Here’s who you are: You’re a person who doesn’t have a lot of money and doesn’t like to travel very far, and still demands more out of life than the usual boring, bullshit tourist activities. Well, have we got some blurbs for you! Check out the following list of oddball tourist attractions, all within easy driving distance of the Portland metro area. You’re welcome, oddball!


Desperate for that “haunted cathedral” experience, but you’re a church-allergic heathen? Get thee immediately to the abandoned mill at Vernonia Lake, a hidden oasis for feral pagans like yourself. Formerly used as the fuel bunker for the Oregon-American Lumber Co. (est. 1924), this four-story concrete structure is a showcase for some righteous graffiti artists; every reachable surface is layered with an always-evolving collection of tags and murals. Mature aspens and sword ferns grow within the walls toward the open roof, giving the place a strangely reverent vibe (in that post-apocalyptic, Planet of the Apes kind of way). The old fuel bunker is the last vestige of the lumber mill and its huge operation... and yes, it’s definitely FULL of ghosts. TREE GHOSTS. (Vernonia Lake Trailhead, Vernonia, open 7 am-10 pm,, FREE) MEL HEYWOOD


If you’re anything like me, when summer rolls around you’re constantly bemoaning the sorry lack of WARM Oregon swimming holes. Well, the answer to our prayers may lie in a quick drive just north of Vancouver, Washington to Alderbrook Park: a 64-acre fun zone that provides heated outdoor swimming pools, a big lake, nature trails, and one especially intriguing surprise which I’ll save until the end. You can swim, paddle around on bucolic Mirror Lake, watch an outdoor concert, play mini golf or giant Jenga, pet things at the petting zoo, take a walk through the woods, eat burgers, brats, or cotton candy, and... here it comes... drink out of their PINK LEMONADE FOUNTAIN. Yes, a water fountain that only dispenses PINK LEMONADE. (That sound you hear is my tires burning rubber toward Vancouver.) (24414 NE Westerholm, Brush Prairie, WA, Wed-Sun 11 am-7 pm, check for occasional park closures, $3-10, FREE for kids under three) WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY


Mountains! Apparently they are “useful” for “many things,” but mostly they are good for ALPINE SLIDES, which send you rocketing down a narrow, downhill track as you cling desperately to a dinky little wheeled cart and pray that you don’t die! (Think bobsledding, except smaller, and also you can do it in the summer, and also you don’t have to waste your entire life training for it.) Thanks to the fact you’re so close to the ground, shooting down the slide—banking off curves, speeding down straightaways—feels a lot faster than it is, making it a fun, exciting way to experience the great outdoors while barely having to move at all. (Mt. Hood Adventure Park at Skibowl, 87000 E Highway 26 near Government Camp, $45-79 for passes to the park, see for season schedule) ERIK HENRIKSEN


The Columbia River Gorge is full of amazing hikes—even after 2018, when a dumbass teenager with fireworks started the devastating Eagle Creek Fire, which burned an astonishing 50,000 acres. That blaze annihilated many of the trails on the Oregon side of the Gorge, but a popular one that’s reopened is something to see—once shady and lush, the newly exposed, newly windy trail to the Angel’s Rest viewpoint is now marked by twisted, burned-black trunks and rocky vistas that show off both the Gorge and a fraction of the fire’s damage. On a cold winter day, this hike is pretty much like stumbling through Mordor, but in the spring and summer, one can catch sight of lively newborn plants and countless bright wildflowers—parts of an ecosystem that’s already healing. (Angel’s Rest Trailhead off of I-84, Exit 28, see for details and warnings) ERIK HENRIKSEN


For fans of small museums, vintage fashion, and houses that remind us of ’80s sitcom Designing Women, Portland has a new, niche museum in the Nob Hill District. The Bliss House offers tours of fashion collector Betsy Warren’s private assemblage of more than 2,000 frocks and accessories. There are some fucking amazing hats, gowns, and other hyper-detailed pieces on display. Pretty much everything that has anything to do with feathers in this place rules. And it’s all located inside the Ayer-Shea residence, a century-old house that has its own history and jaw-dropping style. (1809 NW Johnson, Tues-Fri tours scheduled at 11 am & 2 pm, Sat & Sun by appointment,, 90-minute tour for $15) SUZETTE SMITH


There are so many museums out there catering to the Christian worldview, but where are Satanists supposed to go? To an old-church-turned-devil-themed-museum in Vancouver, Washington, that’s where! DEVIL-ish Little Things features a private collection of trinkets, statuettes, and other novelties all centered around Satan, plus demonic pals like Krampus and satyrs. (3409 L St, Vancouver, WA, open by appointment only, book appointment at, $8) BLAIR STENVICK


