Portland, Oregon

Portland, OR - Waterfront ParkPortland is an interesting cornucopia of beautiful nature, progressive culture, friendly people and delightful cuisine. 

Located at the confluence of 2 great rivers, the Columbia and the Willamette, the area was a magnet for early native tribes and more recent European pioneers. 

Although Lewis and Clark did not end their famous journey at this junction, they came close enough to open the way for future settlers. Portland became an incorporated city in 1851. Read more about Portland’s history here

Interesting Facts: Just before the official incorporation of the city, the land claim holders Pettygrove and Lovejoy argued about their favorite names for the area known as “The Clearing”. Lovejoy wanted to name it Boston after his hometown and Pettygrove preferred to name it after Portland Maine. They settled the dispute with a coin toss. The famous Portland Penny is now on display at the Oregon Historical Society in downtown.

Portland, OR - Multnomah FallsThe city and surrounding areas offer so many activities, adventures and dining experiences, it is impossible to see and do everything in one visit. 

I only had one week for this visit, so I made the most out of it. I went on walks and bike rides through downtown and the 4 (main) Portland neighborhoods, I sampled the eclectic variety of foods offered at restaurants and food trucks and ventured out to nearby rivers, valleys, forests and mountains. 

Having experienced the wonders of this delightful city, I intend to go back for many more visits. 

Where to stay

Portland, OR - Courthouse SquarePortland is a major city, so you have many choices for accommodations. I personally stayed at an Airbnb rental in the Northeast neighborhood. My stay was pleasant and the house was close enough to attractions. But the downside to renting a room or a house is that you don’t have Hotel services like maid or concierge. 

Downtown hotels have the advantage of being at the center of action in the city. You are usually within walking distance from any restaurant or attraction. Some of the excellent choices are Sentinel, Embassy Suites by Hilton, The Heathman Hotel, The Nines. Expect to pay more for the location.

Hotels outside of downtown are quieter and less expensive. If you have a car or willing to use Portland’s excellent public transit, then chose one of those hotels. Some of the best ones are DoubleTree by Hilton, Hotel Eastlund and Comfort Inn.

Getting Around

Portland, OR - MAXPortland received several awards for being the Greenest city in America for many reasons. One of them is the great public transit system. 

The city’s neighborhoods are connected with a system of buses, streetcars and light rail. The MAX (Metropolitan Area Express) is the light rail system connecting downtown with the suburbs. In downtown and nearby districts, you can ride the street cars. 

For a fun ride, you should try the Portland Aerial Tram, which connects the South Waterfront district with Oregon Health & Science University. At the top, you can enjoy great views of Portland, the Willamette River and Mt Hood.

Portland, OR - BikingPortland is bike friendly - many streets have dedicated bike lanes. If there is no bike lane, bikers have the same rights (and responsibilities) as cars sharing the road. There are also a few designated “Green” Lanes for bikes. They were designed to have the minimum of stops along the way with special bike-only traffic lights. Riding on those lanes is a delight for bikers.

Tip: When biking, if you reach an intersection, look for a green box. If you stop in the green box, cars will stop for you and let you pass.

Finally, the city in partnership with Nike created a bike share program. You can find many bike pickup stations around Portland. The fees are very reasonable. You can rent the bike for one trip, the whole day or a full month. Go here to get program details and pricing.

Things to do around town

Take a walk

Portland, OR - Park BlocksThe best way to experience a new place is just to park somewhere and start walking. When you walk, you can have a more personal encounter with the city and learn firsthand about its landmarks, shops, restaurants and people. 

Make sure to stop at the food truck pods. Food trucks are regulated and inspected, so don’t worry about health issues. They offer a very large variety of international cuisines. Have you tried Mauritian or Norwegian food? This is the place to try it. 

Portland is considered one of the best walkable large cities because of its grid plan, short blocks and safety. There is no serious crime in Portland, but if you have young ones in your group, you probably should avoid the Northwest side of downtown. This area is infamous for its adult entertainment establishments. On the other hand, if you intend to have some adult fun, this is the place to be. 

To help navigate through Portland, always remember that the Willamette River divides the city into East and West sections. The main section of downtown is to the west of the river with most of the hotels, shopping, entertainment and dining establishments. 

