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Oregon Vacation - Need Advice for Week Long Trip

Colorado Springs, CO
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Oregon Vacation - Need Advice for Week Long Trip

My husband, our 2-yr-old daughter and I are planning a trip to Oregon in mid-July. It will be a weeklong trip (fly in on a Wednesday and fly out the following Wednesday). We will be renting a car and taking a road trip around the State. The following is what I have tentatively planned for our trip, but would love ANY advice on what we should definitely see and what we should skip based on what I've already planned. We have never been to Oregon with the exception of being in Portland for a very short business trip (no sightseeing). We like zoos/animals, beaches, hiking, waterfalls, unique places to eat and lodge, and not a lot of crowds. Keep in mind we have a 2-yr-old with us, but she LOVES to travel and be outdoors. This is a 800+ mile drive.

Day 1 - Fly into Portland in the morning. Are the hotels near the airport a good option? I've heard the north/northwest side is a bit sketchy, true? I'm thinking the LaQuinta near the airport. Not very "unique," but a good value. Anything we can do in the late morning/early afternoon around Portland for a few hours that is worth checking out (not too much driving)?

Day 2 - Drive west on Hwy 26 to the coast to check out Cannon Beach (Oswald West State Park, Ecola State Park). Head south on Hwy 101 to Manzanita to see Nehalem Bay State Park. Maybe stop at Tillamook Cheese Factory? Worth stopping? Check out Munson Creek Falls. On the way to Lincoln City, go to Cape Lookout State Park. We will spend the night in Lincoln City. I was thinking of staying at the Ester Lee Motel, and checking out Mo's for dinner. Are there better choices for either/both?

Day 3 - Continue to drive south towards Bandon. Check out Depoe Bay, Cape Foulweather, Yaquina Bay Lighthouse and Yaquina Head Lighthouse near Newport, Cleft of the Rock Lighthouse near Yachats, Heceta Head Lighthouse near Florence, Winchester Bay and the dunes, Honeyman State Park, go through North Bend and Coos Bay. We will stay in Bandon for 2 nights. I'm debating between staying at the Bandon Beach Motel, The Bandon Inn, Harbor View Motel, Sunset Oceanfront Lodging and Windemere on the Beach. Any suggestions on the best place on or very near the beach? Would like to stay around $150/nt maximum.

Day 4 - The Oregon Coast Music Festival, North Bend July Jubilee and Shore Acres Concert in the Park going on in North Bend the weekend we will be there. Is this worth checking out? What about the Coos Bay Boardwalk? Also, what about the West Coast Game Park Safari south of Bandon since we like animals? Are there better things in the Bandon/North Bend/Coos Bay area to check out?

Day 5 - We'll leave Bandon early in the morning and drive east on Hwy 42 towards Crater Lake National Park. After checking out the Park, we will head north to Bend and maybe take the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway. We will spend the night in Bend. I was thinking the Shilo Inn Suites Hotel. Any better options? What are some good places for dinner in Bend (family friendly)?

Day 6 - We'll leave Bend driving north on Hwy 97 through Redmond, then Hwy 26 through the Warm Springs Indian Reservation, then Hwy 35 through Parkdale to Hood River. We will then head west on Hwy 84. We plan to check out Multnomah Falls, Bridal Veil, Bridge of the Gods. Are there other good places to check out along the river? We will end back in Portland and stay 2 nights.

Day 7 - We plan to go to Washington Park to the zoo and gardens for the day.

Day 8 - Fly home in the afternoon.

Please let me know your thoughts on this tentative plan. Am I trying to pack too much into this week or is this doable? We just want to see as much as we can while still relaxing some. Please let me know of any alternatives that would be better in terms of sites, lodging, route, etc. Thanks much!!

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Oregon
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Oregon Coast
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1. Re: Oregon Vacation - Need Advice for Week Long Trip

Whew! You do have a busy schedule planned ;-)

I'll leave the Portland portion for now, but just may add comments later, LOL! Most people here suggest staying in town, but we always stay out of town, actually near the airport.

Day 2: Skip Munson Creek Falls. We were there last year and it's not worth it with your limited time. [See below for another waterfall suggestion instead] The Ester Lee is up on a high bluff. A better choice might be D'Sands right at water level, next to a small park where they fly kites. I suspect it's in the same price range. Mo's is okay, not wonderful in my opinion.

Day 3: Another busy day. You'll have trouble parking near Cleft of the Rock as there is no place to pull over. You can see it quickly from the road. Bandon lodging - it's hard to beat Sunset's location, and Windermere is also on the ocean. Bandon Inn is up a hill overlooking the town and river.

