A getaway with friends is always great, but a trip that takes you on new adventures together is unforgettable. Fortunately in Oregon there’s no shortage of thrills, big or small, that are fit for a perfect girls getaway.
Mary Cecchini has spent the past five years leading women on guided adventures around the world — exploring waterfalls and trails, rivers and caves, markets and culinary treats.
The Portland native has loved how she’s seen women of all ages and backgrounds bond together, stretch their comfort zones and truly take time to nurture themselves.
Now, Cecchini is expanding her venture, Living Big Travel, with a pilot program focused on single-day adventures in the Pacific Northwest. It’s called Living Big Adventure Club, and the excursions are designed so that solo women of any skill level can join up for a day of camaraderie and easy, no-planning-required fun.
Some involve stewardship projects, after-work hikes, hands-on cooking classes, wine tasting and hiking to local waterfalls. They’re not meant to adrenaline-filled — just anything that brings women together for shared relaxation and delight.
“The power of allowing women to see the world through the lens of another woman allows you to think more broadly,” she says of the connections women make during the meet-up experiences. “It makes us more compassionate and curious. I think it does have the power to change the world.”
Here are some favorite spots across the state to fit into your next out with your favorite group of gal pals.
Cecchini is a huge fan of Forest Park — look for those less-traveled trails for some true tranquility. Treat yourself to a reward at Blue Star Donuts — their blueberry, bourbon and basil donut is legendary. Southeast Wine Collective is a great spot for people watching and mingling over a happy hour flight. You can’t go wrong having dinner nearby at any of Portland’s top restaurants on Southeast Division Street or on North Williams Avenue, where one of the Living Big Adventures trips involves making steamed buns at XLB. Stay in the city at chic spots like the Jupiter Hotel or The Nines.
Walks on the beach are nice, but seeing the coastline on two wheels just might be better. Start with the easy Roads End Ride in Lincoln City; gear rentals are available downtown at Safari Town Surf Shop. Then stay at the retro-designed Surftides, featuring a private tennis court. If you’re ready for a bigger bike ride, consider the Otter Rock Ride in Newport, with gear and shuttle service provided by Bike Newport. Plus it’s a great reason to stay at Sylvia Beach Hotel, where each room is themed after books and authors.
Cecchini highly recommends signing up for one of Sokol Blosser’s summer wine hikes, held every Sunday morning, July through September. Or, get a broad sampling of the world-class tasting rooms here through NW Wine Shuttle — you can buy a day pass, pick a route, jump on the shuttle at one of their designated meeting points and then hop off (and back on) at whatever stops you like. Oregon Wine Month in May is a fine time to take advantage of promotions. Cheers the day at the new luxurious Atticus Hotel in McMinnville, in the heart of Oregon’s wine country.
It would be hard to pass up a day of exhilarating rafting on the Rogue River, or a rejuvenating spa day followed by wine tasting in Ashland or nearby Jacksonville, an artsy hub 30 minutes northwest. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland will leave you swooning; “Romeo and Juliet,” “The Book of Will” and “Love’s Labor Lost” make their premieres in June 2018. For a touch of class, rest your head at the Jacksonville Inn or Ashland Springs, or indulge in a soak at Lithia Springs.
It doesn’t get much easier — or more beautiful — than stand-up paddleboarding in Bend. Rent a board from Tumalo Creek and float on the aptly named Mirror Pond. For a bigger adventure, ride the new Crooked River Canyon Scenic Bikeway or sign up for a guided climbing trip. All that outdoor fun gets rewarded with a luxurious cabin stay at FivePine Lodge in Sisters or a night in a former classroom at McMenamins Old. St Francis School. Top it off with a beer tasting at one of the region’s many breweries.
Mt. Hood and the Columbia River Gorge
Venture onto the Hood River County Fruit Loop to pick cherries (in season from late June through early August), and explore the eastern side of the Gorge, starting at the lovely little town of Mosier, where hikes abound and you can zip through wine country on an electric bike, courtesy of MountNBarrel’s guided tours. Check out Cecchini’s perfect day in the Columbia River Gorge trip in July 2018. Stay in downtown Hood River at the vintage Hood River Hotel, or savor the views at the Columbia Gorge Hotel.
Make the perfect playlist and take the ultimate road trip in Eastern Oregon. The remote southeastern corner of the state is the perfect place to recharge and reconnect with friends. When the snow melts from the Steens Mountain, explore the highest road in Oregon along the Steens Loop Tour Route, as well as a huge glacial valley and stunning vistas. Head over to the photo-worthy Alvord Desert, which is on every adventure-seeker’s bucket list. Then relax with a sunset soak at Crystal Crane Hot Springs, featuring several brand-new cabins.