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10 great day trips from Portland

By Miles Leonard / updated 7.2021 Jennie G
July 29, 2020
Portland Skyline
©David Gn Photography/Getty Images
​Here is a list of 10 trip ideas within 3 hours of Portland that will give you the vacation you need.

As restrictions are lifting be sure to Click here for more information on the current status of Oregon's COVID-19 reopening.


1. Go Camping in Camp Sherman

Camp Sherman, Oregon is an unincorporated community about 2.5 hours Southeast of Portland. Camp Sherman is home to lodges for those who prefer more amenities or free dispersed campsites for those looking for a more traditional camping experience. Close to many hikes, lakes, rivers, and only 30-minutes from the mountains Three Fingered Jack and Mt Washington, Camp Sherman offers a little bit of everything. Another impressive feature of Camp Sherman is the Metolius River. Icey cold and crystal blue, the Metolius is a treat to hike, flyfish, or whitewater kayak.


2. Hike or Mountain Bike in Lowell, Oregon

Lowell offers many easy and moderate hiking paths, some of which are open to mountain bikers and horse riders. Be sure to hike along Lookout Point Lake on a clear day and stop at the dam to get a beautiful view of Diamond Peak in the distance. Dexter Reservoir is also a great option for fishing or sailing and has a recreation area for a BBQ on the shores.

GettyRF_674245395.jpg?mtime=20200729163455#asset:108787©Sawaya Photography/Getty Images


3. Spend a weekend in Westfir/Oakridge

Located in the Cascades just over 2 hours from Portland, Oakridge, and its partner town Westfir are called the mountain biking capital of the Northwest. This area puts you in reach of some cool adventure locations, including Oregon’s second tallest waterfall, hot springs, the Pacific Crest Trail, and one of the purest lakes in the world. Many hikes ranging in skill level give you excellent views of the surrounding landscape as well as the opportunity to see critters such as newts, snails, and slugs. Dispersed camping is widely available as well as campgrounds and hotels.


4. Visit the ‘Crown Jewel’ of Oregon State Parks

Located 1 hour from Portland, Silver Falls State Park ,as of July 2021, has fully reopened for camping by reservation. Even if you are unable to get a campsite, Silver Falls is a great place to spend the day. Barbeque with your friends and explore the many moderate trails and multiple waterfalls of the park. Be sure to take the opportunity to walk behind a 177-foot tall waterfall. You can also reserve a guided horseback ride through the forest from Silver Falls Riding Stables starting at $75. Some trails are closed due to wildfire damage so be sure to check their websitefor updates.


25588009_10105733482397205_8416896574796451211_o.jpg?mtime=20200729163031#asset:108785Cannon Beach, Oregon. Photo by Laura Brown

5. Experience Coastal Wildlife at Haystack Rock

Cannon Beach, Oregon, located 1.5 hours from Portland, has begun the process of reopening. Haystack Rock is a famous Oregon landmark, and its beach was listed as one of the 21 best beaches in the world by National Geographic. As of July 2021 Ecola State Park has reopened and the city’s beach access points have opened up. Snap a pic of haystack rock or enjoy looking at tidepool wildlife such as sea stars, anemones, and crabs. Haystack Rock is also home to some unique birds such as tufted puffins and pelagic cormorants.


6. Have a photoshoot in the Oregon Garden

The Oregon Garden has reopened but is operating at a reduced capacity. Just a 47-minute drive from Portland this 80-acre botanical garden is an excellent place for photoshoot with friends. The Oregon Garden boasts 20 different themed gardens representing the diversity of nature in the Pacific Northwest.


7. Drink Some Wine along the Hood River Fruit Loop

The Fruit Loop is a 35-mile loop which stops at stands offering “a variety of wines, fruits, vegetables, flowers, ciders and food” in the Hood River Valley. By bike or by car, this scenic route is worth it for the views alone. At the time of this article's update, 22 of the 29 member stands have reopened, and even more are open if you include takeout and curbside. Check out the Hood River Fruit Loop’s website to check the hours of the stands, their opening status, and get a map of the route.

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©Dee Browning/Shutterstock



8. Take the ferry from Washington to Oregon.

The Wahkiakum County Ferry is the last ferry on the Lower Columbia River. Start by exploring the old fishing town of Cathlamet, Washington, located 1.5 hours from Portland. After enjoying the quaint town’s shops, breweries and history make your way to Puget Island to take the Wahkiakum Ferry. The ferry is an affordable way to bring you and your vehicle across the Columbia back to Oregon. The ferry has updated their hours, so be sure to check out their website before making your trip.


