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🗺️ Let’s go roadtripping, Portland

Folks, you’re gonna wanna pack an overnight bag, grab your sunglasses, your favorite podcast or playlist for driving, and roll the window down for this newsletter — it’s all about short road trips you can take for the long (or any) weekend from our city.

So do like the Eagles and take it easy.

Summertime means road trips and especially with things beginning to reopen across the state and country, I’m sure all of us are itching to get out of the house (here’s the CDC’s info on Domestic Travel During COVID-19). So with that being said, we have four road trip recommendations you can try out for the upcoming long weekend (as well as some suggestions from readers like you!).

⛰️ Crater Lake

Crater Lake in Crater Lake National Park, Oregon, from Rim Village. (📸: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, Wolfman SF)

Where it is 

About a 25-minute drive (or 21 miles) northeast of the town of Prospect and about a 3-4 hour drive south of Portland (231 miles).

Why you should go

Crater Lake is at the top of Mount Mazama and was created when the volcano erupted 8,000 years ago. Its top ejected and fell back into itself, creating a crater — or a caldera — which eventually filled with rain water and became a lake.

This is one of Oregon’s truly beautiful natural wonders: The lake itself is extremely clear and blue and well worth a visit (and some pictures). The lake is home to Wizard Island — which you can catch a boat to and explore, but keep in mind that boats are only available July 14 – Sept. 3. When you’re on the island, you can hike, fish, or swim — although we wouldn’t recommend this last one. Because of the altitude, the water in crater lake is VERY cold.

There are 90 miles of hiking trails in this 183,224-acre national park. If you’re looking to stay the night, there are two campgrounds where you can pitch your tent, or opt to stay at the Crater Lake Lodge or the Mazama Village Cabins if you aren’t a fan of roughing it.

If you stop by Crater Lake, say hello to the Old Man of the Lake — a giant hemlock that has been floating in the caldera for hundreds of years.

🐚 Heceta Head Lighthouse

Heceta Head Lighthouse and the lightkeeper’s home. (📸: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, Mark Rosengarten)

Where it is 

About a 3-hour-and-10 minute-drive southeast from PDX, or about 169 miles as the crow flies.

Why you should go

Heceta Head Lighthouse is one of Oregon’s oldest lighthouses; it was officially lit in 1894, and its beam can be seen 21 miles out to sea from the Heceta headland point.

From the National Park’s website:

“Heceta Head is named for Bruno de Heceta, a Spanish navigator and explorer, who surveyed the Oregon coast in 1775. The lighthouse was constructed between 1892 and 1893 and was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.”

A half mile down a trail will lead you to the historic lightkeeper’s home, which is now run as a bed and breakfast, which FYI, is allegedly haunted. Nighttime strolls to the lighthouse with a warm blanket and your favorite beverage are highly encouraged.

There are plenty of hiking trails in and around the lightkeeper’s home and the Lighthouse, as well as access to the beach below Heceta Head. Whether you find yourself relaxing with a cup of coffee on the porch of the Lightkeeper’s home in one of their Adirondack chairs, watching the ocean, getting pictures of the lighthouse itself, or enjoying a calm day at the Oregon Coast, Heceta Head is always worth a road trip visit.

🏞️ Hood River

Hood River, windsurfing capital of the world. (📸: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, Sam Beebe)

Where it is 

About an hour’s drive east of Portland or 62-ish miles.

Why you should go

Hood River is known as the wind-surfing capital of the world and it’s easy to see why — the strong winds that blow through the Columbia Gorge and along the Columbia River are perfect for it.

The city is nestled right at the crossroads of the river that separates Oregon and Washington and the Cascade Range, and it’s surrounded by hiking trails, wineries, breweries, restaurants, and fruit farms (Editor’s note: seriously, go check out the Fruit Loop, it’s amazing, your editor’s mom got some of the best apples she’s ever tried from the Fruit Loop).

If you’re here for the food, Hood River does not disappoint — deliciousness abounds here.

From Travel Oregon:

“Bring your appetite because Hood River has a lot of flavor. Restaurants like Celio, Riverside, Kin and Sixth Street Bistro rack up the accolades for good reason (just read their menus to get your mouth watering). For creative takes on pizza showcasing farm-fresh ingredients, try Solstice Wood Fire Cafe at the waterfront. If you’re still craving slices, Saw Tooth Roadhouse has build-your-own and the Veggie Myte pie at Andrew’s Pizza is truly one of a kind. It’s no secret that Broder Øst serves the Scandinavian breakfast staples that Portlanders love — without the lines. Caffeine fiends, don’t worry this town has plenty of places to grab a cup of joe. Stoked Roasters and Ground both bring high-quality organic coffee to the masses and roast daily. And you can find other favorite Oregon blends at Doppio Coffee, Dog River Coffee and 10-Speed Coffee.”

If you find yourself heading east on your next road trip, definitely check out Hood River.

🎬 Astoria

Astoria, chock-full of maritime history, delicious restaurants, and more. (📸: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, Ian Sane)

Where it is 

Approximately a two hours-ish drive northwest from Portland, or 97.8 miles.

Why you should go

Staying in Astoria feels like you’re perched on the edge of the world — before you lays the Pacific Ocean, you’re literally at the mouth of the Columbia River, surrounded by seafaring and maritime lore and history, as well as 18th century mansions lining the hills.

If you’re a film buff, you’re going to get a kick out of touring the place where movies like The Goonies, Kindergarten Cop, The Ring Two, the Free Willy films were set.

Beyond that, Astoria is jam-packed with breweries, restaurants, eateries, and you can bet you’re going to find some choice fresh seafood to enjoy.

From Travel Oregon:

“This coastal city seems like it was plucked right out of a storybook. With Victorian-era homes etched into hills overlooking the Columbia River, this picturesque settlement (the oldest west of the Rockies) is a port city with Scandinavian flavor. Surrounded by forests, boasting three rivers and situated a stone’s throw away from the Pacific, Astoria is a fishing village-meets-Victoriana, chockablock with forts, museums and great local brews.”

Plus, your editor knows some really awesome folks from Astoria (shoutouts to my sis Dorothy and my good buddy Eric!). If you are craving a trip to the ocean, this city will scratch that itch.

👀 Your suggestions

“I-84 through the gorge and high desert. Turn on to 730 and travel through the stunning geology of the Wallula Gap. Then SR 12 to Walla Walla. Masks off if vaccinated.

Downtown is open, interesting shops, wineries by appointment but may be open now on weekends (130 of them!). Walla Walla is on the state line so you can visit Oregon wineries, and Oregon is part of the WW Valley AVA.

Go to the Whitman Mission site in what was once Oregon Territory and contemplate the impact of American imperialism (recommended reading: Blaine Harden’s brand new book Murder at the Mission, eye-opening tear down of the Whitman myth).

Walk around the lovely Whitman campus, crisscrossed by streams with ducks. Eat dinner at the best restaurant ever, Saffron, fabulous place, reservations required. Andrea’s for a fabulous take out. Drive south through Milton Freewater onto Pendleton. Planning right now to stop at The Frazier Farmstead Museum.

Travel the Washington side home for a great view of gorge fire recovery. There are many other stops possible including the Tamasklit Cultural Center. We make this trip every year. Never brought kids, but could plan in a kid-friendly way.” — Karla F.

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