It’s the most wonderful time of the year—the sun is out, the flowers are in bloom and gas prices have yet to reach their mid-summer spike. So why not pile in the car for a scenic road trip outside of Portland? These three beautiful, kid-friendly spots offer everything from beaches and parks to museums and trails—and they’re all less than two hours driving time from downtown Portland.

Road Trip #1: Manzanita

Driving time from Portland: One hour and 40 minutes

The northern Oregon Coast is rife with treasures, but few are as well-located and family-friendly as Manzanita—the quaint town and seven-mile stretch of beach dubbed by the Oregon Coast Visitors Association as “the third most photographed scenery in Oregon.” Nestled between Neahkahnie Mountain and Nehalem Bay, Manzanita’s beach is wide, sandy and backed by dunes, offering plenty of room to run, fly kites and play hide-and-seek.

Begin the morning with a breakfast picnic on the beach, starring homemade cinnamon rolls and English muffin sandwiches from Bread and Ocean. In the mood for a family hike? Head four miles north to Oswald West State Park, where the level 2.4-mile Cape Falcon trail offers striking views that the entire family can access. Spend the rest of the day playing in the protected cove of Short Sand Beach or watching for wildlife on the bay view bike path in Nehalem Bay State Park six miles south. Just be sure to leave enough time for dinner at Marzano’s Pizza Pie, a favorite among locals and visitors for its casual atmosphere and deliciously fresh ingredients.

photo: Jason Lander via flickr

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What are your favorite short road trips from Portland? Let us know in the comments below!

— Maura O’Brien