It’s a proven fact that beer tastes better and music sounds catchier while on a boat, but such a privilege is usually reserved for those people with boating licenses or well-off buddies. Fortunately, you don’t need a boating license or fancy friends to rent and operate an electric boat from the Portland Electric Boat Company. Each vessel seats up to 10 people, and they’ll hook you up with maps so you can conduct your own tour of the city via the Willamette River. (0315 SW Montgomery, 10 am-8:30 pm,, $125 an hour with two-hour minimum) BLAIR STENVICK


Once commonly found at arcades and amusement parks across the country, Fascination is a unique game that has almost completely disappeared—but the Funland Arcade in Seaside is one of the last places in the world where you can play it. It’s kind of a cross between Skee-Ball and bingo: roll a ball into a five-by-five grid of holes and try your best to fill an entire row or column (a backboard lights up showing your progress), or, during special “blackout” play, fill up the entire grid. It’s easy, fun, crazily addictive, and there are prizes! (Strategy tip: As with bingo, you’re playing against the entire room, so go during off-hours when the crowd is smaller.) (Funland Arcade, 201 Broadway, Seaside, Sun-Thurs 9 am-10 pm, Fri & Sat 9 am-11 pm, $.25/game, $.75/“blackout” game) NED LANNAMANN


Here’s one of those truly Portland-style places that never gets enough appreciation. The Peculiarium is unlike any museum you’ve ever seen, specializing in sci-fi stuff, oddball art pieces, horror ephemera, historical artifacts, gag gifts, and just plain weird shit. Should you bring the kids? NO. Unless it’s a super cool kid who’s seen it all. You can buy art, awesome T-shirts, candy, books, and even tiny Donald Trump handcuffs (actual size). This place is a certified blast, and there’s nothing else like in Portland. (Or maybe anywhere?) (2234 NW Thurman, Thurs-Mon 11 am-6 pm,, $5) WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY


Do you love glass balls? That was a rhetorical question—of course you do! Great news for my fellow glass-ball lovers: A Lincoln City program called Finders Keepers is celebrating its 20th anniversary by hiding 20 colorful glass balls made by local artists along a seven-mile stretch of the Oregon Coast on the 20th of every month, now through October 2019. As any glass ball-lover worth their sand knows—glass is made of sand,  get it?—summer is the best time to scour the beach for these treasures, mainly because standing near the ocean won’t feel like torture. As with most sports, there are rules to glass-ball hunting, which you can consult online. (Lincoln City coastline, from Roads End on the north to Siletz Bay on the south, the 20th of every month through September,, FREE) CIARA DOLAN


At the outskirts of Olympia you can observe a crazy natural phenomenon that has never been fully explained. The Mima Mounds are a series of large mounds—or, if you will, small hills—that bulge up from the ground, creating a series of five-foot-tall bumps that extend for thousands of yards in every direction. Theories abound as to how they were created, from pocket gophers to ancient burial grounds to odd patterns of erosion, but whatever the case may be, it’s an eerily beautiful place to wander. It’s not a peaceful one, though: A shooting range abuts the preserve, so you’re likely to be subject to the annoying sound of losers firing off their guns, advertising their tiny-dicked insecurities for all to hear. (12315 Waddell Creek SW, Olympia, WA, 8:30 am-8:30 pm,, Discover Pass required for parking [$10/day, $35/annual]) NED LANNAMANN


Swimming spots in the Pacific Northwest don’t get much better than the Washougal River. So when Naked Falls was closed to the public in 2016, Portland area swimmers were devastated to lose access to one of the most beloved stretches of river in the region. As luck would have it, the land was snatched up by Vancouver resident Steven Epling in the summer of 2017, and since then he’s been maintaining the property by selling day and seasonal passes to anyone looking to escape the city for cliff jumping and sunbathing. Capped daily use means that even on the hottest summer days, you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding a spot to lay out or picnic, as long as you purchase a parking pass in advance. (W 2000 Rd, Washougal, WA, open daylight hours, visit or Washougal River Mercantile [4232 Canyon Creek] for parking passes, $10-12) CHIPP TERWILLIGER


