The 50 Best Places to Visit in Oregon

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By Visit Oregon

Feb 16, 2024 / 4:44 am

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Discover the natural wonders, cultural treasures, and hidden gems of the Pacific Northwest with our guide to the top 50 best places to visit in Oregon. From the rugged coastline of the Oregon Coast to the majestic peaks of the Cascade Range, Oregon offers a diverse array of landscapes and attractions just waiting to be explored. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast seeking adventure or a history buff eager to uncover the state’s rich heritage, there’s something for everyone in Oregon. Join us on a journey through iconic landmarks like Crater Lake National Park and the Columbia River Gorge, charming towns like Astoria and Bend, and cultural institutions like the Portland Art Museum and Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Whether you’re planning a weekend getaway or an epic road trip, let this comprehensive guide be your roadmap to the best of the Beaver State

1. Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake, formed within the caldera of Mount Mazama, is a mesmerizing sight to behold. The deep blue hue of the lake against the backdrop of towering cliffs creates a stunning vista. Visitors can drive along Rim Drive for panoramic views, hike various trails, or take a boat tour to Wizard Island. The best time to visit is in the summer when the roads are fully open, and the weather is mild.

2. Columbia River Gorge

This natural wonder boasts breathtaking views of towering cliffs, cascading waterfalls, and lush forests. Visitors can hike along numerous trails, including the iconic Multnomah Falls, or drive along the historic Columbia River Highway for scenic overlooks. Spring and fall are the best times to visit when waterfalls are at their peak flow, and the foliage is vibrant.

3. Multnomah Falls

Oregon’s most iconic waterfall plunges over 600 feet in two tiers, surrounded by lush greenery. Visitors can admire the falls from the base or hike to the upper viewing platform for a closer look. Early spring, when snowmelt swells the falls, or fall when foliage adds vibrant colors, are the best times to visit.

4. Portland

Known for its vibrant arts scene, craft breweries, and culinary delights, Portland offers endless opportunities for exploration. Visitors can wander through the eclectic neighborhoods, browse unique shops and boutiques, or dine at award-winning restaurants. Summer is ideal for outdoor activities, while fall brings colorful foliage and seasonal events.

5. Oregon Coast

The rugged coastline of Oregon offers picturesque views, sandy beaches, and charming coastal towns. Visitors can embark on a road trip along Highway 101, stopping to explore tide pools, go whale watching, or sample fresh seafood. Summer months are popular for beach activities, but spring and fall offer fewer crowds and mild weather.

6. Haystack Rock

Rising 235 feet above the sandy shores of Cannon Beach, Haystack Rock is a natural wonder and a haven for seabirds. Visitors can stroll along the beach, explore tide pools teeming with marine life, or watch colorful sunsets behind the rock. Any time of year is suitable for a visit, but summer offers the warmest weather.

7. Mount Hood

Oregon’s highest peak offers year-round recreational opportunities, from skiing and snowboarding in winter to hiking and mountain biking in summer. Visitors can explore Timberline Lodge, hike to alpine lakes, or take the historic Mount Hood Railroad for scenic views. Summer and early fall are ideal for hiking and outdoor activities.

8. Powell’s City of Books

Book lovers will delight in getting lost among the shelves of this iconic bookstore spanning an entire city block in downtown Portland. Visitors can browse a vast selection of new and used books, attend author events, or relax with a cup of coffee in the adjoining café. Any time of year is perfect for bookworms to visit Powell’s.

9. Oregon Zoo

Located in Portland’s Washington Park, the Oregon Zoo is home to a diverse array of animals from around the world. Visitors can observe elephants, lions, and giraffes, or explore specialized exhibits like the Red Ape Reserve. Spring and summer are ideal for visiting when the weather is mild, and many animals are active.

10. Willamette Valley Wine Country

Spanning from Portland to Eugene, the Willamette Valley is renowned for its world-class wineries and vineyards. Visitors can enjoy wine tastings, tour winemaking facilities, or dine at gourmet restaurants overlooking scenic vineyards. Fall is the best time to visit during harvest season when vineyards buzz with activity.

