Portland is a fascinating city, but did you know within a 3-hour drive you can venture out on fantastic weekend getaways? This list will have you visiting charming small towns, beach towns, Oregon’s famed Willamette Valley, and so much more. Discover unique places to stay and the great bounty of Pacific Northwest food and wine.
Some information for this story came from press trips I have been on in Oregon. All opinions are my own.
1. Willamette Valley
This weekend getaway will take you to the heart of the Willamette Valley for a rustic wine-and-dine weekend traveling country roads through the charming small towns of Dayton, Dundee, Carlton, and Newberg. I love this area because it is not stuffy at all. You will find friendly farms, sip fine wines with winemakers, and nosh on tasty farm-to-table meals. Plan to stay at The Vintages Trailer Resort in a darling, vintage trailer. This is the quintessential glamping experience with 36 custom restored trailers. It is a fun place to stay with a great store that sells lots of local products such as wine and gourmet snacks. After returning each evening from dinner, head to Fireside, with over 21 firepits for music, and bring your own adult beverage.
In Newberg, head to Et. Fille Wines to try Jessica Mozeico’s handcrafted wines. She left her job in biotech to establish the winery with her father until he passed away unexpectedly. As a biracial, single mom, winemaker Jessica has strived to make the wine industry more inclusive. She also makes some pretty outstanding wines. Also in Newberg is Miss Hannah’s Popcorn, the best popcorn I have ever had. The shop and factory are very cute with six flavors of popcorn available to taste each day.
Learn all about sustainable dry farming at Tabula Rasa Farms, a leader in regenerative agriculture. You can take a farm tour or even just make a quick stop at the most elegant farm stand ever. It is so darling with tons of local products and a selection of the farm’s meats. For a restful stay, book lodging at the Scandinavian-inspired vacation rental home featuring floor-to-ceiling windows with valley views for miles. Another interesting agricultural experience is the Durant Olive Mill. It is home to the only oleoteca (shop that sells oils) in the Pacific Northwest. Durant has 17 acres of olive trees and an Italian mill. It is so interesting to see Olive trees growing in Oregon. They shop is a foodie lover’s dream selling Durant’s olive oils as well as cookbooks and gourmet foods. Take a short stroll over to the tasting room to try Durant Vineyards’ lovely wines.
Have at least one meal at the Trellis Wine Bar & Kitchen. It was a fabulous experience with outstanding service. Chef Joe Jackson showcases the best of the Willamette Valley with his seasonal menus. The owners are local and strive to share cuisine that is representative of the valley. The atmosphere was casual on a weeknight and the restaurant is popular with locals, always a good sign in my book. I enjoyed the roasted pork loin with mashed potatoes and green beans, a simple comfort food meal perfect on a chilly night.
2. Cannon Beach
I love going to Cannon Beach just to chill. Book a hotel on the beach. The Surfsand Resort has rooms overlooking the iconic Haystack Rock with easy beach access. Arrive in time for sunset and head out to this legendary beach to stroll and watch a breathtaking Oregon Coast sunset. The resort has a variety of fun activities and amenities to enhance your visit. Enjoy s’mores by a beach bonfire or book a massage. Rooms have plush bathrobes and cozy gas fireplaces in most rooms. It is a wonderful place to stay no matter what the season.
The hotel is a short walk to galleries, shops, and restaurants. Cannon Beach reminds me of an East Coast beach town with the architecture of the buildings. Plan to eat at the Wayfarer Restaurant. I love when I can walk to my dinner venue and the Wayfarer is just across the street from the Surfsand. This is a classic oceanfront restaurant with gorgeous views of Haystack Rock. The menu highlights its coastal seafood roots with troll-caught salmon from nearby Astoria and fresh local oysters. Beers on tap are Northwest and the wine list has a great sampling of Oregon wines. I try to order local beverages whenever possible. The food was outstanding. I lucked out with a fresh Dungeness crab cocktail for the special. If you’ve never had it, Dungeness crab has a sweet taste to the crabmeat, and the less done to it, the better it is. The Wayfarer nailed it with a simple horseradish crème that didn’t overwhelm the delicate flavor of the crab.
