Travel With Me

Travel with Me: Rockaway Beach, Oregon

Travel with Me: Rockaway Beach, Oregon | Writing Between Pauses

I’ve had an Oregon travel guide on my blog list for ages, but I haven’t gotten around to actually working on it. Then, I thought: maybe I should try to visit all these places before I write a guide for them. I mean, it’s been a while for some places. 

So I decided it would probably be easier to do short travel guides for now, then work my way up to a big one. 

Danny and I just got back from Rockaway Beach. Three years ago, when Forrest only 9 months old (was he ever that small? And yet, has it really been that long?), we visited Rockaway Beach with Danny’s family and had a blast. We did that again this year. I hope this becomes a tradition for a very, very long time because it’s really fun. 

Rockaway Beach, Oregon

1. Amenities

So you’ve decided to visit Rockaway Beach! Exciting! First things first, decide where you’ll want to stay. Rockaway Beach is itself a very small town (and a rather large beach); the town has less than 2,000 residents and is made up primarily of hotels, some shops, and condos. There is kind of a boardwalk, but the main street is also dominated by a set of train tracks. 

We usually stay in a rental home, either through VRBO or HomeAway, on all of our vacations; it’s generally just more affordable in the long run. This trip was no different.

There are AirBNBs, large condo complexes, and hotels in the area, all of which seem nice (or nice in a middle-of-the-road, you-won’t-spend-much-time-here kind of way). Everything is within walking distance to the beach, so you don’t have to worry about that if you’re staying in Rockaway itself. If you choose to stay in Garibaldi (the next town over towards Tillamook), you will have a longer drive, as Garibaldi itself is a small bay. There are also campsites nearby if camping is your thing, as well as lots of lodging options in Tillamook. Further down the coast, Lincoln City is only about an hour away, but has a ton of rental house options and more. If you decide to go north, Manzanita and Nehalem Bay are also great little towns with some shops and hotels. Manzanita in particular has a lot of condos as well as beach access.

Rockaway Beach, Oregon Home Rental

I highly recommend looking at the VRBO options for Rockaway Beach though; there is nothing quite like being able to watch the sunset over the ocean or sit outside with your morning coffee listening to the sound of ocean. What an incredibly way to start the morning! This is the condo we stayed in and we loved it; the back patio area had a ton of seating, plus two sand areas that were perfect for Forrest to play in if we just wanted to relax and not worry about him running into the ocean every 5 minutes. We had our own private path down to the beach as well.

Even for a short trip, I’m a big fan of using rental homes, as you can save money on food and it’s not that much more expensive than a hotel—plus you ultimately save on food, as you can cook meals yourself.

2. The Beach

Being right on the beach has so many benefits. 

The Kite Festival

While we were there, there was a large kite festival happening most days. As well, kites are incredibly popular anyway. The Oregon Coast is notorious for being windy. Our condo happened to be in prime seating for this festival though; everyday, there were probably 10+ huge kites right beside our condo. We could sit on the back patio and watch them. Forrest was obsessed

Rockaway Beach Kite Festival

This was probably one of the best parts of our trip is seeing those kites. When I say they were huge, I mean they were big; probably 20-30 feet long each and shaped like different animals. There were sharks, whales, cats, cartoon characters, sting rays… you name it! 

This kite festival happens every late July and early August, so I highly recommend visiting then. 

Even if you can’t make it for the festival, there are also always kite flyers out. Buying even a cheap kite on your way there will make it super fun, but if you can spring for a more expensive one, again, I say go for it. We got Forrest a small kite that he spent hours playing with; it was total worth the expense because he really enjoyed it. 

Other Things to Do

If you’re right on the beach, you can literally do anything: read, embroider, knit, or whatever; build sandcastles; go for long walks; search for starfish and sand dollars; and much more. You probably don’t need me to tell you those things.

We tried skimboarding and boogie boarding, both of which were fun for the younger people in our group. (I did not personally try them. Danny wiped out bad!) 

We had the most fun just relaxing, which is what we needed. I got a lot of writing done and Danny read. But if you’re more active, there are still tons of activities to try, even though the water is much colder up north. 