11. Smith Rock State Park

Known as a rock climber’s paradise, Smith Rock State Park boasts dramatic rock formations, deep canyons, and the winding Crooked River. Visitors can hike along scenic trails, rock climb on world-class routes, or simply enjoy the breathtaking views. Spring and fall offer the best weather for outdoor activities, while summer can be quite hot.

12. Astoria

Steeped in maritime history, Astoria sits at the confluence of the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean. Visitors can explore historic sites like the Astoria Column, tour museums, or stroll along the riverfront boardwalk. Summer months provide the best weather for exploring the town and nearby attractions.

13. Silver Falls State Park

This gem of a park is home to a stunning array of waterfalls, including the majestic South Falls, which visitors can walk behind. Hiking trails wind through lush forests, offering opportunities for wildlife viewing and photography. Spring is ideal for seeing the waterfalls at peak flow, while fall brings vibrant foliage colors.

14. Oregon Shakespeare Festival

Theater enthusiasts flock to Ashland every year for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, where they can enjoy a diverse lineup of plays and performances. In addition to theater, visitors can explore Ashland’s charming downtown, dine at gourmet restaurants, or hike in nearby Lithia Park. The festival runs from February to October, with peak season in the summer.

15. Portland Japanese Garden

Nestled within Washington Park, the Portland Japanese Garden offers a serene escape from the city with its meticulously landscaped gardens, tranquil ponds, and traditional tea houses. Visitors can stroll along winding paths, participate in cultural events, or simply find a peaceful spot for meditation. Spring and fall are the best times to visit for blooming flowers and colorful foliage.

16. Hood River

Situated at the confluence of the Columbia River Gorge and the Hood River, this charming town is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts. Visitors can windsurf, kiteboard, or paddleboard on the river, explore nearby orchards and wineries, or hike on scenic trails. Summer and early fall offer the best weather for outdoor activities.

17. Oregon Coast Aquarium

Located in Newport, the Oregon Coast Aquarium showcases the diverse marine life of the Pacific Northwest. Visitors can walk through underwater tunnels, touch tide pool creatures, or watch sea otters play. Spring and summer are ideal for visiting when the weather is mild, and outdoor exhibits are open.

18. Astoria Column

Perched atop Coxcomb Hill, the Astoria Column offers panoramic views of the Columbia River, Astoria, and the surrounding landscapes. Visitors can climb to the top for breathtaking views or admire the intricate murals depicting Oregon’s history from ground level. Any time of year is suitable for a visit, but summer provides the best visibility.

19. Deschutes Brewery

Beer enthusiasts shouldn’t miss a visit to Deschutes Brewery in Bend, where they can sample a wide range of craft beers and tour the brewing facilities. Visitors can learn about the brewing process, enjoy delicious food pairings, or relax in the outdoor beer garden. Any time of year is suitable for a visit, but summer offers outdoor seating and live music.

20. Cannon Beach

With its sandy shores, stunning vistas, and iconic Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach is a beloved coastal destination. Visitors can stroll along the beach, explore tide pools, or watch colorful sunsets over the Pacific Ocean. Summer months are popular for beach activities, but spring and fall offer fewer crowds and mild weather.

21. Portland Art Museum

Situated in the heart of downtown Portland, the Portland Art Museum is the oldest art museum on the West Coast. Visitors can peruse a vast collection of art spanning from ancient times to contemporary works, including pieces by renowned artists such as Monet, Picasso, and Warhol. The museum also hosts special exhibitions, lectures, and events throughout the year, making it a must-visit for art enthusiasts. Any time of year is suitable for a visit, but weekdays tend to be less crowded.

22. Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI):

Located on the east bank of the Willamette River in Portland, OMSI is a hands-on science museum offering interactive exhibits, educational programs, and a planetarium. Visitors can explore topics ranging from natural sciences to technology and engineering through engaging displays and activities. The museum also features a submarine exhibit, an outdoor science park, and a giant-screen theater. It’s a great destination for families and curious minds alike. Weekdays during the school year are ideal for avoiding crowds.

