Since 1959, St. Helens Golf Course, just a short 30-minute drive from Portland, has enveloped golfers in a quiet serenity as they propel their golf balls along its nine holes. Before tackling the course, players shake the rust off their short games on the putting and chipping green and perfect their wind-ups inside the hitting cage. The course’s relatively short layout and lack of crowds enables players to finish a round quickly and leave the rest of the day for daydreaming about perfect putts and whittling tees into figurines of favorite golfers.
Course at a Glance:
A family of ducks swims along Devils Lake, river otters play across Lake Merwin, and a kayak tour floats along the water. When Tracie Driver started NorthWest EcoExcursions, she envisioned a recreation company that would combine outdoor thrills with respect for the environment. To this end, NorthWest's guides, who each boast either a postgraduate education or more than 10 years in park-ranger experience, educate their customers on local wildlife and geology during trips that run the gamut from hiking to whale watching to goat-packing tours. The staff also maintains eco-friendly practices, serving strictly organic foods on camping trips and ensuring all of their office's plants are 100% solar powered.
As they enter the training circle at Curves, female guests come face-to-face with the smiles of other women. And just as points on a circle share a common distance from the circle's center, workout participants share the experiences of those nearby by trading stations throughout the 30-minute training session. One minute is spent on a piece of strength-training equipment built for feminine frames and designed to work two opposing muscle groups with a single movement. Exercisers then move on to a recovery station, where they run, jog, or dance to maintain heart rates and keep platforms in place during momentary losses of gravity.
Across the yard at Thunder Ridge Mercenary Camp, a cannon spews flames at invaders. Nearby, in the recreated island settlement, blacksmiths hammer out weapons and craftsmen manufacture implements for visitors and pirates alike. In the water, bobbing gently with sails relaxed, the tall ship Royaliste waits for a high-seas chase. This living-history tableau is a scene among many at the Portland Pirate Festival, which brings together historical-reenactment actors, convivial taverns, and eclectic live music from regional and international bands for a two-day fest celebrating ancient pirate culture and buccaneering. Between sword-fighting demonstrations or a stint on an inflatable ride, visitors can feast on hearty grub from vendors such as Sanjai’s Teriyaki, Dave’s Pronto Pups, and Paradise Shaved Ice, and the of-age can gulp a pint of ale from Oberon’s Three-Penny Tavern or Ninkasi Brewing Company in Galley Alley. The craftspeople mingle in Tortuga Market, where they vend their traditional handmade pirate wares such as trinkets, toys, or peg legs, which are great for completing a costume or helping a pet shark take to land.
The majestic beauty of Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams, and Mt. Hood surrounds Tri Mountain Golf Course, which garnered a four-star editor's rating from Golf Digest. Award-winning greens cushion patrons' cleats, and golf carts cruise from tee to tee while skirting around the fairways' 11 water hazards and 64 sunbather-filled bunkers. Tri Mountain Golf Course's championship-worthy site has hosted such notable competitions as the ESPN National Golf Challenge , and it unveils its manicured turf for guests looking to practice, play, or find a bloodless alternative to a duel. Although not included in the Groupon, hungry hackers taking a breather from swinging, slicing, and making sand angels in the bunkers may stop at the clubhouse and order from the Tri-Mountain Grille, which overlooks the 18th hole.