4 fantastic weekend getaways from Portland

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Portland is a fascinating city, but did you know that within a 3-hour drive, you can venture on fantastic weekend getaways? This list will take you to charming small towns, seaside towns, Oregon’s famous Willamette Valley and much more. Discover unique places to stay and the great wealth of Pacific Northwest food and wine.

Some information for this story comes from press trips I participated in in Oregon. All opinions are mine.

Dundee Hills Wine Country, Willamette Valley (Photo Credit: KennStilger47 / Shutterstock.com)

1. Willamette Valley

This weekend getaway will take you to the heart of the Willamette Valley for a weekend of wine and rustic dining traveling the country roads through the charming small towns of Dayton, Dundee, Carlton and Newberg. I like this area because it’s not stuffy at all. You’ll find welcoming farms, sip fine wines with winemakers, and enjoy tasty farm-to-table meals. Plan to stay at Vintages Trailer Resort in a cherished vintage trailer. It’s the quintessential glamping experience with 36 custom-restored trailers. It’s a fun place to stay with a great store that sells lots of local produce such as wine and gourmet snacks. After returning each evening from dinner, head to Fireside, with more than 21 fire pits for music, and bring your own adult drink.

In Newberg, head to Et. Fille Wines to try Jessica Mozeico’s handcrafted wines. She quit her job in biotechnology to establish the winery with her father until he died unexpectedly. As a biracial single mother, winemaker Jessica has worked to make the wine industry more inclusive. It also makes quite exceptional wines. Also in Newberg is Miss Hannah’s Popcorn, the best popcorn I’ve ever had. The shop and factory are very cute with six flavors of popcorn available to enjoy each day.

Tabula Rasa Farms' beloved farm stand.
Tabula Rasa Farms (Photo credit: Peggy Cleveland)

Learn all about sustainable dry farming at Tabula Rasa Farms, a leader in regenerative agriculture. You can take a tour of the farm or even just make a quick stop at the most stylish farm stand ever. It’s so darling with tons of local produce and a selection of meats from the farm. For a restful stay, book accommodation in the Scandinavian-inspired vacation rental home featuring floor-to-ceiling windows with views of the valley for miles. Another interesting farming experience is the Durant Olive Mill. It houses the only oil library (shop that sells oils) in the Pacific Northwest. Durant owns 17 acres of olive trees and an Italian mill. It’s so interesting to see olive trees growing in Oregon. Their shop is a food lover’s dream selling Durant’s olive oils as well as cookbooks and gourmet dishes. Take a short walk to the tasting room to sample the delicious wines of Durant Vineyards.

Have at least one meal at Trellis Wine Bar & Kitchen. It was a fabulous experience with exceptional service. Chef Joe Jackson showcases the best of the Willamette Valley with his seasonal menus. The owners are local and strive to share a cuisine 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 and comforting meal perfect on a chilly night.

Pelican Landing at Haystack Rock.
Haystack Rock (Photo credit: Hank Vermote / Shutterstock.com)

2. Barrel range

I love going to Cannon Beach just to relax. 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 to this legendary beach to stroll and watch a breathtaking sunset over the Oregon Coast. The resort offers a variety of fun activities and amenities to enhance your visit. Enjoy s’mores by a bonfire on the beach or book a massage. Guest rooms feature fluffy bathrobes and cozy gas fireplaces in most rooms. It is a wonderful place to stay whatever the season.

The hotel is within walking distance of 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 spot and the Wayfarer is right across from the Surfsand. This is a classic beachfront restaurant with a great view of Haystack Rock. The menu highlights its coastal seafood roots with salmon trolled from nearby Astoria and fresh local oysters. The beers on tap are from the northwest and the wine list has an excellent sampling of Oregon wines. I try to order local drinks whenever possible. The food was outstanding. I lucked out with a fresh Dungeness crab cocktail for the special. If you’ve never eaten it, Dungeness crab tastes sweet for crabmeat, and the less of it the better. The Wayfarer nailed it with a simple cream of horseradish that didn’t overwhelm the delicate flavor of the crab.

