Portland is the largest city in Oregon, known for its picturesque parks, eco-friendly mindset, and delicious coffee houses and hip microbreweries. The city, which stands in the shadow of the impressive Mount Hood, is located within easy day trip distance of some of Oregon's top nature destinations, including Mount Rainier National Park, the Instagram-worthy Rowena Crest Viewpoint, and the impressive Multnomah Falls, which flows through the immense Columbia River Gorge. Charming seaside and riverside towns such as Florence and Hood River are home to world-renowned attractions and top dining destinations. Visitors can also explore the lovely Willamette Valley, known as one of the United States' top wine-producing regions, or day trip into Seattle for excellent live music, art performances, and attractions such as the iconic Space Needle. Certain attractions may be temporarily closed or require advance reservations. Some restaurants are currently offering pickup only. Hours/availability may have changed.
Astoria is a charming port city in Clatsop County, located along the banks of the majestic Columbia River. The city was America's oldest settlement west of the Rocky Mountains at its founding in 1811, named in honor of New York City investor John Jacob Astor of the American Fur Company. Visitors can explore the beautiful Astoria Column hilltop monument, which showcases stunning panoramic views and unique murals depicting the region's pioneer history. At the Columbia River Maritime Museum, families can learn about the region's shipping, fishing, and military history. Excellent hiking experiences are offered at Saddle Mountain, the region's highest peak, which reaches heights of 3,283 feet. Unique attractions in the city's downtown district include the refurbished Liberty Theater, the Oregon Film Museum, which is set within the city's former county jail building, and the quirky Voodoo Room nightlife venue.
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Bend is a charming city located along Oregon's Deschutes River, located just west of the gorgeous peaks of the Cascade Mountains. The city, which was incorporated in 1905, has been named as one of the United States' best places to live by Men's Journal, known for receiving over 300 days of spectacular sunshine each year. Its recently-revitalized downtown district is home to quirky stores, arts venues, and cafes like Ranch Records, the Capitol live music venue, and favorite coffee shop Thump Coffee Roasters. Over 300 miles of hiking and biking trails are easily accessible from the city's downtown district, located throughout 71 area parks, including skiing and snowboarding resorts on nearby Mount Bachelor. Unique roadside attraction enthusiasts can also check out the last remaining Blockbuster Video store in the world, located within city limits.
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Mount Hood is an impressive 11,250-foot potentially-active stratovolcano located within the Cascade Volcanic Arc, located approximately an hour southeast of Portland. The mountain is Oregon's highest mountain peak and is known as one of the most recognizable, lofty peaks in the contiguous United States. It is located within the 1,067,000-acre Mount Hood National Forest, which showcases over 1,200 miles of delightful hiking trails for visitors to enjoy throughout the year. Six winter resort skiing areas throughout the year include the Mount Hood Meadows, Cooper Spur, Timberline, and the Ski Bowl, totaling more than 4,600 acres of skiable terrain. Visitors can stay at the National Historic Landmark-designated 1938 Timberline Lodge, which offers some of the world's only year-round skiing opportunities.
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4.The Willamette Valley
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The Willamette Valley is one of the Pacific Northwest's most beautiful natural regions, known as Oregon's premiere wine country region, home to over 500 wineries. The 19,000-acre region extends along the route of the pristine Willamette River, surrounded by the Cascade, Oregon Coast, and Calapooya Mountain ranges on three sides. Several American Viticultural areas have been designated over the past several decades, capitalizing on the region's cool climate and unique terroir. Excellent wineries like Penner-Ash Wine Cellars, Willakenzie Estate, Archery Summit, and Sokol Blosser Winery are known for producing some of the world's best Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris varietals. After exploring the region's wine trails, visitors can dine at acclaimed fine dining restaurants such as Cuvée or peruse art galleries and boutiques in cities such as Eugene, Beaverton, and Hillsboro.
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5.Bagby Hot Springs
Bagby Hot Springs are one of the Mount Hood National Forest's most unique attractions, located approximately an hour southeast of the city of Portland within the Cascade Mountain Range. The springs, which are purported to have natural healing abilities, are comprised of three major flows and several minor outlets, the largest of which flows 24 gallons per minute and reaches lovely warm temperatures of 138 degrees Fahrenheit. Visitors can enjoy relaxing experiences at the springs' three onsite bathhouses, which are open to the public daily throughout the morning and evening hours. Five luxurious cedar log tubs are offered at the main bathhouse, while two intimate Japanese-style yellow pine soaking tubs are housed at the smaller bathhouses.
