World-class attractions, interactive museums, zoos, state parks, a national park and 363 miles of beach lines to explore, no wonder Oregon is a family friendly destination.
We have collaborated with seasoned family travelers to create this awesome Oregon With Kids list:
• Tillamook Forest Center
• Tillamook Creamery
• OMSI – Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
• Hood River, Oregon
• Crater Lake
• Rockaway Beach
• Oregon Zoo
• McCall Waterfront Park
• Bend, Oregon
• Otter Rock – Beverly Beach State Park
• Devil’s Punch Bowl
• Newport, Oregon
• Yaquima Head Lighthouse
In case you want to just focus your Oregon family vacation to Portland, we’ve got you covered:
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WHAT TO PACK FOR A TRIP TO OREGON WITH KIDS
Rain jacket – The likelihood of rain while you’re visiting Oregon, especially the coast, is high. Pack a rain jacket. → Check out our favorite rain jackets for the family!
Hiking shoes – If you’ll be exploring any hiking trails in Oregon with your kids, we recommend hiking shoes, and not sandals. After the umpteenth time of getting rocks out of the sandals, you’ll thank us! → REI is the best place to get hiking shoes – trust us!
Hiking socks – Darn Tough socks help prevent blisters, keep your feet dry, and are guaranteed to last. → Check out the BEST SOCKS EVER!
Water shoes – You’ll want shoes that are made to get wet AND protect your feet from the rocks. If you’ll be visiting the coastal beaches and tidepools, pack water shoes. → Check out these water shoes.
Sunscreen → Check out sunscreen for kids
Healthy Snacks – Everyone gets irritable when they’re hungry. Pack healthy snacks to make everyone happy! → Check out our favorite healthy snacks
WHERE TO STAY IN OREGON WITH KIDS
FAMILY FRIENDLY ACTIVITIES IN OREGON WITH KIDS
Unique Activities at Tillamook Forest Center with Kids
The Tillamook Forest Center is right on Highway 6 from Portland to the coast, and stopping there was one of the best decisions we made.
There’s a fire lookout, an indoor visitor’s center with a gift shop, clean restrooms, and educational displays, but best of all, they have several kids’ activities daily.
When we stopped, a group was getting ready to take a fairy garden tour. They met on the beautiful bridge behind the forest center.
The volunteer tour kids showed the children what materials they could find for building fairy houses, and how to collect them without damaging living plants.
After that they led the kids on a short hike, where they viewed fairy houses built by previous groups.
Everyone in the group built their own fairy house along the trail. It was a magical experience, and a great way to stretch everyone’s legs for an hour.
Yummy Treats at Tillamook Creamery with Kids
For an attraction in Oregon that both kids and adults will enjoy, head to the Tillamook Creamery. The creamery is located about 1 hour and 30 minutes from Portland and is commonly referred to as the Tillamook Cheese Factory. It is opened nearly every day of the year for visitors and is a perfect pitstop between Portland and the Oregon coast.
The Creamery was renovated, enhanced and reopened in 2018, expanded to provide a more pleasant experience for visitors. From the main entrance, you go directly up the stairs to view the factory functioning from above and learn the process of turning milk into cheese. Additional exhibits show the history of Tillamook and how the creamery functions and cares for the cows.
You can’t go to a cheese factory without trying the cheese. Everyone can sample Tillamook cheese cubes or you can dine in and eat a meal and dessert. The on-site cafe features a menu that highlights the classic ways to enjoy cheese like pizzas, cheeseburgers, grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup and of course, macaroni and cheese. For dessert, there are 25+ ice cream flavors to choose from with several different size cups and cones to match your appetite.
Dan Bagby – HoneymoonAlways.com
OMSI – Oregon Museum of Science and Industry with Kids
The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry is one of the best things to do in Portland with kids and is a must visit place in Oregon. Located on the east bank of the Willamette River, this huge museum is a kid’s paradise.
From the planetarium to the Science Playground and USS Blueback, the submarine now docked at the side of the museum, kids will love OMSI.
OMSI has 5 exhibition halls full of interactive exhibits and displays. Permanent halls and exhibits include the Science Playground, a hall dedicated to introducing science through fun and learning to the younger members of the family, being geared towards the 0 to 6-year olds. Young kids can enjoy learning through fun with wind displays, water tables and more. The only trouble you will have is getting them to leave this awesome playroom.
The Turbine Hall will be appreciated by older children as they discover physics and chemistry through the displays in this area. It’s the ideal place for testing out ideas. There is also a Space Science Hall, Planetarium where you can learn about the night sky, a Natural Sciences Hall and of course the submarine. Fun fact: this is the submarine that was used for filming the film “The Hunt for Red October”.
OMSI also plays host to visiting exhibits such as the Pompeii one we caught during our visit and, most recently, the Exquisite Creatures. These visiting exhibits change throughout the year, so it is worth checking the website before you visit to see what’s on. The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry is a must-visit when in Portland with kids.