3. Places to visit

Tillamook Creamery

We love visiting Tillamook, but as a warning, it is crowded. No matter the day or time of year, it is almost always crowded. It’s often even more crowded when the weather isn’t good during the summer, as visitors flock there instead of the beach. The day we went was foggy, rainy, and overcast. Needless to say, it was crowded.

We still had fun though. We briefly checked out the factory tour, but the factory wasn’t actually operating that day so there wasn’t a lot to see. We perused the gift shop and then treated ourself to some food and ice cream. You can check out the entire menu here.

Tillamook Creamery Mac n' Cheese

We ordered the Classic Mac n’ Cheese (“A creamy blend of Tillamook Medium & Sharp Cheddars. Topped with crushed buttery herb bread crumbs”) and a small salad (“Seasonal greens, tomato, red onion, mushrooms, house made croutons, and Tillamook Sharp Cheddar. Tossed with our creamy Tillamook Sour Cream herb dressing”). I know that ordering a salad probably doesn’t sound very fun, but I was in a mood where I needed some vegetables—and the salad was good! We got Forrest the kids grilled cheese which was massive and came with fries, like most kids meals. He really enjoyed it. The mac n’ cheese was really delicious; very cheesy without being overly goopy. We demolished it, along with the salad; the salad was actually one of my favorite things I ate and it was just their standard house salad!

After lunch, we got ice cream to share; we got a scoop of cookies n’ cream, chocolate swirl, and butter pecan. Chocolate for Forrest, cookies n’ cream for Danny, and butter pecan for me. All three were excellent; Tillamook ice cream really is some of the best in the world.

I treated myself to a Tillamook sticker for my car, as well as a brick of smoked cheddar (my favorite cheese). Forrest picked out a hat which has nothing to do with Tillamook, but it made him happy and I am a sucker.

Rockaway Beach

Most of our days we spent in Rockaway itself. There are some fun places to visit aside from the beach.

One place were were very excited to revisit was Pronto Pup, less of a restaurant and more of a food stand. I have really nostalgic memories of this from our trip three years ago; however, I felt like it wasn’t nearly as good! Pronto Pup is essentially a corn dog restaurant and I do love a good corn dog. My memory of it is being one of the best corn dogs I ever ate, but I feel like they either changed something or my memory is totally faulty. However, Forrest really enjoyed visiting Pronto Pup (including riding the big corn dog outside) and ate his entire corn dog.

Pronto Pup Rockaway Beach Corn Dogs

In Rockaway, there is also Flamingo Jim’s, a large gift shop that is really fun to look through. Like most small, tourist towns, almost every shop sells the same stuff (little gifts and trinkets, kites, flip flops, sweatshirts, and coffee mugs). However, as much as we try not to buy stuff like that, we did have fun looking.

There are two competing ice cream shops in Rockaway: Schwieterts (which also has a location in Manzanita) and Sea Breeze, a more kitschy gift shop that also sells salt water taffy and gifts. I personally prefer Sea Breeze; you got more ice cream for cheaper, and if you got salt water taffy, the owner tried to guess the weight before you put it on the scale. (He was almost always right!) Both sell Tillamook ice cream, however, so you can’t really go wrong!

There are a few restaurants in Rockaway Beach. We only visited one: the Beach Bite/Dos Rocas, two-restaurants-in-one. One is a more classic diner with seafood options and the other is a Mexican restaurant. The menu is double-sided, so you can order whatever. We visited with Forrest and he got a quesadilla (which I only got him to try by saying it was “like a grilled cheese”, his newest obsession). I ordered the Bite Burger and Danny got the mahi mahi fish and chips. We really enjoyed everything we got, even if it was a little expensive. In a small tourist town, most of the restaurants are going to be a little pricey, but it was nice to have a break from cooking one day of our trip!

On Monday, we visited Manzanita, a town north on the coast by about 20 minutes (but really only like 7 miles from Rockaway on the beach itself). It was nice to drive through some of the smaller towns along the coast; Danny and I both love talking about architecture and homes as we drive through towns and beach houses are so gorgeous. Manzanita is a fun little town with a main street that runs directly towards the beach.

