How to plan your trip to see the wonders of Oregon
Downtown Portland is brimming with street art, tranquil neighbourhoods, quirky artisan stores and places to wet your whistle or satisfy any cuisine craving you have. This compact and walkable city is a breeze to explore on foot on a walking tour setting off from the centrally located Pioneer Courthouse Square. Stop along the way to learn more about Portland’s fascinating public street art and bronze drinking fountains which date back to 1912, and still quench the thirst of locals and tourists alike today. Exploring neighbourhoods each with their own unique character will give you a taste of the history found here at every turn and a sense of how the city has grown to embrace its quirky nature. For those seeking an urban oasis Portland offers plenty of green spaces, including the sprawling Washington Park, home to 722 different varieties of Roses at the International Rose Test Garden, and the tranquil Portland Japanese Garden with its spectacular views of nearby Mount Hood. Make sure you ask us how to explore Portland by bike; the perfect way to work up an appetite is to make use of more than 550kms of bike paths which criss-cross this cycle-friendly city.
Coastal towns and lighthouses
Heading out of Portland down the Pacific Coast, you’ll encounter seemingly endless stretches of broad sweeping beach, quaint seaside towns and historic lighthouses, many of which are still in operation today. Travel down the Oregon Coast’s Highway 101, stopping to spot migrating grey whales from Cannon Beach, famed for its seastacks and wildlife in Ecola State Park. Visit the iconic Tillamook creamery to sample a Marionberry ice cream, made from the unique type of blackberry Oregon is known for. Visit the Yaquina Bay and Yaquina Lighthouses, located near the town of Newport and its arch bridge which may look familiar to Sydney-siders! Hike through coastal forest at Cape Perpetua where the seaspray makes it look like it rains upside-down in this part of the world. Stop by the picturesque town of Florence, and learn about the haunted history of Heceta Head Lighthouse and its historic Light Keeper’s home.
With more food trucks than you could poke a fork at, a tradition of farm-to-plate cuisine using delicious fresh produce, award-winning wines and beers produced at local, boutique wineries and breweries, Oregon is a foodie’s paradise. Portland has more breweries than any city in the world, with many of them located close to the downtown area, making it easy to sample some of the locally brewed hops. Along the Mt. Hood Scenic Byway you’ll find orchards brimming with berries, nectarines, cherries and apples in spring and summer; savour fresh Dungeness crab and delicious seafood chowder from Cannon Beach to Florence; and taste world-class Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris from the Willamette Valley and Columbia Gorge.
Crater Lake National Park
The deep cobalt blue of Crater Lake, the deepest lake in the United States at 600m deep, contrasts against the vast snow drifts which cover the rim of the collapsed volcanic caldera in the winter months. Although some roads can be closed at this time of year, it is still one of ethereal beauty, with sweeping views over the lake and huge columns of ploughed snow piled along the sides of the roads that wind up to the scenic viewing points at the top of the lake’s rim. During the warmer months you can explore the old-growth forests beyond the lake and take the Rim Road drive, stopping along the way at some of the panoramic viewpoints, forests and meadows.
Hood River and Columbia River Gorge
Set against the backdrop of Mount Hood and located in the heart of Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Hood River offers beautiful landscapes dotted with fruit orchards, sweeping views along the river valley and plunging waterfalls hidden along the trails and backroads. Possibly the most well-known of the region’s waterfalls, Multnomah, is fed by an underwater spring and snow melt, making it a must-see sight in all seasons. Spring and summer bring Hood River to life; take a scenic paddlewheel boat trip along the Columbia River, stop off at one of the picturesque towns which dot the riverside, and take a ride on the historic Mount Hood Railroad to see the landscape in bloom.
Oregon is easy to explore on a self-drive holiday, with a connected network of highways and scenic routes to take you from highlight to highlight, and giving you plenty of flexibility to stop off along the way. Our Adventure World experts have put together a number of suggested itineraries such as the 12 day Seven Wonders of Oregon self-drive, and can assist to customise your trip with expert advice and guidance on what to see and do en route.
For those looking for a culinary adventure, our 8 day Pacific Northwest Peaks & Pours small group trip will take you to the heart of Oregon’s brew culture, with epic sightseeing along the way.
Or, take a unique small ship cruise along the Columbia River Gorge with UnCruise Adventures’ Rivers of Wine & Culinary
These trips and more of Oregon’s best can be found in our brand new USA Tailor-made Collection brochure – Order your copy today!
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