Family activities are a must when traveling with kids. Since Oregon is a cornucopia of diverse landscapes and scenic views, you may think it is a place only adults enjoy.
The Beaver State will quickly chew through that myth like a felled tree. Those beautiful landscapes serve as a natural playground for the entire family. We will outline 24 fun things to do in Oregon with kids.
1. Sea Lion Caves
If your kids enjoy barking like a dog, visit the largest sea cave in the United States. Sea Lion Caves in Florence attract many barking sea lions throughout the year. You can typically find them either in the den or outside rock ledges.
Beyond seeing and hearing the sea lions, you can learn about them. Exhibits include a sea lion skeleton. You can often observe various marine life and birds along the rock ledges.
2. Whale Watching
Depoe Bay is the whale-watching capital of the Oregon Coast. Kids and adults will grin from ear to ear at the sight of a magical whale breach or a spout spraying into the air.
As you drive along scenic Highway 101 through downtown Depoe Bay, look for a giant whale statue to signify Whale Park. Both resident and migratory whales regularly swim close to shore. You may spot orcas, gray, humpback, and blue whales.
3. Thor’s Well
Do you have a Marvel fan in your household? You can visit Thor’s Well at Cape Perpetua Scenic Area in Yachats. It is a massive sinkhole that could drain the entire ocean. Young jaws drop to the ground in awe at the sight of so much water rushing into the well.
If your children enjoy the sight of large, crashing waves, Cape Perpetua will entertain you for quite some time. You can delight in water spraying high into the air at Devils Churn and Spouting Horn. The power and beauty of these natural water features are impressive. All three attractions are within easy walking distance of one another.
Oregon has several historic lighthouses that you can visit. You can learn about the history of the beacons and appreciate that they guide ships safely through the fog and rocky shores.
If your kids are at least 42″ tall and want to climb the tallest lighthouse in Oregon, visit Yaquina Head Lighthouse in Newport. The tower is 93 feet tall and challenges you to climb 114 steps.
If you prefer to view a lighthouse in an area with more activities, try Heceta Head Lighthouse in Florence. You will find a sandy beach with caves and tide pools to explore. The park has a beautiful arch bridge, hiking trails, and wildlife, setting you up for a fun family beach day.
5. Columbia River Gorge Waterfalls
Would you like to see several waterfalls in a short time and without lengthy hikes? Your family will delight in the raw power and beauty of the cascading falls along the alluring Columbia River. You can find the breathtaking “Waterfall Corridor” about 30 miles east of Portland.
Most Columbia River Gorge Waterfalls are a short walk from designated parking areas. Everything is well-marked and easy to find.
The Columbia River Gorge happens to be part of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. Multnomah Falls is one of the waterfalls, the second-highest year-round waterfall in America. At 620 feet, your kids will be astonished.
6. Eat S’mores at Cannon Beach
One of the most fun things to do in Oregon with kids is to eat s’mores at Cannon Beach. It is home to Haystack Rock, the iconic sea stack symbolizing the Oregon Coast. Try to arrive before dark to see a gorgeous sunset.
Low tide offers a fantastic opportunity for tide pooling. You will find vibrant orange and purple sea stars hugging the sides of Haystack Rock as waves gently roll into shore. If you visit from May to August, you could also spot Tufted Puffins nesting on the massive sea stack.
As night settles in, people light bonfires and happily huddle together for warmth and to make s’mores. It brings joy to see the shore lit up with scattered bonfires. You can hear many families laughing as they enjoy this special time together.
7. Devils Punchbowl
If your kids love to explore beaches and caves, head to Devils Punchbowl in Otter Rock. At high tide, waves swirl and splash in the bowl. However, the fun starts at low tide, when you can walk into the punchbowl.
The setting is surreal, with bright green algae-coated walls along the path. You will spot large sea stacks in the water, various birds searching for a meal, and bullwhip kelp on the sandy beach. It is an excellent place for an afternoon of adventure.