Manzanita Coffee Shop Oregon

First things first, we visited Manzanita Coffee Shop for some coffee and treats. I got a plain coffee and a maple/chocolate donut to share with Danny and Forrest. Danny’s mom bought a cinnamon roll muffin that was delicious and I will absolutely try to replicate. The coffee was really good as well.

Then, we explored all the shops. There were some really fun ones. I found a dress that was covered in a periodic table print—it was, however, $80. Again, like most tourist-y shops, the prices were a little wild. However, it was fun to look. We specifically had fun in Toylandia, a toy shop where we bought Forrest a Buzz Lightyear kite (which was cute, but not the best for actually flying a kite) and a mini kite (which actually worked quite well).

We originally planned to eat lunch at the Winery at Manzanita, but all of us were still full from our treats, so we decided to wait until later. However, their food looked very good and they sold s’mores to roast over fires on the patio.

Notes

There were a few things I wanted to do that we didn’t get around to. Unfortunately, Forrest got sick on day two or three of our trip (I noticed him slowing down and being really cranky, then he was awake all night with a fever); once he started feeling better, I got sick. We headed home a day early so I could recover before diving back into work. (Confession: instead of resting, I’m writing this post the afternoon after we got home. I’m sorry, Danny.)

We wanted to visit Astoria, which is a place I’ve heard so much about, but never really went! We also wanted to take Forrest to the aquarium and never got around to it. Lincoln City has outlet shops that I always love to visit. We just never got around to it, plus hanging out with the sound of the ocean felt much better for me and my mental health at the moment. I did find myself getting cabin fever after a few days (what can I say? I’m very easily bored!)

There’s always next time, after all!

A Busy Mom's Guide to: Road Trips (Featuring Hungryroot!*)

A Busy Mom's Guide to: Road Trips (Featuring Hungryroot!*) | Writing Between Pauses

Danny and I love taking road trips. It used to be something we really looked forward to, especially when we were first dating and, later, first married. Once Forrest was born, we definitely scaled back on the amount we spend driving every summer--but we still love taking a few road trips every single year!

This year, we’ve already been on quite a few road trips: we’ve been to Sunriver several times and Idaho several times. Coming up this summer, we have plans for a big trip to the coast, as well as some smaller trips to Portland, the coast, and Central Oregon.

By no means am I a road trip expert--but I feel like I do know how to do a road trip with an infant, a toddler, and now a preschooler in a way that keeps me from feeling like I’m absolutely losing it! I want to share all my tips and tricks for a perfect summer trip. At the end of this blog post, I’ll also have a FREE download with packing checklists, memory sheets, and much more to make your road trip go just a little bit smoother. I also have an exclusive deal for some Hungryroot snacks!

Packing for a road trip with a toddler

I’m a consistent overpacker. And honestly, I will defend my overpacking: sometimes, you just need extra stuff, especially with kids. The days of Danny and I breezing into hotels or houses with a bag each, and maybe a cooler, are over. These days, it looks like: a storage bin, a bag, Forrest’s suitcase, my bag, Danny’s bag, my computer bag (gotta work!), my tripod… It’s a bit like a clown car.

I just don’t like having to spend money unnecessarily on trips, especially if we are pinching pennies already. That means, I often try to pack anything I can think we might need in an emergency. For us, that’s extra medications, plus any kids medicine we might need (such as suppositories, cough medicine, Ibuprofen, and band ads), as well as a flashlight, some extra food, and a small stash of water.

Here’s a rundown of what my packing list often looks like:

  • Medications

  • Medicine: kids Ibuprofen, kids suppositories, band aids, antibacterial cream, sanitizer

  • Cleaning wipes*

  • Emergency kit: two gallons of water, extra food, extra clothes, matches, small candle, flare

  • Travel potty if your toddler is younger, recently potty trained, or just prone to accidents

That’s just a few extras I add alongside everything else we’ll need, like clothes, laundry bags, extra bags for souvenirs, our charging cables, and more. You know what you’ll need best on vacation, but it’s important to remember on road trips to prepare for what you think you’ll need. In case of an emergency, I prefer to have everything with me, including extra water and more.

