Our family recently went on a vacation to Oregon. During our stay we visited multiple different towns and saw many things. Though most of our time was simply filled with family gatherings, I thought I’d share some of the location highlights of our adventures. A few of these places we have visited many times, some only once or twice, and then there are some that we were visiting for the first time. I hope these explanations of our travels, along with the brief historical background of each location, can help you better plan your own trips to the Oregon area. If you’d like to hear about our actual travel experiences with young children (dealing with airports, airplanes, trains, buses, car trips, etc.) please check out our post on Traveling with Young Children. The following information covers a few specific places across these towns: Portland, Seaside, Sherwood, Cannon Beach, and one location near the Columbia River.
Portland is Oregon’s largest city. Although it is home to many things, such as the iconic Washington Park, we were on a bit of a time crunch and weren’t able to see too much of the city itself. Nonetheless, we found a few interesting things to do while we were there. For those of you who are interested in art, theater, or music – Portland is a hub for these thriving scenes. They are also very well known as being eco-friendly (big plus).
Our trip took us in a slightly different direction and more off the beaten path, however. For my sister’s birthday we found this hidden treasure – a black light miniature golf course! This place called Glowing Greens, would have probably been impossible to find if there hadn’t been a pirate posted outside the front door. But it was an amazing 18 holes of dark, creepy fun. Along with the already entertaining glowing course, they provided you with a list of quirky challenges for each hole (stuff like spinning around 3 times before hitting the ball, or having to use a body part other than your hands or feet). It made for quite a fun time together. We enjoyed ourselves thoroughly as we laughed through the entire course. If you’d like to book a party, or just view what they have to offer, check out their website here.
Another site on our Portland stop was something more well-known, Powell’s City of Books. For those of you who don’t know, this bookstore takes up an entire block! It is the largest new and used bookstore in the world! It has multiple levels and several different color-coded rooms. As its website states it has over 3,500 different sections and approximately 1 million books. Many people visit to find out-of-print and hard-to-find titles, including autographed first editions and other collectible volumes. Their website also says that “Dozens of acclaimed writers, artists, and thinkers visit each month to read in the Basil Hallward Gallery.”
Walking through this extraordinarily impressive collection of books almost feels like you’ve stepped into another dimension. They have books of all types, as well as a cafe and other gifts. My eldest daughter loved the children’s section that housed hundreds (maybe even thousands) of books, and a rather large area with tiny tables and chairs. Her and my husband spent about half an hour playing with the hand puppets that were placed right next to the tables. Everyone had a great time exploring this huge bookstore location.
These two places were our big ticket items during our short Portland visit, but if you’re looking for something a little different there are plenty of things to keep you occupied (no matter who you’re traveling with). If you’re traveling with children then stop by the Portland Children’s Museum for lots of hands-on activities. If you’re in the mood for a more relaxing outdoor adventure, check out one of the many gardens in Portland, such as the International Rose Garden, the Portland Japanese Garden, or the Lan Su Chinese Garden. There are tons of outdoor parks, as well as indoor attractions, and even an amusement park and a zoo. Since it sits on both the Columbia and the Willamette rivers, there are also tons of water activities during warmer days. It’s a big city and I’m sure you can find a little something for everyone.
Seaside is a resort town along Oregon’s coast. This location is a gem for many reasons, one of which is because it features the famous “End of the Trail” from Lewis and Clark’s long journey across America. It also has a small aquarium with touch tanks and a seal exhibit.
We were only here for a few days, of which we spent most our time down on the beach. The long beach, and pathway that runs alongside it, are perfect for morning walks. The smell of the beach, the view of the hills, and the sight of the adorable town makes for an amazing experience. There are even swings down the stairs by the Lewis and Clark statue. Fun-fun for everyone!
The town is quite the sight to walk through as well. With tons of tiny little shops and cafe’s, not to mention the famous carousel, this town is full of fun for the whole family. Visit the aquarium or walk down a path alongside the Necanicum River (a 21 mile river that opens into the Pacific Ocean at Seaside) that winds through downtown Seaside. Though this town is packed with activities, it is also very relaxing. Take a walk around. Relax on the beach. Amazing vacation spot.
Just a short drive from Seaside you’ll come upon Cannon Beach. Though there are other attractions of this town, as well, the only reason we decided to visit this area was because of Haystack Rock. This beautiful area showcases a giant rock in the middle of the water near the beach. And guess what you can see on the rock? Puffins! That’s right, this spot is an animal viewer favorite as you can get a glance at these amazing birds. Definitely worth the trip!
Another spot we stopped at only briefly for some fun was Sherwood. Sherwood is a nice area. If you want to walk through a nature preserve you should check out the Tualatin River National Wildlife. It’s beautiful. There are also things like wineries, parks, and gardens. Lots to do.
Comically, the only reason we checked out this area (on this trip at least) was to visit the Sherwood Ice Arena. This ice skating rink is a family attraction – always tons of children (old and young) skating away on the ice. For those of you from areas where outdoors rinks are the only thing available (of course, only during winter months), this indoor rink will surely delight. Come any time of the year and you can ice skate with friends and family. And occasionally even watch hockey games or practicing figure skaters.
The last spot we visited was along the Columbia River. Though not actually part of the river it is right next to it. This amazing spot is Multnomah Falls. It has trails up the mountain, great views of the water falls (even the iconic one seen in the movie The Shack), as well as a lodge, restaurant, and office with wildlife artifacts, furs, skulls, etc. Definitely a must see attraction, and one I have visited many times!
However, this visit wasn’t the best as there had been a fire the year before so most of it was fenced off. Once the moss grows back and it is again safe, though, I highly recommend this astonishingly beautiful location.
Wherever you plan to go in Oregon – the state is beautiful and full of lush scenery. You won’t be disappointed.