Interesting Facts: East and West used to be two separate towns with the Willamette river running in the middle. Ferries were the only way to cross the divide. After connecting the 2 sides with bridges and streetcars, East was incorporated with West into one large city. 

Portland, OR - Waterfront ParkThe west side of the river has a nice waterfront park called “Tom McCall Waterfront Park”. Make sure to spend some time here. The park has great views of the river and the many bridges that cross it. There is also a bike rental shop and several beautiful fountains. One of them is called “Salmon Street Springs” and sits around the middle of the park – close to Hawthorne Bridge. The fountain has variable displays of water and color and is a great place for kids to get wet. 

Further south, make a left turn on SW Clay Street and walk about 3 blocks to the Keller Auditorium and its amazing fountains. 

Portland, OR - Keller FountainThe fountains are built from tall concrete blocks creating man-made waterfalls that cascade into pools. Some of the pools are deep enough for swimming. They are open to the public 

The fountains are open to the public and many Portland families enjoy playing in the water during the warm months. 

Bike around town

Another great way to enjoy Portland is to bike through its mostly flat streets. Many streets have dedicated bike lanes and traffic signals. 

You can just ride around downtown or venture further into Portland neighborhoods. For a very nice collection of bike route maps go here.

For the adventurous, try the Columbia River Gorge trail for a great workout and amazing scenery. 

Guided Tours

When I am visiting a new place, I try to depend on the professional local guides to give me a proper introduction. During my visit, I went on several of those tours. Here are some of the best:

Portland Walking Tours

Portland, OR - Portland PennyPortland Walking Tours offer several walking and foodie tours. I picked the "Best of Portland" tour as my first intro to this beautiful city. 

The tour started from a very convenient location, which is under (subterranean) the Pioneer Courthouse Square. 

Interesting Facts: The courthouse building is the oldest federal building in the west. It was built in 1869. 

Our tour guide Alexis was very knowledgeable and entertaining. During this tour, I learned about the history of the city, visited some of the important landmarks, and got a good workout after walking for 2 hours. 

Some of the highlights of the tour:

  • Visiting the Portland Penny that decided the name of the city at the Historical Society
  • Learning about the history of Micro Breweries and Coffee Rosters
  • Visiting Tom McCall Waterfront Park and the fountain that changes every 20 minutes
  • Admiring the amazing number of public art exhibits on the streets
  • Learning about the 11 bridges that cross the river
  • Strolling through the South Park Blocks, which span 12 city blocks. It is a contiguous greenbelt in the center of town.

Interesting Facts: In the early days of the Park Blocks, one square was set aside for women and children exclusively. This was done to protect women from drunk men.

Eat Adventures

Portland, OR - South Park SeafoodTo discover the culinary delights that Portland has to offer, I went on the “Best of Portland Food Tour” with Eat Adventures. 

During this tour, we visited a microbrewery, a winery restaurant, a food truck and a creamery. Along the way, we learned about the various Portland neighborhood and their history. 

Angie our guide was a wealth of information. She drove us around in her comfortable minivan to cover more of the city. 

Our first stop was at the “South Park Seafood” where to tried cold smoked trout. I never knew you can eat cold fish, but we did and it was very good. The place has an oyster bar with fresh and ever-changing selection of oysters and clams.

At the Ecliptic Brewery, we enjoyed a plate of delicious snacks and a few beers to taste. My favorites were the beets with sharp white cheddar and the porter beer. The décor was out of this world.

Interesting Facts: Portland is also well known for its microbreweries. The abundance of Hop, Barley and fresh water nearby makes for ideal conditions to make this the beer capital of the World. 

Portland, OR - Tessera wineryAt Tessera winery restaurant the hostess was generous with both whites and reds to try. We also enjoyed a selection of cheese and cold cuts. 

Angie then took us to a food truck pod to try a new cuisine. The Viking Soul Food offers Norwegian comfort food. Their specialty is a potato-based Crepe called “Lefse”. I picked the smoked Salmon wrap and it was very light and tasty. The portions were large, so I saved half for later.

We ended our foodie trip in the “Ruby Jewel Ice Cream Sandwiches”. A great way to end the day.

See more tours at Eat Adventures website.

