Those of you following me on Instagram or Facebook know that there were plenty of nerves, lots of apprehension, and tons of preparation that went into our recent road trip to Oregon. Now that we have made it home and are reflecting on this recent adventure we realized what a perfect place Oregon is to take a young family. Now obviously, it is good for people at any age, but with a three and five year old, we are especially appreciative of trips that suit a family with small children. So without further ado, here are our top five reasons we think a road trip to Oregon should be on your family’s bucket list!
5. Seeing the local industries is really cool for littles and bigs alike!
The major regional industries of Oregon are very much a part of each areas’ culture and were lots of fun to explore. Driving through forests and seeing areas where the lumber had been chopped and stacked into massive stacks awed all of us. It was also so cool to drive through miles and miles of farmland with dairy cows everywhere, just after visiting the Tillamook Creamery. Seeing the connection between the giant factory and all of the local dairies was a really neat look at how a product is made from start to finish, and all of the people and work that go into making it.
We assumed Tillamook owned all of the land in the surrounding area, but we learned that the giant cheese and ice cream company actually sources from the local dairies, supporting the local farmers. The factory experience is also really well done and definitely worth visiting. Plus the food and ice cream… there really are no words, just look.
Finally, the fishing villages on the coast are a great experience for a day or two! We spent two nights in Newport and really enjoyed taking in the local industry. (Other than Bridget plugging her nose and shouting “what’s that ‘snell’?”)
We ate lunch at Oregon’s famous seafood chain, Mo’s. Loved the clam chowder and we got to watch the fishing boats and crab cookers on the dock below. That evening we went to Rogue Bayfront Public House for dinner along the bay and were initially confused because it was Friday night and it was really slow. There were mostly just workers around wrapping up their days at the fish factories and a few tourists looking for a place to eat. What initially concerned us, ultimately led to a great, peaceful dinner in a fairly empty restaurant (one that was packed at lunchtime) and gave us a look at the fishing village when it wasn’t full of tourists.
4. Easy access to all of the main sites!
I was so relieved and excited to find that everything I had on our list to see was totally accessible for us and especially for the kids. The paths down to view beautiful rock formations and tide pools along the coast were paved and had railed step. The walk along Crater Lake was paved and just a few steps from the parking area.
The quarter mile hike to the bridge at Multnomah Falls was paved and the kids had no problem. Now I appreciate getting off the beaten path on occasion but for this trip we had lots to do and see, and so easy access allowed us to do all that we had planned. However, if taking longer hikes to less visited areas is your jam, there were tons of paths to do that as well!
3. Deserts, oceans, volcanoes… oh my!
Rob, the kids, and I were all so excited by each of the different landscapes that we drove by and through. At the beginning of our trip, driving through Central Oregon, the volcanoes along many of the horizons continue to impress. We then drove though amazing canyon deserts, with rocks of every color. Only to be awed even more by the rocky, gorgeous coastline. With young kids we just admired the different terrain, but I could see digging into the geology more with older children.
2. Beautiful wildlife, everywhere!
Throughout the trip there were birds soaring through the air (I don’t know what kinds but they definitely added to the majestic scenery). We also had fun tide-pooling at one stop along the coast. This was one of my few regrets of the trip. Oregon has amazing tide pools and we just didn’t have the time but definitely worth exploring if you do! We pulled over in Depoe Bay and randomly saw multiple whales off of the coast. It was amazing. Then we saw it again at Thor’s Well. Then again at another coastal stop. Point being, there are tons of whales off the Oregon coast. AND, I just looked up whale watching season, March to May and again December to January. Not when we were there! I cannot even imagine what it is like in season! (If you have seen it in season, I’d love you to comment with your experience!)
All along our drive through the southern coast of Oregon we saw signs warning of elk. Embarrassingly, we were like, what exactly is an elk? We settled on something between a deer and a moose and thankfully got the chance to see them in person while we drove through the Prairie Creek Redwood State Park. Google also confirmed our theory. (Side note: Do you find yourself second guessing all of your knowledge as you try to explain things to kids? I never realized how little I knew and understood until I became a mother.)
Finally, being from Fresno, let’s talk bugs. We saw giant moths, but after the initial shock of their size wears off, perfectly harmless. (Seriously though, we were swimming in our hotel’s pool in Bend and a guy walked by and asked if that was a hummingbird in the middle of the pool. No, it was a moth.) And fellow Fresnans and others that have a particular hatred for mosquitos… we saw and felt the wrath of NONE! Not one bug bite on any of us the entire trip! Apparently they do have mosquitos near some lakes but my guess is that it is nothing like us Central Valley folks are used to!
1. Scenic routes are spectacular and user friendly!
Ok, you have made it this far in the post! Here is our number one piece of advice for a road trip through Oregon: Go north through Central Oregon and south along the coast. Going south will keep you on the right hand side of the road and it will be much easier to access the MANY turnouts to view the amazing scenery and avoid stopping traffic on the two lane highway. I actually read this tip on a blog before we booked our trip and we completely flipped the order of our trip to do this and we agreed that is was absolutely the best decision! It is not to say that you cannot enjoy the Oregon coast while driving north, but the views are unobstructed going south and there is no concern with pulling over. To us, it made a huge difference!
The turnouts will take you to incredible coastal natural wonders as well as fantastic hikes to lighthouses. We spent an entire day covering ground between Newport and Brookings stopping and exploring everything we had time for and there was opportunity for so much more if time had allowed.
So, if you are looking for an 8-10 day adventure with your family near California… head north! Oregon does not disappoint! Also, I would love to hear your favorite things about road tripping through Oregon! Please leave me a comment and give us a “like” if you have enjoyed reading! Thanks!