9. Explore the Coastal Town Yachats

Yachats is located almost 3 hours from Portland and is a great place to start an adventure. Visit the town’s cute shops and delicious restaurants or get out in nature hiking and viewing the gorgeous Cape Perpetua area. Also, be sure to see Thor’s Well. According to forest service, most trailheads in the Siuslaw National Forest Area have reopened for day use.


10. Enjoy the Outdoors Close to Home at Oxbow Regional Park

Oxbow regional park is just 35 minutes from Portland and is currently open to limited day use, but be mindful of crowding. This park offers many hiking trails and opportunities to kayak. When it starts getting warmer, this is also an excellent place to swim in the Sandy River Gorge.

As of July 2021 The Oxbow Welcome Center is closed to the public and limited flushing restroom facilities and showers are available. Portable restrooms are available for use throughout the park. The sand and water Nature playground remains closed for maintenance. Picnic reservations remain closed until further notice. There are many first come first serve areas available in the park to enjoy.

The campground is open with modifications.


Miles Leonard is a Budget Travel intern for Summer 2020. He is a student at the University of Iowa.

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10 socially distanced adventures near Denver

Currently, Colorado is at a Stage 2 in opening procedures, what the state is calling "." Although this summer is looking to be on the more lowkey side, there still are things to do in Colorado especially for those who love the outdoors. If the pandemic has you stir crazy for some adventure, here are some social-distance friendly activities to do around the Denver area. Remember to check the Colorado Department of Health before you embark on any adventures to make sure you are doing so safely. Explore a Modern Day Castle Dragons and knights may be a part of the past, but in 2020 modern castles are still in existence. Built solely by one man, Jim Bishop, Bishop’s castle is an incredible creation that is not to be missed. With multiple floors, a climbable tower, great hall, maze of a basement and a sky bridge, this wonder is the incredible combination of fantasy and reality. Furthermore, the entire experience is completely free to the public although donations can be made to the architect.Photo by ©Kit Leong/ShutterstockPursue the outdoor art gallery Many of Denver’s museums are closed due to the pandemic, however, that does not mean art lovers must suffer. The River North Art (RiNo) District has plenty of street art to browse whilst staying safe. From dumpsters to walls and fences, some streets are completely covered in art. The district boasts of many famous artists like Shepard Fairey who is best known for his OBEY work and Barack Obama HOPE poster, as well as local artists like Meeg Conroy. Sip buna in Colorado? Even if your international trip was cancelled, there is still hope for an international experience. Pre COVID, the Whittier Cafe performed an Ethiopian coffee ceremony every Sunday. The breezy black owned cafe is still open for business and servers delicious espresso nonetheless. Definitely one of the most comfortable patios on which to enjoy an afternoon pick me up or morning brunch. Don’t miss the missile silo If you are more of an urban explorer and do not mind bending the rules a bit, there is an abandoned missile silo ready to be explored. Originally sealed shut, it has been vandalized just enough to usher in those who dare. The trail can be found with a little research 60 miles east of Denver in Deer Trail Colorado. Photo by ©Blaine Harrington III/Getty ImagesCruise Colfax If you’re on the road, you might want to visit this famous street repeatedly mentioned in Jack Kerouac’s famous book. As the longest commercial avenue in the United States, one can get a great feel for the Denver culture by simply driving its expanse. Whether for a snack, souvenir, or photo opp, there are plenty of places to stop on the 49.5 mile road. Fear for your life If traveling during a pandemic does not scare you, you need to find something that does. White water rafting trips continue to run this summer. In order to prevent the spread, they are following strict guidelines. Boats are limited to two families plus the guide. With four major rivers running through the state, there are plenty of companies and locations from which to choose. Even so, the closest location for rafting near Denver is 30 miles away in Idaho Springs. Get Steamy in Idaho Springs As of June 8th, Idaho Springs’s Indian Hot Springs are now open for business. Due to the virus, however, they are functioning at limited capacity. In order to get a spot, it is recommended that patrons come early as they operate on a first come first serve basis. Photo by ©John Kieffer/Getty ImagesRun for the hills, or rather mountains, in Chautauqua Park Get out of the big city and escape to Boulder’s most accessible mountain, Flagstaff, located in Chautauqua Park. Only 30 miles from downtown Denver, Chautauqua park has a wide variety of trails to explore. With a variety in terrain, hikers of all skill levels are able to experience Colorado’s natural beauty. Substitute planes for boats Although air travel has become a little tricky, traveling by boat is no problem in Pueblo. For those who love water sports or simply feeling the wind and the waves, Pueblo Reservoir offers pontoon and jet ski rentals. Grab the crew to cruise around and catch some rays. Stroll Through the Gardens The Denver botanic gardens strive to showcase both local flora and that from throughout the world. They have several gardens including a Japanese tea garden, cactus garden, and a terrarium. Additionally, there is an entire sculpture garden for the art lovers. It features sculptures from Craig Ponzio, Emile-Antoine Bourdelle, Patrick Dougherty, and several others. Tickets cannot be purchased onsite and are sold in at limited capacity. Patrons purchase a specific time slot. Tickets are sold two weeks in advance. Grace Klaus is a Budget Travel intern for Summer 2020. She is a graduate of the University of Colorado.

