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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Freeriding in Post Canyon

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What’s to Love:  If you’re wondering what “Freeriding” means, you might want to first check-out OPB’s feature from Oregon Field Guide.  Basically, it’s riding a mountain bike through “technical features” setup along forest paths.  These technical features can be something as innocent as a small bump.  However, as one progresses further into freeriding, the “technical features” become narrow balance beams (far off the ground too!), teeter-totters, banked turns, and HUGE drop-offs.  This is a popular form of mountain biking, and “Post Canyon” outside Hood River is one of the country’s premiere areas.

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Hoodoo Ski Resort/Suttle Lake Resort

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Hoodoo ski resort provides an excellent skiing resort for families with small children. There is also a great tubing hill called “The Autobahn.” While skiing at Hoodoo, book a family cabin at the Suttle Lake Resort. If your kids are 14 and older, you can stay in the actual Lodge at Suttle Lake.

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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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Black Butte Ranch

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Black Butte Ranch is a family resort located 8 miles outside Sisters, Oregon. There are a myriad of activities for the whole family including golf, swimming pools, bike trails and rentals, tennis, spa, fitness classes, and much much more.

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Rock Climbing at Smith Rock!

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If climbing with kids at Smith Rock, I recommend Jim Albao of Chockstone Climbing Guides. Jim has over 18 years of experience and works well with children.

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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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Golfing at The Children’s Course

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The Children’s Course is located in Gladstone, Oregon and is a non-profit, public course aimed at teaching life skills to disadvantaged children through the game of golf.

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Canoeing at Browns Ferry Park

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Rent a canoe or kayak at Alder Creek Kayak and Canoe Rentals only 100 yards from the boat launch into the Tualatin River. The river is very mellow and an easy paddle for beginners.

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Visiting The Dalles, OR

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The Dalles, Oregon is located on the east end of the Columbia River Gorge right off highway 84. There are several excellent Museums including Maryhill Museum and the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center. There is a 9 mile, paved, bike path along the river from the Discovery Center all the way to the Dalles Dam. Portland Family Adventures recommends staying at Cousins Country Inn and eating at Cousins Restaurant.

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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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Oak Island Nature Trail

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Tons of blackberries!What’s to Love:  The Oak Island Nature Trail is a pleasant 2.5 mile loop-hike on Sauvie Island.   It’s basically a flat, two-lane service road.  There is plenty of room for kids to run ahead, and it’s perfect for a jogging stroller.  Doesn’t sound too exciting does it?  Well, during the month of August, this trail becomes far more than a hiking destination, and it’s well worth your time and energy to find this well-traveled path.

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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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Audubon Society of Portland

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PavillionWhat’s to Love:  Their message – “Audubon Society of Portland is devoted to the conservation of Oregon’s last remaining wild places.  Our first articles of incorporation written in the early 1900’s reflect this sentiment, ‘to use any and all lawful means for the protection of the wild birds and animals for the State of Oregon and elsewhere.’  We have taken this task very seriously over the years.”  (source)  After seeing some injured birds live (falcon, owls, turkey vulture, red-tailed hawk), I believe their commitment.  However, I believe the Audubon Society is somewhat off the radar for family fun, but for me, it’s an absolute must for small children.  Here is why…

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Fanno Creek Trail (Update)

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Fanno Creek TrailWhat’s to Love: (2012) Since first publishing this article, the major sections of the Fanno Creek Trail have been connected.  You can read more about this here.  Also, take a look at the new trail map here.

After living here for the past 9 years and being an avid city biker, I can honestly say that Portland does deserve its reputation as one of the best biking cities in the country, if not the world. However, the more I start to bike with my 4 year old son, the more I realize that much of the best kid-friendly-biking exists outside the city limits. Sorry Portland, but the network of paved paths within the Tualatin Hills Recreation District rivals anything within Portland proper. Certainly, Vancouver, WA is also providing an impressive array of biking paths for its young bikers and families.

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Powell Butte – Mountain Biking

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View from Parking Area of Powell ButteWhat’s to Love: I moved to Portland from one of the best mountain biking cities in the country – Durango, Colorado. I used to ride endless single-track right from my doorstep, and I lived just blocks from downtown. I miss the Durango sunshine, but I miss the epic mountain bike rides the most. Within the city limits of Portland, Powell Butte is the best cure for “single track fever.”

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Champoeg State Park

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What’s to Love: If you want to experience some great biking on safe, paved-paths, or play 15 holes of frisbee golf, then by all means head to Champoeg State Park. It’s well worth the 30 mile drive from Portland, even with gas being $4+ per gallon. It is also the perfect destination for a family camping trip, especially for first timers.

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Leif Erikson Drive

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Leif Erikson Drive in Forest ParkWhat’s to Love: How many cities can claim an 11-mile stretch of dirt road closed to motorized vehicles that is located within a protected, urban forest? In that same forest, lies a 30 mile hiking trail called the “Wildwood” that sports a healthy amount of peripheral trails and loop-hikes. Well, if you live in Portland, Oregon, you’re incredibly lucky to have this amazing recreational resource called “Forest Park.” Leif Erikson Drive is the 11 mile stretch of dirt road running through the heart of Forest Park. It’s just a small piece of the Forest Park puzzle, but it definitely warrants its own post on Portland Family Adventures.

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