oregon travel filter
July 16, 2008 4:36 PM   Subscribe

help us create any itinerary in oregon.

my wife and i will take a 9-day trip in oregon during the labor day weekend. we will land in portland and probably spend one day in columbia river gorge (i visited there almost 5 years ago and have not been able to get away in my mind from the beautiful scenes since).

we originally plan to get a hotel in portland for the whole duration of the trip and just drive around. but things tend to get bland with this approach.

we both are very into natural beauties (i.e., national parks...), but not care too much about cuisine or bar scenes.

are there any suggestions on how to structure our itinerary?
1. if we venture out, shall we be going north toward seattle or south towards redwood park in ca?
2. if we want to tour the coast, where should be a good town to stay overnight. any lodging suggestions?
3. how about the crater lake national park?

thank you all!!
posted by kingfish to Travel & Transportation around Oregon (10 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
It will be hard to go too wrong in Oregon. I would go to the coast....Cannon Beach is nice. I would avoid the coast on the weekend if possible. Going down to the Redwoods would be awesome--it is truly unbelievable if you haven't been there before. You could travel down the Oregon coast to get there but I reckon that would take awhile. I also like the Bend area (Central Oregon), not far from Crater Lake. Possibly you could make a loop out of it. And, you are right, of course, the Columbia River Gorge is awesome as well...Hood River wouldn't be a bad place to stay. If you tried to do all of this it would probably be too much driving to be so fun....I'd pick two or three things you really want to see and spend more time there. Have a great trip!
posted by fieldtrip at 4:54 PM on July 16, 2008

Hiking on the dunes (along the coast) where motorized vehicles are not allowed has been one of my most enjoyable moments in Oregon. I camped at Diamond Lake and then went to Crater Lake, which was nice, but I got lost on Forest Service roads in between (beware of shortcuts). It takes a bit of driving to get to Crater Lake but it's worth it.

The state's visitors' association has some great brochures with recommended scenic loops.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 5:07 PM on July 16, 2008

My husband and I just did a 5 day trip of Oregon starting and ending in Portland.

For the coast, we stayed at the Shamrock Lodgettes in Yachats, which I recommend. Nearby is the aquarium, the sea lion caves, and a bunch of trails for hiking.

I would also recommend Crater Lake. Unfortunately it was still snowy and quite cloudy when we went up there but the drive was well worth the 15 minutes that we were actually able to see the lake.
posted by mcroft at 5:25 PM on July 16, 2008

You can't go wrong with any of these places. I would suggest driving east from Portland to the Dalles, don't miss Multnomah Falls on the way, south on 97 to Bend, spent a day or two in the Central Oregon Cascades (there are so many gorgeous lakes and mountains and things to do, I scarcely know where to start), then south to Crater Lake. By that time, the perimeter road around the lake is totally clear of snow. It's a popular place, but go early in the day and you'll miss the bulk of the crowds. The coast is both gorgeous and crowded, and perhaps you'd do better going further south like Coos Bay or Florence.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 5:41 PM on July 16, 2008

Pick up Lonely Planet's brand-new Washington, Oregon & the Pacific Northwest guide. I wouldn't leave home without one of their travel guides, and this one helped make our last trip to Oregon truly memorable. (Also, it lists a few great itineraries in the introduction.)
posted by halogen at 6:18 PM on July 16, 2008

I know you said no cuisine, but the Tillamook factory is fun.
posted by acidic at 6:50 PM on July 16, 2008

I was just out there for the first time a little more than a month ago. You're in for a great vacation.

A good day trip from Portland is to go out to Mt Hood (make sure to stop in and see the gorgeous lodge) then head north on 35 to the Columbia river (there are a few orchards and wineries to stop in on this stretch). Then taking 84 back towards Portland you will pass by Multnomah Falls. When we did it, we took the Historic Columbia River Highway and stopped at Horsetail Falls first (which I think you'd miss if you stay on 84). There are some nice hiking trails that go up behind the falls.

When I was there, we spent most of our time in southern parts. We drove down 101 from Newport, OR to Crescent City, Ca. The northern parts of the coast were more crowded and built up and I thought the scenery in the southern parts was more striking and rugged. If you're going to go that far south you can see the redwoods. And the most amazing place I saw was China Beach in the Samuel Boardman State Park. It's a strenuous hike in and out, but it was the best picnic lunch spot anywhere on earth.

If you do go south, the Redwood Highway will get you back into the Illinois Valley with some beautiful scenery. Grant's Pass is a good destination if you are interested in a rafting trip.
posted by peeedro at 9:45 PM on July 16, 2008

i really like short sands beach, in oswald west state park
posted by rmd1023 at 9:37 AM on July 17, 2008

Recently drove from Portland to Big Sur (early May, pre-fires fortunately). I've included below some of the favorites that haven't already been mentioned:

On the way out to the coast off of 229 we stopped at a Brewery called Siletz - a bit off the beaten path, but worth it for the experience. They had a sampler flight that was wonderful. It is a total hole in the wall bar with lots of locals. The juxtaposition of the newly found success of small batch brews (and their general appeal to snobby, errr, discerning, beer people - and I count myself amongst them when they're available) with the local crowd (who were all drinking Coors light and Bud) was really great. Their beers have won many competitions recently.

From there we hit Yachats - so wonderful! We stayed at (and I'm seconding here) The Shamrock Lodgettes - so close to the beach and walking distance to the very small town. The night we were there we had dinner at The Yachats River House - a bit pricey but the food was incredible and it was a great experience - they have outdoor dining if the weather is nice, great wine list. If you think you will stop there, I'd recommend a reservation - but you can also eat in their bar area and/or the wine store that's attached.

The Sea Lion Caves - while touristy, are amazing to see. We got there when they opened (10, I think) and beat the rush of kids. There is a view from down in the caves of the Haceta Head Lighthouse which is great.

Then we went dune buggy riding which was a blast - we got 4-wheelers (we found an hour rental was enough)- also got there before the crowds which was a good idea.

That night we stayed in Gold Beach at a wonderful place on the Rogue River - owner was amazing and the cottages were really great: well kept, spacious, recently renovated, and a basket of homemade pastry and granola for breakfast.

We were out there too early but you can actually rent and stay in fire lookout towers all over Oregon.

Other than that there was the Portland portion - I'll throw in some suggestions:

Amazing dinner at a place called Lucy's Table
Henry's Tavern - has 100 beers on tap and an ice ring that surrounds the bar so your beer doesn't get warm - I had a pear cider that was incredible last time.
The ACE Hotel has a restaurant called Clyde Common that has really great drinks/apps/food and family style tables so we ended up meeting and talking with some great people. (There's also a photo booth in the hotel lobby which, in my opinion, should never be missed).

As for things we wish we had time to do:

We wanted to go to the White Wolf Sanctuary as well which we didn't do because it was out of our way but seems like it would be amazing.

A friend of mine from Portland also recommended Ashland but we didn't have time to go - they have a nationally acclaimed Shakespeare Festival that goes on most of the year that looks amazing.

Random suggestions and maps:

There are TONS of microbreweries throughout oregon.

Also the Rogue Valley and Applegate Valley is great wine country that is still pretty unspoiled in Southern Oregon -two sites that have listings here and here.

posted by jasbet07 at 10:57 AM on July 18, 2008

Response by poster: thank you all. special thanks to jasbet07 & peeedero
posted by kingfish at 11:25 AM on July 18, 2008

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