Didn’t book that plane ticket to your favorite island paradise? Don’t worry–the Portland area holds the key to your vacation dreams. From a cozy hideaway to a historic hotspot that promises adventure, read on for eight great staycations to make you and your little ones happy this spring break.

1. Go to the mountain.
Take a day trip to Mt. Hood at Timberline Lodge and enjoy some skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, or snowshoeing (be sure to check if there’s still snowpack on the mountain!). After being one with nature and getting some solitude from the masses, book it to the lodge for hot cocoas or hot toddies. If you really worked up an appetite, swing by Hood River to enjoy Italian wines and some nibbles at Marchesi Winery, rock-solid brews at Full Sail Brewery, or a mix of American cuisine at Skamania Lodge.

CRDT-kidsnature, tulip fields

photo: Michael via flickr

2. Enjoy the great outdoors.
One of the best hikes in Oregon is located in a rural town close to Salem: Silver Falls. The hikes are rolling and easy, even on little ones with dramatic falls. And there’s a lodge nearby with snacks and bathrooms. While you’re there, tip-toe through the tulips at the Tulip Festival or go the Oregon Garden. Bonus: See the only Frank Lloyd Wright house in Oregon. 4636295020_e40842392f_b

Photo by Tami Matthews

3. Game on!
OMSI, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, is featuring the science and industry of video games. Not only will your child be entertained, so will you! Not done playing arcade games? Joystick on over to Ground Kontrol, an arcade in Northwest Portland, where you can play everything from Pacman to pinball. Ground Kontrol also has beverages, including the adult kind, and food.

4. Expose yourself to art.
Enjoy the Portland Art Museum for contemporary native photographers. Then head on over to Ready, Paint, Fire – a small business in Northwest Portland where the family can paint ceramics. Kiva, a spa in the same area, has fabulous teas, cookies, and smoothies afterward to further your relaxation. There’s even an art gallery next door.

lansuchinesegardens

photo: F.D. Richards via flickr

5. Indulge your shutterbugs.
Go to the best urban garden in Portland – the Lan Su Chinese Gardens. It’s close to Waterfront Park and blooming cherry blossoms and flowering plums. Take pictures of our bridges and the Willamette River with the kids. Hungry? Old Town Pizza is a favorite pizzeria close by. If it’s the weekend, you can stop at the Saturday Market to get handmade soaps, t-shirts, and bird houses.

kidswinery

photo: Christina via flickr

6. Wind your way to wine country.
Spend hours in the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum that has Howard Hughes’ all-wood airplane, the Spruce Goose, and a giant indoor waterpark, too. Being in McMinville, you can also stop by various wineries like Dominio IV and Remy Wines. Not far away is a small town called Mt. Angel where there’s an abbey and some of the best German food you’ll eat. Afterward, go to St. Paul and enjoy two of the best wineries in the area: Lady Hill Winery and Sinnean. (They’re even next door to each other!)

7. Make a day trip to the coast.
Astoria has breweries, antiques, and toy stores as well as the Maritime Museum. At the museum, see a 3D penguin movie and learn more about the history of the Columbia River. While you’re there, check out the Goonies house, the Astor Column, and walk along the river.

8. Enjoy our sister city–Vancouver.
Step back in time; Vancouver is home to a historic site and fur-trading outpost: Fort Vancouver. Established by the Hudson’s Bay Company’s Columbia Department, it boasts housing a number of military elite, including Ulysses S. Grant before he became a U.S. president. A fantastic playground and Pearson Air Museum are a stone’s throw away. While at Pearson, don’t miss the video about the history of Southern Washington, covering everything from the Native Americans who fished the Columbia to the women who built World War II ships. The kids will love the library in Vancouver, and there’s reciprocity if you live in Portland; you can check out books. The children’s section is one the best in the area and definitely worth your time.

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— Tami Matthews