23. Umpqua Hot Springs

Tucked away in the Umpqua National Forest near Roseburg, Umpqua Hot Springs is a hidden gem known for its natural hot springs and stunning surroundings. Visitors can soak in the mineral-rich waters while taking in panoramic views of the forested canyon below. The springs are accessible via a short hike from the trailhead, making them a popular spot for relaxation and rejuvenation. While the springs can be enjoyed year-round, spring and fall offer the most pleasant temperatures and fewer crowds.

24. Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area

Stretching along the coast from Florence to Coos Bay, the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area is home to some of the largest coastal sand dunes in North America. Visitors can explore the dunes by hiking, off-roading, horseback riding, or taking a guided dune buggy tour. The area also offers opportunities for camping, fishing, and wildlife viewing, with the chance to spot rare species like the western snowy plover. Summer is the most popular time to visit, but spring and fall offer cooler temperatures and fewer crowds.

25. Tillamook Creamery

Located in Tillamook on the Oregon Coast, the Tillamook Creamery is a must-visit destination for cheese lovers. Visitors can take a self-guided tour of the creamery to learn about the cheese-making process, watch cheese being produced, and sample a variety of cheeses and other dairy products. The creamery also features a café serving up delicious dishes made with Tillamook cheese, as well as an ice cream counter with a tempting array of flavors. Any time of year is suitable for a visit, but weekdays tend to be less busy.

26. Mount Bachelor

Situated in the Cascade Range near Bend, Mount Bachelor is a popular destination for outdoor recreation year-round. In the winter, visitors can enjoy skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling on the mountain’s slopes. In the summer, the mountain offers hiking, mountain biking, disc golf, and scenic chairlift rides with panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes. The best time to visit depends on the desired activities, with winter sports enthusiasts flocking to the mountain from December to April and summer adventurers enjoying the trails and views from June to September.

27. Heceta Head Lighthouse

Perched atop a scenic headland along the Oregon Coast near Florence, Heceta Head Lighthouse is one of the most photographed lighthouses in the United States. Visitors can admire the picturesque setting, explore the historic lighthouse and keeper’s quarters, and take in panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and surrounding landscapes from the observation area. The lighthouse is open for tours during the summer months, and the surrounding area offers hiking trails, beach access, and picnic areas year-round. Summer and early fall are the best times to visit for the most favorable weather and visibility.

28. Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway

Winding through the Cascade Range near Bend, the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway offers stunning views of snow-capped mountains, alpine lakes, and lush forests. Visitors can drive the scenic route, stopping at viewpoints, trailheads, and picnic areas along the way. The byway also provides access to a variety of outdoor recreational opportunities, including fishing, boating, hiking, and camping. Summer and early fall are the best times to drive the byway, with the road typically open from late spring to early fall, weather permitting.

29. Oregon Garden

Located in Silverton, the Oregon Garden is a botanical garden spanning 80 acres and featuring a diverse collection of plants from around the world. Visitors can explore themed gardens, including a rose garden, a conifer garden, and a children’s garden, as well as meandering pathways, ponds, and waterfalls. The garden also hosts special events, educational programs, and seasonal displays throughout the year, making it an enjoyable destination for visitors of all ages. Spring and summer are the best times to visit for blooming flowers and pleasant weather, but the garden offers beauty year-round with seasonal changes in foliage and plant displays.