View from the Astoria column park.
Astoria Column Park (Photo credit: Peggy Cleveland)

Pro tip: On the way to the Oregon Coast stop in Astoria, we visited the Astoria Column. Perched above the city, it offers quite breathtaking 360 degree views. The column is beautifully adorned with artwork depicting Astoria’s history. There’s a gift shop on site and even if you don’t fancy climbing to the top of the column, the views from the surrounding park are spectacular. On a clear day, you can see down the Columbia River Gorge, out to the Pacific Ocean, and across the Columbia River to Washington.

Silverton Murals.
Silverton Murals (Photo credit: Peggy Cleveland)

3. Silverton

The quaint little town of Silverton is located in what is called the Quiet Side of the Willamette Valley and it is simply adorable. It’s like a Victorian time capsule as you stroll through downtown streets filled with 19and century buildings. Silver Creek runs through town and has lovely covered bridges which are also popular. Be sure to stop by the Visitor Center to pick up a map or download the Silverton Mural Society app and check out these stunning 30+ works of art that depict key events in the town’s history.

Plan to stay at the Oregon Garden Resort which is a short drive from downtown Silverton. It is adjacent to Oregon Gardens and is in a beautiful setting. The complex is spread over separate buildings and there is plenty of parking space. It is a full service resort with a restaurant and spa. Be sure to visit the on-site Fireside Lounge which, as the name suggests, has a large two-sided floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace that is so spectacular. It’s a great place to listen to live music and enjoy local Oregon wine and light snacks. The resort has partnered with the Cascade Foothills winemakers. This is a group of 15 small, family-run wineries that offer special incentives for those staying at the resort. Simply present proof of stay at the tasting rooms to receive discounts or free tastings.

covered bridge in Silverton, Oregon.
Covered Bridge, Silverton (Photo credit: Peggy Cleveland)

Any visit to this area must include a stop at the Oregon Garden. These lovely gardens come alive as the weather warms with stunning displays of flowers and the diverse botanical wealth of the Willamette Valley. There are over 20 gardens and a distinctive 400-year-old oak tree known as the Oregon Heritage Tree. Also on site is Frank Lloyd Wright’s only home in Oregon known as the Gordon House. It is an example of his Usonian homes which were designed to be affordable, in tune with the land, and unique to the United States of North America (USONA). It was one of his last works and it was completed after his death. The guided tour was very informative and I learned a lot about his work.

The country roads around Silverton make for a beautiful drive. Visit Silver Falls State Park, famous for its multiple waterfalls. The Benedictine Abbey of Mount Angel is an oasis of peace where the monks follow the traditional monastic life as transmitted by Saint Benedict. Walk the Stations of the Cross in the field and it will take you through the passion of Jesus Christ. The monks grow their own hops and craft a renowned beer using a centuries-old process. The beer is sold to the public in their brewery.

There are so many options of places to explore from Portland. You could spend several weekends exploring the Columbia River Gorge.

Flag of the Port of Kalama.
Kalama Harbor Pavilion (Photo credit: Peggy Cleveland)

4. Kalama

For a quick overnight, 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 has miles of shoreline with beaches, public parks and a marina. Located on the waterfront, Marine Park, a 5-acre park with scenic paved pathways is 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 tells the story of the Cowlitz tribe, early settlers, and how Kalama became a transportation hub with a port, railroads, and interstate highway.

Stay at Kalama Harbor Lodge, a McMenamins hotel. Right on the water, it’s a tribute to Kalama’s namesake. A native Hawaiian, John Kalama, was one of 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 the hiking guide from the hotel’s website and explore this fascinating lodge designed to resemble Maui’s historic Pioneer Inn.

Here are some other easy getaways from Portland:

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