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9 days in Oregon (in Aug.) with 2 Young Kids - Itinerary Help Please!

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Hi there!

I had written out a while ago for information about a possible 3-week stay in Oregon. Unfortunately, my hubbie's work is preventing us from taking that full 3 weeks, but we still find ourselves with 9 days (apart from flight dates) in Oregon! We are so excited!

A bit of background about us before I start asking questions :) My husband and I are in our mid-thirties. We'll be traveling from Toronto, Canada with our two young boys -- aged 4 years old and 15 months old. We took our youngest son on a 3-week trip to California when he was 13 months old and the three of us had a fantastic time hiking, sightseeing and the like. Now that there are two kids, we can only hope traveling goes as smoothly :)

In our 9 days, we've narrowed down what we'd like to include in our trip:

1-2 days in Portland
4-5 days on the coast
3-4 days in the Columbia River Gorge Area

So, the question is -- how to spend that time? More time on the coast and less in the gorge area? What are the must-sees (particularly for the kids, but also for us :))?

PORTLAND
We look forward to seeing Portland, but I'm thinking that we should probably only include one day in Portland (rather than two). If we have only one day there, what would be the must-sees? Anything great for the kids?

THE COAST
I'd love some in-depth info about travel on the coast. If we had unlimited time, we'd love to see the entire coast. As it is, we know that we want to spend part of one day at the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport and also that we absolutely must make it to Port Orford because our 4-year-old loves dinosaurs and we MUST make it to the Prehistoric Gardens (it will be the highlight of the trip for him!). We want to spend some time at the beach along the coast of course and would also love to see the dunes. My questions include:

1) How long does the driving actually take along the coast (in our experience in California, the times given by online maps are not exactly accurate given the traffic, conditions, etc. How much time should we allot, say, for a drive between Cannon Beach and Port Orford (should we decide to do that entire drive)?

2) Given those driving times and the time that we have to spend on the coast, how far north would you start our coast drive?

3) Where would be a good place (or places) to stay? Ideally, I'd love to spend at least 2 nights in one place along the coast (so as to minimize the packing and unpacking -- easier on all of us). Is there more of a central place that would fit into our itinerary, where we could double-back to explore certain areas if need be? Also, any suggestions for hotels/motels/lodging that has one-or-two bedroom units (with separate bedroom(s)) would be greatly appreciated. I find that staying in places with a little more space (rather than cramming into one hotel room) really makes all of the difference on vacation.

4) Whale-watching -- is there good whale-watching to be done in August? Or will we have missed prime season?

THE GORGE

1) Is 3-4 days in the Gorge area too long? Of course, I understand that one could probably spend weeks exploring the area and never get bored... but given our time constraints (and our desire to have lots of time on the coast) etc., is the gorge a good place to spend 3-4 days? We love hiking and plan to have the baby in a backpack carrier, but we'll also have our 4 year old to contend with. Which basically means that we'll need to find hikes that are either accessible for strollers or realistic for a 4 year old to walk (with period piggy back rides if needed :)). Any suggestions on appropriate hikes would be great!

2) What are the must-sees in the gorge area? Which waterfalls will be the most worthwhile in August?

Given that we'll have the two young kids with us while doing all of this driving, we need to be mindful that we aren't including too many "full-day drives" or "really long drives". Ideally, we'd like to be able to do our longer drives in the afternoon (when both boys will likely nap).

Thanks so much in advance -- I'm so excited to hear what you "Oregon experts" have to say!!! I know that a lot of my questions are quite open-ended and I appreciate that we have quite a lot of work to do on this itinerary. But with two kids running around, time for planning the vacation has been quite limited, and so I would really like to hear what all of you have to say about timing (which really is key to the decisions that follow!) before doing any more research and/or decision-making...

Thanks!
Jenn

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