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Boardman is a nature lover's paradise in Eastern Oregon, home to off-the-beaten path attractions like the SAGE Center, which showcases unique interactive exhibits on the region's sustainable agriculture and energy technologies. The region is a popular destination for fishing, birding, hunting, and water sports throughout the year along its stunning Columbia River waterfront. It is also known as a top producer of dairy products for the Tillamook County Creamery Association, known for its world-famous ice cream and cheeses. Delicious brews and pizza are served up at Burnt Field Brewing, housed within the city's converted train depot. Other renowned area restaurants include Ordnance Brewing, which crafts ales with locally-sourced fruits, and C&D Drive-In and Bakery, known for its signature Bozo burgers and hand-dipped milkshakes.
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Cannon Beach is a delightful coastal town in northwestern Oregon, known for its beautiful Pacific Coast shoreline, which has been named as one of the world's 100 most beautiful places by National Geographic. Stunning natural features like Haystack Rock adorn its four miles of sandy beachfront, creating a dramatic landscape for one-of-a-kind nature photography. Visitors can enjoy outdoor recreation opportunities and chances for picnics at areas like Ecola State Park and Arcadia Beach, known for its beautiful rock formations and tide pools. At Hug Point, visitors can explore lovely hidden-away sea caves and waterfalls. Nearby, Oswald West State Park offers several miles of hiking trails throughout its 2,500 acres. In town, charming art galleries, boutiques, and restaurants line the city's quaint main street.
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8.Cape Lookout State Park
Cape Lookout State Park is a charming Oregon state park that is located approximately an hour and a half west of Portland, originally developed on 975 acres of land once belonging to the United States Lighthouse Service. Though the park was initially intended to be kept as a natural preserve, day-use picnic facilities were added throughout the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Today, the park is one of the most popular day-use areas on Netarts Bay, offering excellent opportunities for beachcombing and nature hiking. Three miles of lovely waterfront along a sand spit showcase beautiful views of the bay and the Pacific Ocean. A nature trail meanders through native trees and plants, following the park's headland for more than two miles. Visitors can whale watch, hang glide, paraglide, or explore the park's interpretive center. Tent and full hookup campsites are offered for overnight stay, along with 13 rental yurts and six deluxe cabins.
13000 Whiskey Creek Rd, Tillamook, OR 97141, Phone: 800-551-6949
9.The Columbia River Gorge
The Columbia River Gorge showcases some of the Columbia River's most scenic vistas, stretching for more than 80 miles along the river's westward progression through the Cascade Mountain Range. The 4,000-foot-deep canyon is home to gorgeous landmarks like the spectacular 620-foot Multnomah Falls or the famed Crown Point viewpoint, located at the gorge's western end. Visitors can bike through the Post Canyon mountain bike trail network, windsurf and stand-up paddleboard at Hood River, or drive along the region's lovely Historic Columbia River Highway. In town at Hood River, delicious restaurants await visitors after full days of outdoor activities, including excellent Pacific Northwest gourmet dinner spot Celilo and popular microbrewery Full Sail Brewing. On the scenic 35-mile Fruit Loop, visitors can sample wines at the gorge's oldest winery, Hood River Vineyards and Winery.
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Eugene is one of the most picturesque cities in Oregon, located along the banks of the beautiful Willamette River just two hours south of Portland's downtown district. The city is known for its arts and outdoor attractions, including the beautiful Mount Pisgah Arboretum, which stretches for 85 acres along the side of the peak of the same name. The city's lovely University of Oregon is home to visitor attractions like the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, known for its collections of Asian art, and the Museum of Natural and Cultural History. Delicious cafes, restaurants, and food trucks line Kesey Square and the halls of the hip Fifth Street Public Market, including regional favorites like Voodoo Doughnuts and Sizzle Pie. Visitors can also attend theatrical and music performances at the Hult Center or explore the city's extensive parks system, which is home to sites like the lovely riverside Alton Baker Park and the beautifully-landscaped Hendricks Park.
