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Where To Go Near Portland For A One-Day Trip


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Loree Kinsella



Oregon is a state known for its breathtaking natural beauty and diverse landscapes. From the stunning coastline to the towering mountains, there is no shortage of amazing destinations to explore. While Portland offers a wealth of attractions and activities, sometimes it’s nice to venture beyond the city limits for a one-day trip.


Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a history buff, or a wine lover, Oregon has something to offer everyone. In this article, we will explore some of the best places to visit near Portland for a memorable day trip. So, pack your camera, put on your hiking boots, and get ready to discover the wonders that await you just a short drive away.


From the majestic Mount Hood to the cascading waterfalls of the Columbia River Gorge, there are plenty of options for outdoor adventures. If you’re looking for a relaxing beach getaway, Cannon Beach is the perfect destination with its picturesque shoreline and charming coastal town. For the wine connoisseurs, a visit to the Willamette Valley Wine Country is a must, where you can indulge in some of the finest wines Oregon has to offer.


If you’re interested in exploring the rich history and culture of the region, a visit to the Oregon Garden or the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument is highly recommended. And for animal lovers, a trip to the Oregon Coast Aquarium or the Oregon Zoo offers unique opportunities to get up close and personal with a variety of fascinating species.


No matter which destination you choose, you can expect breathtaking views, outdoor adventures, and a chance to connect with nature. So, get ready to embark on an unforgettable day trip from Portland and create memories that will last a lifetime.


Mount Hood

Located just 50 miles east of Portland, Mount Hood is an iconic landmark and a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Standing at a towering height of 11,249 feet, Mount Hood is the highest peak in Oregon and offers a picturesque backdrop for various activities.


In the winter months, Mount Hood transforms into a haven for snow sports. With several ski resorts, including Timberline Lodge and Mount Hood Meadows, visitors can enjoy skiing, snowboarding, tubing, and snowshoeing. The scenic slopes cater to all skill levels, making it a great destination for both beginners and advanced winter sports enthusiasts.


During the summer, Mount Hood is a popular spot for hiking, biking, and camping. The Pacific Crest Trail and the Timberline Trail offer breathtaking views of the mountain and surrounding wilderness. Whether you’re looking for a leisurely walk or a challenging trek, there are trails for every skill level.


In addition to outdoor activities, Mount Hood is also home to the historic Timberline Lodge. Built in the 1930s, this rustic lodge is a National Historic Landmark and an architectural gem. Visitors can explore the interior, which features stunning craftsmanship and beautiful hand-carved details.


For a truly unforgettable experience, consider taking a ride on the Mount Hood Scenic Byway. This 100-mile loop takes you through picturesque alpine meadows, dense forests, and charming mountain towns. Along the way, you can stop at various viewpoints to capture breathtaking vistas of the mountain.


Whether you’re looking for adventure or simply want to enjoy the beauty of nature, a visit to Mount Hood is a must. From the snow-capped peaks to the lush forests, this majestic mountain offers a spectacular retreat from the hustle and bustle of city life. So, grab your hiking boots and embark on an unforgettable journey to Mount Hood.


Columbia River Gorge

The Columbia River Gorge, just a short drive east of Portland, is a breathtaking natural wonder that spans over 80 miles. Carved through the Cascade Mountains by the powerful Columbia River, this scenic area offers a plethora of outdoor activities and stunning panoramic views.


One of the main attractions in the Columbia River Gorge is the abundance of waterfalls. The most famous among them is Multnomah Falls, a towering 620-foot cascade that is a truly awe-inspiring sight. Visitors can hike the paved trail to the Benson Bridge for an up-close view of the falls or venture further to explore other waterfalls such as Horsetail Falls and Wahkeena Falls.


Besides waterfalls, the Columbia River Gorge is a haven for hiking enthusiasts. With numerous trails winding through lush forests and scenic overlooks, there are options for every skill level. One popular hike is the challenging but rewarding hike to Angel’s Rest, where hikers are rewarded with stunning views of the river gorge from the summit.


For those interested in history, a visit to the Columbia River Gorge Discovery Center is a must. This museum showcases the natural and cultural history of the region, with exhibits that explore the Native American heritage, the Lewis and Clark expedition, and the geological wonders of the gorge.


