Courtesy of Seaside Oregon: Mark Larson The historic town of Seaside, Oregon, marks the end of the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail.

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Family Vacations in Oregon: Overview

Perched on the coast of the Pacific, Oregon boasts one of the most diverse terrains of any state in the country. The region’s parks and cities offer a range of exciting activities that are sure to make memorable family vacations.

­In the following pages, you’ll find profiles of some of the state’s attractions, from national parks to historic beaches to city festivals. You’ll also find contact information to help with your trip planning, as well as photographs of each destination. Here’s a preview:

Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area

This site, filled with wind-sculpted dunes that stretch 47 miles along the Oregon coast, is a popular spot for families who enjoy hiking, fishing, canoeing, horseback riding, and camping.

Seaside

This historic coastal town, which is both a national landmark and the endpoint of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, has been a favorite family destination since the 1800s.

Astoria-Megler Bridge

This bridge, which spans the 4-mile-wide mouth of the Columbia River, connects Astoria, Oregon, to Point Ellice, Washington and is the last link in a highway system connecting Canada to Mexico.

The Columbia River Gorge and Multnomah Falls

This gorge is framed by dramatic cliffs and has the highest concentration of waterfalls in the Pacific Northwest.

Portland Rose Festival and Rose Gardens

This historic festival has hundreds of family-friendly activities and performances, including a children's stage complete with clowns, jugglers, magicians, and musicians.

Pioneer Courthouse Square

The square, which has been transformed from schoolhouse to to a hotel to a parking garage, is now an active public common area that plays host to special events year-round.

Mount Hood

This volcano mountain offers plenty of outdoor recreation, including hiking and backpacking. Shrouded in snow all year long, skiing is not only a winter activity but sometimes a summer one, too.

Newberry National Volcanic Monument

In the midst of the Deschutes National Forest, expanses of lava exist next to alpine lakes and a breathtaking waterfall.

Multnomah Falls

Ancient Multnomah Falls is a sight to behold. Cascading from its origin on Larch Mountain, it highlights the picturesque Columbia River Gorge in central Oregon. At 620 feet, some claim it's the second-tallest year-round waterfall in the nation.

Not only is Oregon a great vacation spot, but it is also one of the best sandboarding destinations in North America. Check out the sandboarding article, video and images at Discovery’s Fearless Planet to learn more.

Continue reading to find out about the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area.

To learn more about family vacation destinations, see:

  • Family Vacations: Learn about hundreds of family vacations in destinations all over North America.
  • Oregon State Guide: Learn about Mobil Travel Guide-rated hotels and restaurants in Oregon, as well as other recreational activites.
  • Scenic Drives:For those who think that getting there is half the fun, we have compiled more than 100 of the most scenic drives throughout the country.

The Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area stretches for 47 miles along the Pacific Ocean.

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Family Vacations in Oregon: Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area

This glorious national recreation area is filled with wind-sculpted dunes that tower nearly 500 feet above sea level and stretch 47 miles along the Oregon coast. It's a popular spot for families who enjoy hiking, fishing, canoeing, horseback riding, and camping.

A major lure that attracts many families is the chance to go roaring across the dunes in all-terrain vehicles (ATVs). Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area contai­ns some of the best ATV and dune buggy areas in the United States. A number of rental locations can be found along the coast, from Florence to North Bend.

Since ATVs and hiking don't mix, three ATV areas for riders of all experience levels have been designated in locations separate from the areas for camping and other outdoor activities. The area also has several large lakes that are perfect for waterskiing and swimming.

Continue reading to learn about Oregon's Seaside.

Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area Information

Address: Along Highway 101 between Reedsport and Tillamook, OR

Telephone: 541/750-7000

Hours of Operation: Dawn - Dusk

To learn more about family vacation destinations, see:

  • Family Vacations: Learn about hundreds of family vacations in destinations all over North America.
  • Oregon State Guide: Learn about Mobil Travel Guide-rated hotels and restaurants in Oregon, as well as other recreational activites.
  • Scenic Drives:For those who think that getting there is half the fun, we have compiled more than 100 of the most scenic drives throughout the country.

