16 Interesting And Awesome Day Trips From Portland

Do you enjoy taking road trips? In the heart of the Pacific Northwest’s great outdoors, Portland, Oregon, is ideal for day trips ranging from wineries in the desert to sandy beaches. These day trips from Portland can quickly become a multi-day adventure, especially when combined. In addition, you may see a range of breathtaking landscapes, stunning beaches, and several waterfalls.

One of our favorite things about the Pacific Northwest is that there is so much to do and see even outside the cities. There are many small towns outside of Portland, Oregon, to visit. Portland is a terrific place to visit on its own. It is, however, the entryway to a broad set of other highly excellent sites — cities, climbs, and smaller villages – that we highly recommend seeing on a day trip.

Weekend visits to places like Mount Hood and Cannon Beach provide different scenery to explore each season. An ideal wine tourist destination, Oregon’s most famous wine region, Willamette Valley, is home to more than 700 wineries; the distance from Portland to Willamette valley is 48 milesOther areas, such as the Columbia River Gorge, provide convenient day trips all year. More extended weekends with more time to explore, such as Smith Rock and Mount Rainier, are less than three hours away.

If you’re planning or looking for something new to do this weekend, read this article in which we mentioned some of the best day short road trips from Portland, Oregon.

16 Best Day Trips from Portland:

If you’re seeking amazing Portland day trips or ideas for on-road travel around Portland, here are the 16 best day trips from Portland.

Winter Day Trips from Portland Oregon:

  • Bend, Oregon
  • Hood Timberline Lodge:
  • Waterfall Alley, Columbia River Gorge
  • Astoria, Oregon:
  • Bagby Hotsprings

Day Trips from Portland Oregon with Kids:

  • Cannon Beach
  • Eugene, Oregon
  • Johnston Ridge Observatory, Mt St Helens
  • Sauvie Island
  • Seattle
  • Silver Falls State Park
  • Smith Rock
  • The Fruit Loop
  • Tillamook
  • Trillium Lake
  • Willamette Valley Wine Country

Winter Day Trips from Portland Oregon:

We’ve compiled a list of the greatest winter road trips to take before the season ends.

1. Bend, Oregon:

Bend, Oregon

Many people who believe Portland is becoming too big too fast seek refuge in Bend. Bend is an incredible escape if you want to be active, but it’s also a great place to unwind and enjoy a fine beer. You can go rock climbing, stand-up paddleboarding, hiking, or visiting a brewery. Deschutes Brewery, named for the river that passes through the city, is located here. Try Crux Fermentation Project if you’re looking for something more local.

Skiing good snow in the morning, kayaking in the afternoon, and drinking a beer in the evening are all options. Or do you prefer mountain biking, trekking, mountaineering, stand-up paddleboarding, fly fishing, or rock climbing? These activities are available locally at the Three Sisters Wilderness, Lava River Cave, and Newberry National Volcanic Monument. You can even surf a river wave right in the middle of town. With roughly 300 days of sunlight each year, it’s also the ideal retreat from dreary Portland.

How to Get There?

US-26 East can take you from Portland to Bend in just three hours, though traffic can become congested near Smith Rock State Park. Alternatively, you can travel I-5 South to Salem and then OR-22 East over the Cascades to Bend – a three-and-a-half-hour drive.

2. Mt. Hood Timberline Lodge:

Mt. Hood Timberline Lodge

Stay, dine, climb, ski, or just gawk – this legendary Oregon lodge is a destination in its own right or a must-see if you’re exploring Mt Hood. The colossal structure was constructed of local stone and lumber to blend in with the surrounding forest. The six-sided central tower is designed to replicate the pyramid-like peak of its glorious mountain position.

Timberline Lodge is a National Historic Landmark and a hotel, a good restaurant, a pub, a ski resort, and a hiking trailhead. The exterior may look familiar from the 1980s horror thriller The Shining.