If you’re seeking a more leisurely experience, a scenic drive along the Historic Columbia River Highway is highly recommended. This historic route offers breathtaking views of the gorge, with several pull-off points to soak in the scenery and capture some incredible photos.


Water sports enthusiasts will also find plenty to do in the Columbia River Gorge. The river is a popular destination for wind sports, such as windsurfing and kiteboarding, due to its consistent strong winds. There are rental shops and schools available for those who want to try their hand at these thrilling activities.


With its majestic waterfalls, stunning vistas, and an array of outdoor adventures, the Columbia River Gorge is a must-visit destination near Portland. So, pack your hiking gear, bring your camera, and get ready to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of this magnificent gorge.


Cannon Beach

Located just 90 minutes west of Portland, Cannon Beach is a picturesque coastal town that offers a perfect escape from the city. Known for its stunning shoreline, charming downtown area, and iconic Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach is a must-visit destination for beach lovers.


The main attraction of Cannon Beach is the magnificent Haystack Rock. Rising 235 feet above the sands, this monolithic sea stack is an iconic landmark of the Oregon coast. At low tide, visitors can explore tide pools teeming with fascinating marine life, including starfish, anemones, and crabs. Haystack Rock is also a haven for birdwatchers, with numerous seabirds and puffins nesting on its ledges.


Aside from Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach offers miles of pristine sandy shores, perfect for leisurely walks, beachcombing, or building sandcastles. The beach is known for its stunning sunsets, creating a romantic atmosphere as the sun dips below the horizon.


The downtown area of Cannon Beach is a quaint and charming strip filled with art galleries, boutiques, and restaurants. Stroll along the streets and browse the unique shops, where you can find locally made crafts, artwork, and coastal-inspired treasures. Be sure to try some delicious seafood at one of the many restaurants that offer fresh ocean catches.


If you’re a fan of outdoor activities, there are plenty of options in and around Cannon Beach. You can go hiking in nearby Ecola State Park, which offers stunning coastal views and lush forests. Or, for a more adventurous experience, try surfing or paddleboarding in the Pacific Ocean.


For those interested in nature and wildlife, a visit to the nearby Oswald West State Park is highly recommended. This rugged coastal park offers hiking trails surrounded by old-growth forests, leading to secluded beach coves and dramatic viewpoints.


Whether you’re looking for a peaceful beach getaway, a chance to reconnect with nature, or an opportunity to explore a charming coastal town, Cannon Beach has it all. With its natural beauty, welcoming community, and endless outdoor activities, a day trip to Cannon Beach is sure to be a memorable experience.


Silver Falls State Park

Silver Falls State Park, located about an hour south of Portland, is a true gem of Oregon’s natural beauty. Known as the “crown jewel” of the state park system, it is home to stunning waterfalls, lush greenery, and miles of scenic trails.


The main highlight of Silver Falls State Park is the Trail of Ten Falls. This 7.2-mile loop trail takes you past, around, and even behind ten magnificent waterfalls, providing incredible views and photo opportunities. The 177-foot South Falls is one of the most spectacular, with a trail leading behind the waterfall, allowing you to experience its power and beauty up close.


Aside from the impressive waterfalls, the park boasts a diverse ecosystem filled with wildlife and plant life. Hikers can enjoy trails that wind through old-growth forests, along sparkling creeks, and across beautiful meadows. The tranquility and natural beauty of the surroundings make it a perfect spot for picnicking, birdwatching, or simply finding a peaceful spot to relax and recharge.


Silver Falls State Park also offers camping facilities, making it an ideal destination for those who want to spend more than a day exploring the park. With both tent and RV sites available, you can experience the beauty of the park throughout the day and witness the magic of the waterfalls in the early morning or late evening.


If you’re up for more adventure, the park offers horseback riding trails, mountain biking options, and even guided horse-drawn wagon rides. These activities allow you to explore the park from a different perspective and add an extra layer of fun and excitement to your visit.


With its stunning waterfalls, lush forests, and diverse trails, Silver Falls State Park is a nature lover’s paradise. Whether you’re a passionate hiker, a photography enthusiast, or simply looking to immerse yourself in the beauty of the outdoors, a trip to this remarkable park will leave you with memories to last a lifetime.