Cycle Portland

Portland, OR - Cup and BarOn the day of my “Foodie Field Trip” with Cycle Portland, the weather was cold and rainy. I was expecting the trip to be canceled, but we donned our rain gear and ventured onto the wet streets.

I am glad I didn’t chicken out. I ended up having a private foodie bike tour with Neil. He was an excellent guide, taking me through the most interesting bike paths and stopping at some great food and drink establishments. 

We started by visiting the “Cup and Bar” coffee shop where I enjoyed a cup of coffee and a fudge bar. 

Interesting Facts: A lot of coffee beans pass through Portland on its way to other states. So, it is natural for coffee roaster to flourish in this town. With more than 40 specialty coffee roaster, within the city limits, dare we say that Portland is the coffee capital of the west? 

Portland, OR - Aerial TramwayThen we biked on a long stretch of “Green Way” to a food truck pod hidden in a residential neighborhood.  At the pod, I tasted a Poutine for the first time at “Potato Champion”. It is a Canadian dish made with fries and some kind of topping. Mine was “Palak Paneer Fries”, with spinach, cheese and curry. 

After another bike ride in the rain, we stopped at “50 Licks Ice Cream” for a sampling of very interesting flavors. After trying a few, I decided to go for the Rumid Razin with Rum and Raisins. This was a nice ending to our food tasting, we still had to bike back to the bike shop.

On the way back, we rode on a waterfront trail, passed by the Museum of Science and Industry and crossed over a floating bridge. 

Thanks Neil for a great bike tour through Portland.

See more Cycle Portland tours here.

Where to eat

Portland, OR - India HousePortland is proud of its foodie culture with an abundance of local and ethnic choices. Many restaurants offer seasonal “Farm to Table” menus with ingredients sourced locally from the Willamette Valley farms. 

The city’s location next to a large farming community and natural clean water makes it ideal for wine making and beer brewing. 

Finally, you can’t miss the food trucks. They are regulated and inspected ad offers a large variety of world foods. 

Here are some of my favorites:

Breakfast

Voodoo or Blue-star? You have to try the donuts at “Voodoo Donuts” and “Blue Star Donuts”. There is a long-standing argument among locals and visitors about which one is better. They are both delicious, but I personally preferred Blue Star. 

Bijou Café:  A very good place for a nice sit-down breakfast. They offer the basics plus French favorites. I tried the mushroom & Tillamook vintage cheddar omelet. They also serve brunch every day.

Pine State Biscuits: If you love biscuits then you must visit this place. Freshly made biscuits with your favorite toppings. I tried the Regina which came with over easy eggs and braised greens with hot sauce. Very tasty and filling. 

Their most famous concussion is the Reggie (or Reggie deluxe), but I didn’t feel like fried chicken for breakfast on that day.

Lunch

Portland, OR - Food Truck PodFood Trucks: I really love the food trucks in Portland. It is the most convenient way to try many ethnic cuisines for a reasonable price. You will find Mexican, Japanese, Chinese, Middle Eastern, Greek – just to name a few.

On One day, I had a sampler of dumplings at the “Dump Truck” in downtown. My favorites were Mr. MA’s special and Potato Curry. Didn’t like the bacon dumpling that much.

On another day, I tried Mauritian Food for the first time at “Chez Dodo”. Mauritius Island sits in the IndianOceann between Africa and India and their cuisine reflects those influences. At this place, you build your meal by picking the base (rice or noodles), meat, toppings and spice level. For sides, try one of their Samosas. They are huge, so maybe you can have it as the main dish.

While on tour, I got to try Norwegian at “Viking Soul Food” and Canadian at “Potato Hiro”. Both were new experiences and both very delicious. 

Dinner

Portland, OR - Sizzle PieMany great choices for dinner in downtown and further away. You will be hard pressed to find any chain restaurants in downtown and the only fast food place I could find is McDonald’s. This is a good thing because you are forced to try new things. 

Here are my favorites:

India House: is a small place with very tasty traditional Indian dishes and bread. I ordered the Lamb combo which had the Lamb Kari and Lamb Kofta with many side dishes and Naan bread. The rice pudding was an excellent finish to a great meal. 