Courtesy of Seaside Oregon: Mark Larson This historic coastal town is known for its surfing, cycling, and boogie boarding.

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Family Vacations in Oregon: Seaside

Seaside is a family favorite first discovered by vacationers in the mid-1800s. This coastal town in Oregon offers a wide, smooth beach dotted with playgrounds and volleyball nets. Its boardwalk has an aquarium and a classic amusement park with bumper cars and saltwater taffy. Seaside is a national landmark and marks the end of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. The town has a statue commemorating the explorers.

Many find the ocean water a little too cold for swimming. Because the average temperature of the water is about 55 degrees, a wet suit is a practical idea. Many children amuse themselves by splashing at the water's edge, collecting driftwood, and playing in the sand. The ocean waves are excellent for surfing and boogie boarding. Rentals are available.

Kite flying and bike riding are popular pastimes here as well, and a number of shops rent bikes, in-line skates, four-wheeled surreys, and three-wheeled FunCycles designed for pedaling on the packed sand during low tide. The quaint village is filled with intriguing shops, cafes, a carousel, and movie theaters.

Read more to find out about the Astoria-Megler Bridge in Oregon.

Seaside Information

Address: Downtown at Broadway St. and N. Columbia St., Seaside, OR

Telephone: 503/738-3097; 888/306-2326

To learn more about family vacation destinations, see:

  • Family Vacations: Learn about hundreds of family vacations in destinations all over North America.
  • Oregon State Guide: Learn about Mobil Travel Guide-rated hotels and restaurants in Oregon, as well as other recreational activites.
  • Scenic Drives:For those who think that getting there is half the fun, we have compiled more than 100 of the most scenic drives throughout the country.

The Astoria-Megler Bridge spans the four-mile mouth of the Columbia River.

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Family Vacations in Oregon: Astoria-Megler Bridge

Critics call it "The Bridge to Nowhere," and the Astoria-Megler Bridge in northwestern Oregon often appears as just that: a bridge snaking into a soggy fogbank, with miles of water on all sides. It spans four miles across the mouth of the Columbia near where it empties into the Pacific Ocean. The bridge connects Astoria, Oregon, to Point Ellice, Washington.

Constructed in 1966, it replaced the congested ferry system that had previously linked the communities. Despite the "Bridge to Nowhere" nickname, the Astoria-Megler Bridge has been a success. It carried a quarter-million vehicles in its first full year and was the last link in US Highway 101 connecting Mexico to Canada.

The Astoria-Megler Bridge is the world's longest continuous truss bridge. It was built to withstand some of the most treacherous conditions on the Pacific Coast. The concrete piers that support the bridge can survive wind gusts up to 150 miles per hour and raging floodwaters that can uproot trees and reach a velocity of nine miles per hour.

Continue reading to learn about the Columbia River Gorge and Multnomah Falls.

Astoria-Megler Bridge Information

Address: Warrenton-Astoria Hwy. and US-101-BR, Astoria, ORTelephone: 503/325-6311 or 800/875-6807

To learn more about family vacation destinations, see:

  • Family Vacations: Learn about hundreds of family vacations in destinations all over North America.
  • Oregon State Guide: Learn about Mobil Travel Guide-rated hotels and restaurants in Oregon, as well as other recreational activities.
  • Scenic Drives: For those who think that getting there is half the fun, we have compiled more than 100 of the most scenic drives throughout the country.

Multnomah Falls, the second highest continuous waterfall in the country, cascades 620 feet down Larch Mountain.

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Family Vacations in Oregon: The Columbia River Gorge and Multnomah Falls

­The Columbia River Gorge is an impressive river canyon carved by the Columbia as it flows into the Pacific Ocean. The gorge features dramatic cliffs and has the highest concentration of waterfalls in the Pacific Northwest. The combination of climate and location creates a wind tunnel effect in the gorge. As a result, it's a favorite location of windsurfers and kite surfers. A drive through the gorge is frequently enhanced by the sight of the colorful sails and kites pulling surfers through the water at speeds up to 35 miles per hour.

