What’s to Love: Vancouver Lake Park is one of my new favorite spots. Unfortunately, it took me eight years to make it over the bridge for a visit. I was impressed with the entire park: clean, nice green space, picnic spots, grills, biking, and swimming. Plus, there was no day-use-fee! While summer lasts, make sure to include this on your tick list.
Perhaps, the park gets a bit overrun during summer weekends, but it certainly was relaxed on our Sunday outing. There was plenty of room for everyone, and it didn’t feel like we were crammed next to people like some other parks. The water in Vancouver Lake was the perfect temperature for a hot summer day, and we enjoyed playing on the sandy beach as well.
The park also offers a 2.5 mile paved bike path to nearby Frenchman’s Bar Park, which has a lot to offer as well. Looks like an excellent spot of watching big ships on the Columbia River. The trail is a bit flat and offers little shade, so make sure you avoid it during the hottest part of the day.
Caveats: I don’t know if it was especially warm the day we were there, but the sand on the beach was incredibly hot! Our kids could barely make it back and forth from the grass to the water without feeling like they were burning their feet. Make sure you bring sandals or water shoes!
It’s not a huge park, so if you’re interested in getting a picnic table with a grill, make sure you get there a bit early. On weekends, I can’t imagine that the park is as mellow as it was when were were there.
No lifeguards on duty! Watch out, the water gets deep quickly, and the temperature gets much colder. Keep a close eye on your kids while they’re in the water.
Website: Vancouver Lake Park
Distance from Portland: About 14 miles from downtown Portland. Here is a Google Map.
Recommended Ages: Park is good for all ages, but teens might get a bit bored unless you bring something else to do. The bike path is a good ride for beginning-level riders, even if you don’t do the entire trail.
Parental Stress Factor: Park was a very low stress adventure when we were there.
Physical Difficulty: Easy access and ADA accessible with bathrooms. The bike trail is flat and a smooth ride.
Family Fun Factor: If you bring some extra games and couple that with a picnic and some bike riding, it’s definitely a fun afternoon! We would definitely go back for another visit.
Pet Friendly: NO DOGS! This is probably one reason why the park was quiet when we were there. Maybe, families with dogs would rather go to a park where they can bring their family companion along.
Weather Considerations: Definitely a sunny, hot-weather-destination! I would save this up for one of those 90+ degree days.
Insider Info: If you’re into boating, this is a good place to carry-in your kayak, inflatable raft, canoe, etc. Several people were taking their kids out onto the lake and/or just paddling around the swimming area.
There is a long section of the bike trail that parallels blackberry bushes. If you’re visiting mid-July to mid-August, you might want to bring some containers for berries.
Check-out the incredible beach volleyball setup they have in the pictures to the left! Unfortunately, my kids are too young to make an interesting game, but if you have older kids, by all means bring a volleyball for a game or two.
You can reserve a shelter for larger family outings. There is one away from the water but next to a playground with a large ball field and playstructure.
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