International Rose Test Garden in Washington Park
When we arrived in Portland, the first place we went was the International Rose Test Garden in Washington Park. There is ample parking located right near the garden, and the garden is free as well. We visited in the beginning of July, so there were over 7,000 rose bushes of over 500 varieties in full bloom to explore. It was absolutely beautiful to see all of the wonderful different colors. If you are in Portland from April through October, I highly recommend checking out the rose gardens.
Powell’s Bookstore is the largest bookstores that is not a chain in the world. There are different color lines on the floor and walls to help you find the book section you are looking for. We stopped here and bought a few books each. 🙂
Portland is known for its numerous distilleries. We ate outside with my cousin Derek at a restaurant in the area called Paragon. It was in a really cute neighborhood, and there was a festival going on right nearby. One thing to note about downtown Portland is that there is not enough options for parking! We met my cousin that lives in Portland for dinner downtown, and we had a really enjoyable night with him and his wife.
After dinner, we wandered over to the famous Voodoo Donuts. The donut shop is known for their crazy flavor donuts and their pink boxes that they sell them to you in. I got the “voodoo” donut, and Mike got one of the cool flavors (bacon maple). Overall, the taste of them was fine, but I have had better donuts in Los Angeles. I have heard that the line can have an hour wait, but luckily for us, we got right in. I would not want to wait that long for these donuts, but maybe some of the other flavors were more worth it.
Columbia River Gorge Waterfalls
The Columbia River George waterfalls includes 26 waterfalls along highway 84. The Columbia River George has the greatest concentration of waterfalls in North America, and that is due to the vertical basalt walls and the historic earthquakes.
We started off at the Women’s Forum Overlook, and picked up a map. After that, we headed down the highway, and stopped at the many pull-offs to get out and hike and look at the waterfalls. Since we went on a Saturday, the most famous waterfall, the Multnomah Falls, was extremely crowded. I would have liked to have spent more time there, but we got there too late in the day, and there were cars lined up for 30 minutes stopping traffic trying to find a parking spot (it was 11AM!!). Overall, there were many different types of falls, and they were all very beautiful. I would recommend checking it out. Try to come on a week day or really early on the weekend.
At the end of the waterfalls, we stopped in a city called Hood River, which is at the base of Mt. Hood. One of my sorority sisters from college was from this town, so I figured it’d be a cool place to stop for lunch. We stopped at a brewery called Cider Crush Cafe. We had a delicious summer veggie pizza, and tasted a sample of ciders. It was a really cute little venue, and I would definitely go back one day if I had the opportunity.
Mt. Hood National Forest
Mt. Hood is an active stratovolcano, and it is Oregon’s highest mountain. Driving from Hood River down to the south side of the mountain, we passed a bunch of vineyards, which was a pleasant surprise. We would have stopped if we weren’t full from our stop in Hood River. It is crazy how you can see Mt. Hood from so far away. Once we got to the south side of the mountain, we stopped at Trillium Lake. It was a beautiful lake with Mt. Hood reflecting back at us in the distance. The Trillium Lake loop trail is a 2 mile trail that circles the pretty alpine lake and delivers wonder-worthy views of Mount Hood across the water. People were out on the water enjoying the sunshine in their kayaks and swimming.
Bend is a really beautiful growing city in central Oregon. It is known for its many breweries. It is part desert and part forest, and there are old lava fields people can explore. The city of Bend is expanding, and there are many “hip” new restaurants and bars. When we visited, there was a festival going on, and they had some of the streets shut down for people to walk around. It seemed like a very fun little city.
Deschutes Brewery is a famous brewery in Bend and Portland that is known for its craft beers. We got a flight to split (mostly Mike drank and I sipped them to taste them), and it was pretty good. Some of the flavors were really interesting.
Crater Lake Spirits Distillery
While we were waiting for our reservation at Deschutes, we stopped at a distillery a few stores down. We ordered a flight of the spirits to taste, and surprisingly, some were AMAZING. My favorite was the Crater Lake Hazelnut Espresso Vodka. They infuse brewed espresso and hazelnuts with sugar cane and then infuse it into the Vodka. It was delicious, and I’ve had it in a drink with hot chocolate as well, which was great!
We booked our hotels for this trip on Orbitz without looking too much into where we were staying since we knew we would mostly be outdoors exploring. We were very pleasantly surprised with this hotel. We had a beautiful cabin room in the middle of the resort golf course. The resort also had large pools, and at night, they had live music and tons of activities for kids.
We took Hwy 97 to Hwy 138 to the park’s North Entrance. Crater Lake National Park is open year-round, 24 hours a day, however, some of the roads were still closed in July when we visited due to snow. We drove around the west rim all the way down to Rim Village, and we stopped at the various view points. Many of the hiking trails were not open because they were still covered in snow. It was so strange because it was 85 degrees Fahrenheit, but there was snow everywhere! The lake was so blue, it was so beautiful. I would love to come back here sometime and stay longer. It was a very enjoyable experience.
After we left Crater Lake, we stopped at a little rest area at Diamond Lake. They had picnic benches set up, and it was nice to get away from the crowd at Crater Lake’s public eating areas. We even made a little chipmunk friend. It was very beautiful and peaceful.
Toketee falls trail is a fairly easy one mile trail an hour west of Crater Lake. We stopped here on our way from Crater Lake to the Oregon Dunes. It was a super easy hike, and I think it was definitely worth it out of all of the Oregon Waterfalls we saw, I thought it was the prettiest! To get up close to the falls, you have to climb off of the trail head, which is not recommended, however, there were people that were doing it when we visited. We did not have enough time, so we enjoyed the waterfall from the viewing point for a little while, and then we headed off to our next destination.
Oregon Dunes National Park
Oregon Dunes National Park is a beach area on the coast of the Pacific ocean. The dunes extend for 40 miles along the Oregon Coast. Walking in the sand is not easy, so we opted to only walk along the top and not actually climb down and then back up the dunes since we already had a very busy day. The dunes were very beautiful, and many families were out.
We stayed at a cute little bed and breakfast called the Landmark Inn. We got to the hotel in the evening and walked downtown Florence for dinner. After dinner, we got some ice cream from a local shop as well. The hotel provided breakfast for us in the morning. It was the perfect location for us, and Florence was the cutest little coastal city.
Siuslaw National Forest (Cape Perpetua Scenic Area)
In the morning, we headed to the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area in the Siuslaw National Forest. We saw the Heceta Head Lighthouse, and the Devil’s Churn. We also spent a long time walking along the tide pools looking for the famous Thor’s Well, which is considered one of the wonders of Oregon, but you have to arrive at the correct time of day with the high tide to see it in its full effect. When we arrived, it was in the middle of low tide and high tide, so it took us a while to find it, and the water was not spewing into it like a “well”, but we still saw how unique the formation was.
Luna Sea Fish House
Our last stop on the trip before heading to the airport was at Luna Sea Fish House. My cousin that we visited in Portland said that this was his favorite place for Fish and Chips in the world… so we had to stop by and see for ourselves. They catch the fish locally and make it fresh daily, so it definitely was delicious. I would stop by again for sure.