Le Pigeon: With an ever-changing menu of creative French dishes, you can always find something new to try. During my visit, I sat at the bar and watched the chef prepare my dinner. I decided to try the “Beef Cheek Bourguignon” and I loved it. The meat melts in your mouth and the side of mac and cheese was nostalgic. I was tempted to try the “Honey Glazed Lamb Shoulder”, but saved it for another visit. I ended my sumptuous meal with a Crème Brule.

Sizzle Pie: A great place for unique Pizza creations. The place is simple and casual, but you go there for the food, not the ambiance. I picked a slice of “Swamp Wizards” and “Vegan Angel of Doom”. Strange names but great tastes. The Swamp Wizards had Chicken, Spinach, Butternut Squash, Dried Cranberries and Mozzarella and the Angel of Doom had Mozzarella, Jalapeños, Pineapple, and Almonds. You can’t find those combinations at your chain pizza store.

Hoda's: A Lebanese restaurant with traditional middle-eastern fare and home-made pita bread. With friendly and attentive staff and great tasting food, you feel right at home in this 2-story place. 

They have a large selection of Kabob, Kafta and rice dishes. You can also order Mezza, which a large selection of small plates. The Mezza for 2 includes Tabouleh, Hummus, Baba Ghanouje, grass-fed Kafta Kabob, Basmati Rice and Meat Pie.

I picked the Lamb Kabob which was served with rice and pita bread. The meat was cooked just right and very favorable. I finished my meal with my favorite dessert, the Kenafeh. I will definitely come back for more at Hoda’s.

Departure: This restaurant sits atop the luxury hotel “The Nines” with a commanding view of Portland’s skyline. You can pick indoor or balcony seating. I would have preferred to enjoy the view from the balcony, but the weather did not cooperate.

The restaurant offers the best of Japanese cuisine with a variety of seafood, chicken and steak. 

Check out the Chef Gregory Gourdet recommendations menu for special treats. 

Finally, Departure offers Vegan and Gluten Free menus. 

Away from Downtown

Portland, OR - Pittock MansionA few blocks away from downtown you can find many shopping and entertainment venues. 

The Lloyd Center 

Portland, OR - Lloyd CenterThe center is a few blocks away from downtown to the east of the Willamette River and accessible via streetcar and light rail. It houses the largest mall in Oregon, a movie theater, indoor ice skating rink and hotels.

A nice park sits between the train station and the mall, with interesting fountains and statues. 

The mall itself has some of the large department stores like Macy’s, H&M, Guess and The Gap with a lot of unique boutique stores and souvenirs shops. You can find a large selection of gifts at the “Made in Oregon” store. 

Pittock Mansion 

Portland, OR - Pittock MansionA short winding drive west of downtown, this mansion sits atop a hill with a great view of the city, the river and the Cascade mountains to the east. 

The mansion itself is worth a visit to see how the Portland rich and famous lived in the early 1900’s. It was built in 1914 as a home for the Pittocks Henry and Georgiana along with 8 family members. 

In 1958 the last family member moved out and later the city of Portland purchased the property and runs it as a museum and park.

Interesting Facts: Henry Pittock, before he became rich and built this mansion, took a job at the Weekly Oregonian newspaper, where he also slept on a cot for a few years.

The Mansion is a 23-room French Renaissance-Style Chateau with elegant decor and furniture, but the best feature is found outdoors in the well-landscaped gardens and hiking trails and a view to die for. 

Many Portlandians and visitors just go for the view and maybe some hiking. You don’t have to pay a fee to visit outdoors, but the museum fee is $10 and children under 6 are free. Read more about the Pittock Mansion here

Places to see near Portland 

Portland, OR - Latourell FallsJust an hour’s drive away from Portland you can enjoy an abundance of natural wonders. 

If you follow the Columbia River along the Historic Columbia River Highway, you will come across popular waterfalls like Multnomah and Bridal Veil Falls and you can spend days traversing the many trails.

Almost from anywhere in Portland you can see Mt Hood with its snow-covered cap. Mt Hood is a fun destination any time of the year. 

To the southeast, you can visit the Willamette Valley with its wineries and the Cascade foothills with its own collection of waterfalls. 

