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!
Go To The Prehistoric Gardens
The Prehistoric Gardens is one of the great attractions in Oregon that is 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 another one of those attractions in Portland Oregon that you should see. 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.
Visit 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 Nation Park 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.
Visit 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.
Go To 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.
Goonie Rock! (Haystack Rock)
If we are talking about unique places to Oregon, we can’t honestly write an article without talking about Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach. It is one of the biggest tourist attractions and travel destinations in Oregon. Why is it called Goonie rock? Because of arguably the most famous film shot in Oregon “The Goonies” which took place on the Oregon coast in Astoria and Cannon Beach. The funny part is that the huge rock formation was only captured for a brief instance in the movie, yet it has lived on as Goonie Rock ever since.
Outside of its film lore, Haystack Rock is a sight to be seen. If you catch it at low tide, you can walk up to the base and search around in the tide pools for creatures and fish. If you need a beautiful backdrop for a photo, it works well for that too as seen above. The town also offers a feel much like Carmel California with a more upscale feel and beautiful craftsman beach homes. Even though I live here, it is always a great place to see and visit.
If you are looking for some great waterfalls in Oregon, Multnoma Falls is a great place to start. Located just 45 minutes east of downtown Portland, Multnoma Falls is easy to access for just about anyone. Places Like Silver Falls requires a little bit of hiking to see, but Multnoma is just a short trail away from an up close view. With paths easy enough to push a stroller on to get a good view.
If you are feel a little more adventurous, you can follow the scenic road from the falls to Crown Point and stop along the way to see multiple other falls that require a bit more of a hike to get to, but make for a great day trip.
What is unique to Oregon?
We have talked about many unique places, other unique places include:
- Astoria Column
- Boardman state park
- Columbia river gorge
- Silver Falls State Park
- Peter Iredale Shipwreck
- Shanghai Tunnels in Astoria
- Witches Castle
- Voodoo Doughnut in Portland
- Yaquina head
What is the best place in Oregon?
This comes down to personal preference. Some would say Portland, some say Mt. Hood. Some would say the beautiful coast. It is honestly for you to decide.
What is Oregon most known for?
The first thing that comes to my mind and the mind of most that I ask this question to is the trees and just the greenery in general. Oregon is known for getting a lot of rain, which is not always fun, but it is also why it stays so green here.
Where can you explore in Oregon?
If you are looking for places to explore in Oregon, be sure to read our article on…..
These are just some of the beautiful places to visit in the pacific northwest. Be sure to check out our other blogs for more exciting features about Oregon.