America is a vast expanse, with hundreds of motorhome road-trip options – but one region often overlooked is the stunning north-east coast of Portland, Oregon. Not only is the backdrop stunning, but the music and arts scene offer a unique cultural experience. Prepare to be dazzled…
Recognised as one of the most environmentally conscious cities in the world, Portland is a jewel of the Pacific north-west - and just 90 minutes left, on Highway 26, is Cannon Beach. Accompanied by the boundless ocean, it’s regarded as an affluent tourist resort, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune. However, it’s difficult to keep your wallet in your pocket with so many independent book and record stores.
If you can stay focused, then hotpsot Haystack Rock has an elevation of 235ft and is accessible at low tide – you then have the choice of going north or south. The former will offer up Ecola State Park, between Seaside and Cannon Beach. There are nine miles of outstanding coastline for surfing, wildlife observation, hiking – and all for just $5, with a slot for maps next to the payment machine (very practical). Be careful with the winding roads, but what a view from the top. Breathtaking is not an exaggeration.
Continue up Highway 101 to Seaside Beach – another coastal gem. Three miles of powder-soft beach will greet you at this family-friendly resort, with its own aquarium and many shops and eateries. There are numerous accommodation options here, although they can be a little, shall we say, rustic! And while the Seaside RV Resort is a touch pricey, the facilities are good and worth the extra investment.
Now younger readers may not know this movie, but 1985 classic The Goonies has taken on cult status. And the small port town of Astoria has quite a celluloid history, with the pirate adventure filmed there, along with Short Circuit, Free Willy and many others. There’s a small film museum paying tribute to these productions. It’s just another quirky attraction in Astoria, the oldest settlement west of the Rockies. It holds a special place in the history of the USA and is well worth a look.
After a few days of inhaling the purest of sea air, head back into the artistic hub of Portland. Its cultural footprint belies its size and this small-scale metropolis has emerged as the capital of urban cool. Venues such as Valentines, Rontoms and The Secret Society Ballroom entertain with a mix of rock, pop, soul, jazz – artists from the entire musical spectrum – and many of the gigs are free.
Adding a unique flavour to the vibrant nightlife, there are microbreweries aplenty. Some offer tours and tastings, but local pubs such as BridgePort Brew and MacTarnahan’s Tap Room are perfect for some liquid R&R. And when hunger strikes, whether it’s Italian, French, Asian, European, or just your staple American dishes you require, Portland is truly blessed with quality restaurants.
With easy accessibility and a constant ambition to improve its infrastructure, Portland isn’t known as the capital of cool for nothing. Go west… you will not regret it.