Walking into the punchbowl is fun and scary. You can peer up to the sky or out at waves washing toward you. Be sure to leave the bowl before the tide rises.
8. Bandon Beach
Do your kids like wizards? Visit Bandon Beach to find sea stacks like the Wizard’s Hat and Face Rock.
There are loads of massive boulders strewn along the beach. Many have tunnels, caves, and coves to explore. You can walk next to and through many sea stacks during low tide.
With so many sea stacks, tide pooling is widespread at Bandon Beach. The area tends to be foggy in the mornings and evenings, making for a delightfully mysterious beach walk.
9. Captain Kid Amusement Park
You will feel like a professional racer with a 600-foot go-kart track including turns and hills, a stadium for fans, and surround sound. Thrill seekers can ride the GyroXtreme to simulate weightlessness like an astronaut in outer space.
The park has a rollercoaster and a rock climbing wall. There are rides and games more suited to younger children as well.
10. Pirate Ship Playground
Do you have younger children? Wayside Park in Rockaway Beach has a playground structure that looks like a pirate ship. Your kids can pretend to be pirates as they scamper about the boat with a view of ocean waves rolling toward the beach.
You can gaze upon the beach and Twin Rocks, two large sea stacks, while the kids play. After the kids have worked up an appetite, everyone can enjoy a sweet treat like ice cream or fudge from the shops across the street.
11. Tillamook Air Museum
Are you looking for a unique experience? Check out the Tillamook Air Museum.
The interactive museum sits in one of America’s last remaining World War II blimp hangars. Exhibits include more than 20 aircraft, an air raid shelter, and an engine room.
There are six cockpit trainers where you can get inside and feel what it is like to train in military aircraft. It is a great family photo opportunity.
You will learn about aviation history through interactive exhibits and many interesting artifacts. Tillamook Air Museum has a play area with structures, toys, and games perfect for children under age 8.
12. Fly a Kite
Lincoln City loves kites so much that they host two kite festivals each year, one in summer and another in fall. The event is held on the beach and is family-friendly.
You can fly your kite and watch professionals while enjoying a great view. It is something the whole family can enjoy.
The festival usually occurs on select weekends in June and October, but the dates can vary yearly. Visit the Lincoln City site to check the dates.
13. Ripley’s Believe It or Not!
Many items on the list of fun things to do in Oregon with kids take you to the great outdoors. Head to Newport for an indoor adventure that will leave you in disbelief.
Ripley’s Believe it or Not! World of Adventure has many artifacts, memorabilia, and oddities that are too strange to be true. The exhibits are entertaining, regardless if you believe it or not.
Ripley’s offers a second attraction with Louis Tussaud’s Waxworks. You will find lifelike wax replicas of some of your favorite celebrities and characters, including superheroes. Your kids can make their souvenir, a wax hand.
14. White Wolf Sanctuary
Do your children love animals? Visit the White Wolf Sanctuary inside the lush Siuslaw National Forest in Tidewater. The sanctuary aims to rescue and care for arctic wolves that have been abused or abandoned.
Rare arctic wolves with their snow-white coats roam throughout the 50-acre sanctuary. You can howl with the wolves and learn about the beautiful animals.
15. Sandland Adventures
Take a wild ride over rolling dunes at Sandland Adventures in Florence. For those who thirst for adventure and have an iron stomach, sandrail tours offer a bouncy, high-speed ride across the shifting sands. Giant dune buggy tours provide a more relaxed and scenic experience.
Either ride is an excellent way to experience the Oregon Dunes. You may encounter wildlife as you traverse up and down dunes along the Siuslaw River and the Pacific Ocean.
The laughter does not have to end. Sandland Adventures also has go-karts, mini golf, bumper boats, and train rides, promising an unforgettable day.
16. Cascades Raptor Center
Home to 40 raptors, the Cascades Raptor Center in Eugene allows you to safely view birds of prey up close. The nature center operates as a wildlife hospital and education center. Residents include owls, hawks, and eagles.
You can take a guided tour or explore on your own. Leave Fido at home, as dogs are not allowed on the site.