Cath – Passports and Adventures
More Portland With Kids Ideas HERE
Enjoy the Country at Hood River, Oregon with Kids
The quaint town of Hood River, Oregon sits in the Columbia River Gorge about 60 miles east of Portland. Here the smaller Hood River flows into the Columbia, creating the perfect backdrop for this active town and the surrounding rural areas.
Not only are there plenty of restaurants and shops in town, but this entire area is famous for its produce, including wine and fruit. The nearby farms and vineyards all participate in a driving tour known as the Fruit Loop, where visitors can drive around the surrounding region to pick fruit, taste wine, pet animals, and hike through the hills. Our favorites were the Gorge White House which had some great wines, Packer Orchards, Draper Girls Country Farm, and Lavender Valley. We spent the entire day picking fruit for the rest of our trip. Our daughter loved petting llamas, too. And even though she couldn’t taste the wine, she spent the time stuffing herself full of strawberries.
A few riverside parks on the Columbia offer small beaches and playgrounds if you want to get your feet wet. Or, if you’re really adventurous, try windsurfing in the stiff breezes that whip through the Gorge.
If you want to hike or bike on a trail easy enough for kids, check out the nearby Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail. This old road has been transformed into a pedestrian and bike-only trail with amazing views up and down the Columbia Gorge surrounded by forest and flowers. Or, visit Tucker Park along the smaller Hood River for some forested views, or hike along the Hood from the Penstock Flume Pipeline trail head which is closer to town.
We camped at Tucker Park to avoid the strong winds of the Gorge, but plenty of hotels are located in town. Hood River can also be used as a base to explore nearby Mount Hood for hiking in the summer and skiing in the winter. And it also makes a good base to drive along the Gorge to visit the numerous waterfalls.
Bryan Tighe, Budget Your Trip
Outdoor Adventure at Crater Lake National Park with Kids
Looking for some great activities to do in Oregon with kids? Crater Lake National Park is a great plan if looking for nature and outdoor activities for the weekend. Did you know the Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States and rests in a dormant volcano?
Home to the gorgeous “Deep Blue Lake”, there are different trails so you can tour around the lake along 33-mile Rim Drive. One of the best things to do there is stopping at some of the most beautiful overlooks with panoramic views of the lake. There are more than 30!
Other must-do activities in the Crater Lake NP with kids are: ride a boat to Wizard Island, watch the sunrise over Crater Lake, see Plaikni Falls, visit the Crater Lake Lodge and camp at Mazama campground.
The most popular time to visit Crater Lake is in summer, but it’s also crowded. The best time for visiting the park is in May and June (better weather and fewer people!). The park is open year-round, 24 hours a day, but be careful if visiting in winter, as some roads can be closed or frozen. Definitely, Crater Lake is one of the best National Parks in the US and one of the coolest things to do in Oregon with kids.
Read About the Best National Parks in the US HERE
Kick Back in Rockaway Beach, Oregon with Kids
Located just 30 short miles south of its more well-known neighbor of Cannon Beach, you’ll find Rockaway Beach that has a completely different vibe.
Rockaway Beach is a sleepy little beach town that is great for families traveling with kids due to the laidback ambiance of the town that is adjacent to wide, sandy beaches. The town has a walkable main street, with taffy and chocolate shops that are sure to delight kids and adults alike, plus a few other small local shops. Most businesses close early, encouraging you to get out on the sand to watch the sunset and let the kiddos run around the beach before bedtime, which they’ll likely be able to do with plenty of room.
If you enjoy getting away from the crowds, Rockaway Beach is the place to be. It’s often devoid of crowds even at the height of summer. Daylight hours in Rockaway Beach are also best spent lounging on the uncrowded sand, and families with young kids will enjoy setting up toward the northern end of the beach where mountain water runs into the sea and forms a shallow stream for kids to splash in.
Rockaway Beach also has a massive photo-worthy rock a short distance offshore that is shaped like an arch and makes for a lovely family photo backdrop.
Gina – One Day In A City
Oregon Zoo with Kids
The Oregon Zoo, located in Washington Park, is the ideal place to showcase the wildlife that can be found on this planet. The zoo is built around a paved pathway which winds through different sections—rainforests, cats of Africa, Elephants, underwater and exotic birds.
It’s an excellent opportunity for kids to get up close to animals they may otherwise never have the option of seeing. They can watch bald eagles preen, giraffes saunter by and otters joyfully gliding through the water. The most amazing thing is pointing out how large these animals are in real life—TV sure doesn’t do justice!
Each animal at the Oregon Zoo has a board with information on where they live, what they eat and what their lifestyle is like. This can create great conversations and discussions with your kids on how current events like climate change will effect wildlife and what us humans can do to protect them.
