I just got back from a great vacation to Portland with my 5 year old and my 2 year old. This post is about the sights we saw and the things we did. Obviously with older kids there would have been more we could have done but for small kids we wanted to keep it simple and respect the nap time. Without nap time, my 2 year old get a bit cranky turning our fun trip into a screaming angry mess of a trip. Always respect the nap time.
Wednesday: Wednesday was a travel day we flew from the Milwaukee, WI to Seatac (that Seattle-Tacoma Airport in Washington) stayed in a hotel overnight then drove to Portland, OR the next day.
We flew on Alaska Airlines, it was a long flight about 4 hour 35 minutes of airtime, and with the two hour time change it was a long day so we basically got to the hotel and crashed.
The hotel we stayed in (Comfort Inn) was nice, they had a free shuttle to and from the airport, free breakfast which is always great when you have kids to feed and it was a reasonable per night price. The only issue I had is they are not really close to any restaurants to eat dinner, it was a good walk to get to anything, I will cover this topic more at the end of the post.
Thursday: Woke up early because the kids were up, remember that two hour time change, yeah it’s still there in the morning as well and kids don’t care that is 5am in your new location. Breakfast at the hotel started at 6am so we didn’t have to wait long to go for some food. Everyone wanted something different so it was a good choice to pick a hotel with a break, and not just some fruit and donuts but an actual breakfast (eggs and sausage, waffles, cereal, fruit, coffee, etc).
I took the shuttle back to the airport to pick up the rental car then had to hop on another shuttle over to the car rental pick up building, which is no longer at the airport but rather in a whole different building, no big deal just go with the flow.
I sprang for the minivan, it was going to be lots of ridding and we were going to have 2 car-seats plus a passenger or two, it was well worth it, always go with a bigger vehicle than you think you will need. I got a really good deal on the rental but it came with a limit on the miles, only 600 for the whole trip then 0.25 cents per mile after that, I will be cutting it close after driving to Portland and back. After I picked up the car went back to the hotel to get the family, loaded up and hit the road around 10am, let the fun begin.
The drive from Seattle to Portland is a beautiful one, down Interstate 5; there are lots of things to see along the way. Around halfway to Portland is the exit for Mt Saint Helens,
if you don’t know anything about the volcanic explosion that happened in 1980, than you will want to stop at the visitor center about 5 miles off I5, there is a one mile trail you can walk and see some of the area that was devastated by the volcano, there is also a visitor center that will cover what happened in great detail. The day we were there it was clouded over so we didn’t really get to see the top of the volcano but it was a nice break from the drive and the kids needed to get out and run a bit. We spent about 2 hours there and took a lot of pictures before we loaded back into the van and continued. There are multiple visitor centers as you get closer to the base of the volcano, we just stopped at the first one because our kids are 2 and 5, I am told as you get closer to the base, the hiking gets a bit more difficult, so we are going to reserve those for subsequent trips. There were great walking trails, great scenery and an very nice visitors center with a 15 minute move. This is a must see if you are traveling with kids.
On the road again, 73 miles to Portland, other than some overlooking cliffs the rest of the drive was relatively quiet. We got to Portland were we were staying for the next few days (my mom’s condo), unloaded the van and the kids and hung out for a bit before taking the kids to the park and for a nice walk to wear them down before bedtime.
Friday/Saturday/and Sunday are in part 2