Pro Tip: On your way to the Oregon Coast stop in Astoria, we visited the Astoria Column. Perched high above the town, it provides 360-degree views that are quite stunning. The column is beautifully adorned with artwork depicting the history of Astoria. There is a gift shop on-site and even if you don’t feel up to climbing to the top of the column, the views from the surrounding park are spectacular. On a clear day, you can see into the Columbia River Gorge, out to the Pacific Ocean and across the Columbia River into Washington.
The quaint small town of Silverton is located in what is known as the quiet side of the Willamette Valley and it is just darling. It is like a Victorian time capsule when you stroll the downtown streets filled with 19th century buildings. Silver Creek runs right through town and has cute covered bridges that are also darling. Make sure to stop by the visitor center to pick up a map or download the Silverton Mural Society app and discover these gorgeous, more than 30 works of art that depict key events in the town’s history.
Plan to stay at the Oregon Garden Resort which is just a short drive from downtown Silverton. It is adjacent to the Oregon Gardens and is in a beautiful setting. The resort is spread out in separate buildings and there is plenty of parking. It is a full-service resort with a restaurant and spa. Make sure to check out the on-site Fireside Lounge which, as its name suggests, has a large floor-to-ceiling two-sided stone fireplace that is so dramatic. It is a great spot to listen to live music and enjoy local Oregon wine and light bites. The resort has partnered with the Cascade Foothills Winegrowers. This is a group of 15 small, family-run wineries that offer special incentives for those staying at the resort. Just show proof of stay at the tasting rooms for discounts or free tastings.
Any visit to this area must include a stop at the Oregon Garden. These lovely gardens spring to life as the weather warms up with stunning displays of flowers and the diverse botanical bounty found in the Willamette Valley. There are over 20 gardens and a 400-year-old signature oak known as the Oregon Heritage Tree. Also on-site is the only Frank Lloyd Wright home in Oregon known as the Gordon House. It is an example of his Usonian homes which were designed to be affordable, in harmony with the land, and unique to the United States of North America (USONA). This was one of his last works and it was completed after he died. The guided tour was very informative and I learned so much about his work.
The country roads around Silverton make for a beautiful drive. Visit Silver Falls State Park which is famed for its multiple waterfalls. The Mount Angel Benedictine Abbey is an oasis of peace where monks follow the traditional monastic life as passed down by St. Benedict. Stroll the Stations of the Cross on the grounds and it will take you through the Passion of Jesus Christ. The monks grow their own hops and make acclaimed beer following a centuries-old process. The beer is sold to the public at their brewery.
There are so many options of places to explore from Portland. You could spend multiple weekends exploring the Columbia River Gorge.
For a quick overnighter, head north to the town of Kalama, Washington, which is nestled on the banks of the Columbia River, about 30 minutes north of Portland. This port city boasts miles of riverfront with beaches, public parks, and a marina. Located on the waterfront is Marine Park, a 5-acre park with scenic paved pathways home to the tallest one-piece totem pole in the Pacific Northwest. It is very impressive. Also at the port is the Transportation Interpretive Center which shares the history of the Cowlitz Tribe, early settlers, and how Kalama became a transportation hub with a port, railways, and interstate highway.
Stay at the Kalama Harbor Lodge, a McMenamins hotel. Right on the water, it is a tribute to Kalama’s namesake. A native Hawaiian, John Kalama, was one of the many Hawaiians who came to the Pacific Northwest to work for the Hudson’s Bay Company. The hotel information describes it as a museum, but with beer. Print out the walking guide from the hotel website and explore this fascinating lodge designed to resemble the historic Pioneer Inn in Maui.
Here are some other easy getaways from Portland: