5 Great Day Trips from Portland OR

Written by Elizabeth Rose

August 30, 2021
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While there’s much to see and do in Portland, you’ll want to check out the natural beauty and quaint historic towns surrounding the Portland area. These are our favorite day trips from Portland.

When you visit the Portland area, you will be tempted to explore some iconic Oregon treasures during your visit. Oregon is known for the rugged Oregon Coast, the wine—especially Pinot Noir—the exciting history of the discovery of the Pacific Northwest, and the ever-present Mt. Hood, which has snow year-round. You can experience all of these in these day trips from Portland.



While there’s much to see and do in Portland, you’ll no doubt want to leave the hustle-bustle of the city behind, get out of the traffic, and check out the natural beauty and quaint historic towns surrounding the Portland area. These five day trips from Portland will give you a good taste of the wonders of Oregon.

1 – Dundee Wine Country

When in Oregon, you must go wine tasting. All it takes for an excellent day trip from the Portland area is a winery appointment, a great idea for lunch, and some good friends. The Dundee area is one of the oldest established grape-growing areas in the Willamette Valley. Our wine-tasting day trip to Dundee began with a wine-tasting appointment. We made our appointment for a weekday at 11 am, just when the tasting room opened, strategically timed to have lunch at the Red Hills Market, known for wood-fired pizza and locavore cuisine. Come wine tasting with us and find out where to go taste, and then kick back and have a country-style lunch.

Dundee Hills Beauty

The rolling hills of Dundee. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose


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Tip: Make reservations ahead for wine tasting.
Driving time: 45 minutes to Dundee
Time needed for day trip: 4 hours minimum
Dundee Wine Day Trip

2­ – Mt. Hood Loop

Iconic Mount Hood, Oregon’s highest peak, is a must-see when visiting the Portland, Oregon, area. You’ll certainly see it when you fly into PDX, and on clear days, you’ll see the snowy peak rising from the east from many vantage points in Portland and Vancouver, Washington. But, in a day, you can walk on that impressive mountain by taking a day trip to Mt. Hood. The loop drive around Mt. Hood will bring you in touch with mossy forests, entice you to throw a snowball on the mountain, and then return through the shady steep cliffs of the Columbia River Gorge. Allow the better part of the day for this trip. Mt Hood is only an hour and a half from Portland, but there will be much to see on this day trip.



Along the drive around Mt. Hood, you’ll find places to stop for a meal, taste wine, and even pick some lavender. This drive, on one of Oregon’s Scenic Byways, is best done in summer or early fall before the snows return to make driving unpredictable. While there are many ways to drive this loop, this day trip is always a favorite of out-of-town guests.

Majestic Mt. Hood

Majestic Mt. Hood. Photo by: Elizabeth R Rose

Tip: Dress in layers and be ready for chilly temps as well as warm sunshine as you’ll be driving up to 6,000 feet at the timberline and returning down to the warm valley.
Driving time: 1.5 hours to Timberline Lodge
Time needed for day trip: All Day
Mt Hood Loop Day Trip

3 ­–Cannon Beach Foray

Cannon Beach is an upscale beach community on Oregon’s north-central coast, just an hour and a half drive from the Portland area. Of course, the beach is the draw. But let’s say you have done some tide pooling, photographed Haystack Rock, and walked the beach looking for sand dollars. So, what more is there to do? You can watch the sunset from a beachside restaurant, check out the galleries, and take in an art glass studio, for a start. You’d be surprised at all the experiences you can have during your day trip to Cannon Beach.

Cannon Beach

Famous Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

Tip: You may want to extend your visit a day or two
Driving time: 1.5 hours
Time needed for day trip: 5 hours minimum
Cannon Beach Day Trip

4 – Salem and the Willamette Valley

Salem, Oregon, just an hour south of Portland in the heart of Willamette Valley Wine Country, is surrounded by natural beauty and steeped in history. Difficult as it is to narrow it down, I’ve selected five must-do activities around Oregon’s state capital. There are gardens to wander to, a beautiful waterfall, and a famous winery with a stunning vineyard view. But start your Salem day trip at the unusually shaped capitol building and pick up a little Oregon history before you explore the surrounding Willamette Valley.



Salem Road Trip from Portland

Start visiting the Salem area by visiting the capitol building and beautiful gardens. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

Tip: Dress for everything from wine tasting to hiking behind a massive waterfall.
Driving time: 45 minutes
Time needed for day trip: 4 hours minimum
Salem Day Trip

5 – Historic Astoria Amble

Historic Astoria, known for the dangerous Columbia River Bar—the Graveyard of the Pacific—is steeped in history. Finding things to do in Astoria, Oregon, is easy. With the 6-mile Riverwalk to take you along the historic waterfront, a massive column to climb for a stellar view, and a place to taste beer and devour a wood-fired pizza, Astoria will keep you busy. Our 10 fun things to do in Astoria article will lead you through town, take you for a trolley ride, and refresh you when you need a break.

Astoria Column

You can climb the Astoria Column for an expansive view of the river and Astoria. Photo Courtesy Don Frank AWCC

Tip: Make sure you set aside time to go to the Columbia River Maritime Museum.
Driving time:
Two hours
Time needed for day trip: All Day
Astoria Day Trip

Day Trips from Portland Reading List

Before you head out on your visit to Oregon and start planning your day trip from Portland, we recommend a few books to help you explore the great things to do, outdoor adventures, and where to eat during your travels.

Related Articles for Your Day Trip from Portland

When You Take a Day Trip from Portland

Plan for traffic when you take a day trip from Portland, as Oregon is a popular destination. It is always busy on the roads when you return to the Portland Metro area at the end of the day. Also, remember that there are stretches of road without facilities, such as when driving through the Coast Range or on Mt. Hood. So, keep your gas tank topped off.

Some fun places in Washington State are easy drives from Portland. Consider driving through the Columbia River Gorge on the Washington side for great views, hiking, and wine tasting. Washington is just across the Columbia River from Portland. If you like road trips, Wander writers have suggestions for driving tours all across the United States. These five-day trips from Portland will take you to some key attractions in Oregon, but there is much more to see in the Pacific Northwest. We also pulled together a fun playlist of music that can keep you company as you explore Oregon.

While there’s much to see and do in Portland, you’ll no doubt want to leave the hustle-bustle of the city behind, get out of the traffic, and check out the natural beauty and quaint historic towns that surround the Portland area. These five day trips from Portland will give you a good taste of the wonders of Oregon.

5 Great Day Trips from Portland OR



Written by Elizabeth Rose

Elizabeth Rose is back again in the Phoenix area after more than a decade living in New Mexico and Washington state. She travels throughout the West and beyond writing about destinations, accommodations, festivals, and restaurants, especially farm to table cuisine. As an expert in cultural tourism, her writing reflects that passion. She has won awards for her photography and accompanies her articles with her own images. She also provides photos for magazine covers, web sites and magazine articles (both print and online).

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