Portland, Oregon is a city that is known for its vibrant cultural scene, excellent food, and stunning natural scenery. It is a city that is blessed with some of the most beautiful and diverse landscapes in the Pacific Northwest. From the rugged coastline to the scenic waterfalls and mountain ranges, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
Some of the best things to do in Portland include exploring the city’s many parks and gardens, such as the International Rose Test Garden and Forest Park, which offers over 80 miles of hiking trails. Visitors can also explore the city’s unique neighborhoods, like the hip and trendy Pearl District or the Bohemian Hawthorne District, which offers a mix of shops, galleries, and restaurants. Foodies will love Portland’s renowned food scene, which includes everything from food carts and street vendors to high-end restaurants and craft breweries. Art lovers can check out the Portland Art Museum, which features over 42,000 works of art, while music fans can catch a show at the iconic Crystal Ballroom. Finally, visitors can take a stroll along the Willamette River, explore the iconic Powell’s City of Books, or visit the famous Voodoo Doughnut shop for a sweet treat.
If you are visiting Portland and looking to take a break from the city, there are plenty of options for day trips. Here are some of the best day trips from Portland, Oregon.
The Best Time to Visit Portland, Oregon
Portland, Oregon is a great destination to visit year-round, as each season has its own unique charm and attractions. However, the best time to visit Portland depends on your interests and what you’re hoping to experience during your trip.
Spring is a beautiful time to visit Portland, as the city comes to life with blooming flowers and trees. The weather can be unpredictable, with some sunny days and some rainy days, but the mild temperatures make it a great time to explore the city’s outdoor attractions. Spring is also a great time to experience the local cuisine, as many restaurants feature seasonal ingredients such as fiddlehead ferns and morel mushrooms. Additionally, spring is a less crowded time to visit, making it easier to find affordable accommodations.
Portland experiences its busiest travel period in the summer, and for good reason. The weather is warm and sunny, making it the perfect time to explore the city’s outdoor attractions, such as parks, gardens, and waterfront areas. In addition, there are many festivals and events that take place during the summer, including the Oregon Brewers Festival, Portland Rose Festival, and the Pickathon music festival. However, the summer months can also be crowded and expensive, so it’s recommended to book accommodations in advance.
Fall is a beautiful time to visit Portland, as the trees change color and the weather cools down. The fall foliage in the surrounding forests is breathtaking, and there are many outdoor activities to enjoy, such as hiking, biking, and apple picking. The fall also marks the start of the mushroom season, making it a great time to explore the local cuisine. Additionally, the fall is a less crowded time to visit, making it easier to find affordable accommodations.
Winter in Portland can be rainy and chilly, but it’s also a great time to visit if you’re looking to experience the city’s cozy and festive atmosphere. The city is decorated with holiday lights and there are many seasonal events and activities to enjoy, such as ice skating at the outdoor rinks, attending the Portland International Film Festival, and visiting the holiday markets. Winter is also the low season for tourism, so you can find great deals on accommodations.
Must-Do Day Trips From Portland, Oregon
If you’re looking to see the best that Oregon has to offer and don’t mind going on a little road trip, then go on a Portland day trip or two and see some of the most beautiful places around this charming town.
Columbia River Gorge
A day trip from Portland to Columbia River Gorge is a great way to experience the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest. Columbia River Gorge is located about 30 miles east of Portland and can be reached by car in about an hour. This is one of the most popular day trips from Portland. The scenic drive takes you through the heart of the gorge, which is home to some of the most spectacular waterfalls in the country.
Here are some top things to do on a day trip from Portland to Columbia River Gorge:
Visit Waterfalls Falls: Multnomah Falls is the most famous waterfall in the Columbia River Gorge and one of the most popular tourist attractions in Oregon. The waterfall drops over 600 feet and is surrounded by lush forests and hiking trails.