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10 Social Distancing Getaways In or Near Atlanta

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When in doubt, kayak Go kayaking on Lake Allatoona for up to five hours by renting kayaks from Lake Allatoona Kayaking. To give you an idea of price, $70 will get you a two-person kayak, life vests, and pickup and delivery of the kayak. Afterwards, head to the campsite you’ve reserved at Red Top Mountain State Park and find a private spot to enjoy the sunset. COVID-19 information: Red Top Mountain is currently open; however, some parks have experienced a high volume of visitors. Before you go, check the GA State Parks’ site to ensure there is not restricted access due to high visitation. Photo by Bill Rubino 3. Ice cream and the Savannah River Travel to Augusta, Georgia to experience a dynamic city. Grab lunch at the Sno-Cap Drive-In but be sure to save room for dessert! The one they’re most known for is their root beer float. Once you’re done stuffing your face with ice cream, walk it off by hiking a few of the short trails at the Phinizy Center & Nature Park. Afterwards, get settled in your unique houseboat Airbnb located on the Savannah Riverwalk. COVID-19 information: The playground, restrooms, water fountains, and visitor center at the Phinizy Center & Nature Park are all currently closed. Additionally, the park’s adjusted hours are from 7 am to 7 pm. 4. Scenic Byways and German towns Head out early towards the Russell-Brasstown Scenic Byway via Alt US-75. Once you reach the byway, turn left to travel clockwise around it. It takes approximately three hours to drive the whole thing, so stop and eat your picnic you packed when you find a scenic overlook you like. Then head to the quaint guesthouse you rented in Helen, Georgia. It’s walking distance to downtown, so you can easily explore the German charm Helen is known for. COVID-19 information: The byway is open, but the spur to Brasstown Bald is closed. Most businesses in Helen have reopened, and even more will be opening by mid-June. 5. Where there’s a wine, there’s a way Many people don’t know this, but northern Georgia encompasses wine country. Grab a standard guest room at the Barefoot Hills Hotel to put yourself right in the middle of it all. Once you’ve gotten settled in your room, head to one (or more) of the award-winning wineries nearby. One that’s suggested because of their strict COVID-19 measures is Montaluce Winery & Restaurant. A tasting for one involving a choice of five different wines will cost you $30. COVID-19 information: The hotel and much of wine country is located in Dahlonega, Georgia. The city appears to be following Governor Kemp’s phased reopening process. For updates before you travel to this community, take a look at the city’s COVID-19 news page. Photo by @montaluce_winery 6. Experience Atlanta's quirkiness Explore Atlanta by seeing some of its quirky side. First, head to the hotel that you never would have imagined seeing in the city: The Social Goat Bed & Breakfast, a small farm. 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Suggested activities include playing a few board games you’ve brought, eating dinner while sitting on the large deck, stargazing, drinking a cup of coffee while watching the sunrise, and simply disconnecting. COVID-19 information: Thorough cleaning procedures are implemented between each guest’s stay. Martha Anderson is a Budget Travel intern for Summer 2020. She is a graduate of Kennesaw State University.

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10 Social Distant Activities To Do To Get You Out Of Your Nashville Quarantine Funk

