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The Boathouse Blog

Fun Family Trips in the Pacific Northwest

Whether you’re looking to experience the Pacific Northwest for the first time or live here and are looking for some new vacation ideas, there are endless fun possibilities in this corner of the country for fun family trips.

Keep reading to see some of our favorites that span the region and will provide your family with memories they’ll never forget.

Rafting on the Snake, Salmon, or Grande Ronde River

Paddle rafters in rapid on the Salmon River

While many people think of the big cities and wet weather, one of the best family trips in the Pacific Northwest is east of the Cascades in cowboy country. Rafting the Snake, Salmon, or Grande Ronde Rivers is one of the best ways to experience this unique area and get a glimpse into the past.

Featuring thrilling rafting, beautiful scenery and wildlife, gourmet food, and going to bed under the stars, rafting these rivers is an experience that your family will remember forever. Throughout the trip, you’ll experience swimming, side adventures where you’ll see prehistoric features, and much more.

A fun rafting adventure for all ages

When your family joins Winding Water River Expeditions for a rafting adventure, you’ll be leaving technology behind to spend time with family and friends in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Our crew will do all we can to make the experience as enjoyable and fulfilling as possible. We’re the rafting experts — just come to Joseph, Oregon and sit back and relax.

With all of our trips, you’ll receive:

  • • Transportation to and from the river of choice from Joseph
  • • All the rafting and camping gear you need
  • • All-inclusive gourmet meals for the entirety of your trip
  • • Luxurious campsites set up for you every night
  • • Professional rafting guides with decades of experience

Learn more about our rafting trips

Olympic National Park

Located west of Seattle but seemingly a world away, this stunning national park is a must-visit for any family looking to experience the best of the Pacific Northwest. With its rugged coastline, ancient rainforests, and snow-capped mountains, Olympic National Park offers a range of experiences for families of all ages.

While this area experiences lots of precipitation during the winter months (which offers its own unique experience), summers are much drier and offer a pleasant reprieve when temps rise inland. You can hike through the Hoh Rainforest, explore the beaches along the coast, or climb to the top of Hurricane Ridge for breathtaking views of the park.

San Juan Islands

If you’re looking for an island adventure, the San Juan Islands are a great choice for families. These islands are located just off the coast of Washington State and are only accessible by taking a ferry to each island. Some of the more popular islands include:

  • • Orcas Island
  • • San Juan Island
  • • Lopez Island
  • • Sucia Island

All of the islands offer plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation, including kayaking, whale-watching, and hiking. You can also visit the charming towns of Friday Harbor and Roche Harbor (both located on San Juan Island), where you’ll find unique shops, restaurants, and cultural attractions.

Mount Rainier National Park

If you’ve ever visited Seattle, you’ve seen Mt. Rainier far-off in the distance, looming over the city. This active volcano is a delightful destination that offers camping, quaint small towns, and plenty of hiking, fishing, and outdoor recreation.

Mount Rainier National Park is the best way to experience this beautiful area and offers endless opportunities for family fun. You can hike to the top of the mountain (only for experienced hikers and mountaineers), explore the wildflower meadows, or visit the historic lodges that dot the park.

Columbia River Gorge

For families who love outdoor adventure, the Columbia River Gorge is a fantastic destination. This scenic area close to Portland offers miles of hiking trails, incredible waterfalls, and amazing views of the Columbia River.

Formed by molten lava pressure 40-60 million years ago, the Gorge is now home to small towns on both sides of the river, some of the best hiking in the area, and stunning views at every turn. You can also go windsurfing, fishing, or take a scenic drive along the historic Columbia River Highway. Nearby Hood River is one of Oregon’s best cities for food, beer, and wine, and is worthy of a trip all on its own!

Oregon’s North Coast

Sandwiched between Oregon’s Coastal Range and the Pacific Ocean, Oregon’s North Coast is home to lots of beautiful scenery and charming towns. Similar to Olympic National Park, Oregon’s North Coast is wet in the winter but springs to life come summer with lots to see and do.

Astoria, located at the mouth of the Columbia River, is a historic town and a great destination for families who want to experience the rich maritime history of the Pacific Northwest. You can visit the Columbia River Maritime Museum, explore the historic downtown area, or take a ride on the famous Astoria Riverfront Trolley.

Leavenworth, WA

If you’re looking for a unique cultural experience, Leavenworth is a must-visit destination in the Pacific Northwest. This charming Bavarian-style town offers plenty of family-friendly activities, including live music, festivals, and outdoor recreation. You can also explore the nearby Cascade Mountains, where you’ll find endless opportunities for hiking and skiing.

This is a particularly fun trip in October when the city celebrates its German roots by hosting the Leavenworth Oktoberfest. With beer gardens, music, dancing, and food!

Willamette Valley Wine Country

While California might be known as the wine capital of the US, the Pacific Northwest is no slouch when it comes to wineries, including the Willamette Valley. The area is one of the premier wine regions in the United States and is known for its world-class Pinot Noir.

Families can take tours of local wineries, sample delicious wines, and learn about the winemaking process. In addition to wine, the region is also known for its farm-to-table cuisine, with many restaurants and markets featuring locally sourced ingredients.

Experience the best the Pacific Northwest has to offer

Sunset over rafts on the Snake River

At Winding Waters River Expeditions, we want to provide your family with the best rafting experience anywhere — not just in the Pacific Northwest. We’re proud to lead fully supported rafting trips down the Snake, Salmon, or Grande Ronde Rivers. Not only will you get a true wilderness experience, but our guides will provide everything you need for a comfortable trip.

Get in touch to learn more about our whitewater trips and to book the experience of a lifetime next summer!