From sloth adventures to cheese factories, here are three must-see – and quick – day trips from Portland, Oregon.
With fruit loop donuts and breweries galore, locals and visitors hardly have a reason to leave the beautiful city of Portland. It’s jam packed, block to block, with interesting culture, quaint, independent shops and the food options – wowsa. I’m hungry just thinking about it…
But I digress. This post isn’t meant to drive visitors TO Portland (although, um, if you haven’t been – GO!) – I’m giving you reasons to get out of the city.
Reasons like a cheese factory, where you can eat all the cheese your heart desires (did I mention I’m hungry?).
Or perhaps, reasons like a sloth encounter where you – yep, you guessed it – can pet and play with sloths. I’ll give you a second to comprehend.
Nope – that wasn’t a dream! Sloth encounters are real. And they’re magical. Scroll down for more…
If you have a rental car, a little extra time, a sense of adventure and a true love for all things SLOTH, here are 3 of the best day trips you can take from Portland, Oregon.
1. Tillamook Cheese Factory
My family doesn’t bond over family game night or deep heart-to-hearts. Nope. We bond over beer and cheese – life’s necessities. Therefore, when we found out a cheese factory was within driving distance from downtown Portland, we booked our car and mapped it out quicker than my dog gobbles up Gouda – and guys, that’s fast.
The Tillamook Cheese Factory has two floors of – wait for it – cheese exhibits, including a viewing deck to watch cheese being made, all the cheesy photo props you could desire(see what I did there?) and, once you’re finished playing tourist, the opportunity to sample and eat all that cheese.
Of course, if it’s cold and rainy, you can always put on an extra coat of “pudge” with even MORE cheese (like we did), in the form of homemade grilled cheese and tomato soup. They have a cafeteria on the ground floor and trust me – the cheese tastes even better when you’re devouring it steps from where it’s made.
To work off all that cheese, head over to Tillamook State Forest where you can stroll, hike and take in the mossy, mountainous scenery.
But, if you’d rather pair that cheese with beer – not exercise – the Tillamook Cheese Factory is close to one of Oregon’s best breweries, De Garde Brewing.
(Note: It looks like they’re doing renovations on the factory starting in March 2017 – but fear not, the cheese love will continue at an adjacent site, according to their website.)
2. Multnomah Falls
If you haven’t seen photos of this beauty, you haven’t stalked travel Insta accounts enough. Multnomah Falls is one of the west coast’s most dramatic, captivating waterfall. It has a bridge that separates the waterfall’s top from its bottom half, and the surrounding rocks are covered in bright green moss, which further adds to the magic.
Beware, though: Multnomah Falls is popular – especially in warm weather. To get away from the crowds, head down the Historic Columbia River Highway to see even more falls – with fewer tourists – including Wahkeena Falls, Horsetail Falls and Latourell Falls.
3. Sloth Sanctuary Center
See! I told you it wasn’t a dream! You CAN pet and play with sloths in Oregon – while contributing to research that aids this important – and adorable – species.
The Sloth Sanctuary Center is located in Rainier, Oregon, just about 40 minutes outside Portland. It is by no means a zoo – this is a place to learn about and appreciate sloths. During the sloth encounter, one of the center’s staffers gives you all the details on the sloth species while you feed them cucumbers. (Sloths eat cucumbers as treats – tell me that’s not precious!)
But that’s not all. If you really want the full sloth experience, you can even book a sleepover with these animals where you sleep in the same room as them. I unfortunately didn’t have this opportunity … but I fortunately know I’ll be back.
[Planning a Portland trip? Check out my ultimate Oregon road trip guide!]
Of course, it’s tough to get out of Portland – I had three days there and felt like I barely scratched the surface. But alas, I also played with sloths. And I also ate cheese. All the cheese.
So, while it may be tempting to spend all your time exploring the streets of Portland, trust me – a quick day – or even half-day – trip will absolutely complete your Oregon experience.