Everyone loves a classic neon sign, and while we’re lucky enough to be surrounded by a few gems here in Portland, high maintenance costs have made it difficult to find these glorious works of art in the wild. Fortunately in 2015, the city of the Dalles gifted the historic Elks Building to the National Neon Sign Museum, which means you’re just a day trip from one of the most impressive collections of neon advertising, signage, and memorabilia in the country. Highlights include an animated “Dog n Suds” sign recovered from the Midwestern hot dog and root beer drive-in chain and a “Simple Simon and the Pieman” sign that lit up Howard Johnson’s restaurants in the 1930s. (200 E 3rd, the Dalles, Thurs-Sat 10 am-5 pm,, $5-10) CHIPP TERWILLIGER


This one requires a drive, but if you’re planning on crossing the border into California anyway, the Oregon Caves is well worth the detour. Less famous than Ape Cave, the Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve (run by the National Park System) is extremely impressive: a true, marble-filled wonder consisting of a 90-minute tour that goes deep, deep underground and is led by an usually adorable park ranger. You can take private, more physically challenging tours as well—but don’t miss the next-door Oregon Caves Chateau (built in 1934) and stay overnight if you can. Though it’s received necessary updates, the rustic hotel has retained many of its original fittings, pipes, and old-timey charm. It’s comfortable, super interesting, and will add even more fun to your adventure. [UPDATE: The Chateau is currently closed for renovations. Check their website below before making the trip.] (19000 Caves Hwy, Cave Junction, summer hours 8:30 am-6 pm,, $7-45) WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY


There are two correct responses to a room full of puppets: DELIGHT and TERROR. Experience both at this small street-front museum, which is attached to a residence and also serves as a workshop for the Olde World Puppet Theatre. There are rotating exhibits of various puppets from the owners’ vast collection, and they sometimes put on puppet shows in the backyard. Children and puppetry enthusiasts will be DELIGHTED by the craftsmanship and imagination on display. The rest of us will be TERRIFIED by the possibility of these inanimate things coming to life while our backs our turned! Fun for all! (906 SE Umatilla, Thurs-Sun 2-8 pm,, FREE) NED LANNAMANN


Look, there are times when scientific accuracy is super important, and there are times when it gets in the way of hilarity. Visiting the Prehistoric Gardens on Highway 101 is one of those times. Established in 1955 (when dinosaur science was a little less exact), the Prehistoric Gardens takes you on a leisurely 20-minute winding hike through a gorgeous Oregon rainforest to view 23 life-size statues of dinos and their kin. (If you’ve visited the similarly awesome Enchanted Forest, you already understand the vibe.) So put the logic center of your brain temporarily on hold, because... DINOSAUR STATUES! RRRAWRRR!(36848 Hwy 101, Port Orford, summer hours 9 am-6 pm,, $8-12, 2 & under FREE) WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY


A perfect detour on the way back from the coast—but you can bike pretty easily from the MAX, too—the Rice Museum showcases the largest collection of gems, minerals, fossils, and other geological wonders in the Pacific Northwest. Viewing the exhibits can feel a little like poking around someone’s house because the various displays (some educational, others dazzling) are organized throughout the former home of the original collectors Richard and Helen Rice. Starting in June, the Rice Museum will extend their hours to 7 pm on certain days, so check their website for more info. (26385 NW Groveland, Hillsboro, Wed-Fri 1 pm-5 pm, Sat & Sun 10 am-5 pm,, admission $8-12, ages 4 & under FREE) SUZETTE SMITH


’90s freaks, Norse mythologists, and Twitter bullies rejoice! Portland has its very own troll bridge kept by a colony of elfish dolls and paintings in all shapes, sizes, hair colors, and gem tummy variations. A quick jaunt up into the Northwest hills on St Helens Road, and past the exit for Sauvie Island is where you can find this troll bridge. Be sure to bring your own troll to add to the collection, and a nail or some glue to attach your little buddy to the wall. (16448 NW McNamee. Note: this address will send you past the railroad trestle where the trolls live. The Troll Bridge is directly on the road just after you take a left onto McNamee from NW St Helens.) BRI BREY


In service to the United States Navy from 1960 to 1990, the 200-foot Barbel-class submarine the USS Blueback is now moored in the Willamette—part of OMSI, open to the public, and awesome. OMSI’s sailor-led tours lead you through the twisty, cramped, utilitarian guts of the sub, letting you squeeze through bulkhead doors and check out everything from the torpedo bay to the engine room. (You DO get to look through the periscopes. You DO NOT get to launch a torpedo.) There are 80 billion switches and buttons, every square inch is crammed with formerly state-of-the-art tech, and you and your dumb buddies can stay overnight, too, if you really want the whole Hunt for Red October experience. (OMSI, 1945 SE Water, tour dates and times at, $7.50) ERIK HENRIKSEN