Spring in Oregon is epic! Think dramatic skies, gorgeous blooms and gushing waterfalls. With schools letting out for spring break, it’s time to leave the city for unforgettable adventures that are only a short drive away. From vintage trailers to fishing trips to miles and miles of gorgeous hiking trails, we’ve lined up the best spring road trip getaways for Portland families. Read on to find out more!
Drive: 2 hours
This historic town is where the forest meets the sea, and your family meets a good time! Started by Scandinavians, fur traders, Lewis and Clark, and named for John Jacob Astor, the city boasts a mix of all those influences perfectly. Admire the lovely Victorian houses on the hilltops, stop by Finn Ware for some Scandinavian-inspired goods (like salty licorice!), or check out Lewis and Clark’s 1805 winter camp at Fort Clatsop.
In town, don’t miss a walk along the pier and a stop at Frite and Scoop ice cream available for curbside pickup. Then mask up and head to the Columbia River Maritime Museum, especially if you’re little ones are fans of boats. This small museum does a really great job at offering interesting and dynamic exhibits, and you can even step aboard a real floating lighthouse ship! You’ll look at the river outside differently once you learn how dangerous it actually is to the ships sailing it.
Stay at the Cannery Pier Hotel, built on the site of an old cannery, 600 feet over the water. You’ll get views of the real working boats that ply the waters, and you can rent bikes to explore even more.
Across the river in Washington, take a day to explore Cape Disappointment, which is much better than it sounds (someone had a bad day there!). Clamber over rocks to scan the waters for whales, who tend to migrate in March. The numerous hiking options include a great lighthouse, and you can warm up inside the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, which marks the end of the group’s epic journey to the Pacific.
For a stay on the Washington side of the river, check out the Sou’wester Lodge in Seaview. A beloved hipster hodgepodge of vintage airstream trailers, cabins, and a guesthouse, the campus offers a sauna and spa services, live music on weekends, fire pits for roasting, an honor-system store with local goods, and bikes to borrow to search out the beach just down the road.
Drive: 1-1.5 hours
Packed with activities and events, Hood Canal calls itself the “Wild Side of Washington,” but sometimes its best moments are found simply relaxing on a deck, looking at the view. The Hood Canal is “wildly” popular in summer—but spring tempts without the crowds. Approaching the fjord, the winding waterway gives drivers glimpses of sparkling blue, while scenic spots offer great stops for insta-worthy pics and snow-capped mountain views. Bike trails abound—from long distance to leisurely pedaling. Anglers will rejoice; spring is trout season so grab a pole to catch dinner. You’ll also finds scenic hiking trails, golf courses for all levels, kayaking, SUP and boating galore. The Ridge Motorsports Park is a racing course for tiny speed demons, or for serious thrills consider sky diving at Skydive Kapowsin. Want more? Hood Canal is famous for SCUBA with its gentle currents and giant Pacific octopuses as diving friends.
Meals are meant to be savored outdoors in Hood Canal, overlooking happy campers playing in the water. When the family cook is off-duty head into Union for some stand out options. The Restaurant at Alderbrook is a culinary treat with views to match. Union Square Deli is the place to pick up sammies and pizza for those raging appetites and the charming, European-style Union City Market at Hood Canal Marina is a must. Grab provisions, souvenirs and wine, and sit outside on their eclectic patio with stunning views of the Olympics over the water. And don't miss the world-famous, all-ages Hamma Hamma Oyster Saloon which awaits up in the road in Hoodsport.
Looking for the perfect place to stay? Try this Airbnb! This is the house on the Canal for entertaining and enjoying the gorgeous scenery. Whip up tasty dishes in a gourmet kitchen, or grill meats on the deck BBQ. Take advantage of the stand-up paddle board, paddle boat and two-person kayak. Kids are welcome but house should be baby-proofed by renters.
Drive: 5 hours
Southern Oregon boasts beautiful green fields, a wine country to rival the best, and stunning rugged landscapes. It also has some of the best family-friendly fun around!
While the nearby mighty Rogue River is great fun to raft, the peak season is in summer, so instead get out on the water with a fishing tour! March is the perfect season for Winter Steelhead. All you need is a fishing license, and the family-owned Fishing the Rogue will set you up with everything else. If you’re lucky, you’ll even come home with dinner!
And for a unique and fun experience, stay at a working farm! The Willow Witt Ranch has 445 acres of forest, wetland, and a small sustainable farm. Choose from the Farmhouse Studio, the large Meadow House, or pitch your own tent, then spend your days finding spring blooms in the meadows around it. For a really different experience, go on a day hike with the goats! The goats will pack your lunch on the 4-hour excursion up to nearby Grizzly Peak, where you can enjoy beautiful views of the valley below. There's also birding opportunities available as well as miles and miles of hiking trails right outside your front door.
