With international travel at a standstill for the foreseeable future, there’s no better time to get to explore the beautiful Pacific Northwest! As we come to the end of summer and are welcomed by the exquisite fall colors, McKenzie River Valley is still an oasis of activities for family weekend getaways and vacations. If your kids are sick of looking at the same four walls, or you just want to spend some quality time together in a new location, check out our recommendations for things to do in Oregon with kids and families.
There’s nothing quite like a delicious lunch to entice your kids outdoors, bribe them on a hike with the promise of a cold glass of lemonade and some fried chicken! Pick up supplies from one of our local favorites, McKenzie General Store. Most of their products are organic and we dare you to venture in without being tempted to buy something delicious.
One thing you won’t be short of is idyllic picnic spots. Those who prefer a developed picnic site with parking, tables, and restrooms will be spoilt with options like the McKenzie Bridge Day Use Area, a great place to sit down and fuel up after a plunge into the river or a morning of rafting. Another gem is the Cougar Crossing Day Use Area, conveniently located next to the Cougar Reservoir, a great spot for fishing, swimming, and other water-based activities. The other plus about this area is that you’re just a 5-minute drive from Terwilliger Hot Springs, so after a late picnic lunch when the sun begins to fade, warm up in these pools.
For the more adventurous, take your pick of secluded spots to munch on your picnic lunch. Set up next to a river for a calming soundtrack while you eat, escape the midday sun under the branches of a fir tree, or simply stop mid-hike to enjoy your sandwich.
The extended closure of schools and kindergartens has caused havoc to both children’s educations and their parents’ working lives. Take a weekend to educate your kids on a topic outside of their curriculum but equally as important; the natural world. The McKenzie River Valley is a wonderland of animals, plants, and fascinating geographical formations. Explore the lava fields at Dee Wright Observatory and spectacular views over the Cascade Mountain Range. The McKenzie River Valley is home to 15 species of conifers and hundreds of species of flowering plants. Take your family to see majestic old-growth Douglas firs and Western red cedars, some over 180 feet tall.
With its numerous rivers, swimming holes, hot springs, and reservoirs, the McKenzie River Valley is a great place to cool off during warm summer and fall days. And what better way for your kids to have fun and burn off their energy before spending a night in a cabin or tent? As a family ourselves, we know that stand-up paddleboarding is a great way to keep all ages entertained. Try renting our inflatable paddleboards for a half-day or full-day adventure, they’re easy to transport and provide hours of fun! We’ll share our favorite places to paddle with you and provide tips if you’re a SUP novice. Don’t worry, we’re sure you and your family will get the hang of it in no time!
With trips suitable for ages 5 years and older, rafting is a great way to spend a morning, afternoon, or full-day with loved ones. Plunge down thrilling whitewater rapids with expert guides to ensure your group’s safety. No experience is required from the guests and if you opt for the full-day option, a delicious lunch is included to help you build up energy for the afternoon. Get to know the McKenzie River from a different perspective and experience an adrenaline-pumping activity at the same time.
If you’re not a local and you’ve heard of the McKenzie River Valley, it’s probably because of the McKenzie River Trail. As one of the nation’s most scenic mountain-biking trails, it’s a must for many fanatics. But if you’re looking for something less intense to enjoy with your family of different ages, come and visit us at Horse Creek Lodge. We can hook you up with the best rental bikes for any age and share our recommendations for some kid-friendly trails.
No weekend family getaway in the great outdoors is complete without a night beneath the stars. Camping is a great way to get your kids in touch with nature, learn new skills, and most importantly create family memories. Picture your brood toasting marshmallows over an open fire after a day of rafting, swimming, or mountain biking. If you’re city dwellers, take this opportunity to show your kids the wide range of stars we’re lucky to see from the McKenzie River Valley. At Horse Creek Lodge, each campsite has its own Solo Stove fire pit and seating, and the campground has potable water, showers, and WiFi in the bathroom building.
For those who like the idea of spending a night among the firs and stars but aren’t quite tempted by the idea of the whole family in one tent, we also offer a range of cabins. Make the most of wood-burning fireplaces and comfortable beds to sink into after an action-packed day in the great outdoors.
There’s much more to the valley than just hiking and biking and more than enough to keep the whole family entertained. Take some time to travel local and get to know a hidden gem of Oregon. At Horse Creek Lodge, we take family time seriously and make sure that our activities are available to as wide a range of ages as possible. With the variety of options available, it will be hard not to find something for toddlers and teenagers alike. If you don’t feel like an action-packed vacation, it’s the perfect place to relax with a good book! If none of these ideas piques your interest but you’re still interested in getting to know the McKenzie River Valley, contact us! We are always happy to make tailored recommendations for you and your family’s interests.