A note on cleaning wipes: I know single use wipes have become increasingly unpopular--and I totally agree! However, if I’m traveling and staying at a hotel, I like to do a quick wipe on everything just for that extra level of clean. It helps me feel more at home and feel much better. I like to use the new Everspring line from Target; these wipes are compostable, cruelty-free, and ammonia free. They come in three scents: Lavender & Bergamot, Lemon & Mint, and Citrus & Basil. I like the Lemon & Mint the best. Even better, they are very affordable. You can find them on Target here.

Hungryroot snacks on a road trip

One thing I also like to make sure I have packed? Plenty of snacks! I get bored when I’m driving, especially during long stretches where there isn’t anywhere to stop. When we go to Idaho, we cut through Bend and Burns to Caldwell. The stretch from Bend to Burns and then Burns to Ontario are absolutely grueling; each leg is only 100 ish miles each, but there is nothing between! Nowhere to stop, nowhere to go to the bathroom, nothing. So, snacks are important.

That’s one of the things I love about Hungryroot! On our most recent trip to Idaho, we took along a big box of Hungryroot snacks: the salted pili nuts, coconut cashew granola, crunchy bean toppers, superfood almond butter, and almond milk maca matcha. These were the perfect snacks to have on the road--much better than my usual Cheez-Its! Not only did we feel better about our snack choices, we avoided that nasty travel stomach that is so common from eating food on the road. Plus, all of these options gave us ways to customize hotel breakfasts: we grabbed a few extra yogurts to eat with the coconut cashew granola. Our hotel had a smoothie bar (!) and we used the almond milk maca matcha in our smoothies. Plus, the almond milk maca matcha made a great drink in the morning to get the day started throughout our trip.

If you’d like to stock up on some healthy snacks before your next road trip, I can’t recommend Hungryroot enough! And even better, you can use the code PAUSETRAVEL to get $25 of your first two boxes (that’s $50 total).

Hungryroot promo code $25 off
How to plan a road trip with a toddler

“But Michelle,” you ask, “how am I supposed to keep a toddler entertained on a road trip?”

You know those two 100-mile stretches between Oregon and Idaho I mentioned? Those are often our hardest on the road. So here are my tips:

  • Play car games. Whenever Forrest starts to get whiny or bored, I say, “I spy something… blue!” And we start a game of I Spy. Or, we’ll play Bingo. Car games seemed so lame to me when I was younger--my parents were not fans--but I totally get them now. This can fill up time and keep your little one from getting too distracted.

  • Get a travel DVD player. LISTEN! I know what I say about screens and we don’t let Forrest have a tablet… but I would literally lose my mind without our travel DVD player. It is perfect for when there is no stop along the way to stretch our legs. Pop in a Daniel Tiger DVD and hit play, then Danny & I can relax. You can find these for really affordable on Amazon and in stores too.

  • Look ahead and plan fun stops. One thing Danny and I do before any road trip is plan somewhere to stop for fun. Whether it’s just a cute shop we see on our route (such as the Crescent General Store after the Willamette Pass) or something bigger (like a rose garden), we try to plan a few short (like 15-20 minutes total!) stops to stretch our legs, let Forrest have a bathroom break, and break up the monotony of the drive.

For me, these things are all part of planning our trip. We aren’t just looking at hotels to stop along the way, but rather activities we can do together. This might include things like stopping at the Mount Shasta viewing area on the way to Disneyland (this feels like a lifetime ago!), going for a walk along the river in Bend on our way to Idaho, and more. If you’re staying a few nights at a hotel on your road trip, you can always look for places to go around it; you’ll have a few hours in the evening, of course, so you can always do some walking (to release pent up energy!) and find somewhere fun to eat.