Day 4: Have never been to the music festival. The Coos Bay boardwalk is mildly interesting with an old tug there. Won't take long to see. The animal park is kind of fun; I'm sure your youngster will enjoy the tame deer wandering around. I'd suggest a trip out to Shore Acres for dramatic scenery, and also Golden and Silver Falls State Park. It is about a half-hour's drive to get there but there are two big falls and it's very nice.

http://www.oregonstateparks.org/park_96.php

Will add more tomorrow as I just realized how late it is ;-)

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2. Re: Oregon Vacation - Need Advice for Week Long Trip

Yes, go to the Cheese Factory, there is also an Air Museum and the Blue Heron you may enjoy in this area. If you like sewing, go to the Latimar Quilt Museum in Tillamook. Looks like a great trip, I have you have fun! :)

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Tillamook Cheese Factory
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oregon
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3. Re: Oregon Vacation - Need Advice for Week Long Trip

WOW!!! That is a lot of activity.

A couple of random thoughts here for things to do/see along the way.

On your first day you if you're staying near the airport, you might consider using the MAX to go into town and scout around a bit. The red line actually goes from the airport, and Cascade station is located at the shopping center out there. No driving involved and a chance to get into town for a while.

July is quite warm here usually, so it would be a good idea to purchase a small cooler to stock with drinks and snacks to have along the way. There are several long, very rural segments of your trip where you might want to have things on hand for you and your little sprout.

Along the coast, the Aquarium in Newport is reputed to be very good. My in-laws loved it last fall and nieces/nephews have enjoyed it as well. Its not on your list but would be a good option for a crummy day or a hot one. Also, spending time at the Dunes National Rec. Area would be a lot of fun. The beach is extremely wide and the opportunity for a great stretch of the legs.

The lighthouses are really cool and the information center at Yaquina is terrific. Be advised that the stairs to the tidepools there are very steep should you decide to go down to explore them.

You asked about family friendly eateries in Bend- depending on your definition of "family friendly", I think that Pine Tavern is very nice and family friendly- a little on the upscale side of things, but the food is always good and they have very nice outdoor seating. It is located next to the big park in town. McMennimans would be another option but its a little hard to find. The food was good and there were children there when we were. One of my brothers likes to stay at the Riverhouse when he has business in Bend- he fishes in the river out back while he's there. I haven't stayed there myself, but he's pretty picky....

If you can rearrange things a little you would probably enjoy going up to Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood and taking the chairlift up to the ski area where your daughter could play in the snow in July!!!

There may be a minimum age for the lift, but if not that would make a great memory.

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4. Re: Oregon Vacation - Need Advice for Week Long Trip

I second half-Brit's comment; whew!! You've obviously done a lot of good research, but I'm concerned that you've jammed so much into the itinerary that you won't have time to really enjoy what you're seeing/experiencing. That said, here's my $.02......

If you're looking for unique out near the airport, consider McMenamin's Edgefield Manor: www.mcmenamins.com/index.php?loc=3&id=30 . Suggest you just poke around Portland that day. If it's warm, let your daughter splash around in the fountain at Jamison Square.

I've never been to Nehalem Bay State Park, nor even heard of it until your mention. And, I've lived in Oregon most of my life. So, I wonder what's there that you're hoping to see. Unless you're craving ice cream, pass by Tillamook Cheese Factory. It'll almost certainly be crowded, as it's pretty much the only game in town. Instead, use the time to check out Cape Meare's State Park on your way to Cape Lookout. It's a short stop, but well worth it.

Suggest you consider Yachats instead of Bandon for your 2-night stay. Shore Acres, Sunset Bay, etc. are all beautiful, but similar to what you'll have already seen, and I think you'll be frustrated at having given yourselves so little time for all there is to see and do between Newport and the Oregon Dunes. You would then take hwy 38/138 from Reedsport up to Crater Lake; very scenic, with the bonus of Dean Creek Elk Reserve. If you do make this change, rethink day 2 to possibly end up around Manzanita for the night. Otherwise, I'm wondering where you'll find time for daughter to build a sand castle, and watch daddy fly a kite on the beach.

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Colorado Springs, CO
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5. Re: Oregon Vacation - Need Advice for Week Long Trip

Wow! I really appreciate everyone's responses. I will research the additional suggestions you've all made. Yes, it does seem like a lot of activity. I wanted to start broad and then narrow it down based on suggestions from people who have been to these places. So, please feel free to provide more advice because every bit I gather will help me make our vacation great. Thank you again and keep the wonderful advice coming!

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6. Re: Oregon Vacation - Need Advice for Week Long Trip

If you are driving through Tillamook, I highly suggest stopping at the Blue Heron Cheese Factory. They have a petting zoo, and you can buy a bag of feed inside for a buck or less, and your daughter can feed the animals.

Speaking of feeding animals, if you are driving through the gorge, I would suggest stopping at Bonneville Dam for the fish hatchery where you can feed the trout. Bring lots of quarters. I just had my two year old there a couple of weeks ago and she couldn't get enough of it!!

