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Five Great Architectural Sites Near Portland, Oregon

Updated on August 28, 2017
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Josh Taylor is a photographer and regularly travels the beautiful Pacific Northwest in his free time.

Rocky Butte

If you're traveling to Portland, and looking for stuff to do, here's one of my favorite places in the city. Whether you're doing photography or you're on a date, it gives a great view of three major areas, East Portland and Gresham, North Portland and Vancouver, and although more obscured by trees by now, downtown Portland. There's a fantastic view of Mount Hood as well, and you can see Mount Saint Helens in the distance.

As far as architecture goes, it's got this interest stonework feel, like a castle, except for the tower spinning around the center. At night it looks a bit like a something from a Stevens Spielberg movie with the eerie lights in a circle.

You also get a great view of the city and freeway system at night, though the stars aren't too clear from the city lights.


Saint James the Greater Cathedral

One weekend me and a friend were checking out architecture in Vancouver, Washington right across the river from Portland, and we stopped by the cathedral. We weren't sure about going in on Saturday morning, but the priest outside was very welcoming and said we could check it out and do photography inside.

So inside was such epic architecture that we don't see much around here, as well as great artwork. I set up my tripod and even though there were people in there, it seemed to be the normal thing to do as long as I was respectful. Try to keep noise and flash to a minimum here, and use your camera's "quiet" mode if you have one.


Crown Point-Vista House

Along with Multnomah Falls, this is a must see site if you're into nature and traveling to Portland. People come from all over the country to view the Columbia Gorge and this is a primary viewpoint.

From here you can see the Gorge both East and West as well as the mountains and countryside in Washington to the North.

Beware on high windy days. On the day I took the outside photo above in winter, I could barely get out of my car which was rocking back and forth. So if you're cold and tired of being thrown around by winds, check out the museum and history inside Vista House if it's open.

Along the way, make sure you see Multnomah Falls, and various other falls, and another viewpoint close by called Chanticleer Point-or Women's Forum. If you're up for more adventure continue on to Larch Mountain where you can drive about to the top and make a short hike less than half a mile (with a few steep stairs) to the summit.

This is all quintessential pnw, and so don't miss out. Go on a hike and explore, just watch out for weekends, especially on nice days and vacations when the place is packed. Best to hit the trails early before 9 or 10.


Fort Vancouver

See some history in Fort Vancouver, Washington across the river. No battles, but still there's cool architecture with fort walls, cabins, classic house, a train stop, and a great waterfront path by the Columbia River.

There's also a few historical reenactments here and the well-known fireworks show on Fourth of July. Don't forget to check out The Academy if you like old brickwork.

The cabins at Fort Vancouver in the wintertime.
The cabins at Fort Vancouver in the wintertime. | Source
The Academy
The Academy | Source

Stonehenge Memorial, Washington

This is a couple of hours East of Portland pass The Dalles (rhymes with pals, never say "the Dolls" around here.) Then take a bridge across the river to Washington.

Okay, so not quite England, but our replica in the PNW is still good enough to jam to Spinal Tap. All inside joking aside, It's actually a World War 1 memorial. You can also check out the Mary Hill museum nearby, which has some historical information and some artwork outside.

And if you're around at night, be sure and stop by Goldendale Observatory a little ways North. Don't forget to stop at the Klickitat viewpoint on the roadside if it's still daylight and take a look at the four mountains in the distance. At night even better, where you can see the Milky Way on a clear night in the summertime.

Goldendale Observatory
Goldendale Observatory | Source

Final Thoughts

Need more stuff to do? I've grown up around here so if you're looking restaurants, hikes, more sites, etc. feel free to leave a comment or contact me at my Hubpages profile. -Josh Taylor, Outback Tales.

© 2017 Josh Taylor


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