Skyhook Ninja Fitness

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What’s to Love: Billed as “Portland’s Premier Ninja Warrior Gym,” Skyhook Ninja Fitness (SNF) brings fitness into the future by offering obstacles that involve strength, dexterity, finesse, stamina, and brain power. Running a course and/or practicing skills and obstacles is a total body workout, and most of all, it’s REALLY FUN! This is the ideal place for an entire family to workout together. I visited recently with my two sons (ages 8 and 13) during an “open gym,” and we all had a blast creating our own mini-courses, practicing front-flip progressions, jumping on the trampolines, and climbing. If your family likes the show American Ninja Warrior (ANW), get in your car and head over to SNF immediately!

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World of Speed

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What’s to Love: A car museum out in Wilsonville, Oregon? I have to admit, it took me a long time to visit this unassuming museum located off I-5. I was a bit skeptical of what I might find. My wife and younger son visited years ago. They both loved it, but I never got around to a visit. I’m glad I did! The World of Speed is a beautiful, clean, and exceptional museum featuring incredible cars, motorcycles, interesting exhibits, hands-on simulators, and all located only 20 minutes from Portland. If your kids are interested in cars, you’ll want to put this museum on your to do list.

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Wild Waves Theme Park

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IMG_2212What’s to Love: Another place it’s taken me forever to visit! I don’t know how many times I’ve passed Wild Waves on my way north to Seattle. I’m sure you’ve all seen it, especially if you have kids. The roller coasters and huge water slides are hard to miss, even speeding by on I-5. While it lacks the charm of Enchanted Forest, and the extreme cleanliness of Disney Parks, I was still impressed and look forward to our next family visit.

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Wilsonville Family Fun Center & Bullwinkle’s Restaurant

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Frog Hopper Ride with Kidopolis Indoor Playland Play Structure in the backgroundWhat’s to Love: We’ve been going to the Family Fun Center for the past 8+ years, and it remains one of our absolute favorite destinations. I cannot say enough good things about the place. The staff members are friendly and responsive, the entire place is clean, there are SO MANY options for fun both indoor and outdoor, and they continually upgrade the attractions. Since we first went back in 2007, they’ve added a Sky Trail ropes course, Soaring Eagle Zipline, a new Kidopolis playland, cool new arcade and video games, and the awesome XD Dark Ride. Check out all the attractions here.

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Lacamas Lake Regional Park

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Lacamas Park TrailWhat’s to Love:  This 312 acre park within a mile of downtown Camas, WA offers many recreational opportunities including: bird watching, hiking, fishing, and mountain biking. We spent most of our time mountain biking the Lacamas Park Trail, which offers around six miles of trails and does a loop around Round Lake. There is also the Lacamas Heritage Trail, which is a 3.5 mile trail along the west side of Lacamas Lake.

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Family Mountain Biking

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What’s to Love:  Before I get started with my usual format, I want to apologize for the lack of photographs.  It was raining pretty hard for our entire ride, and the camera batteries died right when we were getting started. Hopefully, I’ll get some additional photos soon! Despite that, the “EasyClimb Trail” in Cascade Locks is the perfect outing for parents who want to mountain bike with their kids. The two mile loop features a little bit of everything, EXCEPT hill climbs! There is ample parking, no fees, and plenty of signage – it’s almost impossible to get lost. I’m convinced this is the #1 option for mountain biking with young kids…period. If you think there is a better option, I’d love to hear about it. Get your kids the best shoes to run and ride. Check out this review at RunnerClick.com.

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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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Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge

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Ridgefield Wildlife RefugeWhat’s to Love:  As stated on their website, “The Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge was established (along with 3 other refuges in the Willamette Valley of Oregon) in 1965, in response to a need to establish vital winter habitat for wintering waterfowl with an emphasis on the dusky Canada goose whose nesting areas in Alaska were severely impacted by the violent earthquake of 1964. Ridgefield Refuge is currently approximately 5,300 acres of marshes, grasslands and woodlands.” This Refuge is a must do for young hikers who might enjoy bird watching.

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Vancouver Lake Park

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Vancouver Lake ParkWhat’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.

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Leavenworth, WA – Summer Edition

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Leavenworth, WashingtonWhat’s to Love:  If your family is into outdoor adventure, Leavenworth, WA is an ABSOLUTE must!  It’s a relatively-short, 5-hour drive to some of the best outdoor recreation you could possibly imagine: mountain biking, road biking, whitewater rafting and kayaking, hiking, backpacking, mountaineering, backcountry skiing, traditional rock climbing, sport climbing, and some of the best bouldering in the country.  For outdoor enthusiasts, Leavenworth is like a dream come true. 

