: Wildlife Safari by Rob Taylor

Oregon Family Fun for All

March 10, 2020

“Are we there yet?” isn’t something you hear much of when road tripping around Oregon.

It’s not only the rapidly changing landscapes that enchant; there’s plenty to keep active families entertained. From thrilling zip lines through the forest to interactive museums filled with race cares, Oregon has world-class attractions as well as quirkier, homespun spots for you to discover. Where to begin? Your family trip starts right here, where you’ll find a handpicked selection of can’t-miss, kid-friendly attractions located all around the state. Here are seven of our favorite family spots.

An Oregon icon since 1971, this family-owned theme park is full of classic rides for young and old. (Photo by Enchanted Forest)

Museums and Parks

Kids and grownups of all ages take delight in exploring these educational and whimsical hot spots, from a nationally acclaimed science museum to a magical storybook theme park.

Children’s Museum of Eastern Oregon

Located in downtown Pendleton, the museum’s hands-on exhibits include a science lab, a play pizza kitchen, a Lewis and Clark exhibit and an arts corner. Visit the Wonderland Tea Party, the Toddler Zone, the Reading Corner and more.

Enchanted Forest

Classic fairy tales inspired the Enchanted Forest, a homemade theme park filled with storybook characters. The 20-acre park has added attractions since it opened in 1971, yet the fan favorite is still the original Storybook Lane. The DIY, made-in-Oregon craftsmanship is apparent everywhere you wander in this family-focused park.

Eugene Science Center

Explore exhibits about astronomy, water quality and nanotechnology with playful learning opportunities. Expand your understanding of the sky at the center’s new state-of-the-art planetarium with thrilling, 360-degree views and various astronomy shows.

Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum

Children who dream of navigating the open skies will be enthralled by this nationally acclaimed aviation museum. Tour a remarkable collection of aircraft and spacecraft, including, most notably, the original all-wood Spruce Goose, known formally as the Hughes H-4 Hercules. Exhibits illuminate aviation history, and the museum also houses an IMAX theater.

Gilbert House Children’s Museum

Explore this quaint cluster of Victorian-era homes turned children’s museum featuring a play farm; a vet clinic; an outdoor, three-story, Erector Set-style climbing structure (a nod to toy inventor A.C. Gilbert); and more.

High Desert Museum

Just south of Bend, this nationally acclaimed natural-history museum has a collection of nearly 29,000 artifacts and more than 100 animals. Its dynamic mix of indoor and outdoor exhibits brings the high-desert environments to life with upclose wildlife encounters, living-history demonstrations and hands-on displays.

Oregon Caves National Monument & Preserve

In the Siskiyou Mountains, would-be cavers can explore a dark and twisting marble cave system, including a large room 220 feet/67 meters below the surface. Guided tours include kid-friendly routes, off-trail caving and candlelight tours. Oregon Caves is one of four national monuments in Oregon.

Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI)

Hundreds of fun interactive exhibits await at one of the nation’s top science museums. It includes a movie theater (with Portland’s largest screen), the Northwest’s largest planetarium and a replica of the world’s only permafrost research tunnel.

Oregon Vortex

The Oregon Vortex might make you question the known laws of physics. Since 1930, visitors have reported balls rolling uphill, brooms standing on end and people’s heights changing. Theories abound as to whether it’s just an illusion or some magnetic vortex, but everyone agrees it’s good fun.

Portland Children’s Museum

Because learning should be enjoyable, this kids’ museum is very hands-on. Explore the Zany Maze labyrinth, the clay studio and the construction exhibit, as well as the Outdoor Adventure play space.

Prehistoric Gardens

In a lush, temperate rain forest on the Southern Oregon Coast, Prehistoric Gardens features two dozen dinosaurs lurking in the thick undergrowth and hiding among the moss-covered
trees and huge ferns. These colorful, life-size replicas are sure to thrill young and aspiring paleontologists.

ScienceWorks Hands-On Museum

Curious kids of all ages will delight in interactive science exhibits, live demonstrations and performances touching on everything from energy, anatomy and chemistry to perception, motion and engineering.

World Forestry Center

Located in beautiful Washington Park, the World Forestry Center is the place to learn about the importance of Pacific Northwest forests and to explore the art, culture, history and forests of the world.

World of Speed Motorsports Museum

Mini speed racers can get a behind-the-scenes look at life in the fast lane at this motorsports museum. Exhibits include more than 100 race cars and motorcycles, as well as NASCAR, Formula One and Indy cars converted into racing simulators.

The Oregon Coast Aquarium's Passages of the Deep tunnel represents the open sea.

Wildlife Encounters

Make new animal friends and learn more about protecting wildlife and their sensitive habitats.

Cascades Raptor Center

The Cascades Raptor Center works to rehabilitate and release injured wildlife and birds of prey. Those that can’t be safely returned to the wild stay at the center. Meet resident eagles, hawks, falcons and owls, and learn about the wildlife that lives around us.

Oregon Coast Aquarium

Explore marine life and plants native to the Oregon Coast on this beautiful 39-acre/16-hectare site. Indoor and outdoor exhibits include “Passages of the Deep,” featuring 3,500 sea creatures and a 200-foot/61-meter underwater walkway through shark-filled waters.

