I wish my parents were as cool as you are when I was a kid! So it depends when your vacation will start but if it’s this summer, which I’m assuming it is… here’s a quick list of places you can check out within your six-day trip:
From Portland, Head to the Columbia River Gorge
- Waterfalls to check out include:
- Multnomah Falls – Sure, it’s super touristy, but it’s also second tallest year-round waterfall in the U.S. and will drop your jaw)
- Oneonta Falls – This is a slot canyon that includes a hidden waterfall. The trail is right off the side of the scenic highway and includes a scramble over a log jam. If you can get there mid-week, you’ll have it all to yourselves. The water is cold, but on a hot day, does it matter? The waterfall at the end will make you think you’re in Jurassic Park.
- Angels Rest Hike – This five-mile round-trip hike is well known for sunrise dawn patrol runs, mid-afternoon hikes and of course a great place to watch the sunset over the Columbia Gorge.
- Larch Mountain Hike – This hike can be broken up into multiple distances, the longest of which being close to 16 miles, the shortest, .5 miles. On a clear day, you’ll see up to 7 volcanos from the summit.
- From the Gorge, head to Hood River
- In Hood River, you can rent mountain bikes, SUPs, trail run or drive the Fruit Loop, a scenic loop that takes you to various farm fruit stands (including a u-pick lavender farm)!
- Check out Doppio Cafe for some great coffee, gluten free options, and other tasty snacks. If you’re realllly hungry, check out Solstice on the waterfront. Insider tip: the pizza is delicious!
- From Hood River, head up the back side of Mt. Hood
- Stop 1. Tamanawas Falls — a short (4mile roundtrip) hike to yep, you guessed it, another waterfall tucked away in the wilderness. You can get pretty close to this one if you’re careful.
- Stop 2. Ramona Falls — this waterfall looks like something out of Avatar or Fern Gully. And the hike is only 7 miles round trip. Take the back way toward the waterfall for killer views.
- Stop 3. Tom Dick and Harry Mountain via Mirror Lake — my all-time favorite. But also, everyone else’s. Parking is along the highway and the trail starts as soon as you cross the log bridge and dip into the forest. Hike 2 miles up to Mirror Lake for a snack then head up the hill another mile or so to expansive views of Mt. Hood. You won’t regret it.
- From Mt. Hood head back to Portland. Grab some coffee. A snack. Whatever you like. Then take off for the Oregon Coast.
Your easiest coastal options from Portland are Tillamook (left) or Seaside/Astoria (right) as the road splits. If you’re a Goonies fan, you might want to lean right and head toward Astoria. Stop at Ft. Stevens State Park and check out the Peter Iredale Shipwreck on the beach before heading into Astoria for some fresh seafood. If you can find the Goonies House, it’s worth a peek.
If you decide to head towards Cannon Beach or Tillamook, stop at Ecola State Park and hike down to Indian Beach. This is a great place to watch surfers shred some seriously cold water. But it’s also a picturesque rocky, wild, Oregon beach. Watch out for the wild elk that like to roam the area. They’re friendly, just big.
Tillamook is known for it’s cheese and ice cream. So if you have chance to swing into the factory and get in line for the massive scoops of ice cream, it might be worth your time. You can also sample the squeaky cheese upstairs.
If you continue heading south, check out the Arch Cape or the Tillamook Bay Ocean Spit, a seven-mile roundtrip hike that remains flat and tours you alongside the freshwater bay and then wraps you back around to the ocean. Seashells are abundant and there are plenty of photo opportunities, trails to explore, and interested things to see. Once, I found seven starfish attached to the rocks on the jetty at the half-way point.
From here, if you can swing it, there’s a cool place called The Jetty Fishery. It’s a crabbing outfitter that allows you to rent boats and try your hand at catching dinner. The staff is amazing, hilarious, and also very knowledgeable. If you’ve never crabbed before, no worries, they’ll show you exactly what to do. And (!) when you bring back a bucket full of Oregon Dungeness crab, they’ll cook it up for you as you relax by the fire pit. How cool is that?
There’s so much more to see and do along the Coast! All of the following are within driving distance from Cannon Beach and are great places to check out:
- Haystack Rock
- Oswald West State Park — Short Sands Beach
- Hug Point (sea caves + waterfalls!)
- Neahkahnie Mountain (hike up and overlook Manzanita Beach)
- Cape Falcon lookout
- Cape Lookout State Park + hike
- The Oregon Coast Trail