I have a bit of a tradition when it comes to my birthdays. After I celebrated my 21st birthday, I didn’t feel birthdays were worth a huge celebration. I mean, what is there to look forward to after 21? Instead of staying home and being surrounded by friends and family on my birthday, I prefer to take off and explore something new. This give my birthday a new purpose and gets my mind off the fact that I’m kind of an adult now. My last couple of birthdays had me on a plane – I saw Toronto, Honolulu, and Paris. This year, I decided I would stay local and explore Oregon, Washington’s southern neighbor.
One of the most beautiful sites in Oregon is a naturally formed lake in the crater of a volcano. It’s cleverly named Crater Lake, and is one of the National Park in the States. With two of my hold high school friends, we decided to make that our final destination and tour what Oregon had to see along the way. The picture above shows the route we decided to take for the drive, which totaled to a four day road trip. So we packed into the car and headed south from our homes in Seattle towards highway 101.
Cross the Astoria-Megler Bridge
The west coastline is one of the most beautiful sites to see in the States. Highway 101 follows it all the way from Washington State into the southern tip of California. With it winding along the coastline, it does take a bit more time than the more popular I-5, but the views are SO WORTH IT. The first site we saw worth mentioning is the Astoria-Megler Bridge that goes over the Columbia River and dumps you over the state line into Oregon. This point is about four hours into the drive, so we made a pit stop and checked out the Astoria River Walk and a much needed coffee at the Astoria Coffeehouse and Bistro.
We also checked out an old Victorian style mansion that was built in the 1800’s. I fell in love with the style of the house. It’s called the Flavel House Museum and was originally built for The Captain George Flavel and is now open to the public. Across the street from this place, you will find the Oregon Film Museum, which is a must for any fans of The Goonies out there. The building used to be a jail back in the day, and now has exhibits about The Goonies and a few other movies filmed in Oregon.
On our way out of Astoria, we stopped at the Lewis and Clark National Historical Park. We explored trails, saw forts, and viewed some stellar views of the Lewis and Clark River. It was really cool to see such an incredible part of history along the Oregon Trail.
See Seashells by the Seashore
One more hour further south put us in Seaside, Oregon, our stop for the night. We decided to stay in a lovely AirBnb right on the water. Seaside is cute little coastal town with a thriving resort area that everyone should check out on a trip to explore Oregon. We walked down Broadway and saw all the shops and restaurants along the way. I even had my fortune told by Lady Zorina. Apparently I will have two biological kids and get married by 30 – I’ll let you know if that happens. It was crazy the things she knew though, so I would highly recommend a visit if you’re into that.
We had lunch at Pig N’ Pancake (absolutely delish) before heading down to Cannon Beach to explore Haystack Rock. We were lucky enough to visit during low tide, so we were able to walk rightup to the rock. This is another scene where The Goonies was filmed. On our way back up north to Seaside, we stopped by Indian Beach in Ecola State Park, which is one of the locations that the film Twilight was filmed. Oregon really surprised me with how many movies took place on it’s coast.
Moooving Further South
After a night in Seaside, we headed further south towards Crater Lake. Along the way, we had to stop at the Tillamook Cheese Factory. I am a huge dairy fan, so a place full of cheese and ice cream is my kind of place, no matter how much my stomach may hate me afterwards. They have a self-guided tour in the factory with lots of samples and gifts, which makes it a perfect place to get some goodies for your people back home.
Just 10 miles west of the Tillamook Factory is a gorgeous viewpoint on the Oregon Coast. We took the quick hike from the parking lot down to the Cape Meares Lighthouse and Octopus Tree. We really liked this stop because it took us off the road we had been driving on for so long and were able to see a different part of the coast while we explore Oregon. It was so pretty.
Falling in Love with Oregon
Next on our stop south was an amazing waterfall. Along highway 58, we saw signs for a waterfall, so we made the stop at Salt Creek Falls, and I’m so glad we did. This was another four hours south, so we were starting to get a little grumpy and this was just what we needed to wake us up. This stop had a nice pathway along the top of the falls that gave us some incredible views of the canyon below.
Cabin in the Woods
Two more hours from the falls, we reached the cabin we would be spending two nights in to explore Oregon’s Crater Lake. We found our cabin on AirBnb’s website and was so stinking cute. It was perfect for our stay and came with everything we needed in a secluded location with gorgeous scenery. A short walk from the cabin was the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), a hiking trail that travels from Mexico all the way up to Canada, crossing through California, Oregon, and Washington along the way. I had just finished the book Wild by Cheryl Strayed about a woman who hikes it solo for three months (I highly recommend this read), so it was fun to connect a little deeper with the story.
Crater Lake is one of those places that make you feel so small compared to the world. I drove up the windy road and came over the hill that lead to the lake, and it was one of the best views I’ve ever seen. My friends and I pulled over to the side of the road to take in the view, and wow, was my mind blown. Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States and is formed on the inside of a crater full of natural rainfall and snow runoff. It’s an amazingly impressive site. Make sure to check out our more in depth article on visiting this wonderful park.
Back to PDX
Final stretch of our explore Oregon trip included the long drive from out cabin in Klamath Falls to Portland. The full drive is about five and a half hours, but we left early and got to Portland by noon so we had the whole day to explore. The drive back was gorgeous and had a lot of fun stops along the way. Portland is one of my favorite cities because they keep it weird. We had a fun day with doughnuts, food trucks, a book store, and even a witch’s castle. Check out Mentor Travel’s guide to visiting Portland for a full list of activities we did during our visit.
Our tour to explore Oregon was an amazing experience that will follow me everywhere. The State is full of beautiful wonders that should definitely be on everyone’s radar. Let us know in the comments below what your favorite part of Oregon is.