The largest city in Oregon, Portland is a bustling city brimming with cultural events and gatherings, theaters, musical entertainment venues, and a lot more for you to enjoy. Nature lovers would absolutely be taken aback by the lush greenery that the city’s gardens have to offer – undoubtedly, one of the best features of Portland. From classic Chinese gardens to roses and rhododendrons, you can see everything here. Some other popular places of interest here include Washington Park and Pittock Mansion.
To spend a fun-filled weekend getaway from Portland, here is a list of the top destinations where you can go with your friends and family.
Columbia River Gorge
A canyon of the River George, Columbia River Gorge is a National Designated Area, the largest of its kind in the United States of America. The landscape here is second to none. At the western end of the Gorge, the view from Crown Point is a front-row seat to the mighty Columbia as it unfolds and cuts through the Cascade mountains. Multnomah, Bridal Veil and Latourell falls are not to be missed. The best way to explore the area is on foot. And, if you are up for a challenge, hike up to the Dog Mountain or try mountain biking at Post Canyon mountain bike network.
Best Time to Visit: For wildflowers, the most recommended time to visit is usually between late April to June. For the best weather, however, late July till August are considered a safe bet.
How to Reach: The cheapest, fastest, and the most convenient ways to get to Columbia River Gorge from Portland is by a self-driven car. The drive takes just about an hour and costs $6 to $8 in fuel.
Cannon Beach is a gorgeous sandy beach that is also home to the magnificent Haystack Rock. Here you can dip your toes in the water, have a comforting picnic or bonfire, check out the breweries and galleries, and explore the neighboring state parks. Sunset watching from Cannon Beach is an absolute experience. The wide vantage of the sky and coastline makes for the most gorgeous scene and it’s beyond peaceful. For something a bit more adventurous, there are endless hiking trails here that lead to unbelievable picturesque views of the Pacific.
Best Time to Visit: The most recommended time to visit here to enjoy the many summer activities is between late July till early September.
How to Reach: There are direct buses between the two areas that cover the journey in slightly under two hours and cost $19 to $28 in bus fare.
Mount Hood, Oregon
Overlooking northern Oregon and within a stone’s throw away from Portland, Mount Hood stands immensely tall at 11,240 feet and is the highest mountain in the state. This inactive stratovolcano is home to numerous ski resorts, summer recreation areas, and extraordinary tourist attractions. It is also the cornerstone for Mt. Hood National Forest that is spread across one million acres. The main attractions around the region, including the Timberline Lodge and the Mount Hood Cultural Center, are less than 90 minutes’ drive. Some of the hiking trails and other areas are a little farther.
Best Time to Visit: Summers here are considered gorgeous. April is also peak bloom time for the orchards of the Hood River Valley. July and August, however, should be avoided if you are not used to extreme hot climate.
How to Reach: To reach Mount Hood, hop on a bus from Portland Union Station to Huckleberry Inn, Government camp. This journey takes slightly under a couple of hours and costs $26 to $40. From the stoppage, Mount Hood is less than 15 minutes away.
Crater Lake National Park
Located in southern Oregon, Crater Lake National Park is regarded among the most interesting national parks in the United States of America. Formed 7,700 years ago by a massive eruption and following collapse of Mount Mazama, Crater Lake is considered as the epitome of serenity. With a deepness of around 1,943 feet, Crater Lake is the deepest of its kind in the nation. Ripple-less water replicates a blue sky, turning it to “the bluest lake on earth”, while at night it sparkles with the twinkles of a million stars. Driving the Rim Drive, visiting the Crater Lake Lodge, and a boat ride to Wizard Island are some of the things you can enjoy here.
Best Time to Visit: The most preferred months to visit the National Park are from July to September. That’s when the park’s roads, trails, and facilities are usually fully open.
How to Reach: One of the ways to get here from Portland is to take a train to Chemult and a cab to the National Park. This journey takes almost seven hours and costs between $170 o $216. Alternatively, you can drive down there in about five hours and spend $25 to $36 in fuel.
Sauvie Island is an astonishing local weekend destination, brimming with flora and fauna, refreshing air, and organic produce, just a short drive from downtown Portland. Take your kids out for incredible weekend adventure that includes relaxing on the beaches, picking berries, and caressing farm animals. If you’re up for a 3-mile moderate hike, go up to Warrior Rock Lighthouse – interestingly, it is the smallest of its kind in the state. Canada geese, swans, bald eagles, and cranes are a common sight here.
Best Time to Visit: September to March is considered to be the best time to visit here in terms of weather, landscape, as well as flora and fauna.
How to Reach: The Line 105 bus goes directly to the island from Portland and gets you there in under half an hour for only a couple of dollars. A taxi or a car would take 15 mins.
Saint Helens Volcanic Monument
Coined by Captain George Vancouver in 1792 for his buddy Baron St. Helens, Mount St. Helens was once regarded as the most perfect of the Cascade peaks, a snowcapped cone rising above lush forests. Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument preserves the volcano, whose eruption in 1980 caused the largest landslide in recorded history. It is also considered to be the only active volcano in the United States of America. You could climb up to the summit of the volcano, but you would require a special permit. The Johnston Ridge Observatory can be visited seasonally is located in the center of the 1980 blast zone.
Best Time to Visit: The area can be visited anytime of the year, but the operational hours may vary season to season. Also, it is important to check for the timings before your visit.
How to Reach: You can take a train from Portland to Kelso-Longview and then rent a taxi or drive down to reach here. The entire journey takes around three and a half hours and costs between $35 to $51.
Willamette National Forest
Willamette National Forest, situated roughly two hours southeast of Portland, provides plenty of activities for passionate hikers, families, and adventure enthusiasts alike. This condensed forest is full of enchanted sights at every nook and cranny. From gushing waterfalls to splendid lakes to some of the most majestic mountains in Oregon, you won’t be dissatisfied with your trip to Willamette National Forest. One of the most popular hikes in the entire state is to the Tamolitch Blue Pool. Due to its admiration, starting this hike early morning is suggested so you can avoid he crowds. Terwilliger or “Cougar” Hot Springs is situated in Willamette National Forest and houses some of the most beautiful soaking pools in Oregon.
Best Time to Visit: While June to September is regarded as the most suggested months to visit here, the month of September is preferred by many.
How to Reach: Get on a Eugene Springfield bound Greyhound from Portland and then get on the bus number 91 for S/S of McKenzieRvrDr. From here, the forest is under half an hour in a taxi. Expect to spend around five and a half hours and pay $50 to $70.