10 Exciting Day trips from Corvallis, Oregon (2024)

10 Exciting Day trips from Corvallis, Oregon (2024)

One of the great things about Corvallis is its central location. Within 1 to 2 hours, you can reach the coast, the mountains, the high desert, or the airport. Which means there are a lot of great options for exciting and unique day trips from Corvallis.

Having grown up in the area, we’ve taken countless day trips from Corvallis over the years. So I’ve created a list for you of all the day trips that were the most memorable, most convenient, or had the most to do.

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Exciting Day Trips from Corvallis

For those who are new to the area, it may be difficult to decide where to start when choosing which day trips from Corvallis to take. So here’s a few tips to consider.

If you’re looking for the faster pace or the opportunities of a bigger city, try visiting Portland, Eugene, or Salem. However, if you’d prefer to get outdoors, consider a hike at Silver Falls or Multnomah Falls.

If you’re seeking sunshine in the rainy season, you may have good luck if you head east to Sisters or Bend. Or if you’re trying to escape a heat wave, try heading west to Newport, Lincoln City, or Florence, on the coast.

Portland, day trips from Corvallis

1. Portland

One of the best day trips from Corvallis is Portland. It’s the largest city in Oregon and is only about an hour and a half to two hour drive north (depending on traffic).

There are endless fun things to do in Portland, from museums and gardens, to concerts, sports events, and a wide variety of delicious restaurants. It truly is one of Oregon’s major cultural hubs.

You can spend the day playing the tourist, seeing some of Portland’s best attractions. Visit the Oregon Zoo or OMSI. Smell the flowers at the Portland International Rose Test Garden, and catch a stunning view of the city from the Portland Aerial Tram. Then enjoy dessert at Voodoo Doughnuts.

Or instead, do as the locals do! Browse books at the world’s largest used book store, Powell’s Books. Go for a hike in Forest Park. And finish the day off with dinner at a food truck.

After just one day in Portland, you may find yourself wanting to come back again and again. And with so many interesting things to do here, each visit will be its own unique experience!

Full disclosure, Portland has seen a few rough years recently. But it’s doing its best to clean things up and make a come back. If you’re concerned about safety, it’s always wise to be aware of your surroundings as you would in any large city.

2. Multnomah Falls

One of Oregon’s 7 Wonders, Multnomah Falls is a must-see. It’s located two hours north of Corvallis in the Columbia River Gorge, along “Waterfall Alley.”

At 620 feet, this majestic waterfall is the tallest in Oregon. A short walk on a paved path takes you to the bridge, where you can feel the mist from the rushing water on your face.

For a truly stunning view though, you’ve got to hike to the top. This moderate hike zig zags up the side of the bluff for a total of 11 switchbacks. It’s 2.4 miles round trip, and averages 1.5 hours to hike. A viewing platform at the top allows you to look out over the Columbia River Gorge and down the falls.

If you’re wanting to save money, bring a sack lunch. However, if you’re able, I highly recommend eating at the historic Multnomah Falls Lodge. The food is delicious. And the back of the restaurant features floor to ceiling windows with a view of the falls.

Just be aware that parking here is very limited. A few great alternatives to parking directly at the falls though, are Sasquatch Shuttle or the Waterfall Trolley. Note that both are seasonal and run roughly from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

3. Silver Falls State Park

If you’re looking to get outdoors, then head an hour north to Silver Falls State Park. Silver Falls has just a touch of magic to it.

The park’s Trail of Ten Falls twists through the forest, past moss-covered stone, to passages that lead you to the space behind waterfalls. It certainly sounds like the makings of a fairy tale, doesn’t it?

Trail of Ten Falls is a 7.2 mile loop of moderate difficulty. It takes about 3.5 hours on average to hike the loop. There are multiple different trail options at Silver Falls though, both longer and shorter. Dogs are allowed on all trails except the Canyon Trail, for safety reasons.

You can access the trail system from the two day use areas here—South Falls and North Canyon. Both day use areas offer picnic tables and restrooms. Note that there is a $5 day use fee.

It’s also important to know that there may be little to no cell service here. So it may be helpful to download a Silver Falls trail map before you go.