Other amazing waterfalls to see are Bridal Veil Falls and Horsetail Falls. Bridal Veil Falls is another popular waterfall that drops 118 feet into a picturesque pool at the base. Horsetail Falls is also worth a visit, as it cascades 176 feet into a large pool at the base.
Take a Scenic Drive: The Columbia River Gorge Scenic Highway is a 75-mile drive that takes visitors through some of the most breathtaking scenery in the Pacific Northwest. The drive includes several scenic overlooks and stops at popular hiking trails, waterfalls, and historic landmarks.
Go on Hikes to see Incredible Views: Beacon Rock is a 848-foot volcanic monolith that offers stunning views of the Columbia River Gorge. Visitors can take a 1.8-mile hike to the top of the rock and enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding forests and mountains.
Other popular hikes include the 2.2-mile Wahclella Falls trail if you’re looking for an easy and scenic hike. The trail follows a picturesque stream and leads to a 350-foot-tall waterfall. If you’re up for a more challenging hike, the 7.8-mile round-trip hike to the top of Angel’s Rest offers stunning views of the Columbia River Gorge.
Visit the Bonneville Fish Hatchery: The Bonneville Fish Hatchery is a popular spot for families and wildlife enthusiasts. Visitors can learn about the fish that inhabit the Columbia River, watch fish being raised, and feed the fish in the ponds.
Explore Hood River: Hood River is a charming small town located on the banks of the Columbia River. The town is known for its outdoor activities, including windsurfing, kiteboarding, and hiking. Visitors can also stroll through the town’s downtown area, which is home to several shops, galleries, and restaurants.
Overall, a day trip to Columbia River Gorge from Portland offers a mix of outdoor activities, scenic beauty, and cultural attractions. Whether you’re interested in hiking, sightseeing, or simply taking a scenic drive, Columbia River Gorge has something for everyone.
Mount Hood is the highest peak in Oregon and is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. The mountain is located just 60 miles east of Portland and can be reached in just over an hour.
There are plenty of activities to enjoy at Mount Hood, including hiking, skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing. The mountain is home to several ski resorts, including Timberline Lodge, Mt. Hood Meadows, and Ski Bowl, which offer a variety of terrain for skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels.
Here are some top things to do on a day trip from Portland to Mount Hood:
Visit Timberline Lodge: Timberline Lodge is a historic ski lodge located on the south side of Mount Hood. The lodge was built during the Great Depression and is now a National Historic Landmark. Visitors can take a tour of the lodge, enjoy a meal at the restaurant, or take a hike on one of the nearby trails.
Take a Scenic Drive: There are several scenic drives in the Mount Hood area that offer stunning views of the mountain and the surrounding forests and lakes. The Mount Hood Scenic Byway is a 105-mile loop that takes visitors through the towns of Sandy, Government Camp, and Hood River and includes stops at several scenic overlooks and waterfalls.
Hike to Mirror Lake: Mirror Lake is a popular hiking destination on the south side of Mount Hood. The hike is about 3.2 miles round trip and offers stunning views of the mountain and the surrounding forests. Visitors can also enjoy a picnic or swim in the lake during the summer months.
Visit Trillium Lake: Trillium Lake is a popular spot for fishing, kayaking, and hiking. The lake offers stunning views of Mount Hood and the surrounding forests, and there are several trails around the lake for visitors to explore.
Go Skiing or Snowboarding: Mount Hood is home to several ski resorts, including Timberline Lodge and Mt. Hood Meadows. Visitors can hit the slopes during the winter months and enjoy skiing, snowboarding, and other winter sports.
This day trip from Portland to Mount Hood offers a variety of outdoor activities and breathtaking scenery. Anyone who enjoys hiking, skiing or taking scenic drives will find something to enjoy on Mount Hood.
About 80 miles west of Portland, on the Oregon coast, sits the quaint beach community of Cannon Beach. The town is known for its picturesque beaches, stunning rock formations, and charming downtown area.
