Family Fun in West Linn
The charming community of West Linn is situated between the Willamette and Tualatin rivers on the southern outskirts of Portland. West Linn is one of the oldest settlements in Oregon, located right across the Willamette from Oregon City. The community of 26,000 people invites you to walk through time, view the majestic Willamette Falls, enjoy an afternoon on the river and see a piece of outer space.
Space-Rock Story: Imagine discovering a chunk of space rock in your backyard. That’s exactly what happened to a farmer here one day in 1902. A 15-ton meteorite — the sixth largest in the world and the largest ever found in North America — was uncovered in a West Linn field more than 100 years ago. The farmer hauled it onto his property and charged rubberneckers 25 cents each to see it. The West Linn meteorite is believed to have touched ground in Canada before working its way down to Oregon at the end of the last ice age in the Missoula Floods. Today the meteorite is in the American Museum of Natural History in New York, but you can see a replica and an interpretive display about the event in West Linn in Fields Bridge Park.
Walk Through Time: The Willamette Falls School was built in 1896, when West Linn farm life was the center of everything. Case in point: Wooden fences were built around the school — not to keep the children in but to protect them during recess from cattle that ran loose in town. Each child was also allotted a small plot of land to raise a garden. Take your family on a walking tour of the Historic Willamette Neighborhood to see the newer version of this school, rebuilt in 1949 after a fire, as well as nearly 70 other unique architectural structures and many heritage trees.
Jet Upriver: Zoom upriver to see one of the largest waterfalls in the U.S. with Willamette Jetboat Excursions. Taking “tour” to a splashy new level, jet-boat guides ferry guests swiftly from Portland to majestic Willamette Falls, the second largest in the nation by volume and one of the widest in the world. Your jet boat will take you right up close to this horseshoe-shaped falls located in the river between West Linn and Oregon City. Absorb history, thrills and a splash or two on this cool, watery tour.
Kick-Flip at the Skate Park: It’s time to pivot, slide and carve the day away on your “sick deck.” The kids will love the West Linn Skate Park, known for its large, fast bowls, huge oververt, nice shallow area with a pyramid and many street objects, including a four-stair, ledges and a rail. There are a few benches for Mom and Dad to kick back on, too.
Cast a Line: Fish right from the bank of the mighty Willamette River at the West Linn public fishing dock, only five years old and already a favorite angling destination. Gear up at Royal Treatment Fly Fishing and cast for spring chinook, white sturgeon, winter and summer steelhead, coho salmon and warm-water fish species from this lengthy dock. You’re certain to catch fantastic views of the Willamette River, the Oregon City bridge and lots of wildlife.
Farm Fresh: Shop for fresh lavender, saffron jam and a necklace shaped like the state of Oregon in one lovely outdoor place, and top it off with a farm-to-table dinner in the street. The West Linn Summer Street Market runs June through August on Wednesdays in the Historic Willamette Neighborhood. With fresh local produce, handmade artisan crafts, vintage and thrift vendors, tasty hot food, a beer and wine garden and live music, there’s something for everyone here.
Dance in the Streets: West Linn is locally famous for its annual Street Dance. This family-friendly event brings food, entertainment, music and dancing to the downtown streets — no cars allowed. Bring the kids and the folks, and get your boogie on during this once-a-year event in July.
Happy Noshing: Time for dinner! Order a plateful of authentic Italian food with a Northwest twist at Bugatti’s. Will it be gnocchi, ravioli or chicken cordon bleu? Another West Linn local’s favorite is Allium Bistro, which has garnered attention for its farm-to-table dinners. The menu changes seasonally. Try the paella or the Carlton Farms pork chop if they are available. Everything is delectable here.
about author Kim Cooper Findling
Kim Cooper Findling grew up on the Oregon Coast and became a Central Oregon girl in the mid-90s, taking in the sunny skies and never looking back (except a few wistful glances at the ocean). She is the editor of “Cascade Journal” and the author of “Bend, Oregon Daycations: Day Trips for Curious Travelers,” "Day Trips From Portland: Getaway Ideas for the Local Traveler” and “Chance of Sun: An Oregon Memoir.” Catch her around the state sampling microbrews, hiking river trails, walking beaches, and hanging out with her family. www.kimcooperfindling.com
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