How to Get There?

While reaching Mount Hood via public transportation is feasible, it is a bit complicated and time-consuming; depending on transportation links, it can take up to three hours to get there.

Driving to Mount Hood is far more convenient than taking public transportation. This also means you can stop along the trip to see some of the Columbia River Gorge’s stunning views. The most scenic route is to take Interstate 84 east along the Columbia River’s south bank until Hood River. Then, turn left here and follow Route 35 south until you reach Mount Hood.

3. Waterfall Alley, Columbia River Gorge:

Waterfall Alley, Columbia River Gorge

Drive east from Portland to the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area if you want to spend the day in an authentic outdoor playground. The location is a large canyon of the Columbia River with plenty of hiking and water sports opportunities.

You can try whitewater rafting, kayaking, and kite surfing through waterfalls, or take a zip line excursion through the forest to see the gorge from above. The valley is also a waterfall lover’s heaven, with over 70 waterfalls within reasonable public access. At 620 feet (190-meters), Multnomah Falls is the most well-known.

Multnomah Falls is Oregon’s tallest waterfall, and the panorama of the two waterfall tiers and Benson Bridge is a must-see. One of our favorite things to do in Portland is to see Multnomah Falls.

How to Get There?

To travel to the Columbia River Gorge from downtown Portland, take Old Route 30 northeast out of town and east along the south bank of the Columbia River.

Taking a guided trip is another option to see the magnificent Columbia River Gorge. This route brings you along the gorgeous byway and to the majestic Multnomah and Gorge Waterfalls.

4. Astoria, Oregon:

Astoria, Oregon

Astoria is a town in Oregon’s far northwest corner, at the mouth of the Columbia River. It has a lovely mix of unique antique shops, delectable eateries and cafes, and plenty of opportunities to get outside. Hiking trails in the area include the Cathedral Tree Trail and a lookout view of the Astoria Column.

Astoria has a lot of cool things to do that make it worth a day trip from Portland. The vistas from the Astoria Column, the shipwreck at neighboring Fort Stevens State Park, and the nostalgic Goonies movie spots strewn around town are among the principal attractions.

Astoria is densely packed with Goonies filming sites, which is one of the main reasons travelers come to the region — There’s the Jailhouse and the Goonies House, as well as the bowling alley where Chunk, clutching his pizza and milkshake, watches the car chase through the window! We had a great day exploring all of the Goonies movie locations! Astoria was also the location for the films Kindergarten Cop and Free Willy.

How to Get There?

It couldn’t be easier to get to Astoria from Portland. While it does take two hours, you get to see some beautiful landscapes along the route—Drive Route 26 west to the coast, where you can take the 101 north to Astoria. Then, for a change of scenery back to Portland, take Route 30, which connects the two.

5. Bagby Hotsprings:

Bagby Hot Springs

These natural hot springs have always been famous, and the wait time varies depending on when you visit. They are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and have three bathhouses on the property. Unfortunately, because there is no road to the hot springs, you must hike 1.5 km to get there.

On your adventure, however, you will do much more than just hike; you will, of course, take a plunge in the hot springs! This is crucial to consider because the queue to enter the hot springs might be substantial on a busy day.

Fortunately, we only had to wait about half an hour for a tub and then spent about an hour and a half filling and soaking in it. But, of course, there’s also the matter of driving time to consider! Bagby Hot Springs is approximately one hour and forty minutes to two hours south-east of Portland..

How to Get There?

A few distinct roads south of Portland intersect at Shady Dell. However, regardless of the route you pick, you’ll wind up traveling 11 miles on forest service road NF-7010 until you reach the trailhead parking area. It’s a 30-minute climb to the springs from there.

Day Trips from Portland Oregon with Kids:

Here are some road trips from Portland where you can visit with your kids and family.

