A parents’ getaway: Experience the beauty of Oregon’s forests, beaches and inns without kids!

We took a trip last May to celebrate my 40th birthday, our wedding anniversary and just to have some time alone. We wanted to visit a place completely different from any place we had ever been so we chose Oregon. (Michael had been to Portland on business but never the Oregon country or coast.) I cannot say enough about how spectacular the forests, parks and beaches are in this state.

We landed in Portland but immediately drove up to the northwest corner of the state. We started exploring in Washington state following the Lewis and Clark Trail. We saw where they first glimpsed the Pacific Ocean. We loved thinking about their expedition experiencing the land and sea.

(Tip: You can get a multi-day pass for all the state parks and recreation areas so don’t pay at each individual parks. However, the Oregon ones don’t work in Washington even thought the parks are so close together.)

We worked our way down the coast visiting Astoria, a port town where the Columbia River meets the ocean. You may also know it from “Goonies” fame. The movie was shot there.

While climbing the Astoria Column we got a call from the owner of the Arch Cape Inn and Retreat, where we were staying on the trip. She was calling to let us know that it was the first sunny weekend in three months (no rain!!) and the people were going crazy heading to the shore. She told us to eat dinner in Astoria (all the restaurants by her had a several-hour wait) and that she would leave us a hidden key to get into the inn when we arrived. We appreciated her call very much!

We had a lovely candlelight seafood dinner in the harbor overlooking the Columbia River. Then we continued down the coast toward Cannon Beach, which is famous and was crazy crowded. I was glad we were staying a little further down at Arch Cape instead. It was still an easy drive to Cannon Beach but completely quiet and secluded.

I cannot say enough about the Arch Cape Inn and Retreat. I had the most fun dithering over which room to choose for our stay. In the end I chose one with a rooftop porch and a fireplace of course. It has a view of the ocean. Your stay comes with a three-course breakfast. We didn’t need lunch and showed back up for wine and cheese hour and then went for late dinners.

After two days there, we continued down the coast hiking and exploring the state parks. I have never seen anything like the way the forest meets the ocean in Oregon. It is breathtaking.

We ended our trip in Portland, which sadly I was not crazy about. There were extremely aggressive panhandlers that were downright scary. I lived in New York City for two years, and I never experienced this level of aggression. I was kind of afraid to go buy coffee alone in the morning.

The best part of Portland for me was the International Rose Test Garden and the Hoyt Arboretum. We had a lovely morning walking around the gardens before flying out. It is a beautiful oasis in the middle of the city.

It didn’t rain a single drop so that may have colored my view of the state. I was actually hoping for rain since we rarely see it in Arizona. I loved the rest of the state of Oregon and hope to take the kids to visit.

Sit back and enjoy my slideshow about the beauty of Oregon. (There is music with it so watch the volume if you are at work.) I am happy to try to answer questions about our trip and the state. Please share your favorite parent getaway places or any special spots you visited in Oregon.
(Check out our family road trip through California. We hit three national parks, camped in Yosemite, visited San Francisco, wine country and then checked out beaches all down the northern coast.)

16 comments Add your comment


December 31st, 2012
12:07 am

I’m glad you enjoyed your stay! My husband’s family is mainly in Washington state with a couple in Oregon. I want to go to Oregon simply for the big bookstore, Powells. We are actually planning our trip in May which is supposed to be at the end of their rainy season but we’ll see. It is mainly a drizzle in Washington (Seattle) all day long. I can’t wait.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

December 31st, 2012
12:23 am

Misty — We did go into Powells and enjoyed that very much. We both love books but it’s hard to look with kids so it was nice to wander a store without children. I think late May is a good time to go. It was just beautiful the entire time!!


December 31st, 2012
4:07 am

What few people realize is that 2/3 of Oregon is desert. Seriously! If you get a chance on your next visit take Highway 22, going East, from Salem. Great drive with gorgeous views of snow-capped peaks. You’ll end up in Sisters. They still have wooden sidewalks in parts of the town.

Another great stop is in Newport, on the coast. It has a thriving fishing fleet *you can tell by the odor of fish), some great old shops, Mo’s (for the very best clam chowder) and a few of the tacky tourist traps.

September is when we have “Indian Summer” in Oregon. Hot days and cool nights. All the little monsters…errrmmm…darlings are back in school and you’ll have the coast to yourself. If you are up for adventure, try the coast in the winter. We often have 25-30 foot swells and wind speeds well over 100 MPH. The waves hitting those sheer cliffs will take your breath away.

Trivia: Oregon is larger (sq. miles) than all of Great Britain, yet the entire state has less than half the population of London.


December 31st, 2012
7:15 am

The friends I have that lived or worked there for a season also raved about it. It is a beautiful, progressive state with a wide variety of climates. I am so glad you went!


