We are traveling to Portland and would love to take right off and go on a nature excurion. We are considering Mt. Hood and Mt. St. Helen’s. Can you tell us which you would recommend and why? In both cases, can you recommend a wonderful place to stop for exquisite dining and wining? something we would never find on the East Coast? – Jan M.
Mount Saint Helens is going to be pretty much out of the question. Due to the time you have available, the drive is too lengthy for you to enjoy yourself. Most of the visitor center’s don’t open until May 18th either and the dining options in the area are limited, to say the least.
Mount Hood, however, is maybe an hour and a half from the airport, and you would have plenty of time to explore once you get there. Timberline Lodge is definitely something you won’t get on the East Coast. They feature Northwest cuisine and an extensive wine list including a large number of Oregon wines. In fact, they have the largest wine list in the state. You can’t go wrong there.
If you are looking for something even closer with more time to fit some hiking in, try a drive along the historic highway in the Columbia River Gorge. The Tippy Canoe near Troutdale has the best seafood this side of the coast, a great wine list and cocktail menu. If the weather is warm and dry, they have a beautiful outdoor dining area featuring stone tables, fire pits, and patio heaters if it’s a little bit chilly.
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About Ask Oregon Expert Cari Gesch
Cari, a resident of the Mount Hood foothills, is a photographer, writer, and wanderer of hiking trails and scenic byways. She captures images and stories of the experiences and destinations that make Oregon such an exciting place to live and play in on her blog, Wahkeena Exposures.