Hungry for adventure? Get on the road this summer and explore some of the state’s top driving routes — already mapped out for you and packaged as the Oregon Scenic Byways.
Steeped in history, archaeology and remarkable beauty, these well-mapped routes also happen to feature some of Oregon’s tastiest outposts. So load up the car and start dreaming about that milkshake near a snow-capped volcano; the world-class wine dinner right beside rolling hills of fruit orchards; the well-earned craft brew after chasing waterfalls through a Douglas fir forest.
Here’s a taste of what you might find.
Near Mt. Hood, this route route climbs through verdant farmlands, past the historic Timberline Lodge and along the final stretches of the Oregon Trail. Celebrate the bounty of local strawberry, pear, cherry, apple, nectarine and peach orchards through cider tastings, farm stands, U-picks, wineries, alpaca ranches and lavender farms along the 35-mile Hood River County Fruit Loop. If you’re so inclined, sip your way through Hood River’s wine country bike bike, through MountNbarrel’s all-inclusive tours. Then explore the history and culture of Hood River’s downtown during a 90-minute walking tour this summer, offered every other Monday through July by the History Museum of Hood River County. Watch the windsurfers while noshing on pizza at Double Mountain Brewery, then re-energize with a coffee and afternoon treat at Pine Street Bakery. Or, check out the Nordic brunch fare at the new, hip Broder Øst — sister restaurant to Portland’s Broder Nord and Broder Soder.
Further down the mountain in Troutdale, you’ll be charmed by the vibrant historic downtown, where Calcagno Cellars recently opened their boutique tasting and you can still get a milkshake at an old-fashioned drug-store counter at the Troutdale General Store. Nearby, stretch your legs on the gorgeous 74-acre grounds of McMenamins Edgefield, where their Black Rabbit Restaurant & Bar pours cider made from fruit grown in their orchard on site. As the byway wraps around Mt. Hood, stop at Rebel and Rye in Welches for a second breakfast (served til 2 p.m.) with a heaping serving of chorizo gravy; then sample Mt. Hood Brewing‘s lip-smacking new menu in Government Camp.
Take a driving tour through countryside and rural towns in Oregon’s most famous wine regions, Willamette Valley. Stop into the Little Cannoli Bakery for authentic Italian treats and a cider tasting at 1859 Cider Company in Salem before setting out on the scenic loop. After passing by 55 miles of waterfalls and wildflowers, you’ll be ready for a plate of thoughtfully sourced chicken n’ waffles or garden hash at Gather Cafe and artisan truffles at The Chocolate Box in Silverton, followed by a “Marion County line” cocktail — whiskey, lemonade and local blackberries — at Glockenspiel Restaurant in Mt. Angel, a local stomping ground.
In the most remote corner of the state, go from the vast depths of a 10-mile-wide canyon to the great heights of the 10,000-foot Wallowa Mountain peaks on this byway, which takes you through wild and untamed country. Make sure to hit up Ten Depot Street in historic downtown La Grande for a prime rib sandwich or steak dinner. Along the byway, make sure to stop for artisan treats at Arrowhead Chocolates in Joseph and a plate of ribs and Forklift Double IPA at Barley Brown’s Beer in Baker City.