Any visit to Portland can, and should, include at least one venture out of town—consider the Oregon Coast, the Columbia River Gorge, and the Willamette Valley.

By some feat of luck or magic (or the work of a few prescient pioneers), the City of Roses just happens to sit about an hour from three renowned destinations: the stunning Oregon Coast, the outdoorsy Columbia River Gorge, and the bucolic Willamette Valley wine country. That means any visit to Portland can, and should, include at least one venture out of town. Here’s what to see, do, and eat—and where to stay—while you’re out exploring. Read on for our editors' picks of Portland's best day trips.

The Oregon Coast is famed for its slow pace and dramatic scenery, waves crashing against towering sea stacks and mist twirling through forests of evergreens. But Astoria offers an entirely different, and arguably richer, point of view. Set at the Northwestern tip of the state, where the mighty Columbia River empties into the expansive Pacific, it’s an endearing mash-up of old-timey charm and trendy cool, small town vibes and bustling maritime energy. Watch the parade of container ships, feast on just-shucked oysters and fresh-caught fish, then settle in at one of the many breweries to lift a pint to this historic coastal town.

Courtesy Cannery Pier Hotel & Spa

Cannery Pier Hotel & Spa
In the shadow of the impressively long Astoria-Megler bridge (the longest continuous truss bridge in the United States), The Cannery stretches out on a pier along the Columbia River. Clad in brick-red metal siding and looking not too dissimilar from the old cannery it replaced, the hotel doesn’t earn points for curb appeal. But you’ll soon forget that once you walk in and see the comfortable lounge, with its cozy couches, fireplace, and two-story floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the deck and busy river below. Low-tech rooms feature decor firmly planted in the late 1990s, but they’re plush in their own way. You’ve come to Astoria to watch the river, and there’s no better place to do it than here. Add in really comfy beds, fluffy towels and robes, and a gas fireplace, and you've got the coziest perch in town.

Courtesy Columbia River Maritime Museum

Columbia River Maritime Museum
With a roofline that resembles the crests of incoming waves, the modern glass and wood-shingled Columbia River Maritime Museum doesn’t waste any opportunity to educate the public on the biggest natural feature that defines Astoria. Not giant but certainly eye-catching, it’s one of the best-known museums in the state. The museum explores all aspects of Astoria’s commercial, geographical, and military connection to the river and the coast. Using actual ships, artifacts, and documentary films, the museum has constructed an array of dramatic exhibits.

Commodore Hotel Astoria
These days, Astoria’s long history as a rough-around-the-edges port town has gotten a bit of hipster sheen, and The Commodore Hotel serves as a prime example. The historic brick building in the middle of downtown stands adjacent to the city’s coolest third-wave coffee shop, with a minimalist awning welcoming guests into the gently nautically themed, thrift-store-meets-artist-loft styled lobby. The rooms are quite small and bare bones in a clean, minimalist way. But even the Deluxe Riverview Suite, the most expensive category, with a queen bed, small sofa, and en suite bathroom, isn't roomy. If you came to Astoria to experience the city and want a slightly quirky, vintage-inflected, non-cheesy room at an affordable price, The Commodore is your spot. It’s within a short walk of everything you want to see, do, eat, and drink.

Courtesy Buoy Beer Company

Buoy Beer Co.
Like so many brewpubs, Buoy in Astoria capitalizes its dude-friendly industrial vibe. Though it sits right on a pier on the river, close to the heart of downtown, the exterior has all the charm of a giant corrugated metal warehouse. Inside it’s all thick wood, exposed beams, and metal ductwork. The three things that set this place apart, however, will make you a die-hard fan: the glass window in the floor, where you can watch the massive sea lions flop around on wood platforms under the pier; the incredible river views; and the truly fantastic beer. Buoy’s taps seem to always offer something new, with a selection that ranges from light Czech-style pilsners to Belgian strong ales and sours. In between, you’ll find a core of greatest hits always on tap, including the very balanced IPA—a fan favorite all over the Northwest.

Albatross & Co.
In a town rich with bars, brewpubs, and vaguely '90s-era seafood bistros, the Albatross is like a breath of Portland-fresh air. That is to say, the décor and menu lean hipster, as do the diners. Neither hush-hush serious like a fine dining spot, nor loud and boisterous like a bar, this Astoria restaurant straddles the line between neighborhood tavern and destination must-eat. You can stop by for oysters and a drink, fuel up with a burger and a beer, or make it a big night out with a fancyish dinner of braised rabbit or dry-aged steak with chanterelles. Albatross gives you a true taste of the Northwest, both from the atmosphere and the menu.


Astoria Column
Generally, a column on a hill isn’t that compelling, but the Astoria Column is different. First of all, it’s free. Second, you can go inside and climb the 125-foot spiral staircase all the way to the top, where the views will take your breath away. Look down across the city of Astoria to the Columbia River. Look due West and soak in the seemingly never-ending horizon of the Pacific Ocean. Then walk to the other side of the platform and gaze across the Youngs River delta and the evergreen forests blanketing the surrounding hills. It’s impossible to decide which view is prettier. But before you climb the stairs, be sure to buy a balsa wood plane from the gift shop. Launch it from the top and watch it spin and dip and rise as it glides its way down, as if it has a life of its own.