Part 2: Oregon Road Trip for Families

Oregon Road Trip Ideas

Welcome to Part 2 of the Ultimate Seattle Round-Trip Family Road Trip. If you’re wondering how to take a kid-friendly road trip without a long drive, you’ve come to the right place! Make sure to read Part 1 through Washington and next, Part 3 through Idaho!

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This Oregon road trip picks up where part 1 left off. Part one ended in Olympia, Washington. Here are a few stops to visit from there.

Here you’ll find some great ideas for Portland and Mt. Hood National Forest as you pass through on your way to Idaho. Hop in, grab the kids, and come along for this Oregon road trip!

Oregon Road Trip for families pin

Portland, Oregon

Actually, first, if you are able to make a detour before Portland, stop at Gifford Pinchot National Forest. This is one of the oldest national forests in the US, and over 1 million acres! From the west side of the park, visit the Castle Lake viewpoint for a great view of Mt. St. Helen’s. There you can enjoy the view on one of the benches or walk the trails. If you have more time to spend in the park, visit Coldwater Lake, where the kids can enjoy a boardwalk stroll and pack a lunch to eat in the picnic area.

Mt St Helens Oregon Road Trip for families
Mount St. Helen’s, Image by llipkind

Picking up from part 1…

Just under two hours from Olympia, the next stop is Portland, Oregon.

Things to do in Portland with Kids

In my research on Portland, I found some pretty cool things to do, such as an Underground Donut Tour, or a Chocolate Walking Tour. YUM! That seemed like a crowd-pleaser for both adults and kids.

Washington Park in Portland

Parking can be limited during busy months, so once you are in the park, feel free to use the free seasonal shuttle to explore the many things Washington Park has to offer! Here are a few highlights:

  • International Rose Test Garden– (a perfect place after your chocolate walking tour…because chocolates and roses go hand-in-hand!) Walk thru several acres of land, covered in over 8,000 roses. And you can do it all for free!
  • Hoyt Arboretum– 190 acres and 12 miles of trails that are free to roam. The trails are shaded by the “living museum” of trees that have been preserved for recreation and educational opportunities. In summer, stop by on a Saturday for a free guided tour ($3 suggested donation). https://www.hoytarboretum.org/
  • Japanese Garden- when a formed Japanese ambassador came to the Japanese garden, he said it was the most authentic Japanese garden outside of Japan that he’d seen. So, it’s really worth stopping here! Beautiful plants and natural features make this a relaxing and breath-taking place to explore. ($19/adult)

Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden in Portland

A 9.5 acre garden dedicated to rare and hybrid rhododendrons, as well as azaleas and different tree species. This is great any time of year, but in spring you will find the rhododendrons in full blooom! ($5/age 10+) https://www.crystalspringsgardenpdx.org/

Forest Park Trails in Portland

5,200 acres and 7 miles of trails lead you through the lush, green forest. The trails are well maintained, and have various spots for different hiking abilities. Port-a-potties available. https://forestparkconservancy.org/

Pittock Mansion in Portland

past home of Henry and Georgiana Pittock, who traveled the Oregon trail to find a place out west. Henry worked for The Oregonian and later became its owner. The successful newspaper still runs daily today!

Cannon Beach near Portland

This is a real beauty, and a bit outside of Portland, but totally worth a stop on your Oregon Road Trip. We actually had a vacation planned here for a few months ago, but COVID started hitting and it all got canceled. Which is really sad, because this beach looks amazing. Enjoy the day at one of the beautiful beaches in Cannon Beach, and make sure and see the iconic Haystack Rock.

Cannon Beach Oregon Road Trip for families
Cannon Beach. Image by Sam Jotham Sutharson

Want to see more of the coast? Check out this Day Trip with RT transport from your Portland Hotel.


Saturday (and Sunday) Market in Portland

As the largest, ongoing market in the nation, there is something for everyone! Whether you’re after some local produce, flavors, or crafts, you’ll find something you love. Over 250 businesses from all over the Northwest attend each Saturday at the market at Waterfront Park.

On the way to the next city on your Oregon Road Trip:

Mount Hood National Forest

about an hour-and-a-half outside of Portland, this National Forest is worth the stop. Be sure to see experience Mount Hood, the tallest mountain in Oregon that has both snowfields and glaciers.

Mount Hood Oregon Road Trip for families
Mount Hood- Image by David Mark

Multnomah Falls on your Oregon Road Trip

On your way to/from Mount Hood, make sure to stop at the ever-popular Multnomah Falls. From the parking lot, it’s an easy 5 minute walk to the viewing area to the falls. Be sure to go all the way to the bridge for the best viewing, only a few hundred feet farther on a paved trail.

For easy planning, book an excursion for Multnomah Falls and Columbia River George Waterfalls. Or, see both Mt. Hood and Multnomah Falls on this day-trip!

Multnomah falls Oregon Road Trip for families
Image by imarketem

Baker City, Oregon

Ever heard of Baker City? I hadn’t. But it’s worth a stop on this Oregon road trip to not only stretch out, but have the kids participate in some history!

National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center on the Oregon Road Trip

Come here to experience live demonstrations and 4 miles of interpretive-trails. Learn about those who traveled the Oregon Trail by seeing exhibits and exploring the trails. You can find ruts made on the land from the actual wagons or even remnants of an old gold mine.

Recommended Excursions (for easy planning!)

Want to do more than just an Oregon road trip? The next Post will cover the next segment of the road trip that will take you through Idaho! See all 4 parts of the series to make a loop.

Next- Part 3: Ultimate Seattle Round-Trip Family Road Trip

Did you miss the first post that takes you through Washington? Make sure to check it out here!

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