The most famous attraction in Cannon Beach is the iconic Haystack Rock, a formation that is visible from miles away. In addition to Haystack Rock, there are several other attractions in Cannon Beach that are worth checking out. The town has a vibrant downtown area with a variety of shops, restaurants, and galleries. You can easily spend a few hours exploring the shops and enjoying some of the local cuisines.
Here are some top things to do on a day trip from Portland to Cannon Beach:
Visit Haystack Rock: Haystack Rock is a towering 235-foot sea stack that is one of the most iconic landmarks on the Oregon coast. Visitors can walk along the beach to get a closer look at the rock and the tide pools that surround it.
Explore Downtown Cannon Beach: Cannon Beach’s downtown area is home to a variety of shops, art galleries, and restaurants. Visitors can stroll through the charming streets, pick up souvenirs, or enjoy a meal with ocean views.
Take a Hike: There are several hiking trails in the Cannon Beach area that offer stunning views of the coastline and the surrounding forests. The Ecola State Park Trail is a popular option, with views of the Pacific Ocean and nearby Tillamook Rock Lighthouse.
Enjoy the Beach: Cannon Beach has several miles of sandy beach that are perfect for relaxing, sunbathing, or playing in the waves. Visitors can rent beach equipment, go for a swim, or take a beach walk to explore the tide pools and rock formations.
Visit a Nearby State Park: There are several state parks in the Cannon Beach area that offer opportunities for hiking, picnicking, and wildlife viewing. Oswald West State Park is a popular option, with trails that lead to secluded beaches and panoramic views of the coastline.
Look into Tide Pools: Another popular activity in Cannon Beach is exploring the tide pools. At low tide, the beach is home to a variety of marine life, including starfish, sea anemones, and crabs. The tide pools are located near Haystack Rock and are the perfect place to learn about the local marine ecosystem.
Cannon Beach offers a mix of outdoor activities, stunning scenery, and charming small-town charm. Whether you’re interested in hiking, beachcombing, or simply taking in the ocean views, Cannon Beach is an amazing day trip option.
Taking a day trip from Portland to Astoria is a great way to experience the beauty of the Oregon coast and learn about the area’s rich history. Astoria is located about 90 miles northwest of Portland and can be reached by car in about 2 hours.
Here are some of the top things to do during a day trip to Astoria:
Visit the Astoria Column: The Astoria Column is a 125-foot tower that offers stunning views of the Columbia River, the Pacific Ocean, and the surrounding forests and mountains. Visitors can climb to the top of the tower and take in the panoramic views, as well as learn about the history of the area through the murals that decorate the tower.
Explore the Historic Downtown: Astoria’s downtown area is home to many historic buildings and landmarks, including the Flavel House Museum, which offers a glimpse into the life of one of Astoria’s most prominent families in the early 20th century. The town also has a variety of unique shops, art galleries, and restaurants to explore.
Visit the Columbia River Maritime Museum: The Columbia River Maritime Museum is a must-see attraction for anyone interested in the history of the Pacific Northwest. The museum showcases the region’s rich maritime history, including exhibits on the fishing industry, shipwrecks, and the role of the Columbia River in commerce and transportation.
Walk Along the Riverfront: Astoria’s riverfront area is a great place to take a leisurely stroll and take in the views of the Columbia River. There are several parks and trails along the riverfront, including the Riverwalk Trail, which offers views of the Astoria-Megler Bridge and the nearby shipyards.
Visit Fort Clatsop National Memorial: Fort Clatsop is a historic site located just outside of Astoria that was the winter home of the Lewis and Clark expedition in 1805-1806. Visitors can explore the replica fort and learn about the expedition’s journey and interactions with the local Native American tribes.
A day trip to Astoria from Portland is a great way to experience the beauty and history of the Oregon coast. Whether you’re interested in outdoor activities, exploring historic sites, or simply enjoying the scenic views, you’ll see it all in Astoria.