6. Cannon Beach- The Most Iconic Day Trips from Portland:

Cannon Beach- The Most Iconic Day Trips from Portland

Cannon Beach is undoubtedly the most popular Oregon coast day excursion from Portland! The gorgeous seaside town, massive sandy shoreline, and famed Haystack Rock make it a pleasant retreat for city dwellers.

Haystack Rock, a large rock formation that provides a coastline shelter for Tufted Puffins in the spring and summer, is Cannon Beach’s most famous ocean view. Take the Tillamook Head Trail to retrace Lewis and Clark’s steps during their historic journey. Every year, around 18,000 Gray Whales pass past Cannon Beach during their migrations, seen in the spring and winter. We highly recommend you the Portland to cannon beach day trip.

 How to Get There?

Cannon Beach, located on the West Coast, is only an hour and a half drive from Portland. Exit the city and follow Route 26 to the coast, where you’ll see signs directing you to Cannon Beach. While you’re in the neighborhood, you can quickly drive to Manzanita in the south of Astoria in the north, both of which are worth seeing.

You could take a guided trip to Cannon Beach instead if you don’t want to drive yourself or don’t have a car. Your guide will take you to small stores and art galleries in neighboring Manzanita, in addition to the delightful little town and its picturesque beach. The iconic Haystack Rock is undoubtedly one of the tour’s highlights.

Arcadia Beach Recreation Site located about 2 miles south of Cannon Beach, features several unique caves worth seeing on your Portland road trip.

7. Eugene, Oregon

Eugene, Oregon

Eugene, a vibrant college town is teeming with creative people, is located on the southern end of the Willamette Valley. There are some exciting things to do in this wonderfully distinctive city, which is home to the University of Oregon and has a large student population, creating a city that feels relatively “young,” for want of a better phrase.

Downtown Eugene has a plethora of exciting sites to see. Farmer’s Union Coffee Roasters serves the most fantastic coffee in Eugene. The 5th St. Public Market is a local favorite, complete with unique shops and excellent restaurants, tasting rooms, and cafés.

Wildcraft Cider Works in Eugene serves some of the best cider in the Pacific Northwest. The fruit used in their cider is all either wild or biodynamically farmed. As a result, they make incredibly intriguing – and dry, which is what we want (rather than sweet) – ciders with fruit combinations such as pears and quince, among others.

The Saturday Market in Eugene features the best local and seasonal foods and products. Going to the Farmers Market is one of our favorite things to do in a new city, and this one does not disappoint. It’s a combination of crafts and eating.

How to Get There?

I-5 South takes around two hours to get from Portland to Eugene. If you don’t mind the possibility of delays, or if you want to turn your day trip into a weekend getaway, you may take Amtrak’s Coast Starlight or Cascades lines from Portland’s Union Station to Eugene, which takes around 2 hours and 30 minutes if you don’t have to wait for a freight train to pass.

8. Johnston Ridge Observatory, Mt St Helens:

Johnston Ridge Observatory, Mt St Helens

Mount St. Helens is most defined in landscape and history by its dramatic 1980 eruption, and it makes for a beautiful weekend excursion.

Every accessible part of Mount St. Helens, including the park’s most incredible hiking trails, contains interpretative and visual information about the 1980 eruption that shook the region. This includes the breathtaking views of the horseshoe crater from the mountain’s summit.

Mount St Helens, an active volcano that erupted in the deadliest eruption in US history, is located approximately 50 miles north of Portland and is regarded as one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the country. Mount St Helens is a popular day trip from Portland that allows visitors to observe the mighty volcano and learn about its lethal history.

The Visitors Center at Castle Rock is the first stop to Mount St. Helens. Take your time exploring the exhibits and admiring the scenery from the route.

How to Get There?

Take I-5 N to WA-504 E/Mt St Helens Way NE in Castle Rock. The drive takes roughly two hours.

