Preamble: We’re just out of the starting block (officially) with summer, and I wanted to send along ten recommendations from Portland Family Adventures. These are some of our favorites that may or may not resonate with your family.
If you can recommend a trip, please comment below. Here are some perennial favorites from Portland Family Adventures. Oh yeah…I just realized that I left off my absolute favorite thing to do, which is attend Kruger’s Farm - Summer Concert Series! These concerts are every Thursday night (July and August) from 6:30 – 9:30 on the farm’s beautiful lawn. The concerts are VERY family-friendly (no dogs, no smoking!) with great sound and great bands! There is also plenty of food and drink available on the farm; however, picnics/coolers are welcome (NOTE: it’s against the rules to bring your own alcohol onto the farm). Please read farmer Don’s blog about Multnomah County’s efforts to prohibit these activities at Kruger’s Farm.
Berry Picking: Ahhh…a true sign of summer! For us, there are two primary destinations. If we’re picking strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, and/or marionberries, Kruger’s Farm (Sauvie Island) is our destination. Why? They don’t spray their berries, and they haven’t for years. It’s nice to know we’re not getting coated with pesticides/fungicides when we’re getting down and dirty.
If we’re picking blueberries, Kruger’s is also a safe bet. Another great blueberry destination is “Scarecrow Farms” also on Sauvie Island. This is a bit off the beaten path, but definitely worth finding. It’s just a big field off the side of the road with a trailer setup for sales. They can’t claim “organic,” but they don’t spray or use chemical fertilizers. It’s in the opposite direction of Kruger’s coming off the bridge.
Swimming: While the North Clackamas Aquatic Center will knock your socks off, do you really want to be indoors on a beautiful 90 degree day? Let’s soak up the sun while we have this slim window, right? Of course, there are many swimming holes. If you know of some please comment below. With small kids, our focus has always been on public pools.
If you have toddlers, who mostly just walk around and get their toes wet, the Sellwood Pool is the best destination (look for the pool link in the article). If you want a bit more excitement (e.g., frog slide for toddlers, BIG water slide for adults and children who swim, “lazy river current pool, etc.), the Wilson Pool should be on your list.
Bike Riding: In Portland, we love our bikes, and kids are no exception! There are so many rides perfect for kids and/or the whole family. For a complete listing, check-out the biking section of Portland Family Adventures. Also, see my article on tips for biking with kids.
Frisbee Golf: I don’t have too much to say about Frisbee Golf. I think it’s one of those activities that you may try once or twice, and then, never play again. Kids seem to really enjoy this game, so it’s something you may want to try with your kids. Basically, it’s just like golf, but with a Frisbee. So, in a way, that makes it nothing like golf, doesn’t it? At the very least, you’ll get some good exercise! I recommend both Champoeg State Park and the Fanno Creek Trail.
Go Fish! I have to admit to purchasing my first fishing license (ever!) just a few weeks ago. I’ve never been into fishing, but I do remember loving it when I was a kid, and I’ll never forget the look on my son’s face when he caught his first fish.
Actually, I’d like to change my mind about “…loving fishing” as a kid. I just remembered that every fishing trip with my dad and brother ended-up in disaster (lines getting tangled or caught on logs, hooking each other while casting, boat tipping over, losing the worms, etc.). My son is pretty enthusiastic about fishing, and he’d certainly like me to take him more often. These spots make fishing easy, convenient, and low stress!
Take a Hike: Do you remember all the hiking you used to do before you had kids? Well, we do too! Hiking can still be a part of your life, but you’ll need to make a few adjustments, especially with your own attitude. You probably won’t go as far, you probably won’t go as long, but you’ll certainly have time to stop and smell the roses. Of course, you’ll probably be changing a diaper at the same time! Part of your success will depend on having the right child carrier with you while hiking. Good luck!
In town: Due to the many options for loops, short and/or long hikes, Hoyt Arboretum easily wins this one. Forest Park has incredible trails, but it’s not always the best option for a family hike, or a hike with small children.
Hikes in Surrounding Cities: Surprisingly, some of the best hiking areas are located within the Tualatin Hills Recreation District. I recommend getting their hiking/trail map through their Parks and Recreation website. The district has an amazing array of paved paths and hiking networks. These two areas are a couple of my personal favorites. Tualatin Hills Nature Park and the Tualatin River Wildlife Refuge.
Coast: When it comes to hiking at the coast, it’s usually done at one of our wonderful Oregon beaches. Who needs a trail when you can walk for miles and miles along the shore? However, if you would like a bit of adventure, one recommendation immediately comes to mind, and I can picture the stunning beauty of this hike as I’m writing. If you haven’t taken the mile hike down to Cape Lookout Beach, you need to get in your car and drive there immediately! This beach is better than a Hawaiian beach – the 50 degree water keeps the crowds sparse and the condos and high rise hotels uniquely absent.
Mt. Hood: The obvious choice here is Mirror Lake. It’s an uphill climb on pretty steep terrain; however, it’s relatively short at about 2 miles. Make sure you bring a carrier for your kids, because most likely, they will need assistance. Despite the fact you may be carrying them for much of the hike, it’s still worth the trip. The trail around the lake is relatively flat, and most kids will be excited to walk near the water.
The “not so obvious choice” on Mt. Hood is hiking the ridge of “Cooper Spur.” This is far more of a commitment, and could potentially freak out young kids. I recommend this hike for serious hiking families only.
Feel Like a Kid Again: Sometimes, we all need a bit of inspiration to get all those great childhood memories back in our conscious mind. When attending, loosen up a bit and really engage with your children. After all, it’s far safer taking out your road rage on bumper-cars, right? As a hip Portlander, you may be turned-off at times, but your children will (most likely) be out-of-their-minds with excitement at these destinations.
In Town: Oaks Amusement Park
99 miles north (Grand Mound, WA): Great Wolf Lodge – indoor waterpark. We’ll be visiting on July 7th and 8th. Check back for a full article very soon! This place looks like a lot of fun! Check-out the video of the “Howlin’ Tornado.”
Beach Fun: Many people know about Cannon Beach, and it does deserve its reputation as a fine destination. However, if you’re looking for something a bit more relaxed (i.e., less crowded), try Oceanside. Oceanside remains a quaint beach town with some affordable rental options and a stellar beach.
Gorge Waterfalls: You could take a half-day trip out to Multnomah Falls, but being active parents, you’ve probably already done that many times. For soemthing different, check-out Oneonta Falls (Middle) and Latourell Falls. Both these options have relatively short hikes in proportion to the reward of seeing and hearing a roaring waterfall. They also provide opportunities for waterplay near their respective plunge pools – turn over rocks and look for aquatic life!
Hood River Fun: One of the great outdoor-towns in the USA, and it’s only 60 miles from Portland. Why haven’t you been to Hood River lately? Are you waiting for the price of gas to come back down to $3/gallon? Well, you’ll be waiting forever!
Perhaps, you don’t have a vehicle?? Either way, get yourself a Zipcar (Portland Car Sharing – $60 for the whole day, and they pay for the gas and insurance!), and head out to Hood River. There are so many activities to try: mountain biking, windsurfing, road biking, hiking, mountaineering, backcountry skiing, resort skiing, etc. There are also plenty of guide services available right in town. The opportunities for outdoor fun are endless.
Okay…it’s up to you now. Please get up, get out and have fun! If you’ve engaged in any and/or all of these activities, please leave some comments for others. If you take an adventure, please give us a trip report. It’s all good information to share.
Other Posts of Interest...
Portland's Aerial Tram on November 20th, 2007
Letterboxing Portland on April 27th, 2008
Soccer - Portland Timbers on June 6th, 2011