Drive: 6 hours
If you want to give your family a truly epic spring break experience, there's no road trip like one that takes you to one of Oregon's gorgeous hot springs. While there are many to choose from, Crystal Crane is well worth planning a family trip to. This eastern Oregon hot spring is a wonderland for both parents and kids alike. The large heated pond is spacious enough for little ones to splash and enjoy themselves, and there's a private bathhouse where parents can soak in cedar-enclosed tubs. But, the hot spring is only part of the the fun. Lodging options include cabins, tent and RV camping, or a stay in a teepee! All of the options are cozy and rustic, but the teepee offers an experience your kids will be talking about for years to come! There's even a soaking tub in one of the teepees.
For a little adventure head to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Just 29 miles away, this location is home to over 58 species of mammals including mule deer, pronghorn antelope Rocky Mountain elk, coyotes and bobcats. The visitor center has recently reopened and fall is perfect for wildlife viewing, fishing and you'll likely get some great photos.
Gig Harbor and Tacoma, Washington
Drive: 2.5 hours
Nestled into a beautiful harbor across the bay from Tacoma, this charming town will often escape attention in favor of the much bigger city to the north, but it’s worth the visit. With Mt. Rainier rising above the harbor in the distance, the views are beautiful, and the fun times are even better.
The harbor defines this small town, so be sure to explore it thoroughly. Climb the 100 stairs up Finnholm View Climb for a truly beautiful sight. Then get out on the water yourself! The historic Eddon Boatyard is a working non-profit that offers boatbuilding knowledge to the community. Stop by and ask what they’re working on these days— you’ll also be able to rent rowboats and electrical boats.
The Harbor History Museum offers a look into the history of the area, including twisted pieces of “Galloping Gertie,” the Tacoma Narrows suspension bridge that collapsed in 1940. Be sure to note the bridge to the kids when you go over the current one, and take a moment to be thankful for better engineering. The history museum is also restoring the Shenandoah, a 65-foot fishing vessel you can go aboard. Just over that (much safer) bridge in Tacoma, even more fun awaits. Spend some time hiking around Point Defiance Park, and see the Point’s Zoo and Aquarium.
Silver Falls State Park
Drive: 1 hour
At a mere hour away from Portland, this state park is easy to overlook for bigger vacations elsewhere. But don’t be fooled--the green jewel is full of fun times, and is affordable and easy to get to. You’ll be able to escape to the woods while still sleeping warm and cozy.
The state park offers over 35 miles of hiking trails, and the good news is that spring is the perfect time to see wildflowers start popping up all over! Waterfalls are the thing to see here, and the full 7 mile Trail of Ten Falls loop will let you see them all. Don’t miss out on the four falls that you can actually walk behind! If you’re not up for the full loop you can easily drive to the trailheads and break it up into sections as small as 1 or 2 miles. And if you want to go a bit faster, hit the dirt on your mountain bikes.
Or just spend a day hanging by the wide creek and throwing sticks in the river on the South Lawn. Nearby you’ll find picnic shelters, barbeque stands, a playground, and horseshoe pits for the perfect afternoon picnic.
If you need a day in town after some hiking, drive 15 minutes to Silverton, a sweet historic town. Go on a mural hunt for the town’s 30 gorgeous works, try some locally-brewed beers (ok, parents only), find a Frank Lloyd Wright House, or stop by the 80 acres of the Oregon Garden for more spring blooms.
Another short jaunt north leads you to Mt Angel, the faux-Bavarian town that hosts an Oktoberfest every year by their authentic glockenspiel. Get some sausages at the Mt. Angel Sausage Company, (to-go orders only) and stay in cabins at the park through the National Park Site, or check out the Smith Creek Village, with cabins, lodge rooms and tent spots available.
Gleneden Beach & Salishan Coastal Lodge
Drive: 2 hours
Salishan Coastal Lodge and Gleneden Beach are just five miles south of Lincoln City. The gorgeous area gives visitors access to rolling sand dunes, emerald rainforests, jagged ocean cliffs and gushing waterfalls. With an abundance of natural wonders to explore, Salishan Coastal Lodge makes the perfect spring break basecamp for road-tripping families
Nestled in the heart of the Oregon Coastal Region, Salishan Coastal Lodge provides a well-balanced retreat for parents and kids alike. With its focus on both holistic wellness and eco-friendly experiences, kiddos can enjoy outdoorsy activities while moms and dads can take advantage of a spa retreat. Salishan’s 200-plus acres, which neighbors evergreen forests and the popular Siletz Bay, allows for biking and hiking local trails and long, gorgeous strolls on the shoreline of Gleneden Beach. Evenings by the waves call for a picnic and bonfire duo that provide not only beautiful views but lasting memories.
