seashells, chase the surf, and horseback ride on the beach. Stop by Discover Paragliding to see what it’s like to fly above the water and coastline.

5. Cannon Beach

Source: Flickr / Chris Campbell

To the south of Seaside and down the Oregon Coastal Highway sits the town of Cannon Beach, where you must take photos of the iconic Haystack rock on the beach that rises out of the ocean in the shape of an overgrown haystack. Spend an afternoon wandering around the downtown area visiting the art galleries and small stores. You can learn more about how they make blown glass at Icefire Glassworks and buy a vase or bowl to take home with you.

6. Arch Cape

Source: Flickr / Ian Roberts

In Arch Cape, you’ll find a slower pace of life as you avoid the crowds of some of the larger areas. While away your days at the Hug Point State Recreation Site. Pack a picnic lunch at your vacation rental, and enjoy it at one of the picnic sites tucked away in the shade of the forest. When exploring the beach, be mindful of the tides so you aren’t cut off from your path from the beach.

7. Neahkahnie Beach

Source: Flickr / Shubert Ciencia

Nestled just south of Oswald West State Park is the small town of Neahkahnie Beach, where you can kick back and let your hair down. Spend your days exploring the local state park. You start out in a forested area to make your way to the beach. On the waterline, there are beaches followed by stretches of cliffs, making it essential to keep an eye on the tide.

8. Manzanita

Source: Flickr / ryan harvey

Take in amazing sunsets each night from the deck of your vacation rental in the small coastal town of Manzanita. You and your family can bike, hike, and take a boat ride out on the ocean during your trip. Another popular activity is horseback riding on the beach. Oregon Beach Rides can help you schedule a trail ride along the beach and local state park to enjoy some amazing quality family time.

9. Brighton

Source: Flickr / Jodie Wilson

Arrive in the town of Brighton by driving a little further south along the Oregon Coastal Highway, all the while enjoying the gorgeous scenery and catching glimpses of the water. This laid-back town has all the biking, fishing, hiking, and beachcombing you can handle during your vacation. Attend the Nehalem Bay Crab Derby or the Oregon Ocean Day Beach Cleanup Celebration if you visit in June, and enjoy the festivities.

10. Nedonna Beach

Source: Flickr / Paul Hamilton

Make the tiny community of Nedonna Beach your home away from home this year while you spend your days walking on the beach, boating, biking, and taking photos of the stark beauty of the area. For something a little different, take the family to Blue Heron Cheese Factory and learn about how they make cheese. You might even get to do a little sampling.

11. Rockaway Beach

Source: Flickr / Dream State

In Rockaway Beach, your family can relax at a vacation rental in the center of a busy beach town, passing the days biking, horseback riding, wandering along the beach, and boating in the ocean. Enjoy an afternoon of shopping in the downtown stores, or take the kids to one of the local cheese factories for an informative tour and tasty samples. On the way home, pick up a pizza from Upper Crust Pizza.

12. Barview

Source: Flickr / Kirt Edblom

This tiny little town sits on the tributary that feeds water from the Pacific Ocean into the Tillamook Bay, where you can fish, kayak, and canoe every day. Pack the kids up in the car, and drive over to the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad. Board the train, and ride the tracks up and down the coastline with its picturesque views.