Looking to go off the beaten path for a memorable vacation this year? Then consider soaking up the sun and beautiful scenery of the Pacific Northwest via cruise along the Columbia River! Now I know what youre thinking. Doesnt it rain a lot up there? Well yes, there is a decent rainy season. But summers in Oregon and Washington are warm and dry, offering the perfect getaway in a region bursting with lush green landscapes and jaw-dropping sights.
Start off your trip to the Northwest with a weekend in the beautiful City of Roses! Portland is nestled between the sparkling Columbia and Willamette Rivers, which has helped the city flourish throughout history. Its got all the excitement you would expect of a big city, yet it retains the charm and comfort of a small town. Some of Portlands biggest attractions include its much-talked-about food and beverage scenes, International Rose Test Garden, a vast outdoor Saturday Market along the waterfront, and the famous Powells Bookstore that covers an entire city block.
While you fall in love with Portlands unique culture, youll be surprised to find renowned chefs serving unforgettable meals from food trucks as well as restaurants. Also, dont miss your chance to sip some of the finest coffee, wine, and craft beer and cider in the world.
The quaint coastal town of Astoria marks the final destination of Lewis and Clarks endeavor across the American West, making it a significant historical landmark. Its actually the oldest settlement west of the Rocky Mountains. Today you can gaze upon several national monuments to the Northwests famed pioneers as well as more than 70 Victorian-era homes. Take the Astoria Riverwalk (along the Columbia) stretching the entire length of the town, Visit the Astoria Column and take in the incredible ocean view, but dont leave until you stop for a bite at Bowpicker Fish & Chips.
Hood, Adams & Saint Helens
As you cruise along the Columbia River youll pass through Rainier, Ore. and Volcano Alley where youll be surrounded by mountain peaks in every direction. Enjoy the breathtaking views of Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, and Mt. Saint Helens. Check out the St. Helens National Volcanic Monument where you can look directly into the steaming volcanic crater and witness the destruction caused by its eruption in 1980.
The Columbia River Gorge
The spectacular river canyon known as the Columbia River Gorge cuts through the Cascade Mountain Range for 80 miles, offering plenty of geologic wonder as you cruise. The gorge is recognized as a National Scenic Area and is a recreational destination for many. Watch as windsurfers and kite-boarders cut through the choppy river waters. Hike the cliffs surrounding the magnificent, 611-foot-tall Multnomah Falls (among many other falls in the area). Then, stop off in Hood River for a visit to the Western Antique Aeroplane & Automobile Museum. Try some of the many craft beers and ciders brewed locally, and blow your own glass art at Glassometry Studios.
As you cruise through Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area, your ship will traverse the Bonneville Lock and Dam before reaching the port of Stevenson. Learn about the inner workings of the massive turbines within the dam that generate hydro electric power for the region.
Get a taste of the West as you watch real cowboys and professional riders let er buck at the world-famous Pendleton Roundup. Oregons largest rodeo spans four days in September, featuring plenty of competitions, a parade, and as much barbeque as you can handle.
Pendleton is also chock full of compelling history. Visit the Indian Reservation of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla and learn the natives perspective on the coming of the pioneers. Take the Underground Tour and explore the old red light district and tunnels that have existed since before the 1890s. Then grab a cozy keepsake from the historic Pendleton Woolen Mills Store.
Walla Walla, WA
If youre a wine lover, there are few better places to go tasting than the Walla Walla Valley. This small region is home to nearly 100 wineries and 85+ tasting rooms! And of course, with great wine comes delicious food. If youre up for something on the fancy side, try T. Maccarones or Whitehouse-Crawford, each proudly sourcing ingredients locally. Or have a casual, mouthwatering pancake breakfast at Maple Counter. Theres more than eating and drinking in Walla Walla, though. Check out the Museum of Un-Natural History and stroll through the areas various historical sites.
Clarkston, WA / Lewiston, ID
As you disembark from an unforgettable Columbia River cruise (or head back to Portland on a round-trip) you cannot pass up the twin cities of Clarkston, Washington and Lewiston, Idaho. This is the Northwests most inland seaport and the junction of the Snake River. Here you can explore the breathtaking Hells Canyon, which is the deepest canyon in North America and known for its pristine wilderness. Youre sure to see some wildlife and ancient Indian petroglyphs.