10 Fun Things to Do at McPhillips Beach on the Oregon Coast

pacific ocean

Are you looking for a new go-to beach to visit on the Oregon Coast? McPhillips Beach is a wonderful beach located in the Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area. This happens to be our family’s favorite beach on the entire Oregon Coast (and we have been to a lot of beaches in this state!). McPhillips Beach is one of the very few beaches along the entire Oregon coastline that you can drive on. 

McPhillips Beach is great for visiting not only in the summer months but all year long. We have spent many fall, spring, and winter days here enjoying family time and the beautiful Oregon Coast. The great thing about the Oregon coast is that, while we do tend to have more rain and wind than many other areas, it’s actually quite mild. That’s why the Oregon coast is such a great vacation (or day trip) destination! 

10 Fun Things to Do at McPhillips Beach on the Oregon Coast

Wondering what you can do at this secret beach in Oregon? Check out these 10 fun things to do at McPhillips Beach. 

Go for a Drive

I love that you can drive down to McPhillips Beach. You can pack up all of your beach gear, firewood, bbq, etc, and drive right down to the spot where you plan to hang out for the day. There is just something fun about being able to drive along the sandy beach and get a whole new view of it. 

Most of this beach is wet, harder sand so it’s easier to drive on, but you need to be careful about sand that is too soft and sand that is too close to the water. It’s easy to get stuck down there if you know what you are doing. There is often a tow truck in the area for emergencies, but be prepared to pay for it!

​Climb the Giant Sand Dune

Haystack rock, oregon

Cape Kiwanda Natural Scenic Area is known for its giant sand dunes and there is a huge, 240 ft one that separates McPhillips from the beach next to the Pelican Brewing. Climbing the dune isn’t easy, but it is fun!

Plus, when you make it to the top of the dune, you will be blessed with some amazingly beautiful views of the area all around. 

Watch the Hang Gliders

​Hang Gliders like to use the giant sand dune as a jumping-off point and you can spend hours watching them from the beach below! I’m not sure that I would ever be brave enough to go hang gliding myself, but I do like watching them go! 

Fly a Kit

​Don’t forget to bring a kite along with you, because this is a great location for kite flying! We often buy the kids some kites at Dollar Tree and it provides them with hours and hours of fun. 

Roast Hot Dogs Over a Fire


I love having a fire down on the beach (barring any fire bans, of course) and roasting hot dogs and marshmallows. Some of our favorite family times have been spent doing just that. It’s a great way to relax and unwind after a busy week. 

Go Whale Watching

While it may not be the top place in the state for whale watching (be sure and check out Depoe Bay for that), I have seen whales here before. If you enjoy looking at the ocean anyway, keep your eyes out for these majestic creatures because you may just see some! 

Host a Special Occasion

We have actually had my son’s birthday party at this beach before and I have seen several weddings here over the years. While it may not be a typical beach you would think of for special occasions, I have seen them done very successfully here. 

Go Camping

Okay, so you cannot actually camp at McPhillips Beach Oregon. However, Thousands Trails has a great campground right across the street. We are Thousand Trails members and have stayed there multiple times. It is great! There is a game room, a pool, a playground, and an awesome gazebo with stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. 

Head to The Pelican Pub

​After a day spent at the beach, you might find yourself hungry! Head on over to the Pelican Pub and buy yourself a cold beer (locally brewed of course) and a delicious lunch or dinner. The Pelican has an awesome location too. 

When you are done with dinner, head across the street to the Cape Kiwanda store and grab some old-fashioned ice cream. 

Watch the Dory Boats

​Pacific City is well known in the Pacific Northwest for its dory boats! This beach is a great place to see them in action! 

McPhillips Beach FAQ:

McPhillips Beach Oregon

​Do You Need a 4WD to Get Down to McPhillips Beach?

While you don’t technically need a 4WD to get down to the beach, I highly recommend it. At least be sure to have a vehicle with good clearance before you head down. The extremely bumpy road to get onto the beach can be rough. 

If you have determined that you can’t or don’t want to drive down to the beach, that’s okay! There is a small parking lot located midway down the road. 

Are there Bathrooms at McPhillips Beach?

Yes, there is a portable toilet located in the small parking area at McPhillips. There is none down on the beach though, so prepare for a walk when it’s time to go potty!

Is McPhillips Beach Crowded?

One of my favorite things about this beach is that it never gets too busy. I have never had a day at this beach that I felt was too crowded with people. I think that’s because it’s kind of a secret beach. I’ve been going to Sand Lake Recreation Area for decades and I never even knew this beach existed until about 8 years ago. I would drive past on my way to Sand Lake and not even notice the unmarked road that leads to it. 

Is There Easier Access to This Beach?

If you can’t make your way down the bumpy road to the beach, no worries! You can actually drive a bit further up the road and enter the beach in Tierra Del Mar. The sand in Tierra Del Mar area is much softer and easier to get stuck in though, so be prepared

Check out more great beaches in Oregon that you should visit!

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