Before we visited the Valley of Fire with kids it just looked like an Instagram heaven. That’s all that we knew about it, all from photos that people had taken and posted to Instagram. And then we visited and hiked and had up close wildlife encounters and fell in love. Valley of Fire State Park is the best Las Vegas day trip you didn’t know you need to do.
We have had our first Kampgrounds of America (KOA) camping experience and are thrilled to share it with you. Before this trip we didn’t really know what to expect at a KOA, even though we’d reviewed the website and seen many campgrounds. You just don’t know what the feel of a place is going to be and how it’ll fit with your travel style until you’re actually there. I’ll tell you it was great. When it comes to Oregon Coast camping, the Astoria / Warrenton / Seaside KOA Resort was perfect for us.
LOCALE OF THE ASTORIA / WARRENTON / SEASIDE KOA
We spend a lot of time in Oregon, and particularly on the Oregon Coast. At least once a year, this year it’s been twice already, we do an Oregon Coast road trip, either from tip to tip or just one part of the Oregon Coast. If you’re coming from Washington State or the Portland area, the practical first stop for you coastal getaway is Astoria, Oregon. About two hours from Portland and 3.5 hours from Eugene or Seattle, WA, Astoria or Seaside are totally doable for an easy weekend escape.
You do have to either drive along the Columbia River for a good portion of the trip or you’ll cross the Coastal Range. Either way, the drive is beautiful and there are plenty of stops you can make along the way, from hiking in the hills to visiting small towns full of wineries. If you’re coming from Washington, you can add a little side trip to Cape Disappointment State Park either on your way to or from the KOA Astoria to get your lighthouse fix, because there are two just off the Columbia River. However you get to your Oregon Coast camping destination, you’ll enjoy the full travel experience.
Visiting Joshua Tree National Park is a great addition to a vacation to Palm Springs or Southern California in general. It’s a very unique National Park and visiting is a very different experience compared with Yellowstone or Yosemite. I’d sooner relate it to visiting the Everglades than any other Park. There are tons of things to do on a Joshua Tree day trip, but you need to know what to do before you just show up.
Before arriving at Joshua Tree we’d done some research around hiking and unique features of the park. We didn’t fully understand the layout though and had to adjust our plans to be able to experience the best of a Joshua Tree day trip. The following guide should help you plan, prep and have an awesome time exploring this fascinating place.
WHAT IS A JOSHUA TREE?
So glad you asked. A Joshua Tree is a member of the yucca or lily tree family. It’s like a giant succulent that grows only in hot, arid climates. They are very rare outside of the deserts of the American Southwest (there’s a small grove in Mexico), but their yucca cousins can be found in deserts all around the world.
The Joshua tree is a rough, pokey plant. It doesn’t get very big, unlike the Sequoias or Redwoods, and it’s rarely grows straight up. Joshua Trees are shaped like Dr. Seuss trees and look a lot like the silhouette of a person jumping out to scare you. They really cool. They don’t bloom every year, but when they do it is amazing and since it’s so rare, if you get the chance to visit when they’re blooming, you’ll be one of the few people on Earth that experience it.
We love our road trips, you know that, and living in the Pacific Northwest, we’re at the gateway to some of the best road trips in the United States. Oregon is our neighbor and we visit it a lot, but it’s rare that we really explore the south part of the state. This is our (future) award winning southern Oregon road trip that takes the best of the Cascades and pairs it with the Oregon Coast. This road trip itinerary is ideal in Spring and Summer and is great with kids!
When we found out we were heading to Southern Oregon we knew two things: the Umpqua National Forest and the southern coast are going to be fun and drastically different. The Cascade Mountains run from British Columbia to Northern California. They’re dotted with snowy peaks and dense forests, which when put together make for an epic collection of waterfalls. Doing a road trip with kids, we knew that we needed to pack in some big wow items, and waterfalls always do the trick.
For fun along the coast, we make it a habit to fly kites when possible, but when the weather doesn’t permit we do the next best thing: beach combing. Even in rainy weather the kids love searching for beach glass and interesting shells, so getting some time on the coast is perfect for us. In addition to the beach, there are lots of unique coastal experiences that are great for families. We made time to do fun activities we can’t do at home, including experiencing some of the natural phenomena of the Oregon Coast (see below).
If you’ve done a road trip with small to medium age kids, you know that being in the car is a bummer. We try to break up longer drive times with fun. Here are our top tips for ensuring every part of the road trip experience is awesome.
With so many ways to do a road trip you can take almost any approach. We just did it with two kids so we are ready to share exactly how to get the most from the Oregon Coast. Doing an Oregon Coast road trip is really fun and very easy. There are zero chances to get lost and 1000 opportunities to fall in love with the nature and nautical sights along the way.
Have you done the Oregon Coast with kids? Want to see what we did to keep them entertained as well as give us parents things to look forward to with each stop? Here’s how you do an Oregon Coast road trip with kids that’s good for the whole family no matter the season.
The Oregon Coast is gorgeous… even in the foggy rain which you might experience any time of year. When you’re packing for an Oregon Coast road trip be sure to plan for hot sun as well as chilling wet. As a rule when we’re touring around Western Washington or Oregon we always pack equally for rain or sun, erring on the side of the time of year. This includes activities we bring with us.
Like with any itinerary, take this one with a grain of salt and update it for your own family. We like to visit beaches, breweries and lighthouses, so this Oregon Coast road trip itinerary has a healthy mixture of nature and culture. And like any jaunt through small town America, you’ll be tempted to stop in places we don’t mention and to find your own foodie spots. Go for it! Road tripping is all about fun and new experiences and the Oregon Coast is no exception!
Periodically we’ll feature one of our properties here to let our readers know about some great gay friendly places to stay.
Pet Friendly in Hocking Hills, OH: The Lodge at Lane’s End is a luxury retreat with an atmosphere that gives you the sense of having your very own personal vacation home. The Lodge was designed to be an intimate setting for couples, families, and friends to relax, interact, and reconnect.