What are the best side trips from the Willamette Valley?

Answers from Our Experts (1)

Kerry Newberry

You’ll find enough to see and do in the Willamette Valley to fill a weekend or longer. But should you want to see even more of the postcard-worthy countryside beyond this top wine growing region, we at Forbes Travel Guide have scouted a few side trips from Willamette Valley that are worth the drive.

1. The Oregon Coast. You can’t go wrong if you point the car toward the coast. Experience an authentic fishing town in sea-soaked Newport, home to the West Coast’s largest commercial fishing fleet. You can walk the working docks and watch ruddy-faced fishermen bring in the daily catch, then visit the acclaimed Oregon Coast Aquarium. After taking in the town, feast on Oregon Dungeness crab at the seafood market and restaurant Local Ocean, complete with a view of the Yaquina Bay and colorful fishing boats.    

2. The Columbia River Gorge. One of the most majestic roads in the state winds along the deep blue Columbia River, the largest North American river that flows into the Pacific. The radiant blue meanders by craggy peaks, mossy hilltops and breath-taking waterfalls. Even if you aren’t an avid trekker, the Multnomah Falls hike is a must. The basic hike is short and winds to a lookout for the 620-foot cascade -- the second highest year-round waterfall in the nation. You won’t forget the view and the soft mist on your face. If you drive 20 more minutes, you’ll reach Hood River, a mecca for windsurfing and kiteboarding and a fun spot for people-watching, shopping and lunch.

3. Bandon Dunes Golf Resort. If you have time, plan an overnight trip to Bandon. It’s a picturesque mix of dramatic ocean views and beautiful cranberry bogs. While you can easily spend a day in the town eating fish and chips right on the docks and discovering local artwork, the worldwide draw to the area revolves around tee time. The wind-swept courses at Bandon Dunes are perched 100-feet above the Pacific Ocean, on a landscape that could easily be mistaken for Scotland. Whether you golf at sunset or sunrise, the view is awe-inspiring.

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