There are a multitude of places to go in and around Nashville, Tennessee during quarantine. Below is a list of available activities to do and places to go to get you out of your quarantine funk. 1. Percy Priest Lake: Campgrounds, marinas, picnic areas, and fishing, the lake gives plenty of room for social distancing. Take friends and your family to go kayaking, bring your boat out and spend time in the water playing around. Percy Priest Lake is located in Nashville and has campgrounds and spots for RV camping. If you’re planning on hiking around the lake don’t go after it rains, the lake water rises and the trail gets washed out, unless you’re looking to raise the level of difficulty on your hike. 2. Disc Golf: If you’re looking to get into a new activity disc golf could be it. Nashville has five free disc golf courses in Metro Parks that are open from dawn to dusk except for tournament days. The disc golf parks are located in Seven Oaks, Two Rivers, Shelby Park, Cider Hill and Cane Ridge park. Grab some friends and some disc golf discs and head over to these parks to enjoy some time outside. 3. Foster Falls: Located an hour and 45 minutes outside of Nashville and a short hike from the parking lot you’ll reach a beautiful waterfall and a large pool to swim in. All can enjoy time at Foster Falls, it is also home to some of Tennessee’s most popular climbing. On weekends prepare to see climbers fill up the parking lot to take a crack at routes or even climb up the rock behind the waterfall. 4. Rock Island State Park: Located in Rock Island this state park is just an hour and 40 minutes away. This park features a swimming hole, cliff jumping, many waterfalls and rapids good enough to kayak. Rock Island is full of water activities to keep everyone entertained just a short drive away from Nashville. Rock Island State Park. Credit: ©kneverett/Getty Images 5. Kayak the Cumberland River: Take a friend and have one car located near Nissan Stadium and the other drop the kayaks off at Shelby Park. There is a boat ramp at Shelby Avenue and 20th Street within Shelby Park. Start the kayak there and paddle your way to an incredible view of the Nashville skyline. Pull off near Nissan Stadium for a short, fun, kayaking trip or take your time on the water to really soak up the view and enjoy the time with your friends. 6. Meeman-Shelby Forest: A state park in Millington, Tennessee sits along the Mississippi River. It is said to be haunted by Pigman, who has a pig-like face and haunts the wooded area of the park after dark. Over 200 species of waterfowl, shorebirds, birds of prey and songbirds also come out after dark. There are hiking trails and campsites available that sit on more than 13,000 acres. 7. Centennial Park: Located on West End in Nashville, this park is home to Nashville’s full-scale replica of the Parthenon. The park has a few paths to take to walk around, along with different statues, benches, a pond and plenty of grassy and shaded areas to take a picnic. Centennial Park has free parking available within the park and has a nice city feel if you want to picnic and pretend you are having a getaway in New York City’s Central Park. 8. Radnor Lake: Is a protected Class II Natural Area in Nashville and this park is wonderful for those who love nature. There are opportunities to observe owls, herons and waterfowl along with many species of amphibians, reptiles and mammals, including minks and otters. You can view the wildlife from a hike on the trail or a ride in a canoe.Radnor Lake. Photo by ©Malcolm MacGregor/Getty Images 9. Tennessee River Park: Located in Chattanooga this trail extends about 13 miles along the Tennessee River. It is perfect for those looking to have an urban park experience because the trail takes you through paths in downtown Chattanooga. The Riverwalk also has sections for biking, fishing areas and boat launches. 10. The Hermitage: President Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage home has opened a new tour “In Their Footsteps: Lives of the Hermitage Enslaved Tour.” This tour is currently available to 10 people at 1 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. The Hermitage asks guests to wear their makes during their tour to create a safe experience for staff and other guests. This tour shows the harsh reality of those enslaved until they gained their freedom. The tour also shows how the enslaved men and women lived, worked and died. Tickets are $35 per person which also includes all General Admission amenities which include tours of Andrew Jackson’s Mansion, audio tour unit and access to the exhibit space. The Hermitage. Photo by ©Zack Frank/ShutterstockSam War is a Budget Travel intern for Summer 2020. She is a student at Middle Tennessee State University.

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5 Quarantined adventures near Jacksonville