9. Sauvie Island:

Sauvie Island

Sauvie Island is a 24,000-acre natural river island just north of Portland that makes for a nice day trip. Hiking routes, self-pick fruit orchards, and beaches that flank the Columbia River may be found on the island. Sauvie Island is ideal for a family day out, and children will enjoy gathering fruit and wading in the shallow waters while watching the boats sail by.

Autumn is one of the greatest times to visit Sauvie Island, and we were fortunate to see when the Pumpkin Patch was open. The hayrides, animal barn, and corn maze were our children’s favorites.

How to Get There?

Sauvie Island is only 40 minutes by driving from Portland and may be reached via US-30 East, I-5 South, or US-26 East. There will be plenty of parking at the farms and other sites, as well as at the public beaches — just arrives early if it’s a hot summer day.

10. Seattle:

Seattle

On a day trip from Portland, you can visit some of Seattle’s most popular attractions. The trip north to Seattle is picturesque, with spectacular vistas of Mount Saint Helens.

One day in Seattle will give you enough time to tour the Seattle Center, including a trip up the Space Needle and the adjacent Chihuly Gardens, including spectacular glass sculptures.

Head to Pike Place Market to take in the ambiance and the fantastic food on offer, and then spend the rest of the day on the waterfront before returning to Portland.

How to Get There?

I-5 North takes less than three hours to get from Portland to Seattle. You can also ride the Bolt Bus, which regularly departs from the Park Blocks in downtown Portland. Taking the train is another option for getting to Seattle. Amtrak runs a daily direct service from Portland to Seattle. While it is slightly slower than driving, it is much easier because you can relax during the travel.

11. Silver Falls State Park:

Silver Falls State Park

Hiking, biking, horseback riding, swimming, and picnics are popular activities in this vast state park. And everybody who visits understands why: it is a gorgeous forest teeming with enormous waterfalls, ten of which can be seen on a single trip aptly dubbed Trail of Ten Falls. This is a must-see for everyone visiting Oregon State University.

The state park is located just east of Salem and is easily accessible from the capital city. This is a well-known park, particularly for holding large meetings such as family reunions and weddings. However, while it is Oregon’s largest park, it is feasible to avoid the crowds by doing a lesser-known trek with stunning vistas.

How to Get There?

Silver Falls State Park is only 50 kilometers south of Portland and takes about an hour and a half to get there. Head south out of town until you reach Clackamas, where you should take the 213. Transfer to the 214 just before Silverton. This will direct you to the state park. There are a few lodges where you may park and explore Silver Falls’ various wooded walks and glittering waterfalls at your leisure.

12. Smith Rock:

Smith Rock

Smith Rock is a recreation Mecca in central Oregon, and it is widely regarded as one of the top sport climbing destinations in the United States. Smith Rock State Park is a must-see for rock climbers and anyone in Portland who loves a beautiful setting.

Due to the park’s tiny size, one day is the ideal amount of time to spend visiting it. Smith Rock is home to numerous lovely treks, the most popular of which are Misery Ridge and Rim Rock. Smithsonian Institution Smith Rock, with its variety of climbs and over a thousand bolted routes, also draws climbers from all around the United States.

How to Get There?

Smith Rock is a three-hour journey east of Portland on US-26. On a sunny day, come there early since Smith Rock fills up quickly. Camping is available either next to the park or 8 miles east at Skull Hollow (no water; $5 campsites). Redmond, a few miles south, has the closest accommodations.

13. The Fruit Loop:

The Fruit Loop

The Hood River County Fruit Loop travels 35 miles through gorgeous, fertile plains, passing by family fruit stalls, U-pick orchards, lavender fields, alpaca farms, and winery tasting rooms. There are blossoms in the spring, berries in the summer, apples, pears in the fall, and several festivals and celebrations throughout the year (except for winter). It’s a great way to enjoy the area’s agricultural bounty while also taking in the beauty.

How to Get There?

