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Two Weeks with Toddler in Washington and Oregon Aug 19-31

Two Weeks with Toddler in Washington and Oregon Aug 19-31

Jun 11th, 2019, 08:31 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2019
Posts: 2
Two Weeks with Toddler in Washington and Oregon Aug 19-31

Hi, I'd like some suggestions for a two-week, family/todder-friendly Washington and Oregon road trip and hikes/experiences that maximize adventure time and minimize driving -- ideally with one unforgettable camping excursion during the trip. It will be me, my wife and our three-year-old, and we're looking to take in as much of the breathtaking nature and have as much fun as possible, with some hammock naps along the way.

In my single 20s, I explored parts of Olympic National Park (Hurricane Ridge, Sol Duc Falls and Hoh Rainforest -- hike to and camping at Elk Lake). I know there's so much more to see now as I'll have more time, even though I won't be doing as long hikes with my family. My wife and I have also explored Seattle and while we are flying in and out its airport, we'll limit our city time.

Some spots I'm considering on a loop (can do multiple days in certain locations to explore and rest/recharge) in no particular order: Hurricane Ridge, Ruby Beach, Kalaloch, Rialto Beach, Quinault, Mt. Rainier, Columbia River Gorge, Lake Crescent, Crater Lake, Bend, and passing through Portland at some point. Although we could spend 2 weeks in Washington alone, for variety, the coastline of Oregon and some of its other areas like Crater Lake are enticing if the driving isn't too much. I want to firm up an itinerary so I can get to booking accommodations and looking into good eats and other attractions.

What makes sense? Feel free to share a few options with Google maps if it's easy.

Many thanks,
schnecra is offline  
Jun 11th, 2019, 08:56 PM
Join Date: Nov 2010
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For a 12 day trip with a toddler, I would visit either Washington or Oregon, not both. If you are flying in, what kind of camping do you plan?
For an Oregon trip, plan on visiting the Oregon coast using Oregon State Parks that have yurts. You don't have to worry about folding up a wet tent in the rain if you use a yurt or rental cabin.
Plan on visiting the rim of Crater Lake. You can decide if your toddler can make it down and back up the Cleetwood trail to take a boat trip out onto Crater Lake and maybe a short visit to Wizard Island.
Outside Bend, visit the Cascade Lakes Highway. We have a beautiful Elk Lake in Oregon too.
tomfuller is offline  
Jun 12th, 2019, 05:59 AM
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Looks like your first post; Welcome to Fodor's!

To minimize driving I'd keep the plan fairly compact. A "figure 8" loop from/to Portland airport would be my first suggestion, something like this - https://goo.gl/maps/Z5e1kgg1pjkCGQCk9 . This would encompass two main areas, the Columbia Gorge/Hood River/Mt. Hood area, and the northern coast between Cannon Beach and Ecola State Park and Cape Disappointment on the Washington side of the mouth of the Columbia River. I've also included a detour to the Johnston Ridge observatory, overlooking the Mt. St. Helens caldera.

There's a huge range of activities and accommodations around the Gorge and Hood River, ranging from waterfalls to quiet lakes to river rafting, the Hood River "fruit loop" with wineries and U-pick orchards and farms. Your child will love meeting Herman the Sturgeon and feeding the baby trout at the Bonneville hatchery, and you can even take a day trip to the fascinating Maryhill Museum and nearby copy of Stonehenge at Maryhill, an hour east of Hood River.

Then head out to the coast (or of course you could do this whole trip in reverse) and spend time on the beaches at Cannon Beach, Ecola State Park, or any of the other towns along the coast. Include a visit to Cape Disappointment with its lighthouses, waves-on-rocks scenery, and even Waikiki Beach - the other one. Follow the historic and rather more scenic north shore of the Columbia as you return to the Portland area (via Mt. St. Helens if you can.)

Note accommodations are often booked up early in these areas, and can require multi-night stays (especially on the coast) to you should firm up plans pretty soon.
Gardyloo is online now  
Jun 12th, 2019, 06:20 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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I agree with Gardyloo's suggestions, although I think river rafting probably isn't I the cards with a toddler. You could still add in some of ONP. As for Hurricane Ridge, just be aware that the Hurricane Hill trail will be closed most of August. That is the easy trail there, although you could still wander around which is still very nice.

