Any experts on Oregon? Top tips please!

(20 Posts)
mrsbabookaloo Fri 08-May-15 14:09:00

We are headed to Oregon this summer to visit in-laws. We have been before, but usually just a quick trip tacked on to a California holiday (DH is from LA, but his parents moved to Oregon about 6 years ago). Also, we've never been in the summer.

DH's parents live in Southern Oregon, in the Rogue River valley, so we will do river rafting etc there.

We are flying into and out of Portland, and intend to spend 4 or 5 days driving up the coast on the way back and a couple of days in Portland itself. We are very excited about the food in Portland.

Ideally we'd like to do some stuff on the coast, and some stuff in the woods/countryside. We will probably visit Crater Lake.

Anyone who's spent time there, what do you really recommend? Which coastal towns? Anywhere cool to stay where we can camp in the woods/stay in a cabin?

Kids are 2 girls, age 6 and 9.

Also on a dull practical note, when we fly into Portland, we will be tired and discombobulated. I'd like to stay the night at the airport before picking up our hire car the next day. But am worried that we will need a car just to go and find food for that one evening. Is there anywhere to eat that is right at the airport, or by the airport hotels?

Any advice gratefully received!

mrsbabookaloo Fri 08-May-15 17:30:33

bump for the after school crowd

Decorhate Fri 08-May-15 18:26:33

It's a long time since I was there but I remember the coast being beautiful. It is doable in a day from Portland. We stayed further up the coast also (I think actually in Washington state) at a place called Kallaloch Lodge which was in a great setting

Nandocushion Fri 08-May-15 18:41:43

We did a camping trip along the coast a few years ago with slightly younger kids. We tried to stop at as many lighthouses as we could - lots on that coast. We stayed mostly at KOA campgrounds, which seemed pretty family friendly. If we went back I'd avoid the sand dunes area, which is full of very very noisy ATV vehicles and their noisy owners! Might be an activity your DDs would like, though. Sorry I can't remember any towns in particular - a lot of them are pretty similar. We also enjoyed the redwoods forests in northern California.

Now I wish I'd written a diary! There are some amazing spots along the coast which you will see as you drive and you can stop whenever you feel like it. Oh, the Sea Lion Caves are worth a visit.

Get yourself a decent car. The coast highway is pretty third-world. Oregon isn't exactly rolling in money for road repairs.

Nandocushion Fri 08-May-15 18:43:02

There's a pretty amazing air and space museum just outside of Portland that has the Spruce Goose in it. Definitely worth a stop. My kids also enjoyed the Tillamook Cheese Factory! Better than it sounds.

Amaxapax Fri 08-May-15 18:43:49

I'm from Portland originally. I'm making dinner but will be back later with tips.

Nandocushion Fri 08-May-15 18:44:09

Wow, how many times can one person say "pretty"? I'll shut up now.

namechange0dq8 Fri 08-May-15 18:45:13

We stayed further up the coast also (I think actually in Washington state) at a place called Kallaloch Lodge which was in a great setting

We honeymooned there. But of a drive from southern Oregon, though.

Amaxapax Fri 08-May-15 20:04:35

Okay, I'm back. So, we used to spend frequent weekends at the coast when I was growing up. From Portland it'll take about an hour and a half to two hours to get to Seaside, which is a nice family beach with bumper cars and arcades and all sorts. Very nearby is Cannon Beach, which is quite artsy and has some lovely boutiques. Make sure you try the salt water taffy. The Tillamook Cheese Factory is also close by and is good fun. Plus, the ice cream is excellent. Oregon has amazing berries in the summer; anything with marionberries (a type of blackberry) will be delicious.

Further afield, we spent a lot of time near Newport. There is a nice beach called Beverly Beach and in Newport is the Hatfield Marine Science Centre, which is a great day out.

KOA campgrounds are okay, but we always stayed in Oregon State Parks, which are a little more rustic and foresty. If you Google that you'll find their website. South Beach State Park is very good. You can stay in a yurt and hire bicycles and whatnot. There are always loads of activities on and I think they still do Junior Ranger events which are nature activities aimed at children. I used to love them. South Beach is very near to Newport, so it's a good base. Newport also has sea lions.

You'll be likely to find great state parks all along the coast, but it's definitely worth researching now to see if you can book ahead.

If you're in the area, not far from Medford is a funny little place called the Oregon Vortex, where apparently crazy things happen like marbles rolling uphill. I loved it when I was a kid and my husband and I actually went last year and had a great time. It's funky and silly but really good fun.

Crater Lake and the area around it is all stunning, so it's definitely a good idea to go there, and you're likely to get nicer weather than on the coast. There will be more Oregon State Park campgrounds as well.

