Once upon a time, during a heat wave, you could throw a dart at a map of Oregon, and as long as you were close to a major body of water, it was a pretty safe bet that area would be noticeably cooler than the temperature in the city.
Not this time.
With temperatures expected in the triple digits this weekend, finding cooler spots to spend your time could be difficult.
Hood River is where you usually find your windy and cooler refuge, but you won’t find it there this weekend. It will be very hot in Hood River, with highs over the weekend hitting 105. Even in a high wind, 105 is not where you want to be. Sure, you can kite surf, but you’ll melt as soon as you get off the water.
Mount Hood usually offers hiking, camping, and swimming in a reasonable setting away from the city, but this weekend you’ll be better off going elsewhere. The ever scenic Trillium Lake offers temperatures of 93 on Saturday and 89 on Sunday, which will be cooler than the city but not by much – and it’s bound to be extremely crowded given the views. You’ll find even warmer temperatures a little farther up the mountain, with Timothy Lake expected to hit 101 on Saturday and 97 on Sunday. Lost Lake gets even hotter, hitting 109 on Saturday and 105 on Sunday. It’s possible the shade of the trees could provide a sanctuary from the sun, but you might only get down to the low 90s even in complete darkness.
Central Oregon offers the Deschutes River and Cultus Lake, and you might even get temperatures under 100. The city of Bend is expected to hit 104 on Saturday and 100 on Sunday, but the weather at Cultus Lake could be a bit cooler, hitting highs of 98 and 92. The Cove Palisades is expected to hit 111 Saturday and drop down to 105 on Sunday, so even playing in or near the water all day, you might not get to cool off.
West of Eugene, you can take a dip in Fern Ridge Lake, and the temperatures there are expected to hover in the mid-90s all weekend, so short of going to the coast, that might be your best bet, especially if you want to avoid the largest crowds.
From the northern tip of Astoria to the southernmost Dune in Bandon, the warmest weather all down the coast will be in the high 70s, so if you can find any spot to stay on Oregon’s coastline, you should have an excellent chance to be at least 20 degrees cooler than you would have been in the city.
Astoria will be the warmest weather, hitting highs of 76 and 74. Seaside and Cannon Beach are not much farther south, and you’ll see highs of 68 and 70. On the central coast, Lincoln City will hit 62 and 65, while Newport will only reach 61 and 63.
On the south coast, Florence will see highs of 64 and 65, Coos Bay will be right at 67, and Bandon will hover right around 62.
If you don’t want to fight crowds at the coast and are going to stay close to home, there are still some options.
Many cities offer “cooling centers” at community centers, libraries, and other public buildings with air conditioning for folks to hang out and stay cool. If there was ever a time for window shopping at your local mall, this is it. Nothing says staying cool like some frozen yogurt in an air-conditioned building where you can get back-to-school shopping out of the way before the frenzy begins.
Haven’t been to the movies in a while? Now is a good time to go. Even if it’s not your particular favorite film, it still beats Dante’s peak happening out there. There are many second-run and family-owned theaters showing movies new to you or your children at rental prices, and they have just as good air conditioning as the big theaters, and the concessions are usually superior.
Many local parks offer water features and splash pads to help keep the kids cool while you either run around with them or find a spot in the shade to keep an eye on them. Make sure to pack some heat-friendly snacks and water; it’s incredible how quickly the little ones can get hot and tired even playing in the water. And don’t forget to pack a couple of bucks for emergencies when the ice cream truck surprises everyone with an unannounced visit. Sure, you can say no, but what’s a little overpriced frozen sugar with zero nutritional value between friends on a hot day?
If you own a boat or a pool, good job thinking ahead. Just lather on the sunscreen and enjoy your assets off. If you don’t own one of the above, maybe it’s time to become friends with someone who does, or perhaps buy an inflatable water park on Amazon (yes, they exist! But they are not cheap). You could go to a city pool or indoor water park, but you’re likely to spend as much time standing in lines as you do in the water, so be prepared.
More than anything else, make sure you keep an eye on the family and their exposure to the heat this weekend. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are no laughing matter, and while it can feel like they can appear out of thin air, there are early signs to keep an eye on. Michelle Sullivan has some great recommendations here for you as well as what to watch out for.
Good luck, stay safe, and most of all, stay cool!
Casey Mabbott is a husband and parent first, and also an experienced and dedicated writer and researcher. Born and raised in the Portland area, when Casey is not spending time with his family gallivanting around Portland and the surrounding areas, he genuinely enjoys helping people (especially families) find the “hidden gems” in the Pacific Northwest. In today’s world of lightning fast information at our fingertips, it’s truly a wonder to stumble across a place, an experience, or an activity you’ve never heard of.