Florence is a charming city located along Oregon's Pacific Ocean coastline, near the mouth of the Siuslaw River. The city is best known as the home of the unique Sea Lion Caves attraction, which showcases populations of Steller sea lions in their natural habitat. World-class landmarks include the fully-restored 19th-century Heceta Head Lighthouse, which is home to a lovely bed and breakfast facility within its former lightkeeper's quarters. The city's charming preserved Old Town historic district is home to lovely art galleries, quaint shops, and delicious restaurants. Nearby, the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area is home to impressive sand dunes, while the Siuslaw National Forest offers opportunities for hiking and exploring.
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Hood River is a top nature destination in southwestern Oregon, known around the world for its excellent windsurfing opportunities at the crossroads of the Columbia River Gorge and the Cascade Range. The city serves as the western gateway for the Mount Hood Scenic Byway and offers amazing opportunities for kitesurfing, stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, mountain biking, and skiing throughout the year. Its lovely historic downtown district is home to designer boutiques, antique stores, art galleries, and acclaimed restaurants, including the tasting room for Stoltz Vineyards, housed within the 1886 Ezra L. Smith home. The Columbia Gorge Orchestra Association showcases choir, jazz, string quartet, and theatrical performances throughout the year, while the Roy Webster Cross-Channel Swim brings top swimmers to the region each Labor Day. Other events held throughout the year include the beer-focused Hood River Hops Fest and the Hood River Valley Harvest Fest, named as one of the nation's top harvest festivals by Food and Wine.
13.Mount Rainier National Park
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Mount Rainier National Park is a beautiful 236,000-acre national park, spanning the region within Lewis and Pierce Counties directly around the majestic 14,411-foot Mount Rainier stratovolcano. The park attracts over 1.4 million visitors each year to explore the Cascade Range's largest mountain peak, including 10,000 visitors who attempt to scale to the peak's summit each year. Visitors can view notable remaining glaciers via the park's Wonderland Trail, including the United States' largest remaining glaciers by both area and volume. Stunning overlook views from a height of 6,400 feet are offered at the park's Sunrise Observation Peak, the highest park point accessible by vehicle. Facilities located within the park include the Henry M. Jackson Memorial Visitors Center, the Longmire Museum, and ample campground space for overnight stays.
55210 238th Avenue East, Ashford, WA 98304, Phone: 360-569-2211
14.Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument
Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument surrounds the iconic Mount St. Helens volcano, which rose to international prominence for its stunning 1980 eruption. The 110,000-acre natural area was established in 1982 to protect the region's sensitive natural areas that were affected by the eruption and to promote research into the environmental effects on the surrounding region. Park visitors can scale the mountain's summit with special hiking permits or ascend its stunning Windy Ridge Overlook, which is considered to be one of Washington's top scenic drives. The volcano's Ape Cave lava tubes are also showcased along the park's National Recreation Trail Ape Cave Trail. Visitor centers throughout the park are home to interpretive trailheads, documentary films, and exhibits on the region's unique geology.
3029 Spirit Lake Hwy, Castle Rock, WA 98611, Phone: 360-449-7800
Multnomah Falls are one of the nation's most stunning natural waterfalls, roaring more than 610 feet over a drop on the Columbia River near the cities of Dodson and Corbett. The awe-inspiring waterfall, which is located within the impressive Columbia River Gorge, is accessible via the Historic Columbia River Highway and Interstate 84, less than half an hour outside of the city of Portland. A lovely viewing area lets visitors observe both tiers of the falls, offering information on indigenous Americna legends on how the falls were created by the gods to win the heart of a young princess. The Benson Bridge, named in honor of Portland businessman Simon Benson, stretches across the falls at its first-tier base, offering full views of both tiers. The historic 1925 Multnomah Falls is home to a delicious Northwestern cuisine restaurant, a United States Forest Service Information Center, and a lovely gift shop.
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16.The Rowena Crest Viewpoint
The Rowena Crest Viewpoint is one of Oregon's most Instagram-worthy natural overlooks, located approximately an hour and a half drive east of the city of Portland. The overlook showcases one of the most stunning panoramas on the Columbia River Gorge, located just off the Historic Columbia River Highway near the city of Mosier. It is known for its unique horseshoe-shaped curve, which is one of the state's most-photographed spots. A parking lot is offered at the overlook, letting visitors get out of their cars and explore the sweeping views of the surrounding cliffs, hills, gorge, and river. Nearby, the Tom McCall Nature Preserve showcases rare plant populations, home to a number of lovely nature trails.