Once you’ve got the trail map downloaded, just grab a friend, your hiking shoes, a water bottle, and sack lunch. This is sure to be one of the most beautifully breathtaking hikes you’ll experience.

4. Salem

Another fun and perhaps underrated day trip from Corvallis is to visit Oregon’s state capitol, Salem. The state capitol offers a variety of attractions, from outdoor beauty to shopping, and culture to family fun.

The State Capitol State Park is a green, grassy area lined on either side with cherry blossom trees, right in front of the capitol building. It’s particularly beautiful to visit in early spring when the cherry trees are in bloom. In fact, Trips to Discover named Salem one of the best locations in the world to see cherry blossoms!

But there are plenty of fun things to do in Salem all year round, too. Salem offers several great shopping options. There are two malls here—the Salem Center in downtown or the Willamette Town Center on Lancaster.

Or if you prefer a little culture in your visit, just east of Salem is the Gordon House. This is the only home in Oregon designed by the renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Guided tours are offered Wednesday through Sunday, starting between the hours of noon and 2 pm.

And for those looking to entertain little ones, there’s the Gilbert House Children’s Museum, the Salem Riverfront Carousel, and Enchanted Forest. Enchanted Forest is a fun fairy-tale theme park, just south of Salem.

Of special note, Newsweek recently named Enchanted Forest the top family-owned theme park in the country! It’s typically open late March through the end of September. Note that hours vary through out the season though, so it’s best to check in advance.

5. Eugene

Eugene is another larger city with a lot to offer. The city is a blend of the arts, culture, and sports. You’ll find several great shopping options here. Plus, there’s also a regional airport in Eugene. And the best part is that it’s all just a 45 minute drive south of Corvallis.

This is home of the University of Oregon Ducks, longtime rivals of Corvallis’ Oregon State University Beavers. And seeing these two teams pit against each other in The Civil War at Autzen Stadium is an event you won’t want to miss.

While in town, go on a self guided tour of street art. One particularly fun mural you can see is the official Simpson’s mural in neighboring Springfield.

Shop local businesses and enjoy lunch at the 5th Street Public Market. The market borders Eugene’s art’s district and is less than a 10 minute walk from the Hult Center, where you can catch a concert or a ballet.

Or indulge your inner science geek and answer some of the greatest questions of the universe at the Eugene Science Center. This hands-on museum features exhibits that explore anything from fossils and minerals to technology and mechanics. There’s even a planetarium!

And if you prefer to get outdoors, the city is also close to several hot springs and various waterfalls, such as Terwilliger Hot Springs or Proxy Falls. With such a wide variety of fun things to do, it’s easy to see why Eugene is one of the best day trips from Corvallis.

Day trips from Corvallis

6. Bend

Bend is about two and a half hours east of Corvallis, but it might as well be a whole world away. As you pass over the Cascades and leave the Willamette Valley behind, you cross into the high desert.

This Central Oregon city is surrounded by natural beauty. And with the Deschutes National Forest right at its door step and the Cascade Mountains only a stone’s throw away, it’s the perfect playground for outdoor activities.

The city attracts mountain bikers and hikers alike. There’s also great opportunities nearby for kayaking on alpine lakes, white water rafting on the Deschutes River, and rock climbing at Smith Rock State Park.

But there’s a lot of fun things to do within the city of Bend as well. For example, Bend is well known for its craft beers and is home to over 20 microbreweries. Two popular ones to check out are Deschutes Brewery or 10 Barrel Brewing.

Bend is also home to the world’s last Blockbuster. So if you’re feeling nostalgic or want to see what life was like in the 90s, add this stop to your itinerary!

Day trips from Corvallis

7. Sisters

Another fun day trip from Corvallis is the charming Old-West town of Sisters. It’s located in Central Oregon, a little over two hours east of Corvallis.

Sisters is Bend’s neighbor, and offers access to many of the same great outdoor experiences. In addition to mountain biking, kayaking and white water rafting, there are also some interesting lava flow sites and stunning water fall hikes in the area.

