One of the questions we get asked regularly is what day trips from Portland we think are best.
With stunning beaches, impressive mountains, rushing waterfalls, and much more, the Pacific Northwest is a wonderland for outdoor adventure.
There are literally thousands of things to do nearby – especially when you count in all the amazing hikes, waterfalls, and towns in the area. In fact, even though we’ve lived in the PNW for eight years (and John lived here growing up), we’re always finding out about new places.
Below, we have pulled together several day trip options within about two hours of Portland. These fun and adventurous suggestions should help you plan the perfect getaway.
Note: Some of the locations and attractions mentioned may be closed at the current time due to post-fire hazards or public health guidelines. Also, we want to mention that some areas are free. However, others require a day-use fee or annual pass. Please makes sure to check the status and current guidelines before you go.
This post may include affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I (The Stoke Fam) earn from qualifying purchases. Read more. We encourage you to follow all state and federal guidelines during your adventures. As status continues to change, we suggest you double-check to ensure destinations are open and have the amenities you need prior to heading out.
Oregon Day Trips
Distance from Portland: Approximately 50 miles and 45 minutes
The Willamette Valley in Oregon is known for its stunning vineyards and wines. However, there is much more to the area than wine.
There are hiking trails, plunging waterfalls, bike trails, and even covered bridges nestled in this picturesque valley. You can even visit the Enchanted Forest Theme Park with rides and attractions to entertain the family.
If something indoors is more your style, there are options for you as well. Head to Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum, where you can learn about aviation and space history, see the original Spruce Goose, or even take a flight simulator ride. Or, there is also the nearby Wings & Waves Waterpark if you don’t mind getting wet!
Silver Falls State Park
Distance from Portland: Approximately 55 miles and 1 hour 10 minutes
If you’re up for a little adventure, Silver Falls State Park is incredibly popular – and for great reason! This park is home to the Trail of Ten Falls, where (yes, you guessed it!), you can see ten waterfalls in a little over 7 miles.
The day we hiked it, we ended up doing almost 10 miles in about six hours with the kids. However, we were not in a rush and did take a few side trails as well.
There are several parking areas to start this trail. However, if you think the full trail may be too much and you want to see some of the most impressive falls first, we suggest one of two options.
The first is to park at the South Falls Day-use Area and start with South Falls. This option gives access to the campground, has the largest parking lot, facilities, and a cafe.
Or, you can also park at the North Falls trailhead and head to North Falls first. However, the parking area is smaller, so it may be more challenging to find a spot. From either of those locations, you can then proceed around the loop as far as you desire.
L.L. Stub Stewart State Park
Distance from Portland: Approximately 35 miles and 35 minutes
L.L. Stub Stewart State Park is a short drive from the city but packs the punches for fun. Not only are there hiking trails, but there are also mountain biking and horse trails. And if you’re a fan of disc golf, they have a super cool course nestled among the forest.
There are cabins and campsites available for rent, and a few cabins, in particular, have incredible views!
But don’t worry. Even if you’re not staying overnight, you can catch some spectacular peeks of the valley below from the Hilltop Day Area.
Distance from Portland: Approximately 75 miles and 1 hour 15 minutes
The first thing that often comes to mind when someone mentions Tillamook is cheese – or ice cream! And, while a tour of the Tillamook Creamery is terrific, there is so much more to explore.
Beyond the town of Tillamook itself, there are many beaches and coastal areas worth exploring. You can drive the Three Capes Scenic Loop, stopping to hike and explore at each one, or pick a specific location and stay for the day.
Cannon Beach and Haystack Rock
Distance from Portland: Approximately 80 miles and 1 hour 20 minutes
A short drive from the town of Tillamook is Cannon Beach. Full of restaurants and shops to explore, almost four miles of beach, and the iconic Haystack Rock itself, you’re sure to find something to enjoy in this coastal town.
Even if you’ve never visited before, Haystack Rock will still likely seem familiar. One of the most recognizable landmarks along the Oregon Coast, it was also used as a backdrop for the movie, The Goonies. Besides its appearance on the big screen, here are a few more fun facts about this dramatic rock formation.
- Made of lava rock, Haystack Rock soars 235 ft into the air.
- At low tide, you can explore the sea life in the tidepools around the rock. Just make sure to stay below the barnacle line and to leave any creatures that you find.
- You’ll often see many birds in and around Haystack Rock. You can find everything from seagulls to cormorants to puffins and even the occasional bald eagle here!
There is nothing quite like watching a sunset at this magical spot. Though, it can be windy and cool, watching the waves crash against the rock, seeing birds soaring high above, and seeing the magnificent colors is incredible.
