Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Christmas at the Coast: Newport's Sea of Lights

For a few nights each year, the Oregon Coast Aquarium becomes a Christmas spectacle. Every weekend during December, over half a million lights illuminate the grounds of the popular aquarium. The first weekend of December is the "kickoff" for this yearly event. Bundle up and be prepared to wait in line; Friday and Saturday evening (the 1st and 2nd in 2017) admission is just $2 and two cans of people or pet food. This first weekend, hours are 6:00-9:00. During the remainder of December, the Sea of Lights will continue on Saturday and Sunday evenings from 5-8:00, with a $10 admission fee (closed Dec. 24). More information on the Sea of Lights can be found here.

The Aquarium itself is a worthwhile destination. Underwater tunnels pass through a huge tank of sharks, rays, and other large fish. Otters and sea lions frolic in their pools. Tiny sea dwellers quietly go about their business in the indoor jewel tanks. Christmastime or not, the Oregon Coast Aquarium is a fun and educational family adventure.

South Jetty near South Beach State Park

If weather permits, stop at nearby South Beach State Park before the Sea of Lights opens. This park offers beach access, restrooms, and hiking trails. The one-mile paved trail to the South Jetty climbs and descends in a few places as it passes through the dunes, but otherwise it is smooth and accessible. Year-round reservable camping is available in the adjacent campground, which features cozy yurts and plentiful RV sites.

The most easily-accessed beach in Newport is at the Nye Beach turnaround, where visitors will also find coastal shopping while they wait out Oregon downpours. More shopping is available on the historic Bayfront. While you are there, stop beside the harbor for photos of Newport's commercial fishing fleet. Click here for a map of the Newport area.

For the total Newport holiday experience, visit on the first Saturday of December (the 2nd in 2017) and take in Newport's annual Lighted Boat Parade. The boats on display range from tiny Zodiac inflatables to large fishing vessels, all cruising along the Bayfront between the Yaquina Bay Bridge and the harbor from 5-7:00. Dress warmly for this popular outdoor event; like most coastal activities, it will take place regardless of the weather. Bring cameras and raincoats and have a merry coastal Christmas!


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  2. Although I don't live there, the places that you have mentioned are breathtakingly beautiful. What a night it must be among the starry lights at such festive area.

  3. I am in love with the lightening done on chrismtass here. Its amazing and i think it is the place to be celebrated for as it is itself is so beautiful.