indulging · travel

Travel Tips to Northwest

Oregon Travel Tips

My blogger friend, Sheila from Eat to Gather, is traveling with her family from Seattle, Washington to Grants Pass, Oregon after the BlogHer Food 2012 conference that we’re both attending next month.  Shelia, her husband, and their 4 kids live in Michigan and love a good family road trip.  She asked for some family friendly ideas that must be seen or experienced around the northwest.  Here are a few travel tips for Portland, Oregon and the surrounding area, that I’m sharing with Sheila.  Please add your own suggestions in the comment section below.

Travel Tips to Northwest

Mt. Hood and Timberline Lodge, Oregon:  There are also several hiking spots along Highway 26 that you can check out.  Check weather conditions first and stick to the paved roads.  You can walk around the lodge and see photographs of when it was built and why.  There’s a large fireplace in the main area that’s a great spot for reading or napping.

McMenamins are excellent brew pubs located around Portland and you can spend the night as well.  We like Kennedy school and Edgefield.  Although we’ve never spent the night at their locations, their rooms look well appointed.  The food is good and you can see a movie with your family while having a cold beer at the same time.

Our kids love to eat lunch at Los Gorditos restaurant at SE 11th and Division.  Their burritos are yummy and they have something for everyone including vegan.  You can sit outside and enjoy the sunshine if you’re lucky!

Nostrana a nicer, sit-down restaurant in SE Portland.  They serve fresh, northwest meals that’s a splurge for a family but the food is wonderful.  You might want to call ahead for reservations.

Food carts are plentiful in Portland and there are several spots to choose from.  In downtown Portland, we like the carts at SW 5th and Oak.  Also in downtown, there’s a block of carts at SW 1oth and Alder.  Across the river in SE Portland, the carts at SE Belmont and 43rd Avenue are a nice stop, too.  Food Carts Portland has the scoop on all of the locations around town.  Need more lunch ideas?

My 5 favorite food carts in Portland, Oregon
Garden State :: Italian à la Willamette Valley
Koi Fusion :: Think Korean food in a taco
Los Gorditos :: Mexican food that’s authentic
Tabor :: Authentic Czech eatery
Nong’s Khao Man Gai :: Thai food that’s simple and good

Honorable mention restaurant
Binh Minh Bakery :: Vietnamese sandwiches on fresh baguettes (if it’s raining, this is a great alternative to a food cart!)

Portland Food Carts

SE Portland also has several brew pubs that are refreshing if you’re in need of a cold beer.  Green Dragon and Cascade Brewing Barrel House are fun, local spots.

Things to do

Powell’s Books – it’s the best bookstore around.  You simply must go when visiting Portland.  Park on the street if you have a large car because the parking garage is small.

The International Rose Garden at Washington Park should be in full bloom and the Portland Japanese Garden are other lovely attractions in Portland.  The Oregon Zoo is another great stop.  Go early in the morning if you want to beat the crowds.  Oregon museum of Science and Industry, OMSI, is a favorite with our family, too.  The Portland Children’s Museum is located across the parking lot from the Oregon Zoo and is a fun adventure for younger kids.

It’s worth mentioning that Portland is only 1 1/2 hours from the Oregon Coast.  Seaside and Canon beach are only a short car drive away.  Fort Stevens State Park has plenty of paved trails if you need to stretch your legs.  Go a little further (about 2 hours) and there are incredible beaches in the towns of Oceanside, Neskowin and Pacific City.

Grants Pass, Oregon

Scenic route 138 off of I-5 which has lots of great waterfalls so bring your camera!

Crater Lake – it’s breathtaking and spectacular.  The lodge has hot chocolate if there’s still snow around (which there most likely will be in June).

Crater Lake Lodge

Prospect, north of Grants Pass has a historic hotel that would be lovely for a romantic night away.

Natural Bridge is definitely worth a stop.  A river runs under a solid lava flow and then it comes out the other side.  It’s truly a natural bridge.  Walking and hiking trails are around this area.

Wolf Creek Inn – historic hotel along the old stage coach trail.  They have a breakfast that is out of this world.  They let us use their washer and dryer on our 3-week camping trip several years ago.  We spent the night and slept in their very comfortable beds.

Oregon Caves – A National monument where you can take a tour through the caves.  Go on a tour and don’t forget to check out the chateau/lodge when you’re done.  Bring a picnic lunch for after an early morning tour.  For some reason, all that cool air made my family hungry!  There are lots of picnic tables around.

Check Travel Oregon’s website here for any other tips and safe travels this summer!

Go Gingham Related Links:

Travel packing tips are here
Frugal travel in San Francisco, CA is here
Home exchange and how to prepare your home for one
Vacation meal planning is here and meal planning for campers is here

5 thoughts on “Travel Tips to Northwest

  1. Sara!
    Heavens Girl this is all so awesome. I absolutely cannot wait! Thank you so much for taking the time to write this post! It’s lovely and helpful and it makes me want to leave right now! Did I hear right, you don’t have to pump your own gas? I hate pumping gas! I may never leave Oregon just for that reason ; D Thanks again, can’t wait to see you!
    much LUV,


    1. You are correct, Dear Sheila, no pumping gas 🙂 and as Fiona reminded me (see above) we also don’t have a sales tax so you can shop and our state won’t tax you like most states do.


  2. Ok I really don’t like to promote my blog as in…here…look at this…..but today…here Sheila…have a look at my blog! We live in Medford – just south of Grant’s Pass and I’ve blogged about our adventures in the area…there’s bound to be some places of interest for you if you scroll thru the archives. Have fun!!!
    For Seattle I highly recommend the Ballard Locks. Also – if you have shopping to do I would take advantage of the no sales tax 😉


    1. Fiona, promote away!! I’ve only spent limited time in your area – although we’re planning a camping trip down that way this summer. Your site is a great resource…thank you!!


  3. Oregon has awesome waterfalls. If you make the loop to Mt. Hood, come back via the Gorge (which is unique, scenic and absolutely gorgeous in itself) to see Multnomah Falls. Break up the I5 trip by veering off to Silver Creek Falls Park and the trails to see >10 falls.

    I love the water, so a whitewater trip on the Rogue or the Jet Boats are very fun when you are down south.

    To get to Crater Lake, you can go east at Salem through Bend, then head south if you would like to see the high desert.

    Too many options!


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