Salem, Oregon is best known for being the capitol of Oregon, but what many do not know is that Salem has lots of activities for families. The kids and I spent a weekend here earlier this year and had a wonderful time. It does tend to rain a lot in Salem like Portland, so many of the activities I recommend are indoors.
16 Fun Things to do in Salem, Oregon with Kids
- Clubhouse Adventures – Clubhouse Adventures is an indoor playground in Salem with two large play structures good for kids ages 1-9. Every last Tuesday of each month, admission is only $4 per child.
- Get Air -Get Air is an indoor trampoline park. They have a ton of trampolines, including trampolines with dunking and dodgeball. There is a massive foam pit kids can bounce into. The cost is $12 – $18 per kid. Get Air Coupon.
- Gilbert House Children’s Museum – This is a fabulous children’s museum. Most of the indoor activities are geared for children ages 8 and under, but the outside part is for any kids that loves exploring and climbing on a playground.
- Create a Memory – At Create a Memory, your child can paint a piece or pottery or create some sort of glass fusion project. When we went we created 6 glass flowers. Three of them we kept and three they kept. This spring they will be placed out in the community as part of “Seek Salem”. Others can go out and try to find the hidden flowers around Salem. Whoever finds them gets to keep them!
- Riverfront park – Riverfront Park is a 23-acre park located in downtown Salem along the Willamette River. Kids will have fun playing on the playground and adults will enjoy the views. For a small fee your children can ride a carousel.
- Willamette Heritage Center – The Willamette Heritage Center is a must. Here kids can see how an old yarn mill worked. In fact, your kids can turn on some of the machines. Also found here are some of the oldest homes in the area. This is a fun way to squeeze in some education into your trip to Salem.
- The Oregon Garden – At the Oregon Garden is a special area just for kids, the children’s garden. Here kids can check out the Hobbit house and dig for dinosaur bones.
- Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center – This community center has open times where you can take your kids in to swim in their fun indoor swimming pool.
- Wings and Waves Water Park – This is a small indoor water park, but it packs in lots to do! They have body slides, tube slides, a wave pool, kids area, hot tub, and regular pool. Remember to take your own towels because they do not provide any! Wings and Waves Water Park Coupon.
- Enchanted Forest – Enchanted Forest is one of the only theme parks in Oregon. They have 9 rides in addition to other attractions like live music and panning for treasure.
- Evergreen Aviation Museum – Evergreen Aviation Museum houses more than 200 historic aircraft, including the famous Spruce Goose. The museum has an entire section for kids and surprisingly, it’s great for all ages of kids. My teens spent quite a bit of time doing brain games. The museum has guided tours available throughout the day for no extra charge.
- The Rock Boxx – The Rock Boxx offers kids climbing camps, after school programs and climbing instruction. While kids climb, parents can head upstairs to The Crash Pad and enjoy a beer.
- Mt. Angel Abbey Museum – Mt. Angel Abbey is a monastery where you can become a monk. Here they have the most peculiar museum. It is free of charge and your kids are likely to get a kick out of it. Even Noah found it interesting. Before or after visiting the quirky museum go eat at the Mt. Angel Sausage Co. Their food is delicious and it is the oldest Bavarian restaurant in town.
14. Oregon State Capitol – Squeeze in some education with a visit to the Oregon State Capitol. Weekday building tours start at 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., and 2:30 p.m. in the Capitol Rotunda. Self-guided building tours from 8 a.m.- 5 p.m. State Capitol State Park self-guided walking tour, from dawn to dusk. All of these tours are free.
15. Awesome Indoor Playground Salem – This is the largest indoor playground in Salem and the state of Oregon scheduled to open June 2019. The playground is designed for play structure is designed for kids between the ages of 3 and 12. They have a cafe where you can get food and drinks. Parents can relax in the cafe while the kids play.
16. Super Bounce of Salem – Super Bounce of Salem is a children’s interactive center featuring giant inflatables for bouncing, jumping, and sliding.
17. Ticket to Play Board Game Cafe – 400+ games to play. They have local beer, cider, and wine. A tasty menu with sandwiches, salads, and flatbreads. Cover is $5 per adult and $2.50 per kid. Located at 5008 Commercial St SE Salem, OR 97306. $5 off coupon.
Holiday Things to do in Salem
Salem has some unique family things to do in the wintertime.
Salem on Ice – This is a seasonal outdoor ice-skating rink, in Salem’s Riverfront Park starting November 17th, 2018 open every day, through Sunday, January 21st, 2019.
Christmas Storybook Land – This is an enormous indoor Christmas forest wonderland with over 110 scenes of characters from Mother Goose rhymes, children’s fairy tales and family movies, two elaborate model train displays, a Victorian Village and the North Pole with Santa TOO! Although admission is free, a donation of canned foods for Fish of Albany food pantry or a new, unwrapped toy for Toys for Tots is gladly accepted.
Where To Eat In Salem, Oregon
Gilgamesh Brewing – Gourmet burgers, flatbreads and most importantly outrageous Bloody Mary’s! Located at 2065 Madrona Ave SE, Salem, OR 97302.
McMenamins – The Mt. Angel Sausage Co. is not in Salem, so I wanted to make a few recommendations that are actually in Salem. You can not go wrong by hitting up a McMenamins restaurant. Salem has two McMenamins, Boon’s Treasury and Thompson Brewery and Public House. Both have happy hour from 3 – 6 PM on weekdays. McMenamins restaurants are always loud and lively. I like loud restaurants, so I do not have to worry about how loud my own children are!
Best Little Roadhouse – Another place to eat that is family-friendly and loud is a steakhouse, Best Little Roadhouse. The food is excellent and they have a putt-putt course here. The kid’s rib plate is a nice size portion and the Harvest salad is phenomenal. I love steak, but next time we go I might just get this salad. It is made up of mixed greens, tomatoes, candied walnuts, dried cranberries, red onions, bacon, and blue cheese.
Where To Stay In Salem, Oregon
Double Tree Salem
While you are in Salem, you may be looking for a place to stay. I recommend the Double Tree hotel. The kids and I stayed here once and so far it is our favorite hotel in Salem out of the 3 or 4 we have stayed at. Of course, like all Double Trees, they give you cookies when you check-in. This DoubleTree has an optional breakfast that is quite nice. They have tables set up in the lobby with games like checkers and chess for you to play.
They also have family rooms available. We stayed in a family room. Basically, it is a room with two beds and a living area, but it connects to another room with one large king bed. You could have easily slept six people in beds without using the twin fold out couch bed. The hotel also has an indoor hot tub and swimming pool. The weather in Oregon is not great, so if your kids want to swim make sure wherever you stay has an indoor pool.
The Oregon Garden Resort
If you don’t mind staying outside of Salem I recommend staying at The Oregon Garden Resort. This resort overlooks an 80-acre botanical garden. On-site is a restaurant, lounge, outdoor pool and hot tub, and day spa. This is also the location of the Oregon Garden Children’s garden I recommended above.