How to road trip through Oregon with your toddler

How to road trip through Oregon with your toddler

The best places to eat, stay and see to unplug as a family in Oregon where you'll immerse yourselves in its nature, scenic beauty and adventure.

When searching for a getaway destination last summer following a multi-month long marathon preparing for and launching our Kickstarter, we needed a place where we could slow down and spend time as a family. What better place than the birthplace of Kinfolk, one of the original creators of the slow living movement? It didn't hurt that Oregon is an outdoor paradise with its 350 miles of coastline with sandy beaches, host to kid-friendly highlights (including an aquarium and aviation museum!) for our 2-year old son, and no shortage of fabulous eat + drink options in and around Portland.

Itinerary (10 days): Fly into Portland --> Lincoln City --> Coos Bay --> Willamette Valley --> Fly out of Portland

Header Photo by Corinne Kupish

Days 1-3: Fly to Portland and head west to the Oregon Coast

We landed at around 12:30PM, picked up our luggage and car rental, and drove straight to Mt. Tabor (~15 mins away from the airport) where we grabbed a much needed meal at Coquine. It was a perfect spot after multiple hours of shepherding our son around through various airport checkpoints -- outdoor seating, casual vibe, and a diverse menu that checked the boxes for our family's cravings. With lunch out of the way, we headed straight to Mt. Tabor where there's a decent play area and multiple gentle hiking trails nestled by trees -- bonus: you're on top of a dormant volcano and offers some awesome views of the city!

Having planned to spend more time in Portland at the end of our journey, we hopped back into the car for a 2-hour journey west to the Oregon Coast. There are multiple spots to choose from, including Cannon Beach, Rockaway Beach and Pacific City. We decided to stay in Lincoln City as it was a good jumping off point to the area, and made it easier to get to our next stop further south in Coos Bay. We recommend at least 2 days, and there's no wrong way to do a road trip here - there are so many coastal towns near each other and you can easily be spontaneous hopping from beach to beach town.

Bonus tip: The highlight for us was Regatta Park, an area that has something for everyone including one of the most impressive playgrounds we've ever been to, a beach, and a swimming area bordered by a fishing dock. 

Restaurants: Casual lunch at a delightful, family-friendly burger joint called Hwy 101 Burger was a highlight. It felt in many ways like a more charming, local Oregon version of In-N-Out Burger. Friendly service, pinball machines, and a simple but satisfying menu for the whole family (as long as you’re not vegetarian) made it a perfect spot for a quick bite. 

Days 2-4: Scenic drive down the 101 to Coos Bay

We checked out first thing in the morning, and went straight to the Oregon Coast Aquarium on our way to Coos Bay. We're not super picky when it comes to aquariums -- it's always such a treat when Emmett gets to see his favorite animals that he reads about in books in real life! Highlights included seeing speedy giant sea turtles, cuddly otters and playful puffins putting on a show. We recommend grabbing tickets in advance for the first time slot (weekday ideally!) to beat the crowds. 

We continued to head down south after grabbing lunch at Local Ocean (great seafood option near the aquarium). We were very excited to arrive at our destination, Bay Point Landing where they take glamping to new heights. Surrounded by the beauty of Oregon's wildest coast, they've got RV sites, Airstreams, and cabins that immerse you in nature, style and comfort. The curated amenities were perfect, including a heated saltwater pool, fitness center, Kids Den, a mini playground, and lounge. We loved starting every day at the pool, and then taking long walks on the beach collecting sea shells in the afternoon. This was exactly the tranquility we were looking for when we originally booked this trip. 

Bonus tip: We booked the Dune Cabin, which has an elevated loft area where our son could nap / sleep while we lived our best no reception club lives. We also made use of the fire pit where Emmett had s'mores for the first time!

Restaurants: We loved our meal at Local Ocean in nearby Newport, where we found all our classic seafood favorites (think: fish & chips, crab cakes, fish sandwiches, etc.). Beautiful views of the water, an almost date-like ambience that remained family-friendly (!!), and the ability to walk around the dock to see sea lions outside while waiting for food made this a place we would revisit the next time we’re in the area. 

Days 5-7: Wine tasting on the way back to Portland

Wine tasting is one of those trip activities where both parents and kids can relax and hang out for multiple hours. For that reason, we made it a point to stop off at Willamette Valley, Oregon's wine country. To make the most of your time at the vineyard(s), we always: (i) call in advance to make sure the place is kid-friendly; (ii) plan to eat something, whether it's picnic items we bring or snacks/lunch that they offer there; and (iii) bring some trucks where our son can play outside. 

In addition to vineyards, Willamette Valley also features the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum. The exhibits are pretty impressive and will surely capture the attention of both parents and kids -- including the massive "Spruce Goose". You don't need to be an aviation fanatic to enjoy this stop, especially if you need a day off from wine tasting!

Bonus tip: We loved our stay at our Airbnb in McMinnville. It stands out as one of our top 5 places to stay of all time with its stylish design, thoughtful touches, outdoor area, and local recommendations. We loved it so much we even filmed our Founder Q&A here that we shared at the end of our Kickstarter campaign. 

Kid-friendly vineyards: Bethel Heights Vineyards, Stoller Wine Group 

Days 8-10: Eating and Shopping in Portland

In the last leg of our Oregon road trip, we played tourists in Portland where we ate and shopped to our heart's content. While we did enjoy a little time downtown (and of course made the absolutely necessary trip to the iconic Powell's Books), by far our favorite area to hangout as a family was the Alberta Arts District in Northeast Portland, which had a much more relaxed pace and local vibe. We spent an afternoon hours walking down NE Alberta Street where there was an abundance of independently-owned boutiques, coffee shops, brunch/lunch spots, vibrant murals, and of course ice-cream! 

A couple favorite kid-friendly shops we adored included Grasshopper (think: modern but playful baby/kids clothing+toys boutique) and Green Bean Books (kids books). We happily grabbed iced coffee at Barista, and later had a much needed ice-cream break at local favorite chain Salt & Straw
Restaurants: When it comes to Portland, there is no shortage of incredible food (and incredible food guides, for that matter).  The two dinner spots we highly recommend are both in Northeast Portland — Dame (Italian/New American) and Brasa Haya (Spanish/Tapas). In both cases, we loved their food and relaxed atmosphere, which made it comfortable bringing a toddler for an evening out. We should mention that in all meals, we opted for outdoor dining as we always find it to be less formal and more spacious  — especially useful when our son is happily racing his trucks underneath the dinner table.
 

Bonus Tip: One attraction we were sad to miss this time was the Oregon Museum of Science and History. It came highly recommended to us from multiple people. However, when we checked out the latest reviews, we learned that the museum was under some pretty heavy renovations where the majority of the exhibits are closed. We'd recommend calling or checking out the reviews in advance to check out the latest status.

 

 


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