When you’re ready to venture out beyond Portland, there’s a lot to do in every direction. Here are some favorites.
Silver Falls State Park – Learn more.
An hour south of Portland, Silver Falls is the largest state park in Oregon with an area of more than 9,000 acres, and it includes more than 24 miles of walking trails, 14 miles of horse trails, and a 4-mile bike path. Its 8.7-mile Canyon Trail/Trail of Ten Falls runs along the banks of Silver Creek and by ten waterfalls. You walk less than a mile to see several stunning falls.
Multnomah Falls and the Columbia River Gorge – Learn more.
About 30 minutes west of Portland, the falls are spectacular. An express bus will take you there from the city for $5 roundtrip. Get trip details.
Oregon Gardens – Learn more.
A stunning, 80-acre botanical garden, featuring more than 20 specialty gardens showcasing the diverse botanical beauty of the Willamette Valley and the Pacific Northwest.
Mt. St Helens – Learn more.
In 1980, this active volcano erupted, killing 57 people and destroying 250 homes, 47 bridges, 15 miles of railways, and 185 miles of highway. Several thousand feet of the mountaintop disintegrated into ash blasted into the atmosphere over several states. Today, the land around the mountain is recovering. A visitor center provides history, a film showing the actual eruption and stunning views of the mountain as it is today. We have hiked below the cauldron, visited the visitor center and explored the area twice in the past couple of years. From Portland, it is an easy 70-mile, 1.5-hour drive. We give it a rating of 10 on a scale of 1-10 for stunning views, history, and ease to get there, with well-maintained roads everywhere.
The Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum / Willamette Valley Wine Country
A one-hour drive (40 miles) south of Portland is McMinnville, the heart of Oregon’s wine country. It also is home to one of the best aviation and space museums I’ve visited. Evergreen is not as grand as the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., but tours, movies, and exhibits make it a must-visit attraction. We left Portland at 9 a.m., arrived in McMinnville at 10 a.m. where he tucked into the Wildwood Cafe, 319 Baker St (4 Stars on Yelp), for breakfast, then headed to Evergreen.
You don’t have to be an aviation or space junkie to enjoy this. Take a one-hour tour, go see one of the Imax movies, then learn about the U.S.-Soviet race to the moon during the 1960s. One exhibit will take your breath away: Howard Hughes ‘Spruce Goose,’ a seaplane bigger than a 747 built in 1947 almost entirely from birch. Officially known as the Hughes Hercules H-4, the plane only flew one time, then was canceled by the military. Stairs lead up to the plane where a docent is waiting to answer your questions. Standing inside will leave you awestruck. Cruise through the museum on your own or take the tour with a guide who will lead you through a history of aviation during war and peacetime.
If you would like the spend the night and wine taste in the afternoon or the next day, we recommend the A’ Tuscan Estate Bed and Breakfast. The 1920’s home has been lovingly restored. Owner/Innkeeper Erin offers amenities you might expect from lodging today (wifi, healthy gourmet breakfast, modern bathrooms, and pristine clean rooms). Best of all, it is located just .03 miles from the historic downtown, which is lined with restaurants, small local stores, pubs, and wine tasting shops. Erin, a former hospitality executive with extensive experience in the wine industry, can offer suggestions for touring local wineries. You’ll need to book ahead, of course.