Oregon with Kids: Family Activities and Things to Do

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Oregon is a bucket list destination due to its juxtaposition of alt-cool and outdoor adventure with Mt. Hood, coastal beaches, waterfalls and food.

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: 

→ 50 Unique Things to Add to Your Portland Bucket List

→ Cool Things to Do in Portland With Kids

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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

Water bottle → Check out these water bottles perfect for traveling!

Healthy Snacks – Everyone gets irritable when they’re hungry. Pack healthy snacks to make everyone happy!  → Check out our favorite healthy snacks

Hiking Gear for Kids

Family Road Trip Items to Pack

Travel Toys for Kids

WHERE TO STAY IN OREGON WITH KIDS

We like to use Hotels.com where you collect 10 hotels nights and get 1 reward night free!

→ CHECK OUT these Family friendly hotels in Oregon at Hotels.com

→ CHECK OUT the Trip Advisor hotels and things to do in Oregon

→ CHECK OUT vacations rentals in Oregon with Airbnb

→ CHECK OUT vacation rentals in Oregon through VRBO

travel planning made easy

MAP OF PLACES TO VISIT IN OREGON

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.

Kids love the Fairy Garden Tour at Tillamook Forest.Kids love the Fairy Garden Tour at Tillamook Forest.

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. 

Sample cheese and ice cream at the Tillamook Cheese Factory.Sample cheese and ice cream at the Tillamook Cheese Factory.

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.

Oregon Museum of Science and Industry is a must to visit with kids.Oregon Museum of Science and Industry is a must to visit with kids. Photo credit: Passports and Adventures

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.

Kids will love petting llamas in Hood River, OregonKids will love petting llamas in Hood River, Oregon. Photo credit: Budget Your Trip

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!

Add Crater Lake to your list of things to do in Oregon with kids.Add Crater Lake to your list of things to do in Oregon with kids. Photo credit: Mindful Travel By Sara

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.

Sara – Mindful Travel By Sara

Read About the Best National Parks in the US HERE

Best US National Parks for Kids

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.

Rockaway Beach is a sleepy town perfect for visiting Oregon with kids.Rockaway Beach is a sleepy town perfect for visiting Oregon with kids. Photo credit: One Day In A City

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!

The Oregon zoo is the perfect family friendly attraction.The Oregon zoo is the perfect family friendly attraction. Photo credit: God and Wanderlust

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!

Explore Portland with kids by renting a surrey!Explore Portland with kids by renting a surrey! Photo credit: Travel Mad Mum

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! 

Explore Lava Lands in Bend, Oregon.Explore Lava Lands in Bend, Oregon. Photo credit: Forget Someday

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

CHECK OUT more things to do in friendly Bend, Oregon.

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).

Searching for sea glass at Otter Rock beach in Oregon is a fun activity for kids.Searching for sea glass at Otter Rock beach in Oregon is a fun activity for kids.

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.

Explore the Devil’s Punchbowl area along the Oregon Coast.

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.

Enjoy the views of Yaquina Bay Bridge while in Newport, Oregon Enjoy the views of Yaquima Bay Bridge while in Newport, Oregon

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.

Kids love to see the Yaquima Head Lighthouse. Kids love to see the Yaquima Head Lighthouse.

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.

More Oregon Activities With Kids

20 Best Things to See in Portland, OR with Kids: HERE. There are some fun ideas!

17 Cool Things to Do in Portland, with or without kids: HERE

Looking to continue your road trip up the coast into Canada? Enjoy these Best Things To Do In Vancouver With Kids!

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36 Comments

  1. We’re going to Newport for the eclipse this weekend and planning to see Devil’s Punch Bowl, we’re so excited! Any tips for this Mommy with a 5 and 2 year old? Can you share the best way/parking to go down the beach? My daughter loves collecting rocks and sea glass, she would love this!

    1. How fun! There is parking right at the top of the Devil’s Punch Bowl along first street. The access to Otter arock Beach is along C ave, just past 3rd street. There is another parking lot on that corner there. Hope that helps!

  2. Have not been to Oregon yet and can’t wait. The beautiful coastline, cheese factory visit, and a glass of wine from the region would be my ideal trip. Looks like your kids had fun and a great time. Reading this just moved Oregon even higher on my list of US destinations to explore.

