We did not go inside, but it seems to be "Live Theater" where you sit in a big room with a wall of glass and watch scuba divers show off different fish and so forth---Seems pretty expensive at
$11.99 per adult $6.99 kids
9am to 8pm July-August
It was a gorgeous day and we wanted to see some whales, so we went to Marine Discoveries and took a cruise of the bay and out into the ocean----we didn't see any whales but had a good time watching the birds, the harbour seals on the bouy and the staff providing entertainment for the kids on board. Got some good photos of lighthouses and such from the boat so it wasnt a total loss.
2 1/2 hours cruise was $36 each person and included hot coffee and tea, and you could get a beer for $ if you wanted. Indoor cabin is heated and away from the wind and plenty of seating outside for viewing. Wish we could have seen a whale, but recommended anyways....
Beautiful but small aquarium featuring some of the local fish and wildlife you would be most likely to see in the area of the country.
Interactive pools where you can touch sea anemones and star fish, puffin and guillemot display and a Sea Otter exhibit.
Additionally, they have a large shark tank where you walk through a large enclosed tube and sharks/fish swim around you.
Very cool indeed.
Their interactive aquarium follows water from a single drop of rain until it meets the ocean
While the aquarium does have a fair collection of the typical fish tanks, simulated tidal pools, and touch the sea animal pools (all of which have been a staple of Oregon coast aquariums for decades), the aquarium also hosts a variety of other animals, such as seals and sea lions (which are kept in the same tank so they do interact to some extent, unlike some places that keep them separated), sea otters, two Turkey Vultures, and a walk-through aviary that includes a small collection of shore birds.
According to aquarium staff, the more sophisticated animals in the aquarium (seals, sea otters, and the birds) have in all cases been rescued, and determined to be unfit for release back into the wild. Thus, even though it may seem a little unfortunate that the animals have become so accustomed to being around people, the fact is that their lives could never be anything more. They have a better life here than they would have in the wild, as they simply would not be able to survive there.
The aquarium grounds feature a fair amount of outdoor display space, including a short walkway along the edge of Yaquina Bay with several observation platforms. The outdoor grounds are arranged in a series of coastal rock formations, which gives the impression that the space is larger than it actually is.
When I was younger, my favorite animal here were the sea otters and the jelly fish. The sea otters would do all manner of fancy antics before, while, and after they were being fed. The jelly fish were fascinating because this was one of the first aquariums on the Oregon coast that put lights behind the jelly fish so that it was possible to see through them.
in 1996, the star attraction at the Aquarium became Keiko the Whale, and for two years it remained such. I visited the aquarium once during Keiko's stay. The sea otters and a few other creatures actually seemed quite lost during those years, as many people walked right by their enclosure to see Keiko and only Keiko. One sea otter I remember particularly sitting up and looking at all the people with a questioning expression: "Where is everyone going?"
12 years ago, Keiko left, and the Oregon Coast Aquarium moved on: the huge tank that once housed Keiko was rebuilt to be "The Passages of the Deep" with large diameter tubes beneath the surface of the water. This allows visitors to walk beneath the surface of the water, and experience a close up look at ocean life as if they were one of the sea creatures - or at least as close as possible, without diving. This is a much different environment than the fish in the tank and people outside, as has been the customary aquarium experience for decades. Today, there are several aquariums that have built similar structures, but the "Passages of the Deep" section was a forward thinking display for its time, and born of necessity with having a huge whale tank that had suddenly become unoccupied.
There is a small memorial to Keiko outside "The Passages of the Deep" exhibit, as the whale did become quite special to the community during his brief stay here. When Keiko died, there was a memorial service held for him at the aquarium.
The aquarium is a busy place, and I suggest getting started as early as possible in the morning, as early afternoon tends to see more traffic through the door.
A number of the special specimen tanks are quite small, and can be completely blocked by a group of three or four people. Thus, it pays to come and see those when the aquarium is less crowded.
People do tend to come through in waves though, so if you notice that some of the tanks that you are particularly interested in seeing are impossible to see due to crowding, try going to see something else and then come back to check. You will find that in many cases the wave of crowding has gone away temporarily.
Unlike certain other aquariums, this is not a single-entry attraction. It is possible to get a hand stamp, go out to your car or otherwise go somewhere else, and re-enter on the same day. However, I don't think there is any real point in doing that here, as there isn't that much around the aquarium to do.
Current standard ticket rate for adults is $15.45, but there is a discount for AAA membership and other such things, such as a military card.
The Flavel House was exactly the kind of architecture we were hoping Astoria to be filled with but unfortunately the town was a mish mash of styles with many ugly modern buildings taking away some of the atmosphere.
The house itself was built in 1885 for Captain George Flavel who was one of the town's most respected and wealthy citizens. This grand Queen Anne Victorian home painted in yellow and white has been painstakingly well-kept. The interior rooms are furnished according to the era and feature six hand-carved fire place mantels with imported tiles. Tours are only $5 but unfortunately we arrived just after they had closed for the day and with an opening hour of 10:00, we didn't want to wait around the next morning till it opened.
Plumb pudding and tea is available from the week before and after Christmas (2-4 pm)!
The Astoria Column is one of the city's top attractions. Built in 1926, this 125 foot monolith sits majestically on the Coxocomb Hill, the highest point in town. You can climb 164 spiral steps for grand views of just enjoy looking at the ornate column itself. Modeled after the Trajan's Column in Rome, this one depicts great events of the Pacific Northwest with special emphasis on Native American culture and the first meetings between them and white settlers.