December 31st, 2012
7:34 am

Usually lurk on this blog, but I noticed you mention Arizona in your blog. Are you now living in Arizona? I thought you were in the Atlanta area. Sounded like a great trip!


December 31st, 2012
9:20 am

Looks beautiful! I’m definitely looking forward to taking some west-coast trips in the next few years.

Strangely, I was just reading the article about the tour bus that went off the side of the road in Oregon.


December 31st, 2012
9:25 am

TWG the photos are great! Thanks for sharing with us. I have been to Seattle around that time of year. I can agree there are some neat things in the American Northwest :) Having seen the photos I am putting Oregan on the bucket list too. (Italy remains spot #1 on that list).

I think in 2013 I am going to see if my sister in law and some other friends want to go do a Girl Getaway. One of the times my kids are with their Dad, the others can take a break from their families and we can go do something.

Here is to promise of a wonderful new year….Make 2013 the best one yet! (raises coffee, I am at work and no champagne)


December 31st, 2012
10:28 am

It may seem strange, but I do not like to go on a trip without my kids. I travelled extensively before I had kids, and I’m sure I will travel again when they are gone. However, the few times I have gone somewhere sans kids, I have spent a large part of the time worried about them getting sick or hurt, thereby forcing my relatives to look after a sick child. Anyone else feel troubled about leaving their kids?


December 31st, 2012
11:09 am

@ See, I had a hard time going without kids for awhile. I had the divorce guilt sickness. I knew of only 2 kinds of divorcees those that seemed to be trying to find their next spouse (and thus always leaving the kids with sitters or whatever to be “single”) and the martyrs (those that totally throw themselves into the kids and forget they are a person). I think it may be different for those whose ex remains in the picture for the kids and those who don’t. For a number of reasons my children only had one week a year with his family and the rest they were with me. So, I fell into the 2nd half. Paying sitters so I could go out (dates/friends etc) was expensive and not a choice I made. On top of it, with money scarce I felt guilty if I did not use it to take them on some big family trip.

Well, the ex is now actually visiting with the kids more. And I realized this past summer (4 weeks sans kids) that I did not know what to do with my time. Yes a day or 3 of just enjoying the P & Q was great, but then what? I had let my friendships go to where I didn’t know who to get together with anymore.

Then I thought long and hard about what I wanted, what do I bring to the table (for friends or men), what am I interested in? What did I want to do? The whole mid-life ok who the he%% did I grow up to be thing.

So now, I am not going to feel guilty if I have me time. I working on trusting the two at home for a few hours so I can go out. I am working on finding $$$ for 2 vacations…one for me and for “us” as a family. I also think that if/when I am back in an intimate relationship I will understand how important it is for “couple only” time.

I do not recall how old your kids are, but at some point (as they reach teen years for sure) you will probably get back to wanting time to vaca without the children. I know my parents, and most of my friends of teens did…..MJG? DB? Did that strike for you guys as they got to teen years?

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

December 31st, 2012
11:39 am

My folks were in town for Walsh’s first Communion and so they kept the kids for us to get away. I didn’t think twice about it with my mom and dad in charge. We checked in some but I didn’t worry.


December 31st, 2012
11:41 am

@See, how old are your kids?

I love my son but I do enjoy time away from him. I am not a worrier though (is that a word?). I plan and I know there’s a chance something could happen while I’m away but I don’t find myself only thinking about him. We definitely have gone on some trips and said to ourselves that we couldn’t wait to take our son with us the next time so he could experience wherever it was as well. That’s part of the reason he was SCUBA certified at 10. I’m actually surprised TWG could leave her kids for nearly a week though. Heck, if she can do it, anyone can!


December 31st, 2012
12:40 pm

FCM…yes we started traveling without the kids when they had part time jobs here and my son was a Senior and then into college. We left them home here with the knowledge that the neighbors would call us if anything looked fishy. We never received any calls from the neighbors and things were fine here. Our kids knew what we expected of them.

When we were in Oregon, they called to tell us that the oven was on fire. I tried to remain calm while my husband walked them through it. The electric element was burning out. He told them to flip the breaker and not use the oven or stove. I was a bit nervous but not much we could do and we trusted them to follow our directions, which they did.

We flew to Portland and went down to Coos Bay, a fishing village. It was amazing and we ate fresh fish that were just pulled in off the boat. We also visited Shore Acres, a botanical garden with roses as big as a dinner plate. Amazing and beautiful. We checked out the caverns with the sea lions.

FCM…if you need someone to go with you, I may be able to take a long weekend! I am planning to stay in Illinois, after a meeting, and visit with DB in February…we hope to catch a play or something! I love to visit new places and do it often!

Happy New Year to my blog friends!


December 31st, 2012
1:01 pm

@ MJG…I will have to keep you posted and see if it works out.

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