Exploring the PNW with Kids

Balancing scenic destinations with stops children will love.

David & Karen Toste David & Karen Toste  |  10.25.2017

When we decided to adopt an RV lifestyle, we had visions of epic road trips and creating great memories with our kids. So far, our experiences have lived up to those dreams. However, we have discovered that sometimes epic can require a bit of planning. How far would we go? Where would we stay along the way? How would we keep our kids entertained?

After careful consideration, we planned our most recent trip to explore the beautiful Pacific Northwest by way of Oregon, Washington, and Northern Idaho. Some of our favorite stops included Multnomah Falls and Crater Lake in Oregon, and Mount Shasta in Northern California, but we also encountered several kid-friendly campgrounds, shops, restaurants, and stops that our little ones loved.

When we were researching a route, we found tremendous value in hearing about other people’s experiences, so now we’d like to pay it forward and share a few of our kid-friendly favorites with you.

Hi-Way Haven RV Park

We all know RV parks can be hit or miss. There are those we like to compare to the kid equivalent of spring break, complete with jump pillows and swimming pools. We love these parks, but every once in a while, it is nice to find a park that is off the beaten path that offers an atypical camping experience.

Enter Hi-Way Haven. During our first long travel day, we were looking for somewhere close to the freeway, so we could make an early getaway the next morning, but we also wanted the kids to have somewhere fun to decompress after a long day of driving.

We found Hi-Way Haven to be a great family-friendly RV park in Sutherlin, OR. It was clean and modestly priced, but the best part was that it had its own drive-in movie screen. And it was a bonus that they were showing a kids’ movie while we were there.

Our kids loved watching under the stars, but just like a traditional drive-in, when the weather cooled down at night, we could tune our radio to the designated station and listen from the comfort of our own RV. The experience was awesome … now our only problem is that our kids have really high expectations for cool movie-going experiences.

Portland, Oregon

This was our first visit to Portland, and we loved it. Not only was it beautiful, with its green hills, waterfalls, and views of Mt. Hood from what seemed like every corner, but there was also a ton to keep our kids entertained.

A few of our favorites stops:

Powell’s Books: To say this bookstore is awesome would be an understatement. It’s huge and houses a great children’s section, complete with a kids’ seating area. Our littles spent a lot of time here contemplating their purchases, because we all know how hard it can be to commit to just one Dr. Seuss book.

The Oregon Zoo: Whether you like lions, tigers or bears (oh my), you’ll find all your furry (and not so furry) favorites here. It surprised us to learn that the zoo is also a concert venue. With a stage set up right across from the elephant habitat, artists like Echo & The Bunnymen and Natalie Merchant were scheduled to play in the coming months. As big live music fans, we thought this was pretty cool.

Another great thing about the Oregon Zoo was that it had all the staples our kids wanted to see, but we didn’t need to be there all day to take it all in. We made it through the park in about three hours, which was perfect for us. However, if you’re looking for an all-day event, the Portland Children’s Discovery Museum conveniently shares a parking lot.

Deschutes Brewery: After a long day of chasing our kids at the zoo, Mom and Dad needed a beer. Several locals recommended Deschutes Brewery as a family-friendly restaurant the kids would love. The food was delicious, and the craft beer selection was even better. Bonus … it was loud enough that we didn’t need to police volume when our kids wanted to sing their latest Disney favorites.

Moscow, Idaho

That’s right. There is a Moscow in the United States, and we had the pleasure of stopping here for a few days to visit family. The drive from Oregon through Washington took us through the Palouse, filled with rolling wheat fields as far as the eye can see; the green and golden colors are breathtaking.

Moscow is a small town that lies right on the border of Washington and Northern Idaho, very close to both the University of Idaho and Washington State University. This university town was right out of a storybook, with great restaurants and what seemed like a park around every corner. Our kids played in the fountain at the center of town and their laughter echoed through the streets on the walk home. We knew we would be leaving a little bit of our hearts in Moscow.

Bend, Oregon

One of our last stops on this trip was Bend. Its downtown area was adorable, with great restaurants, shops, and parks. Our favorite was Drakes Park on Mirror Pond, which feeds into Deschutes River. We stumbled upon this park after dinner at a nearby restaurant, and caught one of the most beautiful sunsets we saw on the entire trip.

When we set out on this trip, our only goal was to have a great time as a family. The scenery of the Pacific Northwest and unique charms of the towns we visited definitely left their mark on our memories. And while it did take a bit of planning to balance sightseeing with fun stops for the kids, the result was the epic trip we had hoped for, and one we’ll remember for years to come.

Keep up with Karen, David and their family on Instagram: @thecampingplaylist


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