As mentioned, lodging will be an issue with the late planning. ONP has limited lodging since it tends to be seasonal, so that might dictate what your plans for that would be. The OR coast fills up fast, and Cannon Beach especially, but others in the nearby area usually have 2-3 night minimums. One way around that is to call hotels directly and squeeze in between other reservations. We do that many times for last minute trips and so far have always lucked out. You haven't asked, but in CB our favorite place to stay is the Surfsand Resort. Its been a family favorite for decades and they have a lot of activities for kids/families including ice cream days, hot dog roasts, etc.
mms is offline  
Jun 12th, 2019, 10:08 AM
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We are flying in and out of Seattle, if that changes any of your answers/itinerary. Perhaps in that case staying in Washington for some easy hikes may make the most sense? While a night of camping somewhere sounds good, yes, perhaps a remote or well placed cabin in nature would be better for the family and having to lug camping supplies across the country from New York.

schnecra is offline  
Jun 12th, 2019, 09:38 PM
Join Date: Aug 2005
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I agree it would be fun to get your little one out in the woods. A cabin is a more practical choice since you wouldn't have any camping gear o on the plane. Some cabins to consider:

KOA Astoria--Get the deluxe or upgraded cabin, which includes your bed linens.
The location of this park is great, near Astoria, Cannon Beach, and Cape Disappointment, Washington. There is availability on the weekdays you are on the trip, but not the weekend.

I am a huge fan of the state park Fort Stevens right next door, but those yurts are even harder to get and have zero supplies inside them. You can head over to Fort Stevens to climb the fort, go to the beach, etc. A day use pass is about $5 to the park.


Pacific City Thousand Trails--We've stayed here several times. It's one of my favorites, tied with Sunriver. The park actually has trees in it, and feels more natural. The amenities are nice. Personally, I'd actually drive down to the Cape Kiwanda parking lot for a day at the beach -- not far--because the tide pools there are great. You can ask to rent bed linens for these cabins.


The San Juans have some cabins and yurts, but they were generally more expensive than the places I've given you.

You could try our state parks for non-weekend days, but they wouldn't have any pots and pans, dishes, silverware, bed linens, or any supplies. I just think it would be a headache and not worth the effort.

For a young child, there are several boat trip opportunities that might be fun. Seattle has of course, working ferries, and Gardyloo, Suze and others have posted about those. If you decide to go to the Columbia River Gorge, consider a ride on the Columbia River Sternwheeler. That is a great choice to take a young child. You can choose a 1-hour or 2-hour cruise. It's a really beautiful outing on the river.
5alive is offline  
Jun 13th, 2019, 06:08 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Sorry I missed the point about flying into and out of Seattle.

With two weeks and a willingness to drive some distances, it doesn't make a huge amount of difference - you can access most of the region and be back without breaking your backs behind the wheel. Only you can know what sort of pace is tolerable or comfortable for you and your child. Obviously scenery is not going to be of much concern for your 3-yo, so that's really on you to decide whether a multi-destination trip vs. one that's more stable is ideal.

There are some logistical issues to address. First, accommodation around Olympic National Park is quite limited, and as you'll be traveling close to the peak periods and are making plans pretty late in the season, I wouldn't hold out much hope that you're going to find an ideal situation. Looking for a "remote or well-placed cabin" is VERY hard pretty much anywhere in the Pacific Northwest; those that are available are usually booked up months, sometimes years in advance. It might be possible but it's a real longshot.

Second, you don't indicate budget, but that might also be a factor. Hotel prices in central Seattle (and to a slightly lesser degree Portland) are very high during the peak of summer, and this has trickled through to Airbnb and other alternative types of accommodations.

Third, weather. You don't say where you're from, so maybe this isn't an issue, but be aware that the Cascade mountains form a boundary between the temperate west and more continental climate on the east side of the mountains. Places like Crater Lake and much of eastern Oregon and Washington, and some western areas like the Rogue River Valley in southern Oregon can get VERY hot in mid-August, and unfortunately in recent years this has also been a time of increasing forest fire hazard. Now maybe high heat isn't an issue for you, in which case, fine, but just be aware.

I'm going to throw out some areas for you to investigate on your own, just to see if anything clicks. One thing - do you have passports? If you were able to add Canada to the list of possibilities, the range of options might be expanded greatly. I'm going to assume you do or can get appropriate travel documents by the time you travel.

- Whistler BC. Whistler in the summer is terrific, with all sorts of family-friendly activities ranging from the peaceful to the OMG. Because it's mainly a winter destination (as in 2010 Winter Olympics) the supply of accommodation is great, and summer prices are quite reasonable given what you get. If you flew into Seattle you could take the train to Vancouver (2 a day, early morning and early evening) and get a car there, or just drive and keep the car; it's no problem to take the US car into Canada, provided you tell the rental car people you're doing it. A few days around Whistler would be great - beaches, mountain views, lakes....