Oregon Zoo

Community supported since 1888, the 64-acre/26-hectare Oregon Zoo is home to more than 230 species of animals, ranging from Asian elephants to desert tortoises. It’s located just minutes from the city center, easily accessed by public transit.

Sea Lion Caves

You’ll find one of the world’s great sea caves on the Oregon Coast at Sea Lion Caves, a privately owned wildlife preserve and bird sanctuary. Take an elevator ride down to sea level to spot the vast numbers of wild sea lions that make their home here.

Seaside Aquarium

One of the oldest aquariums on the West Coast, the Seaside Aquarium was originally built as a saltwater swimming pool. Today its tanks house a variety of sea life and an exhibit of harbor seals that play and preen as visitors feed them.

Sunriver Nature Center

Encounter Central Oregon’s wildlife up close and learn more about the area’s native plants. This nonprofit nature center features live-animal exhibits, a nature trail and botanical garden, and naturalist-led educational programs. Kids love the “creature cave” teeming with snakes, lizards, scorpions, frogs and toads.

Wildlife Images Rehabilitation and Education Center

Since 1981 Wildlife Images has provided a safe place for orphaned and injured birds and animals to recover. See wolves, bears, cougars and birds of prey, and learn about how to reduce the human impact on wildlife.

Wildlife Safari

Take a drive through this nonprofit wildlife park to see some 500 animals roaming freely on 600 acres. Keep your eyes peeled for African elephants, cheetahs, lions, Siberian tigers and many other species from around the world. Get face to face with kid-friendly critters at the Safari Village petting zoo.

The Sumpter Valley Railway features the original right-of-way that was rebuilt in 1971. (Photo by Baker County Tourism)


All aboard! Take a ride back in history on a vintage locomotive and see the beauty of Oregon’s untraveled back roads.

Eagle Cap Excursion Train

Ride the rails through roadless country from the Grande Ronde River to the Wallowa Mountains on the Eagle Cap Excursion Train. The train takes passengers to the confluence of the Wallowa and Minam rivers with great wildlife viewing along the way. Nearby, you can experience a unique kind of transit on a pedal-powered tour with Joseph Branch Railriders.

Train Mountain Railroad Museum

Rail lovers of all ages geek out to the impressive displays here, including the world’s largest private caboose collection (with 37 cabooses), more than 60 fullsize maintenance and rolling stock cars, and the world’s largest miniature railroad. You can take a walking tour and head next door to K&W Railroad for a free train ride for children during the summer.

Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad

Chug along behind a historic steam locomotive as it snakes along Tillamook Bay and the beautiful Oregon Coast. Enjoy the 90-minute coastal excursions, and look for seasonal trains like the Fall Splendor Excursion and the Candy Cane Express. Not far from here, you can hop aboard Oregon Coast Railriders in Bay City and Wheeler.

Sumpter Valley Railroad

Mining history comes to life aboard vintage steam-powered trains as you travel through the heart of the scenic Sumpter Valley. The train runs on weekends from Memorial Day Weekend through September, with some special event trains in October and December.

Explore zip lines and suspension bridges at Pumpkin Ridge. (Photo by Mountains Legacy)

Zip lines

Oregon’s wild and iconic scenery makes a thrilling backdrop to the adrenaline rush of zip-line flying.

Crater Lake ZipLine

Get a bird’s-eye viewing of the forest as you zip through the canopies of the trees. Crater Lake ZipLine’s nine-line course includes the longest in the state, with rappels, sky bridges and sweeping views of the Klamath Basin.

High Life Adventures

Zoom along a mile-long /2-kilometer zip-line tour on the North Coast in Warrenton. Eight different lines speed through beautiful timber, over quiet ponds and past a 7-acre/3-hectare lake. Take the Maple line for a dip in the water.

Mt. Hood Adventure Park at Skibowl

Flip, twist, swing or just hold on as you whiz down an 800-foot/244-meter zip line. Not your thing? Explore the 20 other attractions and beautiful views of Mt. Hood and the Mt. Hood National Forest.

Pumpkin Ridge Zip Tour

Just 30 minutes from Portland, Pumpkin Ridge features seven zip lines that travel as high as 120 feet/37 meters above a beautiful forest of Douglas fir and western red cedar and across three majestic suspension bridges.

Rogue Valley ZipLine Adventure

Located between Medford and Grants Pass, this year-round zip park offers three- to four-hour guided tours that include a thrilling ride across a canyon. Zip through the historic gold-mining country in the gorgeous Rogue River Valley.

Tree to Tree Aerial Adventure Park

Woody’s Ziptastic Voyage zip-line tour features six extreme zip lines (including one that is 1,280 feet/390 meters long), a bridge and a 40-foot/12-meter rappel.

Treehouse Ziplines

Here you’ll find more than 10 zip lines and a mile of cable strung among the trees, with courses from beginner to advanced, including a 400-foot/122-meter plunge down the Achilles line. Open year-round; book one day ahead to guarantee a spot.

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