Skier or snowboarder, swimmer or beach-comber, there’s an Oregon winter landscape for every age and stage to enjoy. So why not pack up the kids and hit the road for an adventurous and affordable winter road trip? As the temperatures drop, keep in mind these gorgeous destinations—all within an easy three-hour drive of downtown Portland. Read on for our fave four.
photo: AnneCN via flickr
Driving time from Portland: 3 hours
Between its countless opportunities for mountain biking, fishing, hiking, beer-tasting, and rafting the Deschutes River, it’s no secret that Bend is a beloved summer destination for Portlanders of all ages. But it’s also an ideal place to have a family-friendly winter excursion. Got some little skiers in tow? Mt. Bachelor Ski Resort features 3,700 acres of lift-accessible terrain, a free beginner chair lift, the Snowblast Tubing Park and an unbeatable deal that allows children 12 & under to ski for free with the advance purchase of a three-day adult lift ticket. Planning to visit Bend during the holidays? Be sure to book a horse-drawn sleigh ride along the Deschutes River at the Sunriver Resort, just 17 miles south.
Mt. Bachelor Resort and Ski Area
17600 Center Dr.
photo: Frans Persoon via flickr
Driving time from Portland: 1 hour & 40 minutes
In the warmer months, seven miles of pristine sand make the town of Manzanita a perfect locale for sunbathers, kitesurfers and boogie-boarders. But the Oregon coast can be equally thrilling in December and January, as 18,000 grey whales—or nearly 30 each hour—migrate south along the coast to reach their breeding grounds in Mexico. So pack a pair of binoculars and grab a nearby perch at the Neahkahnie Mountain Historic Marker on Highway 101 or Ecola State Park 18 miles north—you might just catch a glimpse of a spout or a breach.
Not in the mood for whale-watching? Keep in mind that the winter months are also a wonderful time for beach-combing at nearby Oswald West State Park and piping hot pizzas at Marzano’s Pizza Pie right in town.
Ecola State Park
Cannon Beach, Or
Oswald West State Park
Arch Cape, Or
Marzano’s Pizza Pie
60 Laneda Ave.
Driving time from Portland: 2.5 hours
Nestled in the shadow of the Three Sisters and Black Butte, this charming western town is known for its quaint shops, downtown art galleries and wonderful opportunities for winter recreation. The Hoodoo Ski Area, situated 22 miles outside of town between Three Fingered Jack and Mt. Washington, has 800 acres of terrain and one of the largest tubing parks in the western United States. Care to warm up after a long day on the slopes? Grab a hot chocolate and settle in for the evening at the Sisters Movie House.
Hoodoo Ski Area
Sisters Movie House
720 Desperado Ct.
photo: Yug_and_her via flickr
Timberline Lodge & Ski Area
Driving time from Portland: 1 hour & 20 minutes
For winter sports enthusiasts, Timberline Lodge and Ski Area is famous for its 1,415 acres of skiable terrain on the slopes of Mt. Hood. A total of 41 ski trails, one-quarter of which are ideal for beginners, traverse 3,690 feet of vertical terrain—the most in the Pacific Northwest. But no matter if you’re a snow bunny or a novice, this beautiful Depression era lodge offers countless activities for the entire family. The heated outdoor swimming pool is open year-round, while a mountain hot tub, rental DVD players, a game room and a lending library create the perfect conditions for a cozy winter night.
Timberline Lodge and Ski Area
27500 E Timberline Rd.
Timberline Lodge, Or
What are your favorite winter road trips from Portland? Let us know in the comments below!
— Maura O’Brien