Sunshine floods through windows, the smell of fresh, cut grass is in the air, and our world is covered in blooming flowers! Summer is near, and the itch to get out of the house to have fun is real. That doesn’t mean the workweek or the chores stop, and finding places to travel to within a day is tricky, especially while remaining family and budget-friendly! School break is near, Father’s Day is around the corner, and soon we’ll be setting off fireworks, but maybe you haven’t had the time or energy to pick out the locations where these festivities will take place for your family. Luckily for us Oregonians, there are plenty of options! Here’s a list of day trip suggestions throughout the state to get you started:
With gas prices bordering $5 a gallon, driving a car hours away may seem a bit daunting. Instead of wearing out your driving leg and stopping at the gas station more times than any heart can handle, consider planning your next trip around a city that has an Amtrak station. Many cities, such as The Dalles, Salem, and Klamath Falls, have a generous amount of amenities and activities within walking distance of where the train stops. Venturing out of Oregon to cities like Seattle or even Sacramento can seem more manageable when a train ticket will cost each of you as little as $64! Amtrak trains are a comfortable ride in reclinable seats equipped with flip-up tables, bathrooms in each carriage, and a dining car with refreshments available at one end of the train. If you happen to be the person who does the bulk of the driving, imagine hours freed up for reading a book or playing games with your family! Free up some responsibility–let Amtrak take you on your next adventure to a neighboring city’s zoo, park, museum, and more.
Local Farm Stores
With offerings like fresh donuts, seasonal plants and herbs, fluffy animals, and a playground, it would be hard to find a reason to be upset about visiting a local farm store. Many of these types of locations do not charge any fees to get in, which they do with confidence, knowing it is challenging to leave without a few of their wares! Not only are there plenty of things to keep you interested during your visit, but these are also great places to pick up gifts. Support local businesses and take home some unique homewares, wine, or pepper jelly for your next goodie bag. One of the best parts of farm stores that often goes underutilized is the knowledge and experience you can glean from the workers there. Chances are they have worked there for many years and have lots of interesting stories to share! If you’re unsure where to start, here are three of my family’s favorite locations to try:
Red Berry Barn in Sherwood
Bauman Farms in Woodburn
E.Z. Orchards in Salem
The climate for growing crops in Oregon is outstanding, which means the state is covered with locations that charge super low rates by the pound for you to go out in their fields and pick your own fruit. Blueberries or strawberries may be the most common thoughts, but do not forget that peaches, cherries, plums, blackberries, lavender, apples, and more are also available! On the day you choose to visit, bring along some sunblock, hats, and buckets of your own to use (or containers are often available on-site), and make sure to ask a staff member which parts of the field are best. Day by day, different areas of the field will be readier than others, so having this knowledge will cut down on wandering to find the right spot for your family. This is a great place to meet up with other families and chat while you pick, taking home as much as your budget–or your fridge–allows. As a friendly courtesy, I will often round up a dollar or two on my total at the weigh station to compensate for all the fruit we ate out in the field! Use this convenient website to locate a u-pick field near you.
The Oregon Garden and Silver Creek Falls
Silverton is home to two outstanding outdoor locations: 80 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens and forest trails at The Oregon Garden as well as over 9,000 acres of forested wonderland in the neighboring Silver Falls State Park. Both places are ideal for getting lost with your family and experiencing and learning about the local flora and fauna. If your family are already active, outdoorsy people, challenge yourselves to find all 10 of the waterfalls in Silver Falls State Park. For lower-activity levels, purchase a ticket at $3 per person for a 30-minute narrated tram ride at the Oregon Garden. Sack lunches are a great and allowable budget option for visiting these parks, but consider that Silverton is brimming with excellent restaurants and boutique shopping if you crave some town time before or after the hike. Gear Up, Silverton is a family-friendly coffee shop and hangout spot in Silverton that would be an ideal place to stop for some tasty, local pastries!
Oregon Coastal Towns
The winding Highway 101 borders the Oregon coastline, covering an impressive 363 miles of surf-washed wonder! All along the 101 are coastal towns that thrive thanks to the income provided annually by tourists. No matter which direction you choose along the coast, you’re sure to enjoy lighthouses, bridges, and a bounty of pull-offs and parks. Whale watching is spectacular in Oregon, and many of the coastal towns offer whale-watching tours. If budgeting $55 per adult (and $30 for 12 and under) is an option, Marine Discovery Tours offers a 2-hour Sea Life Cruise out of Newport that can give anyone an unforgettable experience! Masses of sea lions are guaranteed to be seen barking and sunbathing along the Newport Bayfront, always for free. You could also let your kids run off some energy at Regatta Park in Lincoln City–a lakeside playground that has something for all ages to enjoy. From Astoria to Brookings, antique shops to tidepools, there is always something new and fun to be done along the Oregon coast.
Lakeside Picnic and Swim
To be very clear–Oregon has a ton of lakes! Currently, there are 1,400 named lakes in this state waiting to be explored, from the more popular Crater Lake or Detroit Lake all the way down to the underdogs like Opal Pool or Lake Marie. For a spontaneous trip, take your lunch on a drive along Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway and pull off anywhere (safe) among the picturesque span of 66 miles that covers dozens of lakes and a breath-taking range of mountains. Long, sunny days are perfect for swimming in the lake, but safety should remain a constant priority. Accidents are the 4th leading cause of death in Oregon, and relaxation often breeds carelessness. Remember: never swim alone and only swim in designated areas. If boating is a family interest, know that many lake areas have loaner lifejackets, should you not have your own to use, and any boats longer than 10ft must have a Waterway Access Permit.
Oregon is home to a ridiculous number of opportunities and reasons to get out of the house this summer. This list merely scratches the surface and serves to inspire, so if you have additional ideas for summer day trips, please post them below. Oregonians should all work together, pooling knowledge, to make responsible use of our state’s bountiful resources!
Michelle is a married mother of two toddler girls and a house full of pets. As a homegrown Oregonian, she enjoys spending her time on family adventures throughout the PNW to fuel her creative inspiration! Photography, crochet, freehand mandala designs, hiking, and gardening are a few of her hobbies that are highlighted on Instagram @xenonvogue. Each new day is a chance to be present and involved, so Michelle strives to live honoring the knowledge that this too shall pass.