A relaxing, small-town getaway is the perfect way to end the summer while having a bit of family fun. The town of Grants Pass in Oregon has come a long way since the railroad made its way to the area in the late 1800s. Although the dirt roads have been paved and the saloons have turned into shops and restaurants, the robust nature surrounding the town remains. Deep green trees and the rushing Rogue River make the ideal setting for a laid back family adventure.
A quiet morning
Start your morning with a stroll through Riverside Park. From the bright kelly green of the grass to the forest green of the oak and pine trees, color is bursting all around. Walk down by the river to see the blue of the sky reflected in shadows on the water below.
Geese line the riverbank and float upstream, relatively undisturbed until dogs wandering through the park on their morning walk charge toward them. Let kids get some of their energy out on the large playground before heading to your next destination.
Onto some family fun
After leaving Riverside Park, head a little ways out of town to the neighboring city of Central Point. Here you will find the Rogue Valley Family Fun Center, a wooden building resembling an old-fashioned general store. This place will thrill your kids, with tons of activities that will be fun for the whole family.
Start out with the bumper boats, where you can zoom around the water, slamming the edge of your rubber bumper into the other boats around you. The choppy movement and spray of the water will get you wet, but you’ll have a blast. Head to the miniature golf section to let your clothes dry in the sun while you complete two different 18-hole courses. Kids will have a major sense of accomplishment each time they hit it in—and they can practice their golf swings while they’re at it. Spend the rest of your time there on the go-karts, in the arcade or hitting baseballs in the batting cages.
Time for some pizza
You’ll have worked up an appetite by the time you finish your adventures at the Family Fun Center so stop by Abby’s Legendary Pizza. In addition to delicious pizza, they serve chicken wings, potato spuds, bread sticks and salad. With endless toppings to choose from, and skinny slices, the pizzas are perfect for a family to share. The corner of the parlor is littered with arcade games for children to play while the pizza is being made, including the infamous Toy House claw game filled with tons of plush animals.
Visit the bears
After you’ve filled your bellies, work off the calories with a walk through the downtown area. In addition to the quaint antique stores and coffee shops that are typical to small towns, Grants Pass has spent the last few years decorating street corners with artist-commissioned fiberglass statues of bears. These statues, sponsored by the Evergreen Federal Bank, are part of BearFest and are only displayed in the spring and summer to protect the works of art from the winter weather.
Walking through the streets is really the best way to see the intricate details put in to these painted projects. Each one is different in pose, design and concept. On display, you will see everything from a pirate bear to a storybook bear to a bear dressed as a fairy. Little ones will especially love the two bears in front of the Wild River Inn, depicting Batman and Robin, and adults will get a kick out of the bears dancing the jitterbug. With 80 bears in total, there is something for everyone—and it is definitely a unique aspect to an already adorably quaint, family-friendly town.