  3. A cheese factory?! Omg I would’ve LOVED that as a kid (and to be honest, I’m 31 and would still love to go lol!). And it looks like you got some great little sea treasures- I collect sea glass from everywhere I visit, so I love to see when other’s gather it, too!

    1. That’s awesome! Where have you found sea glass? I’m always looking out for new beaches to visit when we travel.

    1. The cheese wasn’t nearly as good as the ice cream, but they had some interesting types to sample.

      We brought home an Aggie of sea glass to keep in a vase at home! A wonderful and free souvenir.

  4. Cheese and sea glass, in one day. Can I come on your family vacations too!
    This trip sounds super fun for all involved, great posts.

  5. The fairy garden tour is such a good idea! I love how easy it is to do but can definitely keep the little ones entertained.

  6. What great ideas to keep the kids engaged and interested! I especially love the idea of Otter Rock Beach. Looks like a great place to spot sea creatures and go exploring amongst the rocks. Pinned this for our (eventual) trip to Oregon. We’ll probably have kids by the time we get there 😉

    1. Exploring the tide pools and digging through the rocks on Otter Rock beach was my favorite part of the trip.

  7. I absolutely love this guide! I’ve never heard of Otter Rock Beach, but it sounds amazing! I will have to visit when I go to Oregon. The Devil’s Punch Bowl sounds awesome…I love the idea of seeing sea creatures close up. Totally random question, but did you get to see any otters at the beach (I have this obsession with otters and have always wanted to see one in their natural habitat)?

    1. We didn’t see any otters in Oregon. I’ve seen sea otters in the wild in Alaska and along the central California coast, and river otters in the wild in Utah. They are very interesting creatures to watch.

  8. What a great write up! We are a traveling family too! Located in Australia. Would love to visit the USA one day as we have never been there, but hope to visit in the upcoming years. Would definitely use your itinerary for our visit to Oregon.

    1. How fun! We would love to visit Australia. The two countries are just too far apart. Those long flights are difficult with little ones.

  9. Hi Susie – Traveling with family is such a beautiful thing! Teaching them from a young age to get used to appreciate the world is a blessing 🙂 I don’t have kids, but my brother does and he always tries to fit kids activities in their daily itinerary. Sometimes this is hard, but when you do find the right activities is such a fun way to spend the holiday. – Mariella

    1. Thanks for sharing! An appreciation for our world is one of our main reasons for traveling with our kids.

  10. Oregon seems to be a very child-friendly place. My kids would love the cheese sampling and the fairy garden tour. In fact, I’d enjoy several of these activities myself 🙂

  11. The cheese factory sounds cool! I love the beach too! I’m used to go to Positano in Italy & there there is no sand, but rocks. When I was a kid I was always looking for colored glasses like you did! 🙂

    1. Rocky beaches are the perfect ones for finding glass! If I ever make it to Italy, I’ll have to visit that one.

  12. Who doesn’t like a cheese factory! That would be my first stop too. I’m completely new with Oregon, so this was a nice read for me too. Otter Rock Beach looks so pretty, and your kids seemed to have so much fun 🙂

  13. I cannot even tell you how much I love the fact that your husband dressed up as a giant garden gnome for the fairy garden tour! That is incredible! Oregon looks like it is filled with amazing adventures for kids and adults alike. Your kids built an amazing driftwood fort at Otter Rock Beach! I’m kind of jealous!

    1. Haha! So, that wasn’t my husband, but one of the Forest Center employees (volunteers?) who was leading the hike. But I love it! Mr. Lichenbeard.

      The driftwood fort pictured was one of many along the beach, added to by all the kids over the summer.

  14. What great activities you found! We used to own some land and I bought tiny fairy doors at a craft store. It was so much fun for the kids to build up a little living area around that door. We always travel with the kids and they would love all these activities! Icecream – cheese – sea glass – what an adventure!

    1. What a fun idea with the fairy doors! The Forest Center showed the kids how to use natural materials without harming the environment, which was neat.

  15. I don’t even have kids and I love this itinerary! The Oregon coast is so beautiful. I hadn’t heard of Otter Rock Beach, but will have to stop there someday. Also, will have to make sure I taste all the cheeses at the cheese factory:)

    1. We probably wouldn’t have noticed Otter Rock if our rental house hadn’t been there, but it is the perfect pit stop at the Oregon Coast. S

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