Oregon — Attractions
Oregon is an absolute dream travel destination in every way. Its urban scene is as cool and progressive as anything on the planet, taking city cohabitation to new heights in Portland, Eugene, Bend, and Ashland. Complementing these amenities is an endless parade of outdoor recreation, natural beauty, and adventure. From the sublime wild Oregon coast to the volcanic majesty of the Cascade Mountains, you can easily traverse between sea, mountain, and city with ease. Be careful if you visit Oregon. You may not want to leave.
‘Keep Portland Weird’ is the unofficial slogan of this overtly progressive, eco-conscious, and very enchanting city. Few other cities in the US are as green and quirky as Portland, Oregon’s biggest city. From its hip neighborhoods overflowing with a superb culinary and artistic scene to the abundance of nature right on the doorstep, visitors often find they don’t need to leave the city limits. Try the craft beers of the Pearl District, walk miles of trails in Forest Park, and explore the funky boutiques in Hawthorne. Few visitors are disappointed with Portlandia.
Address: Northwest Oregon
Holding down the eastern slopes of the Cascades, where conditions are high and dry, is the cool outdoorsy town of Bend. It doesn’t rain much here, making conditions ideal for biking, hiking, kayaking, and most other outdoor activities. The fairly large town itself is very accessible and laid-back, with winter skiing next door on Mount Bachelor and summer festivals every weekend. The rock climbing nearby at Smith Rock is one of America’s premier destinations. Bend is also a major hub for craft breweries, so prepare to be impressed by the ales.
Address: Central Oregon
It’s ruggedly beautiful, refreshingly under populated, and easily one of America’s most stunning natural attractions. The Oregon Coast isn’t the place you go for sunbathing and swimming in the sea (it’s too cold). It’s a place to become inspired, awed, and love-struck. Haystack rocks, dramatic headlands, pretty coves, and loads of marine wildlife create a truly adventurous environment. There are giant sand dunes to play on and charming little towns strung along the coast like Bandon, Newport, and Florence providing lodging, food, and urban fun.
Address: Eastern Oregon
Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area
One of North America’s mightiest rivers is the Columbia. It forms the border between Oregon and Washington, dropping up to 1,200 feet thanks to millions of years of glacial run-off. The highway that runs from Portland to Idaho parallels the river, featuring huge waterfalls every few miles and plenty of spots to hop out for a hike up the slopes for panoramic views down the Gorge. There are also some fantastic little towns along the Columbia River such as Hood River and The Dalles.
Address: Northern Oregon
This amazing valley runs for 150 miles between the coastal mountain range and the towering Cascades. It enjoys a rare temperate microclimate buffered from weather extremes, making the entire valley ideal for growing things. The rich soil encouraged early settlers to farm, and today the Willamette Valley is legendary for both its fresh produce and its wine. There are dozens of excellent wineries to tour, most of the state’s larger cities like Corvallis and Eugene, and a wonderful grassroots atmosphere that encourages small farms, dairies, cheese makers, and craft brewers to thrive.
Address: Western Oregon
The Cascades is the long mountain range that divides Oregon into two very distinct zones. Postcard-worthy volcanic peaks sprout from the dense evergreen forests every few miles, creating one of America’s most unique mountain environments. With few towns actually in the Cascades, the main attraction here is the outdoor recreation. In winter, the skiing and snowmobiling is unbeatable. Summer opens up the alpine valleys to hiking, camping, and mountain biking, while the crystal-clear rivers create some of the country’s finest whitewater kayaking and rafting. The volcanic evidence is everywhere, from Crater Lake (North America’s deepest) to the lava fields of Newberry and McKenzie Pass.
Address: Western Oregon
Anchoring the southern end of Oregon is the sophisticated and beautiful city of Ashland. It’s one of the coolest small arts towns in the country, hosting an annual Shakespeare Festival that is a world-class event. Its downtown is littered with art galleries, neat cafés, and fun bars all centered around the lovely Lithia Park. Within minutes you can drive out of town and into the uncrowded Siskiyou Mountains with their hiking, biking, and boating adventures.
Address: Southwestern Oregon