Hot Springs in Oregon and Washington with Kids

Northwest hot springs with kids

Northwest hot springs with kids

If you were a miner back in the 1880s, how did you get really clean? You planned a trip to the closest hot springs.

Hot spring trips have long been a traditional pastime in the BC-Washington-Oregon region, says Jeff Birkby, author of Touring Washington and Oregon Hot Springs, a history-rich guidebook to hot springs in the Pacific Northwest. Hot springs are formed when ground and rain water sinks below the Earth’s surface, then heats in volcanic pots deep below the surface. The mineral-infused water springs back out once it’s at a boiling point, then cools in pools.

“Hot springs were social centers,” Birkby says of olden-days hot spring spots. The hotter the springs ran, the more popular they became in winter. Posh ladies booked a room for a week or more to shake the chill and recover from a host of maladies. And back in pre-plumbing days, hot springs (whether in a resort, in a simple a-frame building or on undeveloped property) were the only clean-up spot available to miners.

Unfortunately, few of the grand resorts still stand today. Most (constructed of wood) burned to the ground long ago. However, families looking to enjoy the magical heat of warming waters find plenty of places to soak their bones.

And with an extra-cold winter approaching, you may want to reserve your getaway now.

Hot spring resorts

For families, an established resort offers the most amenities and secure surroundings. Differing pool temps mean that you can get your extra-hot tub experience while the kids enjoy cooler pools.

In Washington State, Bonneville Hot Springs Resort provides a family-friendly atmosphere and spa treatments. It’s located about 40 minutes east of Portland, Oregon. If you continue east along the Washington side, Carson Hot Springs is a historic property — but a little ragged around the edges.

Near the Seattle area, Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort is Birkby’s pick. The resort, nestled in the Olympic National Park, offers a retreat for all ages and waters between 94-104 F. “Sol Duc has really nice campground,” Birkby says, “It’s great for kids, great waterfall, cabins and a restaurant.” However, Sol Duc closes on October 23 and reopens in May 6, 2011; the nearest year-round hot springs is Harrison Hot Springs, located about three hours north in British Columbia.


Oregonians can try central Oregon’s Kah-nee-tah Resort, just over Mt. Hood (about two hours from Portland). “There are a lot of wonderful kid-friendly pools,” Birkby says, such as one with bear statues spouting mouthfuls of water.

The new-agey Breitenbush Hot Springs is two hours southeast from Portland, and offers vegetarian meals in a forest setting. Birkby says it’s a fine resort if you don’t mind the clothing-optional tubs, and as long as parents check out the workshops going on. Don’t bring kids when there’s a couples-only weekend retreat.

And finally, Belknap Hot Springs, Lodge and Gardens offers day-use passes and overnight stays (lodge rooms, RV, cabins or tent sites). There are several affordable options at this central Oregon resort, where rooms range from $65-$250 in dreary November.

Undeveloped hot springs

Of course, there’s also the age-old tradition of jumping into a “wild” hot springs – the kind that bubble up in the midst of a forest, clearing or rocky scrub. These undeveloped hot springs, whether on public or private land, don’t come with a lifeguard or resort atmosphere. In exchange, the only price paid is the day-use pass. There aren’t mobs of tourists in these springs, often only known to locals.

Families can ease into the Cougar Hot Springs at Terwilliger, which offers a changing area and an alcohol-free atmosphere.

At Terwilliger — and most undeveloped hot springs — there’s an interesting dilemma: “Birthday suit or bathing suit?” Most established hot spring resorts in the Pacific Northwest ask everyone to keep their clothes on, with the exception of Breitenbush. But in undeveloped hot springs, you’ll often find a liberal, back-to-nature attitude toward clothing. What’s the expectation? First one in the pool sets the standard, says Birkby. If you arrive and everyone’s in a bathing suit, that’s the dress code (for now). However, it’s unlikely that anyone would look askew at someone wishing to wear a suit (particularly if it’s your kid).

Undeveloped springs can attract car theft. Just don’t leave valuables in sight. If you’ve gone hiking or camping, you already know this. At some hot springs, there may be drug or alcohol use; read up on the springs via online sites like Hot Springs of Oregon or in Birkby’s book and make sure you’re comfortable with the scene.

Family considerations at hot springs

“At any major resort, the big pools are comfortable, but the smaller, hotter indoor pools I’d be cautious about,” Birkby says. A comfortable zone is around 100 to 104, but anything over 104 feels too toasty, he adds. Ask at check-in for the pool temps and stay aware, particularly with younger children under age 12. Keep a cool head – don’t let anyone in your party submerge in hot springs water.