30. Tamolitch Blue Pool

Tucked away in the Willamette National Forest near McKenzie Bridge, Tamolitch Blue Pool is a hidden gem known for its stunning turquoise waters. Visitors can hike a relatively easy 3.6-mile trail through old-growth forest to reach the pool, which is fed by an underground spring and surrounded by rocky cliffs. The area is popular for photography, swimming (though the water is quite cold year-round), and picnicking. Spring and summer are the best times to visit for warmer temperatures and clearer water, but the trail is accessible year-round for those prepared for potential snow and ice in the winter months

31. Cape Perpetua Scenic Area

Situated along the central Oregon Coast near Yachats, Cape Perpetua Scenic Area is a breathtaking coastal landscape featuring rugged cliffs, dramatic viewpoints, and unique geological formations. Visitors can drive or hike to scenic overlooks like the Cape Perpetua Visitors Center, Thor’s Well, and Devil’s Churn, where they can watch waves crashing against the rocky shoreline and explore tide pools teeming with marine life. The area also offers hiking trails through lush coastal forests, including the popular Captain Cook Trail and Giant Spruce Trail. Spring and summer are the best times to visit for mild weather and optimal viewing conditions, but the area’s beauty can be enjoyed year-round with appropriate clothing and preparation for inclement weather.

32. Tillamook Air Museum

Housed in a historic World War II blimp hangar in Tillamook, the Tillamook Air Museum is one of the largest wooden structures in the world and home to a vast collection of vintage aircraft. Visitors can explore the museum’s extensive displays of military aircraft, aviation artifacts, and interactive exhibits, as well as watch restoration efforts in the museum’s restoration hangar. The museum also hosts special events, aircraft rides, and educational programs throughout the year, making it an engaging destination for aviation enthusiasts and history buffs alike. Any time of year is suitable for a visit, but weekdays tend to be less crowded.

33. Columbia River Maritime Museum

Located in Astoria, the Columbia River Maritime Museum showcases the rich maritime history of the Columbia River region through exhibits, artifacts, and interactive displays. Visitors can learn about the region’s maritime heritage, including the history of the Columbia River Bar, the development of navigation technology, and the lives of those who worked and lived along the river. The museum also features a collection of historic vessels, including the Lightship Columbia, which visitors can explore. Year-round, the museum offers a fascinating glimpse into the maritime history of the Pacific Northwest, making it an excellent destination for history enthusiasts and families alike.

34. Oregon State Capitol

Situated in the heart of downtown Salem, the Oregon State Capitol is a historic landmark and the seat of Oregon’s state government. Visitors can take guided tours of the Capitol building to learn about its architecture, history, and the legislative process. Highlights of the tour include the rotunda, the House and Senate chambers, and the Governor’s ceremonial office. The Capitol also features a gift shop and visitor center, as well as outdoor grounds with statues, memorials, and a cherry blossom grove. Year-round, the Capitol offers educational and informative experiences for visitors interested in Oregon’s government and history.

35. Pittock Mansion

Perched atop the West Hills of Portland, Pittock Mansion is a historic French Renaissance-style chateau offering panoramic views of the city, the Willamette River, and the Cascade Mountains. Visitors can tour the mansion to learn about its history and the lives of its original owners, Henry and Georgiana Pittock, who played a significant role in the development of Portland. The mansion features period furnishings, artwork, and exhibits showcasing early 20th-century life in Portland. Outside, visitors can explore the mansion’s gardens and hiking trails, which offer additional views of the surrounding landscapes. Spring and summer are ideal for visiting the mansion and enjoying its outdoor spaces, but the mansion’s interior can be enjoyed year-round with guided tours.

36. Oregon Caves National Monument

Tucked away in the Siskiyou Mountains of southern Oregon, Oregon Caves National Monument features a unique marble cave system formed over millions of years. Visitors can take guided tours of the caves to explore underground passages, caverns, and delicate formations, including stalactites, stalagmites, and flowstone. Above ground, the monument offers hiking trails through old-growth forests, ranger-led programs, and opportunities for wildlife viewing and photography. Spring and summer are the best times to visit for cave tours and outdoor activities, but the monument’s stunning landscapes can be enjoyed year-round with varying seasonal experiences.

