When we think of Oregon, the eternally hip city of Portland with its iconic doughnuts, coffee, and hipsters is often the first place that comes to mind. However, the coastal state located in the idyllic Pacific Northwest is so much more than this one quirky town. It's home to just about every type of nature you could imagine from sprawling forests and snowcapped mountains to expansive farms and gorgeous beaches.
It turns out that the best way to truly experience the state is by car. You can drive on winding roads surrounded by towering green trees, pass through vineyards and flower fields, and feel the salty sea air through unrolled windows all in one day. We recently embarked on a journey across the state in a Buick Regal TourX. Two days and 360 miles later, these are all the Oregon road trips we discovered along the way.
Portland is located at the Northern tip of Oregon, making it the ideal starting point for a road trip throughout the state. Besides, what trip to Oregon would be complete without a stop in the iconic city? Spend some time exploring the eccentric town before driving off to your next location.
While you're there, make time to wander through Washington Park, where you can experience the tranquil Japanese Garden and the Oregon Zoo. The city is also known for its art and music scene, so be sure to see what local events are happening while you're in town. Finally, fuel up on treats from Voodoo Doughnut or Blue Star Donuts to get the full Portland experience before hitting the road.
Stop 1: Cape Meares
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From Portland, head west on highway 26 toward Cape Meares. The winding road will take you through the Tillamook State Forest for a scenic drive surrounded by tall green trees. If you're not in a rush, make a pit stop in the town of Tillamook for a cheese tasting tour through the Tillamook Cheese Factory (it's a must for all cheese-lovers).
After you've filled up on cheese, keep driving west along Tillamook Bay until you approach Cape Meares State Park. There, you'll be greeted with ocean views and forested grounds alike. Make sure to get out of the car and explore all that nature has to offer at this lookout point, as well as the iconic Cape Meares Lighthouse. The ocean views are simply phenomenal and there are plenty of hiking trails to wander through if you have the time.
Stop 2: Eugene
After you've had your fill of the beach, get back in the car and drive southeast toward Eugene. Say goodbye to coastal views and hello to endless green landscapes covered in more trees than any city dweller could imagine. Enjoy the peace of time spent on the road during this leg of your Oregon road trip.
While there are plenty of cities to stop off at along the way, the drive will take you about three hours if you commit to staying on course. You'll drive through Salem, past Albany, and all the way down to Eugene. Once there, experience the quaint nightlife of the PNW town. Visit the Ninkasi Brewery for a local pour then head out to a low-key establishment like Sam Bond's Garage for live music and a nightcap.
Stop 3: Monmouth
When you've experienced enough of the local scene in Eugene, begin your journey back up north, only this time, plan to stop in Monmouth, Oregon. Here is where you'll really want to experience the nature of the state, whether that means taking a hike to a stunning waterfall or sipping wine outside at one of the city's many vineyards.
If you're an outdoors enthusiast, head to Sarah Helmick State Recreation Site just south of Monmouth for incredible hiking. You can also map your own biking route for a scenic ride through the Willamette Valley. If a vineyard is your ideal outdoor adventure, head to a wine tasting at Emerson Vineyards, Airlie Winery, or Illahe Vineyards and Winery.
Next Stop: Salem
Take a short drive northeast to Oregon's capital city of Salem. Not far from Monmouth, this area has just as many things to do in the beautiful outdoors. Hike, bike, and explore your way through the city, and then enjoy delicious food and drink downtown. Dine at Rafns' or DaVinci Ristorante, and then head to Brown's Towne Lounge for the best beers in the Willamette Valley.
Hit the road once more to drive all the way back up north to Portland to end your journey. The final leg of the trip should take just over an hour, leaving you with plenty of time to enjoy the city once more or catch a flight home out of PDX. However, if you time your trip between March and May, you may want to make one final pit stop on your way back to Portland. Pull off the freeway at Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm, located right in between Salem and Portland, to see a colorful tulip field in full bloom for one last taste of all that Oregon's natural wonders have to offer before you depart.
Be inspired by these Oregon road trips to map your own scenic route throughout the under-the-radar local destination.
This press trip was paid for by Buick. Editor's opinions are her own.