Cape Lookout State Park
Distance from Portland: Approximately 85 miles and 1 hour 30 minutes
Cape Lookout State Park is home to hiking trails, a beautiful beach, and incredible views. An excellent location to visit in most any season, any time you choose is sure to please.
During the winter, it’s a great spot to spend a bright sunny day. Though it may be breezy, the views are beautiful, and the crowds will be few.
In the summer, you’ll enjoy warmer weather, and the campground will be open for staying overnight. However, that means you will also have more companions to share the park with.
At other times, such as during spring or mid-December to mid-January, a hike to the tip of the cape may allow you to see whales during their migration.
Distance from Portland: Approximately 100 miles and 1 hour 45 minutes
Nestled along the Columbia River, Astoria is another great town for a day trip from Portland.
Like Haystack Rock, this town is also well-known for its role in The Goonies. However, several other films have used its beautiful scenery as well. If you want to find out more, the Oregon Film Museum is a great place to learn about them.
Of course, there’s more to Astoria than it’s fame for being in movies. A visit to the Columbia River Maritime Museum will teach you about shipping on the Columbia, the history of the area, and the dangers of the river bar when storms arise.
Nearby, the Astoria Column rises 600 feet above sea level and offers stunning views on a clear day. You will have to climb 164 steps to the top to soak in those views. However, we think it is 100% worth it.
Fort Stevens State Park
Distance from Portland: Approximately 95 miles and 1 hour 45 minutes
Located a short distance from Astoria, Fort Stevens State Park is home to campgrounds, miles of bike trails, beaches, a Historic Military Site, and more.
With over 4,300 acres to explore in this park, there truly is something for everyone. History buffs will love touring the historic areas, and kids will enjoy the bike trails and beaches. There is even a shipwreck!
Distance from Portland: Approximately 45 miles and 1 hour
Whether you are visiting in the summer or the winter, Mt. Hood is an excellent destination for a day trip from Portland.
During the winter, the area boasts incredible skiing and snowboarding at several resorts, such as Timberline, Mt. Hood Meadows, and Mt. Hood Ski Bowl. In fact, even if you’re visiting in the summer, you can still get your fix at Timberline, one of the few resorts in the world to offer year-round access to the slopes.
Summer in the Mt. Hood area brings the melting of snow at lower elevations, making access to trails, lakes, waterfalls, and stunning vistas easier than at other times of the year.
Columbia River Gorge & Multnomah Falls
Distance from Portland: Approximately 30 miles and 35 minutes.
One of the most famous locations in the Columbia River Gorge is Multnomah Falls. It’s an incredible waterfall that plunges a total of 620 feet to the water below.
There is a bridge across the lower tier that allows you to get a closer look at the falls – albeit with large crowds. While we absolutely love this waterfall, it is almost always overcrowded.
With easy access directly off I-84 and a short trail to get to the top of the falls, some days it feels like all of Portland (and everyone passing through) is here.
In addition to Multnomah Falls, the Columbia River Gorge itself is a popular destination that draws the crowds. However, if you’re willing to choose a more challenging trail, you will be rewarded with fewer people.
One of our favorites is the nearby trail to Wahkeena Falls and Springs. On this trail, you will find several waterfalls, sweeping views of the gorge, and smaller crowds, in particular, if you continue past Wahkeena Falls to the upper portion of the trail.
Bonneville Dam & Fish Hatchery
Distance from Portland: Approximately 40 miles and 45 minutes
A visit to the Bonneville Dam and Fish Hatchery is a fun, educational day trip out of the city along the Columbia River in Oregon. At the dam, there are often options for educational talks and tours to learn about the dam’s history.
The underwater viewing area gives you a peek of the fish ladder as well as the counting room where it is someone’s job to sit and count the fish as they pass by. It’s pretty incredible to see how many they can track in a single day!
While there, you can also visit the Powerhouses to learn about hydropower, head to the rooftop deck for views of the Columbia River Gorge, and head to the Fish Hatchery to see Herman the Sturgeon. He is massive at over 500 pounds!
Distance from Portland: Approximately 65 miles and 1 hour
If windsurfing is your jam, then Hood River is your place! A well-known destination for windsurfing, it has even been called “the Windsurfing Capital of the World.”
However, if you’re not interested in water sports, Hood River has plenty more to offer. Located right along the Columbia River, you can also experience hiking and mountain biking in the area.
Hood River is also well known for its agriculture, especially fruit trees. Head to a U-pick farm for berries or visit lavender farms. You can even drive (or bike) the Hood River Fruit Loop, where you’ll find everything from fruits and vegetables to wine, flowers, and food.
