Social Distancing. It might just be the new phrase of the year in 2020. Shelter-in-place is different – at this point we can still get out of the house and stay away from crowds. Luckily in the Northwest there are plenty of opportunities to get out in nature and have plenty of space between you and your fellow nature-lovers. Pack a picnic or hit a drive-through (plan on restaurants being closed) bring wipes for sanitizing surfaces, then get out for a drive or a walk while you still can. Here are a few ideas for day trips around Oregon and SW Washington area you might want to consider:
Ridgefield, WA – in this SW Washington refuge, you stay in your car as you meander at your own pace through a wildlife refuge spotting perhaps a nutria, a deer, migratory birds, a heron or osprey… A good way to entertain the kids without having to leave your car. If you choose, you can get out on a few hiking paths. $3/car entrance fee. Open sunrise to sunset.
Winston, OR – in this Southern Oregon drive-through safari, you will stay in your car as you follow a route that takes you through different areas where you find rhinoceros, giraffes, and zebras, bears, cougars, lions, and much more.
Hood River, OR – take a driving tour of the Hood River orchards in bloom soon. Spectacular views of Mount Hood are a bonus as you tour this beautiful agricultural region.
Banks, OR – The former railroad tracks were once used to haul timber but have recently been converted to paths perfect for biking, jogging, and walking. When the sun comes out this spring – get out and enjoy some exercise on a fun new path.
Troutdale, OR – Drive the historic Columbia River Highway loop where you can view majestic waterfalls, scenic outlooks like Crown Point, drive past Bonneville Dam, cross over the Bridge of the Gods, and drive past historic Beacon Rock (drawn in Lewis & Clark’s journals.)
Cottage Grove, OR – Get out for a drive and explore the many cool covered bridges in the southern Willamette Valley. They’ve marked out a map that makes it easy to see 7 covered bridges in just a 20 mile route. Make a game of it by taking a silly picture in front each one, or a memorable drive by singing a “Bridge over Troubled Water” every time you cross over one.
Vancouver, WA – Get out and walking and discover the historic Fort Vancouver area. Step back to the 1800s when this was a working military fort and beautiful homes lined “Officer’s Row.” Walk past the newly restored barracks, old army hospital, and many different buildings on the grounds. Continue on past Fort Vancouver – the old log-fenced fort that once was a lively early 1800s trading hub. Continue your walk and you cross over the Vancouver Land Confluence Bridge – designed by the architect Maya Lin, who also designed the National Vietnam Wall Memorial in Washington D.C. The bridge reconnects the fort to the Columbia River – as it once was before Hwy 14 and the railroad lines were installed.
Tillamook, OR – Take a side trip off of Hwy 101 and make a loop along the 40 mile Three Capes Scenic Loop. It follows the shoreline south of Tillamook where you will go through Cape Kiwanda, Cape Lookout, and Cape Meares. You’ll be able to see Pacific City’s giant sand dune and Haystack Rock, the Cape Meares Lighthouse, Sand Lake Recreation Area, and Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge before heading back north onto Hw 101. While you may not be able to to go inside the lighthouse, you will still have stunning views!
Silverton, OR – Tour the 80 acre outdoor botanical garden with 20 speciality gardens and enjoy the beautiful grounds filling with Spring blooms.