White River Sno-Park (West)

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IMG_0051What’s to Love:  I recently asked for a sledding recommendation on the Portland Family Adventures’ Facebook page. White River Snowpark, located about 6 miles north of Government Camp on Hwy 35, was the unanimous winner! With such accolades, I had to go check it out with my family – we were not disappointed. While many great areas exist for sledding, hiking and/or snowshoeing in winter, this may be the best of the best.

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Cooper Spur: A Family Resort

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Cooper Spur Mountain ResortWhat’s to Love:  In my opinion, taking into account all the factors of “family value,” Cooper Spur Mountain Resort (CSMR) is the best option for families looking for a night (or more) away from Portland, especially when combining it with beginning-level skiers and/or snowboarders. They offer a package deal that includes a lift ticket, and rentals that is far less than the cost of a single lift ticket at neighboring resorts.  The trade-off is limited terrain served by a single lift.  Despite that limitation, if you’re looking for a laid-back resort that is family-friendly, this should be your next destination.

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Hoodoo Ski Resort/Suttle Lake Resort

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Hoodoo ski resort provides an excellent skiing resort for families with small children. There is also a great tubing hill called “The Autobahn.” While skiing at Hoodoo, book a family cabin at the Suttle Lake Resort. If your kids are 14 and older, you can stay in the actual Lodge at Suttle Lake.

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Leavenworth, Washington

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Leavenworth, WAWhat’s to Love:  Located about 2 hours east of Seattle with less rain, more sunshine, and a lifetime-worth of outdoor recreation, the small town of Leavenworth is the “Bend, Oregon” of Washington state.  If that were not enough, Leavenworth is one of the most family-friendly towns I’ve ever visited.  While gas is cheap, I highly recommend taking the family on a 5-hour drive for some exciting winter fun including (depending on your experience): snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, backcountry skiing, ice climbing, alpine climbing, downhill skiing, sledding, sleigh rides, snowmobiling, and some of the wildest tubing you’ll ever experience!

Downtown Leavenworth, WA has a nice Bavarian-style villageSure, you could just drive up to Mt. Hood; however, Leavenworth provides a small, Bavarian-style village that will make you feel like you’re on a trip in the alps (well…almost!).  All the winter activities can be had right in town or within a 45 minute drive.  This town provides a cozy, winter wonderland that you just can’t experience at larger destinations.

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Hood River – Outdoor Playland

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What’s to Love: What’s not to love? Hood River is my favorite small town outside Portland. For the outdoor enthusiast, there are a myriad of options: windsurfing, kiteboarding, mountain biking, road biking, kayaking, downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, sledding, mountaineering, hiking, etc. To detail all of the activities is a book in-of-itself. Many of my favorite outdoor activities are right outside town including the incredible ridge hike, “Cooper Spur” and mountain biking the spectacular Surveyor’s Ridge – not to mention all the amazing hikes in the Columbia River Gorge. The fun never seems to end in Hood River. This town is not just a world-class outdoor destination, there are some excellent restaurants, great cheap eats, and unique, independent retail shops.

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Timberline Lodge

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Timberline LodgeWhat’s to Love:   This could easily turn into another generic article on the iconic Timberline Lodge.  Built during the Great Depression, it has been in operation since 1937 and literally every aspect of the lodge has been covered by a multitude of articles, documentaries, Hollywood films, photographers, etc.  Even folks disinterested in the history or craftsmanship of the lodge are genuinely moved as they enter the lobby.  Can I possibly say something fresh and new about Timberline?

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Summit Ski Area – Mt. Hood

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What’s to Love: Update as of 2/2016. Everything I said in this article originally is still exactly the same. Taking all factors into consideration, Summit is the absolute best ski area to teach young children and first-timers. If you’re thinking about teaching your kids, this is the place you want to visit. It has many advantages over the nearby resorts. It’s less crowded, it’s less expensive, it’s easier to access the lift, the terrain is better, the ski run is long (when compared to other bunny hills), and there is tubing right next to the parking area.  As a beginner-level-area, it’s hard to beat the The Summit.

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