It's an easy hike to see the grand Multnomah Falls, the second highest continuous waterfall in the United States. The trail is paved and crosses a bridge before continuing to a viewpoint at the top.

Kids love the narrated tour on Mount Hood Railroad's excursion train. During the tour's layover in the town of Parkdale they can browse through shops or visit a museum. An old-fashioned stern-wheeler riverboat makes frequent runs up and down the scenic river and provides a relaxing way to take in the sights.

Continue to the next page to find out about Portland's Rose Festival and Rose Gardens.

Columbia River Gorge and Multnomah Falls Information

Address: Off I-84 exit 31, Hood River, OR

Telephone: 541/308-1700

To learn more about family vacation destinations, see:

  • Family Vacations: Learn about hundreds of family vacations in destinations all over North America.
  • Oregon State Guide: Learn about Mobil Travel Guide-rated hotels and restaurants in Oregon, as well as other recreational activites.
  • Scenic Drives:For those who think that getting there is half the fun, we have compiled more than 100 of the most scenic drives throughout the country.

© Stanton Teters Abundant colors and heavenly fragrances are the hallmarks of the Portland Rose Festival and Rose Gardens.

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Family Vacations in Oregon: Portland Rose Festival and Rose Gardens

After a busy day of sightseeing and traveling, there's no better place to stop and smell the roses. Portland's climate is perfect for growing the popular plant, and in 1889 local rose enthusiasts created the Portland Rose Society to encourage amateurs to cultivate the aromatic flower. A few years later, society members organized the festival and floral parade that has become an annual June tradition.

In its early years, the Rose Festival was highlighted by horse-drawn floats and fireworks. The present-day event includes the flower-festooned Grand Floral Parade. Other favorites are the evening Starlight Parade and the kids-only Junior Parade. The festival's program of events now has hundreds of family-friendly activities and performances, which include a children's stage complete with clowns, jugglers, magicians, and musicians. Dragon boat and milk-carton boat races and tours of naval ships are big attractions for children. Auto races, air shows, a carnival, a Wild West area, food booths, an art show, and musical performances round out the experience. In between the nonstop fun, drop by Portland's famous Rose Gardens and enjoy the abundant colors and heavenly fragrances.

Continue to the next page to learn about Oregon's Pioneer Courthouse Square.

Portland Rose Festival and Rose Gardens Information

Address: 850 SW Rose Garden Way, Portland, OR

Telephone: 503/227-2681

Hours of Operation: First two weeks in June

Admission: Varies by Event

To learn more about family vacation destinations, see:

  • Family Vacations: Learn about hundreds of family vacations in destinations all over North America.
  • Portland City Guide: Find out where to stay, what to do, and where to eat when you visit the City of Roses.
  • Oregon State Guide: Learn about Mobil Travel Guide-rated hotels and restaurants in Oregon, as well as other recreational activites.
  • Scenic Drives:For those who think that getting there is half the fun, we have compiled more than 100 of the most scenic drives throughout the country.

Pioneer Courthouse Square is decorated with colorful swashes and greenery.

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Family Vacations in Oregon: Pioneer Courthouse Square

Pioneer Courthouse Square in Portland, Oregon, is nicknamed "Portland's Living Room." And like every good living room, the square offers entertainment and plenty of seating space. The two amphitheaters host more than 300 events each year, including concerts and cultural festivals.

Those with a flare for art enjoy the fountain, pillars, sculptures, and an astounding Weather Machine, an innovative creation with three symbols that each represent an element of Portland's climate. There's even a signpost that shows how far it is to places as distant as Red Square in Russia.

The square has taken on many forms throughout history. A shoemaker named Elijah Hill bought the block for $24 and a pair of boots in 1849, two years before the city of Portland was officially established. James Field sold it to the fledgling Portland School Board less than a decade later, and they built a schoolhouse on the spot. In 1883, the schoolhouse was relocated to make way for the ritzy Portland Hotel, which remained open until 1951.

