Oregon is the perfect place for a road trip. There’s lots to see and do, and the amazing stretch of coastline makes for a spectacular backdrop for your trip. D and I went at the end of the summer this year and had a blast. We hit the coast, wine country, and Portland. Each of these regions is distinct and has a lot to offer. Here’s a list of the highlights:
THE OREGON COAST:
The coastline is beautiful! White, sandy beaches stretch as far as the eye can see. One day, we’ll hopefully drive all the way down to California and through the Redwoods, but for this trip we only went as far as Newport and then cut inland to the Willamette Valley (wine country)… so I can’t really speak to all that there is south of Newport, but I’ve heard it’s great too.
- Cannon Beach – no trip to the Oregon Coast is complete without a trip to Cannon Beach. It’s incredibly picturesque and quaint. We recommend booking accommodations with a view right on the beach. Watching the sunset at night and the fog roll in in the morning from our private deck was great and our Cannon Beach experience wouldn’t have been the same without being beachfront. If you have a sweet tooth, pop into a candy shop and try the salt water toffee. As for other things to eat and drink, we grabbed coffee in the mornings at Insomnia Coffee, bought picnic food and beers at Mariner Market for lunches on the beach, and for dinner we ate Bill’s Tavern & Brewhouse one night, and Castaways Tini Tiki Hut the other. Both places were pretty good.
- Manzanita – less iconic than Cannon Beach, but not far south and charming in its own right. We didn’t stay here but stopped here for lunch because D’s friend, N, had insisted we stop for Left Coast Siesta’s legendary green wet burritos. Never ones to pass up a good burrito recommendation, we stopped here and are glad we did! They were delicious. And enormous. I actually ate all of mine and felt full for days. But it was worth it.
- Cape Kiwanda – we got out of the car here to stretch our legs and went for a walk along the beach (re: mountains of sand). I’ve never seen anything like it, it was amazing! There is so much sand here it’s all over the streets and literally everywhere. There are a few pubs on the beach so if you have some time, it’s not a bad place to grab a drink (make sure the driver just has one!) and a snack and enjoy the laid back vibe of this tiny little place.
- Newport – parts of Newport feel a bit odd and not like a tourist destination (strip malls, traffic, working class big town/small city), but the port is a pretty cool and a good place to walk around for a few hours, plus the food at Local Ocean is worth the stop all in itself, so I would suggest staying here for one night. The food at Local Ocean was delicious and I highly recommend it! We had amazing seafood, including fresh oysters and tuna fresh off the boat, plus a great bottle of Oregon wine. Don’t leave Newport without eating here.
THE WILLAMETTE VALLEY
I loved the Willamette Valley! If you like wine and luxury, come here and book yourself in at the amazing Allison Inn & Spa in Newberg. Seriously, you have to go here. The hotel is beautiful, the service is great, and the spa and onsite restaurant (JORY) are fabulous. A few wineries worth checking out are Berstrom, Winderlea, and a Penner-Ash. There are so many good ones, we just didn’t have a lot of time there to go through too many, plus they are very generous with their pours in this region so I really couldn’t handle too many stops. At dinner, we also tried the Soter Pinot Noir, and it was fantastic. If you’re looking to grab lunch, check out the Red Hills Market cafe. We had such an amazing time on this leg of the trip. (Note: almost all these recommendations were passed on to me by my friend/mentor R and her husband A – thanks guys!)
Portland is super cool without trying too hard. Amazing food, beer, and people-watching, this city does not disappoint.
- STAY: near the Pearl District (Ace Hotel is definitely your most hipster option and is super popular, but there are lots of options and TripAdvisor will steer you in the right direction – we got a ridiculously good rate at The Benson and they upgraded us after hearing we were newlyweds, and it served us just fine).
- EAT: check out the food trucks, the iconic Voodoo Donuts, and absolutely be sure to make dinner reservations well in advance for Beast, Ava Gene’s, and LePigeon. If you only go for dinner at one of those places, I say go to Beast – the dining experience is cool and a bit different than usual (you book in for one dinner sitting, and it is all communal seating, set menu – amazing food, several courses with wine pairings). Before your dinner at Beast, definitely make time to grab a pre-dinner cocktail at Expatriate across the street. I’ve also heard good things about Pok Pok (Thai) and Ned Ludd (American) but I didn’t try them out.
- DRINK: beer and coffee, of course! Grab some Portland-famous Stumptown coffee at Stark Cafe, adjoining the Ace Hotel. Head to Bailey’s Taproom and the Deschutes and Rogue brewpubs to sample what Portland’s most famous for – their craft beer scene. For cocktails, head to Clyde Common on the same block as the Ace Hotel.
- SEE: no trip to Portland would be complete without a trip to Powell’s Books, the largest independent new and used bookstore in the entire world. It’s enormous and pretty cool, even if you don’t think you’re in the market for some new books.
So… if you’re thinking of heading to Oregon sometime soon, you should go! Hope this list helps you out in your trip planning.