There are two fascinating lava flow sites nearby, both within a 40 minute drive of Sisters. The Dee Wright Observatory is up in the Cascades, just off the McKenzie Highway.

However, it’s only accessible from July through October, as the highway closes each winter with snow. Whereas the Newberry Volcanic National Monument is accessible year round, and is just south of Bend.

If you prefer chasing waterfalls though, there are plenty in Sisters Country to choose from! Koosah and Sahalie Falls, Tumalo Falls, and Proxy Falls are a few stunning examples.

Day trips from Corvallis

8. Newport

Newport is one of the top coastal getaways for many Corvallis locals. Only an hour drive away, it’s the closest city on the coast to Corvallis. Plus, there’s no shortage of fun things to do here.

One of the top things to do in Newport is to visit the Oregon Coast Aquarium. Once home to Keiko the Killer Whale (from the movie Free Willy), this is considered one of the top ten aquariums in North America.

Visit the shops and buy some salt water taffy on Newport’s historic Bayfront. Or explore the restaurants of the Nye Beach neighborhood. Here, you’ll find one of the best bowls of clam chowder on the Oregon Coast at The Chowder Bowl.

There are also two lighthouses in Newport—Yaquina Head and Yaquina Bay. (I know, not confusing at all!) The Yaquina Bay Lighthouse sits close to the Bayfront and the Yaquina Bay Bridge. It’s unique in that this lighthouse is attached to its living quarters.

Whereas the Yaquina Head Lighthouse is a few minutes north of Newport. This lighthouse is the tallest in Oregon and sits dramatically on a bluff overlooking the ocean. There are tide pools nearby, as well as a great spot to sit and watch the sea lions.

9. Florence

One of my personal favorite day trips from Corvallis is Florence. It’s another coastal town about 1.5 hours south on Highway 101. This is a perfect day trip for adventure seekers and ocean lovers alike.

Adventure seekers and adrenaline junkies will love Florence for its access to the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. This 40 mile expanse is the largest stretch of coastal sand dunes in North America. It makes for an epic playground for dune buggies, ATVs, and dirt bikes.

However, if you prefer something a little more low key, Florence is great for that too. The Heceta Head Lighthouse is just north of town, and rivals Newport’s Yaquina Head Lighthouse for a dramatic landscape. You’ll have to decide for yourself which is more stunning!

The lighthouse is open daily for tours. And the beach below is quiet and private, a serene spot to watch the ocean waves roll on to the sand.

Another cool spot to check out near Florence is the Sea Lion Caves, just north of town. These caves are the largest in the U.S., as long as a football field and as tall as a 12 story building! It’s a great place for watching the local coastal wildlife.

10. Lincoln City

Lincoln City is another favorite coastal destination for many Corvallis locals. It’s about a 1.5 hour drive from Corvallis, just north of Newport.

This beautiful coastal town boasts 7 miles of public beaches. And one of the most fun things to do along this stretch of shoreline is to search for the Finders Keepers Glass Floats.

These stunning glass floats are colorful, hand-blown orbs, hidden on the beach. And as the name implies, if you find one, you get to keep it! You can check their calendar for drop dates to improve your chances of finding a float.

Another fun thing to do just outside of Lincoln City is to hike Drift Creek Falls. This 3.2 mile, moderately difficult hike features the longest suspension footbridge in Oregon and ends with a breathtaking view of a 66 foot tall waterfall.

Lincoln City is also excellent for shopping. The outlet mall includes several favorite PNW brands, such as Columbia, Nike, and Pendleton. Plus, there are several great antique stores in Lincoln City.

And one particularly unique and notable shop in town is Prehistoric Rocks Fossils Minerals. This shop is chock full of authentic fossils and beautiful crystals. You can even break a geode here!

Final thoughts on day trips from Corvallis

Corvallis really does have such an ideal and central location. It’s easy to find new and fresh experiences to fill your weekends with.

From the high desert adventures of Bend and Sisters, to the ocean vistas of Newport, Florence, and Lincoln City. From the opportunities and city pace of Portland, Eugene and Salem, to the peaceful outdoors at Silver Falls and Multnomah Falls. These are the best day trips from Corvallis.

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