The Ultimate Pacific Northwest Family Campervan Trip
The Pacific Northwest region of the United States is the ultimate playground for all outdoors-people. Whether you’re four years old or 94, there is something for everyone to enjoy. From hiking to whale watching to mountain biking, your whole family will enjoy exploring everything that the PNW has to offer. We at ROAMERICA put together a list of some of our favorite family activities in the Pacific Northwest to help you make the most of your next visit with your family. So let’s get right to how to have the ultimate Pacific Northwest family campervan trip.
Before embarking on your trip, it is important to check campground openings and availability, road conditions and closures, and weather forecasts. For $80, you can purchase an annual America the Beautiful Pass from the National Park Service, which allows access into all National Parks for 12 months.
From rugged Pacific coastline to the numerous scenic byways, this itinerary allows you to experience all that Oregon has to offer in your ROAMERICA campervan.
Word to the wise: Before heading out on your adventure, be sure to call ahead and verify places are open and have vacancy.
Route: Portland to Astoria
Drive time: 2.25 hours
Overview: Depart from the Rose City and head west to the peaceful Oregon coast. Movie fanatics may recognize the destination of Astoria from classic favorites including The Goonies and Kindergarten Cop. Enjoy the bustling port town at the mouth of the Columbia River and watch the cargo ships passing by. In result, your kids will love exploring the many turn-of-the-century, concrete artillery gun batteries, hiking and biking trails. This is a great spot for the whole family to explore.
Stay: Fort Stevens State Park
Visit: Fort Stevens State Park & Wreck of the Peter Iredale
Eat: Buoy Beer Company
Route: Astoria to Newport
Drive time: 3.25 hours (without stops)
Overview: Today’s drive is about the journey as much as the destination. Firstly, highway 101 is a famous stretch of road which holds endless stopping options along the way. Take the time to enjoy the drive and check out a few of the en route options including lighthouses, beaches, bluffs, and dunes. Here are some recommendations for the days’ adventure:
Stay: Beverly Beach State Park or Nahalem Bay State Park
Stops Between Astoria and Newport:
Stop for come coffee at the Sleepy Monk cafe right downtown and grab some lunch from the Lazy Susan Cafe (open till 3pm).
Manzanita News & Espresso is a great starting point for coffee, pastries and your morning paper. After fueling up, head to Neahkahnie Mountain for some hiking and breathtaking Oregon coast views.
Want to be on the water instead? Head over to SUP Manzanita to rent some Stand Up Paddle Boards and hit the water.
When coming into the town of Tillamook, make sure to stop at The Tillamook Creamery, also know as The Tillamook Cheese Factory. I remember going here as a kid and with their new remodel and expansive food menu, this is a great stop for the whole family.
- Cape Meares Lighthouse & Wildlife Refuge
- Tillamook Forest Center
- Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area
- Tillamook Air Museum
Things to do in Newport:
Route: Newport to Eugene
Drive time: 2.5hrs
Overview: A short hop away from Newport waits the beautiful town of Florence. An easy day trip from Newport, the area has some gorgeous natural stops. Enjoy the last few moments of beach time before heading into the town of Eugene for culture and cuisine.
Stay: The options near Eugene are pretty extensive (and popular). Check out this list of campgrounds to find what’s available.
Things to do between Newport and Eugene:
Once in Eugene:
Grab a bite to eat from Ninkasi Brewing and lace up your hiking boots to explore the McKenzie River Trail
Route: Eugene to Ashland
Drive time: 3hrs
Overview: Home of the famous Shakespeare festival, Ashland could be considered the heart of the Oregon arts culture. Therefore, walk around the old town center for a romantic evening of locally crafted food, music, and art shows.
Stay: The Winchester Inn
Activity: Rafting or Boat Tours
Eat: Alchemy Restaurant & Bar
Route: Ashland to Crater Lake
Drive time: 2hrs
Overview: Continue heading inland to the famous Crater Lake National Park. Holding the title of deepest lake in the United States, Crater’s depth plunges up to 1,943 feet (592 meters) and reaches points of up to six miles in width. Needless to say, the national park offers an abundance of views and activities for visitors.
Stay: Mazama Campground
Check out: Diamond Lake, Wizard Islands, Mt. Scott, and Mt. Thielsen
Eat: Campfire cooking night
Route: Crater Lake to Bend
Drive time: 2.5hrs
Overview: Emerge from the wilderness to the land of brews and outdoor lovers. Whether you’re in the mood for mountains or high desert, hikes or drives, Bend has an option for every travelers style.
Stay: There are a lot of campgrounds near Bend. Here is a link with a good list.
Eat: Crux Fermentation Project
Visit: Sunriver, Mt. Bachelor, and Deschutes National Forest
Extra day trip: Head north to Smith Rock State Park and experience the unique Oregon high desert
Route: Bend to Hood River
Drive time: 3hrs
Overview: Hood River is a very idyllic town and it has expanded in recent years but the town is broken up into three sections: Waterfront, Downtown and The Heights. You will have amazing Columbia Gorge, orchards, bluffs and double mountain (Mt. Adams and Mt. Hood) views. This place is magical. There is shopping, casual and nice dining, amazing coffee, art, history and plenty to do and see.
Stay: Find some good fire roads and back roads to enjoy a night of cost free camping
Eat: Dog River Coffee, River Daze Cafe, Cici Galto‘s, and Hennis Kitchen and Bar
Activity: Mountain Biking, hiking in the Columbia Gorge, learn to whitewater raft
Visit: Columbia Gorge Discovery Museum
In conclusion, our quintessential Pacific Northwest Oregon road trip is truly the tip of the iceberg. Many great spots, activities, scenic byways and more are not listed. As with any adventure, we encourage you to explore the area and find your own local favorite secret. For some light reading and to get the stoke alive for your journey, check out the Seven Wonders of Oregon and prepare for an unforgettable journey.
Check out some pictures of some of the recent families taking off on their PNW family adventure!