Portland is a wonderful city full of great parks, bike paths, microbreweries, coffeehouses, and places to enjoy food, art, and music. For those who live and work here, however, sometimes it’s good to get out and explore the many other great destinations in Oregon.
Summer is the perfect time to explore everything the Pacific Northwest has to offer. Amazing places, like Sauvie Island, are only about 20 miles away from the city while others, like Coos Bay, require a half-day drive.
Whether you’re planning a day trip, an overnighter, or a week of outdoor activities at one of the state’s many national forests, state parks, or scenic areas, this list of the most iconic summer destinations near Portland, Oregon should give you plenty of ideas on where to head for your summer getaway. Don’t forget to send us a postcard!
1. Columbia River Gorge
Escape the city this summer by visiting the Columbia River Gorge. Designated as the largest National Scenic Area in America, the Columbia River Gorge lies 70 miles west of the city. While there, cycle down The Dalles, discover hidden waterfalls, stroll along the waterfront, hike up Dog Mountain, or view the wildflowers at Rowena Crest. The Gorge isn’t only a scenic destination, visitors also enjoy farm-fresh dining, plenty of hand-crafted beer, and some of the world’s finest wines.
2. Cannon Beach
At 235 feet tall, Haystack Rock towers over the shoreline of Cannon Beach. It’s one of the most recognizable landmarks along the Oregon coast. Walk right up to it and you’ll find fascinating tide pool creatures such as colorful sea stars and from spring to mid-summer, you’ll get a glimpse of Tufted Puffins with their bold white “face-masks,” golden heads, and bright orange beaks. After taking in the breathtaking views, enjoy unique Pacific Northwest-style restaurants, boutiques, art galleries, and oceanfront lodging.
3. Coos Bay
Coos Bay is located on the Oregon Coast and is the deepwater port between Seattle and San Francisco. Oregon’s Adventure Coast is the most popular spot in Coos Bay. Visitors enjoy unique outdoor activities such as tide pooling and whale watching and the sunsets are nothing short of spectacular.
If you’re feeling adventurous, head to the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area for a day of dirt-bike riding. This area extends 40 miles along the coast and has dunes that tower over 500 feet above sea level. Visitors also enjoy fishing, crabbing, and visiting the local art and history museums.
4. Mount Hood
If you enjoy hiking and skiing, you can do both at Mount Hood, which is arguably the most iconic summer destination. With an elevation of 11,249 feet, it’s the tallest mountain in Oregon. Mount Hood offers the nation’s longest ski season and is home to six ski areas for visitors to enjoy. The Palmer Glacier offers snowboarding and skiing opportunities year-round. As a part of your trip, plan a stay at the Timberline Lodge and enjoy breathtaking views of the mountains.
The oldest city in Oregon is the port city of Astoria which offers plenty of history and culture. It’s a fantastic place to learn about the rich history of the Pacific Northwest. The town features many museums and historic parks such as the Oregon Film Museum, Fort Stevens State Park, and Lewis and Clark Park. The Astoria Riverfront is a popular attraction and serves as a hub for local restaurants and canneries. The Astoria Riverfront Trolley is a fun and low-cost way to get around the city too.
6. Mount Rainier National Park
Head north about 135 miles to Mount Rainier National Park in Washington State for a truly magnificent summer destination. Mount Rainier is an active volcano and has the most glaciated peak in the U.S. Hike around and view beautiful wildflowers and stunning waterfalls. Enjoy scenic drives, thriving wildlife, skiing spots, and over 130 hiking trails. Visitors love observing the park’s diverse and captivating wildlife. Walking through the Northwest Trek, there are over 200 animals that represent over 30 species, such as bison and otters.
Seaside is a picturesque beach town located off the Oregon Coast. It has something for everyone—from beachgoers to history enthusiasts to foodies. The grand oceanfront promenade is an excellent place to go for a stroll. You can enjoy activities such as biking, hiking, razor clamming, and kayaking. You can also catch a glimpse of migrating gray whales, photograph a herd of elk, or go bird watching. If you’re looking for an exciting family-friendly activity, we recommend the Seaside Aquarium, where you can feed the seals.
8. Klamath Falls
Klamath Falls is home to Crater Lake and offers plenty of nature and water activities for visitors to enjoy. Any outdoor activity you can think of, Klamath Falls probably offers it. That said, white water rafting tops the list of many Portland adventure-seekers. The area’s variety of lakes and rivers makes it ideal for water sports. There are plenty of white water rafting adventure companies ready to guide you through the most extreme rapids.
The crown jewel of Klamath Falls is Moore Park which is known for the diversity of its waterbirds. Visitors also take advantage of plenty of the park’s soccer fields, large picnic areas, tennis courts, and day camp areas.
9. Crater Lake National Park
Spend a day visiting one of the most iconic summer destinations near Portland, OR, Crater Lake. Here you’ll see some of the state’s most spectacular scenery. The most common activity on Crater Lake is their historic Rim Drive which includes 33 miles of panoramic vistas, lake views, meadows, and forests. Visitors take advantage of the park’s six hiking trails plus boat tours on Crater Lake, the deepest lake in the U.S. at about 1,949 feet. Most visitors do a combination of hikes, the Rim Drive, and activities such as stargazing, boat tours, and biking.
10. Sauvie Island
Less than 20 miles from Portland is Sauvie Island, the biggest island in the Columbia River. This island is a birdwatcher’s paradise and is home to distinctive birds such as migrating geese, blue herons, bald eagles, and sandhill cranes. For fruit and veggie lovers, Douglas Farm is a great place to pick your own produce. Beans, peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, and cucumbers are ripe for the picking.
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