Parents of young children should also ask about the swim-diaper scene. Some resorts required children to be toilet-trained and do not allow swim dipes, ever.

And finally, in undeveloped hot springs, bring flip-flops or aquasox (to protect against jagged rocks), never let the kids drink unchlorinated natural hot springs water (blech) and stay close to children, as the water can be murky.

But your feet will finally feel warm.

Have you visited a Washington or Oregon hot spring destination with kids? What’s your favorite way to warm up in rainy, cold weather?

The Great Road Trip: 5 fantastic, family-friendly trips

Are the kids are out of school and bickering already? Here are some excellent, longer BC road trips, Washington State road trips and Oregon road trips, along with links to Google maps, so you can customize each one.

I tried to choose points en route that are really worth a stop for families, and create circles, so you’re always seeing something new. I suggest always spending a few nights in one destination along the drive — it’s too easy to get burnt out on the road otherwise.

1. Waterpark Fun on Google Maps

Starting Location: Vancouver or Seattle
Distance: 767 miles / 1,215 kilometres (15 hours drive time)
Days: 8
Route: If starting in Seattle, drive a little over three hours to the always-sunny Lake Chelan for the Slidewaters waterpark. Stay for two nights. Next, drive an hour up to Osoyoos, BC, home to one of BC’s warmest lakes. Spend one night. Drive to Lake Okanagan, BC for two nights near the Vernon Atlantis Waterslides. Spend two nights in Kelowna, Vernon or Penticton. Then head down for the long drive (4+ hours! Pack lots of movies!) to Cultus Lake WaterPark or Harrison Hot Springs for one night. Spend a night in Vancouver, BC and take the kids to the Variety Kids Waterpark at Stanley Park. Drive home!

2. Spectacular City Escape on Google Maps

Starting Location: Victoria, Vancouver or Seattle.
Distance: 340 miles / 513 kilometres (some by ferry) (9 hours + ferry)
Days: 6

Route: Take the ferry from Vancouver, BC to Swartz Bay, then drive to Victoria. Spend two nights in Victoria. From Victoria, take the Black Ball ferry to Port Angeles. Swing by the historic seaside town of Port Townsend and spend one night. Head to Seattle for two nights, then return home. This route can be reconfigured a number of ways, but it’s rare to drive for more than two hours in any direction – except between Seattle and Vancouver. A great choice for those with younger children, because some of the time is spent on child-friendly ferries.

3. Salish Sea Islands on Google Maps

Starting Location: Seattle, Victoria or Vancouver
Distance: 461 miles /742 kilometres (about 15 hours drive time plus ferry)
Days: 10

This meandering trip creates a necklace of Salish Sea island jewels. Starting from Seattle or Vancouver, take the Washington State Ferry from Anacortes to the San Juan Islands. Spend one night. Continue on by ferry to Victoria for two nights. Next, take the ferry to the gentle farmlands of Salt Spring Island. Spend one night. Continue up to Nanaimo. Spend two nights to prep yourself for the next big haul to Comox BC, then taking the hour-long ferry across to Powell River. From here, you’ll hopscotch to Vancouver via ferry along Hwy 1. Choose three more nights to stay from the child-friendly Sunshine Coast accommodation options. With very young children, halve this trip and return to Vancouver via Nanaimo.

4. Golden Circle Route on Google Maps

Starting Location: Portland
Distance: 575 miles / 925 km (about 12 hours travel time, but traffic can impact)
Days: 8

Drive from Portland to Cannon Beach, Oregon, a family-friendly favorite. Spend two nights, then pack snacks (and your mental energy) for the long, gorgeous drive along The People’s Coast down to Newport, Oregon — be sure to stop at the Tillamook Cheese Factory for lunch and a quick visit. Spend two nights in Newport, visiting the aquarium and hanging out on the beach. Then get ready for a big change in scenery — you’ll drive almost three hours east along Hwy 20, through the forests and into family-friendly Bend. Spend two nights. Then head north to Mt. Hood, spending one night at the historic Timberline Lodge. Return to Portland! You can shave time and distance off this trip by halving it — and driving back up I-5 to Portland.

