Oregon is located on the Pacific Ocean north of California and south of Washington. It is a lush and slightly wild state with many scenic tourist attractions. US 101 runs along the coast, a vacation paradise par excellence with resorts, beaches and parks. At its northernmost point, the coast meets the mouth of the Columbia River, which marks the northern border of the state. This large river runs inland, paralleling a scenic route along the steep falls.
In addition to its natural beauty, Oregon is also known for its urban charms. Portland in particular has an international reputation for an eccentric culture that has adopted and embraced the slogan “Keep Portland Weird”. Portland’s sightseeing gems, the state’s largest city, range from rose gardens to art museums and an immense bookstore. Farther south, Eugene is a thriving college town, Newport is a favorite beach town, and the Capitol is in Salem.
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1 Crater Lake National Park
With a landscape unlike anywhere else, Crater Lake National Park is located in the Cascade Mountains of southwestern Oregon. Intensely blue and unusually deep (1935 feet), the lake is almost exactly circular. It is the water-filled caldera of an extinct volcano, Mount Mazama, and lava cliffs rise to heights of 2,000 meters around the lake. A short distance from the rim of the crater, Rim Drive encircles the lake in a clockwise direction. It starts in Rim Village (for a total length of 33 miles), but the roadway is only accessible in warm months. To explore the lake for yourself, head to Cleetwood Cove where cruises depart for Wizard Island .
Official site: https://www.nps.gov/crla/index.htm
Accommodation: Where to Stay near Crater Lake National Park
2 Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area
The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area follows the course of the Columbia River as it passes through the Cascade Mountains. Shaped by the river, the canyon is known for its spectacular views and numerous waterfalls, including Multnomah Falls – the second highest waterfall in the country. The area offers an array of hiking and biking trails, plus camping facilities. And for the return trip, there are even more attractions to discover on the Washington State side of the canyon.
Accommodation: Where to Stay near Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area
3 Cannon Beach
Cannon Beach is a popular tourist resort located in northwestern Oregon. The beach offers a wide stretch of sand and spectacular views of jagged coastal rocks. The largest of these is known as Hay Stack Rock , believed to be one of the largest monoliths in the world. nearby Coast is another popular seaside resort, close to beaches and surfing spots. Astoria is located 20 miles north of Cannon Beach, at the mouth of the Columbia River. The town is historically significant as the location of Lewis & Clark National Historic Park– a replica of the explorers’ famous Fort Clatsop. A slightly more modern remnant is the Fort Stevens military post, now a state park with a history that spans the Civil War through World War II.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Cannon Beach
4 Bend, Oregon
Bordered by a mix of national forests, ski hills, and dry plains, Bend sits roughly in the center of Oregon. The city’s High Desert Museum has informative displays about the arid regions of the Northwest. Activity-oriented tourist attractions include rafting trips on the Deschutes River, excursions to the volcanic landscapes of Lava Butte and Newberry National Volcanic Monument , and skiing at the large Mount Bachelor Ski Area . Also nearby, Smith Rock is famous with climbers for its many routes and long history as a climbing destination.
For a more relaxed approach, Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway is a route through the Deschutes National Forest. The drive passes lakes, mountains and spectacular scenery with plenty of picnic and camping sites along the way.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Bend
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5 Washington Park, Portland
Portland offers a bevy of beautiful parks and gardens, but none has the density of attractions like Washington Park. On parkland grounds, the famous International Rose Test Garden is located near Portland’s impressive Japanese Garden . Each exhibits exceptional horticultural expertise and are green-thumb favorites. For families, the park lures with fun explorations at the Oregon Zoo as well as the Portland Children’s Museum . With this many things to do, a visit can take up most of a day.
Opening hours: 5:00-20:00
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Portland
6 Mount Hood National Forest
Mount Hood is an unmistakable Oregon landmark, rising at 11,239 feet to make it the tallest mountain in the state. On the slopes, a mix of ski hills, hiking trails, and scenic viewpoints are accessible via Mount Hood Scenic Loop . The national forest vents rise from the top and include waterfalls and hot springs. All in all, the natural area is impressive in its diversity and a top choice for those looking to explore Oregon outdoors.
