Oregon is pretty big. It’s the ninth largest state in the U.S., covering nearly 100,000 square miles. There are a lot of places to explore. So it’s no wonder that everyone who visits Oregon has a different story to tell. From fly-fishing along the North Umpqua River to meteor shower viewings from a mountaintop, Oregon has a lot to offer. We asked some of the state’s best known travelers to share some of their favorite spots. Take a look at the My Oregon series and maybe you’ll be inspired to embark on your own adventure.
Marlynn Jayme Schotland is a food, drink and travel writer living in the Tualatin Valley. In the summer she spends weekends with her family picking berries or relaxing by the river.
Oregon’s Washington and Yamhill counties, west of downtown Portland, have so much to offer families seeking food, drink and travel adventures. Having grown up on the east side of Portland, I now love living, working and raising my kids in Washington County. Whether you live in Oregon or are visiting, it’s so easy to create a day full of affordable family fun just outside of the city.
When we are looking to escape both the heat and the crowds during Oregon’s busy summer months, we head out to the Tualatin River. Head out early to Cook Park in Tigard or Brown’s Ferry Park in Tualatin to rent canoes or kayaks (bring your own life jackets or you can rent them at the park), and spend the morning enjoying the quiet beauty and calm waters of the Tualatin River.
This nearly 80-mile river stretches out from the Oregon Coast. It has about 40 miles of accessible water trail that’s ideal for families. Because of the slow current, this is a great river for first time kayakers and little kids.
Spend the morning or afternoon gently moving along the river’s slow current. This is my summer zen: enjoying the beauty and tranquility of Oregon’s beauty with the ones I love the most.
Fresh. Vibrant. Beautiful. Delicious. This is what Oregon summers are all about. When the sun shines here, it brings to life the tastiest crops that help fill my family’s kitchen table for months to come.
Next, head out to one of Washington County’s many farms, such as Baggenstos Farm and Smith Berrybarn, for berry picking, saying hello to the farm animals and playground fun. The kids and I always look forward to summer’s Farm Fresh Fridays in the fields of Washington County, picking tart marionberries, sweet Hood strawberries, blue crop blueberries, and Cascade raspberries.
Enjoy a light lunch at South Store Café in Hillsboro and top it off across the street with yummy milkshakes (plus shopping for local artisan foods and gourmet kitchen items) at Smith Berrybarn.
Sipping and Views
Stop by one of the numerous family-friendly wineries to sample world class pinot noir while soaking up beautiful views of surrounding mountains. Some of our family’s favorite spots include Hawks View Cellars and Stoller Family Estate; both have incredible wines and large open spaces for family picnics, as well as light food plates available for purchase.
But Oregon wine country is so much more than just Pinot Noir. True to the daring spirit of our great state, a few creative winemakers are producing incredible small batch wines that defy traditional expectations of Oregon wines. At Raptor Ridge Winery, you can also enjoy a delicious Grüner Veltliner, which is a rare varietal in the Northwest. Grüner is a white grape indeginous to Austria, but Raptor Ridge is one of a small handful of wineries in Oregon to experiment with planting this versatile grape. The result: a bright zesty white wine perfect for enjoying on a hot summer day while taking in the gorgeous views of the Chehalem Mountains. Oh, and if you must have an Oregon Pinot Noir, they make an exceptional portfolio of those here, too.
Whether you have a few hours or a full day, there’s so much for families to explore in Washington and Yamhill counties.