Enchanted Forest. Kathleen Marie

“Look! I don’t have time for your crap, OKAY? I’m a busy, important person, and I need to relax—but it’s gotta be close, fun, and it better be FAST. What d’ya got?!?”

Jeez, you do need to relax! Lucky for you there are plenty of great day-long getaways that are very close to (or in) Portland and surprisingly refreshing. FOR EXAMPLE:

Elk Rock Island

For those who want just a little bit of nature and exercise, Elk Rock Island is a quick 15-minute drive from downtown, in neighboring cute-as-hell Milwaukie. Park in the neighborhood, enter at the playground, and walk through the woods to the river, where you’ll clamber across some rocks (if they’re not underwater, which they usually aren’t in the summer) to get to this tall, gorgeous island that was formed by a volcano. The loop around the island is about a mile, and it’s fun to chill out on the beach, go for a swim, and yell mean things at jet-skiers. And it’ll feel like you’re 100 miles away from Portland. SE Sparrow & 19th, Milwaukie, OR

Enchanted Forest

Forty-five minutes. That’s how long it takes to Oregon’s BEST, most charming, and only slightly creepy amusement park. Hand-built by the Tofte family beginning in 1971, this fairy-tale themed park has ah-may-zing animatronics, a legit spooky haunted house, birthday cake ice cream, a top-quality log flume ride, mazes, hilarious theatrical productions, and the greatest shooting ride/game ever produced by humankind, the Challenge of Mondor. Kids have done NOTHING to deserve the wonderment of this place—but you have. Go. I-5 South to Exit 248; 8462 Enchanted Way SE, Turner, OR


Enchanted Forest again. Kathleen Marie

Oregon City

Take a day and check this place out: The original capital of the Oregon Territory, the OC has experienced a growth spurt in the last few years, and now boasts a bustling downtown with lots of bars, restaurants, and vintage stores featuring clothes, vinyl, toys, and more. And yet its history—and architecture—remain intact. Ride the municipal elevator to the top of the bluff, tour a historic home, stroll down the promenade overlooking the river, check out the falls next to the old paper mill, drink beer from any of the excellent craft breweries, eat a great taco, and wonder lustfully how much it would cost to buy a home here. Hwy 99, 13 miles south from downtown Portland

Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden

This place is as calm as fuck. Located smack between Reed College and the Eastmoreland Golf Course, this park is nine acres of botanical garden gorgeosity—which is indeed a word—and is packed to the brim with rhododendrons, azaleas, winding paths and benches, and close to 100 different kinds of birds and other wildlife, including ducks and the occasionally grumpy goose (the only un-calm-as-fuck thing in this place). If you’re pissed at the world, this is the place to go to get your head right. 5801 SE 28th

Oxbow Park

Here’s the thing about camping: You don’t have to drag your ass and all that equipment to the top of Mt. Hood to feel like you’re getting away from it all. Oxbow Park is just 10 miles southeast of Troutdale and lies alongside the Sandy River, where you can camp, swim, raft, fish, animal-watch, or simply CHILL THE EFF OUT. And if you’re the outdoor panicky type (or forgot something vital like weed), you can be back in Portland in 30 minutes. Camping simply does not get easier. 3010 SE Oxbow Parkway, Gresham, OR

The Witch’s Castle

Full disclosure—this isn’t a castle, and there are no witches. But wait, wait, WAIT! It does have a somewhat interesting history of murder (look it up yourself, I can’t be expected to do everything for you), and is not only cool and creepy to look at, but is also a quick and easy half-mile hike into Forest Park, where you should be spending more time anyway. The dilapidated, moss-covered stone cabin is a nice place to chill, or get seriously creeped out while exploring a dark, graffiti-filled room. (Author’s Note: Witches are cool, by the way. And they don’t live in gross woodsy ruins—they live in Southeast Portland in the Clinton neighborhood within walking distance to the co-op.) Start at Upper Macleay parking lot near Audubon Society (5151 NW Cornell), end boiled alive in a witch’s cauldron

Great Wolf Lodge

Remember that old adage, “Water slides are wasted on the young?” This is not the case at Great Wolf Lodge, which is a quick, hour-and-a-half trek up I-5. True, GWL is primarily a Las Vegas for kids, with an impressive wave pool, buffet, a magic wand treasure hunt that’s too complicated to explain here, and a humongous video game facility. But those water slides? THEY ARE NO FREAKING JOKE. These monstrosities drop you from four stories high in a raft, around twisty-turny curves, into a splash-down pool below, and one of them—aptly named the “Howlin’ Tornado”—catapults you into a gigantic funnel outside the building that is the closest you’ll ever feel to being sucked down into the bowels of hell. (That is, of course, until you actually are.) 20500 Old Hwy 99 SW, Centralia, WA