17. Family Bike Ride
Does your family enjoy bicycle rides? Eugene is known to many as the “City of Bicycles.” Miles of bike paths interlace the city, taking you anywhere from downtown to the forest. Many trails offer plenty of places to shop or eat.
Whether you seek light exercise, beautiful scenery, or family bonding, Eugene has a bike path for you. Visit the Bike Eugene site for information on bike rentals and to find the best courses for your family bike ride.
18. Wildlife Safari
Can you take a safari in Oregon? Surprisingly, you can.
Wildlife Safari in Winston spans over 600 acres and features over 600 animals from around the globe. The wildlife park started more than 50 years ago with a mission to save rare and endangered animal species. The facility has become an internationally recognized animal education and conservation center.
With a safari ride and so many unique animals in wide open natural habitats, the experience is quite different from your typical zoo. Adults and kids will take great pleasure in the memorable animal encounters.
19. Enchanted Forest
Head to Turner for a fairytale adventure at the Enchanted Forest theme park. There are rides and attractions for all ages. Rides include a bobsled coaster, log ride, bumper cars, carousel, Ferris wheel, train, and haunted house.
Storybook Lane allows kids to live out fairytale adventures beyond their wildest dreams. You can pan for treasure, enjoy a dazzling fountain and light show and laugh along at a musical comedy. The unique theme park is an Oregon treasure.
20. Wings and Waves Waterpark
It feels like summer year-round at Wings and Waves Waterpark in McMinnville. The indoor waterpark has slides for all ages, a virtual reality slide experience, and a wave pool. When taking a break, you can grab lunch at the Milky Way Cafe before splashing back into the water.
The park has scheduled shows where you can enjoy a dive-in movie on the giant screen above the wave pool. Create memories with your kids no matter what the weather brings.
21. Oregon Coast Aquarium
The Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport has indoor and outdoor exhibits with fish, pinnipeds, seabirds, and more. Your kids can connect with 15,000 animals across 300 different species.
The aquarium offers unique encounters, such as behind-the-scenes tours and opportunities to touch a sea jelly or octopus. It is an excellent way for your kids to learn about various marine life in a fun way.
22. Gilbert House Children’s Museum
The Gilbert House Children’s Museum is designed for children ages 2 to 10 and is about learning through creative play. It is connected to Riverfront Park in downtown Salem.
Exhibits often mimic real-world environments, encouraging kids to interact and explore. Your children can learn more about different transportation modes, crop planting, and green-screen technology. It is a unique museum that young kids are sure to love.
23. Mount Hood Railroad
Take a historic train ride through the Columbia River Valley on the Mount Hood Railroad. Views of the gorge and Mount Hood are breathtaking. The railroad offers different experiences throughout the year, such as mystery train rides and the Christmas Train.
Mount Hood Railroad offers a unique two-and-a-half-hour excursion where you can pedal a tandem railbike on the train tracks. If this sounds like too much work, do not worry. The bikes have a pedal-assist motor, so you can expend minimal effort and enjoy family time.
24. The Oregon Vortex
Do your kids love mysteries? The Oregon Vortex and House of Mystery in Gold Hill will challenge your beliefs and perceptions as you go through various rooms where things do not make sense.
Have the laws of gravity and physics gone out the window? You will have to decide if these are merely illusions or if there is a strange, powerful force here. Either way, your children will have a blast at the Oregon Vortex and House of Mystery.
Fun Things To Do in Oregon With Kids
With diverse landscapes and beautiful scenery, Oregon is not just for adults. There are plenty of indoor and outdoor activities to entertain children. Oregon is an excellent family vacation place with many things to see and do.
This article originally appeared on Hello Sensible. Photo Credit: [@TeriVirbickis/DepositPhotos]
We are Scott and Julie of Miles with McConkey. After nearly 30 years, we took a leap of faith out of the corporate world to enjoy a life of travel and adventure. We hope to inspire you to find ways to travel more and enjoy life now.