5. Olympic Glory road trip on Google Maps

Starting Location: Seattle or Victoria
Distance: 361 (Seattle)- 581 km (9 h)
Days: 4-6

For this trip, you’ll need to pack a raincoat — and garlic! Leaving from Seattle or Victoria, drive (or ferry) to Crescent Lake, Washington to stay in the Lake Crescent Lodge. Spend one night. From here, swing by the Hoh Rain Forest, then drive to one of the Olympic Park’s campgrounds. You can reserve a spot at Kalaloch, take your chances at the first-come, first-served campgrounds or stay in a Forks, Washington hotel if you’re living with a vampire fan. Spend one night in any destination. Then, drive to Lake Quinault Lodge to spend one more night before driving home. If “home” is in Victoria, spend two extra nights in Seattle, fortify yourself, then drive home via Port Angeles or Anacortes.

Family Camps & Adventures in BC, Oregon & Washington State

If you haven’t yet firmed up your summer vacation getaway, consider a family camp, family-friendly ranch or a family adventure program. Yes, the camps are old-school:  rustic rooms and questionable food. But you know you’ll have fun anyhow, just like you did when you were a kid. If you’d rather enjoy a bunk-free stay, check out the aquarium or geology adventures or a family-friendly ranch summer getaway.

British Columbia Family Camps

BC Family French Camp. Okanagan, Gwillim Lake and Vancouver Island, BC. Say bon nuit to one another at this Francophone camp where all ages learn to speak and sing in French.

Family Adventure Camps at Kumsheen Rafting Resort. Lytton, BC. For families with children aged 7 and up, these trips incorporate paddling OR whitewater rafting, hikes, rock climbing and more. Sleep in a teepee, cabin or tent.

Family Adventure Camps. BC Horne Lake Caverns and Teepee Camp, BC. Sleep in a teepee or geo-dome, then explore caves, learn to canoe and rappel down some rocks.

Family Weeks. Echo Valley Ranch & Spa. Clinton, BC. This ridin’ and ropin’ resort swings open the gates to families in July and August. Pan for gold, ride horses and tell stories around the fire. Contact ranch for more information.

Oregon Family Camps

Big Lake Family Camp. Sisters, Oregon. Two five-day sessions feature hikes and horses, campfires and in the Willamette National Forest. Because this camp is run by Seventh-Day Adventists, all the food served is vegetarian – but you don’t have to be either Seventh-Day Adventist or vegetarian to have fun.

Nature of the Village Family Camp. Sandy, Oregon. You’ve watched Survivor. Now live it. Learn to track animals, make bows and arrows, build shelters, grow food and start fires along with your “village.”


Public Family Sleepovers. Oregon Coast Aquarium. Sleep with the sharks while enjoying a family sleepover at the Newport Aquarium, complete with pizza dinner, breakfast and all the aquatic exhibits.

Salem YMCA Family Camps. Salem, Oregon. At Camp Silver Creek, families can roast marshmallows, sing songs and get crafty. Parents even get a kid-free afternoon, while counselors entertain the children. Kids 5 and under are free.

Washington Family Camps

Camp Orkila Family Camp. Orcas Island, Washington State. Multiple options (including short visits and longer stays) for May, July, September dates in the gorgeous San Juan Islands. Enjoy kayak tours of Orkila Bay, pottery classes, horseback rides, a climbing wall and CAMP FOOD! We know kids who camp here every year – they love it.

Family Programs. Olympic Park Institute, Lake Crescent, Washington. In the Olympic National Forest, enjoy a Salish-style canoe trip, hike with a naturalist and make s’mores.

Geology Adventures. Various destinations in Washington and BC. Rock on! Geology and rock-collecting day and overnight trips in Seattle, the Cascades and the Okanagan (BC and Washington).

Warm Beach Family Programs. Stanwood, Washington State. Faith-based (Christian) Dad and Me weekends, parent-child horse programs and family camps.

Family Vacation on raveable

Cycling Across Canada with Kids

Joe Kurmaskie and his wife Beth set out on a cross-Canada adventure with their three boys, ages 9, 7 and 1. Method of transport: bicycles. Really. And it was awesome.

Kurmaskie’s crew started out from their home in Portland, Oregon, cycled to North BC’s Prince Rupert, then east across Canada to Halifax, Nova Scotia. They started out on a three-seat tandem bicycle, pulling a trail-a-bike with a baby trailer attached. But always conscious of safety, the couple soon switched to a two-seat tandem for Joe and one son, pulling a trail-a-bike and baby trailer, with Beth riding alongside on her own bike.

Q: What was the best part of your journey?

Having the whole family join a wheeled adventure, all of us, for the first time. Beth had never joined one of these long trips before, nor had my youngest son. So this was a high risk, high reward deal — road testing a perfectly good marriage if you will. And it broke my way. Beth turned into Xena Warrior Cyclist and I couldn’t have been more proud.

