Ask Oregon Questions & Answers
For the most concentrated wine tasting area, stay either in the Yamhill Valley (Newberg, Dundee and McMinnville area, where the majority of the Willamette Valley’s wineries can be found) or in Salem (easy access to the Eola-Amity Hills AVA).
My go-to fun, budget-priced hotels in Yamhill Valley:
McMinnville and Newberg also have some good standard chain hotels:
Near Salem, closer to the Eola-Amity Hills AVA:
|Willamette Valley, Wine|
I would recommend you start your coastal tour in Bandon, one of my favorite beaches and small towns on the Oregon Coast. However, the stretch of US 101 between Brookings and Port Orford is also a beautiful drive and passes through the scenic Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor. Otherwise, Bandon fits nicely with your interest of towns with character — and it has great restaurants (try The Loft or Alloro Wine Bar and Restaurant). Bandon’s beach is one of the most scenic on the Oregon Coast with many rock formations along the shoreline and just offshore. It’s a great beach to walk or view from viewpoints such as Coquille Point or the Face Rock overlook. If you spend a couple days in Bandon, you could consider a day trip south to Cape Blanco and Port Orford. You could also day trip north to to Cape Arago via the Charleston to Bandon Tour Route. Cape Arago is a must whether you make it a day trip or part of your travel north.
Florence has a great old town and good restaurants, so you may want to spend a night there which would give you the option of exploring the Oregon Dunes and then enjoy a leisurely drive north along another beautiful stretch of coast between Florence and Yachats. I would take the entire day for this stretch with must stops at the Heceta Head Lighthouse and several stops within the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area to see Cook’s Chasm/Spouting Horn, Devil’s Churn, beaches, tidepools and views from the top of the cape. Yachats is very small and is less walkable than the other towns on your list, but there are a couple of nice restaurants (Ona is my favorite for casual fine dining).
Newport is a much larger city, but it does have some fun districts that offer the character and restaurants you are after, as well as several must see scenic attractions nearby such as the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area and Devil’s Punchbowl. The historic Nye Beach district and bay front areas are fun to explore and offer good restaurants (my top recommendations include Local Ocean Seafoods or Saffron Salmon on the bayfront and April’s or Sorella at Nye Beach).
Cannon Beach is also a good choice for walkable small towns with character and good restaurants (including the casual and tropical Castaways and the Irish Table among several good options). Cannon Beach has great beaches and State Parks both north and south with Ecola State Park being a must-see. Cannon Beach hosts a wine and culinary festival (Savor Cannon Beach) March 10-13 that might correspond to your travel dates. Cannon Beach also makes a good base for exploring other coastal towns, including Seaside and Astoria, and their attractions. So, as you were thinking, the towns you have identified sound like they are good choices for you. Consider two nights in Bandon, one night in Florence, one night in Yachats, one night in Newport and two nights in Cannon Beach.
You will want to be prepared for rain, but I would expect that you will experience all kinds of weather and spectacular scenery in any case.
Where can my dog and I find some sunshine during a long winter weekend — without crossing snowy roads?
If you’re seeking sunnier days and a lack of snowy roads, Ashland might be your best bet. It’s very dog-friendly, with hiking trails that stay snow-free for the most part (though we are having a pretty intense winter so far!). I-5 is well-maintained of course, and you won’t encounter a truly snowy pass until Siskiyou Summit, which is just south of Ashland. If interested, you can catch some fun plays in the off-season, plus tour brew pubs and wineries. And always, Ashland is full of fun shops and dining options. Dogs are allowed on many outdoor patios, which are mostly heated in winter.
This website has good reviews of Ashland’s dining scene. Check Bring Fido for dog-friendly lodging; I love Ashland Hills Hotel. You can find more information on local hiking trails (accessible directly from downtown) here.
The Southern Oregon Coast is also dog-friendly with wide beaches and fun yurt camping; some allow dogs, and I’ve had great weekends with my dogs on the Coast. However, you’re not too likely to get sunny weather. Also, Bend will most likely be sunny, but there will be lots of snow…
I’m going to Mt. Hood, want to get to the top of the mountain and want a large variety of ski terrain. Which resort should I visit?
Thanks for the question. The resort that would most suit you is Mount Hood Meadows. It has everything you are looking for and has the most expert terrain along with the most varied terrain.
When it is clear, the upper lift is all above tree line and has incredible skiing along with beautiful views. The lower has amazing trails and tree skiing of all ability levels. Have an awesome winter and please feel free to send more questions if needed!
All the best,
|Mt Hood & Columbia Gorge, Snow Sports|
The South Oregon Coast has many attractions that you could easily spend two days without traveling too far up the coast, depending on how long you want to linger and explore.
DAY ONE: I would save a full day for Harris Beach State Park and the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor. Plan your visit to Harris Beach for low tide and enjoy the tidepools and abundant bird life. There are many stops along the Boardman Corridor that offer easy access to stunning viewpoints and also some great short hikes. For short easy stops, consider Lone Ranch (beach access and tidepools), Cape Ferrelo (short walk to viewpoints), House Rock Viewpoint, Whaleshead Beach (steep, rough road to scenic rock formations and beach), Natural Bridges (short walk to an amazing view), Thunder Rock Cove (short hike to amazing views) and Arch Rock Viewpoint (easy walking paths with dramatic views).
