Reader Question: Cramming The Gorge and Portland Into Two Days

Anu left a comment on my contact me page that I thought was worth expanding on here in a full blog post.  Here is Anu’s question.

Thanks for your blog! We are planning a 2 night stay in the Buckman area. We’ll be using public transportation, but plan to rent a car for one day to make a day trip to the Columbia Gorge. If possible, we’d like to rent the car on our departure date, so we can drive it to the airport. Flight is at 7:30pm, so would need to get to PDX by 5:30. Do you think we will be too rushed with our day trip on this day?  

Anu’s question is pretty simple.  Is it advisable to do a day trip to the gorge the same day as your departing flight?  Short answer is no.  It is possible but you will feel rushed and probably not enjoy the Gorge as much as you should.  The reason why I wanted to feature Anu’s question in a full blog post is because it allows me to touch on a few things worth highlighting.

Staying somewhere other than Downtown (yes that’s a good thing)

Many, many people when they visit Portland make the mistake of staying Downtown.  Most of the hotels in Portland are clustered in the downtown core. Downtown itself is mostly commercial and in my opinion pretty stale. Downtown does provide convenient access to almost everything but so do the close in east side neighborhoods like Buckman, where Anu is staying.  The main difference between staying in a more residential type neighborhood like Buckman compared to Downtown, is that you can see what Portland is really about.  You can get a better feel for the Portland vibe and ideally enjoy the same intimate connection most of us locals feel towards our beloved city.

Anu, is staying in Buckman which is on the east side of the river just over the Hawthorne Bridge.

View Buckman Neighborhood in a larger map

Buckman is a terrific neighborhood to stay in.  There are tons of great restaurants and pubs all within easy walking distance.  Just to name a few are: Bunk Sandwiches, Cascade Brewing, Hair of the Dog Brewing, Green Dragon Brew Pub, Lardo, Hawthorne Food Cart Pod, and Nostrana.

Hawthorne Food Cart Pod

Hawthorne Food Cart Pod

Buckman is also a short bus ride across the river from some of the west side neighborhoods like the Pearl, and NW Portland.  Buckman also offers easy access to I-84 if one were inclined to head out to the Gorge, like Anu is.  So great choice in location Anu!

Day Trip to the gorge

Multnomah Falls

Multnomah Falls

The Gorge is an excellent day trip from Portland.  The sites along the Gorge are stunning and offer some pretty awesome hikes.  The Gorge is best experienced by taking it slow and driving along the Historic Columbia River Highway.  To take this route through the Gorge drive out I-84 and take exit 22 to Corbett.  Take NE Corbet Hill Rd. south until you reach the Historic Columbia River Highway and then head east.  Make sure to stop at the Portland Women’s Forum  and the Vista House for some great views.  If you want to hike, Oneonta Gorge and Multnomah Falls are both great hikes.  If you do Oneonta make sure you bring some extra clothes because you will get wet.   Hood River is your stopping point.  Grab a pint at Full Sail Brewing and relax for a bit before turning around.

Ambitious Itinerary

It is ok to be ambitious when it comes to trip planning, but make sure you take the time to prioritize.  If the Gorge is a priority and you only have one full day that is free, do it on that day.  The Gorge is an all day affair and it is best experienced without feeling rushed.  Take time to enjoy the scenery and the hiking.  As for your time in Portland use your time in Portland to relax.  Try to become a temporary local.  Walk around and explore the neighborhood you are staying in.  Check out the food carts, enjoy dinner at a great restaurant, and don’t forget to have a pint at one of our many craft breweries.

Local Beer

Local Beer

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