15 Best Day Trips From Portland, Oregon (2024 Guide)

Looking for the best day trips from Portland? Here are our top recommended Portland day trip adventures!

You could easily spend 3 days or more exploring downtown Portland. This vibrant and eclectic city has an abundance of unique attractions. Portland is absolutely one of the highlights of Northwest USA!

Once you’ve made the most of your time in the city center, consider exploring more of Oregon and Washington with one of these day trips from Portland!

Though the city is incredible, the natural beauty and culture that surrounds Portland is simply magical. These day trips from Portland allow you to experience that magic, whether you’ve got a rental car or you choose to book a guided tour.

Head west to the Oregon Coast and explore tide pools and rock formations around Cannon Beach. Or head north and experience more city life in Tacoma or Seattle.

Drive along the historic Columbia River Highway, or take a day trip up to Mount St. Helens and admire the views from the Johnston Ridge Observatory. Explore scenic hiking trails, meander around a small town, or road trip through gorges and lush green forests.

There is truly so much to do in this area, and any of these Portland day trips are sure to entertain and mesmerize visitors with culture, history, and nature.

15 Amazing Day Trips From Portland, Oregon

From chasing waterfalls in Columbia River Gorge to strolling on the sandy beaches of Cannon Beach on the Oregon Coast, here are the top day trips from Portland, Oregon.

Check out our complete list of the best things to do in Portland!

1. Columbia River Gorge

  • Distance from Portland: 30 miles
  • Driving time: 30 minutes

The Columbia River Gorge is a breathtaking canyon that stretches for over 80 miles, forming a natural boundary between the U.S. states of Oregon and Washington. It’s definitely one of the most beautiful and most popular day trips from Portland.

Carved over thousands of years by the powerful Columbia River, the gorge is renowned for its stunning landscapes, diverse ecosystems, and rich cultural history. Towering cliffs and cascading waterfalls are everywhere, with the iconic Multnomah Falls being the crown jewel of the Columbia River Gorge area.

Waterfall tours from Portland are plentiful. Whether you’re on a guided day tour from Portland or you’re self-driving, you can visit countless stunning cascades as you drive through the Columbia River Gorge.

Multnomah Falls is a must-see, but on the way there you can visit Bridal Veil Falls, Shepperd’s Dell Falls, Fairy Falls, Wahkeena Falls, Latourell Falls, and Horsetail Falls. You can even continue further past Multnomah Falls and see Ponytail Falls and Dry Creek Falls.

In addition to waterfalls, Columbia River Gorge is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, offering a myriad of recreational activities such as hiking, windsurfing, and bird-watching. The lush greenery and unique geological formations make the Columbia River Gorge a designated National Scenic Area, preserving its natural beauty for generations to come.

Columbia River Gorge also holds cultural significance for the Native American tribes who have called this area home for thousands of years. The gorge has served as a vital trade route and a source of sustenance, contributing to the rich tapestry of indigenous heritage in the Pacific Northwest.

The Historic Columbia River Highway, an engineering marvel completed in the early 20th century, winds its way through the gorge, offering travelers breathtaking views of the river, waterfalls, and surrounding landscapes. Columbia River Gorge is one of the natural wonders of the Pacific Northwest and an incredible day trip destination.

2. Mount Rainier National Park

  • Distance from Portland: 138 miles
  • Driving time: 2 hours and 20 minutes

Mount Rainier National Park, located in Washington just over 2 hours north of Portland, is a pristine wilderness area dominated by the majestic presence of Mount Rainier, an active stratovolcano and the highest peak in the Cascade Range.

Towering at 14,411 feet, the snow-capped summit of Mount Rainier is a prominent feature visible from miles away. The park encompasses a diverse range of ecosystems, from subalpine meadows and old-growth forests to glaciers and alpine landscapes.

Visitors to Mount Rainier National Park can explore over 260 miles of hiking trails, each offering a unique perspective of the mountain and its surrounding beauty. The Wonderland Trail, a challenging 93-mile loop encircling Mount Rainier, provides hikers with an immersive experience through varied terrains, including dense forests, alpine meadows, and high mountain ridges.

In addition to its stunning natural scenery, Mount Rainier National Park is home to a rich array of flora and fauna. The park’s diverse ecosystems support a variety of wildlife, including black bears, marmots, mountain goats, and elk.

During the summer months, the wildflower meadows burst into a vibrant display of colors, creating a spectacular contrast against the snow-covered slopes of Mount Rainier. The park’s visitor centers, such as the Paradise Jackson Visitor Center, offer educational exhibits and information about the geological and ecological significance of the region.

