Perhaps the most well-known tourist destination in Oregon, Portland is a bustling city that offers visitors a winning combination of eclectic, funky downtown vibes with vibrant art, culture, and restaurant scenes; and a scenic historical haven filled with natural beauty.

However, Portland isn’t the only Oregon city worth visiting—just a short 30 miles away lies the lovely hamlet of St. Helens. Situated perfectly at the junction of four(!) rivers, St. Helens is known for its stunning waterfront views; relaxing vibes; and charming riverfront shops, restaurants, and attractions overlooking the Columbia River. Whether it’s a day trip from Portland or a weekend escape filled with history, scenery, and fun outdoor (and indoor) activities, St. Helens encompasses the best the Beaver State has to offer—a perfect representation of its charm, ambiance, welcoming vibes, and plenty of fun things to see and do.


RELATED: This Portland Garden Is One Of The Most Authentic Japanese Gardens Outside of Japan

History, Culture, And More To Explore

There are many ways to experience the dynamic history of St. Helens—whether it’s by strolling along the waterfront; following in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark; or visiting its historic museums and popular local attractions.

  • Located in the historic (still functional) train station, The St. Helens Visitor’s Center is a great place to learn all about the area’s history and attractions. It’s also home to the South Columbia County Chamber of Commerce where visitors can grab some helpful maps and brochures of local hotspots
  • Olde Towne is a Nationally Registered Historic District located on the riverfront that is filled with history and small-town charm. Stroll this lovely area and catch some historic buildings like the Columbia County Courthouse and St. Helens City Hall
  • Take a tour through history with the St. Helens Historic District Walking Tour and learn all about the area’s historic buildings and events, notable people, and more
  • Follow in the footsteps of famed explorers Lewis and Clark along the historic Hood River. Learn more about the Oregon stretch of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail here.
  • Check out the historic Warrior Rock Lighthouse located on Sauvie Island. Here, visitors can take a tour, or explore the area’s many hiking trails. The perfect spot for those who want a bit of nature and history

Grab A Bite And Visit The Shops

St. Helens’ riverfront district is not only known for its history—but it’s also known as the heart of this charming town. Filled with fun places to dine and shop, visitors will love this vibrant, scenic area along the beautiful Columbia River.

  • Though only (currently) open for take-out, Dockside Steak & Pasta is right on the river and has some spectacular views—they also offer a delish menu featuring pasta, steaks, burgers, and more
  • Love vintage and antique one-of-a-kind finds? Then stop in at the 2CS Vendor Mall located in the historic Pythian Building
  • See what’s happening at Columbia View Park, a lovely waterfront area known for its fun community events. The park also has a play area, splash pads, and picnic tables; so it’s a great family-friendly spot to spend the afternoon—especially with ice cream or a hot dog from nearby Dari-Delish
  • Grab a shuttle and head to Sand Island, just off the shore of St. Helens. Stroll along the sandy beach and enjoy stunning views of Mt. St. Helens. There’s also nature trails, picnic sites, and camping for those that want to spend the night
  • Great views and fab sandwiches can be found at Roof—one of the best spots for panoramic views in the area. Afterward, stroll over to St. Helens Bookshop

RELATED: These Are Some Of The Hidden Hot Springs To Visit In Eastern Oregon

The Spirit Of Halloweentown

Every year, the city of St. Helens transforms into Halloweentown for an over month-long celebration of everything spooky—including the city’s own haunted history as one of the locations for the movie Halloweentown and the blockbuster Twilight.

NOTE: General Admission tickets for Halloweentown are $35/person and include a variety of events. Tickets for individual attractions can also be purchased. Check out the website to see what’s included with the GA ticket.

  • Check out the Haunted Hotel Haunted House and prepare to get spooked! Tickets start at $15/person, tickets are available online
  • Head over to Sand Island for “Walk With Pumpkins” a collection of curated, carved pumpkins from artist Wade Lapp. Tickets $10/person, $3 for Spirit of Halloweentown Passport Card Holders
  • Take a self-guided walking tour that highlights the filming locations of Twilight and Halloweentown
  • Hop on board the Halloween Shuttle and participate in Whispers in the Woods, a scavenger hunt adventure to find the tree whisperers
  • Check out a variety of live performances and exciting shows on the Wauna Credit Union Stage

Oregon's St. Helens is a fun place to visit—whether it’s for a weekend escape or a day trip just 45 minutes from Portland. During Halloween, the town transforms into a wonderland full of spooky surprises—but St. Helens is a great spot to visit all year long, too. With its historic riverfront chock full of local attractions, shopping, and restaurants, there’s something for everyone in this charming little town on the Columbia River.

NEXT: Without Even Leaving The U.S., Here's What To Expect On Oregon's Wildlife Safari