20 Fun Day Trips From Portland You Need to Take in 2021

day trips from portland city scape
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Known best for its craft beer, good coffee, and incredible outdoor beauty, Portland seems to steal the hearts of all those who’ve traveled there. However, you’ll be just as surprised to find out that the surrounding area of Oregon is as beautiful. Just a car ride away, you can indulge yourself in some of the best day trips from Portland.

Since I’m from Seattle, I’ve had the chance to explore multiple destinations around Oregon and wanted to compile a list of some of my favorite places to go. I go to Oregon multiple times per year to visit new areas and have many more trips planned in the future. Whether you’re in town for a weekend in Portland or a local looking for a new place to visit, you’ll love these Portland day trips.

Magnificent waterfalls, outdoor trails for the adventure seekers, and local markets for foodies are waiting just around the corner. Here are some places you’ll want to check out when taking a Portland, Oregon day trip.

What to Bring on a Portland Day Trip

Given that you’re most likely going to be heading out in your car, you can easily store these items for when they are needed. Before you head out, take a look at some helpful tips to get you started planning your day trip from Portland, Oregon.

  • Water bottles – These will come in handy for hikes or trips to the beach, as well as for some of the long car journeys.
  • A secure backpack – Most of the day trips around Portland require you to get active. Bringing along a backpack ensures that you can do these trips comfortably without worrying about things getting in the way.
  • A lightweight rain jacket – You never know where there might be the occasional summer rain shower during your day trips near Portland.
  • GPS or map system – The only downside to road tripping is getting lost and wasting time. Because you’re looking at doing these trips in a day, keep on track and stick to the routes.

20 Amazing Day Trips From Portland

Here are some ideas when you’re looking for Portland day trips, and they’re in order of closest to farthest so you can quickly decide how far you want to drive for the day.

1. Villa Catalana Cellars

portland day trip wine cellar

Distance from Portland: 18 miles

Travel Time: 30 minutes

If you’re looking for close day trips near Portland, Oregon, explore the Mediterranean-style gardens and specialty vineyards for the day at Villa Catalana Cellars. Sample the various wines made on the farm in the tasting courtyard, which showcases rare species of plants from around the world.

The farm is kid-friendly and parents can taste the wines while the kids explore the outdoor grounds, making it one of the most convenient family day trips from Portland. Pizza is available to order for anyone who’s hungry, and this almost feels like a secret day trip from Portland with how close this beautiful winery is.

The winery is open on Saturdays from 1 pm to 4 pm, and it costs $15 for the tasting fee. They are currently open by reservation only.

2. Columbia River Gorge 

day trips from portland columbia gorge

Distance from Portland: 27 miles

Travel Time: 30 minutes

Bring along your sense of adventure when you head down to the Columbia River Gorge. Kayaking, mountain biking, hiking, and horse riding are great activities to plan when you want to leave Portland for a day. 

Farm-fresh dining and wineries are popular here, so you can take an easy summer day trip from Portland to try out some fine chardonnay or fresh apple tarts. You can also visit the Washington side of the Columbia River if you feel like leaving the state and turning it into a day trip from Portland, Oregon to Vancouver, Washington.

You can book a tour that takes you along the scenic Columbia River Highway, where you can also visit sights such as Multnomah Falls, Horse Trail Falls, and Latourell Falls.

3. Columbia Gorge Waterfalls Road Trip

portland day trips columbia river gorge

Distance from Portland: 28 miles

Travel Time: 30 minutes

From Portland, take a drive east along the Portland highway and you’ll have the opportunity to stop at at least 4 beautiful waterfalls during one of the most scenic day trips from Portland. This is a popular stop when on a Pacific Northwest road trip due to how beautiful the area is.

Latourell Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, Wahkeena Falls (great for kids), and Multnomah Falls (the most popular tourist spot) are some of the best waterfalls in Oregon and can all be visited during a day trip in Oregon. 

If one of the waterfalls catches your attention, turn the road trip into a hiking trip and spend the entire day exploring the area enjoying the views of the waterfall. Oregon has some beautiful hikes that you can easily do, making this area ideal for some of the best quick day trips from Portland.

4. Multnomah Falls

multnomah falls

Distance from Portland: 30 miles

Travel Time: 35 minutes

This is an awe-inspiring 611-foot waterfall that is a great family day trip from Portland. Being only a five-minute walk from the parking lot, it’s an activity you can do for a short day trip from Portland or a long Seattle day trip.

Follow the trail to Benson Bridge and you’ll have an even better view of the fall. There are also some hiking trails you can go on during your Portland day trip. You can simply pick up a trail map from the gift shop and make your way around the park.

This is one of the most popular quick trips from Portland, Oregon, so I recommend either going first thing in the morning or closer to sunset. That way you’ll have a better chance of getting the pictures you want with no one else in them.

