Escape the gloomy weather at these fun escapes a short drive away.
The winter in Portland is extremely static: gray, drizzly, cloudy, and 40-something degrees. For a little variety, try a weekend in another part of Oregon, like dry, sunny, chilly Bend, or windy, outdoorsy Hood River. If you choose somewhere snowy (you may be missing it, since it rarely snows in Portland), stay warm with a heated saline pool or a glass of Pinot Noir. These destinations have it all, and are a short drive from the city.
Columbia River Gorge
Watch the locals go windsurfing and kite boarding on the windy Columbia River (yep, even in the winter), while you stay warm and dry with the beer sampler at Full Sail, a brewery up on a hill that has great views of the scenery. Shop the downtown's cute main drag, Oak Street, then grab pizza at Solstice along the water. The next morning, take a hike in the 80-mile-long, 4,000-feet-deep Columbia River Gorge. Stay at the Oak Street Hotel, a historic nine-room bed and breakfast built in 1909.
The Willamette Valley is home to some of the country's best bottles of Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. Set up camp in the comfy living room-style couches at Brooks Winery; once you’re relaxed, get a massage or the grape-seed facial The Allison Inn & Spa. Stay at The Black Walnut Inn & Vineyard, a boutique property inspired by the south of France; its chatty, friendly owners, Neal and Karen Utz, will tell you about the area during breakfast or talk about the small-batch wines they make from the 12-acre onsite vineyard.
This coastal town, where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean, was Lewis and Clark's last stop before they turned back east; history buffs can check out Fort Clatsop, where they stayed. For 1980s film history, the gritty town is also home to the house from The Goonies. Have a beer at the Fort George Brewery and stay at the Commodore Hotel, a historic building that’s been renovated to keep its nautical charm. Curl up in your room with one of the hotel’s 100 free DVDs.
This sunny, snowy mountain town 175 miles from Portland in central Oregon is a great break from the dark and damp winters in Portland. Bend is also home to great breweries like Deschutes, named for the river that runs straight through the city. Ski or snowboard on nearby Mt. Bachelor for the day, then relax sore muscles with a soak in the saline pool at the Old St. Francis School, a Catholic school that's been converted into a quirky hotel, replete with a restaurant and second-run movie theater.
Sarah Z. Wexler is on the Oregon beat for Travel + Leisure. Based in Portland, you can follow her on Twitter at @SarahZWexler.