Whether you visit Portland or live nearby, you may want to explore beyond the Rose Garden and Columbia River Gorge. In today’s post I recommend some neighborhood walking tours and 5 fun day trips.
Walk a Loop on the Vera Katz Eastside Esplanade and Tom McCall Waterfront Park
Take a scenic 4 or 6 mile loop (depending on whether you cross at the Hawthorne Bridge for the shorter route or the Tilikum Crossing for the longer route) along the shores of the Willamette River. Pedestrians, joggers, and bicyclists all share the walkway that includes a moored portion that moves up and down with the water level. You may cross the Steel Bridge (black bridge in photo) next to a moving train. The Tilikum Crossing Bridge allows bikes, pedestrians, buses, streetcars, and MAX trains but no cars.
Rent a bike from any of the 100 BikeTown stations around town.
Take a seat on Portland Streetcar and view Portland through the window. It is a fun and easy way to explore. One can’t get lost since the 3 routes are all continuous loops. Portland Streetcar travels from NW, through The Pearl, and downtown to South Waterfront. One route takes travelers across The Tilikum Crossing to the eastside.
Click here for information on Portland Streetcar.
A unique Portland hike is the 4 T Trail that combines a Trail hike with the (Aerial) Tram, the (Max) Train, and the Trolley (Streetcar). Click here for more info.
Portland Walking Tours offers tours starting at $19 per person. I recently took and enjoyed the Underground Portland Tour. Next time I want to take the Chocolate Decadence Tour.
Architectural Heritage Center offers many interesting educational walks around Portland’s historic neighborhoods. They all sound interesting to me and I hope to book more of these walks in the future. This summer I took The Pearl Neighborhood and the Historic Albina Neighborhood walking tours.
Travel Portland website lists walking tour companies as well as Things to Do and Places to Visit.
5 Easy Day Trips Around Portland
Cross the Columbia River to Vancouver, Washington
Fort Vancouver was the Pacific Northwest Headquarters for the British Hudson’s Bay Company from 1824 until 1846. After Great Britain and the U.S. signed a treaty establishing the Canada-US border at the 49th parallel north, they moved their headquarters to Vancouver Island.
A 20′ tall log palisade enclosed the fur trading fort. Inside were warehouses, the Chief Factor’s house, a chapel, blacksmith, library, pharmacy, school, and bake house. Outside the walls were fields, orchards, tannery, sawmill, distillery and a village housing the laborers of the fort. The enterprise was mostly self sustaining as fur-laden ships would depart for China to sell the furs and continue to England before returning to the fort with new supplies – a 2-year-long journey.
Once the treaty was signed with Great Britain, the U.S. Army established Vancouver Barracks in 1849, the first U.S. Army base in the Pacific Northwest which the Army closed in 2011.
Because of its historical significance, both the Hudson’s Bay fort and the Army Barracks have been restored and declared a National HIstoric Site. The Fort is open to visitors. Closed Sunday + Monday.
Officers Row consists of 21 former Army officers’ homes. The Army deeded the property to the city for $1. The buildings are held in a trust, underwent a $10.9 million rehabilitation and are leased. This beautifully restored Queen Anne house built in 1886 was the Camp Commander’s house. It is called “The Marshall House” and was George C. Marshall’s home while serving as camp commander until President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked him to become the Chief of Staff. Marshall said the best two years of his life were the two living here at Vancouver Barracks. Marshall was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1953 for his Marshall Plan to aid post-WWII European recovery.
The oldest structure at Vancouver Barracks, a log cabin constructed in 1846, was the original Camp Commander’s home. It has been extensively remodeled with a second story addition. The building houses a restaurant and inside some of the original logs are visible. It is called “The Grant House”, although Ulysses S. Grant was stationed at Vancouver Barracks as a captain, he never lived in the Camp Commander’s house.
Pearson Air Museum is also located within the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site. Pearson Field is the oldest continuously operating airfield in the Pacific Northwest. Admission is free.
The Oregon Garden in The Willamette Valley
Mr. and Mrs. Pot-Head would like to welcome you to The Oregon Garden, an 80-acre botanical garden and tourist destination in Silverton, Oregon. The garden showcases Oregon nursery products, trees and ornamental plants. The only Oregon home that Frank Lloyd Wright designed is here and open to the public. While in the area you may also want to visit beautiful Silver Falls.
Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum – and Wine Country
Evergreen Aviation Museum was first envisioned by Capt. Michael King Smith and opened in 1991 with a small collection of vintage aircraft.
When The Spruce Goose was looking for a new home, Evergreen Museum won the proposal to build a museum to house it. The Spruce Goose dominates one hangar, but there are many aircraft and space exhibits, an I-MAX theatre, cafe, and the Wings and Waves Water Park.
I am sitting in Leonardo DiCaprio’s – I mean, Howard Hughes’s seat on the H-4 Hercules. The aircraft made only one brief flight on November 2, 1947. Critics nicknamed it “The Spruce Goose” even though it was mostly constructed of birch.
Red Ridge – Oregon Olive Mill & Durant Vineyards in Dayton, Oregon. This is one of the first olive orchards in Oregon and the only commercial olive mill. There is a nursery, gourmet gift shop, and olive oil and wine tasting on their beautiful grounds overlooking the valley.
Want to make it an overnight trip? The Vintages RV Resort looks fun; a blast from the past! According to TripAdvisor, it’s #1 of 4 specialty lodging in Oregon and rated 4.5 of 5.
Astoria and Ft. Clatsop, Oregon
The Astoria Column on Coxcomb Hill in Astoria, Oregon was built in 1926 overlooking the mouth of the Columbia River. The 125-ft tall column has an interior spiral staircase leading to an observation deck at the top. The spiral painted murals on the exterior depict significant historical Oregon events. Fort Astoria, the oldest American settlement in the Pacific Northwest, was established by American John Jacob Astor’s Pacific Fur Company in 1811.
Fort Clatsop was the 1805-1806 winter encampment of the Lewis and Clark Expedition for 3 miserable, wet months before they embarked on their return trip east to St. Louis, Missouri.
The original Fort Clatsop decayed, but was reconstructed from sketches in William Clark’s journals. The fort was named for a local Native American tribe.
A statue in Seaside, Oregon marks the official “End of the Lewis & Clark Expedition.”
Lincoln City, Oregon
How is it that I have been to Lincoln City many, many times and had never before seen this statue before? I never connected Lincoln City with President Abraham Lincoln either!
The statue plaque reads: “Shortly after five North Lincoln County towns consolidated in 1965, the newly formed Lincoln City, named by school children, acquired a fitting symbol – this 14-foot high, bronze statue “Lincoln on the Prairie.” Sculpted and donated to the city by Anna Hyatt Huntington, considered the country’s foremost equistrian sculptor.”
A little-known fact. When the newly formed Oregon Territory needed a territorial governor the job was offered to Abraham Lincoln. How differently history might have been if he had accepted the offer.
There are many beautiful Oregon Coast beaches calling your name.
Many people say they can’t afford to travel – or they’re too old to travel.
Everyone can be a tourist in their own hometown. Nearly every town has a historical museum. I don’t feel like I’ve run out of museums and places to visit around me!
Make an effort to get out, explore, see, and learn about your neck of the woods.
Super exciting travel news next time I Meet You in the Morning.