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  • Writer's pictureSarah S.

What To See In Oregon & Washington

Updated: Jan 31, 2022

There is so much to see in these two beautiful states. With our current lifestyle, we spend our days living normal everyday lives. We aren’t vacationing, just living like a local in different places. Our days usually consist of school in the morning and work. There is still the job of errands like grocery shopping, going to the bank, mailing packages, laundry, and whatever else arises. Sometimes we go to the library to study, read, and play. If there is free time in the afternoon or on weekends, we will look for low-cost or free things to explore. This allows us the opportunity to see and do more!

Fun things we enjoyed in Oregon:

Multnomah Falls in Oregon

Multnomah Falls

Anthony had it on his to-do list to see the beautiful falls that run along Columbia Gorge on I-84. We stopped at the amazing Multnomah Falls.

Parking was free and no charge to hike the falls. The views are breathtaking but, be warned it is a popular tourist attraction and there were a lot of people.

The Multnomah Lodge is at the base where people were loading up with ice cream, hot chocolates, and souvenirs for the trek up the mountain. Is that why we never lose weight while on vacation?! Definitely worth the visit if you are in the area.

The beautiful Starvation Falls

Peek-a-boo, Vallen!

We just loved all the waterfalls along the Oregon side of the Columbian Gorge off the 84. This was a very easy waterfall to view and was just a short paved walk from the parking lot. It is located within the Starvation Creek State Park. It is worth a quick stop to take in the natural beauty of this part of Oregon.

An up-close look within the Portland Audobon

Portland Audobon & The Witches Castle

The Portland Audobon is a great place to learn about the local birdlife and nature. There were a few rescue birds that were being rehabilitated, including a Raven named Ari and a condor.

The Witch’s Castle met its match!

Being that it is October, the place was fairly empty. The employee spoke to us about the birds, how they train and take care of them, and answered our questions. It is a non-profit conservatory so it was a great way to hike and enjoy nature. There were ponds, streams, caterpillars, and mushrooms all over the grounds.

The kids had fun browsing their nature center and gift shop and even got some cool stickers that helped benefit the wildlife.

Just outside of the Audobon was a sign recommending a short hike to The Witch’s Castle. You can drive a few minutes up the road or walk to it from the Audobon. It is about a ½ mile hike down to the structure from the Upper Macleay parking lot. You will cross an amazing walking bridge and the hike was a low difficulty for our family. The kids enjoyed it and loved playing at the Witch’s Castle.

Christopher Marley’s Exquisite Creatures Exhibit taken at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry

Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI)

The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry is such a nice space for kids to learn and play. There is a nominal fee for entrance and it just so happened to be a Sunday when they were offering a $2 per person entry fee. The exhibit on display by local artist Christopher Marley was so interesting and thoughtful. The kids were mesmerized by the creation he put into his work. His exhibition was on the connection between art, science, and nature done in a three-dimensional way with both local and exotic creatures. If you get the opportunity to go to this museum I would recommend you go and see it.

Voodoo Doughnut

Pink, fun, flashy, fabulous doughnuts…need I say more?!!

They are as good as they look!

Ok, yes it is doughnuts, but Voodoo Doughnuts deserve a mention. It is such a fun place to visit. I highly recommend you put it on your to-do list in Portland. The shop is packed with a line out of the door. Inside there are two carousels filled with unique doughnuts like “The Homer, Chuckles, and The Portland Creme” to name a few. It has a goth vibe and lots of merchandise for sale. The shop has been featured on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations (R.I.P.), Man vs. Food’s Doughnut Paradise, and G4’s Attack of the Show according to Wikipedia.

Glowing Greens

Blowing off steam, hitting the greens.

We were meeting up with our cousins in Portland and since we had two 15-year-olds, one 14-year-old, and a 6-year-old between us we decided to do something the kids would enjoy. The Glowing Greens is an indoor pirate-themed miniature golf played under black lights. We had a blast. Our son Vincent was even bold enough to buy a pack of dried mealworms from the snack case to try. He chose BBQ flavor. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel as brave as he was when he offered me one to try. In the end, he said they tasted dried out and didn’t like the BBQ flavor. If you like mini-golf you will like Glowing Greens.