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Club Sport Adventure Center

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DSC03884What’s to Love:  For years I’ve been hearing about Club Sport’s giant climbing walls, which are up to 45 feet tall! According to their website, Club Sport’s Adventure Center is the largest climbing facility (11, 500 square feet) in Oregon. The Center offers a nice variety of terrain including bouldering, steep lead climbing, a chimney area, slabs, and some cracks. Until last week, Club Sport’s mega walls have eluded our sending attempts. During our recent visit, we had a pleasant experience highlighted by a clean and open atmosphere featuring outstanding route setting.

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Big Al’s: Vancouver & Beaverton

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What’s to Love:  If there’s one thing I love, it’s a sparkling clean bowling alley.  You’ll definitely find it at Big Al’s and much more! This entertainment hub features plenty of lanes for public bowling, a private bowling area, a HUGE sports bar and grill, video and arcade games, bowling pro shop, and plenty of space for group events.

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Learn to Climb: Chockstone Guides

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Smith Rock State ParkWhat’s to Love:  The picture featured above is Jim Ablao of Chockstone Climbing Guides.  Our family has climbed with him in the past at Smith Rock State Park. When Jim is working, it’s a sure bet that he’ll be sporting a big smile on his face. Right before I took the aforementioned picture, I asked him, “Another great day at the office, huh?”  Jim obviously loves his work as a climbing guide, but he also has a love for climbing, which shows in his enthusiasm (and competence) as a a guide.  If you’re looking to take your family out, or you want to give rock climbing at try at one of the world’s premier climbing areas, get in contact with Jim as soon as possible.  The fall is a great time to climb at Smith.

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Government Cove Peninsula

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Government CoveWhat’s to Love:  I know I’ve been a bit heavy on climbing destinations lately, but Government Cove is a little gem that provides more than rock climbing, scrambling, and bouldering.  This is a relatively undeveloped location (i.e., no fees, no restrooms, no water, no parking area, etc.). Despite that fact, the entire area was very clean with some nice paved and unpaved trails for hiking and biking.

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Beacon Rock State Park

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Beacon Rock State ParkWhat’s to Love:  Being a climber, I’ve always been fascinated, and a bit intimidated, by the 848 foot high monolith – “Beacon Rock.” So intimidated that my first trip to the top was along the mile-long paved walkway and not roped-up hanging off the side of the rock. While the hike (1.8 miles round trip) to the top and back is exhilerating, the volcanic core is just a small piece of the whole picture.  Upon further exploration, you’ll see that Beacon Rock has much to offer the whole family.

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Washougal River Access

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Washougal River - Near Dougan Creek FallsWhat’s to Love:  I was looking for the perfect swimming hole on our way back from a bouldering adventure in Washington.  Our plan was to check-out Dougan Creek Falls, which looks visually stunning and lots of fun. However, on our way to the falls, another access point (about 1 mile short of the falls) caught my eye while rounding a curve.

After noticing this beautiful spot, we parked at a pullout along the Washougal River (literally 30 seconds down a steep bank), and I could hardly believe my eyes!  This spot (see distance from Portland below) on the Washougal is one of the nicest river access points I’ve ever seen in my life.  Perfect for the whole family!

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Evergreen Wings & Waves Waterpark

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Wings & Waves WaterparkWhat’s to Love:  I can’t say enough good things about the entire Evergreen facility, which includes a space museum, aviation museum, digital 3D theater, and the Wings & Waves Waterpark. These are beautiful museums that will ignite your child’s imagination and fascinate the whole family.  The sheer magnitude of Evergreen astounds me.  All of these facilities are on par with anything on the national level, and believe it or not, they are located just 40 miles from Portland.  

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Horsethief Lake State Park

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Horsethief ButteWhat’s to Love:  Horsethief Lake State Park and Horsethief Butte provide a nice one-two-punch for a full-day family outing.  Located about 90 miles east (via WA 14 or OR 84), you might try these two destinations for an adventurous combination of camping, technical rock climbing, rock scrambling, bouldering, hiking, boating, and fishing. For reviews on outdoor gear, visit GearWeAre.com. This link covers family tents.

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Hondo Dog Park – Hillsboro

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What’s to Love:  A fan on my Facebook page recommended the Hondo Dog Park in Hillsboro, and I’m thankful for the recommendation!  Hondo is the nicest city dog park I’ve ever seen, and it’s well worth the drive from Portland, especially if you have some other Hillsboro destinations in mind.

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Magnolia Park – Hillsboro

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What’s to Love:  Magnolia is a very cute little park in a semi-residential area of Hillsboro.  I say “semi-residential” due to the fact this area of Hillsboro has a combination of planned residential areas surrounded by retail/businesses.  I’m not sure how this city plan works for Hillsboro.  I will say with confidence that Hillsboro has one of the most comprehensive park systems you’ll find anywhere. You could spend weeks (or more) exploring all the various options for parks.  Check-out the map!

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