Willamette Valley Wine Country

Located just southwest of Portland, the Willamette Valley is a premier wine-growing region known for its world-class Pinot Noir and picturesque vineyards. If you’re a wine enthusiast or simply appreciate the beauty of rolling hills and vine-covered landscapes, a visit to Willamette Valley Wine Country is a must.


The Willamette Valley is home to over 700 wineries and vineyards, offering a wide array of wine tasting experiences. Many wineries have tasting rooms where visitors can sample a variety of wines, learn about the winemaking process, and enjoy the serene surroundings. The region’s cool climate and volcanic soil create ideal conditions for growing grapes, resulting in exceptional wines that have gained international recognition.


As you explore the wine country, you’ll have the opportunity to meet passionate winemakers and learn about their craft. They are often more than happy to share stories about their vineyards, their unique winemaking techniques, and the characteristics that make Willamette Valley wines so special.


In addition to wine tasting, the Willamette Valley offers breathtaking landscapes that are perfect for leisurely drives or bike rides. You can immerse yourself in the beauty of the countryside, passing by vineyards, farms, and charming small towns along the way. Consider stopping at one of the many farm-to-table restaurants in the region, where you can savor delicious local cuisine paired with excellent Willamette Valley wines.


For a more immersive experience, you can book a tour or join a wine tasting excursion. This allows you to visit multiple wineries in one day, learn about the region’s history and winemaking traditions, and get insights from knowledgeable guides who can help you discover new wines and hidden gems.


Whether you’re a wine connoisseur or simply enjoy the finer things in life, a day trip to Willamette Valley Wine Country is a delightful experience. Surrounded by rolling vineyards, stunning views, and exceptional wines, you’ll find yourself immersed in a world of flavors and a feast for the senses. So raise a glass and toast to the beauty and bounty of the Willamette Valley.


Multnomah Falls

Located in the Columbia River Gorge, Multnomah Falls is undoubtedly one of the most iconic and mesmerizing natural attractions near Portland. With its cascading waters plunging down 620 feet, it is the tallest waterfall in Oregon and attracts millions of visitors each year.


The falls can be viewed from the base, where you can feel the cool mist and marvel at its grandeur, or you can take a short hike to the Benson Bridge, which provides a closer view and unforgettable photo opportunities. The mesmerizing beauty of the falls is a sight to behold, especially during the spring season when the water flow is at its strongest.


The area surrounding Multnomah Falls is also a paradise for hiking enthusiasts. There are several trails that wind through the lush forests and lead to other stunning waterfalls in the vicinity, such as Wahkeena Falls and Horsetail Falls. The most popular hike is the Multnomah-Wahkeena Loop, which offers breathtaking views of multiple waterfalls along a moderate six-mile trail.


After experiencing the awe-inspiring beauty of the falls, take some time to explore the Multnomah Falls Lodge. Built in 1925, the lodge is a charming historic landmark that offers a restaurant, gift shop, and interpretive center. It’s the perfect place to grab a bite to eat or learn more about the history and geology of the area.


If you’re looking for an extra special experience, consider visiting Multnomah Falls during the winter months. The falls often freeze partially, creating a stunning ice formation that adds a magical touch to the already breathtaking scenery. However, it’s important to note that winter conditions can be challenging, so check for any closures or safety precautions before planning your visit.


Whether you’re a nature lover, a photography enthusiast, or simply seeking a peaceful escape from the city, a trip to Multnomah Falls is a must. The combination of raw natural beauty, the invigorating sound of rushing water, and the sense of awe and wonder make this iconic waterfall an absolute must-see attraction near Portland.


Oregon Coast Aquarium

Situated in Newport, along the beautiful Oregon coast, the Oregon Coast Aquarium is a fascinating destination that offers a firsthand glimpse into the wonders of marine life. With its diverse exhibits and interactive experiences, it is a must-visit attraction for both children and adults alike.


The aquarium is home to a wide variety of marine creatures, including playful sea otters, mesmerizing jellyfish, graceful sharks, and colorful tropical fish. The diverse exhibits showcase different marine ecosystems found along the Oregon coast, allowing visitors to explore and learn about the unique habitats and the remarkable creatures that call them home.


