Staycation Fun in Oregon City


I sort of despise the term staycation. To me it means staying at home trying to keep two little ones entertained while everyone else is on an island drinking margaritas at a swim-up bar. Obviously, I realize the last part isn’t really true, but sometimes it seems that way. Staycations isn’t always sexy or fun (especially if you don’t have well-researched activities in place), but sometimes they hold a pleasant surprise. When faced with summer or other school breaks, I usually have different activities planned, but due to illness and family schedules, this summer was feeling a little lacking. Inspired by another PMB staycation post, we decided to head to Oregon City. 

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Oregon City is only about thirty minutes from Portland; just long enough for the kids to feel like we are going on an adventure. We headed out with the destination of Willamette Falls plugged into the GPS. We stopped at a viewpoint right along the road to get a good look at the falls. I never knew this beautiful site existed until our impromptu road trip. What a fun surprise! The power and size of these falls impressed both me and the kids.  

Initially, we planned  to walk a bit, but it started raining. I looked around and saw a sign for museum parking, so off we went up a little hill into the Oregon territory museum. It’s free for kids under 12 and adult admission is only $8. The volunteer working was very warm and knowledgeable. He let the kids know they were welcome to touch things and explore and eagerly answered my five-year-old’s questions. There is a also small “hands-on” area for kids with a really neat sand topography map as well as a Morse code station. We each learned something new and enjoyed our time there.

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From there we headed to the Oregon City Municipal Elevator. It was still raining really hard, but the elevator is enclosed and we were able to park close. We were greeted by a lovely employee who shared many interesting facts about the elevator including the fact it’s the only outdoor municipal elevator in the U.S.! We went up to check out the view, walked around a bit, and then took it back down.

After the elevator, bellies were grumbling, so we walked up the block and found a wood fired pizza restaurant. We hardly ever take our kids out to eat because it’s expensive, they usually don’t eat much, and it always ends up being a lot of work. However, I’m working on increasing my spontaneity and I felt the hangries coming on, so into the restaurant we went. I normally have an entire backpack packed with things to do for such outings, but it was left at home. Sugar packets, coloring books, and crayons, plus the promise of an ice cream reward turned out to be enough to ensure a pleasant dining experience.

Back to the car we went as the littlest one was getting tired. Oregon City was really enjoyable and such a cute town. Before our trip, I wasn’t aware of the historical significance of the town. There is so much to see and learn, we will definitely be back!