State Highway 35 connects Government Camp on Mount Hood’s slopes with the City of Hood River in the Columbia River Gorge. The majority of the farms and other destinations on the Fruit Loop are located along this stretch. Whether you want to drive the Loop clockwise or counterclockwise, you can take either US-26 East or I-84 to go to one end or the other.

14. Tillamook:

Tillamook

Tillamook is most known for its massive cheese business, and it’s a fun day trip if you’re looking to consume some dairy.

Tillamook cheese production began in the 1890s when an English cheesemaker introduced his cheddar-making techniques to the nascent dairies surrounding Tillamook Bay. Every year, nearly a million people visit the legendary Tillamook Creamery, making 171,000 pounds of cheese every day.

US 101 leaves the beaches and headlands behind and follows the Nestucca River through pastureland and logged-off mountains south of Tillamook. The slower but more beautiful Three Capes Scenic Drive starts in Tillamook and follows the coast.

How to Get There?

Tillamook may be reached in under an hour and a half by taking US-26 West and OR-6 West. You can also take the five buses from Union and get out at the Tillamook Transit Center, which will add around a half hour to your journey.

15. Trillium Lake:

Trillium Lake

Hikers of all skill levels can enjoy a calm walk around this beautiful lake beneath Mount Hood. On a sunny afternoon, the reflection of the mountain glows on the lake’s surface, which is surrounded by dense woodland and wildflowers.

Trillium Lake is a fantastic place for fishing and camping, but the highlight is it’s serene and reflective. You get a perfect mirror picture of Mount Hood, and I almost felt dizzy as if I was about to fall out of the sky. In addition, the lake is covered in snow in the winter, making it a popular introductory snowshoe trip.

How to Get There?

You can reach Trillium Lake in roughly an hour and a half by taking US-26 East. Then, take Forest Service Road NF-2656 to the campground when you arrive at Government Camp.

16. Willamette Valley Wine Country:

Willamette Valley Wine Country

Portland is technically part of the Willamette Valley region, which spans 150 miles and is home to nearly 70% of Oregon’s population. In this example, we’re referring to the area with over 500 wineries ideal for a day excursion. Consume alcohol with caution!

The Willamette Valley Wine Tour is one of Portland’s most famous wine tours, and it includes stops at 3 to 5 wineries and lunch at one of the wineries. Overall, it’s a fantastic day trip and an excellent opportunity to learn about (and sample!) all of the region’s wines.

How to Get There?

Towns like Dundee at the Willamette Valley’s northern end are just about 40 minutes from downtown Portland. Still, the Willamette Valley stretches for roughly a hundred miles to Eugene at the valley’s southern end.

Day Trips from Portland – FAQ’s

How far is Portland from the ocean?
Portland is only around an hour and a half from the Pacific Ocean (about 80 miles); traveling along the coast can take three hours.
Is Portland safe to visit?
Yes, Portland is still a safe city for tourists. However, visitors to Portland should exercise the same prudence as they would when visiting any major city. Unfortunately, like many other cities across the country, Portland has seen a rise in crime over the last year.
Where can I drive around Portland?
Take a Beautiful Scenic Drive on these 5 Country Roads near Portland: • Columbia River Highway. Granger Meador / Flickr • Oregon State Route 224. Doug Kerr / Flickr • Wilsonville Road. Eric Kilby / Flickr • Hood River Fruit Loop. Lucas Jans / Flickr • Washington State Road 4 / Highway 101
How close is Portland to the mountains?
It will take about two hours to drive from Portland’s downtown to Mount Hood. The peak is about 70 miles (113 km) distant, and there are two choices for getting there: Interstate 84 along the Columbia River Gorge or Highway 26.

 

Our Verdict:

Although these are a few of my favorite day trips from Portland, Oregon, there are countless other alternatives. Because of its natural beauty and accessible distances, Oregon is an excellent state for a road vacation. Most importantly, Portland is an ideal central hub for exploring the rest of the Pacific Northwest.

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