One of the highlights of the Oregon Coast Aquarium is the Passages of the Deep exhibit, which takes visitors on an immersive journey through an underwater tunnel. As you walk through, you’ll be surrounded by sea creatures swimming overhead, including impressive sharks and majestic rays.


The aquarium also offers interactive experiences that allow visitors to get up close and personal with marine life. From touching tidepool creatures like starfish and anemones to attending informative feeding sessions with divers interacting with animals, there are plenty of opportunities to learn, engage, and create lasting memories.


In addition to the marine exhibits, the Oregon Coast Aquarium is committed to conservation and education. The aquarium actively participates in various research and conservation initiatives to protect and preserve marine habitats and species. Through educational programs and exhibits, visitors can gain a deeper understanding of the importance of marine conservation and the actions they can take to make a difference.


After exploring the exhibits, be sure to take a stroll along the beautiful Yaquina Bay, where the aquarium is located. The picturesque setting offers stunning views and the chance to spot marine life in their natural habitat, such as seabirds and harbor seals.


Whether you’re a marine life enthusiast or simply curious about the wonders of the ocean, the Oregon Coast Aquarium is a captivating destination that offers a unique and immersive experience. It’s an opportunity to connect with nature, learn about marine conservation, and create lasting memories with your loved ones.


Oregon Garden

The Oregon Garden, located in Silverton, is a stunning botanical garden that showcases the beauty and diversity of the state’s plant life. Spanning over 80 acres, the garden offers a tranquil retreat where visitors can explore a variety of themed gardens, lush landscapes, and educational exhibits.


One of the highlights of the Oregon Garden is the Rediscovery Forest, a natural area that allows visitors to wander through old-growth forests and learn about the native flora and fauna of the region. As you explore the forest trails, you’ll encounter towering trees, vibrant wildflowers, and the soothing sounds of nature.


The garden also features several themed areas, including the Sensory Garden, where visitors can engage their senses through aromatic herbs, soothing water features, and tactile plants. The Children’s Garden is another popular spot, with interactive exhibits, play areas, and educational activities designed to spark a love for nature in young visitors.


For those interested in sustainable gardening practices, the Oregon Garden offers a demonstration garden showcasing eco-friendly techniques such as rainwater harvesting, composting, and native plant landscaping. Visitors can learn valuable tips and tricks for creating their own environmentally friendly gardens at home.


In addition to its enchanting gardens, the Oregon Garden hosts a variety of events and festivals throughout the year. From plant sales and workshops to art exhibits and holiday celebrations, there is always something exciting happening at the garden. Be sure to check the schedule to see if there are any special events during your visit.


After exploring the gardens, take some time to visit the Garden View Café, where you can indulge in delicious meals made with locally sourced ingredients. You can also browse the gift shop, which offers a unique selection of gardening tools, books, and souvenirs.


Whether you’re a passionate gardener, a nature lover, or simply seeking a peaceful setting to relax and unwind, the Oregon Garden is a must-visit destination near Portland. With its breathtaking landscapes, educational exhibits, and commitment to sustainability, it offers a truly enriching experience for visitors of all ages.


Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument

The Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, located in southwestern Washington state, is a remarkable testament to the power and resilience of nature. This monument commemorates the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens, one of the most significant volcanic events in the history of the United States.


Visiting the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument provides a unique opportunity to witness the profound impact of volcanic activity. The landscape still bears the scars of the eruption, with miles of barren landscape, fields of volcanic ash, and the iconic horseshoe-shaped crater at the summit.


One of the highlights of the monument is the Johnston Ridge Observatory, situated just five miles away from the crater. Here, visitors can learn about the eruption through exhibits, films, and ranger-led programs. The observatory offers stunning panoramic views of the volcano and its surrounding landscape, allowing visitors to gain a deep understanding of the geological forces at work.


For those seeking adventure, there are several hiking trails that lead to breathtaking viewpoints and unique geological features. The trails offer opportunities to see the regrowth of plant and animal life in the blast zone, and to witness the gradual recovery and rebirth of the landscape.


