While Oregon’s natural beauty is undeniable, it isn’t all that we’ve got to offer. Whether you’ve lived here your entire life or are simply visiting the Beaver state you might wanna shake things up a bit while you’re here. Portland is well known for its oddities – ya know, “Keep Portland Weird” but we’ve got unique stops and spots across the entire state. If you’re looking for a unique Oregon experience, you’ve come to the right blog. Below we’ve compiled some of our state’s best kept, quirky spots. Check ‘em out and let us know what you think!
Checkout The Prehistoric Gardens
The Prehistoric Gardens are a sideshow attraction located in Port Orford, Oregon. Located just 17 miles north of Gold Beach, this is the perfect spot for a quick trip when hanging out on Oregon’s coast. The untouched prehistoric garden features 23 life-size dinosaurs scattered throughout the evergreen forest. While beautiful, this stop isn’t too large in size so don’t plan on spending an entire day here. It is a self-guided tour averaging about 40 minutes to walk through although you can take as long as you would like. The gardens are dog-friendly so consider bringing your furry friend along for the ride.
Be Mesmerized by The Painted Hills
When you gaze at Oregon’s Painted Hills, you’re admiring millions of years of history layered into what makes up one of Oregon’s many natural wonders. The Painted Hills make up one of the three units forming the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. The watercolor-esque hues fluctuate with changing moisture and light levels. Located in Oregon’s high-desert, there isn’t much beyond visitor accommodations in the area. If you are interested in an extra-layer of breathtaking beauty, head to the Painted Hills in April or May during the annual wildflower bloom. Drive through Shaniko, Oregon’s best-preserved “ghost town” on your way to the hills!
Stay at The Out and About Treehouse Treesort
The Out and About Treehouse Treesort is located in Cave Junction. 11 treehouses and 4 cabins are scattered throughout the 36-acre family-owned property. The price includes breakfast, multiple on-site activities, aerial walkways, a swimming pool, and more. While you’re here you can their adjacent zipline tours, a giant Tarzan swing, and horseback riding.
Stop By Portland’s Peculiarium
Relocating in January of 2020, the Peculiarium is located in none other than Portland. This unique spot features paintings, sculptures, historical oddities, urban legend celebrations and so much more. Opened in 2011, admission to the museum is $5 or you can dress up in your best costume and (at the discretion of that day’s cashier) you may just get in for free. There aren’t necessarily scary elements in this museum, but it does contain adult themes so we recommend checking out their website before you head here with the kids.
The Oregon Vortex and the House of Mystery
The Oregon Vortex is a roadside attraction located in Gold Hill. Best known for its optical illusions, it is also well known for its spooky history. According to their website “The Phenomena that gives The Oregon Vortex its name are evident throughout the entire area. Nowhere in the circle do you normally stand erect. Inevitably the visitor assumes a posture that inclines toward magnetic north.” Built in 1904, the House of Mystery was originally an Assay Office (an office to test the purity of metals.) Legend has it that Native Americans horses refused to enter the area when prompted to, and the area has always had a history of reported “unusual conditions.”
Hop in The Deepest Lake in America
With a total depth of 1,943 ft, Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the entire United States and undoubtedly one of the most beautiful. Crater Lake is located in the Cascade Mountains in the southern region of the state and rests in the “belly” of a dormant volcano. The volcano originally stood a whopping 12,000 ft tall but collapsed after a major eruption thousands of years ago. The lake is fed entirely by snow and rain and is surrounded by jagged cliffs, and old-growth forests the lake is considered to be one of the cleanest and clearest lakes in the entire world.
Stop By Any of Our Ghost Towns
Oregon has so many ghost towns that some believe the state has more abandoned towns that any other state in the country. The bulk of these spooky spots are located in the eastern region of the state – popularly dubbed Oregon’s “Wild Wild West.” Shaniko is probably the most popular ghost town as it is the most well preserved. The product of a group of businessmen and bankers in The Dalles, Shaniko was originally constructed for the mass production of wool as Central Oregon was essentially one huge sheep ranch in the early 1900s. The hotel in Shaniko has been restored and has some other unique shops that are open in the Spring, Summer, and Fall. Shaniko is just one of many ghost towns in the state. If you’re interested in making a trip out of Oregon’s ghost towns we suggest checking out this Ghost Town Road Trip in Oregon blog.
Checkout the Tillamook Cheese Factory
While some may not consider a cheese factory unique, the factory is a must must-see visiting the state! For many Oregonians, “Tillamook” and “cheese” are synonymous and the Tillamook Cheese Factory will give you the ultimate dairy lover experience. In addition to cheese, Tillamook produces sour cream, butter, and ice cream – and you can watch them all be made at the factory. A popular tourist spot (especially in the summer) this spot tends to be packed but is extremely family and child-friendly. Sample as much of their cheese and products as you would like before checking out their Tillamook store so you can take some home with you.
Play at The Enchanted Forest Theme Park
While this is by no means the best theme parks we’ve been to and is best suited for small children, it’s also not the worst. Aside from the fact that the state doesn’t have any major theme parks, this quirky spot is a unique, fun experience. Enchanted Forest is themed after classic storybook characters and European and western elements sprinkled throughout. Family-owned, the park was built in Salem between 1964 and 1971 with almost every element designed and built by the owner’s family and friends. The park is open seasonally between late March and late September.
Checkout the Sea Lion Caves
Located about 11 miles north of Florence on Highway 101, the popular Sea Lion caves are a network of sea caves and caverns that open up to the Pacific Ocean. Said to be the largest network of sea caves in the United States, the Sea Lion Caves are privately owned and can be filled with hundreds of Sea Lions at any given time. The best time to stop by is in the winter when there is a huge influx of sea lions, but it’s a cool spot to check out any time of the year. Also a marine bird sanctuary, you can checkout the sea lion caves any day of the year excluding Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Drive Through Wildlife Safari
Located in Winston, Wildlife Safari is one of our favorite spots to stop for some fun in the state. An internationally recognized non-profit wildlife park dedicated to conservation, education, and animals in wide-open spaces. Opened in 1972, the park is primarily drive-through only and features over 500 animals from all over the world. In addition to the drive-through safari, there are some areas you can walk around, annual activities, enrichment encounters and more.
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