Mosier, OR 97040
Sauvie Island, also known as Wapato Island, is the largest island within Oregon's Columbia River, measuring a total of 26,000 acres. The Manhattan-sized island is one of the United States' largest river islands, known as a popular natural excursion destination throughout the Portland region. It sits at the confluence of the Columbia and Willamette Rivers, located less than 10 minutes from Portland's downtown district. Visitors can explore the 2.4-mile Oak Island Nature Trail, which winds through fields near Steelman and Sturgeon Lakes and showcases stunning 500-year-old Oregon white oak trees and black-capped chickadees. The two-mile Wapato Access Greenway State Park Trail is home to Douglas fir trees, mammoth bigleaf maples, and populations of bald eagles, while the seven-mile Warrior Rock Lighthouse Trail is home to the state's smallest lighthouse. The island is also known for its pick-your-own farms, including Kruger's Farm, which hosts weekly summer concerts.
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18.Sea Lion Caves
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Sea Lion Caves are the top attraction of the Florence region, located approximately halfway through Oregon's 400-mile Pacific Ocean coastline. The caves, which have been in operation as a tourist attraction since the late 19th century, are one of the world's most prominent sea grottos, housing significant populations of Steller sea lions. The private wildlife refuge has been compared to the Mediterranean's famed Blue Grotto region for its natural beauty, spanning over two acres of sea floor and showcasing beautiful basalt rock cave walls covered in algae, lichen, and mineral stains. Though sea lions are not present at all times in the area, they frequently inhabit the caves in large numbers throughout the spring and summer. Visitors can ride more than 200 feet down the cave's cliffs on an Otis elevator and observe sea lions, sea birds, and gray whales throughout the year.
91560 U.S. 101, Florence, OR 97439, Phone: 541-547-3111
Seaside is a charming resort city in northwestern Oregon, known for its historic beachfront, which is home to some of the Pacific Northwest's best surfing breaks and a quaint promenade dating back to the 1920s. Visitors can explore family-friendly attractions such as the Seaside Aquarium, known for its touch tanks and seal exhibit, and the shipwreck of the Peter Iredale, which washed ashore in 1906. Kayaking, canoeing, and beach volleyball are popular area pastimes at the region's beaches, which host the annual Seaside Beach Volleyball Tournament, one of the world's largest beach volleyball competitions. Delicious local restaurants include the Seaside Brewing Company, which produces excellent craft brews from coastal rainwater, and Bell Buoy of Seaside, which is known for its famed crab melts.
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Seattle is one of the Pacific Northwest's liveliest metropolitan districts, located along the banks of the picturesque Puget Sound. The city, which is Washington State's largest mecca, is known for its technology and music history, home to major corporations like Microsoft and Amazon. Visitors can ascend the historic Space Needle observation tower, constructed for the 1962 World's Fair, or enjoy performances from top area cultural organizations like the renowned Seattle Symphony Orchestra, which performs at Benaroya Hall. Historic jazz and rock music venues have launched the careers of bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and the Foo Fighters, located within neighborhoods like the city's Chinatown and Central District. Woodland Park Zoo and the Seattle Aquarium offer family-friendly animal exhibits. Each year, the city hosts major events like the Seattle International Film Festival and one of the nation's largest Pride festivals.
21.Silver Falls State Park
Silver Falls State Park is a lovely Oregon state park located near the city of Silverton, spanning over 9,000 acres, which make it the state's largest state park by area. The park has been featured in a number of major feature films and television series, including 2008's blockbuster Twilight. Famed South Falls cascades for 177 feet, while remote Double Falls bests its height by one foot, plunging into the picturesque Silver Creek Canyon. More than 25 miles of hiking trails are offered throughout the park, along with 14 miles of horseback riding trails and a four-mile biking path. At the South Falls Day-Use Area, visitors can make use of picnic sites, a dog off-leash area, and a children's playground. Tent sites and group campgrounds can accommodate up to 250 campers nightly.
