Portland is one of those cities in Oregon – and trust us, there are quite a few – where choosing a day trip is hard not because of a lack of things to do, but because of the opposite. With so much to do, it can be hard to narrow things down.
If you’re looking for something to do near Portland, then we’ve got some great day trip ideas for you. Portland has a lot to offer adventurers, from its beautiful outdoor scenery to a vibrant nightlife that features art, food, music, and plenty of opportunities for fun. Around Portland, you’ll find some of the world’s most spectacular outdoor scenery just an hour from city limits.
Portland offers some splendid opportunities you won’t find anywhere else in America. For instance, you’ll find the nation’s only year-round ski trail area, ample amounts of waterfalls, and plenty of old forest views combined with miles of beachfront scenery. If you’re thinking about taking a fun day trip near Portland anytime soon, then we’ve got a list of some of the best day trips in this incredible Oregon city.
For those of you who love waterfalls, Oneonta Gorge is one to check out. If you enjoy hiking, you can take the 2.7-mile loop that travels behind Ponytail Falls. However, expect that you’ll get wet, mainly depending on the time of year you decide to hike–the Columbia River Gorge gets rainy! You also may need to climb over a logjam and do some wading.
The best time to take this hike is usually later in the summer because the water is warm. Besides hiking behind Ponytail falls, you can also walk to Triple Falls. You’ll get to see three waterfalls side-by-side running down 120 feet of the mountain.
Silver Falls State Park
With plenty of waterfalls and some pretty awesome trails, Silver Falls State Park is another excellent option for hikers. It also offers some good, old-fashioned family fun if you want to do something besides hiking. Silver Falls State Park is the largest area of protected forest in Oregon, so it’s well worth seeing. There are plenty of waterfalls adorning the park, and ten of those waterfalls are viewable by walking the Trail of Ten Falls.
That hike is a 7.2-mile loop and allows you to witness the South Falls, the most famous waterfall on the trek. You can walk behind this waterfall and see its beauty. Besides hiking, you can also venture out to take a nice picnic with the family. Silver Falls State Park offers a beautiful playground, picnic tables, and barbecue stands. If you’re a dog lover, you can even bring your dog here for a fun trip since there is an off-leash area for dogs in Silver Falls State Park.
Mount Hood offers plenty of opportunities for hikers, but there are other fun choices available for people looking to try something a bit different. Mount Hood features snow-capped peaks. So, if you want to try a ski day trip, Mount Hood is the perfect place to go. Mount Hood’s Timberline ski area is the only year-round lift-served ski resort in America. That means you can ski anytime you wish.
Besides the Timberline ski area, there are five other ski areas available on Mount Hood and plenty of hiking opportunities for those of you that want to hit the trails. You’ll find some great trail hikes at the Mount Hood Scenic Byway Area. Also, the Mount Hood National Forest features plenty of hiking trails as well. If you love golf, Mount Hood even has a 27-hole golf course that provides another option for a fun day trip.
We’ve written an article about our favorite hikes near Mount Hood, which you can check out here if you’re interested in learning more.
Another fun doable day trip from Portland is taking the scenic Highway 101 to the mouth of the Columbia River, where you’ll find Astoria. Astoria provides the opportunity to experience a beautiful drive along the Oregon Coast. Once you get to Astoria, you can window shop and browse the area because there are a vibrant art scene and fantastic history surrounding the town’s culture.
The Astoria Riverfront Trolley provides a fun daily round trip lift through the city. You can also visit the Columbia River Maritime Museum to learn more about the area. Astoria also offers a tour of a floating lighthouse and an excellent view from the top of the Astoria Column, a landmark that takes its muse from the Trajan Column in Rome.
If you’re craving a visit to one of the best sights on the Oregon coastline, then consider taking a day trip to Cannon Beach. There are plenty of beautiful hiking trails found in Ecola State Park. Many of these trails walk you through old forests and around some beautiful ocean scenery. The most famous ocean view at Cannon Beach is Haystack Rock. Haystack Rock offers a large rock formation and is quite a sight to see.
If you walk around the Tillamook Head Trail, you’ll wind up walking in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark for some time. Also, if you want to spend some time on the ocean shores or out in the ocean whale watching, Cannon Beach is the place to be. About 18,000 gray whales migrate through Cannon Beach yearly during the spring and winter seasons.
There are, of course, a myriad of other incredible day trips you could take in the Portland area. It’s truly one of the most dazzling cities in Oregon, and these are just a few of our favorite outdoor-themed adventures in the area! If you’re looking for more of a culture guide, we’re working on one and are excited to share it soon.