Unfortunately, the stairs to the top were closed for safety reasons but are scheduled to reopen in 2009. It was not a problem though since Coxocomb Hill is the highest point and great views were to be had just being up there. It was fantastic at sunset.
Canon Beach may be the best on the Oregon Coast at self-promotion but what they are selling is unquestionably one of the most beautiful spots on a shore crammed with them. The decidedly upscale feel of the town's main street filled with cafes and swank shops takes nothing away from the expansive beach and rugged rocky features like Haystack Rock. This 235 foot basalt formation provides the town's its icon as well as most popular attraction. While scenic especially at sunset, what truly makes it so interesting are the tide pools that are revealed at its base with each low tide. It is one of the more expensive places to stay on the coast and one of the busiest but take no heed, a short stop is free. A stroll on Cannon Beach is certainly one of the must dos if traveling the Oregon Coast. By all means, do it.
The Devil's Punchbowl State Park is a great stop off the main Highway 101. This hallowed out rock formation sits right in the Pacific with an opening that fills with incoming tides. Waves crash and in stormy weather create a bit of a whirlpool effect. There is a scenic overlook close to the parking area but if the tide is low, it is well worth hiking down to the beach and exploring tide-pools and the rocks that form the bowl. Wear sandals or be careful to not get your feet wet as there are many streams dissecting the beach.
Constructed over a period of two years starting in 1892, The Heceta Head Lighthouse sits majestically on a 150 foot bluff on the central Oregon Coast. The combination of its very scenic location and beautiful design has made it one of the most visited lighthouses in the United States.
From the parking area, there is a great trail up through the dense forest surrounding the lighthouse as well as one leading to some rocky outcroppings jutting out into a very rough Pacific Ocean. There are about 7 miles of trail in the state park taking the lighthouse's name. Enjoy tons of bird life as well as tidal pools teeming with starfish and sea anemones.
Fees to park are $3 but this is good for the whole day at all other Oregon State Parks so a great value. The lighthouses are all very well kept and scenically situated so if heading up the coast, it's a pass worth having.
The Cape Meares Lighthouse was built in 1890 and is the shortest of all Oregon lighthouses. John Meares named the area Quicksand Bay due the mucky mud found at low tide but even this was an improvement over Murderers Harbor, so deemed earlier when a crew member was killed by Native Americans in the area, no doubt trying to protect their land. While not quite as impressive as some of it southern neighbors, the area around the lighthouse offers some fine views of the coast and it is set in an interesting forest that is home to the Octopus Tree. There is a paved path to the lighthouse making it wheelchair accessible but there is also a more rugged and scenic trail along the edge of the bluff that also passes the Octopus Tree, a wild multi-branched tree that looks like, you guessed it, an octopus.
Cape Meares is free to enter.
Yaquina Head Lighthouse is Oregon's tallest at 93 feet and took two years to build between 1871-1873 from 370,000 bricks brought up from San Francisco. Set on a narrow piece of land jutting west into the Pacific, the lighthouse can be seen 19 miles out to sea despite the area being noted for its awful weather. Reported to be haunted, the lighthouse nonetheless attracts many tourists each year.
Fees look to have increased at the park since or visit in 2008 when it was included in the $3 we paid to visit Haceta Head Lighthouse. It now charges $7 for a three day pass.
While the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse lacks a bit of the scenic majesty of Haceta Head Lighthouse to the south, it is even more steeped in history. Built in 1872, it is the only remaining wooden lighthouse remaining in Oregon and a proud member of the National Register of Historic Places. Interestingly, the living quarters are part of the lighthouse proper, giving it another “only” mark with regard to Oregon lighthouses. The living quarters can be visited and offer a glimpse the lives of caretakers of these great old pioneer lighthouses. This park is free to enter.
Located on a scenic bluff and surrounded by forest, the lighthouse overlooks an expansive beach which is great for beach combing and offers great views of not only the lighthouse but also the Yaquina Bay Bridge. The park is right in Newport at the south end of Yaquina Bay.
Cape Perpetua is a very rugged coastal area. There is a "blowhole" in the rocks here, where the water comes swirling into a small opening in the rocks and every so often the water shoots out of a hole in the rock. We watched this for about 20 minutes, and were quite amused by it. I took numerous photos, but was not able to capture the exact moment when the water came shooting out of the rock!
This is along the highway, there is a pull-out area where you can park and then walk to the viewpoint of the cape.
The Newport Aquarium comprised a roughly two hour stop in Newport. It is quite widely publicized and some of their displays were really well done. I was somewhat disappointed that there are no large fish here (ie: whales, dolphins, etc), and to be quite honest the Vancouver Aquarium is a much better aquarium in that regard. But all in all, if you have an interest in marine life, the aquarium is a worthwhile stop. I believe the cost for a family of five when we were there in 2005 was roughly $55 USD.
I have no photos, because DH was in a grumpy mood the day we were there.... it was pretty dark inside most of the display rooms and pictures probably would not have turned out anyway.
You certainly need to reserve a good half day to visit here. There is of course the lighthouse where you can go in and climb the steep stairs for a nice view. You can also do some whale watching, the grey whales are really out there, I saw one! Then, there is the birds. On the rocks right in front of the lighthouse, you can find 3 different types of cormorants, the common murres, which are related to the penguins, and pigeon guillermots, amongst others. There is a visitor center you can explore and perhaps warm up a bit (bring warm clothing, it's really windy and cool out there)