Day tripping leads to kayaking, flowers, snow, hiking, more; the week-long Oregon spring break starts March 24, with the Washington spring break the following week

TRIBUNE PHOTO: JENNIFER ANDERSON - Looking for things to do during spring break? Try a spring break hike, including Mosier Plateau, just east of Hood River. It's a 3 1/2-mile trek along switchbacks, and it's suitable for kids and dogs.It's been a wacky spring so far, with near-70-degree days followed by gray sky and rain. But the cherry blossoms are blooming, and if you don't like the weather in Portand you can always head north, south, east or west.

Either with the kids or solo, with your partner or besties, here are seven items for your spring break bucket list:

1. Go paddling — Make your daytrip or weekend jaunt to the coast unforgettable with a guided kayak trip through the nonprofit Kayak Tillamook. Paddling is a great way to explore places you never knew existed, or have never seen up close, like the Little Nestucca River, Cape Meares Lake, Garibaldi Bay and harbor, Nestucca Bay, the Three Graces — the trio of rocky island formations near the mouth of Tillamook Bay — and magical-sounding old-growth Sitka spruce forest Hoquarton Forest. One trip also lets you clam for your dinner by kayak; no experience necessary for many of the trips. Guides provide everything you need, including 30 minutes of land instruction, a two-hour tour, kayaks and gear. Info:

COURTESY PHOTO - The Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival is a popular spring attraction.2. See the tulips — It's an Instagrammer's dream: 40 acres of tulips and daffodils in nearly 120 varieties and every color are a vibrant backdrop to the festivities at the 34th annual Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival in Woodburn, open daily through April 30. Far beyond flowers, there are daily hay wagon rides, cow and tour train rides, a kids' play area, fresh flowers, food and gift items for purchase and wine tasting. On the weekends, you can catch a wooden shoe making demonstration, browse the crafter tents and enjoy the expanded play area, pony rides, jump tents, zip lines and paintball. There's also a wine wagon farm tour for adults 21 and older. Info:

3. Hit the slopes — More snow at the mountain may be on the way heading into spring break, so it's prime time to get out in the last of Oregon's winter wonderland and play — whether it's by ski, snowboard, tube or just having a snowball fight. Timberline Lodge kicks off spring break with its annual Joy Break event Saturday, March 24, a daylong benefit for the Children's Cancer Association that includes a demo area, scavenger hunt, silent auction, live music and raffle. Also check out Timberline's guided snowshoe strolls on April 1 (moonlight or daytime), when you can explore the open fields and forests around the lodge and soak up its pristine beauty. Info:

4. Get to know your city — Staying in town? Why not get to know Stumptown a little more intimately, with a Portland Walking Tour? There are dozens of guided trips to choose from, from the Beyond Bizarre to Underground Portland to Epicurian Excursion to Chocolate Decadence. Whether you're a newcomer or a native, there's always something new and delicious or quirky to surprise you. Numerous other tour operators offer a large range of tours as well, whether you're most interested in the city's architecture, neighborhoods, bridges, parks, fountains, artwork, beer, food or coffee scene. Check for the one that suits you. Info:

5. Take a hike — Hit the trail with a group of friends or family to see the early wildflowers in the gorge, since not all was damaged in last year's wildfire. Check the Friends of the Gorge website for upcoming guided events, including a guided hike along the Hamilton Mountain Loop in Washington, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, March 31. The hike is rated moderately difficult, at 7 1/2 miles with a 2,100-foot elevation gain. For something simpler, check out Mosier Plateau, just east of Hood River, for a 3 1/2-mile trek along switchbacks that are kid- and dog-friendly, and epic views of the gorge that won't disappoint. Info:

COURTESY: JONATHAN LEY - Spring brings out the cherry blossoms at Portland Japanese Garden, a destination for parents and children during spring break.6. Find your zen in the garden — It's cherry blossom time at the Portland Japanese Garden. The weeping cherry tree in the Flat Garden has lit up with bright pink blossoms, while spring colors are spreading their way throughout the tranquil grounds. At the Lan Su Chinese Garden, downtown, you'll see the garden burst into radiant spring color with camellia, magnolia, rhododendron, peony, clematis, crabapple and more. Stroll through both visitor hotspots for tea, snacks, photos and much-needed nature therapy. Info:,

7. Give back — From serving meals to seniors and doing art projects with kids to cleaning up parks, food sorting, grocery shopping for those in need, weeding, restoring trails and more, there are endless ways to give back to the community during spring break and all year long. Hands On Portland is one of several organizations that makes it easy to find opportunities suitable for all ages, whether it's pitching in for a couple of hours or all day. Trust us, the feeling of the "helper's high" for doing a good deed is addictive, and you'll likely be back for more. Info:


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