Years ago I remember staying at Gold Beach; we had a brilliant time and fantastic weather, which is not always a guarantee on the Oregon coast. However, if you wanted an alternative trip you could drive up through the Deschutes Forest to Central Oregon and Bend and Sisters. It'll be hotter and the landscape is very different because it's high desert but also home to the Cascade mountain range. There's absolutely tons to do there, and north of Bend is a place called Lake Billy Chinook, which has fantastic camping. Detroit Lake is also stunning and not far from Bend.

Sorry I've rambled on, but I hope some of this is helpful. Obviously, I'm a bit desperate to move back! I hope you have a wonderful time, and feel free to ask me anything!

Amaxapax Fri 08-May-15 20:12:22

Oh, sorry, I meant to respond to your question about airport food. In the last few years an IKEA and strip mall has opened quite near the airport, but I think you'd still need a car to get there. Obviously there are restaurants at the airport and the way it's set up means you could easily access them when you arrive. It's not a big airport at all, and arrivals are basically alongside security for departures. There's a little strip of shops and cafes/restaurants. That would probably be the easiest option.

If you didn't want to stay at the airport, though, you could get MAX, which is the light rail system, right into downtown Portland. It leaves straight from the airport, doesn't take too long and then you'd have a load of hotels and restaurants right there. I also think you might find that it's much cheaper to hire a car at a location different from the airport.

Nandocushion Fri 08-May-15 21:36:45

We stayed at State Parks as well! But they were a lot more deserted than the KOA ones, and I'm a bit of a city wimp and prefer to have a few people and staff around. blush This might not be an issue in the high season. KOAs also have little shops which sell wine...

Amaxapax Fri 08-May-15 22:28:10

Oh, KOA campgrounds are fine! It's just the OP mentioned foresty environments, so I thought state parks might be better. I'm surprised they were deserted when you went, though. I used to always make friends from nearby campsites. I will acknowledge that they usually don't have shops with wine, though, which is an obvious failing! smile

Nandocushion Fri 08-May-15 23:12:05

I think you're right and it will be fine during the summer - we were there early May and it was fairly quiet. I second your recommendation on the Tillamook ice cream too. Their cheese is actually very bland, but the ice cream is very nice indeed.

Nandocushion Fri 08-May-15 23:14:07

Also Devil's Punch Bowl park and beach, on the coast.

ChippyMinton Fri 08-May-15 23:34:01

Tillamook had us in hysterics, everyone told us to go there and it was just a conveyor belt chopping and wrapping boring plain cheese, with an ice cream shop. Fine in passing (it's near Seaside IIRC) but don't make a special trip.

Mt Hood is good, the Timberline Lodge is the hotel in The Shining and there's a chairlift, you may experience snow smile

My DC enjoyed Portland Zoo and the science museum.

There are some tall waterfalls a short drive out of Portland along the river valley.

ChippyMinton Fri 08-May-15 23:38:21

Our most memorable trip was into Washington State to Mt St Helens volcano. To see the scale of devastation was fascinating, and the volcano was steaming away.

Amaxapax Sat 09-May-15 07:53:41

Multnomah Falls are the waterfalls outside of Portland. You can do an easy day trip up through the Gorge to visit, and then go on to Timberline and Mt Hood. There's a town called Government Camp and nearby a kind of activity centre, which includes the Alpine Slide in summer. You take the ski lift up and ride down on luge-type sleds.

God, I can't wait for my babies to be born so I can take them home and show them the joys of Oregon.

wanderings Sat 09-May-15 08:01:29

I'll second Multnomah Falls - really lovely.

ChippyMinton Sat 09-May-15 09:36:12

That's the waterfall, thanks, it was on the tip of my tongue.
Silver Creek Falls are also fun, as you can walk underneath the cascade.
If you enjoy spotting movie locations, watch Free Willy and visit the town of Astoria.
If you go out from Portland to Seaside, there's a KrispyKreme donut shop enroute where you can see the donuts being made- if the neon sign is on, they are making the donuts.
Also between Portland and Mt Hood is Joe's Donut Shop. Om nom nom.

mrsbabookaloo Sat 09-May-15 20:19:34

Gosh, sorry everyone, I abandoned this thread and forgot all about it today!! Thanks so much for all the detailed replies! I really appreciate you taking such a lot of time to type it all out, amaxapax, chippy and nando.

I have seen pics of Multnomah falls and they look lovely, and I do love a good lighthouse!

We used to eat Tillamook cheese when we lived in LA.

Thanks for the airport info: this seems to agree with what I figured out from some of the hotel listings on tripadvisor; this new Cascade Station has shops and restaurants and has hotels that are served by shuttles from the airport.

South Beach state park looks good: will look it up.

Thanks again everyone!

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