20024 Silver Falls Hwy SE, Sublimity, OR 97385, Phone: 503-873-8681
22.Smith Rock State Park
Smith Rock State Park is a lovely state park located within Central Oregon's High Desert region, between the cities of Terrebonne and Redmond. The park is frequently considered to be the birthplace of modern American sport climbing, home to the United States' first 5.14/8b+ rated climb route. More than 1,800 climbing routes are showcased throughout the park, along with an extensive hiking trail system that overlooks beautiful sites such as the Crooked River. Unique rock formations throughout the park include the Christian Brothers spires, the Dihedrals, the Marsupials, and Monkey Face. Day-use areas offer picnic facilities, visitor centers, and a tent-only campground with a cooking area and restrooms.
Terrebonne, OR 97760, Phone: 800-551-6949
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23.Trillium Lake Campground
Trillium Lake Campground is one of Oregon's most popular campgrounds, overlooking the spectacular vistas of Mount Hood, Oregon's highest mountain peak. The campground, which is located approximately 45 minutes south of Portland's downtown district, is located along the banks of Trillium Lake at elevations of 3,600 feet, within the beautiful Mount Hood National Forest. Visitors can enjoy family-friendly opportunities for swimming and boating throughout the year on the banks of the pristine 63-acre lake. An ADA-accessible fishing pier is also offered, letting visitors fish for various species of trout throughout the year. The beautiful two-mile Trillium Shoreline Trail circles the lake, offering opportunities for hiking and biking. Visitors can stay overnight at tent and RV campsites, which are equipped with tables, campfire rings, and barbecue grills.
Yachats is a lovely coastal city in Lincoln County, named as one of the United States' 10 coolest small towns in 2007 by Budget Travel. Visitors can whale watch at the gorgeous Cape Perpetua Scenic Area, which attracts more than 400 gray whales each winter and spring, or explore delightful museums such as the Little Log Church and Museum, which showcases local historical artifacts. The North Fork of the Yachats Bridge is one of the world's shortest bridges, while the Yachats Community Presbyterian Church is home to the world's only agate windows. Gorgeous natural areas bordering the city include the Siuslaw National Forest, the Yachats Ocean Road State Natural Site, the Yachats State Recreation Area, and the Smelt Sands State Recreation Site, which offer hiking trails, beautiful beaches, and day-use recreational sites. Annual cultural events include the renowned Yachats Music Festival, which showcases some of the world's best classical musicians each year, and the Yachats Village Mushroom Festival, which highlights mushroom-inspired art and cuisine.
24 Best Day Trips in Oregon (Small Towns, Beaches)
- Astoria, Photo: tusharkoley/stock.adobe.com
- Bend, Photo: Adventures On Wheels/stock.adobe.com
- Mount Hood, Photo: Ritu Jethani/stock.adobe.com
- The Willamette Valley, Photo: Allen Gray/stock.adobe.com
- Bagby Hot Springs, Photo: abriendomundo/stock.adobe.com
- Boardman, Photo: David Gn/stock.adobe.com
- Cannon Beach, Photo: diak/stock.adobe.com
- Cape Lookout State Park, Photo: k8fs/stock.adobe.com
- The Columbia River Gorge, Photo: Matthieu/stock.adobe.com
- Eugene, Photo: Jamie Hooper/stock.adobe.com
- Florence, Photo: jerdad/stock.adobe.com
- Hood River, Photo: RG/stock.adobe.com
- Mount Rainier National Park, Photo: Galyna Andrushko/stock.adobe.com
- Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, Photo: khomlyak/stock.adobe.com
- Multnomah Falls, Photo: Gary/stock.adobe.com
- The Rowena Crest Viewpoint, Photo: tusharkoley/stock.adobe.com
- Sauvie Island, Photo: karthikveeramani/stock.adobe.com
- Sea Lion Caves, Photo: Frank Fichtmüller/stock.adobe.com
- Seaside, Photo: pngstudio/stock.adobe.com
- Seattle, Photo: SeanPavonePhoto/stock.adobe.com
- Silver Falls State Park, Photo: Cliff/stock.adobe.com
- Smith Rock State Park, Photo: estivillml/stock.adobe.com
- Trillium Lake Campground, Photo: vit/stock.adobe.com
- Yachats, Photo: Stephen/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: Telly/stock.adobe.com
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