Plan my family's summer vacation in Oregon.
June 8, 2010 10:26 AM   Subscribe

What are your favorite budget family vacation spots in Oregon?

Oregon is riddled with amazingly beautiful places, but what are the best places to go with my family this summer? We are a family of four, two adults and two elementary school-aged kids (and maybe one dog). We have two weeks, and we'd like to spend it exploring Oregon.

I would love recommendations specific or general: Do you love a specific campsite or campground near a great swimming lake? Is there an aquarium or museum or other destination your kids thought was the coolest place ever? What shouldn't we miss?

We want to explore trails and museums and also hang out and swim. Coast and mountains are all possibilities. We can go lots of places or focus on a small area.

We live in Portland, so this trip is a chance to check out the rest of the state.
posted by bluedaisy to Travel & Transportation around Oregon (12 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Oregon Coast Aquarium is really really nice.

Kayaking on Willapa Bay, which is close to Portland up on the Washington Coast.

The Lewis and Clark stuff in Astoria, for which you could camp at Fort Stevens.

For something more afield, the Wallowas, in the northeast part of the state are stunningly beautiful, and have a nice lake (Wallowa Lake), a boutiquey tourist town (Joseph), and a Yosemite-like valley (the Lostine River Valley).

Mt Rainier National Park, in Washington, is not far, either.
posted by Danf at 10:42 AM on June 8, 2010

There was a hostel right on the beach near Florence a few years ago.
posted by Pamelayne at 10:46 AM on June 8, 2010

Central coast camping is really neat (we love Beverly Beach but it can be crowded) and Newport has a few great things - Oregon Coast Aquarium (incredible!), Ripley's Believe It or Not, and The Wax Works.

Camping at Silver Falls State Park in Stayton is nice, too. The little cabins are really neat but I imgaine hard to get in the summer. That close to Salem means you can visit AC Gilbert's Discovery Village, the Mission Mill Museum, and the Hallie Ford Museum of Art.

There's also a neat little Heritage Museum in Rickreall, too, but I can't recall the name of it. It keeps kind of irregular hours, too, as I recall.
posted by codswallop at 10:49 AM on June 8, 2010

I have a soft spot for the Tillamook Air Museum, a modest collection of planes in an enormous WWII blimp hangar.
posted by zsazsa at 10:50 AM on June 8, 2010

The Evergreen Air and Space museum would be a nice day trip from Portland, also. Combine that with some wine tasting and you have a win-win for both you and the kids.
posted by Danf at 10:59 AM on June 8, 2010

Crater Lake was one of my favorite places to go camping when I was a kid.
posted by pi at 11:00 AM on June 8, 2010

Off the top of my head:
• Camping at Cape Lookout State Park--great beach access, lots of fun for kids
• Camping at Crescent Lake, Suttle Lake, Elk Lake, Diamond Lake, Devils Lake, Sparks Lake (I still remember the time we canoed to an otherwise inaccessible camp site on the far side of Sparks Lake from the parking area when I was about 12)
• Camping around Steens Mountain, Ochoco National Forest
• Backpacking to Bays Lake, Green Lakes, Cabot/Carl/Patsy/Table Lake (the latter is great for huckleberry picking in August)
• Oregon Shakespearean Festival and Lithia Park in Ashland (check out historic Jacksonville while you're there)
• Birding at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge
• High Desert Museum (don't miss the otters)
• Palouse Falls isn't in Oregon, but it's worth the trip
posted by willpie at 12:29 PM on June 8, 2010

Someone mentioned Fort Stevens, which reminded me of Fort Clatsop. I loved Fort Clatsop when I was a kid.
posted by willpie at 12:31 PM on June 8, 2010

nthing Silver Falls.

Wickiup Reservoir/Dam in the Deschutes near Bend is a beautiful place to camp, boat, swim, fish. The US Forest Service's site is having fits, or I'd offer a link.

Camping or staying at the coast is also highly recommended. Lincoln City, Astoria, Newport, plenty of other great places!
posted by asciident at 1:38 PM on June 8, 2010

I'm all for getting out into nature, but I think factory tours are great for kids. Having never done any in Oregon, though, all I see are these two:
Tillamook Cheese Factory tour ("self-guided") :(
Pendleton Wool
posted by Lukenlogs at 1:47 PM on June 8, 2010

Tillamook Cheese Factory tour ("self-guided") :(

No need for a frownie. The Cheese tour is really cool and there's free cheese at the end.

But it is PACKED in the summer.
posted by codswallop at 2:48 PM on June 8, 2010

following up willpi - all the Cascade Lake Highway Lakes (outside of Bend) are great and offer a wide variety of camping options (all US Forest Service campgrounds so no reservations system). We like Hosmer Lake the best but that's 38 years of bias... plus you can go from the mountains to high desert for lots of neat day trips to see a totally different Oregon from what you'll experience in the Portland Area.
posted by rosebengal at 4:15 PM on June 9, 2010

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