Salem, Oregon is fairly overlooked since it is just outside of Portland, but it too is a family friendly destination. There are lots of fun and educational things to do in Salem, Oregon with the kids. Find out what to do with kids, where the family friendly restaurants are, and where to stay in Salem, Oregon.

A list of 10 fun things to do in Salem, Oregon with kids for your trip. Plus, restaurant recommendations and a suggested hotel.

The kid’s museum in Salem, Oregon. Photo by Meagan Wristen

10 Things to do in Salem, Oregon with Kids

Salem, Oregon may not be a go to destination for families, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of things to do with kids here. In fact, there are lots of things to do in Salem with kids.

  1. 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.
  2. 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!
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Wings and Waves Water Park – This is a small indoor water park, but it packs in lots to do! They also have body slides, tube slides, a wave pool, kids area, hot tub, and regular pool.
  8. 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.
  9. Evergreen Aviation Museum – Evergreen Aviation 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 the brain games.
  10. Mt. Angel Abbey MuseumMt. 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. Before or after the 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.

    A list of 10 fun things to do in Salem, Oregon with kids for your trip. Plus, restaurant recommendations and a suggested hotel.

    German food in Mt. Angel, Oregon. Photo by Meagan Wristen


Where to Eat in Salem, Oregon

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!

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 kids 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

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 Double Tree 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.

I hope this helps you plan an awesome trip for your own family to Salem, Oregon.

A list of 10 fun things to do in Salem, Oregon with kids for your trip. Plus, restaurant recommendations and a suggested hotel.

Do you know of any fun activities for kids in Salem? I would love to hear about them. Leave a comment below!