Mount Rainier National Park showcases the awe-inspiring landscapes of the Pacific Northwest and is one of the top adventurous day trips from Portland!

Mount Rainier National Park
Mount Rainier is one of Washington’s most beautiful national parks.

3. Seattle

  • Distance from Portland: 174 miles
  • Driving time: 2 hours and 45 minutes

One of the most prominent cities in the Pacific Northwest, Seattle is one of the most exciting Portland day trips for city lovers. Famous for its iconic Space Needle, which offers panoramic views of the city and surrounding landscapes, Seattle boasts a skyline dominated by a mix of modern skyscrapers and historic architecture.

Situated between Puget Sound and Lake Washington, the city is known for its maritime influences, with ferries crisscrossing the waters and a bustling waterfront featuring a variety of shops, restaurants, and attractions.

Seattle’s cultural scene is diverse and thriving, reflecting the city’s eclectic population. The historic Pike Place Market is a bustling marketplace where visitors can explore an array of fresh produce, artisan crafts, and local delicacies.

The city is also renowned for its rich musical history, being the birthplace of influential artists such as Jimi Hendrix and Nirvana. Seattle’s neighborhoods each offer a unique character, from the trendy boutiques and coffee shops of Capitol Hill to the historic charm of Pioneer Square.

With a reputation for innovation, technology, and a strong commitment to sustainability, Seattle is a vibrant and diverse day trip destination.

Plan to stay longer? Check out our 3 Days In Seattle Itinerary for more ideas!

4. Smith Rock State Park

  • Distance from Portland: 142 miles
  • Driving time: 2 hours and 45 minutes

Smith Rock State Park, located in central Oregon, is a geological marvel and a haven for outdoor enthusiasts.

Renowned for its towering cliffs of tuff and basalt, the park is a popular destination for rock climbers, offering a variety of challenging routes for climbers of all skill levels. The Crooked River winds through the park, adding to the stunning landscape of deep canyons and rugged terrain.

Hiking trails meander through the park, providing breathtaking views of the high desert scenery, the Cascade Range, and the iconic Monkey Face rock formation, a distinctive pinnacle that captivates visitors with its unique shape. The park’s diverse ecosystem, with its juniper forests and sagebrush, is also home to a variety of wildlife, including golden eagles and mule deer.

Beyond its outdoor recreation opportunities, Smith Rock State Park holds a special place in the history of rock climbing. Widely regarded as the birthplace of modern American sport climbing, the park has been a training ground for many legendary climbers.

The sheer cliffs and challenging routes have attracted climbers from around the world since the 1980s, contributing to Smith Rock’s reputation as a premier rock climbing destination.

Whether scaling the cliffs, hiking along the river, or simply enjoying the breathtaking scenery, Smith Rock State Park offers a unique and unforgettable Portland day trip for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike.

5. Silver Falls State Park

  • Distance from Portland: 67 miles
  • Driving time: 1 hour and 12 minutes

Another one of the best day trips from Portland is Silver Falls State Park. Tucked away in the lush forests of western Oregon, the park is renowned for its stunning natural beauty and a unique feature that sets it apart – the Trail of Ten Falls.

The Trail of Ten Falls, often considered one of the crown jewels of the park, winds through a canyon carved by the North and South Forks of Silver Creek, showcasing ten breathtaking waterfalls along its course.

The waterfalls vary in height and character, with the majestic South Falls plummeting 177 feet and allowing hikers to pass behind its cascading curtain of water.

The park’s temperate rainforest environment, with its moss-covered trees and fern-lined trails, adds to the enchanting atmosphere, making it a favorite destination for hikers, nature enthusiasts, and photographers.

Beyond the waterfalls, Silver Falls State Park offers a variety of recreational opportunities. With over 25 miles of hiking and horseback riding trails, visitors can explore the diverse landscapes, from dense forests to open meadows.

The park also provides campgrounds, picnic areas, and opportunities for birdwatching, fishing, and wildlife observation. Thrill seekers can even try tree climbing with a professional guide!

Silver Falls State Park is not only a natural playground but also a designated Oregon State Heritage Site, emphasizing the significance of its ecosystems and geological features. As a stunning Portland day trip destination, Silver Falls State Park constantly captivates visitors with its spectacular scenery.

South Falls
South Falls is the highlight of Silver Falls State Park!

6. Lost Lake

  • Distance from Portland: 87 miles
  • Driving time: 1 hour and 50 minutes

Lost Lake, located in the heart of the Cascade Range in Oregon, is a pristine alpine lake surrounded by breathtaking mountain scenery. Located within the Mount Hood National Forest, Lost Lake sits at the base of the towering Mount Hood, Oregon’s highest peak.