The Columbia River Gorge

Portland, OR - Wahkeena FallsThe gorge was formed eons ago by catastrophic events. After the ice glaciers started to melt, huge quantities of water were held back by natural ice dams. When the dams broke, torrents of water and boulders came rushing down to carve this beautiful gorge. 

 The Gorge has 26 waterfalls, some on the Washington side. Some of the most popular ones are Multnomah, Whakeena and Briadal Viel. Read the full article about the Gorge here.

Willamette Valley and Silver Falls State Park

Portland, OR - Silver Falls State ParkThe Willamette Valley is a 150-mile stretch of fertile land bordered by 3 mountain ranges. The Willamette river runs through the whole valley with many tributaries and streams crisscrossing the valley.

It is home to Oregon’s largest cities where 70% of the population lives – including Portland, Eugene and Salem, the state capital.

Today, the Willamette Valley is famous for its numerous wineries (more than 500 and counting) spread over 19,000 acres of fertile land. 

The Cascade Mountains form the eastern edge of this valley with lush forests and roaring waterfalls. A visit to the Valley is not complete until you venture into the Silver Falls State Park to enjoy the falls and the hiking trails.

The best way to enjoy the state park is by hiking the trails that connect 10 amazing waterfalls.  

Willamette Valley and Waterfalls Guided Tour

Portland Oregon - Wine CountryI recently went with Evergreen Escapes on their “Willamette Valley Wine & Waterfalls” Tour and enjoyed every minute.

The tour was very well planned and took the whole day to complete. Our guide, Adam Sawyer, was awesome. He happens to also be an author of travel guidebooks, so he really knows and enjoys his stuff. 

We started with a morning visit to the “Silver Falls State Park” where we explored 3 beautiful waterfalls and ended the day with a picnic lunch and wine tasting tour.

The tour took the whole day and was full of activities and interesting facts. Read the full story about Willamette Valley here 

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Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

Portland, OR - Columbia River GorgeThe Columbia River Gorge was formed eons ago by catastrophic events. After the ice glaciers started to melt, huge quantities of water were held back by natural ice dams. When the dams broke, torrents of water and boulders came rushing down to carve this beautiful gorge. But you don’t need to know the history of this natural wonder to enjoy its beauty.

The scenic and historic Columbia River Highway will take you from the town of Troutdale, close to Portland, to the town of Dalles 75-miles away and passes by high overlooks and plentiful waterfalls. See the full article about Portland, Oregon here.

Portland, OR - Columbia River GorgeThe first stop on the road to the waterfalls is a place jokingly called the Million Dollar Outhouse. The rest stop and vista point was supposed to be built on a budget but ended up costing too much.

Interesting Facts: The Gorge starts from British Columbia and ends at Astoria on the Oregon Coast. It spans 260,000 square miles in 7 states.

The building sits on a promontory with a great view of the river and hills on the Oregon and Washington sides. On a windy or rainy day, the indoors viewing gallery with its floor to ceiling windows provides shelter while you are enjoying the views. Downstairs you can find restrooms and a coffee shop.

Waterfalls

The Gorge has 26 waterfalls, some on the Washington side. There isn’t enough time in one day to explore all of them, but here are the most popular ones.

Multnomah Falls

Portland, OR - Multnomah FallsThis is the most iconic fall in Oregon and the most visited and photographed. It also has the highest plunge of 620 feet – with a beautiful bridge that brings visitors closer to the roaring water and the mist.

Interesting Facts: Multnomah is considered the tallest waterfall in Oregon. The water mainly comes from underground springs and snow melt.

There is a short trail that takes you to the bridge. This is an easy and accessible hike that anyone can make. But if you are up to the challenge, you should continue on the steep trail that takes you to the top of the falls where you can find another small waterfall. Tip: If you go on the bridge and continue on the trail

Tip: If you go on the bridge and continue on the trail past the bridge be ready to get wet. The mist from the fall is very strong in this area.

Multnomah Falls area has a visitor center, café and a nice restaurant with a view. The food here is very good, but the view is even better. I enjoyed my pancake breakfast will watching the amazing waterfall.

Wahkeena Falls

Portland, OR - Wahkeena FallsWahkeena drops from a height of 242 feet, but it flows down from this height gently. Like Multnomah, it has a bridge that you need to hike to for best views of the fall.

