What’s to Love: The Oregon Garden is full of surprises, especially during the month of October when they host “Family Harvest Days” every Saturday from 1PM to 4PM. We went with every intention of visiting the Harvest stops, but we were quickly sidetracked by the tram tour and our own kids’ wanderlust through the well organized and meticulously maintained gardens.
The Oregon Garden has so much to offer: group tours, educational programs, weddings, concerts, other public events, meeting spaces, and much more. I’ll leave it up you to explore their website. No doubt, you’ll want to explore the 20+ specialty gardens with your family. This place is a real Oregon treasure.
Your kids’ favorite spot will no doubt be the children’s garden. Lots of paths to explore coupled with fun activities, a tunnel, a train set, and dinosaur bones hidden within their large sandpit. I think my 3-year old could have played in this pit all afternoon. Here is a short video clip of our time at The Oregon Garden.
Caveats: While the tram tour is fun, it’s certainly not a thrill ride. To really see the various gardens, walking is the best option. If you have kids who are not in the mood for strolling around and looking at plants, trees, shrubs, flowers, etc., you may want to save The Oregon Garden for another day. Come prepared with appropriate child carriers!
I like the town of Silverton! It’s quirky with a lot of small local shops. I would like to do an article just on the town, which I will get to in 2012. However, it’s a bit off-the-beaten path. You might want to combine this with another trip, if you’re out that way. While not super close, we combined it with the Newberg Skate Park. Silver Fall State Park is also in the vicinity.
Website: The Oregon Garden Website
Distance from Portland: Around 42 miles from downtown Portland. The route travels through some smaller towns, so you’ll want to plan on at least 1-hour. Here is a Google Map.
Recommended Ages: As long as the trip is combined with some other adventure, The Oregon Garden has something for the whole family. While the tram tour was fun, younger kids might get antsy – be prepared to hop off at one of the stops if your kids get too rambunctious.
Parental Stress Factor: Very low stress destination! This is the perfect spot for a peaceful morning or an afternoon getaway. Nice place for family pictures.
Physical Difficulty: Easy to get around and fully accessible!
Family Fun Factor: We had a great time! It’s definitely one of those destinations where all the stars have to align for the perfect visit. Again, due to the focus on family, October’s Family Harvest Days might be the best time to visit.
Pet Friendly: Dogs are welcome on a leash.
Weather Considerations: Open year round! With kids, you’ll probably want a dry day with cooler temperatures. Sounds like the early fall to me! While walking the roads and pathways, you’ll have plenty of sun exposure in the summer.
Insider Info: Family Harvest Days is held on every Saturday during the month of October. This is an excellent time to bring the kids for a visit! It’s hard to get kids excited to go to a garden, even if it’s as awesome as The Oregon Garden. However, if you tell the kids there are art and activity stations disbursed throughout the garden, you’ll most likely get a bit more enthusiasm about your visit.
Also, you might want to zero-in on the “What’s in Bloom” page on their website. This gives a month-to-month report on what you can expect to see blooming within the various gardens.
If you’re visiting with your family from out-of-town, you might be interested in staying right on garden grounds. The Oregon Garden Resort is a newer facility with a beautiful main lodge, heated outdoor pool, spa, meeting rooms, a restaurant, and much more! If we get a chance to stay, I’ll make sure to write a detailed review.
Family Tips: The visitor’s center has some snacks and drinks in their cafe, but you’ll probably want to bring your own food and drinks to save some money. While definitely family-friendly, the Garden demands a certain level of decorum to remain friendly for all. Here is a direct link to their policies.
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Opal Creek - Family Workshops on September 7th, 2009
Evergreen Wings & Waves Waterpark on July 30th, 2012
Orchard Park - Hillsboro on May 15th, 2012