So the best of it was to spend so much quality time in and out of the saddle on an adventure with some of my favorite people. To quote the Avett Brothers on the subject of family, “Always remember there was nothing worth sharing like the love that let us share our name.”

Q: What was surprisingly challenging?

It came as no surprise, but the most challenging part was when I had to adjust to Beth being off the triple, pedaling her own bike. Which left me to pedal a tandem trail-a-bike trailer combination with three sons aboard: 16 feet long and in excess of 450 pounds of gear and boys
and diapers and fishing poles.

It was the equivalent of a rolling Bowflex on wheels. But once I got the rhythm of it … man, just talking about it now makes me miss those days of labor. The pay off — the amazing places and things and people we saw and met, and the quality time spent with my sons in the saddle talking about stuff you don’t get to in the workaday existence.

Q: Which part of the Pacific Northwest did you enjoy cycling most?

That’s like asking me which part of paradise was exceptionally sparkly… but here goes. The Olympic Peninsula. You feel like you are pedaling through Lake Country in Switzerland.

Q: Which part of BC did you enjoy cycling most? Why?

Discovering so many oases and hidden spots on Vancouver Island, from the Galloping Goose Trail to Ruckle Provincial Park on Salt Spring Island. You can’t get tired of Vancouver Island
and all it has to offer, even if you went up to pedal it every summer for the next dozen years. Which is what we intend to do — spend at least a week every summer exploring some spot on that island.

That said, the Yellowhead Highway from Prince Rupert to Smithers in Northern British Columbia is like something from the Land That Time Forgot – like you’ve pedaled right into a landscape from Lord of The Rings.

Salt Spring Island with friends

Q: How would you recommend a family start out with a cycling vacation? What are the “baby steps” to a bike vacation?

Everyone must decide what their comfort zone is – a weekend trip out to the regional state park or even starting with a few day rides that put them in their bed that night. But soon you want to push it just a bit beyond what you think is your comfort zone.

I recommend that no matter what time frame and length you chose you get everyone comfortable on the bike rig.

I choose to keep the family – at least all the kids, attached to me – that way I don’t have to worry about everyone’s judgment when it comes to traffic and routes and safety. I stay hyper aware and alert about traffic issues, but don’t have to burden a nine-year old or even an eleven-year-old with that responsibility. This formula has worked for two continents and 10,000 miles of family bike travel. So they get to pedal and ride and get exercise but they don’t helm their own bikes.

Q: What kind of bike set up will you use on your next trip?

As my family is growing up we are planning to shift over to two tandems and one of us pulling a trailer and one pulling the trail-a-bike. Why does that seem to add two more people than my family? We aren’t Catholic, just careless. We just welcomed our fourth son, Sawyer Ray Kurmaskie, into the world. He’ll be the one in the trailer this time. Matteo will graduate to the trail-a-bike and Enzo to the other stoker seat on the second tandem.

Of course I might end up pulling both the trailer and the trail-a-bike again – you’ll have to ask my wife before we set out on the next adventure.

North BC

Q: Did one community in the BC or the NW really stand out for you?

Gosh – again that’s a horse race – there were so many great experiences in Victoria, BC, Smithers and Courtney. If you read my new book, “Mud, Sweat and Gears” you’ll learn why these towns stand out – it’s for different reasons, characters and moments – if pressed we’d
vote for Salt Spring Island, BC, for the combination of people, experiences, food, moments of tenderness and acts of kindness given and received.

Q: What did you do when the kids got whiny or tired? How did you inspire them to keep going?

The gang had digital cameras and plastic lightsabers and lots of new experiences every moment. Because a bicycle adventure is active and  keeps them involved and lets them stop for things they spot or want to do or check out the kids NEVER once asked if we were there yet. Because we always were.

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Curious? Want to hear more about how this all went down? I sure do. And now my husband wants to follow Joe’s trail (the compromise for mom — cycling between spas, ha).

Buy Joe’s book at discount AND support Joe’s project “Camp Creative,” when you order “Mud, Sweat and Gears” at Metal Cowboy.

Mention that you read this article and he’ll take 20% off the price. Check out Joe’s website for more info on Camp Creative or his other endeavors. I would also encourage you to check out his funny and fascinating slideshow of the adventure.

