Have you ever felt a deep connection with a place that it just soothes your soul? That’s how my mom and I felt when we visited Oregon in November 2018. The leaves were changing, the days were sunny, and we packed our 10 day trip full of the most beautiful places in Oregon!
We adored our time here and didn’t want to leave. Honestly, we both said that we would move here in a heart beat! I definitely left a piece of myself in the Pacific North West and have plans on moving there someday. For now I will reminisce through my photos of our wonderful trip!
The 10 Most Beautiful Places
The most popular waterfall in Oregon is a must visit and it’s definitely one of the most beautiful places in the state! A short drive to the Columbia River Gorge from Portland is where you’ll find hundreds of waterfalls. I suggest making this waterfall your first stop since it gets very busy and the parking lot fills up quick. The parking lot is right off of Highway 84 and the exit is on the left, right in between the freeway. A short walk from the parking lot is the falls, where there is a view point for photos. Take a 10 minute walk from the viewing area to the bridge which has amazing views over the gorge.
Insider Tips: Visit early before the tour buses, only need 30 minutes here. If you don’t drive take the Columbia Gorge Express for $20 round trip and they have a few other popular spots you can visit from Portland.
Are you looking for sweeping views of the Columbia River Gorge? Definitely make a stop at the Vista House for stunning views of both Oregon and Washington. The Vista House is a rest stop and beautiful view point. As well, it’s very windy up here so hold onto your hat!
Insider Tips: If you need directions or aren’t sure what to visit along the Columbia River Gorge than stop here and the guides will give you lots of help and maps!
We had a short but sweet time at this beautiful town on the NW coast of Oregon. This is the town where they filmed the Goonies movie, which is a classic. Astoria has many shops and restaurants for you to grab lunch at before you continue your road trip. If you want to cross off visiting another state than cross the Megler Bridge and enter into Washington! It’s a beautiful crossing and at some points you’re only a few feet above water.
Insider Tips: A fun activity with kids is to see the sea lions lounging around the docks by the pier. We went to take photos by the West Mooring Basin which provided pretty shots of the Cannery Pier Hotel and Megler Bridge.
I’m sure this beach is on every ones list and definitely one of the most beautiful places in Oregon! We took a road trip to the west coast and I knew we had to make a pit stop here. We arrived in the middle of the day in November and it was pretty quiet.
Insider Tips: There are signs to be aware of floods so check the weather before you make the trip. Lots of cafes, restaurants, shops and washrooms in the town.
Photo Tip: Use a zoom lens (higher than 100mm) to create lens compression and it will look like Haystack Rock is massive compared to you.
A lady we met on our road trip recommended this town after we told her our plans for the day. We had never heard of it so we decided to stop by and it was beautiful and so quiet in November. After parking on a side street in the neighborhood, we found a path that leads to the water. Then, we walked through high grass for about 5 minutes before we reached the beach and we were speechless. The beach was deserted on a crisp weekday afternoon and it was bliss!
Insider Tips: Drive to the next town over, Seaside and stop off at Molly Moon’s Jewelry for beautiful pieces at amazing prices! As well, most of these small towns are closed over fall and winter so bring lots of food and snacks.
Stairs leading to the top of the rock
Have you ever wanted to hike up the side of a huge rock? Well now you can get your chance! The Beacon Rock trail head is on the Washington State side of Columbia River Gorge. Take Highway 84 to the Bridge of Gods, pay a toll and drive 10 mins to Beacon Rock. There are switch backs all the way up the side of the rock, so it is not for the faint of heart! At the top you are surrounded by trees and a beautiful but small viewing area. Also, the hike only takes about 1 hour round-trip.
Insider Tips: There’s a 10 car parking lot directly off the highway that is easy to miss. The cost to hike is $10 and it paid by an honor system.
On the drive to Mirror Lake we took Highway 26 and saw a sign for Panorama point and figured we would stop and see the view. This look out point has beautiful views of Mt. Hood and it’s definitely one the most beautiful places in Oregon. Take a short drive up a hill and you are greeted with a stunning view of Mt. Hood and the surrounding vineyards. Also, we had the whole viewing area to ourselves at 10am!
Insider Tips: This area has many apple orchards and vineyards which I suggest visiting in the summer months!
This was our favourite hike of the trip, because the views are just incredible! The reason it’s called Mirror Lake is because Mirror Lake reflects Mt. Hood and it’s a beautiful place for photos! When we first arrived at the lake it looked very disappointing and we almost kept walking on another trail because we didn’t see Mt. Hood. However, someone passed us on the trail and we asked her where the view was and she said to round the bend of the lake and follow the narrow wooden path and you’ll see Mt. Hood. WOW! It was an impressive sight and we are so glad we didn’t walk by!
In terms of the hike, follow your GPS to Mirror Lake Trail head and there’s a large car park and bathrooms. The first 5 minutes you are walking on paved gravel, the next 20 minutes are through a mostly flat forest with little bridges to cross. The last part of the hike is a tough with a big elevation gain and lots of switch backs. The round trip time to hike is about and hour and 45 minutes.
Insider Tips: Pack a lunch to eat, lots of water and enjoy the view by the wood walk way. Come on a clear day or else the clouds will cover Mt. Hood. Also, this trail gets busy so visit in shoulder season or early in the day! The quick drive that takes about an hour and a half is to take Highway 26. We took the scenic way from Portland to Hood River on Highway 84 and then Highway 26, which took about 2 hours.
Mt. Helens in the distance View of M.t Hood and Mirror Lake below
Tom, Dick and Harry Mountain
What a funny name for a mountain right?! We were recommended this hike after we reached mirror lake and boy were we glad we went on this hike. It’s a very straight forward hike with little elevation gain and takes about and hour and a half round trip to Mirror Lake. There’s a small part of the hike that you walk across a narrow rock path that drops off the side of the mountain which is very nerve wracking and scary so be careful!
If you are looking for 360 degrees views of Mt. Hood National Forest and beyond then this is the hike you want!! We didn’t know what we would be hiking up to until the thin trees cleared and we climbed up a giant pile of boulders to see amazing views of Mt. Hood, albeit covered in a cloud.
Insider Tips: Check the weather forecast and come on a clear day or else Mt. Hood will be covered in clouds and your view might not be great. The round trip hike from Mirror Lake to the view point on TDH mountain takes about an hour and 15 minutes.
One of the most beautiful places in Portland is the Japanese Garden. Found in Washington Park which is a secluded part of the city that over looks downtown. You can enjoy these gardens, the rose garden, tennis courts, lots of hiking trails and more! Plan to spend half a day up here wandering around the different areas of the park and neighborhoods. Definitely check out the houses, they are insane!!
The Japanese garden is stunning and immaculate. There are little walk ways among the trees and flowers. You can explore on your own or join a group tour to learn more about the history and plants. The entrance price is $19.95 for adults which I think is worth it.
Insider Tips: The opening hours are short especially in the shoulder season and budget about 2 hours spent here. From the parking lot visitors have to walk up a winding trail to reach the entrance, so plan accordingly.
Empty parking lot we found along Highway 35
This was one of my favourite trips in 2018 and holds a special place in my heart. Getting to visit with my mom was perfect and we had a blast exploring this state together. If you are planning a road trip this year definitely visit the most beautiful places in Oregon. I’m sure there are many more gems that we need to uncover, so i’m sure we will be returning to explore the PNW in no time!