In my family, a good day of vacation includes a nourishing breakfast (with a strong cup of coffee), a long day of hiking or skiing, and then a well-earned meal at the local craft brewpub. Often, when we pull back into the driveway at the end of a road trip, we feel exuberant but not quite refreshed.
While healthy meals and exercise are the focus of most of our vacations, more downtime is often what we need. It turns out in every corner of Oregon, including small towns and big cities, there are all kinds of ways to give your mind and body the attention it needs — in total Oregon style. Here are four ways to find wellness around the state.
1. Eating well
Portland Region: Eating local, seasonal, farm-fresh foods in Oregon is as much a part of the culture as craft beer and bicycling. Fermenter PDX in Central Southeast Portland serves up nourishing plant-based cuisine in the form of a fixed three-course lunch. One day you might get black bean tempeh with lacto-fermented tomatillo; the next day the chefs will whip up Willamette Valley quinoa with homemade kraut. Every dish features organic, local ingredients grown by Oregon farmers and fermented sauces. If you’re in a hurry, Fermenter offers grab-and-go options as well as house-made kombucha, kefir water and ginger beer.
Central Oregon: Speaking of the fizzy, tangy drink made of fermented tea, yeast and sugar, Humm Kombucha’s lively taproom in downtown Bend is a great place to sample the company’s energizing fermented blends. The probiotic drink is known to improve gut health, reduce inflammation and boost your immune system. Order a tasting and then fill a growler or purchase a six-pack to go.
Hood/Gorge: After a day of hiking in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, swing through Hood River, where Farm Stand in the Gorge serves up organic soups, salads and sandwiches such as the vegan-friendly T-Blat (tempeh bacon, lettuce, avocado and tomato on toast). Farm Stand is both a deli and a grocery store, so you can stock up on fresh fruits and veggies while waiting for your order. If you’re a kombucha fan, bring a growler: There are 10 rotating varieties on tap, including locally made One Breath Beverage.
Oregon Coast: Fresh, wholesome and flavorful food is the focus at Noster Kitchen in Coos Bay. Everything is made from scratch, including nut milks and butters and savory sauces that are the key ingredients in their tasty breakfast bowls, lunch bowls and smoothies. Combat inflammation and fatigue with the Golden Milk Latte — a rich, warm drink made with turmeric, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper, coconut oil, almond milk and agave.
2. Soaking well
Portland Region: Whether you’re planning an urban escape or a remote adventure, Oregon’s rejuvenating soaking pools and hot springs are idyllic places to unwind, relax and soothe your sore muscles. You could spend all day at Knot Springs, a modern gym, yoga studio and massage center in inner Northeast Portland. The “Knot Springs Ritual” is a seven-step treatment that includes an exfoliation shower, a warm- and hot-pool soak, a cold plunge, a sauna, wellness-boosting steam and — wait for it — nap time.
Southern Oregon: Any trip to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival should include a stop at Jackson Wellsprings, a 30-acre natural hot springs just outside of Ashland. Mineral hot springs feed an Olympic-size swimming pool as well as private soaking tubs. Limber up with a yoga class, choose your favorite spa treatment and fully unwind by spending the night on the grounds — tent and RV sites and teepee rentals are available.
Central Oregon: Sitting within the caldera of the Newberry National Volcanic Monument about 25 miles from Bend, Paulina Lake is a peaceful retreat where locals and visitors alike go to camp, hike, fish, stand-up paddle, mountain bike and simply enjoy the scenery. If you’re adventurous enough to paddle or hike to the hot springs along the lake’s northeast edge, you’ll likely have the place all to yourself — with the exception of eagles and ospreys nesting above. Paulina Lake is popular in the summer, as the springs are submerged by the lake the rest of the year. (Note the road is closed in the winter, typically November through late May.)
Central Oregon: For a truly Oregon experience, check out Hop in the Spa in Sisters. Touted as America’s first beer spa, it infuses spa treatments and full body soaks with hop oil, extracted from hops grown in the Willamette Valley. Their three “hops hydrotherapy” treatments feature two beers from Bend’s Deschutes Brewery — Mirror Pond and Black Butte Porter — and Three Creeks Brewing Co.’s Frontier Justice Coffee Stout. With each soak, they say you’ll gain positive health effects, like skin and joint therapy, stress reduction and a boost to the circulation system.
3. Playing well
Portland Region: In today’s digital world, it can be hard to escape the background noise of everyday life. Let go of stress — as well as your phone, fitness devices and headphones — by taking a three-hour guided walk through the towering trees in Portland’s Powell Butte Park with Forest Therapy PDX. You can book a private “forest bathing” session or participate in a group retreat to participate in activities meant to help you find mindfulness and feel the healing power of Mother Nature.
Hood/Gorge: The Columbia River Gorge is known as a world-class windsurfing and kiteboarding destination. Yet the Gorge has its fair share of calm days, too, and Float On SUP Yoga in The Dalles is a great way to experience them. Classes launch from Riverfront Park and head toward a cluster of islands that offer wildlife viewing and mellow water, where you can do sun salutations below ospreys and eagles.
Oregon Coast: Oregon has its share of musical festivals, but none are more focused on personal wellness than the Beloved Festival in August, a four-day art, music and movement festival located in Tidewater, a little town on the Alsea River, 10 miles inland from Waldport on the Central Coast. Camp under the stars and get in touch with your creative side at this family-friendly gathering featuring world music, spoken word, yoga sessions and workshops ranging from nutrition to self-massage to drumming.
Eastern Oregon: The Painted Hills, one of three units in the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, are a year-round destination known for their stunning layers of red and gold clay. All five trails in the Painted Hills are well marked and relatively flat and short, making them accessible to most visitors. In all seasons, the Painted Hills Overlook is an ideal spot for meditating, journaling, painting and viewing wildlife. (Just be sure to stay on designated trails so future generations can also enjoy this wonder.)
4. Sleeping well
Oregon Coast: Whether it’s mind over matter or a lack of reliable internet service, sometimes you have to go a little farther afield to truly unplug. You’ll have no problem ignoring your inbox once you arrive at WildSpring Guest Habitat in Port Orford. Situated in a private forest along the Southern Oregon Coast, WildSpring is a small eco-friendly retreat with quiet, cozy cabins that share a common guest hall, where a healthy breakfast buffet is served daily. Soak in the outdoor hot tub, walk the rock labyrinth in the forest or sit in a hammock listening to the ocean surf.
Willamette Valley: Breitenbush Hot Springs, a 150-acre retreat center in the Willamette National Forest, is more than a forested retreat; it’s a full zen experience. With numerous mineral hot springs, well-marked hiking and snowshoe trails, and organic, vegetarian meals served three times daily (you can request egg-free, dairy-free and gluten-free meals), Breitenbush is the epitome of relaxation and rejuvenation in an alcohol-free environment. Accommodations include rustic cabins and camping, with common showers. (Note: The springs are clothing optional.)
Willamette Valley: An accessible forested retreat, Tipi Village Retreat, 20 miles from Eugene, offers glamping at its finest. Enjoy gourmet meals, outdoor gathering spaces, reflexology and yoga classes, and a wide range of zen-style teepees and cabins. Planning your own yoga retreat or wellness workshop? You can reserve the entire Tipi Village.
Central Oregon: Built in 1907, the Historic Balch Hotel in Dufur is a reminder of much simpler days. The three-story brick building was one of the first buildings in the county to get electricity, yet you won’t find televisions or other distractions. Located about 15 miles south of The Dalles at the crossroads of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area and the foothills of Mt. Hood, the Balch is a great launching point for bicycle touring, wine tasting, fishing or simply reading a good book by the fireplace.