Your Comprehensive Guide To The End Of The Oregon Trail Like A Modern Pioneer!

June 14, 2018

Disclosure:  This post is sponsored by Mt. Hood Territory. All opinions expressed are my own.

Wait, the Oregon Trail is more than a video game?

Yes!  So. Much. More.  We live less than an hour away from the first capital city of the Oregon territory Yet, somehow we just made it up there this last weekend.  Not knowing a ton about the city, I was nervous!  “Would the kids get bored?”  “Is there anything to do for date night?”  “Will be killed by dysentery before we even arrive!?”  I’m pleased to report we took a way more modern pioneer approach to our trip. Seriously, you can even get a free app to guide you as you explore the area’s heritage sites: Mt.Hood Territory Heritage App.

The first stop on our journey was to Coin Toss brewing to meet owner, Tim Hohl.   This guy was a true modern pioneer.He welcomed us to his gorgeous taproom before opening hours for an exclusive tour and he managed to twist our arm to sample a few beers.  During our time, he share so much incredible information.  I was thrilled to learn they will be selling their pickle flavored beer at Portland Pickles games. (There is 100% probability of me eating that with a hot dog this summer.)  They have four employees, brew about twice a week, and have a very community oriented model for success.  What really struck me about Tim and Coin Toss was their commitment to their community.  He has created a place for people in his community to stop in for a beer after work and a hip place for a unique date night.  They offer taproom specials and even boast a really cool growler club.  He recently took a group of his growler club members to  Tillamook where they picked more than seventeen pounds of spruce tips to bring home and put in one of their beers, Coasters IPA. (our favorite beer and one he graciously sent us home with in their unique take away cans.)  Tim does a really wonderful job of incorporating his city’s rich heritage and history into his brand.  They have a passion that runs so deep to partner with local businesses like restaurants, bars, and the like the “super-serve” their local community. (and beyond!)  This is a modern pioneer, who has his head and heart in the right place curating a wonderful place for a community to come together to create new memories and reflect with adoration on their community’s abounding historical relevance.

I noted one additional fun thing I want to share with you guys: Check out the Tap Trail Mobile Passport, as most places on the app offer some exclusive deals!  

 Check out this video and learn how Coin Toss Brewing got their historically rich name! It is a really fun story.

After learning so much about the Portland coin toss held at the Ermatinger House in 1845, we were pretty interested in seeing more of historical buildings in real life.  (We read a lot of Oregon trail books prior to our adventure.) So, our second stop was for a free tour of the McCloughin House and the Barclay House.  It was a small tour group, which afforded additional time for our kindhearted tour guide to tell so much interesting information.  Most importantly, John McCloughin was just a man of incredible philanthropy and goodwill.  He took care of countless settlers upon their arrival to Oregon, often giving them supplies when they had absolutely nothing after using all of their supplies while making 2,170 mile trek from Missouri to Oregon with their large families. (Think: The pioneer equivalent to Drake in his God’s Plan video.) 

The highlight of this tour for my children?  When our tour guide showed them photographic proof that this house had been moved up a hill by one mule.  He moved that house eight miles at a time, which was a really neat reminder for us modern day pioneers.  Some days feel slow, but every little bit makes a difference.
If I can recommend lodging in the Oregon City for a romantic couples getaway or a family trip (as was our case) check out the pet friendly, Best Western PLUS.  The view was top notch, the indoor hot tub, and the outdoor heated pool was exactly what we needed after a fun filled day learning about the Oregon Trail and the pioneers who fearlessly traveled (or passed away attempting to make the journey.)   Bonus points, it is walking distance to McDonald’s and Starbucks. Happy meals and coffee within a stone’s throw and these millennial parents are totally fine.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret, an unexpected surprise in Oregon City. The restaurant scene is remarkable.  Unlike the original pioneers, who ate wild buffalo fried up in their iron skillet.  Oregon City’s modern food game strong.  Friday night, we ate dinner at Weinhard grill in the beautiful downtown area.  It was recommend to us by our Coin Toss brewing friend, Tim, who has partnered with them for one of the beers he offers and they sell in their restaurant.  (Are you guys getting the community over competition vibe unique to Oregon City yet?)  I had clam chowder, because the weather was rainy and it completely hit the spot.  I have to tell you though, our three year old, had the winning dish of the night:  their macaroni and cheese was out of this world.  After a day of beer tastings and warm soups, we enjoyed the hot tub and hit the bed early.

Saturday:
We got up early, because, well.. #kids.  It really worked to our benefit, because we went to coffee at Coffee Rush.  Oh and if you’re wondering, yes our children ate gelato for breakfast.  We are just THAT cultured.  If you’re into that, the Rivershore grill inside the Best Western has a suburb breakfast we learned on Sunday and the view cannot be surpassed.  We sipped coffee and explored the downtown area, it was easy to see why it had been voted one of the top three downtown locations in America.  It was very clean and represented a fun, diverse mixture of shops and restaurants.  They even a really cute vintage barber shop, which I thought would be fun for a bachelor party weekend.  My favorite part of the downtown area was the unique (seriously, it’s only one of four in the WORLD!) This 130 foot elevator is the only municipal elevator in the America, and it connects downtown up to midtown.
It was an incredible perspective of the city.  I had been nervous my boys wouldn’t be impressed with a slower pace, history rich getaway, but they really enjoyed it.  Once you take the elevator to the top you arrive the John McCloughin promenade, which was the perfect place  to take a coffee in hand millennial stroll.  My only regret?  Not bringing my sunglasses.
The view of Willamette Falls is awe worthy.