Not sure why you want to see the Bridge of the Gods?? Really, it is just a bridge over the river. Nothing really exciting. However, we do like to stop at Charburger there for a bite to eat. Kind of a "divey" sort of joint, but the views of the river can't be beat!

Is there a specific reason you want to stop at Bridal Veil? I am thinking, depending on how much time you have, you might want to hop on the Historic Highway at Ainsworth State Park. This will take you past many waterfalls. Depending on your energy and time, you can just take a quick tour and hop back on the interstate at Bridal Veil (You would have passed several of the waterfalls by this point, including Multnomah Falls), and skip Vista House. I am thinking with a 2 year old in tow, she might be pretty beat by this point. Keep in mind, the parking will be pretty full at Multnomah Falls. So, you will either have to circle for parking, or choose another waterfall to stop at.

Bend to Hood River then touring the Gorge is a long day with a 2 year old in tow, but doable depending on your child's temperment.

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7. Re: Oregon Vacation - Need Advice for Week Long Trip

I like mistletoe's suggested route change. That will give you a little time to relax along the way.

If you stop into Blue Heron, that would sort of replace the Bandon animal park. Or, you could visit the wildlife park SE of Roseburg, kind of along your route from the coast to Crater Lake:

http://www.wildlifesafari.org/experience.asp

>>I've never been to Nehalem Bay State Park, nor even heard of it until your mention.<<

Tut, tut mistletoe! That's one of just a few SP's with horse camping, just south of Manzanita. You'll need to remember that next time you want to take the horse on a campout, LOL ;-)

Pretty, but nothing special to look at IMO.

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8. Re: Oregon Vacation - Need Advice for Week Long Trip

This is a very busy week you have planned. We did many of the same things as you plan, but we spent 11 days here and only went as far down the coast as Florence/dunes.

The locals will give you some great tips on the sights, so I will just offer some information on some of the things we saw and had experience with.

For Day 1, your family might enjoy OMSI (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry). Some of the exhibits might be over the head of your 2 year old, but they do have a center that is for children under 6. Our daughter was older, so we didn't get in here, but it was packed when we were there. The entire museum is really hands on and you can spend a lot of time there. There's an Imax theatre and submarine tour also.

For Day 2, definitely skip Munson Creek Falls. You really can't get close to them. We took the trail back and were disappointed when we had to stop. If you opt to stay in Lincoln City, we really enjoyed our stay at the Liberty Inn. Though not beach front, it's a great value.

Day 3 sounds really busy---too much, IMO. FYI..you can spend a lot of time at Yaquina Head. They have tide pools here that are neat if you time them right. We stopped at Florence, so I really can't comment on going further down the coast. To me the dunes are a must see, and a ride on a dune bus is great fun! If you can fit it in, I'd highly recommend it.

For Day 6, we stayed at the Riverhouse in Bend and were very pleased. It has been recently renovated and was my favorite hotel of our Oregon trip. The Shilo you mention is right next door, and from the outside, it looked very nice. However, if in the area again, I'd choose the Riverhouse. Though not an original choice, we liked Johnny Carino's Italian near the mall in Bend for family dining.

Hope this helps some. Have a great trip.

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9. Re: Oregon Vacation - Need Advice for Week Long Trip

The Riverhouse is to Bend what Hotel Monaco is to Portland in the fact everyone loves it!! LOL!!

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10. Re: Oregon Vacation - Need Advice for Week Long Trip

I am receiving such fantastic advice!! Thank you all SO much for all your input.

Based on mistletoe's and half-brit's suggestion about modifying the trip a bit (i.e., not going all the way to Bandon), I want to run this by you...

I'm thinking of still staying in Lincoln City (I know it was mentioned stopping in Manzanita for the 2nd night). From Cannon Beach to Lincoln City, it is only about a 2 hour drive, so I think we'll still be able to check things out along that stretch of coast for the day if we get up and go early from Portland since it is a 1 1/2 hour drive from there to Cannon Beach.

My change is to instead stay in Florence for 2 days (versus Yachats or further south in Bandon) on Day 3 and 4. This will give us all day to roam down the coast since it is only 2 hours to Florence, and then another entire day to venture around the coast to the Dunes, etc. I was contemplating staying in Reedsport, but found comments on TA advising against it. My concern about staying in Yachats is it's 5+ hours of straight driving time just to get to Crater and then another 2 1/2+ to Bend. Going from Florence, through Reedsport then over to Crater will cut about 1 hour+ off the drive. Correct?

Does this sound reasonable (or a good idea)? Is Florence a good place to stay or is Dunes City a better option? Thank you in advance for you help.

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Bandon
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Lincoln City
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Manzanita
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