5. Salem 

How to Explore the Outdoors in Salem

Distance from Portland: 47 miles

Travel Time: 45 minutes

Recognized for its outdoor beauty, Salem appeals to many people for different reasons. From sports enthusiasts to art fair lovers, travel hikers, and absolute foodies, Salem offers a little bit of everything.

You can spend the entire day during your day trip from Portland simply driving along the scenic roads and taking in the views of the mountain ranges, wildflower fields, and turquoise rivers.

Stop at one of the many restaurants and taste some of the local dishes along the way. Gather Restaurant in Silverton is a great option if you’re looking for some wholesome, healthy food!

There are also many things to do in Salem with kids when you visit. Salem is also a very dog-friendly day trip from Portland, Oregon.

6. Oneonta Gorge

portland oneota gorge

Distance from Portland: 37 miles

Travel Time: 40 minutes

Look right next door to Multnomah Falls and you’ll find the delightful trail of Oneonta Gorge. This tends to be less crowded than its neighboring waterfall but is just as beautiful in my opinion.

While the waterfall is beautiful, I’d recommend taking a hike if you have the time and are physically capable of it.

The Oneonta Gorge Trail will take you behind Ponytail Fall, and then loop around Oneonta Gorge. This trail is about fives miles long and gains 1,600 feet (note – as of September 2020, this trail is currently closed). This is a great day trip from Portland to take when you want to be outdoors.

7. Willamette Valley

things to do in willamette valley winery sunset

Distance from Portland: 48 miles

Travel Time: 50 minutes

There are many diverse and exciting activities in the Willamette Valley, making it one of the most popular day trips from Portland. The rolling vineyard hills, indigenous flowers and trees, and waterfalls hidden in the thicket will take your breath away. 

One of the greatest things you can do in the Portland Wine Country is to take a trip to some of the hilltop wineries. Indulge yourself with high-quality food and then take a tour of the wine cellars to discover the process of winemaking. There are many wineries that allow kids and even have games, so call ahead to find family-friendly places in the Willamette Valley.

You can also visit one of the many flower festivals that take place throughout the year, so you’ll want to add this to your list of ideas for a Portland day trip itinerary at any time of the year. Visiting the area is one of the more unique things to do in the Pacific Northwest.

8. Silver Falls State Park

things to do in willamette valley silver falls

Distance from Portland: 53 miles

Travel Time: 1 hour and 5 minutes

With boundless beauty, Silver Falls State Park is one of the top day trips from Portland to experience Oregon’s special beauty. Take your pick from activities such as mountain biking, waterfall gazing, guided horseback rides or playing in the park. 

Pack a picnic and enjoy the day barbequing on the lawn areas along with the charming creaks. With all of this outdoor space, your kids and dogs would love a visit to the park. 

Book a hiking and wine tour for a fun day outdoors in this recreational park.

9. Day Trip Along the Oregon Coast 

portland oregon coast

Distance from Portland: Starting at 60 miles

Travel Time: 1 hour

If you want to go on a road trip from Portland, there are plenty of Oregon coast day trips from Portland you can take. With so much to see along the coast, hopping in your car is the most practical way of seeing it all. That way you can stop at multiple towns if time allows. 

There are a ton of different places to stop during one of the most beautiful day trips from Portland. Check out some of these recommendations below for day trips from Portland to the coast. You’ll also want to stop here if you’re on a road trip from Seattle.

Portland Day Trips to the Coast:

  • Cannon Beach – This area has the famous Haystack Rock as well as miles of beach to explore and a cute town full of shops and restaurants.
  • Pacific City – You’ll love shopping at the local shops to buy crafts from artists in town and going on adventures like ATVing.
  • Lincoln City – Kids will love exploring tide pools on the beach and flying kites when it’s windy out.

Book an Oregon Coast day tour to Cannon Beach and Haystack rock if you don’t have your own car.

10. pFriem Family Brewers 

brewery tour

Distance from Portland: 64 miles

Travel Time: 1 hour

When you love beer, one of the best day trips from Portland is a visit to pFriem Family Brewers. Situated in Hood River, visiting the award-winning tasting room pFriem Family Brewers is a great way to taste the so often talked about amazing beer of Oregon. From classic offerings to barrel-aged beer, you’ll be sure to find something you like.

The brewery offers a food menu with options like macaroni and cheese, sandwiches, fries, and more. They also have a kid’s menu if you want to turn it into a family vacation in Oregon. I think this is a great option to add to your list of winter day trips from Portland, Oregon, as you can enjoy it no matter what the weather is.

The tasting room sits right across from the town’s waterpark, with beautiful views of the White Salmon and Columbia Rivers. There are plenty of wineries to visit as well during your Portland day trip.