So, from the time we arrived at our waterfront hotel, the boys had been asking to go fishing.  You regular readers know they are completely obsessed with the fishing life. So, we checked the weather and found a break in the clouds to surprise them with a little fishing excursion.   Liam would like me to let you all know he caught his first catfish.

We wrapped up our three hour fishing morning about twenty minutes before a hail storm hit.  We watched from inside of a Vietnamese restaurant called Pho Thi with piping hot bowls of Pho for the adults and two plates of crab puffs and dumplings for the children at the table.

From lunch, we spent the rest of our day at the End of the Trail Interpretive & Visitor Center.  This is where I felt we learned the most about the challenges and adventure of the pioneers who paved the way to where we now call home.  There was beautifully written pieces of information on the wall and I found myself most touched by the pieces about women on the Oregon Trail.  Particularly those that gave birth on the trail, some dying during childbirth, leaving other women to walk around in search of someone to nurse a newborn baby that wasn’t theirs.  The best part?  They did, it wasn’t even a question.  The wife to an orphan at birth, and someone who cares deeply for orphan care, that story just touched my heart on such a personal level.

While the visitor was filled with heart wrenching truth about the struggles pioneers faced, it was equally fun.  Our kids loved making candles (even if Sawyer’s looks like it should be on top of a cake at a bachelor party.)  Specifically, living out my life long dream of dressing like Laura Ingalls Wilder and seeing my children in coon skin hats.   Sawyer was a little too in character, he spent 45 minutes loading this mock wagon for his mock journey to Oregon to claim his family’s land. 
After our adventure around the city, we headed back around 5:00 pm for some resting and showers.  We hit Sushi Hooray for dinner, it was super delicious and SUPER CHEAP for a family of four to eat dinner.  

Sunday, we had the opportunity to explore our home base Portland as tourists! Portland is just such an amazing city, and every day you could do something new here.  We always love visiting OMSI (Oregon Museum of Science & Industry) and they always have new exhibits to explore. 

Sawyer wasn’t tall enough to go on the submarine tour the last time we visited, so he was overjoyed to do it this time.  

Visiting OMSI can pretty easily be a full day adventure with small children in tow, but I wanted to share a few other things #YouCanInPortland.

Visit the Portland Art Museum
Eat Korean Food at Nak Won (okay, this is in Beaverton, but worth the drive.)
The Portland Children’s Museum and the Zoo in Washington Park are must see attractions.  Pay to park for the whole day and explore everything over!
Go on a cruise with the Portland Spirit.
Take the Portland Aerial Tram
Shop tax free
Sit in the car and let someone else pump your gas (because it is the LAW!)

We had a lovely time exploring the end of the Oregon Trail in honor of the 175th anniversary.  We will be forever grateful and proud of the first pioneers to the area and the hospitality and compassion Dr. John McCloughin bestowed on the new arrivals.  Thank you so much to the staff at Mt.Hood Territory and Visit Portland for making this weekend of history, educational fun, and beer possible.

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28 Comments
    1. Ah so much fun and so much to learn! We love Oregon City!!

    1. What an amazing weekend adventure- and so much history! Sounds like the perfect homeschool getaway. I think we need to come visit!

      1. Seriously! I was bored they’d be bored but they were all about it

    1. How fun! We used to live in Milwaukie and didn’t even know this existed. Definitely going to try to check it out this summer with Esmé!

    1. You are rocking the pioneer woman outfit. New summer look? 😂

    1. What an amazing trip! I bet you learned so much! i’d love to do one of these some day!

    1. You had me at craft brew samples!!! This looks like such a great stop for families. Lucky that it is so close to you; perfect for summer day trips!!

    1. You’ve inspired me to do this when my littles get older. I’m gonna bookmark this for future reference.

    1. What a fun trip. I have lived in Oregon City for years but I see we still have a lot of things to see and explore. Thank you for all of the great tips and information.

    1. I love Oregon City! It’s a super close drive for us. I’ll have to check out Coin Toss Brewing, We love finding new to us breweries so thanks for letting us know about it!

    1. “Pioneer equivalent to drake” I died laughing – I love your humor. But this posts was so cool. In all seriousness! I had no idea this existed. What a fascinating part of this countries history and how brave the participants! I think my kids would enjoy this they are right at that age where they understand stories and history.

    1. So all I knew of the Oregan Trail was the computer game my grandad had! I think I need to take a year off life and travel around the US endlessly!

    1. How cool!! I live near Asheville, NC, the craft beer capital of the world so I can appreciate a decent craft brew! Coin Toss Brewing looks like my kind of place! If I ever get up to your neck of the woods, I’ll definitely pop in for a cold one.

    1. Very Cool looks like you and the family had an amazing time. I did not know there was so much to do on the Oregon trail.

    1. What an awesome way to learn about our history. I teach WA State so the Oregon Trail is part of our studies. This looks like so much fun. Going to be adding this to my Oregon travel board because this is a must go-to adventure!

    1. I had no idea this exhausted!! How cool!! What a great thing for kids to do as wel!! I will have to do someday!

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