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Tillamook Forest Center
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Tillamook Forest Center LookoutWhat’s to Love: Just like the World Forestry Center in Portland, the Tillamook Forest Center (TFC) really surprised me in a positive way (in terms of family fun). However, unlike the World Forestry Center, admission to the TFC is free! There are so many wonderful, hands-on exhibits inside their beautiful visitor center, an award-winning film about the Tillamook burn, educational classrooms, and a really nice gift shop. It’s an hour drive from Portland, but well worth it.

Pullout drawers for explorationAs you can see in the pictures, this visitor center is chocked-full of exhibits for kids with plenty of things to manipulate, touch-and-feel, and you can even dress up like a fire fighter. The exhibits focus on the Tillamook burn, forest health, fish and wildlife habitat, restoration, and old settlements that once dotted the area. Outside, there are a plethora of hiking trails, picnic areas and campsites nearby.

Foot Bridge at the Tillamook Forest CenterWhen you drive onto the property, you’ll immediately notice the 50ft. lookout tower, which can be carefully ascended via a kid-safe (with supervision) staircase. At the top, you can go into the lookout and get an idea of what life is like as a fire lookout. In the back of the building, walk across a striking foot bridge, and you’ll have plenty of hiking trails to keep the kids busy. The TFC also offers many educational programs for the whole family. We went for the “Wildflower Walk;” unfortunately, the snow was too deep to see any wildflowers! We’ll definitely come back for another program.

Kids play area Tillamook Forest CenterTillamook Forest Center Exhibits

More exhibits at the Tillamook Forest CenterCaveats: If you need it, there is no food service.

Website: Tillamook Forest Center

Distance from Portland: It’s about a 1 hour drive from Portland. Check their website for directions.

Recommended Ages: The TFC is good for all different age groups. If you have teen-agers, they might be a bit bored, but there if they enjoy hiking, take to the trails!

Parental Stress Factor: Low stress visit!

Physical Difficulty: The TFC is fully accessible, and the hiking trails appear to be pretty flat.

Family Fun Factor: Low to Medium – Your kids won’t be running wild with big smiles, but they will get an opportunity to appreciate the outdoors.

Pet Friendly: Dogs are allowed on the grounds, as long as they are on a leash.

Weather Considerations: Open year round – it’s a good rainy day destination.

Dress up like a fire fighter Tillamook Forest CenterInsider Info: There are some great mountain biking opportunities in the Gales Creek area. Of course, most of these trails are for older kids. The area is also an ATV mecca. Personally, I don’t like to hear combustion engines when I’m out riding my bike, but this trail system does a fair job of keeping the peace.

Tillamook Forest CenterFamily Tips: I recommend combining this with a trip to the coast, or a family camping trip. For an educational program, it is a bit of a drive; unless of course, your family is really into hiking. Definitely bring food for the trip – as of right now, there is no food service at the TFC, and there are some very nice picnic areas.

Technorati Tags: Tillamook, Tillamook Forest Center, educational activities for kids, fire tower, fire lookout, exhibits for kids, activities near the Oregon Coast

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