Oregon is one of just three U.S. states that require their cities to have an urban growth boundary, a perimeter separating the metropolis from the countryside. That means it’s only a short drive from downtown Portland to the middle of nowhere, where the region’s grandeur is at its most magnificent. Acres of wildflowers stretch to the sky, forests provide a canopy of green, and farms etch the land with row after aisle of berries and vegetables.
A great way to take it all in is the Vineyard and Valley Scenic Tour Route. A 50-mile drive through Washington County, this road caroms from historic site to scenic vista, showing off Tualatin Valley’s wineries and farms, amidst staggering views of the Cascade Mountains.
Hillsboro’s Smith Berry Barn is a popular stop along the route, where peckish drivers can pick all sorts of treats, like 20 varieties of berries, straight from the vine. Visitors looking to drink in the region’s natural wonder will love the wines at sustainable Ponzi Vineyards in Sherwood. And summer is blackberry season — shops along the route like Gramma’s Farm Store in Sherwood have the tasty dessert toppings by the pint.
A great time to drive through the valley is during the Oregon Lavender Festival in July, when dozens of fragrant farms invite visitors to sniff, explore and embrace the area’s natural perfume. The scent has made many amorous for Oregon’s outdoors, and the entire route is likely to make you fall in love with the region, too.