Traveling in a post-quarantine, but still COVID world is daunting. It was obvious to me that one of the easiest ways to travel right now is to go camping. Just you in the woods with no one around for miles. This used to be the start of a good scary story, but now it seems we live in a world where “living in the city surrounded by everyone” is scarier. I wanted to know what it would be like to travel to a city I’ve never been to. Here is what I did when I went to Jacksonville, Florida. To start, I live with someone at a higher risk for complications of the coronavirus. This is important because I took social distancing very seriously, making this an account of someone really considering what this new world looks like. Before the Trip: Traveling in today’s world takes some research. I looked up the top things to do in Jacksonville in a normal world, made a list of the things that interested me the most (already considering what would be most social distancing friendly), and then cross-checked them with what was open and what their policies are. I came up with an itinerary of five activities to occupy our day. Already this felt very different from my typical, spontaneous travel mindset. What to Bring: I brought a bottle of 75% alcohol hand sanitizer and 75% alcohol sanitizing wipes Facemasks. Ours have interchangeable filters. A full bottle of water. Snacks because we weren’t sure what we would find. Our itinerary. Our IDs in case we stopped at a coronavirus checkpoint Amelia Island: We drove two hours from Savannah, Georgia at 7am to just outside Jacksonville. Amelia Island offers many public beach access points and felt like the perfect place to start our day. Further south on the island, higher traffic spots like the American Beach and the Amelia Island State Park would likely have more crowds. We entered beach access 39 from following South Fletcher Avenue all the way up to several more low key beach spots. There was definitely a comfortable distance between us and anyone else on the beach. We got to splash in the water and play in the sand carefree and without masks. We did go in the morning, so it could become a lot busier in the afternoon. Overall, this was a great find. We even saw people riding horses on the beach if you were looking for something a little more adventurous. The beach at Amelia Island. Photo by Kylie Ruffino. Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens: Their social distancing policy required you to purchase an online ticket in advance. You have to select one of two times: 8am or 1pm and you cannot show up between them. This helps to regulate the amount of people in the zoo and limit interactions between you and the staff. It was super easy. Once inside, there were pathways laid out to direct us as we moved through the exhibits. One of the exhibits was closed for the protection of two older monkeys with geriatric conditions that made them at risk for the coronavirus. They were moved off-site to a safe place for quarantine. I will say, it was very hard to keep a mask on because we were outside and it was extremely hot and humid. This made walking around very difficult to breathe. I ended up constantly putting on and removing my mask as I entered spaces with more people. This was really frustrating, but the overall experience was still really nice. Bold Beans Coffee Roasters I made space for this one my itinerary, but wasn’t sure if this was going to happen. Nothing makes me happier than finding a really cool local coffee shop to pop in, rest a bit, and enjoy a latte. We were already outside for so long and desperately wanted some air conditioning. I haven’t dined anywhere since quarantine and was nervous to do so in another city. After some searching, the best looking option was Bold Beans Coffee Roasters in South Bank, Jacksonville. My experience couldn’t have been better. It was a large space that only made half of the seating available. Once we ordered we were given a card saying “This table has been recently used. Please find a staff member for us to sanitize.” When we left, we would place this on the table for future goers. It was great to know the table we had found had already been sanitized (of course, I sanitized it again just to be safe) and I reluctantly removed my mask. No one was sitting within a six-foot radius. Riverside Arts Market: Under a huge overpass by the river lived a thriving market. This was highly recommended in Jacksonville and I can see why. As per their social distancing policies, they only allowed farmers, packaged health and wellness goods, and food trucks. I imagine how fun it would’ve been to see a huge collection of artists and people walking around, but I am glad it was limited. The booths were spread out with enough space to remain six feet in distance from others. While I wore a mask the entire time, many others didn’t. I would again recommend going in the morning. We were there around 11:15am and noticed it getting busier as we left an hour later. Another social distancing friendly aspect is they offer an online shopping experience for the market and pre-order for food trucks. We shopped and walked around, bought some food, and found a place along the river to sit and eat without being near other people. We sanitized everything and enjoyed! Riverside arts market. Photo by Kylie Ruffino. Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville: One of the other most important things to me when it comes to exploring new places, especially big cities, is to find and explore local art museums. Unfortunately, all of them are still closed and preparing for reopening. To conclude my day trip to Jacksonville once I returned to the safety of my house, I explored the virtual experience offered by the MOCA. While it definitely wasn’t the same as attending in person, it was a great effort to still showcase and teach about the art it holds. On their site, they had everything from pre-recorded virtual tours or artist talks to LIVE art lessons and projects to do from home. This could definitely be something someone did in their hotel room. Things to note: Wearing a mask for the majority of the day gave me a major headache. Next time I’m going to bring some Advil. It is really hard to breathe through a mask in the humidity and we were there during a hot, drizzly day. Weather doesn’t usually slow me down, but it is worth thinking about. As we were leaving we noticed a huge line of cars entering Florida as they went through a COVID checkpoint. We had missed it because of our exit to Amelia Island. I don’t think this would have been possible without a car. We drove between each destination and that extra time in air conditioning made it easier to stay outside during all of our activities. Overall, I had a fantastic time exploring a city I’ve never been to. It was especially fun to just get out of my house and out of my head, but it definitely isn’t the same having to stick to a more rigid itinerary. During a day trip, it felt like there was plenty to do. If we had stayed the entire weekend, I think we would have done another day trip to some hiking grounds a couple hours outside of Jacksonville. I will definitely consider going again, even in these conditions. Kylie Ruffino is a Budget Travel intern for Summer 2020. She is a student at the Savannah College of Art and Design.

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