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Are you looking for some fun road trips from Portland to fill your free time? I love love love a good road trip! I have explored much of this great state of ours, but I am always looking for some more places to check out. That’s why I love to share my favorites with you and these are, in my opinion, the best day trips from Portland! 

Oregon is a beautiful, dynamic state, and at times it can feel like there is almost too much to choose from. If you need a little more nature in your life but don’t know where to start, here are some great options for Portlanders to get out of the Rose City for a day and explore the wilder side of Oregon. There are so many options for the perfect Portland day trip.

Fun Road Trips from Portland

Sauvie Island

If you’re short on cash or just want to stay close to home, this is a great option for an adventure that feels a world away but is just on the outskirts of Portland. Be aware that the island is popular with bicyclists and the roads are narrow. The public beaches are located at the end of Reeder Road. Always remember to buy a parking pass for any Wildlife Areas. The parking lots are checked regularly and vehicles without a parking permit are quickly towed. You can also hike 3.5 miles from the end of Reeder Road to Warrior Point, a more secluded beach popular with boaters.

Hungry after all that swimming and hiking? Stop at The Pumpkin Patch throughout summer and fall to pick up fresh fruit, veggies, and natural snacks. Then end your day with a picnic at the 120-acre Howell Territorial Park.

The Columbia Gorge/Mt Hood Scenic Loop

Up for a long drive? Heading east on I-84, take Exit 17 to Historic Columbia River Highway, a picturesque road with numerous turn-offs to view many of the waterfalls of Mt. Hood, including Multnomah Falls. Once the Columbia River Highway meets back up with I-84, you can take Highway 35 south from the Town of Hood River, bringing you closer to Oregon’s tallest peak, Mt. Hood.

If you take Highway 26 west you will eventually end up back in Portland, but along the way be sure to stop at the Wildwood Recreation Site, from which you can access hours of hiking trails, including The Cascade Streamwatch Trail, a 3/4 mile paved loop with frequent views of the Salmon River, as well as a unique window below stream level where you can observe fish in their natural habitat.

The Columbia River Gorge

Day trips from Portland don’t lack options for great scenery, and the Columbia River Gorge is a great way to spend the day. Merely driving through is an amazing activity in itself. The Columbia River Gorge is the second-largest river in North America. Traveling over 1200 miles from the Pacific Ocean, the river eventually ends in Northern Idaho.

The Columbia River Gorge is a great place to go hiking, biking, kayaking, rafting, and seeing the waterfalls. During the winter, people go to the Columbia River Gorge to ski, snowboard, and snowshoe. You can go there and have a picnic, or try out the different restaurants and wine tasting.

Nearby you can also find some great dinner cruise opportunities!

Mt Hood

Mt Hood is a favorite day trip destination for nature activities, dining, and shopping. Year-round, people go to Mt Hood for skiing and snowboarding. Some people ski for part of the day and spend the rest of the day golfing and eating at nearby restaurants. Other nature activities include rafting, hiking, camping, and fishing.

Mt Hood is also home to the historic Timberline Lodge, which was built after the Depression and brought the community together. 75 years later, the lodge is still in use and is a great place to stay the night, dine or try wine. There are also numerous places to buy collectibles, art clothing, and all the shops are tax-free.

The Oregon Coast

Oregon coast

The Oregon Coast is a favorite day-trip destination. This may be because many popular beaches and coastal towns can be reached in less than two hours from Portland.

On the way, take a tour of the Tillamook Cheese Factory and see exactly where your favorite cheese comes from! Don’t forget to taste the ice cream too! Just west of Tillamook, take the Three Capes Scenic Route. This is a 38-mile loop off Highway 101 which winds past Cape Meares, Cape Lookout, and Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area, with plenty of breathtaking ocean views. During the spring and winter, you can see migrating whales from the Three Capes Scenic Route. 