37. Portland Farmers Market

Founded in 1992, the Portland Farmers Market is a vibrant outdoor market showcasing local produce, artisanal foods, and handmade crafts from farmers, producers, and artisans in the Pacific Northwest. Visitors can browse a wide variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables, meats, cheeses, baked goods, flowers, and more, as well as enjoy live music, cooking demonstrations, and educational activities. The market operates at multiple locations throughout Portland, including the Portland State University campus, the South Waterfront, and King Farmers Market. Year-round, the market offers a unique shopping and cultural experience, with seasonal changes in produce and offerings.

38. Hood River Fruit Loop

Located in the Hood River Valley near Mount Hood, the Hood River Fruit Loop is a scenic driving route showcasing the region’s bountiful orchards, vineyards, and farm stands. Visitors can follow the loop to explore fruit orchards, pick seasonal produce, sample local wines and ciders, and enjoy breathtaking views of Mount Hood and the surrounding landscapes. The loop also offers opportunities for hiking, picnicking, and birdwatching, as well as visiting lavender farms, alpaca ranches, and artisan food producers. Spring and summer are ideal for driving the loop and enjoying the abundance of fresh fruits and flowers, but the loop’s beauty can be appreciated year-round with seasonal changes in crops and scenery.

39. Oneonta Gorge

Tucked away in the Columbia River Gorge near Multnomah Falls, Oneonta Gorge is a stunning slot canyon featuring towering cliffs, lush greenery, and a crystal-clear creek. Visitors can hike through the narrow gorge, wading through shallow water and climbing over fallen logs, to reach a hidden waterfall at the end. The hike is relatively short but requires navigating through cold water and slippery rocks, making it a challenging yet rewarding adventure. Spring and summer are the best times to visit for warmer weather and lower water levels, but the gorge can be inaccessible during high water or winter months.

40. Oregon Coast Trail

Stretching over 400 miles along the Oregon Coast, the Oregon Coast Trail offers hikers a scenic journey through diverse coastal landscapes, including sandy beaches, rocky shores, and forested headlands. Visitors can hike sections of the trail for day trips or embark on longer backpacking adventures, camping at designated campgrounds or beachside sites along the way. The trail provides opportunities for wildlife viewing, beachcombing, and exploring coastal towns and attractions, with stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and offshore rock formations. Spring and summer are ideal for hiking portions of the trail, but cooler temperatures and fewer crowds can be found in the shoulder seasons of fall and winter

41. Oregon Film Museum

Housed in the historic Clatsop County Jail in Astoria, the Oregon Film Museum celebrates the history and legacy of filmmaking in Oregon. Visitors can explore exhibits highlighting iconic films shot in Oregon, including “The Goonies,” “Free Willy,” and “Twilight,” as well as interactive displays showcasing the art and craft of filmmaking. The museum also features memorabilia, props, and costumes from famous movies filmed in Oregon, as well as hands-on activities and exhibits for visitors of all ages. Year-round, the museum offers a fun and educational experience for film enthusiasts and fans of Oregon cinema.

42. Astoria Riverfront Trolley

Dating back to 1913, the Astoria Riverfront Trolley is a historic streetcar line offering scenic rides along the waterfront in Astoria. Visitors can hop aboard the vintage trolley to take a leisurely journey through the city, enjoying views of the Columbia River, passing ships, and historic landmarks along the way. The trolley operates seasonally from May to September, providing transportation between downtown Astoria and the East End Mooring Basin. Spring and summer are the best times to ride the trolley and explore Astoria’s riverfront attractions, but the views and historic charm can be enjoyed year-round with occasional winter operations.

43. Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm

Located in the Willamette Valley near Woodburn, the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm is a picturesque destination showcasing vibrant fields of tulips in bloom during the annual Tulip Festival. Visitors can wander through acres of colorful flowers, take scenic tractor rides, and enjoy family-friendly activities like hayrides, a playground, and a petting zoo. The farm also features a gift shop selling bulbs, flowers, and souvenirs, as well as food vendors offering Dutch treats and traditional fare. The Tulip Festival typically takes place in April, coinciding with the peak bloom of the tulips, making it the best time to visit for the most spectacular displays of flowers.

