Salem summer bucket list: No reason to not to have fun in nice or bad weather

The Ankeny Hill Nature Center at the National Wildlife Refuge provides multiple educational environments, including the Nature Explore area for kids, learning stations along accessible pathways, and discovery elements throughout the refuge.
The Ankeny Hill Nature Center at the National Wildlife Refuge provides multiple educational environments, including the Nature Explore area for kids, learning stations along accessible pathways, and discovery elements throughout the refuge.

Whether family is coming to town, the kids are at home or you just need to get out of the house, there are plenty of events and attractions to keep you busy this summer in Salem.

Get outdoors when the weather is nice

City of Salem, Keizer parks: Have you visited your local park recently? How about that destination park across town? Many boast refreshed playground equipment, sports fields, trails or even splash pads for those hot days. Here are our recommendations:

  • Go for a stroll or easy bike ride: With the Peter Courtney Minto Bridge, Salem's central parks now feature more than 20 miles of trails and 1,400 acres of natural areas in Minto-Brown Island Park, Riverfront Park and Wallace Marine Park. For more:

  • Splash pads: These water features operate from noon to 8 p.m. at neighborhood parks including Englewood, Fairmont, Northgate, Wes Bennett and West Salem Park. The fountains at Riverfront and River Road Park open earlier at 10 a.m. and turn off at 8 p.m.

  • Considering disc golf? There are three courses at public parks: Keizer Rapids, Cascade Gateway and Woodmansee. The public also can use a course located on the Oregon State Hospital grounds when not in use by hospital staff and patients.

Need something farther afield? Head just south of Salem and enjoy a quieter outdoor experience at Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge. A boardwalk navigates through riparian marshland in a setting filled with bullfrogs, turtles and 250 different types of birds. A newly added Nature Center offers a nature play area, new trails and more views. For more:

Salem Saturday Market: Fresh vegetables and fruit share the aisles with local crafts, food vendors and live music every Saturday in a parking lot between Marion Street and Union Street from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more:

Salem-Keizer baseball: The four-team Mavericks Independent Baseball League plays at Volcanoes Stadium in Keizer. For more:

Capital Futbol Club: Catch a United Soccer League game at Willamette University's McCulloch Stadium in Bush's Pasture Park. More information is available at

Things to do inside with kids when the weather is bad

Bad weather in the forecast or need a break from the sun and heat? Check out these indoor attractions:

Salem's Riverfront Carousel: Escape to the days of childhood with a ride on one of a cast of characters. Rides on the Salem Riverfront Carousel are $2 per person with options for punch cards and bulk ride purchases. For more:

Families visit the Salem Riverfront Carousel.
Families visit the Salem Riverfront Carousel.

The Rock Boxx: This 9,000-square-foot indoor climbing gym offers walls with routes for climbers of all experience levels including a separate children's area. For more:

Get Air Trampoline Park: If you'd rather get more spring in your step, check out this indoor facility with wall-to-wall trampolines, foam pit and more. For more:

Chuck E. Cheese: Salem's only Chuck E. Cheese has been locally owned since 1983 and recently underwent a remodel. The kid-friendly pizza shop offers arcade games, rides, play zones, parties, prizes and visits from the beloved mouse mascot. For more:

Athletic Edge Aventure Park: Kids can play for hours while parents grab a bite to eat, coffee or adult beverage at the indoor playground in north Salem. For more:

Awesome Indoor Playground: Another indoor playground near the Center Street Target with a designated toddler area, food, beverage and birthday options. For more information:

Take in some history at Bush's Pasture Park: With two historic homes-turned-museums and an art gallery within walking distance of the park, there are plenty of opportunities to grab a break from the sunshine (or rain). Before you leave, take some time to tour the historic gardens onsite. For more: and

Willamette Heritage Center at the Mill: Learn more about the early settlement days of Salem with exhibits, tours of historic homes and the former woolen mill. For more:

Hallie Ford Museum of Art: This museum, affiliated with Willamette University, tucked in right across the street from the Capitol offers rotating exhibits and free admission on Tuesdays. This summer the museum hosts exhibitions celebrating the work of Oregon artists Tom Prochaska and Jim Hibbard. For more:

Gilbert House Children's Museum: Named after inventor, Salem native and Olympian A.C. Gilbert, this museum offers educational activities and exhibits both indoor and out. For more:

Salem Public Library: Since reopening after a massive renovation in 2021, the Salem Public Library has continued to expand its offerings. Kids can attend storytime or play in the themed Discovery Room (the most recent Kid Town version had a pretend food truck, mailroom, grocery store and construction zone), babies can toddle in the play area, teens can hang out in the Teen Scene and adults can take craft classes, join a book club or attend Drag Queen bingo. More information:

This article originally appeared on Salem Statesman Journal: Salem summer activites: Things to do with kids in any weather