by Gabrielle Antonette
If being on vacation isn't enough, take a vacation from vacation. Portland is surrounded by so much beauty. So far, I've only sampled a little. If you have a car, all of this is easy.
Ecola State Park and Cannon Beach are minutes from each other and only two hours from the city. Ecola State Park is right on the coast, but not a beach-y vibe necessarily. It's good for getting a bird's eye view, being alone, wandering, and picnicking. Cannon Beach is where you can get in the sand (although we're not promising sun or warmth). For the ideal diner scene, stop at Elderberry Inn on your way back into Portland and order some marionberry cobbler a la mode. You can only get fresh marionberries in Oregon, so you probably should eat them at every given opportunity.
Multnomah Falls is generally touristy, we inadvertently went when there was lots of snow and sleet happening. Because of the weather, we had the area pretty much to ourselves, and the waterfall looked pretty cool when parts of it were frozen. There's an associated hike that isn't quite possible in these conditions--maybe next time.
Finally, Sauvie Island. If people move to Portland to retire, then I really don't know what they move to a tiny island ten miles outside of Portland for, but it's definitely a special place. The sights are simple yet unique. There's not so much to do, but there are beach areas that are relaxing, endless clouds to watch, and probably some secrets I've yet to discover. People often visit to pick their own fruits, veggies, and herbs at the various farms, kayak, and/or birdwatch.