Hitting the Road in the Rose City
There are a lot of things to love about life in Portland, Oregon. This city is known for its inviting neighborhoods and parks, its great food and stellar restaurants, its wonderful craft brews, its vibrant arts scene, and its friendly residents.
But even when you live in a place like Portland, there are times when you need to go on an adventure. One of the most amazing qualities of living in here in PDX, is the ability we all have to get somewhere interesting within just a day’s drive – whether you’re craving the great outdoors and a waterfall, or you’re ready to hit the mountain and spend a day hiking. So roll down the windows, crank up the stereo, and hit the road with our guide to Portland day trips.
Go Tubing on the Clackamas River
There was a time in the not-too-distant past when tubing on the Clackamas was primarily the domain of tipsy college students with too much beer and not enough sunblock. But since drinking on the river has ben forbidden, it’s become a much more family-friendly affair. Put in at Barton County Park, a mere 45 minutes from your doorstep in Portland.
Spend the Day on Sauvie Island
Sauvie Island is perhaps best known for clothing-optional Collins Beach, and for the more daring among you, that’s certainly worth a visit. But there’s so much more to this gorgeous island just north of the city. There, you can pick berries to your heart’s content, catch live music at Kruger’s farm, or get lost in the corn mazes at the Pumpkin Patch. Best of all, Sauvie Island is only 45 minutes from downtown PDX.
Check Out the Lewis River
There’s so much to see in the state of Oregon, that some Portlanders forget about the grandeur of southern Washington. The Lower Falls of the Lewis River are spectacular, set in an idyllic natural landscape. Most of the year, the river is rather cold for swimming, but a few brave souls have been known to take a dip in the pond beneath the falls on sunny days. Via the Bridge of the Gods, the Lower Falls are just over two hours from Portland proper.
The Old-School Flavor of Seaside
Seaside is a tourist trap, and we mean that in the best possible way. It’s been an Oregon Coast destination for as long as local natives can remember. There, you’ll find fresh-made fudge, bumper cars, old-fashioned arcades, and an aquarium where you can feed buckets of fish to barking sea lions. After a meal of fresh-caught Dungeness crab, you can rent a bicycle made for two, and cruise up and down the beach as the sun sets. What else do you need?
Ballooning in Wine Country
Oregon Wine Country is a feast for the senses. If you’re new to the state, then you may be surprised to learn that Oregon produces some of the best Pinot Noir in the country. But that’s not all – local winemakers offer a wide array of viticultural gems. And wine country is beautiful, even more so when viewed from the commanding vantage point of a hot air balloon. Flights depart from Tigard, Lake Oswego, and Sherwood, all a mere stone’s throw from Portland.
Go for a Soak at Bagby Hot Springs
In minimal traffic, you can reach Estacada in under an hour. On the way, you’ll traverse rolling hills and pastoral farmland; you may even spot a few deer along the way. There’s not a whole lot to Estacada itself – a few restaurants and a couple of worthwhile antique shops. The real draw is all the stunning natural beauty that surrounds the city.
Keep driving and wind your way along the Clackamas River until you get to Bagby Hot Springs. There, you’ll find a wide array of soaking options, including big communal baths and private tubs hewn from massive logs. Lazing about in the soothing water, you’ll find it difficult to worry about anything at all.
Spend the Night in Hood River
Just a short hour-long drive to the east, Hood River is a sweet little town with plenty of interesting things to do, especially if you’re a true lover of the great outdoors and sport. In the winter, you’ll have easy access to skiing on Mt. Hood, and in the summer, Hood River provides excellent opportunities for windsurfing in the Gorge. After a long day of sport, you can cool off at one of the area’s noteworthy local breweries, including Pfriem, Full Sail, and Double Mountain, or dine on anything from burgers and pizza to high-end cuisine.
Flying High at the Evergreen Aviation Museum
While we’re on the subject of flying, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum. There, you’ll find a truly impressive collection of all things airborne.
There’s a B-17 flying fortress, an SR-71 Blackbird, a massive array of WW II-era military aircraft, and perhaps the biggest head-turner, Howard Hughes’ original Spruce Goose! There’s also a space museum, an IMAX theater, and a waterpark, too.
Gas Up and Go
As you can see, Portland isn’t just a great place to live – it’s also an excellent starting point for some of the best road trips you’ll ever take. Living here, it’s easy to find fun ways to spend your weekends. If only weekends were longer!
[Photos Via: Commons]