If you want a family vacation that guarantees rugged landscapes, outdoor adventures and memories that will last a lifetime, then it’s time to take your clan on a road trip across the Pacific Northwest. There are an endless number of routes, destinations and famous sites to see—we picked our five favorites to help get the planning started. Click through for details on where to go, stay and play on your getaway.

The Cascade Cruise—Portland to Bend, Or to Crater Lake National Park—252.6 Miles

The Route

Portland to Bend, Or: take US-26 E and US-97 S for 160 mi. to Bend.

Bend to Crater Lake National Park: Take US-97 90.6 mi. to Crater Lake.

The Starting Line

Have your kids shut down their devices and keep their eyes peeled because they won't want to miss the sites as you launch into the Oregon Cascades through the beautiful Mt. Hood National Forest via US-26. 


Families flock to Bend from all over the country for its unmatched outdoor recreations adventures. Get wet and wild on the Deschutes River with Sun Country Tours—their guides can take you on a white water rafting excursion or a relaxing tour down the river by stand up paddle board or inner tube.

Just a little further south on 97, you'll find the world-renowned Smith Rock; climbers come to the area for an opportunity to scale the sheer walls of Monkey Face. Your little monkeys may not be ready to climb like a pro, but book a day with the guides at Chockstone Climbing Guides and they will be well on their way. All of the required gear is provided and you will feel safe in the hands of these climbing experts.

Mt. Bachelor Village gives traveling families a variety of lodging options. Rent a hotel room, a river view condo or a vacation home. There is something available to fit every family budget and all options come with amenities like indoor and outdoor pools, playgrounds, golf courses and access to biking and hiking paths.

When in Bend, do like the locals and hit the breweries. Stop by the iconic Deschutes Brewery for some true Central Oregon flair. You will enjoy a selection of award-winning craft beer and hand-crafted ales. And if you are craving a good burger, they won't disappoint. 10 Barrel is another local brewery that offers up fantastic brews along with outdoor fire pits and plenty of room for kids to be kids.

Crater Lake

Crater Lake itself is the main attraction on this stop. Did you know it is the deepest lake in the United States? The water-filled caldera is a stunning blue and the scenic Rim Drive is a "must do" activity for all visiting families. This 33-mile tour winds around Crater Lake and has plenty of pullouts along the way for photo ops and restless legs.

Another popular way to get a view of the lake is by boat. Crater Lake National Park Lodges offers excursions that either cruise around the lake or take patrons to Wizard Island. While on the water, your family will learn all about the history, geology and cultural significance of the lake.

Note: both tours require a steep 1.1-mile hike down to the boat launch.

Crater Lake National Park Lodge offers visitors three types of in-park lodging to choose from. The lodge is located in Rim Village and overlooks the lake. They also have cabins at Mazama Village located south of the rim in a beautiful forest setting. And for families who want to camp, the Mazama Village Campgrounds are available.

If you decide to leave the lodge for dining, check out Beckie's Cafe. Try the hot cakes for breakfast, a Farewell Bend Burger for lunch or a Rogue Gorge Steak for dinner. Don't forget to save room for the homemade pies!

photo: veisha via Flickr

What is your favorite PNW family road trip? Share it with us in the comments below.

—Annette Benedetti