Five Minutes Further
Sample the big-hitting tourist sites, sure, but don’t forget: often the magic lies just a few minutes’ diversion away from the crowds. So, travel that little bit further to discover what adventures lie outside the city limits.
Board the light rail to tour the Oregon Zoo
The well-respected Oregon Zoo sits in Washington Park, just three miles west of Downtown. Local operator, TriMet operates light rail trains (MAX) which whizz you there in minutes (15 minutes from the Central Library stop, for around $2.50). The zoo’s five areas encompass Asia, Fragile Forests, Pacific Shores, Africa and the Great Northwest. But three more are on the way – Polar, Primate and Rhino zones, due to open in 2020. You can easily spend a sunny day here. Plenty of places to eat too.
Ski on Mt. Hood
Officially an active volcano (don’t worry, it’s been quiet a long time) the mountain is home to three ski areas; Mt Hood Meadows, Timberline and Mt Hood Ski Bowl. The largest area is Meadows, with a great all-round snow record and some seriously exhilarating runs (try night skiing at Ski Bowl – it’s fantastic!). The mountain rises 50 miles east of the city – about a two-hour drive away. The resort offers Alpine and Nordic ski areas, tuition, hire and plenty of accommodation options.
The Oregon coast is the Pacific Northwest at its most alluring – all salty sea-dog taverns, home-spun inns and rugged coves. Behind sandy and secluded beaches rise pristine pine forests, coastal trails (great for cyclists) and remarkably silent State Parks. And it goes without saying – the sunsets are spectacular. For seclusion and vistas, head to the Boiler Bay State Scenic Viewpoint – with panoramic set-pieces of surf, orcas and sky. Good bases for exploration include cosy Rockaway Beach, just a two-hour drive away, or historic Newport, with the best range of amenities in the area, half an hour further still.
Still puzzlingly off-radar compared to the PR-savvy souls in California’s Napa Valley, Oregon’s Wine Country nevertheless offers a heady list of over 500 wineries to choose from, all situated in the Willamette Valley: itself a beautiful region well worth exploring, wine or not. Most vineyards offer tours and tastings (or samples you can take away with you to enjoy later). The excellent Wine Country website offers itineraries, and lots of inspiration for those times in-between the wines!