Distance from Portland: Approximately 20 miles and 30 minutes
Sauvie Island is a popular destination for produce and u-pick farms in the area. Various farms offer a wide variety of produce, including strawberries, blueberries, corn, peaches, flowers, pumpkins, and more.
In addition to produce, the island also has several public beaches along the Columbia River, is a popular bird-watching destination, and also offers several opportunities for hiking.
Tillamook State Forest
Distance from Portland: Approximately 50 miles and 1 hour
Get Directions to Tillamook Forest Center
Tillamook Forest has many activities available for adventurous families. With options including hiking, mountain biking, camping, kayaking, swimming, fishing, OHV (off-highway vehicle trails), and much more, there are fantastic options for everyone.
One of our boys’ favorite spots is the Tillamook Forest Center. Inside, you can learn about the Tillamook Burn, discover the history of the area, and explore hands-on exhibits. Outside, there are several trails to explore, a lookout tower to climb, and plenty of spots to have a family picnic.
Distance from Portland: Approximately 100 miles and 2 hours
If you’re more of a water person, you may want to consider Detroit Lake. The levels of water vary at this human-made reservoir that provides boating access, water sports, swimming, and more. However, even walking the lake bed when it is empty makes for a fun activity.
The surrounding area is also an excellent destination for outdoor adventure. Go for a bike ride, visit nearby hot springs, or head out for a hike. There are many trails in the area, some of which provide stunning vistas of nearby Mt. Jefferson.
Washington Day Trips
Distance from Portland: 175 miles and approximately 2 hours 30 minutes – 3 hours
Seattle is the furthest destination that we included on this list of day trips from Portland, but there’s a good reason we didn’t leave it out. Although it’s a bit of a drive for a single day, it’s totally worth dedicating a day of your PNW vacation to visit – or visiting a couple of times a year if you’re local.
From the Woodland Park Zoo to Pike Place Market, Seattle has so many incredible things to see, do, and taste. A few more of our favorites to consider are the Space Needle, Chihuly Garden and Glass, the Museum of Pop Culture, and Smith Tower.
Mt. St. Helens
Distance from Portland: 64 miles and approximately 1 hour
Another of our favorite destinations in the Pacific Northwest is Mt. St. Helens. Located in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, the area around Mt. St. Helens provides endless trails and views.
A stop at the Johnston Ridge Observatory provides opportunities to learn about volcanoes in general, the May 18, 1980 eruption, and how the environment is changing. Take a hike, listen to a ranger talk, or watch a film that ends with the curtain lifting to reveal the center of the crater directly in front of you.
No matter how you choose to spend your time at Mt. St. Helens, you’re sure to come away with a greater appreciation for the power of nature.
Mt. Rainier National Park
Distance from Portland: 140 miles and approximately 2 hours 15 minutes
Living in the Pacific Northwest for the last eight years, we’ve had the opportunity to see many mountains. However, we’ve decided that our favorite to see is the iconic Mt. Rainier.
There’s something about her majestic shape that is so incredible. We love watching the contours that appear as the snow starts to melt away, and how she seems somewhat softer as the snow covers her in her winter blanket. Every angle provides a new and interesting perspective of her grandeur.
Within Mt. Rainier National Park, you can head out on a hike, go camping, see wildflowers and wildlife, and much more. Some of our favorite options are hiking through old-growth to waterfalls at Ohanapecosh, exploring Mowich Lake, and visiting the highest point accessible by vehicle at Sunrise.
Distance from Portland: Approximately 115 miles and 2 hours 10 minutes
Just over two hours from Portland is the Washington town of Long Beach. This town, as you might expect from its name, has long stretches of beach to explore.
In town, you can see the claimed “World’s Largest Frying Pan,” visit Marsh’s Free Museum full of oddities, and grab a bite to eat. When you’re ready for an escape to nature, venture to Leadbetter Point State Park or Cape Disappointment State Park.
Moulton Falls Regional Park
Distance from Portland: Approximately 40 miles and 45 minutes
Located across the Columbia in Washington, Moulton Falls Regional Park is another beautiful destination. This is a great spot to spend a day with several miles of easy trails, waterfalls, and a beautiful arch bridge.
A short trail, approximately 2.5 miles, also connects this trail to Lucia Falls Regional Park. Pack a picnic to eat while listening to the rushing water, or take an easy hike through the park’s trails.
Bells Mountain Trail also begins in the park for a more challenging hike, leading to Rock Creek Campground and the surrounding trails.
Day Trips From Portland Map
No matter what you’re looking for in a day trip from Portland – hiking, biking, nature – there are plenty of options without traveling far.
We hope this list of some of the best day trips near Portland will help you plan your next adventure. Do you have any favorites we should check out? We’d love to hear about them in the comments!
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