One important aspect of planning your trip… is planning how you’ll pack your car. Danny and I like to pack the car in a way that makes sense to us, although we used to just throw things in and hope we all made it in one piece! Now, we arrange everything depending on what we know we’ll need throughout the trip. This means, our travel potty is in the back seat, along with some paper towels and a trash bag; our snack bag is within reach; our bag with activities for Fo is right in front of him where Danny or I can reach it. How you arrange your car is totally your preference, but this will save you so much hassle on the road! Basically: organize your car and keep it organized!

Staying in a hotel with a toddler

It goes without saying, but: on vacation, your child just isn’t going to sleep like they do at home. That’s an important expectation to keep if you’re staying at a hotel throughout your trip or just on a few stops on the road. They might get better as time goes on through the trip, but I think it’s so important to keep your expectations quite low when it comes to sleep when you travel!

When we travel, I make sure to bring two things to make it easier on Forrest: his sound machine and one of his blankets. Before, we would bring stuffed animals he had been sleeping with, but Forrest isn’t a lovey kid—he doesn’t have anything he feels particularly attached to. However, having a familiar blanket definitely helps with the sleeping. As well, the sound machine helps all of us sleep, drowns out noise from the rest of the hotel, and reminds him of home. He usually still wakes up at 3am on the dot in hotels, but it could totally be worse.

The sound machine we use is not currently made anymore, but this one is from the same company and looks like it has many similar features.

As I said in the planning section, doing something fun at the hotel when you arrive, even if it is perhaps a little later than usual for your family, can help little ones settle in, burn off some energy after being in the hotel all day, and sleep better. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Visit the pool to splash & play around before dinner.

  • Walk to dinner! This is a great way to explore the area, find somewhere interesting, and stretch your legs (as well as get some steps in if you, like me, are a slave to your Fitbit)

  • Visit a local attraction for a quick visit. A good option is a rose garden or an art exhibit.

  • Find a local ice cream parlor to take everyone to.

  • Window shop!

Once you’ve made it through the evening, grabbed dinner (I highly recommend getting pizza delivered if you’re absolutely exhausted, which kids also love), and slept (maybe), it’s time to think about breakfast!

Like I said, Hungryroot is a great way to augment a potentially lackluster hotel breakfast—if your hotel provides one. It might not, which is totally possible! Hungryroot can help there too. A great option are the Hungryroot oatmeal cups, like the Cherry Chia Maple Oatmeal; you only need to add hot water, so if your room has a coffee maker, you can easily use that to heat water and make oatmeal for everyone.

However, if your hotel does offer breakfast, you can use plenty of Hungryroot options to make it just a little bit better: adding some granola to those little tubs of yogurt makes it much more filling and delicious. Or you can add some granola on top of a waffle or eat with milk and any fruit offered. The hotel breakfast doesn’t have to be sad, cold bagels and bad coffee. A little planning ahead can make it much more filling and healthy for everyone in your family. Don’t forget you can use my code PAUSETRAVEL for $25 off your first TWO boxes of Hungryroot; that is $50 total.

Once you’re ready to head out, check your room for anything left behind and get on with your vacation!


Danny & I enjoy road trips. And even though I’m on record as saying I don’t love traveling, I do love giving Forrest memories that last forever. Road trips can be incredibly intimidating, especially if you’re a new mom or you’re just an anxious person (like me). I hope these tips help you make the most of this summer. And of course, I hope you take the chance to try some delicious Hungryroot snacks & food options to make your summer even better.

As an added bonus, I have an exclusive download just for you! This include itinerary planning for your trip, hotel information sheets, journal pages for your memories, and packing checklists perfect for new moms & experienced moms alike! Click the button below to download.

I’m turning it over to you! What are your big tips for traveling with kids?

Disclaimer: Products for my recent road trip were provided to me by Hungryroot in exchange for mentioning them, as well as a small kickback whenever you use my code. Posts like these have helped me keep Writing Between Pauses going! If you’d like to learn more about my disclosure policy, click here.