With Siletz Bay just a few miles out, parents and kiddos can also try their hand at clam digging. If rustling around the sand isn’t your thing (we totally get it), spend a day in the water and top it off with a night at the Siletz Bay pier.
The lodge is also home to Salishan Golf Links which touts an 18-link course whose restoration design was overseen by Oregon golf legend and PGA Tour Pro Peter Jacobsen. While mom and dad hit the links, youngsters can soar high up in the trees at Salishan’s on-site Aerial Park–the only of its kind on the Oregon coast. With trained aerial guides by their side, they can climb and maneuver their way through the park's 15 obstacle platforms.
To top off the day, set your sights on sunset views, with a micro-brew or handcrafted cocktail in hand, at Salishan’s The Attic. Bonus: you'll end your spring break adventures feeling rejuvenated!
Drive: 1 hour
Bingen is accessible by car and is only two stops away from Portland and three stops from Seattle by Amtrak. If your family loves the outdoors, Bingen is the perfect place to make your base camp for Spring Break fun. The Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail makes for a scenic family bike ride or hike. This trail—once a section U.S. Highway 30—is now only open to bikers and hikers and takes you along the winding curves of the cliffs of the Columbia River Gorge where you catch breathtaking views of the water without motorists zipping by and detracting from the sweeping beauty. If your bike lovers are older (16+), Sol Rides in Hood River offers e-bike tours of the area.
Wet Planet offers whitewater rafting adventures down the Lower Salmon River, and they are gorgeous! You can book a full or half day trip or go on a multi-day adventure. These trips are appropriate for kids 10+ years old. The younger set are sure to be enchanted while exploring the natural life along one of the Gorge’s trails. Catherine Creek Trail is a stunning wildflower hike that gives visitors breathtaking views of Mt. Hood. It’s easy for little feet and parents with kids on their backs, and makes for a great morning or afternoon activity.
Just five blocks from the Amtrak station, The Society Hotel is a community gathering space that offers affordable rates, varied accommodation options and concierge-style service parents will appreciate. Accommodations include 10 European-style standard hotel rooms that are each themed after a school subject and have access to a shared bathroom.
For larger families, we suggest one of the 20 cabins that encircle a grass area with a fire pit, bathhouse and spa. The two-room cabins are perfect for a family of four. They have cozy beds, a sitting and dining area and a small kitchenette where you can cook your own meals. Outside you’ll find a picnic bench and hammock swing to kick back in.
You don’t have to go far to get a good meal in Bingen. The Society Hotel has a wonderful onsite café with fantastic bites for the whole family. From coffee and breakfast dishes that include favorites like avocado toast to cocktails and savory sandwiches, you can find everything you desire .Off site, you can grab bites locally at Beneventi’s (open for takeout and delivery) where you can nosh on amazing pasta dishes, calzones and pizza. Across the river in Hood River there’s Solstice Wood Fire Café which Features rustic and inventive pizzas, homemade pasta, seasonal chef’s entrees, and an extensive drink menu. Families enjoy the outdoor patio seating, a kid play area and art by local artists. Located on the Hood River Waterfront, it’s steps away from a fantastic playground (with a climbing wall and other fun features!) and small beach.
Drive: About 3 hours
Families flock to Bend from all over the country for its unmatched outdoor recreations adventures. You'll have to wait til late Spring May 1st) but prepare to get wet and wild on the Deschutes River with Sun Country Tours—their guides can take you on a white water rafting excursion or a relaxing tour down the river by stand up paddle board or inner tube. Just a little further south on 97, you'll find the world-renowned Smith Rock; climbers come to the area for an opportunity to scale the sheer walls of Monkey Face. Your little monkeys may not be ready to climb like a pro, but book a day with the guides at Chockstone Climbing Guides and they will be well on their way. All of the required gear is provided and you will feel safe in the hands of these climbing experts.
Mt. Bachelor Village gives traveling families a variety of lodging options. Rent a hotel room, a river view condo or a vacation home. There is something available to fit every family budget and all options come with amenities like indoor and outdoor pools, playgrounds, golf courses and access to biking and hiking paths.
When in Bend, do like the locals and hit the breweries. Stop by the iconic Deschutes Brewery for some true Central Oregon flair. You will enjoy a selection of award-winning craft beer and hand-crafted ales. And if you are craving a good burger, they won't disappoint. 10 Barrel is another local brewery that offers up fantastic brews along with outdoor fire pits and plenty of room for kids to be kids.