The Best Day Trips from Portland, Oregon

Explore the incredible range of geological feats at John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, near Portland
Explore the incredible range of geological feats at John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, near Portland | © Eric Muhr / Unsplash
Photo of Daisy Dobson
21 July 2020

Once you’ve had your fill of street food trucks, microbreweries and exploring lush parks throughout the City of Roses, you might want to explore a little further afield. Luckily there are a wide variety of great day trips from Portland and our local insiders have got the inside scoop just for you.

Smith Rock State Park

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Smith Rock State Park, Terrebonne, United States
© Dale Nibbe / Unsplash
Home to some of the most stunning rock formations in Oregon, Smith Rock State Park is a day trip from Portland like no other. World-class rock climbing, hikes to suit all explorers and a campsite which gives you spectacular views to wake up to are all on offer. Choose your trail from a multi-hour trek across different terrain or stick close to the river for an easier walk. In around 2.5 hours from the city, you’ll be among the golden-toned rock formations and jaw-dropping views of Central Oregon. Recommended by local insider Madeline Churm.

Stoller Family Estate

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In the heart of Oregon wine country, the Stoller Family Estate has been producing acclaimed wine since 1988, and locals claim they ferment the finest pinot noir of the region. Book in for a Legacy Tasting Tour with the experts, they’ll talk you through the soils, clones and varieties as well as providing samples of delicious wine with accompanying charcuterie. No judgement from us if you spend the entire afternoon on the patio sipping their finest vintage. Recommended by local insider Madeline Churm.

John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

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With a stunning landscape and a series of sprawling parks, a visit to John Day Fossil Beds National Monument has something to suit everyone in the family. Boasting some of the most spectacular geological feats in Oregon – gaze out at the Painted Hills, try spot a fossil at Sheep Rock and take in as much as you can of Clarno Formation. The Painted Hills Overlook trail boasts magnificent views but with so many options it’s easy to choose a trail which best suits your energy and footwear. Recommended by local insider Madeline Churm.

Johnston Ridge Observatory

Natural Feature, Architectural Landmark
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Johnston Ridge Observatory, Spirit Lake Highway, Toutle, WA, USA
© Ramkumar Perumal / Unsplash

Fancy a visit to an active volcano? Of course you do. Once you stop imagining the scenario of an actual eruption, there’s plenty of less anxiety-inducing things to explore in the area around Mount St Helens. Museums, restaurants, gift shops and hiking trails all compete for your time. If there is a gang of you, it’s well worth booking a helicopter tour and taking in the tremendous views. Recommended by local insider Jordan Singh.

Siouxon Creek Trail

Hiking Trail
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A beautiful shot of the Siouxon Creek Trail in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in Washington DC
© WireStock / Alamy Stock Photo
This one is for the dedicated hiker but your efforts will be rewarded. Around 90 minutes from Portland central, and a drive down a pretty rough forest road (nothing a small car can’t handle, so don’t worry!) you reach the trailhead. Parallel to the crystal-clear waters of the Siouxon Creek, the trail runs through forest and passes several waterfalls. You can even choose from one of many areas to make camp for the evening. Though it is a little more tricky to reach than others, the trail itself is flat and suitable for hiking families. Recommended by local insider Jordan Singh.

Columbia Gorge Discovery Center

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The journey to the Discovery Center itself feels like a scenic exhibition as you experience change from the endless fir trees of Portland to the desert of Oregon, all within 80 minutes. Creative architecture and interactive exhibits, this ode to the Columbia Gorge is worthy of a stop. Displays of volcanoes, floods, 13-foot mammoths and the Ice Age will delight, as will the seasonal falcon and hawk displays. The region of Dalles is known for its wineries so plan a tour while you’re there to tick off all the boxes. Recommended by local insider Jordan Singh.

These recommendations were updated on July 21, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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