Another popular activity is exploring the Ape Cave, which is a lava tube formed during previous volcanic activity. Visitors can venture underground and navigate through the dark passages, experiencing the unusual geological formations and the eerily beautiful environment.


To truly appreciate the magnitude of the eruption, consider taking a helicopter or plane tour over the volcano. These aerial tours offer a bird’s-eye view of the crater, providing a sense of the scale and devastation caused by the eruption.


As you explore the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, it is important to remember the significance of this natural disaster and the incredible resilience of the surrounding ecosystem. Witnessing the power of nature firsthand serves as a reminder of our planet’s constant transformation and the delicate balance between destruction and regeneration.


If you’re fascinated by natural phenomena, geology, or simply want to experience a place of immense historical importance, a visit to the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument is a must. Prepare to be awed by the sheer scale of the eruption and the ability of nature to rebound and thrive in the face of adversity.


St. Johns Bridge

The St. Johns Bridge, an architectural masterpiece, is a stunning landmark that spans the Willamette River in Portland, Oregon. With its distinctive Gothic-style towers and graceful suspension cables, the bridge is not only a functional transportation route but also a visual delight for both locals and visitors.


Designed by renowned architect David B. Steinman and completed in 1931, the St. Johns Bridge is a testament to the ingenuity and craftsmanship of its time. The bridge’s unique green color scheme, inspired by the Gothic architecture of the medieval era, sets it apart from other bridges in the area.


The main span of the St. Johns Bridge stretches over 1,200 feet, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding area. From the bridge, you can admire the majestic Cascade Mountains, the scenic Willamette River, and the quaint St. Johns neighborhood. Sunset is a particularly magical time to visit, as the warm hues of the sky contrast beautifully with the bridge’s green structure.


The St. Johns Bridge is not only admired for its architectural beauty but also cherished for its role in connecting communities. It provides a vital link between the St. Johns neighborhood in North Portland and the rest of the city, offering a convenient route for both pedestrians and vehicles.


For those who love photography, the St. Johns Bridge is a popular subject due to its unique design and picturesque surroundings. Many photographers flock to the bridge to capture its elegance and charm from various angles and perspectives.


Close to the bridge is Cathedral Park, a beautiful riverside park nestled under the bridge’s towering arches. It offers a tranquil space for picnics, walks along the riverbank, or simply enjoying the views. The park’s name is derived from the bridge’s cathedral-like towers, adding to its allure and symbolism.


Whether you’re a local Portlander or a visitor to the city, a trip to the St. Johns Bridge is a must-do experience. From its striking architecture to its stunning vistas, the bridge offers a unique blend of beauty and functionality, making it an integral part of Portland’s landscape and a memorable attraction for all who cross its path.


Bridge of the Gods

The Bridge of the Gods, located in the Columbia River Gorge, is a magnificent structure that spans the Columbia River, connecting the states of Oregon and Washington. Steeped in Native American folklore and surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty, it is not only an engineering marvel but also a cultural and historical landmark.


The bridge gets its name from a Native American legend that describes a natural bridge formed by the Great Spirit to allow passage between the two sides of the river. The Bridge of the Gods stands as a modern-day testament to this legend, serving as a vital transportation link and a symbol of unity between the two states.


Driving across the bridge, you’ll be treated to stunning views of the Columbia River Gorge and its towering cliffs. The sight of the bridge blending harmoniously with the natural surroundings creates a sense of awe and appreciation for the engineering achievement and the splendor of the natural landscape.


For outdoor enthusiasts, the Bridge of the Gods is a gateway to a plethora of recreational activities. The Pacific Crest Trail, a long-distance hiking trail that runs from Mexico to Canada, crosses the bridge, attracting hikers from around the world. The surrounding area offers opportunities for hiking, biking, fishing, and water sports, making it a paradise for those seeking adventure in the great outdoors.


Besides its natural appeal, the Bridge of the Gods is also known for its role in pop culture. It has been featured in movies, such as “Wild” starring Reese Witherspoon, and it holds a special place in the hearts of hikers who have completed the Pacific Crest Trail.


As you cross the bridge, take a moment to appreciate the significance of its Native American heritage. The nearby Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center Museum provides insight into the rich history and culture of the region’s Native American tribes, allowing visitors to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for the bridge’s cultural significance.