11. Tillamook Cheese Factory

cheese factory day trip from portland

Distance from Portland: 73 miles

Travel Time: 1 hour and 20 minutes

Ever wonder where you get your cheese from? Get your taste buds tingling by going on one of the tastiest Portland day trips and taking a behind the scenes tour of the entire cheese-making process at Tillamook Creamery.

Once you’ve had a feel of the process, cheese samples await you. There’s also a large menu to order from including hamburgers with Tillamook cheese, fresh, locally made ice-cream, and cheese curds. This is by far one of the most satiating day trips from Portland.

12. Cannon Beach

cannon beach day trip from portland

Distance from Portland: 80 miles

Travel Time: 1 hour and 24 minutes

Plan a Cannon Beach trip to walk along the enormous stretch of sandy beach for one of the more fun day trips in Oregon. It’s been named one of the top 100 most beautiful places in the world by National Geographic, so it’s surely going to take your breath away. The area is one of the more popular weekend trips from Seattle as well.

Not only will you find stunning coastal views and a charming village by the sea, but you can also explore many of the cities art galleries, boutiques, and ocean-front restaurants during your adventure from Portland to Cannon Beach. You can easily make this a one day trip from Portland.

13. Cape Lookout State Park 

portland silver falls park

Distance from Portland: 84 miles

Travel Time: 1 hour and 34 minutes

This road trip from Portland is a pretty drive along Wilson River pass will take you to Cape Lookout State Park. It’s a popular camping spot, but it can also be explored during a day.

Whether that be by hiking in the area, simply taking in the beauty at the oceanfront viewpoint or walking on the beach and collecting unique shells.

The Nature Trail, one of the shorter trails in the area, is perfect for a day trip. It’s easy and won’t take up much of your time so you can explore more on your day trip from Portland.

14. Neskowin Ghost Forest 

Distance from Portland: 90 miles

Travel Time: 1 hour and 50 minutes

A mysterious, yet beautiful site to explore, you’ll want to check out the Neskowin Ghost Forest. Back in 1997-98, storms hit the Neskowin town, ultimately destroying the coastal forest. The 2000-year-old trees now stand as stumps on the beach, creating an eerie feel to the shore. 

The stumps are now covered in barnacles, mussels, and other sea creatures and overall it’s quite a fascinating place to visit. This is one of the more unique day trips from Portland, Oregon, so you’ll want to bring your camera.

15. Astoria

Astoria Columbia River

Distance from Portland: 90 miles

Travel Time: 1 hour and 50 minutes

Astoria is a charming fishing village that may just steal your heart away. Sitting on the mouth of the Columbian River, Astoria has a Victorian feel to it and is a pretty unique place to visit. This is one of my favorite secret day trips from Portland that many people overlook.

Rich in history, there’s plenty you can learn from this charming city as well as there being many unique things to do in Astoria. Visit old shipwrecks and learn about the hard lives of fishermen at the Columbia River Maritime Museum during one of the best day trips from Portland, Oregon.

If you want to extend your trip, here are a few recommendations for accommodation:

  • Hotel Elliott – This hotel is in the center of Astoria and has a rooftop terrace and a lounge. (rates start at $129 per night – book your room on Booking.com or Hotels.com or read reviews on TripAdvisor)
  • Historic Victorian Home – If you’re looking to be in the heart of Astoria, this home that sleeps four people is a great choice. Enjoy a quick stroll to the river walk, downtown restaurants, and breweries. (rates start at $140 per night)

16. Mount Hood

mt hood tulips

Distance from Portland: 99 miles

Travel Time: 2 hours and 12 minutes

The second most-hiked mountain in the US, the snowy peaks of Mount Hood can be seen from miles away. A day trip from Portland can take you to breweries, an alpaca farm, and many hiking trails. 

Drive from the mountain to the town of the hood river and you’ll find valleys blossoming with fruit orchards. It’s referred to as the ‘fruit loop’ drive. Why? Because in the spring, apples, pears, and berries seem to pop up everywhere you look. 

Booking a Mount Hood day tour is an ideal option if you’re keen on getting the most out of your experience and want one of the more active day trips from Portland.

There are many things to do in the area, so you might want to extend your Portland day trip by booking a room for a night. The Mt. Hood area is also one of the best places for winter day trips from Portland, Oregon thanks to skiing, snowshoeing, and more in the area.

