Chehalem Skate Park, Newberg, OR

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Cheahalem Skate Park, Newberg, OregonWhat’s to Love:  When I purchased my son his new skateboard for his 8th birthday, the owner of a local skate shop was enthusiastic about the Newberg skate park, especially for kids.  Basically, it was everything he said it was and more!  This is the nicest skate park I’ve ever seen in my life, and while the official name is the “Chehalem Skate Park,” most people refer to it as the Newberg Skate Park.

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Dabney State Park

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Dabney State ParkWhat’s to Love:  An overcrowded beach along the Sandy River filled with people throwing cigarette butts, trash, and being obnoxiously loud and rude?  Is that the Dabney State Park you know and love?  My expectations were pretty low going in, especially on a busy summer weekend.  However, similar to Oxbow State Park, the rangers and clean-up crew do an excellent job of keeping Dabney clean, under control, and a great place for families. 

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Haldeman Pond (Sauvie Island)

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Haldeman PondWhat’s to Love:  This is an awesome fishing spot!  Didn’t catch any fish, but I won’t retract my first sentence.  If you’re looking for the perfect spot to teach your kids how to fish, head over to Sauvie Island’s “Haldeman Pond,” which is stocked with trout, bass, crappie, and catfish.  I can almost guarantee a positive fishing experience, if you’re prepared with all the necessary gear.

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Revolution Parkour

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IMG_0547What’s to Love:  “Functional Fitness” is a trendy term these days.  What does it mean?  I’m sure I could gather many definitions from practitioners, teachers, and students.  To me, it means exercising in dynamic/non-linear ways like rolling, tumbling, climbing, twisting, turning, jumping, leaping, grasping, etc.  Most importantly, the movements have to be done with a mindful intent on the technique.  Oh yeah, it MUST be fun!  It’s the type of fitness that makes you feel like a kid again.  Revolution Parkour houses one of the first Parkour Academies in the country, and after experiencing a course first-hand with my son, I can certainly attest to the “having fun” aspect.

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Jackson Bottom Wetlands

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Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve is just outside downtown Hillsboro, Oregon. It’s a nice location for hiking with younger children and viewing birds/wildlife. There is a beautiful Education Center with a gift shop and exhibit hall.

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Wapato Access Greenway

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Wapato Access GreenwayWhat’s to Love:  Don’t know exactly what it is about Sauvie Island, but every time I go, I feel like I’m on vacation.  I think it has something to due with the fact that when I’m there, I actually feel like I’m getting away from some of the inevitable craziness of living in a big city.  Windy country roads, farms, bike riders, pleasant hikes, beach, etc. – it all feels like a dream some days.  Some of my favorite stops are on the island and the Wapato Access Greenway (State Park system) is a worthy diversion from the more common destinations.

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Henry Hagg Lake

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Henry Hagg LakeWhat’s to Love:  I’ve lived in Portland since 1999, and this was my first trip to Henry Hagg Lake.  I was always concerned that it would just be a big scene with jet skis, motor boats, and a bunch of yahoos throwing trash all over the place.  I was definitely wrong and we had a lovely time.  I found the entire recreation area clean and a bargain at $5.00 for a pass.  The lake offered up a fairly secluded beach with warm water for swimming and a bunch of activities for the whole family.

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Sellwood Riverfront Park

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Sellwood Riverfront ParkWhat’s to Love:  Located just to the west (and below) Sellwood Park, Sellwood Riverfront Park often gets passed-up as bikers cruise the Springwater Corridor and cars zip by on the way to Oaks Amusement Park , Oaks Rollerskating Rink, or hiking in the nearby Wildlife Refuge.  Too bad!  Just like many inner southeast parks, this is one you don’t want to miss. 

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Walton Beach – Sauvie Island

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Walton Beach at Sauvie IslandWhat’s to Love:  Do you want to have a day at the beach without driving 70+ miles to the coast?  That’s exactly what we wanted this past weekend, and the beaches of Sauvie Island provided a reasonable substitute.  Specifically, the Walton Beach area is about 9 miles from the bridge crossing along the NE coast of the island.  It’s a pleasant drive that takes you by many possible side-excursions including blueberry picking at Bella Organics, the Pumpkin Patch Farm, and the Reeder Beach Country Market.