The lake is renowned for its crystal-clear waters, reflecting the snow-capped peak of Mount Hood on calm days. Visitors can enjoy a range of recreational activities, including fishing for rainbow trout, canoeing, and kayaking. The area is also a haven for hikers, with trails leading to viewpoints that offer spectacular panoramas of the lake and the surrounding Cascade Mountains.

One of the unique features of Lost Lake is its seasonal disappearance. In the late spring and early summer, as the snow from Mount Hood melts, the lake’s water drains through a natural lava tube, creating a striking and mysterious sight.

The phenomenon gives Lost Lake its name, as the water seemingly vanishes into the porous volcanic landscape, only to gradually refill throughout the rest of the year.

This seasonal ebb and flow adds an intriguing dimension to the natural beauty of the lake, making it a captivating day trip destination for those seeking both serenity and the wonders of geological marvels in the Pacific Northwest.

Read next: 7 Best Day Trips From Seattle

7. Cannon Beach

  • Distance from Portland: 79 miles
  • Driving time: 1 hour and 30 minutes

Cannon Beach, located on the northern Oregon coast, is also high on the list of most popular day trips from Portland. A charming town renowned for its stunning landscapes, iconic landmarks, and sandy beaches, Cannon Beach is a must-see on the Oregon Coast.

One of the most recognizable features is the famous Haystack Rock. This massive sea stack rises dramatically from the shoreline and is accessible during low tide. In addition to Haystack Rock, the expansive shores of Cannon Beach provide a scenic backdrop for beachcombing, kite flying, and leisurely strolls along the water’s edge.

The town’s charming downtown area is dotted with art galleries, boutiques, and cafes, creating a welcoming atmosphere for visitors. The annual Sandcastle Contest draws artists and beach enthusiasts who showcase their creativity in the form of intricate sand sculptures against the backdrop of the Pacific Ocean.

Cannon Beach is not only a natural beauty but also a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Ecola State Park, situated just north of the town, offers hiking trails with panoramic views of the coastline, lush forests, and the Pacific Ocean. Visitors can explore the tide pools around Haystack Rock, discovering an array of marine life, including colorful sea stars and anemones.

Whether touring Ecola State Park or admiring the towering Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach offers a perfect blend of coastal charm and scenic tranquility along the Oregon coast.

8. Mount St. Helens

  • Distance from Portland: 74 miles
  • Driving time: 1 hour and 35 minutes

Mount St. Helens, located in the Cascade Range of Washington state, is an active stratovolcano that gained international attention after its catastrophic eruption on May 18, 1980. The eruption resulted in the collapse of the volcano’s north flank, triggering the largest landslide in recorded history and reducing the mountain’s elevation by over 1,300 feet.

Today, Mount St. Helens stands as a living laboratory for the study of volcanic and ecological processes. It’s also one of the coolest Portland day trips!

Visitors to the area can explore the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, which offers a range of educational and recreational opportunities. The Johnston Ridge Observatory, located just five miles from the crater, provides stunning views of the volcano and insights into the events of the 1980 eruption.

Hiking trails lead through the blast zone, offering a firsthand look at the regrowth of vegetation and the resilience of nature in the wake of such a powerful natural event. Mount St. Helens remains a symbol of the dynamic forces shaping the Earth’s landscape and is one of the most fascinating day trips from Portland.

Mount St Helens
Mt. St. Helens is an astonishing expression of nature.

9. Mount Hood

  • Distance from Portland: 62 miles
  • Driving time: 1 hour and 25 minutes

Another geological wonder that you can visit on a day trip from Portland is Mount Hood. This iconic stratovolcano standing proudly in the Cascade Range of northern Oregon is the state’s highest peak and is just over an hour away from downtown Portland.

Towering at 11,250 feet, Mount Hood is not only a favorite among climbers but also a beloved day trip destination for travelers and nature lovers. Mount Hood National Forest, encompassing over a million acres in northern Oregon, is a pristine and diverse wilderness area surrounding the iconic peak.

Mount Hood National Forest offers a wide range of outdoor activities, including hiking, camping, fishing, and skiing, providing visitors with the opportunity to explore its lush landscapes, alpine meadows, and cascading streams while enjoying breathtaking views of the mountain.

Timberline Lodge, a historic mountain retreat located on Mount Hood, offers stunning views of the peak and serves as a base for those seeking adventure, whether it be hiking, skiing, or climbing.

Known for its year-round recreational opportunities, Mount Hood attracts visitors in every season. During the winter months, the mountain becomes a haven for skiers and snowboarders, with several ski resorts offering a variety of slopes for all skill levels.