The great thing about taking kids to the Oregon Zoo is that there are several shortcuts located along the path that will take you back to the entrance. This can come in handy if your child gets tired, hungry or simply needs a break.
Samah – God and Wanderlust
Ride Around Tom McCall Waterfront Park in Portland With Kids
Renting a surrey is a incredibly fun and unusual way to explore the center of Portland. I highly recommend renting one from Kerr Bikes at the Tom McCall Waterfront Park. Kerr Bikes is a non profit organization who’s proceeds going into local services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities so in addition to having a great time, you’ll be giving back to the community!
Head out on your surrey to check out the river edge and see the city skyline. The bikes include a map of some recommended routes that will take you on a loop around the river, taking in the waterfront, bridges and city views. It’s really beautiful and our toddler really enjoyed it. It’s also a pretty good leg workout for the parents! They have surreys to fit two, four, or six people so it’s quite a handy way of getting around the city no matter what size your family is.
The bikes also have two steering wheels, one of which is non functioning which is a great way to have young kids feel involved in the experience. If you come with a buggy, Kerr Bikes will also store it for you while you take the Surrey for a ride.
Karen – Travel Mad Mum
Read More Things to Do With Kids in Portland HERE
Explore the City of Bend, Oregon With Kids
The city of Bend in central Oregon is the perfect place to travel with kids. Much of what there is to do with kids is actually fun for the whole family! Explore remnants of the basalt lava flow as you walk the
Trail of the Molten Land at the Lava Lands Visitor Center. It’s just about a mile (each way) from the visitor center to the base of Lava Butte. Most of the trail is paved, so even if you have young kids in a stroller, this is a light hike everyone can do!
The High Desert Museum is rated as one of the top kid-friendly things to do in Bend, so definitely put that on your list! Tubing the Deschutes River that meanders through town is a MUST in the summer months. You can also rent a surrey bike and pedal along the shoreline with the whole family.
There are plenty of free things to do in Bend, Oregon with kids including the two public libraries and 40 parks with playgrounds… yes, 40! Orchard Park, Columbia Park, and Al Moody Park were a few of our favorites. Take a drive on the 66-mile Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway for some super scenic views. Hike in Deschutes National Forest and check out some of the local waterfalls, including Benham Falls, Dillon Falls, and Lava Falls. Tumalo Falls is another waterfall in Bend that you DO NOT want to miss! A short hike (0.5-mile) will bring you to the top of the falls.
Bend is the last place on earth where you and your family can visit an iconic 90s-era Blockbuster Video. Pop in for a nostalgic trip down memory lane. From farmer’s markets to summer concert series and weekly festivals, there is definitely no shortage of things to do in Bend, Oregon with kids!
Toccara – Forget Someday
Find Sea Glass at Otter Rock (Beverly Beach State Park) with Kids
Otter Rock (Beverly Beach Sate Park) is where we spent most of our time on the Oregon Coast. Pacific Northwest beaches are not known for being sunny and warm, and this was no exception. However, Otter Rock is one of my favorite beaches I’ve ever been to (and I’ve lived in California most of my life).
At this beach you can search the tide pools, hunt for sea glass, build with drift wood, and climb on rocks. Amid the rock piles, we found dozens of pieces of sea glass. The kids loved digging through the rocks and seeing who could find the biggest or most colorful pieces.
Explore Tidepools at Devil’s Punch Bowl with Kids
Otter Rock Beach also offers direct access to the Devil’s Punch Bowl. At low tide you can access the inside of the punch bowl, and the surrounding tide pools.
The tide pools were amazing, and we saw some beautiful sea creatures there. The kids also loved climbing on the rocks in the punch bowl, and along the access route.
At high tide, you can see the Devil’s Punchbowl from above, watching the water swirling from the street level. There’s a short walk along the cliff side to view the beaches below.
Newport, Oregon and Yaquima Bay Bridge
Newport, Oregon, a small fishing village, is one of the more famous stops along the Oregon Coast. We spent a morning wandering the small-town streets, exploring the docks and shops. The kids watched some fishermen catching crabs in baskets, which was probably their favorite activity of the day.
We could see restaurant employees walking down to the dock to collect fresh crabs to sell. If picking out a piece of salt water taffy gets your kids to behave as well as ours, there are several candy shops along the main street (Bay Blvd). My favorite part was the view of the Highway 101 bridge across Yaquina Bay.
Visit Yaquima Head Lighthouse with Kids
Just north of Newport is the Yaquima Head Lighthouse. Tours of the lighthouse itself are limited, and because of the steep steps, children must be 42”, so we didn’t go inside. But the view from Yaquima Head is spectacular, and we saw sea lions below.
There is also a great Yaquima Head visitor’s center which was very fun and child friendly. There were old fashioned games to learn, coloring activities, and dress ups. There was also a display on sea life, with a tunnel to crawl through, and a lighthouse replica that showed how the light worked, which really interested my older kids.