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Leach Botanical Gardens

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What’s to Love:  Leach Botanical Garden’s mission “…is to maintain and enhance living collections of plants for the purpose of education, research and conservation and to preserve the legacy of the Gardens founders, John and Lilla Leach. The Garden is committed to providing positive experiences to the diverse community upon which it relies for support” (source). 

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Smith & Bybee Wetlands

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What’s to Love:  Despite being sandwiched-in between some nasty industrial businesses, Smith & Bybee Wetlands Natural Area is an excellent family-biking destination with several options for family fun.  You may just need to hold your breath every now and then.

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Leaping Lamb Farm Stay

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City folks just don’t understand what it takes to run a farm. Where does our food come from anyway? We are all detached from our food sources. Very rarely do city kids get a chance to visit a farm where they can actually feed animals, shovel manure, pick produce, clean stalls, and breath clean fresh air. Don’t worry, there will be plenty of time to kick back and relax and/or run wild at Leaping Lamb’s “Farm Stay.”

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Driftwood Beach State Park

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Just take a look at some of the pictures I posted in this article – this beach speaks for itself. Of course, many amazing beaches can be found throughout the area from Newport to Yahacts. However, Driftwood beach resides close to a beach rental we’ve frequented over the past few years, and it holds sentimental value along with stunning natural beauty. I recommend a visit to this beach whenever you’re in the area.

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Pier Park: Disc Golf, Skateboarding and Swimming

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Pier Park is yet another excellent North Portland Park featuring an challenging 18-hold disc golf course, an outdoor skate park, and an outdoor pool! This destination park has a little bit of everything for the whole family. If you have yet to visit, I suggest heading up to St. Johns before the rainy season hits in North Portland.

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Opal Creek – Family Workshops

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Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center is a beautiful nature preserve about 2 hours from Portland. The Center hosts a plethora of educational programs for families.

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Horning’s Hideout

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Horning’s Hideout is one of the best places to take kids fishing. They have rental gear available and it’s very inexpensive. The property also has some killer disc/frisbee golf and summer music concerts.

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Kruger’s Farm (Summer Concerts!)

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Kruger's FarmWhat’s to Love:  Kruger’s is by far my favorite farm in the Portland area, and in the summer it’s one of my favorite spots with the family. There are three things that make it hard to beat: 1) Don Kruger is such a friendly guy; 2) The berries are incredible and NOT sprayed, and the farm does not use chemical fertilizers or fungicides; and 3) In the summertime, this is THE best music venue in Portland.

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Oxbow Regional Park

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Oxbow Regional ParkWhat’s to Love:  One of my favorite things about writing these articles is the shocking surprises that often occur while on different adventures.  The biggest surprises happen when I think a place is just going to be awful, and it turns out being the exact opposite.  It’s happened several times this summer, and it definitely happened on my visit to Oxbow Regional Park.  This park is a MUST visit during the hot days of summer!

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Cape Perpetua Scenic Area

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Trailhead at Cape Perpetua Scenic AreaWhat’s to Love:  Cape Perpetua Scenic Area is just south of the coastal town of Yachats, Oregon.  The scenic area offers many of the amenities of a state park including a campground with piped drinking water, flush toilets, fire rings, and tables, a visitor center offering interpretive programs, and plenty of picnic areas in the day-use area.  While these features are a boon to the average visitor, parents will be pleasantly surprised by something else.

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Wahclella Falls

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Wahclella FallsWhat’s to Love:  In my opinion, Wahclella is the Columbia River Gorge’s most beautiful waterfall.  I realize that’s a pretty bold claim considering all the great waterfalls.  However, Wahclella’s massive canyon walls filled with lush-green vegetation will make you think you’re in Hawaii, and it’s only 40 minutes from downtown Portland.  Spend the day, half a day, or even a couple hours, and you too will become a believer.

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