Adres: 16400 Champion Way, Sandy
Lodging: Where to Stay near Mount Hood National Forest
7 Oregon Caves National Monument
This underground attraction revolves around a marble cave, which is only accessible during guided tours. Stairs and narrow corridors are part of the 90-minute journey underground. Above the water’s surface, the protected area offers hiking trails through old growth coniferous forest. The monument is located at 4,000 feet in the Siskiyou Mountains.
Official site: https://www.nps.gov/orca/index.htm
Accommodation: Where to Stay near Oregon Caves National Monument
8 Oregon Coast Trail
Most visitors flock to the Oregon Coast for its wide ocean views, interesting rock formations, and sandy beaches. The Oregon Coast Trail is a walking route that takes in 382 miles of these scenic attractions, from the mouth of the Columbia River in the north to the California border in the south. Most of the trail runs along the beach, but a portion also runs along roadways, primarily US 101. There are numerous access points that provide easy access to sections of the trail along the coast.
Official Site: https://www.oregon.gov/oprd/parks/Pages/oct_main.aspx
9 Willamette National Forest
The vast Willamette National Forest lies along the western slopes of the Cascade Mountains and covers nearly 1.7 million acres. The forest contains a spectacular landscape with a number of volcanoes, mountains and rivers. Visitors can explore trails or to attractions such as the Dee Wright Observatory (a stone tower atop McKenzie Pass) for views of the area or to Salt Creek Falls , the second tallest waterfall in the state.
Adres: 3106 Pierce Parkway, Springfield
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Mill City, near Willamette National Forest
Newport combines beach scenery with its Victorian heritage. Lighthouses line the coast between attractions such as the Oregon Coast Aquarium and Hatfield Marine Science Center . The town’s busy bay overlooks sheltered Yaquina Bay (home to a large fishing fleet), while the wild Pacific beaches offer storm surges and unfiltered sunsets. The town is a good base camp for coastal exploration and whale watching.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Newport
11 Willamette Heritage Centre in The Mill
The fairly small city of Salem is home to an impressive State Capitol building, as well as excellent heritage attractions. The Willamette Heritage Center at The Mill, set on five acres, focuses on the 1895 Thomas Kay Woolen Mill. In addition to the grand red structure, historic log buildings come to life through exhibits and interpretive guides, which take a look at the history of the life and industrialization in the late 19th century.
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 10am-5pm
Admission: Adults $6, Seniors $5, Students $4, Children (6-17) $3
Address: 1313 Mill Street SE, Salem
Accommodation: Where to Stay
12 Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art
This windowless museum in Eugene was designed to protect its art treasures. The extensive collection mainly includes Asian artwork and pieces from America and Europe. Opened in 1933, the museum is located on the campus of the University of Oregon, which is home to other attractions including the Museum of Natural and Cultural History and a historical track at Hayward Field.
Opening hours: Tues-Sun 11am-5pm, Wed until 8pm
Admission: Adults $5, seniors $3, children (18 and under) free
Adres: 1430 Johnson Lane, Eugene
Official Site: https://jsma.uoregon.edu/
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Eugene
13 Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area
South of Florence, the dune landscape of the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area begins. It stretches along the Pacific Ocean coast for about 40 miles before reaching Coos Bay. But between the beaches, wind-shaped sand dunes and pocket forests provide an unusually beautiful area—along with the sandboarding destination of Sand Master Park . The recreation area is located in Siuslaw National Forest. North of Florence, visitors can look outside Heceta Head Lighthouse , one of several historic and picturesque lights on the Oregon Coast.
Accommodation: Where to Stay near Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area
14 Hell’s Canyon National Recreation Area
In the far northeast of the state, Hell’s Canyon is the deepest canyon in the United States and marks the border of Idaho. The protected area within Wallowa-Whitman National Forest is largely inaccessible, but for the adventurous there are long excursions, wildlife watching opportunities, and fishing. The Hell’s Canyon National Scenic Byway departs from Baker City and La Grande, with trips to Hells Canyon Dam and lookouts.
Accommodation: Where to Stay near Hell’s Canyon National Recreation Area