We’re an active family of 4 looking for a week of Oregon adventures. What do you suggest?
Thanks for the question! I will give you a basic breakdown of the state’s adventure offerings and once you decide where in Oregon you would like to visit I can narrow down the options and give you some more detail. Also, the time of year changes what is available.
The Coast – The Oregon Coast is nicknamed the People’s Coast and it has something for everyone. In the north coast you have Seaside, which is a fun town with lots of summer activities that appeal to kids of all ages (boardwalk, saltwater taffy, beachcombing, kites). Heading south you will encounter numerous lighthouses (Yaquina, Heceta Head) and the fun town of Newport. Between Newport and Florence is what I consider to be the BEST of the Oregon Coast scenery. Cape Perpetua Scenic Area will beckon you to stop and explore. I dare you to drive by it and not stop. Florence has a fun downtown and offers access to the Oregon Dunes National Recreation area where you can go on a dune buggy tour or try sandboarding. Continuing south on the coast highway you’ll pass Reedsport which is home to the Umpqua Discovery Center. Gold Beach is another adventure hub where you can go on a jet-boat ride, fish for salmon, or just enjoy the beach.
The I-5 Corridor – (North to South) Begin your trip with a stop in Portland. Explore a very unique town full of delicious eateries, museums, natural wonders and more. If you head east from Portland along Interstate 84 you can explore the Columbia River Gorge and hike around numerous waterfalls, including the tallest in the state, Multnomah Falls. Further south on I-5 take a shopping adventure in Woodburn and enjoy shopping at the Woodburn Outlets (tax free). East of Woodburn is Silverton and Silver Falls State Park, a great place to go hiking and take photos. Next stop is Eugene. Try to visit on a Saturday so that you can check out the Saturday Market. There are a lot of great hikes in the area, some with swimming holes too. After you’ve explored Eugene, set the GPS for Winston and the Wildlife Safari. Make sure you stop for cheese at the Rogue Creamery and cool off with a trip on a Hellgate Excursions Jet Boat in Grants Pass.
Central Oregon a.k.a “The Dry Side” – Some of my favorites east of the Cascades are Warm Springs and the Kah-Nee-Ta Resort & Spas, Smith Rock State Park in Redmond. In Bend you can have river adventures (rafting, tubing, stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking, canoeing) mountain biking adventures and culinary adventures. A trip to Oregon isn’t complete without a stop at Crater Lake. If it’s really a hot day you can cool off at the end of the Cleetwood Cove trail with a dip in the clear blue (very cold) water.
I recommend you check out the state’s Scenic Byways and once you decide where you want to go let me know so that I can offer you more suggestions.
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This is a good list, but it is missing the amazing wonders of Eastern Oregon, and, especially the Blue and Wallowa Mountains in the northeast corner of the state. Included in this area are the largest national forest (the Wallowa-Whitman) and the largest designated wilderness in Oregon, the Eagle Cap Wilderness, with its gorgeous alpine lakes and many trails and campgrounds; the continent’s deepest river gorge, Hells Canyon, which offers jet boating on the Snake River and high country hiking, mountain biking and camping on the rim, and stunning scenery; and, there are several Oregon Scenic Bikeways, including the Grande Tour Scenic Bikeway and scenic byways to explore. Don’t miss the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center at Baker City, the Maridell Family Fun Center in La Grande, or the Wallowa Lake Tramway. Check out all that eastern Oregon has to offer at http://www.eova.com.
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About Ask Oregon Expert Cari Soong
Cari Soong is the Assistant Manager of the Eugene, Cascades & Coast Adventure Center in Springfield, Oregon. When she isn't sending visitors out on adventures throughout the region, she is pursuing her passion for outdoor recreation. From bicycling and hiking to snowboarding, she is always in search of the next epic excursion. She has called Oregon home since 2004 and thrives on finding new favorites around the state. She's always eager to share her expert advice and help others plan their trips.