South Beach State Park
05.29.2013 - 06.01.2013
We awoke to blue skies, sun and fresh clean air -- Yeah!!
South Beach State Park, on the west side of Highway 101 and just south of the Yaquina Bay bridge, sprawls across grassy expanses, and cozies up to coastal forest and sandy shrub-covered hills. Getting to the beach here is not difficult, for there are three well-maintained trails from the campground to the beach, from 1/4 to 1/2 mile in distance. Once at the beach you can also walk to the jetty for great views of the Yaquina Bay Bridge.
The campground has a welcome center, staffed by a very pleasant park volunteer the day we were there. The center offers books and DVDs to lend, reference books about flora and fauna along the coast, and a free cup of coffee or tea. This is a very large park, but we never had a problem with noise or feeling like our neighbor was too close. As several large state campgrounds do, this one had a very large, and actively used playground. Restrooms were clean, showers were good with hot water.
We rode our bikes to the Oregon Coast Aquarium one afternoon. One publication lists this as one of the top 10 aquariums in the U.S., and we found it small in comparison to others we've been to, but still very interesting. A lengthy inside course winds through numerous nautical displays of corals and fish, all within the Northwest environment. I really appreciated the kelp forest exhibit. All these areas were quite kid-friendly with interactive displays. We watched a 15-minute feeding of the seals while one of the staff explained their habitat and the training the staff provides for these creatures. It was a really interesting walk through an acrylic tube, with sharks, colorful rockfish, sturgeons and more swimming over, under and all around us The volunteer staff at the Aquarium were just as impressive as the aquatic life. There were many of them, easily identified in their volunteer-labeled vests, and they were eager to answer questions and give detailed information about what we were seeing.
One sunny morning, Sammie and I walked much of the Cooper Ridge Trail that circles the campground. The trail is well-maintained, undulating up and down hills and in and out of dense forest stands. At one point, I became the "bride" with Sammie as my "maid of honor" as we walked beneath arching vines and low tree branches, with the walkway covered in pink rhododendron blossoms that had freshly fallen to the ground.
I would recommend this campground to anyone that enjoys the beach, along with easy access to other activities in town, at the port, or at the aquarium.