Interesting Facts: The word Wahkeena in the Yakima Indian language means “Most Beautiful” – a very fitting name.

The fall is close to Multnomah and connected by a hiking trail. The hike between the 2 falls is easy with surprising small waterfalls and cascades along the way.

Tip: The parking lot at Multnomah is usually full on the weekends, so park at Wahkeena instead, enjoy this waterfall, then hike to Multnomah.

Bridal Veil Falls

Another great waterfall with two cascades of water plunging from a height of 160 feet. The gushing water flows under the Historic Highway. Although you can view the falls from the viewing platform next to the road, for

Although you can view the falls from the viewing platform next to the road, for the best view you should try the 1-mile round trip hike. It is steep with a lot of switchbacks, but it is worth the effort.

Other Falls at the Gorge

Portland, OR - Latourell FallsSome of the other falls worth mentioning are:

  • Latourell Falls (249 feet): Visible from the road, but requires a hike for a better view
  • Horsetail Falls (176 feet): A nice waterfall that you can walk behind
  • Punch Bowl Falls: (35 feet): A smaller fall that runs into a punch bowl shaped pool.

Hiking through the Gorge

This is my favorite way to enjoy the gorge and its waterfalls. Take one of the many trails that connect the falls and get close to nature. The “Multnomah-Wahkeena Loop Hike” connects Multnomah with Wahkeena falls and is considered a moderate hike.

You can start this hike from either waterfall. The trail is about 5 miles long and your elevation gain is only about 1600 feet. Along the way, you will see 8 named waterfalls, plenty of unnamed water cascades and verdant moss and trees. Some of the falls will require a short side detour to get to.

Tip: Although it is not a difficult trail, it can be rough at times. Take special care during wet or icy conditions. It could be very slippery.

Portland, OR - Multnomah FallsI did this hike on a rainy day in April. I parked my car at Wahkeena and walked to Multnomah. After the exceptional rains of 2017, everything was so vibrant and water was running everywhere.

Biking through the Gorge

Yes, it is possible to bike all the way from Portland to the waterfalls at the Gorge. It is not all easy going, but it can be done. Here is a very detailed map of the bike trails through the Gorge

Easy Ride

The Easy CLIMB Trail is a 2-mile loop at the Cascade Locks Port and offers an easy intro to biking the gorge.

This is a mostly flat trail that winds through river beaches and meadows.

Moderate Ride

This trail goes along the Historic Columbia River Highway from the town of Troutdale to Cascade Locks. The bikes share the road with cars for most of the way. This trail passes by many of the most popular waterfalls at the Gorge., including Multnomah Falls.

Guided Tours

Before I went exploring on my own, I decided to try a guided tour through the Gorge. This was a great decision. I went with Hub World Tours on a full day tour of the Gorge and Mt Hood. The tour was very well organized and informative. It was a good way to get introduced to a new place. Read the full story here …

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Mt Hood, Oregon

Portland, OR - Aerial TramwayMt Hood is the tallest mountain in Oregon and is always capped with snow. At a height of 11,000+ feet, it is omnipresent in the Portland eastern horizon.  

The mountain has 12 glaciers and snowfields and has the distinction of having the longest Ski season in the USA. 

When we arrived on an April day, it was lightly snowing with ski lifts running and skiers and snowboarders enjoying the slopes.

Portland, OR - Mt Hood - Timberline LodgeMt Hood is about 50 miles from Portland, which makes it the winter wonderland for Portland residents and visitor. The ski season is usually open year-round with lots of winter sports events.

See the main Portland article here.

The road up the mountain is scenic with lots of small farms giving way to Pine forest and snowbanks. 

At the end of the drive, you will come across Timberline Lodge - the center of winter fun. It was built during the Depression to create jobs for unemployed worker. It ended up being a work of art. It is now a National Historic Landmark.

Portland, OR - Mt Hood - Timberline LodgeThe Lodge was mainly built from recycled material to reduce cost, but you wouldn’t know that while admiring its architecture or when you go inside. The indoors main hall is elegant with 3 fireplaces. The place is warm and cozy.

Inside you can find several restaurants, bars and cafes – and of course classic lodge rooms. The luxury-minded visitors can rent a Condominium. 

