Guide for Families Visiting Oregon

Cannon Beach at Haystack Rock.

Oregon is limitless when it comes to family adventures—from clean, sandy beaches to lakeside camp grounds and white-blanketed mountains, this state offers kids the chance to play in any region, any time of the year—parents won’t be disappointed either.

If the coast is calling and the kids are crying, calm the storm with an afternoon of beach combing. Head towards Ona Beach State Park, an oceanfront retreat just 8 miles south of Newport. If it’s winter time, be prepared for full pockets—there’s plenty to go around as coastal storms are frequent, bringing in slews of sea treasures, such as agates and fossils.

Make your way inland, and depending on the season, you’ll pass through throngs of yellow and orange as Willamette Valley’s Bigleaf maples shed their cloaks in autumn, or through lush swells of rich greens peppered with vibrant flowers in the spring and summer. If it’s football season and you’re in the area, be sure to catch a game at Oregon State University in Corvallis or University of Oregon in Eugene. Kick back with a full glass of beer, grab your kids some pom poms and get noisy. Summer time? Trek through one of the many Willamette Valley orchards or berry farms for some ripe pickins and a healthy snack.

If the bright lights and bustle of a city are calling, try Portland. For a fun and educational experience, take the family to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI). Follow it up with an afternoon of shopping at Pioneer Courthouse Square and an evening at the Northwest Children’s Theater—an inspiration for the ham in your family.

Christams break hits and it’s off to Central Oregon you go. Sign your kids up for some snowboard or ski lessons at Mt. Bachelor, while you and your spouse get that rare, but well-deserved, alone time cruising the slopes. If downhill isn’t for you, trek through the woods on some skinny skis at the Meissner Sno Park. The warmer months in this region aren’t nothing short of family-friendly either. In the summer, float the Deschutes River through Bend’s Old Mill District and get your fill of people-watching as folks shop, walk and run the area. Catch it on a good day and you might even get a soundtrack to your float as local bands play music riverside.

Though vast and sometimes considered barren, Eastern Oregon still offers visitors down-to-earth fun. Summer is the safest bet to avoid snowfall at these elevations and to partake in the 250 sunny days each year. Follow state Highway 82 until it dead-ends at Wallowa Lake State Park, a Shangri-La for families with its trail rides, go-carts and miniature golf. Bring your suits for a dip, and if you prefer to stay above water, rent a boat at Wallowa Lake Marina.

Southern Oregon is a perfect destination for the performance-driven bunch. Attend the Oregon Shakespeare Festival at Ashland’s majestic outdoor Elizabethan theater or head over to the Ashland Children’s Theatre. For fresh air, consider a walk in Lithia Park past a Japanese garden, duck ponds and picnic areas.


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