Bonneville Fish Hatchery in October

Bonneville Dam Historic District and Fish Hatchery

Get ready to learn about the salmon in Bonneville and their plight as eggs to spawning and ways the facility strives to help the local ecosystem. The fish ladder is can be viewed from the outside and inside with an underwater viewing tank. It is truly spectacular to see what they have built for these salmon. The Bonneville Dam is a National Historic Landmark. A team of rangers and volunteer staff are onsite to explain and inform. The fish hatchery has gorgeous grounds where you can feed the rainbow trout and learn about other local fish like salmon and sturgeon. Additionally, there is even a gift shop on site. This was a nice afternoon and we all learned quite a bit too.

Places to go in Washington:

With our cousin and loving tour guide, Danny!
Beautiful view from the waterfront pier.

Vancouver Waterfront Park

We went to Vancouver Waterfront Park on a whim after dinner with our cousin, Danny. He told us about it and thought we would enjoy walking around. It is a development along the water with high-end restaurants, boutiques, and storefronts. There are residences above with beautiful views of the water. It is so quaint and hip at the same time. We loved the pier that hovers over the water and makes for a romantic evening or fun for the kids. It is still a work in progress as of 2019 but was such a cool place to hang out.

The grounds at the Columbia Gorge Hotel & Spa

The Wah Gwin Gwin Waterfall

Columbia Gorge Hotel & Spa-Wah Gwin Gwin Falls

The Columbia Gorge Hotel has some of the most beautiful grounds in the area. We loved strolling along around the perimeter of the hotel where they host weddings, guests play Bacci ball and horseshoes, and like us view the beautiful Wah Gwin Gwin Waterfall. This is a waterfall that is a very easy walk from the parking lot to the back of the hotel (where you would least expect to find such a natural wonder). However, it connects right into the Columbia River, so if you are staying at this hotel you are getting such a magnificent view from your room. Although not as big as other falls in the area, it is quite exquisite nonetheless.

Bundle up & grab your headlamps, kids!

Guler Ice Caves Trout Lake, WA

In one of the local tourist guides, we came across the Guler Ice Caves located in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest and decided to pay them a visit.

Make a stop at the Mt. Adams Ranger Station as you exit town to get an idea of the exact area of the caves and learn more about the legendary Sasquash.

We visited in October on a cold rainy day and there were no National Park fees. It is very cold in the caves, so you will need to dress warm, and don’t forget your headlamp to light the way as you scale the boulders inside. The cave doesn’t go back too deep. It does have two forks to the left and right. We did both sides of the fork in a short time frame. There was ice forming, but it was a little early in the season for the stalagmites and stalactites of ice that form in the dead of winter. We had a great time here.

Strolling along the Columbia River at Stevenson Landing watching the kiteboarders.

Stevenson Landing

We happened to be staying in Stevenson and were looking for fun things around town and came across Stevenson Landing. Here you can walk along the water and watch the kiteboarders. On a very windy afternoon, it is amazing to see how high these guys get off the ground and seem to be floating.

Anthony enjoyed the view of the cruise ship set to depart Stevenson’s Landing.

My crazy boys having a good old time at Stevenson’s Landing.

Windsurfing and sailing are, also, popular in this part of the Columbia River. The path will take you through town where you will find nail salons, spas, restaurants, and yoga, just to name a few.

Go Explore

Hopefully, I’ve given you some ideas and inspiration for your own exploration if you find yourself in the Oregon and Washington areas. During the fall, the colors were just dazzling. If you are an adrenaline junkie, outdoorsman, hiker, or just like to get out and enjoy nature you will be in all your glory here. If nothing else, there are two super cool things to note about Oregon:

  1. No Sales Tax! Need I say more?!!

  2. Full-service gas! If you’ve never experienced it, there is nothing like not having to pump your own gas-it’s the little things, right?!!


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