Outside, you can either watch the skiers and snowboarder zipping by on the slopes or you can be part of the action.  

Portland, OR - Mt Hood - Timberline LodgeIf you are not a skier, you can still have some fun at Mt Hood. Try a ride on a snowcat to a Height of 8500 feet or ride a chairlift on a summer day. You can also enjoy mountain biking or hiking during summer days.

The lodge also hosts many events throughout the year like Stargazing Party, Hood to Coast Rally Race, and a Music Festival. 

Get more info about Timberline Lodge, winter sports activities and events here.

On the way to Mt Hood, you will pass a great place for adventure seekers. The Mt Hood Adventure Park at Skibowl is a great place to try Ziplines, Alpine Slides, Bungee Jumping and Horseback Riding.  The kids can try Pony Rides, Miniature Golf, Go Carts and other fun rides.  Get more details here.

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Waterfalls and Mt Hood Guided Tour

Portland, OR - Multnomah FallsThe Columbia River Gorge was formed eons ago by catastrophic events. After the ice glaciers started to melt, huge quantities of water were held back by natural ice dams. When the dams broke, torrents of water and boulders came rushing down to carve this beautiful gorge. 

But you don’t need to know the history of this natural wonder to enjoy its beauty. The scenic and historic Columbia River Highway will take you from the town of Troutdale, close to Portland, to the town of Dalles 75-miles away and passing by commanding viewpoints and flowing waterfalls.  

Interesting Facts: The Gorge starts from British Columbia and ends at Astoria on the Oregon Coast. It spans 260,000 square miles in 7 states.

Before I went exploring on my own, I decided to try a guided tour. This was a great decision. 

I went with Hub World Tours on a full day tour of the Gorge and Mt Hood. The tour was very well organized and informative. It was a good way to get introduced to a new place.

See the full article about Columbia River Gorge here.

See the full article about Portland, Oregon here

I was picked up from a hotel in downtown in a nice Mercedes van and headed to Troutdale, a small historic town at the start of the historic Columbia River Gorge Highway. The town sits on the banks of Sandy river which flows into the Columbia River.

Our tour guide was very friendly and knowledgeable. She kept us informed about the history of the gorge and the cataclysmic events that shaped this area.  She took us to the most interesting viewpoints and waterfalls.

The Gorge

Portland, OR - Columbia River GorgeOur first stop after passing Troutdale was at a place jokingly called the Million Dollar Outhouse. The rest stop and vista point was supposed to be built on a budget but ended up costing too much. 

The building sits on a promontory with a great view of the river and hills on the Oregon and Washington sides. On a windy or rainy day, the indoors viewing gallery with it floor to ceiling windows provides shelter while you are enjoying the views. Downstairs you can find restrooms and a coffee shop. 

After our stop at the vista house, we passed by Latourell Falls and Bridal Veil Falls then stopped at Wahkeena Falls. 

Portland, OR - Wahkeena FallsAt Wahkeena we enjoyed a great view from the viewing platform right next to the highway and watched the water gushing down from a height of 242 feet and under the road. Our guide pointed out a trail that we can take to get closer to the waterfall. 

We spent some time at Wahkeena then continued on to Multnomah Falls. This is really the highlight of the tour. We took our time enjoying the view from the bottom, then hiked to the bridge for a closer view. From the bridge, you can watch the cascading waters from one side and the beautiful Columbia River from the other. See the full article about Columbia River Gorge here …

The tour then continued on the Historic Highway towards Hood River where we turned onto Highway 35 towards Mt Hood. 

Mt Hood

Portland, OR - Mt HoodThe road to the mountain was scenic with great views of Mt Hood as it grew near. Along the way, we saw many small farms that gave way to a pine forest. 

Mt hood is always covered by snow and ice. This gives it the distinction of having the longest Ski season in the USA. When we arrived on an April day, it was lightly snowing with ski lifts running and skiers and snowboarders enjoying the slopes.

Portland, OR - Mt Hood - Timberline LodgeTimberline lodge itself is very interesting. It was built during the Depression to create jobs for unemployed worker. It ended up being a work of art. It is now a National Historic Landmark. 

It was mainly built from recycled material to reduce cost, but you wouldn’t know that when you gaze at its architecture or when you go inside. The indoors main hall is elegant with 3 fireplaces. The place is warm and cozy.