DAY TWO: Otter Point State Recreation Site is a fascinating area just north of Gold Beach with interested rock formations of basalt and sandstone a short walk from the parking area. The drive north is very scenic from there, hugging the coastline to Port Orford. You will likely want to stop at several waysides for the views. If you continue north, make the side trip to Cape Blanco State Park to see the lighthouse at the end of the dramatic cape. If you save time to go as far as Bandon, you will be rewarded with amazing views along Beach Loop Drive. Must stops are Face Rock State Scenic Viewpoint and Coquille Point, where walking paths overlook amazing rock formations. The Coquille River Lighthouse can be seen from the south side of the river, or you can cross over and get a close look at it in Bullards Beach State Park.
Brookings to Bandon is only about 85 miles, but there is so much great sightseeing, I can’t image you can do more than that in two very busy days!
I often visit Mill Creek Falls and Pearsoney Falls, but have not done so this late in the season. This region, between Prospect and Crater Lake and Diamond Lake, gets quite a bit of snow most years. Highway 62 and 138, which lead from Prospect and around Diamond Lake, will be plowed and remain open in almost all cases. You’ll want four-wheel drive or snow tires if conditions warrant them. The smaller access roads to Barr Creek Falls, Salt Creek Falls and Diamond Creek Falls may well close.
I think a winter trip to this area is a very fun idea (we spend time in this area during the winter ourselves), but if you go, plan on the chance of snow, and perhaps rethink the trip to being a snowshoe trek or snow play type of experience. Instead of planning to hike to waterfalls, I’d plan to snowshoe or cross country ski in the Diamond Lake area or at Crater Lake. Diamond Lake’s resort is on the rustic/bare bones side, and Crater Lake is historical and more upscale. Snowshoeing around the lake is stunning! Of course, during the time of your visit, the snow may be gone, in which case you could do the same routes on foot.
Either way, you’ll have a fun trip, but flexibility will be the name of the game!
Congratulations on the wedding! The McMenamins pubs are definitely worth checking out — they have some of the most interesting properties in the region. (I have my favorites.) Beyond that, there are literally dozens of breweries in Oregon (six dozen, last I counted). Unless you’re planning for a very long honeymoon, you may not be able to see them all. Because we drink so much of our own beer, a lot of it never leaves Oregon, so most of our breweries are considered obscure to people even a state or two away. Here are my recommendations for the most interesting ones in Portland:
I think the ones I mentioned will give you a good sense of what Oregon and Portland have to offer, but they are certainly only the tip of the iceberg.
Agates are found along many beaches on the Oregon Coast that are adjacent to cliffs and streams. In addition to finding a good location for agates, beach conditions are a critical factor. Typically, sand builds up on beaches during the summer and covers gravel beds containing agates, while winter storms loosen agates from cliff sides and strip the sand off beaches to reveal these deposits. This usually makes November to March the best time to discover significant agate deposits. Your best best in October would be to concentrate on cliff-side beaches at stream outfalls that wash sand away from rocky deposits. Closest to Portland, the beaches south of Cannon Beach would be a good bet. Consider Hug Point (near the waterfall), Arcadia Beach near stream outfalls or Short Sand Beach in Oswald West State Park where Necarney Creek flows into the ocean. One of my favorite beaches for agate hunting on the North Oregon Coast is the beach at Oceanside on the north side of Maxwell Mountain that is accessed by a tunnel at low tide, though it can be hit or miss depending on sand deposits.
This stretch of Coast, south of Cannon Beach and following the Three Capes Scenic Route (Cape Meares, Cape Lookout and Cape Kiwanda) makes a nice touring route for spending just a few days at the Coast. You can make this trip a loop by driving to the Coast via US 26W to Cannon Beach, south on US 101, following the Three Capes Route from Tillamook, then returning to Portland via OR 6E from Tillamook. You should note that the road north of Cape Meares is indefinitely closed due to slides, so you have to reach Cape Meares and Oceanside by driving through Netarts.
Happy agate hunting!
October is my favorite month and dogs are my favorite humans — so you’re in good hands.
When I first moved to Portland I picked up this book and it’s changed my life. And my dog’s. But really, most of the trails in and around Portland are dog-friendly as long as your dog remains on a leash. All of the hikes in the Gorge allow dogs (on-leash) and everywhere near Mt. Hood allows dogs — so long as you’re not trying to forge the Elliot Glacier washout. Because that would be dangerous for everyone involved.
|Outdoor Adventure, Portland|
Portland is surrounded by the beautiful ocean and the mountains, plus there are so many get restaurants and shops in the city that you would surely appreciate staying a few more days to explore the NW.
Here are some suggestions:
Get lost in Powell’s books, the largest new and used bookstore in the world.
Go see the symphony or a concert at the Arlene Schnitzer Hall
Schedule a walking tour to see the Best of Portland, Epicurean Excursion, Flavor Street (food cart tour) or the Chocolate Decadence tour.
Best Pizza: Ken’s Artisan Pizza
French: Le Pigoen
Seafood: Woodsman Tavern
Brunch: Clyde Commons
Happy Hour: Portland City Grill (best view of the city)
If you rent a car:
Visit one of the 32 wineries near Portland.
The coast is only a 1.5 hour drive. Cannon Beach has great restaurants and shops.