Though I’ve no children of my own, it hasn’t escaped my notice that quite a few other people do. And I've also noticed that, especially within a certain age span, these children have enough energy to make off-the-grid power if only we could harness it. It’s not always easy for parents to find places to let their kids safely exert lots of energy without having to amend their budget for it. Fortunately for those on the central coast, however, there are low or no cost options, such as a lakeside wooden castle, a rock climbing wall and a playground where kids can explore a recreated shipwreck.
The Regatta Grounds at Devils Lake
From faux fire engines to tire tubes, the very large wooden castle playground structure at the Lincoln City Regatta Grounds is a maze with slides, swings and lots of things to keep small children occupied for a while. A recent upgrade included increased padded areas and access for those with limited mobility.
And on warmer days when the water beckons, the area of Devils Lake next to the playground has a protected section safer for the little ones. There is even a free life jacket loaner station with a variety of sizes for kids that aren’t yet strong swimmers.
The Regatta Grounds are located on W Devils Lake Road and NE 14th Street (turn east at the large silver dragon – you'll see it). Parking is limited, so plan to arrive earlier in the day. Picnic areas and restrooms are available.
There is some question that the D River in Lincoln City is the world’s shortest river, but there is currently no contest for the claim of the tallest climbing wall on the Oregon coast. The Lincoln City Community Center's (or LCCC) 24-foot climbing wall has an automatic belay system which makes coming down as fun as climbing up. Supervision by a staff person and nice thick pads on the floor also make this a less scary way to be introduced to rock climbing for the first time. Cost is $5 for those under 18 ($6.50 for adults). The rock wall is open seven days a week; check for hours as they change seasonally. Climbers must be at least 44” tall, and wearing closed-toe shoes is required.
The LCCC’s aquatics area boasts a water slide, two diving boards, a rope swing, water basketball and in-pool water fountains, including “Tippy,” the eight-foot tall pelican that slowly fills with water then pours it out for a quick and fun waterfall for kids to play in. Drop in rates for the pool for kids under 17 is $2.75 ($6.00 for adults).
The LCCC is located at 2150 NE Oar Place. For more information call (541) 994-2131. Check the website for pool and rock wall schedules.
Newport Public Playgrounds
Newport Parks and Recreation Department has many outdoor play areas, but these two offer an enticing variety of play options:
Big Creek Park
Just north of town, this park includes picnic and playground facilities, complete with slides, swings, a climbing structure, volleyball net, barbecue grills, covered picnic shelter and even a horseshoe pit (shoes not provided). One each side of the park, trails either climb toward Newport proper or head west to the beach. The park is located at 2510 NE Big Creek Road.
Coast Park is Newport’s newest play area, featuring state-of-the-art equipment, a detailed shipwreck, a wetland garden and more. The park is located at 100 SW Coast Street.
If you know of any great places to help kids spend some energy without spending lots of money, leave a comment! We'd love to hear about it. And for other things to do while enjoying the coast's play areas, be sure to check out our Daytime Events calendar. For evening entertainment, our Nightlife page guides you to the best places to be.