The 5 Best Oregon Weekend Getaways
My Five Best Oregon Weekend Travel Destinations
Situated on the West Coast of the USA, just above California and just below Washington, is the state of Oregon. This slice of the Pacific Northwest offers everything from gorgeous mountain terrain to expansive beaches, and just about everything in between. Having lived in both bracketing states, I've had the pleasure of exploring Oregon bit by bit and it's a wonderful place for a weekend (or longer) get-away. Without even having to leave your home in the Beaver State, Oregon offers so much to see and do. Within just a few simple hours of car travel (or train) you can easily give yourself a relaxing or exciting adventure.
My five best suggestions for great weekend getaways in Oregon are urban adventures in Portland, exploring the Columbia Gorge, getting off the beaten path in Sisters, enjoying the cultural delights of Ashland and camping at Silver Falls State Park. Each one of these destinations will provide beautiful scenery, good eating and plenty of options for relaxing, and each is suitable for couples looking to getaway or families who want a break from the usual routine.
Oregon Getaway Destinations
Keep Portland Weird
Portland Sights and Bites
An urban location might not sound like a getaway to some, but Portland offers so many interesting sights and activities, it's a great spot to take an urban break from your usual routine. The city is a great environment for cyclists, and downtown there is a wonderful free zone of public transit that will let you roam and explore a lot.
Bookworms will want to make sure they save an entire day for going to Powell's Books. An amazing new and used bookstore, this place takes up nearly an entire city block. One way to make sure you don't break your budget here is to bring books to sell, and then don't buy any more than what you earned letting go of old books.
Dozens of tiny restaurants and bars dot the entire range of downtown. I've had great luck finding good places to eat just by wandering around a bit and reading menus. In summertime, be sure to indulge in the sidewalk seating when the opportunity presents itself.
One of the hottest new things in Portland is food cart pods. These are locations where you find small groups of some of the more than 500 food trucks cooking it up on a daily basis in the city. Not your dad's "roach coach," these trucks are all about making fresh food to order right on the spot. You can get local and sustainable, vegan or gluten-free and a bewildering selection of ethnic foods all in the same location. Bring your appetite!
Old Town offers historic buildings, a funky ghost tour and plenty of late-night bar and street entertainment. Saturdays you will find a combo farmers and artisans market near the river. There are both Chinese and Japanese gardens to explore. And if you like to ride a bike, try renting a bicycle if you didn't bring your own.
Sights to See in Portland
The Columbia Gorge
Whether you just take a day's drive or make it an entire weekend, the Columbia Gorge is over-flowing with gorgeous scenery and lots of places for day hikes, biking, sightseeing and long lunches. If you want to avoid crowds, schedule your trip for during the week as summer weekends can be quite busy and congested. Or make sure to get deep into the woods to avoid the casual tourists.
Make sure to wear your favorite hiking boots, and pack along a good sun hat and a decent supply of drinking water. There are lots of trails and day hikes possible all through this region and it's enjoyable to walk spring through fall here.
Shown here is a shot of the lower falls section of the Multnomah Falls, the USA's second highest waterfalls. Water from Multnomah Creek goes over the edge of the upper falls before traveling down through a second and lower section, making a 620 foot drop by the time it's done.
- Columbia Gorge Celebrating 25 Years | Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Act 25th Anniversary
Columbia Gorge Celebrating 25 Years - Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Act 25th Anniversary
- Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area - Home
Oregon Travel Guides
The Sisters Region
If you love mountains and remote little towns, a trip out to the Sisters region of Oregon makes for a great weekend. Some of the most scenic routes in the whole state pass through this area, and you've got a couple of options for how you can drive. If you have a long afternoon to spend driving the scenic route and spending a leisurely lunch break eating and shopping then a meander out to Sisters is definitely on order!
A very rare sight to see in this region is McKenzie Pass. Open only for a short time during the depths of the summer, this pass is frequently closed for most of the year due to extreme weather. Don't be surprised if temps at the pass are twenty to thirty degrees colder than the balmy 80s in the valley below. The Dee Wright Observatory is a stunning structure hewn entirely from lava rock from a flow at the top of the pass and allows for amazing 360-degree viewing of the various mountain ranges in the surrounding areas. This is usually only open in very late July and early August, check for current road conditions before planning any visits to this area.
- Dee Wright Observatory, Central Oregon
- Sisters Oregon Guide - Visit Sisters in beautiful Central Oregon
Sisters Oregon events, recreation, art galleries, dining and accommodations
Oregon Road Atlases
Located just over the southern Oregon border from California and not far from Interstate 5, Ashland is best known as the home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (running approximately from February to October) but that's just one of many great attractions in the area.
Being at the edge of the Rogue Valley and Applegate regions, Ashland is near many farms, wine-makers and artisan food producers. Guided tours are a great way to explore the region and indulge in delicious local eating all at the same time. You will also find a variety of local farmer's and crafts markets taking place right in town from spring (March) to fall (November).
Ashland is also a great base to use if you want to travel to nearby Crater Lake or the Oregon Caves National Monument. If you are tenting or car camping, there are a number of campgrounds in the area, and even a few with hot springs. In addition to camping, there are many B&Bs and VRBO apartments and houses. If you opt to stay right in Ashland proper you can even find a few hotels. Restaurants in town offer a wide range of eating options, and many places have selections for those who eat vegetarian or gluten-free.
- The Oregon Vortex and location of the House of Mystery
Don't miss this awesome and unique road-side attraction, not too far south of Grant's Pass as you head down to Ashland. It's one-of-a-kind!
- Ashland Oregon Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau
The Ashland Chamber of Commerce invites you to experience Ashland Oregon... the colors of the seasons, the taste of the cuisine, the comfort and personal feel of the town. Ashland Oregon offers year round culinary, cultural and outdoor opportunities
- Oregon Shakespeare Festival
Each year OSF presents an eight-and-a-half-month season of eleven plays in three theatres, presenting more than 780 performances annually with attendance of approximately 400,000.
Guide books for Ashland, OR
Silver Falls State Park
A good compliment to all the surrounding destinations is the Silver Falls State Park. The anchor and jewel of the Oregon state park system, this parcel is located about an hour east of Salem. A series of trails for hikers, bikers, and equestrians threads throughout the entire park, suiting many an outdoor enthusiast. Day hikes can be planned from the many trails the part has to offer so it's easy to put together an outing for all ages and levels of outdoor ability.
For summer visits, reservations are necessary for both groups and individual campsites. Weekends are definitely more busy than midweek so campers who want more quiet and hikers who want less crowding on trails might wan to consider planning a mid-week getaway instead of a weekend one.
- Silver Falls State Park - Oregon State Parks and Recreation
The official state park site, including current conditions, trail conditions and closures.
- Welcome to Silverton Oregon - Gateway to Silver Falls State Park and the Oregon Gardens