44. Oregon Historical Society Museum

Located in downtown Portland, the Oregon Historical Society Museum is dedicated to preserving and sharing the history of Oregon and its people. Visitors can explore a diverse array of exhibits showcasing artifacts, photographs, documents, and multimedia presentations spanning the state’s rich cultural heritage, from Native American history to the present day. The museum also hosts special exhibitions, lectures, and events that delve into specific aspects of Oregon’s history, making it an engaging destination for history enthusiasts and learners of all ages. Year-round, the museum offers a fascinating glimpse into the stories and experiences that have shaped Oregon’s past and present.

45. Portland Saturday Market

Founded in 1974, the Portland Saturday Market is the largest continuously operating outdoor arts and crafts market in the United States. Visitors can browse a wide selection of handcrafted goods, including jewelry, clothing, pottery, glassware, and fine art, created by local artisans and craftsmen. The market also features live music, street performers, food vendors, and a vibrant atmosphere that reflects Portland’s eclectic culture and community spirit. Open every Saturday and Sunday from March to December, the market offers a unique shopping experience and an opportunity to support local artists and small businesses.

46. Fort Stevens State Park

Located near Astoria at the mouth of the Columbia River, Fort Stevens State Park is a historic site and recreational destination with a rich military heritage. Visitors can explore the remains of the fort, including gun batteries, bunkers, and military structures dating back to the Civil War era. The park also offers a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, biking, wildlife viewing, beachcombing, and camping. In addition to its historical significance, Fort Stevens State Park provides opportunities for outdoor recreation and relaxation amidst scenic coastal landscapes year-round.

47. John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

Spanning three units in eastern Oregon, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument is a geological wonderland renowned for its colorful rock formations, fossilized plants, and ancient mammal fossils. Visitors can explore the monument’s visitor centers, hiking trails, and scenic overlooks to learn about the region’s geological history and paleontological discoveries. The monument offers opportunities for hiking, wildlife viewing, photography, and ranger-led programs, with stunning landscapes that showcase millions of years of Earth’s history. Spring and fall are the best times to visit for mild weather and blooming wildflowers, but the monument’s beauty can be appreciated year-round with varying seasonal experiences.

48. Portland International Rose Test Garden

Situated in Washington Park overlooking downtown Portland, the International Rose Test Garden is a beloved destination showcasing thousands of rose bushes in bloom from late spring to early fall. Visitors can wander through the garden’s meticulously landscaped beds, which feature a diverse collection of rose varieties from around the world, including hybrid teas, floribundas, and climbers. The garden also offers stunning views of the city skyline, as well as photo opportunities, guided tours, and educational programs. Spring and summer are the best times to visit for peak rose blooms and pleasant weather, but the garden’s beauty can be enjoyed year-round with seasonal changes in foliage and flowering

49. Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad

Offering scenic train rides along the Oregon Coast, the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad provides passengers with a unique opportunity to experience the region’s coastal landscapes and historic sites from the comfort of a vintage steam locomotive or diesel-powered train. Visitors can choose from a variety of excursions, including coastal journeys, sunset dinner trains, and holiday-themed rides, with options departing from the towns of Garibaldi and Rockaway Beach. The railroad also hosts special events, including themed train rides, photo charters, and seasonal celebrations, making it a memorable experience for visitors of all ages. Spring and summer are popular times to ride the railroad, but special events and holiday trains offer opportunities year-round.

50. Oregon Garden Brewfest

Held annually at the Oregon Garden in Silverton, the Oregon Garden Brewfest is a celebration of craft beer featuring over 60 breweries from across the state. Visitors can sample a wide variety of beers, including IPAs, stouts, lagers, and sours, while enjoying live music, food vendors, and games in the beautiful surroundings of the Oregon Garden. The brewfest also offers educational opportunities, including homebrewing demonstrations, beer pairing seminars, and meet-the-brewer sessions, as well as a familyfriendly root beer garden for younger attendees. The festival typically takes place in late spring or early summer, offering a festive atmosphere and a ch

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