Stepping outside, you will feel the huge drop in temperature, and you can watch the skiers and snowboarder zipping by on the slopes. 

See the full article about Mt Hood here

Portland, OR - Mt Hood - Timberline LodgeDuring this tour, we enjoyed nature at its extremes. On the first leg of this trip, we visited lush greenery with cascading waterfalls and got wet from the light rain and the waterfall mist. On the second leg, we enjoyed the cold and snowy weather while admiring Timberline Lodge - half buried under the snow.

Read more about America’s Hub World Travel here.

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Willamette Valley and Silver Falls State Park

Portland Oregon - Willamette - Dahlias near CanbyThe Willamette Valley is a 150-mile stretch of fertile land borValleyby 3 mountain ranges. The Willamette River runs through the whole valley with many other rivers and streams crisscrossing the valley.

It is home to Oregon’s largest cities where 70% of the population lives – including Portland, Eugene and Salem, the state capital. Read the full article about Portland here.

Today, the Willamette Valley is famous for its numerous wineries spread over 19,000 acres. 

Portland Oregon - Coelho WineryThe Cascade Mountains form the eastern edge of this valley with lush forests and roaring waterfalls. A visit to the Valley is not complete until you venture into the Silver Falls State Park to enjoy the falls and the hiking trails.

The best way to enjoy the area is by hiking the trails between the waterfalls in the morning, then going on wine tasting tour through the 500+ wineries dotting this valley.

Willamette Guided Tour

I recently went with Evergreen Escapes on their “Willamette Valley Wine & Waterfalls” Tour and enjoyed every minute.

The tour was very well planned and took the whole day to complete. Our guide, Adam Sawyer, was awesome. He happens to also be an author of travel guidebooks, so he really knows and enjoys his stuff. 

Silver Falls State Park

Portland, OR - Silver Falls State ParkWe started with a morning visit to the Silver Falls State Park where we explored 3 beautiful waterfalls. The falls in this park are different from the Columbia River Gorge. Those falls were formed by cooling lava flows that created granite overhangs over deep ravines. 

The park has 10 waterfalls spread out over 8 miles. You can hike a trail that connects all 10. We didn’t have enough time to try this hike, but we did visit 3 of the most amazing waterfalls. I especially enjoyed hiking behind 2 of the waterfalls, North Falls and Lower South Falls.

Portland, OR - Silver FallsLower South Falls has a trail that takes you down into the ravine and into a grotto behind the fall. From the grotto, you can watch the gushing water from the lip of the lava flow and the trees and river down below. 

When you are done enjoying the waterfall from the lower trail, you can climb back up and take a detour to the right to see the waterfall from the top.

While we were doing this short hike, and enjoying the scenery, our guide was preparing some French Press Coffee for us. It was a welcome surprise as we trekked back to the van.

Watch an amazing video below highlighting the waterfalls at Silver Falls State Park. 

Wine Country

Portland Oregon - Wine CountryAfter we explored the waterfalls at this great park, it was time to relax and enjoy the wine country. 

At the first winery, “Coelho Winery”, we enjoyed a picnic lunch which was catered by a local Portland restaurant. The sandwiches we delicious and just what we needed after our morning exertions. After our lunch, we tried a few wines by Coelho. The Pinot here was ok, but nothing special. 

Our next stop was at “Brooks Wines” where we met Gerry, the local wine expert. He spent some time explaining the history of the winery and some interesting facts about wine tasting. He really made our visit very special. 

Gerry also showed us how to read the sweetness level on the bottle and how to age wine at home. The Reds and White he offered were very tasty. I really enjoyed being this winery.

Portland Oregon - Winter's Hill WineryWe ended our wine tasting tour at “Winter's Hill Winery”. The wines here were good, but the setting was even better. 

The tasting room is set in a warehouse-style room with wine-making equipment all around, including behind the tasting bar. 

Along with wines, they sell honey, chocolates and Hazelnuts. I especially liked the Hazelnuts with daring flavors. The Hazelnuts are produced right here in the valley. 

The tour with Evergreen Escapes was one of the best tours I went on during my visit to Portland. I would definitely go with them again.

Read more about Evergreen Escapes here.

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