The Ultimate Road Trip: Exploring Portland’s Scenic Routes and Landmarks

The Pacific Northwest is famous for its stunning natural beauty, and Portland, Oregon is no exception. From the rugged coastline to the snow-capped peaks, there’s no shortage of scenic routes and landmarks to explore in and around Portland. Whether you’re a local or a tourist, embarking on a road trip to discover the wonders of this region is an experience you won’t soon forget.

The Columbia River Gorge is a must-visit destination for any road-tripper. This stunning canyon stretches for over 80 miles, with the Columbia River winding through its depths. The gorge is home to several waterfalls, including the famous Multnomah Falls, which is the second-highest waterfall in the United States. The falls drop over 600 feet, and the view from the Benson Footbridge is one of the most photographed in the Pacific Northwest.

Another highlight of the Columbia River Gorge is the Historic Columbia River Highway. This scenic route was built in the early 1900s and was the first paved highway in the Pacific Northwest. Today, it’s a National Historic Landmark and a popular destination for road-trippers. The highway offers breathtaking views of the gorge and passes by several waterfalls, including Horsetail Falls and Bridal Veil Falls.

If you’re looking for a more off-the-beaten-path road trip, head east to the Painted Hills. This geological wonder is located in the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument and is known for its vibrant red, yellow, and brown hues. The hills were formed over millions of years due to volcanic activity and erosion. The Painted Hills are a photographer’s dream, with the changing light throughout the day creating a different landscape with each passing hour.

Another natural wonder to explore on your road trip is Mount Hood. This snow-capped peak is visible from Portland on a clear day and is a popular destination for skiing and snowboarding in the winter. In the summer, the mountain offers plenty of hiking and camping opportunities. One of the most scenic routes to take to Mount Hood is the Mount Hood Scenic Byway. This 105-mile route takes you through forests, past lakes, and offers breathtaking views of the mountain.

For those who prefer to explore the city, Portland has plenty of landmarks to discover. One of the most iconic is Powell’s City of Books. This independent bookstore covers an entire city block and has over a million books for sale. It’s a must-visit destination for any book lover, and you can easily spend an entire day browsing the shelves.

Another landmark to explore is the Portland Japanese Garden. This serene oasis is located in the west hills of Portland and covers 12 acres. The garden features several traditional Japanese garden elements, including a tea garden, a sand and stone garden, and a strolling pond garden. It’s the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and find some peace and tranquility.

If you’re interested in history, don’t miss the Pittock Mansion. This French Renaissance-style mansion was built in 1914 and was home to Portland pioneers Henry and Georgiana Pittock. Today, the mansion is a museum and offers visitors a glimpse into the lives of Portland’s early settlers. The mansion is located in the West Hills and offers stunning views of the city and Mount Hood.

No road trip to Portland would be complete without exploring the city’s food scene. Portland is known for its food carts, which offer a wide variety of cuisines at affordable prices. The city also has several award-winning restaurants, including the famous Pok Pok, which serves up authentic Thai cuisine. For dessert, don’t miss Voodoo Doughnut, which offers a wide variety of quirky and creative doughnuts.

In conclusion, Portland and its surrounding area offer a wealth of natural beauty, landmarks, and culinary delights to explore on a road trip. Whether you’re looking for stunning waterfalls, snow-capped peaks, or a peaceful garden, there’s something for everyone in this corner of the Pacific Northwest. So pack your bags, hit the road, and discover the ultimate road trip in Portland.

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