Take the family on a hunt for agate, quartz and Jasper in Prineville.

Remember the old-fashioned family road trip before the iPhone, Kindle and Facebook when you just fought over the radio dial? In celebration of simpler times, we suggest an unplugged spring vacation. Here are some ideas to get you planning (and you can fight for the front seat later).

Estuary Exploring: Visit the South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, a 5,000-acre natural area located near Charleston on the South Coast. On the reserve’s mix of open water channels, tidal and freshwater wetlands, riparian areas and forested uplands, you’ll learn about the environmental significance of estuaries and coastal watersheds. Hike or paddle on your own, or join in on one of the reserves many programs.

Rock Hounding: Central Oregon’s Prineville is a rock hound’s paradise. Explore the geologic history of the area while looking for agate, quartz, Jasper and other stones that followed volcanic activity 40 million years ago. Contact the Prineville Chamber of Commerce for tips and maps.

Nature Quest: Go exploring with Nearby Nature in Eugene, a nonprofit organization that leads two-hour hikes and adventures — including  nature walks, day camps, adult workshops and restoration projects — to introduce kids to the natural world. Consider forming your own Family Nature Club to keep exploring.

Hands-on History: The Oregon Trail Interpretive Center in Baker City brings back its Wagons Ho! exhibit now through June 4. Get your hands on the pioneer experience with this interactive exhibit, which includes a full-scale replica of a wagon, pioneer clothes to try on and various trail activities.

about author Eileen Garvin

Eileen Garvin is the editor of Travel Oregon’s Seasonal Features, enewsletters and annual visitor guide. When she’s not cooking up trip ideas, Oregon Dreamer profiles and outdoor adventures to write about, she’s out exploring Oregon.

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These maps and directions are for planning purposes only. You may find that construction projects, traffic, or other events may cause road conditions to differ from the map results. For travel options, weather and road conditions, visit, call 511 (in Oregon only), 800.977.6368 or 503.588.2941.

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