In the summer, the mountain’s hiking trails provide access to alpine vistas and wildflower-filled meadows. The Timberline Trail, a classic loop around the mountain, offers a challenging but rewarding trek for backpackers.

Mount Hood’s majestic presence, diverse ecosystems, and outdoor activities make it a cherished day trip destination. You can combine this stunning peak with a visit to Columbia River Gorge on a guided day tour from Portland!

10. Hood River Valley

  • Distance from Portland: 75 miles
  • Driving time: 1 hour and 30 minutes

Situated between the towering peaks of Mount Hood and Mount Adams in Oregon, Hood River Valley is a picturesque and fertile region celebrated for its orchards, vineyards, and stunning landscapes. The valley is renowned for its fruit production, particularly its vibrant apple, pear, and cherry orchards that blanket the hillsides.

During the spring, the valley comes alive with blossoms, creating a breathtaking display of pink and white flowers against the backdrop of the Cascade Mountains. The Hood River, which flows through the valley, adds to the scenic beauty, offering opportunities for water sports such as windsurfing and kiteboarding.

In addition to its agricultural bounty, Hood River Valley has become a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts and those seeking a taste of the Pacific Northwest’s natural wonders.

Visitors can explore the numerous hiking and biking trails that crisscross the valley, offering panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and orchards.

The charming town of Hood River, located at the heart of the valley, is a hub for local breweries, wineries, and farm-to-table dining, providing a delightful experience for those looking to savor the region’s culinary delights amid the stunning backdrop of Hood River Valley.

Try a road trip around the US West Coast with our Ultimate San Francisco To Seattle Road Trip Itinerary.

11. Tacoma

  • Distance from Portland: 144 miles
  • Driving time: 2 hours and 20 minutes

Another one of the best day trips from Portland is Tacoma, Washington. Located just south of Seattle, the city is known for its stunning waterfront, which offers views of the Commencement Bay and the majestic Mount Rainier.

The Museum District in Tacoma is home to the Museum of Glass, where visitors can witness live glassblowing demonstrations and admire an extensive collection of contemporary glass art.

Additionally, the Washington State History Museum and the LeMay – America’s Car Museum contribute to Tacoma’s cultural tapestry, showcasing the region’s past and its automotive heritage.

Tacoma’s revitalized downtown area is a thriving urban center with a mix of modern architecture, historic buildings, and a lively arts scene. The Theater District hosts a variety of performances at venues like the historic Pantages and Rialto Theaters, while local galleries and studios contribute to the city’s dynamic arts community.

Tacoma’s commitment to sustainability is evident in its parks and green spaces, including the waterfront Point Defiance Park and the serene Japanese Garden.

With its unique blend of natural beauty, cultural attractions, and a burgeoning culinary scene, Tacoma has become one of the most popular Portland day trips.

Tacoma Washington
Tacoma is a cool city to check out on a day trip from Portland.

12. Cape Lookout State Park

  • Distance from Portland: 83 miles
  • Driving time: 1 hour and 40 minutes

Cannon Beach may be the most popular day trip destination on the Oregon coast, but there are most gems near the ocean if you head south!

Cape Lookout State Park, situated on a scenic stretch of the Oregon coast, is a pristine coastal haven known for its stunning panoramic views, diverse ecosystems, and outdoor recreational opportunities.

The park features a prominent headland, Cape Lookout, which extends into the Pacific Ocean, offering visitors breathtaking vistas of the ocean, sandy shores, and rugged cliffs.

The Cape Lookout Trail, a popular hiking route, takes adventurers through lush forests and emerges onto the cape’s bluff, providing an unobstructed view of the ocean and the Three Arch Rocks National Wildlife Refuge.

The park’s coastal setting makes it a haven for nature enthusiasts and outdoor lovers. Campers can enjoy beachside camping, surrounded by the sound of crashing waves and the fresh sea breeze.

The sandy beach stretches for miles, inviting beachcombing, birdwatching, and even whale watching during migration seasons. The park’s location along the Oregon Coast Trail makes it a stop for hikers exploring the breathtaking landscapes of the area.

Whether it’s the rugged beauty of the coastline, the diverse birdlife, or the tranquility of the ocean, Cape Lookout State Park offers one of the most beautiful day trips from Portland.

Related: Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip Itinerary

13. Willamette Valley

  • Distance from Portland: 48 miles
  • Driving time: 55 minutes

Wine enthusiasts have to add Willamette Valley to their list of the best day trips from Portland! The Willamette Valley, located in the heart of Oregon, is a lush and fertile region celebrated for its thriving agricultural industry, renowned vineyards, and picturesque landscapes.