Tofino with Kids … er, a Baby

Vancouver-based mom Elaina Spring Eden, husband and adorable 9-month-old daughter Ava just traipsed off to Tofino, BC for almost a week. Tofino — located off the west shore of Vancouver Island — is well-known for opportunities to hike, whale-watch and unwind from the world.

But that last part (unwinding) isn’t always so easy for new parents, as we all remember.

“My husband I both realized that our days of laying in bed in terrycloth robes and staring out at the ocean for hours on end are on hiatus for a while,” Eden says. “The idea of rest and relaxation has taken on a whole new meaning in our lives at this point.”

“I find it humorous that I would easily trade a million dollar view for a microwave and a few extra feet of ‘crawl space.’”

So let’s find out how Eden successfully chilled out with her little one:

Q. Did you stay in any kid-friendly Tofino hotels on Vancouver Island?

Yes!

The first three nights we were at the Long Beach Lodge. Overall, the property was kid friendly. They happily provided a pack n’ play and high chair for our room.

However, if you are traveling with little ones, I highly recommend one of their two-bedroom cottages over the beachfront rooms in the lodge. It is nice to have the privacy and the extra space (1,000 sq. ft) as well as a full kitchen.

We put baby upstairs in a pack n’ play and enjoyed having the entire downstairs area to ourselves after she went to bed.  There is a gas fireplace as well as a private hot tub off the master bedroom.  We used the BBQ one night and ordered food to go from their restaurant another night (they don’t offer room service). I emailed in advance to make arrangements for a babysitter one evening. It was $15 an hour and allowed us to enjoy a nice dinner in their restaurant that was not particularly family friendly in the evenings.

standing at tofino hotel for families with a kid-friendly windowWe also stayed two nights at the Wickaninnish Inn. In a word, it was amazing. Their attention to detail was truly extraordinary. Riedel stemware in our guest room, homemade butter with every meal, cedar carving lessons, rain jackets, pants and boots, a hybrid Lexus for borrow, the world’s best hair dryer, HBC wool beach blankets, a caring smile at every turn and breathtaking scenes of rain forest, rock and ocean. The staff could not have been more accommodating and courteous.

We were in a fairly standard “deluxe” guest room and it was extremely spacious and absolutely lovely.  The bathtub was enormous and provided our baby girl hours of enjoyment.  It was as if she had her very own swimming pool!  They also provided a microwave in the room, which made heating up her baby food a breeze.

On their third floor they have a wonderful little library with all kinds of children’s books, puzzles, games and videos. Perhaps the best part for us was the complimentary in-room childcare for guests who wish to dine at the famous Ponite Restaurant. We were fortunate to experience the chef’s five course tasting menu during our visit and it was simply amazing truly incredible. The meal was simply amazing.

We also ordered room service a couple of times, which was just as delicious.  I was impressed that they came to our room four times to bring us our dinner in courses: appetizer, starter, entree and dessert.  It was expensive but I have to say the return was worth every loonie.  This is the ultimate “family friendly five star” resort in British Columbia.

We also spent one night in a cabin at the Tigh-Na-Mara Resort in Parksville. This place prides itself on being family friendly and it shows.  We stayed in a private cabin that was adorable and had everything we could wish for, including a full kitchen (with a dishwasher and microwave), a back deck with a private picnic table and BBQ, and a wood burning fireplace.

The resort itself has a link on the website for “families” and features several different organized activities, programs and amenities for kids.  We used their babysitting service to visit the spa and have dinner and were extremely happy.  The restaurant is also 100% kid friendly for all meals. Apparently it is also a great place to bring the family during the winter holiday season.

I had no idea how easy it was to arrange an in-room baby sitter at each of these properties.  What a pleasant surprise!

Q. Some families would be worried to leave their baby with a babysitter they’re unfamiliar with. What reassured you?

Regarding the babysitting service, it was easier than I thought it would be.  I did some research in advance and all three resorts have such a good reputation it immediately gave me some confidence.  It also helped that I knew we were just a few moments away on the same property.

The Wick and the Long Beach Lodge interview and train existing in-house guest services staff to provide childcare.  At the Tigh-Na-Mara Resort they also hire and train staff.  As noted on their website “All of our sitters have been interviewed by Tigh-Na-Mara and have their Babysitting Certification. Babysitters will provide their own transportation to and from the Resort. Children under the age of two years require a mature sitter, 18yrs and over.”  The person who looked after Ava was the mother of the woman who ran the hotel gift shop.  She was delightful.  We were truly happy with all three babysitters.