Willamette Valley Wine Country
A day trip from Portland to Willamette Valley Wine Country is a great way to experience Oregon’s famous wine region. Willamette Valley is located about 40 miles south of Portland and can be reached by car in about an hour.
Here are some top things to do on a day trip from Portland to Willamette Valley Wine Country:
Visit Wineries and Tasting Rooms: Willamette Valley is home to over 500 wineries, ranging from small family-owned operations to large commercial vineyards. Visitors can explore the wineries and tasting rooms, sample local wines, and learn about the winemaking process.
Take a Wine Tour: Wine tours are a popular way to explore the region’s wineries and vineyards. Visitors can take guided tours that include transportation, tastings, and a behind-the-scenes look at the winemaking process.
Enjoy a Picnic: Many of the wineries in Willamette Valley offer picnic areas where visitors can enjoy a meal with stunning views of the surrounding vineyards and mountains.
Visit Historic Towns: Willamette Valley is home to several charming small towns with historic buildings, quaint shops, and restaurants. Visitors can explore towns like McMinnville, Newberg, and Dundee, which offer a glimpse into the region’s past and present.
Attend a Wine Festival: Willamette Valley hosts several wine festivals throughout the year, including the Oregon Wine Country Half Marathon and the Oregon Wine Experience. These festivals offer an opportunity to sample local wines, enjoy live music, and participate in fun activities.
Overall, a day trip to Willamette Valley Wine Country from Portland offers a mix of wine tasting, scenic beauty, and cultural attractions. Whether you’re interested in exploring the region’s wineries, enjoying a picnic with stunning views, or learning about the region’s history and culture, Willamette Valley is full of awesome experiences.
Johnston Ridge Observatory at Mount St. Helens
A day trip from Portland to Johnston Ridge Observatory at Mount St. Helens is a great way to explore the stunning natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest. The observatory is located about 105 miles northeast of Portland and can be reached by car in about two and a half hours.
Here are some top things to do on a day trip from Portland to Johnston Ridge Observatory at Mount St Helens:
Visit the Johnston Ridge Observatory: The Johnston Ridge Observatory offers stunning views of Mount St. Helens and the surrounding landscape. Visitors can learn about the 1980 eruption and its impact on the area, and enjoy exhibits and videos about the mountain’s geology and history.
The Beautiful Drive from Portland: The drive to Johnston Ridge Observatory is incredibly scenic, passing through lush forests, mountain vistas, and rivers. Along the way, visitors can stop at several overlooks and scenic viewpoints to take in the views.
Hike the Trails: The area around Mount St. Helens offers several hiking trails for visitors of all skill levels. The trails offer stunning views of the mountain and the surrounding forests and valleys.
Explore Ape Cave: Ape Cave is the longest continuous lava tube in the continental United States and offers a unique opportunity to explore the geology of the region. Visitors can take a self-guided tour of the cave and learn about the area’s volcanic history.
Visit the Mount St. Helens Visitor Center: The Mount St. Helens Visitor Center offers exhibits and information about the mountain’s geology and history, as well as information about the surrounding forests and wildlife.
This day trip from Portland to Johnston Ridge Observatory at Mount St. Helens offers a mix of stunning natural beauty, unique geology, and cultural attractions. Whether you’re interested in learning about the area’s volcanic history, exploring the hiking trails, or simply enjoying the scenic drive, Mount St. Helens is the perfect day trip.
In conclusion, Portland, Oregon is surrounded by some of the most stunning natural wonders and charming small towns in the Pacific Northwest, making it an ideal base for day trips. Whether you’re looking to explore the great outdoors, indulge in delicious food and wine, or immerse yourself in history and culture, there is no shortage of exciting destinations within easy reach of Portland. From the rugged coastline to the majestic mountains and everything in between, the best day trips from Portland offer something for everyone. So, grab your camera, and your sense of adventure, and get ready to experience the best of what the region has to offer!
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