Stretching between the Cascade Range to the east and the Coast Range to the west, the valley is home to a diverse array of crops, with its fertile soil supporting the cultivation of berries, hazelnuts, and a variety of vegetables.

However, the region is perhaps best known for its world-class vineyards and wineries that produce some of the finest Pinot Noir wines in the world. The rolling hills of the Willamette Valley, carpeted with vineyards and dotted with charming farmsteads, create a scenic backdrop for wine tasting and guided wine tours.

The Willamette Valley is not only a haven for wine lovers but also a destination for those seeking outdoor adventures and cultural experiences. The valley is crisscrossed by numerous hiking and biking trails, providing opportunities to explore its natural beauty, including lush forests, rivers, and meadows.

Cities like Eugene and Salem offer cultural attractions, including museums, art galleries, and vibrant farmers’ markets showcasing the region’s agricultural bounty.

As a testament to its ecological significance, the Willamette Valley is also recognized for its commitment to sustainable practices and environmental conservation, making it a well-rounded destination that caters to a variety of interests. This amazing place in the heart of Oregon’s Wine Country is one of the best day trips from Portland!

14. Pacific City

  • Distance from Portland: 95 miles
  • Driving time: 1 hour and 50 minutes

Pacific City, located along the picturesque Oregon Coast, is a small town renowned for its stunning landscapes, outdoor recreation, and laid-back coastal atmosphere. Nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the Nestucca River, Pacific City boasts a pristine stretch of sandy shoreline and is one of the top day trips from Portland.

This massive sea stack rises dramatically from the ocean, creating a breathtaking backdrop for beachgoers and photographers. The town’s Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area offers not only panoramic views of the coastline but also opportunities for hiking, sandboarding, and exploring the dunes.

In addition to its natural beauty, Pacific City is known for its quaint downtown area, where visitors can explore local shops, galleries, and restaurants. The Pelican Brewing Company, a popular spot among locals and tourists alike, offers craft beer and oceanfront views.

Pacific City is also a haven for water enthusiasts, with the Nestucca River providing opportunities for kayaking, paddleboarding, and fishing. Whether enjoying the serene beauty of the coastline, indulging in fresh seafood, or partaking in outdoor adventures, Pacific City captures the essence of coastal living and provides one of the best day trips from Portland.

Pacific City
There are lots of beautiful coastal views from Pacific City.

15. Oneonta Gorge

  • Distance from Portland: 36 miles
  • Driving time: 37 minutes

Last but not least on our list of the best day trips from Portland is Oneonta Gorge. The Oneonta Gorge Trail offers a unique and enchanting hiking experience within the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon.

Known for its narrow and striking gorge, the trail begins with a wade through the cool, crystal-clear waters of Oneonta Creek, immersing hikers in a serene and magical setting.

Towering moss-covered canyon walls create a surreal atmosphere as the trail meanders through the lush, fern-filled gorge, leading adventurers toward the highlight of the hike—a captivating waterfall at the trail’s end.

This waterfall, known as Oneonta Falls, cascades down a mossy basalt amphitheater, creating a spectacular backdrop that complements the scenic beauty of the gorge.

Exploring the Oneonta Gorge Trail requires a sense of adventure, as hikers navigate through shallow pools, clamber over rocks, and sometimes wade through chest-high water. The trail’s unique challenges contribute to its allure, attracting outdoor enthusiasts seeking an off-the-beaten-path experience in a setting of unparalleled natural beauty.

It’s important to note that the trail’s accessibility may vary with seasonal water levels, so hikers should be mindful of conditions and be prepared for a refreshing and adventurous trek.

The Oneonta Gorge Trail provides a memorable and immersive adventure, inviting those willing to embrace its challenges into a magical world of moss-covered cliffs, emerald waters, and the soothing sounds of nature. You can visit his location and Columbia River Gorge on the same day trip, or you could just tackle the Oneonta Gorge Trail on its own.

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About the Author - Alesha and Jarryd

Hey! We are Alesha and Jarryd, the award-winning writers and professional photographers behind this blog. We have been travelling the world together since 2008, with a passion for adventure travel and sustainable tourism. Through our stories and images we promote exciting off-the-beaten-path destinations and fascinating cultures as we go. As one of the world's leading travel journalists, our content and adventures have been featured by National Geographic, Lonely Planet, CNN, BBC, Forbes, Business Insider, Washington Post, Yahoo!, BuzzFeed, Channel 7, Channel 10, ABC, The Guardian, and plenty other publications. Follow our journey in real time on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

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