Cannon Beach

If you feel like stopping along the way, be sure to check out Cannon Beach. Cannon Beach is a charming town nestled against the Pacific Ocean and is a favorite spot for locals and tourists alike. From the iconic haystack rock to the beautiful beaches, Cannon Beach is a must-stop. Just down the road from Cannon Beach is one of the best hikes along the coast, Hug Point. Okay, so as far as hikes go, it’s more of a leisurely stroll, but it ends with a waterfall on the beach (just make sure and visit at low tide)!

If you would rather take a paid tour instead of heading out on your own, check out this option.

Pacific City

A little further south, you’ll find Pacific City with Oregon’s second Haystack Rock and giant sand dunes for getting in a killer leg workout. The Coastal town of Pacific City and it’s surrounding area is full of natural beauty and great recreational and outdoor activities!

Be sure to check out the 1890s Lighthouse at Cape Meares Wildlife Refuge, open April 1-Oct 31. Continuing south, Newport is home to Rogue Brewery and the Oregon Aquarium. South Beach State Park, Ona Beach State Park, and Lost Creek State Recreational Site are all a short drive south of Newport. Keep an eye out for great viewpoints, tide pools, visitor center stops and other fun things to do that you’ll find all along the Oregon Coast. 

Oxbow Park

You want to be surrounded by wilderness, but still within easy reach of Portland. Just past Troutdale in the Sandy River Gorge, Oxbow Park is a 1,200-acre refuge for nature enthusiasts, offering swimming, picnicking, camping, hiking, biking, and fishing. Portlanders love this close-to-home destination because it is a pristinely preserved habitat where you can see plenty of wildlife along the river and hike to your heart’s content. And best of all, you can still make it home in time for dinner.

Willamette Valley

Let’s just say that all of the Willamette Valley makes great road trips from Portland. That is especially true if you love wine country. If somehow you’ve grown bored with the endless and ever-changing bounty of microbreweries in Portland, head south along I-5 to 99W where you will find yourself in the Willamette Valley Wine Country. It can be overwhelming to decide which wineries to stop at, so you can always opt to let someone else do the planning by joining one of the many winery tours available. You can also make your own itinerary at Oregon Wine Country Explorer based on varieties offered, location, and winery features. With more than 200 wineries and counting, exploring all of Oregon’s Wine Country could become a weekly habit!

‚ÄčThe Willamette Valley will also include these great stopovers for you to check out along the way:

  • The Willamette River (check it out in Salem, or in the cute town of Independence)
  • Silver Falls State Park
  • Mary’s Peak
  • Black Rock Mountain Bike Park

Dundee

Dundee, Oregon is home to some of Oregon’s finest wineries and is one of several great day trips from Portland. Located in the Willamette Valley, there are over 40 different wine yards and wineries to visit. In addition, there are numerous wine shops and bars around to buy some wine for home! Notable places to try wine include Erath, Eyrie, Sokol Blosser, and Ponzi. Only an hour outside of Oregon, Dundee is known for its Pinot Noir. If you have time, there are also hot air balloon rides.

Check out this post to find some really amazing wineries to visit. 

Long Beach, Washington

Long Beach was named by ForbesTraveler.com as one of America’s favorite beach towns. It is a favorite local day trip from Portland as well as Seattle. Located on a peninsula next to the Pacific, Long Beach got its name for being long stretches of sandy beaches. People often come here to rent a place next to the beach for several days for a weekend getaway. There is plenty of lodging and places to dine. Various day activities include fishing, golf, horseback riding, and renting mopeds for driving on miles of sand.

Seattle, Washington

Whether you want to see the Space Needle, Pike’s Place Market, or one of the many other tourist attractions there, Seattle is a great place to visit and just a few short hours from Portland. It’s definitely high on my list of favorite day trips from Portland. Washington state is just a bridge away from downtown Portland, so many Washington locations can easily be added to this list. 

Portland, Oregon is not only the largest city in the state, but it is also one of the most beautiful cities in the Northwest. It is surrounded by miles of stunning scenery and landscape. The miles of green trees, clean rivers, and coast make up Oregon’s most valuable resource, and Portland, Oregon makes every effort to preserve it. If you’re interested in taking day trips from Portland, Oregon, be prepared for getaways into a nature lover’s paradise. 

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