5 Funky Places to Sleep in Oregon

fire lookout in oregon

fire lookout in oregon

You’re bored with hotels and bed and breakfasts and inns and tents. You want something different. Oregon offers quirky stays, from lighthouses to lookouts, suitable for a variety of ages. Take a look at these sweet sleeps — and if you go, let us know!

(Photo above: Quail Prairie Lookout, elevation 3,033 feet, photo courtesy of USDA Forest Service)

1. Oregon teepee in Warm Springs, Oregon.

At Kahneeta Resort & Casino, bring your own inflatable air mattress and comforters – you’re sleeping in a Central Oregon teepee!  This 21-foot canvas arrangement allows you to enjoy the resort’s waterslides, pool and lovely weather for less than a hotel stay, and each teepee accommodates up to 10 people.

Teepee reservation website: http://kahneeta.com/teepee-camping-central-oregon-resort.
Teepee prices: About $75/night. Ages 11 and under free
Teepee best for ages: All ages.

2. Oregon treehouse in Cave Junction, Oregon.

Sleep in treetops! At Treehouse Out ‘n’ About Treehouses, try the fort-style “Cavaltree” stay or the “Swiss Family” wood-paneled treehouse, which offers a child-size single bed and rocking chair along with a kids’ unit, connected by a swinging bridge, bunk bed and a mini table and chairs. Breakfast included.

Treehouse reservation website: http://www.treehouses.com
Treehouse pricing: $90-240, children over age 4 are $20 extra per night over occupancy, under 4 are $10 extra.
Treehouse best for ages: All ages.

3. Oregon fire lookout, multiple destinations.

Have a budding forest ranger in your home? Climb up a ladder to an enclosed viewing platform, where your family can eat, sleep and watch lightning storms roil through Oregon skies. Oregon fire lookouts offer tight quarters, but amazing, expansive views — and are set in the middle of utter wilderness. Check out the Lake of the Woods lookout in Southern Oregon.

Lookout reservation website: http://www.fs.fed.us/r6/recreation/rentals/index.shtml.
Fire lookout pricing: $40 and up.
Fire lookout best for ages: Ask when making a reservation if the fire lookout is a good match for your child — some are too steep for your child’s (or your) comfort, while others are very accessible. The fire lookout in the photo at right is suitable only for children ages 12 and up.

4. Oregon lighthouse in Yachats, Oregon.

At the Heceta Head Lighthouse, you’ll climb wooden steps up a decommissioned, ocean-front lighthouse, then cozy into a sky-high room. With small rooms that accommodate only a trundle bed, Heceta Head may not be a choice for larger families—unless you rent the whole lighthouse!

Lighthouse reservation website: http://www.hecetalighthouse.com.
Lighthouse best for ages: Ages 10 and up.
Lighthouse prices: $133-315.

5. Oregon yurts, multiple destinations.

Yurts are like the lovechild of a tent and a cabin. Oregon State Parks’ family-friendly yurts protect you from the elements, offer kitchens and covered porches. The deluxe yurts are the best bets for families – but book now (especially for Oregon Coast yurts), because these affordable sleeps are popular and can be booked up to a year in advance from 2 days to 9 months in advance.

Yurt reservation website: http://www.oregon.gov/OPRD/PARKS/deluxe.shtml
Yurt pricing: $56-90/night for deluxe
Yurts best for ages: All ages

Do you know of a unique or unusual Oregon places to sleep? Have you stayed in one of the quirky accommodation options listed above? Let us know!

Families Travel! Sarah Goes on a Quadra Island Farm Stay

In August 2009, Sarah Pugh, her husband Stirling and 3-year-old daughter Rowan rented a kitchen-equipped cottage from Bold Point Farmstay for six nights. Their hosts, Rod and Geraldine, run the farmstay on the secluded and rustic Quadra Island, BC. Quadra Island is located about three hours north of Victoria (and involves a quick 10-minute ferry ride). Here’s why Sarah thought her family’s stay on a functioning farm was so fantastic:

Q: What did you do at the family-friendly farm?

Sarah: We went for long rambles in the woods, picked berries and fruit, went swimming in the lakes, and fishing and paddling in the ocean.

We went to the market, popped over to Campbell River for a day, chatted with Rod and Geraldine, played on the lovely lawns around the garden on the farm, cooked fabulous meals with the vegetables from the farm and mutton we purchased from Rod.

We also enjoyed communing with the sheep, seeing how the chicken flock worked as new chickens were added, collecting eggs, and feeding the ducks. Daisy, our dog, enjoyed herself immensely. (Pets are welcome as long as they can be leashed or trusted around livestock.)

We also enjoyed dessert and other home-made treats with Rod and Geraldine. Rod and Geraldine do a LOT of food preserving and are happy to share tips, techniques, samples and stories.

Just being there was lovely. Fresh air, clean water, beautiful stars at night, misty mornings, deer everywhere, birdsong all around.

The only downside to our week was that it was a bit windy on most days so we didn’t go canoeing. The farm has a canoe that guests are welcome to use but neither Stirling nor I are competent paddlers so we didn’t use it. We would have on a calm day but it just didn’t work out for us.  Next time!

Q. Which activities did your daughter like at the farm?

Sarah: Helping to feed all the animals and leading the ducks to and from the pasture every day. She would walk and quack like a duck, to encourage the ducks to follow (although sometimes they ended up leading)

Taking the ducks to pasture at the Lower Mainland family-friendly farm

Taking the ducks to pasture

She also enjoyed napping on the lawn with Stirling, following Rod around, playing on the old swing, picking and eating blackberries and tomatoes and little plums, fishing and swimming (LOVED the swimming).

Q: Do you have any farm-related caveats for traveling families?

Sarah: There is no TV and the radio reception is spotty.  My cell phone couldn’t find a signal at all.  If you want entertainment beyond conversation, cute animals and exercise, bring it with you.

The roads are not paved around the farm (pavement ends about 15 km before you get there) and sometimes, logging trucks drive by, which may mean chips in your windshield. Make sure your car insurance covers you appropriately.

Not a bad way to clean up.

Urban types may experience a bit of culture shock.  The shower in the cottage isn’t great – we relied more on the lakes for swimming to get clean. Water restrictions are often in place as Quadra typically enjoys a couple months of drought in the summer so don’t plan on daily showers for everyone even if you don’t go to the lakes to swim.

It really is a place to get away from modern life and just enjoy simple pleasures like somersaults on the grass, reading, walking, and making ducks quack at you.

Thanks, Sarah! Once a week, I’ll interview a family about a favorite Washington, Oregon or BC destination, attraction or experience. Do you have one to share? E-mail me at lora@cascadiakids.com.

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