As soon as the sun begins to peek from behind our winter clouds, the Pacific Northwest begins to transform into a playground of majestic wilderness, adventurous road trips and luxurious getaways. The best part: these amazing vacations are only a few hours (or less) of a drive away. We’ve compiled five of our favorite summer vacations within driving distance, so, pack your car, grab your friends and family and take off on your next summer road trip.
- Crater Lakes, Oregon
Crater Lakes is not only the deepest in the U.S. but also one of the most immaculate making it a site truly worth the drive. Since its formation 7,700 years ago when a violent eruption triggered the peak of the mountain to collapse within itself, the Crater Lakes have been evoking awe in its visitors.
Today, Crater Lakes continues to be held in high regard by visitors and scientists alike who marvel at its breathtaking purity. The lake is fed only by rain and snow, causing it to be stunningly crystal blue. There are only a few other lakes on this Earth that can be compared to the intensely blue color of the lake, add in the gorgeous mountains that–at nearly 2,000 feet–tower over the lake, and you won’t be disappointed by the beauty of this destination.
When you visit you can enjoy a wide variety of activities from scuba diving in the gigantic volcanic crater, to exploring lava formations, fish and underwater moss meadows. Don’t miss out on the breathtakingly beautiful hikes around the surrounding mountains, or around the rim of the crater. All in all, if you crave to see and experience a miraculous piece of the Pacific Northwest, visiting the Crater Lakes is the trip for you.
- Cannon Beach, Oregon
Looking for the perfect blend of scenic views and small-town Pacific Northwest life? Than the beauty that is Cannon Beach could be a great choice for your next vacation. Famous for long stretches of beach, the Haystack Rock which towers 235 feet above the beach, and surrounding State Parks, Cannon beach offers you both a scenic wildlife escape with the charm of a great small town.
A simple walk along the beach offers you a look into the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest seaside: from the rugged coastal outcroppings to a National Wildlife Refuge where visitors can explore colorful tide pools as well as nesting seabirds like the Tufted Puffin. You can be immersed in wildlife by just walking out of your lodge’s back door.
Can’t get enough? Minutes away you can also find the Ecola State Park that offers you coastal views, easy walking paths, gorgeous picnic areas and challenging hiking trails.
If you have had enough of the wildlife and want restaurants, drinks or culture, the town of Cannon Beach is a picturesque small-town which offers just that. It is both charming and easily walkable for all types of visitors.
- Hood River, Oregon
If you are looking for the perfect outdoor adventure, Hood River is the place for you. The saying “the Gorge is my gym” has been popularized in the area because of the sheer amount of activity offered. The ultimate “hat trick” being a sport on snow, water and earth, all on the same day. So join in with the locals: windsurf on the river, join a kiteboarding course, fly fish for steelhead, white-water kayak or set off on a beautiful hike. Hood River can be your playground this summer.
After you’ve worked up an appetite and thirst there are plenty of delicious restaurants, and gorgeous wineries, to relax, grab some food and a drink.
- Newberg, Oregon
Looking for a wine trip this summer? The Willamette Valley is home to some of the country’s most beautiful vineyards and best pinot noir and pinot gris wineries. Newberg is within close reach to over 200 wineries. That’s right, 200. So get ready to taste all day and than spend the evening relaxing at one of the city’s great luxury restaurants, hotels and/or spas.
- Columbia River Gorge Road trip
If you are looking to see the quintessential majesty of the Pacific Northwest–forest and waterfalls–the Columbia River Gorge drive is a must-do this summer. Classified as a National Scenic Area, it is a beautiful and protected canyon where the Columbia River cuts through the Cascade mountains. Surrounded by cliffs and mountains, this drive will simply take your breath away.
The unique sight to see on this drive: all of the beautiful falls. With over fifty waterfalls within close distance of one another, you can actually hit them all within only a few days. However, if you are short on time don’t miss the Multnomah Falls which at around 635 feet is one of the tallest waterfalls in Oregon.
When you are heading down to Multnomah you can get a second fall in easily by stopping to see the Wahkeena Falls, only a half mile from the Multnomah Falls Lodge. Wahkeena has a picnic area by the road where you can stop to have your lunch before continuing on to Multnomah.
In the Pacific Northwest we are lucky that we don’t need a plane flight to get to an amazing vacation destination, there are so many great sights to see right in our own backyards. Don’t forget to prep your car properly [link to summer road trip 12 steps] and keep you, your friends and family safe on all of these epic road trips.
Now, get out, explore and enjoy all of your summer adventures!