Portland, Oregon, is a cool place to be. Everyone knows the slogan, right? “Keep Portland Weird.” It’s weird alright, but in a quirky offbeat way that makes it a unique destination for your travels.
But once you’ve had enough of voodoo doughnuts and craft coffee, you may be thinking of taking a day trip from the city.
The question is—where? It’s hard to decide!
I’ve rounded up a few cool day trips from Portland that you can take that should give you some inspiration to tour the surrounding area when it suits you.
Day Trips from Portland
Columbia River Gorge
Columbia River Gorge is the place to go if you want a slice of the great outdoors. It’s a huge canyon that stretches for more than 80 miles and is around 4,000 feet deep in some places!
Incredibly, this is actually the largest national scenic area in the country.
There are so many different things to do in the Columbia River Gorge itself, but one of the best things to do here goes have a look at all the river gorge waterfalls that you can find here.
The river gorge has a fair few different waterfalls to check out, one of the most famous being the Multnomah Falls which are the tallest of the river gorge’s many waterfalls.
Dropping 620 feet, this place quite understandably draws a huge 2 million visitors a year. Just make sure you don’t forget your camera or phone when you come here—it’s pretty awesome to see.
Elsewhere, for water sports, you should definitely Hood River which is known as the windsurfing capital of the world!
And if you like skiing, you’re covered too. There’s Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood Mountain for all your winter sports desires.
Silver Falls State Park
At 9,000 acres in area, Silver Falls State Park is the largest state park in Oregon. It’s located just over an hour’s drive from Portland, making it a pretty easy day trip if you feel like lapping up some nature.
First developed into a park in the 1930s, Silver Falls State Park today is a very comprehensive place to get active. There are miles of hiking trails, biking trails, opportunities to swim, fish, and even go horse riding. And if you feel like it, there are campsites here too.
The clue’s in the name, but yes—there are waterfalls here to check out. 10 of the most famous ones can be seen if you opt to hike the Trail of Ten Falls. South Falls is particularly spectacular.
Listen up wine-lovers, Willamette Valley is the place to go for all your wine tasting, vineyard-visiting needs! And at around 50 minutes by car from Portland, there’s pretty much no reason to not go.
This is Oregon’s wine country and the most famous Willamette Valley wine has got to be pinot noir. You can sample a few glasses of the locally produced wine at one of the many wineries located here.
In fact, there are over 500 wineries in Willamette Valley!
It’s beautiful—surrounded by mountains and laced with waterways and green hills, it’s a stunning region that’s made all the more worth it thanks to all those grapes!
Smith Rock State Park
Smith Rock State Park makes up another cool place to soak up some nature, but this time around it’s less about forests, lakes, and waterfalls—more about classic desert scenery in central Oregon’s High Desert region. If you really do love lakes I recommend Trillium Lake!
Think sheer cliffs, boulders, and rocks jutting out the dramatic scenery. It’s no surprise that it’s a popular spot for climbing and is actually where the modern sport climbing was first practiced in America.
If you’re not into climbing, there are SO many trails for hiking with many crazy viewpoints to get some stunning vistas on—perfect Insta spots, but you’ve gotta work for them!
It’s 3 hours away from Portland by car, so my advice is to leave early or—if you really want an adventure—choose to camp overnight. Make sure to visit the visitor center to learn about the history and geology of the park! I also recommend checking out the Hood National Forest.
Ecola State Park
Get a small group of your friends together or go by yourself to one of my favorite places in Oregon—Ecola State Park.
Stretching along the Oregon Coast for 9 miles, here you will find just about everything from old-growth rainforest to incredible rock formations and beaches like Cannon Beach with Haystack Rock and hiking areas.
Birdwatching is a thing here, with bald eagles to spot, but you can also spot whales from the coast at the right time of year, which is just all sorts of amazing.
There’s history to uncover, too, along the Oregon Coast Trail, which is part of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. It’s easy to find yourself imagining explorers first glimpsing the dramatic coastline here—it feels just as untouched as it would have been back then!
The Cannon Beach History Center and Museum is the place to go to learn more about the history of the area—there’s a native American longhouse replica to see here, among other interesting exhibits.
Historic Columbia River Highway
Of all the different tours and trips you could venture on from Portland, none are quite as cool as the Historic Columbia River Highway—especially if you’re looking for an awesome road trip.
Running for 75 miles between Troutdale and The Dalles, the highway weaves its way through the Columbia River Gorge and has some breathtaking views on offer for any intrepid driver.
It takes about 3 to 5 hours to drive, depending on how many times you stop off to admire the views (and take a zillion photos).
The Historic Columbia River Highway is historic for a reason—it’s a landmark destination, the first of its kind in the United States, modeled after the scenic roads of Europe. The highway takes full advantage of the beauty of the region through which it climbs and winds.
Every twist and turn is a new amazing view—good luck not stopping every time to snap a pic of the scene!
Portland may be weird and cool enough to visit by itself, but there is so much incredible nature right on its doorstep that it would be crazy not to explore at least some of it! Cannon Beach is AMAZING—if you just do one of these day trips, that’s the one I recommend!
Tag me in your Insta pics and stories (I’m @wtfab) and remind me that I need to take a trip to Portland again sometime!
Planning a trip to Portland? Be sure to check out my other Portland content here.
Yes, Portland is definitely worth visiting. There are so many sights to see and fun activities to do! You won’t regret it.
It is recommended to spend at least 3 days in Portland to really explore the city and what it has to offer.
The best time of year to travel to Portland Oregon is from June to August since the weather will be at its best.