Warm, dry weather is finally here in Oregon, which means it is time to head to the amazing parks we have in the state. When packing a bag to bring along, here are some items our family has learned never to leave behind. 

  1. Water- This might seem like a gimme first item, but I don’t know how many times we have seen sunshine and piled in the car, only to realize that we forgot water for our kids. Combine that with the fact that many park water fountains are not reliable, and water should be the first thing on your mind when you head to the park. Nothing cuts the fun short faster than thirsty kids.
  • Snacks- Hunger and thirst go hand in hand. Have snacks in your bag to keep them happy longer and for yourself. I have been known to raid the fruit snacks and granola bars if desperate, but I enjoy my time watching my kids play much more if I have something yummy to munch, like chocolate-covered almonds.
  • Sunscreen- After months of rain, every Oregonian wants to soak in as much sunshine as they can. Just don’t forget to protect your skin as you do! In the past, we have made the mistake of equating the temperature outside with the sun’s strength. This is especially true at the Coast, where the near-constant breeze can trick you into thinking that you are not getting a sunburn on your unprotected face. Start in the spring to apply sunscreen before heading to the park, and it will be a good habit all summer.
  • Small first aid kit- It never hurts to be prepared for anything. I’ve even given my Band-Aids to adults before. You don’t have to pack the medicine cabinet, but a few essentials are helpful when someone gets hurt.
  • Extra clothes- Many parks around Oregon have water nearby or an actual water feature. Come prepared for the inevitable wet pants with an extra pair. This is also especially true for any potty-training parents. Keep some underwear stashed in there longer than you think you need. Accidents and leaky bladders have ruined many good afternoons. 

We are lucky to live in a state with so many amazing parks and nature trails. As you head out on family adventures this summer, make sure to pack well.  Being prepared only takes a few extra moments and can make a big difference.