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Spring Break Oregon Style

Skip the overhyped theme-park pilgrimage and enjoy a little home-cooked fun!

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High Desert Museum. - SUBMITTED
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  • High Desert Museum.

Not amused by the overpriced flights, tickets, food and souvenirs that seem to be an obligatory part of the theme-park experience? This spring break, you can skip the long lines and hefty price tags while still capturing some of that amusement park magic a little closer to home.

Day Trip

Start your journey at the High Desert Museum. While you won't find roller coasters and animated characters, you will find up-close thrills of a different nature. The cast of characters includes creatures with scales, fur and feathers and old-time personalities that engage and educate children and adults. Daily schedules include multiple wildlife feedings, rotating exhibits and up-close encounters with otters and birds of prey that keep kids interested and excited. This spring break, you'll find a memorable adventure that you won't want to miss! highdesertmuseum.org

Before heading to your next destination, hit up Blondie's Pizza in Sunriver.

This long-standing Sunriver staple will give the kids that amusement park casual vibe and you a pizza, salad, sandwich or calzone that you'll actually enjoy eating. blondiespizzasunriver.com

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  • SHARC aquatic center.

Next stop, the water park! Sunriver's SHARC has it all for tots to teens. This aquatic center offers indoor and outdoor pools, a lazy river, water slides, a giant sandbox, tubing hill, disc golf, basketball and more. Travel Tip - bring your own towels! sunriversharc.com

Rather glide than swim? Hit up Sunriver Ice Skating Arena at the Village instead. This recently renovated attraction offers full overhead coverage, a viewing area and a great sound system for your budding ice dancers to groove to. New skaters can rent a trainer to keep the boo-boos at bay. The Village also features a trackless train to tote your tots around, bounce houses, rock climbing and more! villageatsunriver.com

Sunriver Brewing. - SUBMITTED
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  • Sunriver Brewing.

Too tired to think about making dinner when you get home? Sunriver Brewing's got you covered! After a long day of amusement and adventure, treat yourself and the crew to dinner and a tasty beverage at this Central Oregon watering hole favored for burgers, beer and its kid's play area. sunriverbrewingcompany.com

Overnighter

Enchanted Forest. - SUBMITTED
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  • Enchanted Forest.

Day 1: Don't mind heading out of town for a more traditional theme park experience? Look no further than the Enchanted Forest located in Turner, Ore., just outside of Salem. You'll save oodles of cash and time and find a pleasant little amusement park with a colorful history. Take your time, plan to stay overnight and enhance your adventure with some additional stops.

Hoodoo Ski Area. - SUBMITTED
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  • Hoodoo Ski Area.

Leave Bend in the wee hours of the morning and make tracks on Hwy 20. The Sisters area is a great little town for a pit stop or potty break. Then, either hit Hoodoo Ski Area for a little spring skiing or The Wizard Falls Fish Hatchery in Camp Sherman for a shorter diversion and tire your crew out before making the rest of the trek to Salem. skihoodoo.com myodfw.com

Overnight accommodations abound in the Salem area, but the Phoenix Inn Salem offers free breakfast and an indoor pool, making it a great choice for families. After checking in to your hotel, enjoy family-friendly dining at LifeSource Natural Foods or Annette's Westgate Cafe for dinner.

Day 2: Before hitting the main attraction, start your day at the Turnaround Cafe in Turner where they offer a bevy of egg dishes, pancakes and more. Try the Lumberman's Breakfast to fill you up before a day at the amusement park. turnaroundcafe.com

Arrive at the Enchanted Forest and you will be pleasantly surprised by short lines, friendly staff and beautifully maintained grounds. This park feels a little campy at first but the fun rides for all ages, reasonable prices and magnificent trees throughout the park make it a real Northwest gem. With its Storybook Lane, Western town, Old European Village, comedy theater and famed haunted house, this theme park feels like something from another era. While you can see most of the park in a few hours, we recommend buying the all-access bracelet upon admission so the kiddos can experience everything. Tip - be sure to wear good walking shoes and bring a stroller that is easy to push as the landscape includes some rather steep hills. enchantedforest.com

Silver Falls State Park. - SUBMITTED
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  • Silver Falls State Park.

Looking for more excitement before heading back to Central Oregon? Check out the Silver Falls Trails in Silverton, located about 20 miles SE of Salem. Silver Falls, often referred to as the "crown jewel" of the Oregon State Parks, is more than 9,000 acres and offers something for all levels. You'll find more than 24 miles of walking trails, and a 4-mile (6.4 km) bike path and waterfalls galore. Trails are pristine. Tip - Rain is likely this time of year. Check the forecast and dress accordingly. oregonstateparks.org

No doubt the road warriors will be tired and ready to head home after a long day of thrill seeking. Enjoy the view on the journey home and the feeling of sleeping in your own bed when the day is done.

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