Travel With Me: Sunriver, Oregon

Travel With Me: Sunriver, Oregon | Writing Between Pauses

I’ve been going to Sunriver, Oregon for a long time. I think the first time was when I was 7 or 8, or at least in that age range. Sunriver is technically a resort town, or a planned community, and my family has been renting houses there for a long time. In recent years, my family decided to purchase a home in Sunriver as an investment property, which has been great for helping us take more vacations!

(You can read my previous post about traveling to Sunriver with a toddler here.)

Sunriver is located in central Oregon, about 20-30 minutes from Bend. This means visitors have access to basically all of Bend easily—that means more restaurants and shopping, as well as attractions like the High Desert Museum and the Lava Caves. I’ve been going to Sunriver for so long that I feel like I have a very set routine—but it also means I feel like I know just about everything there is to know.

Rarely ever do I do travel posts, but it’s been something I wanted to start sharing a bit more.

Sunriver Oregon
Wine in Sunriver Oregon

We headed over to Sunriver on Friday evening. Forrest had been having a pretty rough day; he’s been having more separation anxiety from me lately (something he has literally never had before!), and got sent home from school he was so upset. We had a good talk about learning to calm himself down. It probably didn’t help that we’d had a big day Thursday and his nap and sleep schedule were totally off. However, we made it to Sunriver on time to eat dinner.

We ate the Village Bar & Grill. Like most of the restaurants in Sunriver, they have a smaller menu than most people are used to, but they have really good, if slightly expensive, food. I got the Blackened Chicken Caesar Salad, which was spicier than I expected (but still good). Forrest got typical kid food: a hot dog and fries.

After dinner, we made our way to our house. Sunriver had some permanent residents, but is mostly rental houses; my family owned a small house previously, but recently sold it to purchase a different home. It was my first time seeing it and it was as lovely as I’d been told it was!

Forrest played for a little while and then we went for a short walk on the bike path, before I put him to bed. I drank a glass of wine and relaxed with my family for a while before going to bed myself.

Sunriver Bike Paths
Sunriver Walking

The next day, I went for a walk myself in the morning. The best part about Sunriver really is all the bike and walking paths. It is still pretty chilly in the mornings in Central Oregon, so I had to bundle up. However, I was excited because I was going to pick up Danny around noon.

Danny had been at a teaching conference in Eagle Crest, which is also not far from Bend. I planned to pick him up so he could join us in Sunriver.

When I got back from my walk, I helped clean up after breakfast and played with Forrest a bit. He was feeling antsy and excited, but really, really didn’t want to nap at all, despite waking up at 3am. (Yes, he woke up at 3am. Kids and vacation are often harder than I expect.) While I tried to get him to nap, the rest of my family played Yahtzee, which is a Sunriver family tradition.

Once he woke up, I got him ready for the rest of the day and we blew bubbles outside for a while. Then, when my mom got back from a walk, I borrowed her car to go get Danny. He was as excited to see the new house as I was, so we didn’t stop much on the drive back.

The afternoon was spent showing Danny the house, going on a walk, then going out to dinner for my brother’s birthday.

The Village at Sunriver
Sunriver Bookstore

On Sunday, we planned to have a barbecue, so I baked my brother a birthday cake. Then, I went on another walk alone—then a walk with Forrest, because he insisted. When I got back, my mom and brother were planning to go on a walk as well, so of course Forrest wanted to go on that one as well! I think Forrest walked a total of 6 miles!

Once they got back, we headed to the Village to pick up a few things at the grocery store. Forrest had also been promised a book by my mom, so we went to Sunriver Books to pick one out. He picked an ABCs of Oregon book, which I was really proud of; he’s been very interested in letters and knowing what things say lately. We headed back to the house and started working on lunch.

Sunriver Oregon Vacation

We headed home not long after lunch. It’s such a short drive between Sunriver and Eugene, only about 2-3 hours (depending on traffic and the weather), it makes it easy to take small weekend trips. I’m already so excited for another trip. There are so many things I love doing in Sunriver—the bike paths along the river, as well as the horse stables, shopping at the Village, bike riding, and visiting the High Desert Museum, as well as exploring Bend—it’s hard to pack it into one trip!

Have you ever been to Sunriver? What’s your favorite thing to do?