- BC Sunshine Coast. On the way to Whistler from Vancouver (on the drop-dead gorgeous "Sea to Sky" highway) you'll pass the Horseshoe Bay terminal for BC ferries. From Horseshoe Bay it's a fairly short (and amazingly scenic) ferry ride over to Langdale on BC's "Sunshine Coast," a string of attractive towns running along the mainland coast north for almost 100 miles. There's no road connection to the rest of BC, so the feeling is quite similar to that in the (US) San Juan or (BC) Gulf islands. Because Vancouver Island shelters the waters from the main Pacific, the beaches along the Sunshine Coast are calm, and inland from the coast there are lakes, waterfalls, opportunities for hikes, rafting... immense variety. And the towns offer lots of farm-to-table restaurants, farmers markets... It's an area not well known to US visitors (or those from other parts of Canada for that matter) but it's a real treasure. You could easily combine some days at Whistler with some on the Sunshine Coast and come away quite happy with your choices. Map for both - https://goo.gl/maps/2LxvahQ2XHX83UQq8

- Lake Chelan and Stehekin. Cross the Cascades on US 2 over scenic Stevens Pass and through the faux Bavarian village of Leavenworth, you're in apple orchard country. Head north on US 97 and presently you'll arrive at Chelan, at the south end of Lake Chelan, a fjord-like lake that extends north something like 55 miles into the North Cascades, eventually brushing the eastern edge of North Cascades National Park. At the Chelan end it's a hot-weather destination, with all sorts of water sports on the lake, and easy day-trip visits to stunning Sun Lakes/Dry Falls State Park and/or the Grand Coulee dam, as well as numerous orchards and wineries popping up in the region. However, also in Chelan you can board the Lady of the Lake, a ferry that travels up the lake to the little village of Stehekin at its northern end, from which there are hikes, horses or other excursions into the mountains. https://ladyofthelake.com/ . You could turn this into a big loop from Seattle, one that includes crossing the North Cascades and returns via Whidbey Island, like this - https://goo.gl/maps/2aacb8HKTqta8CFF7

- San Juans, Victoria, Hurricane Ridge, Whidbey loop. Map - https://goo.gl/maps/E1gaSHYnmKzd6Buq7 , This would include visits to the San Juan islands, then over to Victoria on Vancouver Island. You'd then head west along the Pacific side of Vancouver Island up to the end of the road at Port Renfrew. There are a number of resorts and rustic lodges along this coast, and maybe you could find something at this late date. In any event, you'd then cross the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Port Angeles on the Olympic peninsula, for a visit to Hurricane Ridge and maybe Lake Crescent, using PA as your base (because it has a wider range of accommodations.) Then move to Port Townsend,a lovely seaport town full of terrific Victorian buildings, before returning to Seattle via Whidbey Island.

I'll throw out one last off-the-wall idea, maybe a non-starter, but who cares?

You could skip the driving for a week and do an Alaska cruise out of either Seattle or Vancouver. The cruises are quite kid-friendly, with kids programs and babysitting services, enough food choices for even the pickiest eaters, and the scenery comes to you. Compared to a driving + hotels + restaurants week the price can be surprisingly affordable too. The cruises are for seven nights and include stops in historic and interesting towns in SE Alaska. There's whale watching, hikes through rain forest, totem poles, glaciers... and all having unpacked once and no logistical headaches at all. Now you might not turn out to be "cruise people" but it CAN be a relaxing and affordable week, one that includes sights and places that you can't see on a land-based vacation. There are both round trip and one-way cruises out of Vancouver, just round trips out of Seattle (due to US maritime law.) The Seattle boats travel on open ocean to the west of Vancouver Island while the Vancouver boats travel on the east side of the island on sheltered "Inside Passage" waters, both offer similar itineraries once you're north of the island. There are more departures, with more budget options for round trips out of Seattle. If you REALLY wanted to move in a wildly different direction, however, you could take a one-way cruise from/to Vancouver to/from Seward or Whittier in southcentral Alaska, then get a car and do a driving tour - wildlife, amazing scenery, etc. Of course that would increase airfare costs as you'd have to fly between the lower 48 and Anchorage in one direction, but it's quite doable.

I'll toss out a couple of pictures just to illustrate some of the above destinations -

Ferry to Sunshine Coast

Sunshine coast beach

Deception Pass, Whidbey Island

Hubbard Glacier, Alaska

All just suggestions of course.
Gardyloo is online now  
Jun 13th, 2019, 08:14 AM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 1,422
I think you are going to find that Crater Lake feels too far given that you are going in and out of Seattle-it is almost 7 hours drive from the airport. And I don't think you are going to find it all that toddler friendly in terms of spaces just to run and play and hard to book anything to stay there on short notice which isn't kind of a far drive in to go hiking. I would be tempted to pick up a car and go straight to Portland and maybe stay a night or 2 and exploring the Columbia gorge from there, then head over to either the Oregon or Washington coast and work you way back to SeaTac from there. We happen to love Long Beach Wa and there is a big wide open beach perfect for young children there, but there are many places that fit that bill in both Oregon and Washington.

Also there is a ferry that you might enjoy. It is the last ferry on the Lower Columbia River. It is from Wahkiakum County. The ferry operates 365 days a year, a minimum of 18 runs per day.Ferry Information Line: 360-795-7867 Here is a site with pictures and a link to the ferry site:


jpie is online now  
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