My advice is to trust your gut instincts when the sitter arrives and if everything feels okay … escape and enjoy a leisurely two-handed paced meal.  You will be so glad you did.

Q. Did you eat any memorable Tofino meals? Did you find a great baby-friendly or kid-friendly restaurant in Tofino?

At the Trans-Canada Highway with kids at Tofino BC A friendly mum on the ferry recommended we try Sobo while in Tofino and I am so grateful.  It was a bit hard to find (a couple of blocks off the main drag) so it isn’t a place you would just stumble upon but it is definitely worth seeking out.

Not only was the food fresh, local and seasonal, but the restaurant is perfect for families. There is patio with a play area for kids as well as some fun picnic tables. Our server  (also the mother of a nine month old) was incredibly kind and even offered to bring out some special “baby friendly” food for Ava.  They also offer all kinds of items pre-made and ready to take-away. Their fresh cookies and other decadent desserts are to die for.

Q. Which family-friendly activities you enjoy with your baby daughter, in Tofino?

At a Tofino beach with baby and family

Photo credit: Christopher Pouget

One cool thing we did was hire a professional photographer to take some family shots.  The scenery is so extraordinary that we simply couldn’t leave without capturing it.  We worked with local photographer Christopher Pouget and he was great … personable, professional and patient.  His price was extremely affordable and his images are priceless.

kid-friendly Pacific Rim National Park hike

Rainforest Walk

Another fun thing was the “Rainforest Walk” in the Pacific Rim National Park. The path we did was an easy half hour journey on a raised boardwalk.  It is not stroller friendly but we managed beautifully with our baby carrier.

Q. Did you find that it was easier to meet and talk with people when your infant daughter was traveling with you on Vancouver Island, compared to before kids?

Yes, we found people to be extremely friendly.  Having a baby is great conversation starter but then again, I am much more outgoing when I am with Ava. I enjoy talking with people who have kids and never hesitate to strike up a conversation. I guess it is the same as always … you tend to find what you are looking for, in that regard.

Farm Stays with Kids in Washington, Oregon and British Columbia

Reader Question:

Where can I vacation in a family-friendly bed and breakfast — on a working farm — in Washington State, Oregon or British Columbia?

– Juliana, mom of two kids (5 and 1), Seattle, Wash.

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Thanks for the great question! Here’s a quick rundown of what I found online. Unlike larger hotels, most bed and breakfasts do not allow children to stay free, but you’ll get a cool experience in exchange.

Because few are listed on sites like Tripadvisor.com, I might call to speak with the owners, and ask for a reference if you’d like to hear from someone who enjoyed their visit.

British Columbia family-friendly farm stay:

Arrowvale Farm has Sicilian donkeys, horses, a cow and goats. Sleep in one of the cottages (kids are $15/extra), or during summer, the campgrounds are a steal at around $25/nt. Located in Port Alberni, Vancouver Island, 2 ½ hours from Victoria, BC.

For a more upscale experience, foodie farmer Mara Jernigan offers cooking classes for grown-ups, and luxe cottages for families (summer only) in BC’s fertile Cowichan Valley, 45 minutes north of Victoria, BC. The 130-acre Fairburn Farm farm raises one of the most unique animals among the farms I saw – water buffalo!

On Quadra Island, off of Vancouver Island’s coast, the Bold Point Farmstay program allows kids to pick produce, feed the chickens, ride a ram or just hang out. The distance may be too far for many though – about 3 ½ hours north of Victoria, BC.

Family-friendly Oregon farm stay:

The adorable-appearing Leaping Lamb Farm encourages visitors to help collect eggs and feed the sheep. Kids 3 and under stay free. This farm appears to particularly welcome families with kids, based on their site. Located two hours south of Portland in Alsea, Ore., and you could include it en route an Oregon Coast vacation.

Washington State family-friendly farm stay:

Dog Mountain Farm is rustic but interesting — $150/nt to stay in a platform tent, with a furnished interior.  Or stay on the farm’s campgrounds. From June through September, the “Young Farmers Program” keeps kids busy with an hour of farm chores and a packet of information. Collect eggs, feed and water horses, chickens, dogs and cats. There are even beekeeping(?!) opportunities. Located in Carnation, Wash., 40 minutes east of Seattle.

If you like, you could also consider a home rental. This one on Whidbey Island, Wash., is located on a working farm, and kids can help with farm chores. It’s located Ebey’s Landing National Historic Reserve, which is a great bird-watching destination.

Good luck! And if any readers know of another farm stay, let us know? E-mail your questions to lora AT cascadiakids.com