I am in the very early stages of planning a possible trip to Oregon, flying into Portland in August. I need help from locals and those very familiar with the area, as there seems to be much to see in this very large, diverse state. We are considering a rather large loop starting in Portland and heading east over the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. After this, I thought we could head to the Bend area and then Crater Lake. Then I thought we might be able to head west toward the coast and come back up to Portland. I know the state is large and I don't want to plan too much. Here are the some of the sights that interest us so far:
Crater Lake (A must see to us)
Columbia River Gorge (another must see)
Columbia River Gorge Museum in The Dalles
Mt. Hood scenic area
Portland area, including the Oregon Zoo & Oregon Trail Interpretative Center in Oregon City
Tillamook Cheese Factory
High Desert Museum in Bend
Lava Tubes/Caves in the Bend area
Sea Lion Caves in Florence
Oregon Aquarium in Newport
We are a family of three, two adults and a 10 year old. We enjoy the outdoors, short hikes (no more than 3 miles round trip), waterfalls, amusement areas, history, caves, wildlife viewing, scenic drives, and family friendly attractions (i.e. aquariums and museums).
Here are some questions that I have:
1. How much time do we need to adequately see this loop? Are we trying to plan too much? Our vacations typically last 10-11 days.
2. Does anyone have any other suggestions of attractions to see throughout this area of Oregon?
3. Are there any attractions that I listed above that are really not worth checking out, in anyone's humble opinion?
Any assistance/suggestions are greatly appreciated. I am really just getting started and looking for ideas.
Thanks in advance for your help!