The spot became a two-level parking structure for about 30 years, until the city acquired the land and transformed it into one of the nation's most vibrant public commons. Today, the square attracts millions of people each year to its special events, including the annual midsummer Festival of Flowers.­

Continue to the next page to learn about Mount Hood in Oregon.

Pioneer Courthouse Square Information

Address: 701 S.W. 6th Ave., Portland, OR

Telephone: 503/223-1613

To learn more about family vacation destinations, see:

  • Family Vacations: Learn about hundreds of family vacations in destinations all over North America.
  • Portland City Guide: Find out where to stay, what to do, and where to eat when you visit Portland.
  • Oregon State Guide: Learn about Mobil Travel Guide-rated hotels and restaurants in Oregon, as well as other recreational activities.
  • Scenic Drives: For those who think that getting there is half the fun, we have compiled more than 100 of the most scenic drives throughout the country.

Oregon's Mount Hood is one of the few mountains where skiers can hit the slopes in the middle of summer.

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Family Vacations in Oregon: Mount Hood

A picture-perfect mountain, Mount Hood is a visual reminder to city dwellers in Portland that the great outdoors is just a short drive away -- 47 miles east, to be exact. At 11,239 feet above sea level, the peak is the fourth highest in the Cascade Range. Like all of its Cascade brethren, Mount Hood is a volcano, and an active one at that. It erupted twice in the mid-1800s and has had at least four eruptive periods in the last 15,000 years. The volcanic cone atop the mountain is dominated by snow and ice, with glaciers and snowfields shrouding it year-round.

Mount Hood is a recreational paradise, with popular ski resorts, hiking routes, and backcountry trails. The historic Timberline Lodge is perched at 6,000 feet above sea level and fills to capacity during ski season -- which sometimes goes all year long.

To find out about visiting Oregon's Newberry National Volcanic Monument, continue reading.

Mount Hood Information

Address: Mt. Hood Information Center, 65000 E. Hwy. 26, Welches, OR

Telephone: 503/622-4822, 888/622-4822

To learn more about family vacation destinations, see:

  • Family Vacations: Learn about hundreds of family vacations in destinations all over North America.
  • Portland City Guide: Find out where to stay, what to do, and where to eat when you visit Portland.
  • Oregon State Guide: Learn about Mobil Travel Guide-rated hotels and restaurants in Oregon, as well as other recreational activities.
  • Scenic Drives: For those who think that getting there is half the fun, we have compiled more than 100 of the most scenic drives throughout the country.

The striking boundary between spared forest and volcanic devastation in Newberry National Monument is unmistakable.

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Family Vacations in Oregon: Newberry National Volcanic Monument

In the heart of central Oregon's Deschutes National Forest, Newberry National Volcanic Monument sits atop an active geothermal hotspot. The crux of this hotspot is Newberry Volcano, one of the most massive volcanoes in the United States. Newberry's last eruption, about 1,300 years ago, created a devastatingly beautiful caldera.

Located at the summit of the volcano nearly 8,000 feet above sea level, the nearly 20-square-mile Newberry Caldera has two idyllic alpine lakes, one of which drains into a magnificent waterfall. The volcano's flanks of hardened lava are dotted by hundreds of cinder cones and fissure vents.

One especially massive cinder cone, Lava Butte, rises 500 feet above its surroundings and was the source of the lava that flowed over this entire area 7,000 years ago. Today, the once-red-hot landscape can be explored via the Trail of the Molten Land.

Newberry National Volcanic Monument Information

Address: 1001 S.W. Emkay Dr., Bend, OR

Telephone: 541/383-5300

Hours of Operation: Dawn - Dusk

Admission: $3 per person

To learn more about family vacation destinations, see:

  • Family Vacations: Learn about hundreds of family vacations in destinations all over North America.
  • Oregon State Guide: Learn about Mobil Travel Guide-rated hotels and restaurants in Oregon, as well as other recreational activities.
  • Scenic Drives: For those who think that getting there is half the fun, we have compiled more than 100 of the most scenic drives throughout the country.