Whether you’re captivated by its legend, fascinated by its engineering marvel, or simply drawn to the breathtaking vistas of the Columbia River Gorge, a visit to the Bridge of the Gods is a memorable experience. It’s a place where nature, culture, and history converge, leaving visitors with a sense of wonder and a deeper connection to the magnificent landscapes and stories that shaped the region.


Oregon Zoo

The Oregon Zoo, located in Washington Park, is a beloved destination that offers an exciting and educational experience for visitors of all ages. With its diverse collection of animals, beautiful natural exhibits, and commitment to conservation, the zoo is a must-visit attraction for animal lovers and nature enthusiasts.


The zoo is home to a wide range of species from around the world, including elephants, giraffes, lions, penguins, and more. As you explore the exhibits, you’ll have the opportunity to observe these amazing creatures up close and learn about their natural habitats and conservation efforts.


One of the zoo’s highlights is the Asian Elephant Habitat, which is home to a playful herd of elephants. Visitors can watch these intelligent creatures as they roam, bathe, and interact with each other in an environment designed to mimic their natural habitat.


The Primate Forest is another popular exhibit, where you can observe a variety of primates, including chimpanzees, orangutans, and lemurs. The exhibit provides a glimpse into the social and behavioral dynamics of these fascinating animals.


The Oregon Zoo is not just about animal exhibits; it is also committed to conservation and education. The zoo participates in various breeding programs and conservation initiatives aimed at protecting endangered species and preserving habitats. Visitors can learn about the importance of conservation and the actions they can take to help protect wildlife and their habitats.


For a unique experience, consider attending one of the zoo’s animal presentations and demonstrations. From sea lion shows to elephant training sessions, these interactive programs provide insight into animal behavior, training techniques, and the dedication of zookeepers and staff.


In addition to the animal exhibits, the zoo offers beautiful landscaped gardens, picnic areas, and a children’s zoo. The children’s zoo allows younger visitors to get hands-on with farm animals, engage in educational activities, and experience the wonder of the natural world in a kid-friendly environment.


With its dedication to animal welfare, commitment to conservation, and engaging exhibits, the Oregon Zoo provides a captivating and educational experience for visitors of all ages. It serves as a reminder of the importance of wildlife conservation and the beauty and diversity of our natural world.


Whether you’re a family looking for a fun day out, a wildlife enthusiast wanting to learn more about species from around the globe, or simply seeking a serene environment to connect with nature, the Oregon Zoo offers a memorable and enriching experience that will leave a lasting impression.



With its stunning natural beauty, diverse landscapes, and vibrant culture, the state of Oregon offers an abundance of exciting destinations for a one-day trip near Portland. From towering mountains and cascading waterfalls to picturesque beaches and award-winning wineries, there is something for every interest and preference.


Mount Hood beckons adventure enthusiasts with its world-class ski resorts and hiking trails that showcase breathtaking views. The Columbia River Gorge captivates visitors with its majestic waterfalls and scenic landscapes, while Cannon Beach provides a tranquil coastal escape with its stunning shoreline and charming town.


Willamette Valley Wine Country beckons wine lovers to indulge in the finest vintages and explore the beautiful vineyards. The Oregon Coast Aquarium offers a chance to immerse oneself in the wonders of marine life, while the Oregon Garden provides a serene setting to appreciate the splendor of nature.


Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument stands as a reminder of nature’s power and resilience, while the St. Johns Bridge showcases architectural beauty and stunning vistas. The Bridge of the Gods captivates with its symbolism and panoramic views, and the Oregon Zoo provides an educational and enjoyable experience for visitors of all ages.


As you embark on these one-day trips from Portland, take the time to immerse yourself in the beauty and uniqueness of each destination. Whether you seek adventure, relaxation, cultural exploration, or a connection with nature, these extraordinary places near Portland will leave you with memories that last a lifetime.


In conclusion, Oregon’s diverse range of attractions near Portland truly offers something for everyone. From the rugged outdoors to the architectural marvels, from the stunning coastline to the world-class wineries, each destination showcases the state’s natural beauty and unique experiences. So, step outside of the city and embark on a remarkable one-day trip, ready to be captivated by all that Oregon has to offer.