  • Mt. Hood Oregon Resort – This is a beautiful place to stay complete with walking trails, a golf course, a fitness center, and a spa. (rates start at $169 per night; book your room on Booking.com or Hotels.com)
  • Wildwood River Cabin – This cabin sleeps 5 and is a pet-friendly option for those looking to travel with furry friends. Relax in the hot tub or simply read a book on the private patio. (rates start at $197 per night)

17. Breitenbush Hot Springs

How to Explore the Outdoors in Salem

Distance from Portland: 105 miles

Travel Time: 1 hour and 55 minutes

Escape the city life of Portland and spend the day at Breitenbush. It’s a retreat and conference center, but a great chance to simply relax and take part in some of the many activities. Here’s what they offer:

  • Hot spring and a steam sauna
  • Ancient forest trails
  • A library that’s perfect for lounging and reading
  • Massages and well-being programs, like yoga and meditation

While you can come here anytime throughout the year, it’s most enjoyable having summer day trips from Portland here so you can fully embrace everything they have to offer outside.

Many people prefer to stay here to fully experience Breitenbush, so consider booking a night here before returning to Portland. You can read reviews on TripAdvisor before going.

18. Eugene 

activities in willamette valley river trail

Distance from Portland: 109 miles

Travel Time: 1 hour and 42 minutes

A town densely populated with parks, woodlands, and a hiking hot spot, this little city was previously home to hippies in the 70’s. Now, its outdoor adventures and downtown activities attract families, making it one of the best day trips from Portland with kids.

The university life attracts foodies and beer-lovers, so it’s a fun destination for any age. Art lovers easily fall in love with the city; with a chance to visit the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art and Hult Center for the Performing Arts.

Need to extend your trip? Check out these places:

  • Red Lion & Suites Eugene – This hotel puts you in the middle of downtown so you’re close to restaurants and shops. (rates start at $79 per night; book your room on Booking.com or Hotels.com)
  • Romantic Suite for Two –  If you’re traveling with that special someone, check out this amazing hideaway that comes with a queen bed and a hot tub. (rates start at $141 per night)

19. Bend 

bend road trip

Distance from Portland: 162 miles

Travel Time: 3 hours and 15 minutes

Once a small town, Bend continues to grow into a popular tourist destination and a great vacation spot. There are many things to do in Central Oregon, so it’s a great place to head to. The city has over 20 breweries, 4 wineries, and a buzzing downtown nightlife on top of all the outdoor adventures.

Do some shopping and take a stroll downtown, have a paddle on a canoe down Deschutes River or try your hand at one of the many historic trails.

Book a tour in Bend for a fun afternoon of trying local breweries and seeing the city sights. There are numerous snow sports to participate in, making the area ideal for winter day trips from Portland.

You can drive to Bend and back in a day, but for a less rushed itinerary think about booking a place to stay.

  • Riverhouse on the Deschutes – This Bend hotel has ski storage, a swimming pool, and a spa, making it a great place to relax during your trip. (rates start at $98 per night; book your room on Booking.com or Hotels.com)
  • Downtown Bend Condo –  This condo is in a prime spot for those who want to experience the nightlife in Bend. The private balcony overlooks the Deschutes River, and the place sleeps 4. (rates start at $190 per night)

20. Sea Lion Caves

sea lions oregon

Distance from Portland: 180 miles

Travel Time: 3 hours

Boasted as being America’s largest sea cave, it’s a privately-owned wildlife preserve that’s home to sea lions all year round. The seals are wild animals and not part of a zoo, so you’ll have the opportunity to witness them in their natural habitat. 

In the wintertime, you’ll find hundreds of the seals here – they’ve arrived to start breeding and keep their young warm. Come summertime, the sea lions will make their way to the rocky ledges and enjoy the summer sun. 

This is a good day trip from Portland to extend due to it being the longest. Here are a few recommended vacation rentals.

  • Gorgeous Riverfront House – This house accommodates 6 – 8 guests, and is great for families or groups of friends. Enjoy the peace and quiet of this riverfront location home. (prices start at $205 per night)
  • Little Beach Bungalow –  A quiet escape right by the ocean with easy beach access and ocean views. Comes with a well-appointed kitchen and various entertainment options for the family. (rates start at $195 per night)

Where to Stay After a Day Trip From Portland

Depending how far you drive for your Portland, Oregon day trips, you may want to get a hotel in the city to call your home base. Here are some places to stay:

  • AC Hotel is a European-inspired hotel that’s pet-friendly, next to a waterfront park, and centrally located in downtown Portland. (rates start at $127 per night; book your room on Booking.com or Hotels.com)
  • Hilton Portland Downtown is in the downtown area and includes a parking garage for guests. (rates start at $242 per night; book your room on Booking.com or Hotels.com)
  • Guest Suite With Backyard Oasis – This cute guest suite has street parking available and is close to the Alberta Arts district. (rates start at $125 per night)

Now that you have 20 ideas to consider for day trips from Portland, it’s time to pick one to go on! It won’t take you longer than a day to explore most of these amazing places, and you can even visit two or three sites during an extended journey.

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