The western region of the US is filled with many amazing places to visit which include Washington D.C., California, and Nevada. However, you’ll be mistaken to think that this is all that the Pacific Northwest has to offer as you may be overlooking one state that tourists can’t help but visit as well. We are, of course, talking about the Beaver State, better known as the state of Oregon.
The state of Oregon is considered as one of the most geographically diverse states in the U.S. and it is marked by bodies of land and water such as volcanoes, mixed forests, high deserts, shrublands, and dense evergreen. This makes the state ideal for travelers who love exploring the great outdoors. Each visit to Oregon could mean an entirely new experience as well.
Because of its widely diverse landscape, the primary source of economy in Oregon is agriculture, fishing, and hydroelectric power. It should not be surprising as well that tourism plays a major role in the growth and development of the state considering millions of tourist visit Oregon’s natural wonders annually.
A huge part of Oregon’s tourism industry is attributed to its natural features which include Crater Lake National Park, Multnomah Falls, the Painted Hills, the Deschutes River, and the Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve. Other tourist favorites include Mount Hood and Mound Bachelor which are a big hit during the winter because of their abundant snow activities.
We’ve been talking big about the state’s natural wonders and attractions but how about its man-made tourist destinations? Some of the biggest draws within the cities of Oregon are the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, the Portland Art Museum, and the Oregon Zoo. In the coastal region of the state, the most popular places are the Oregon Coast Aquarium, Yaquina Bay, and the Sea Lion Caves in Florence.
These are just a taste of what Oregon has to offer. We’ve talked about the places but we haven’t talked about the experiences yet. Of course, before we dig deep into those matters, let’s first talk about a few essentials if you are wishing to explore the Beaver State sometime in the near future.
- 1 How to Get to Oregon
- 2 Getting Around Oregon
- 3 Best Time to Visit Oregon
- 4 Oregon Activities to Get the Most Scenic View
- 4.1 Portland Japanese Garden
- 4.2 Lava Tube Cave/Lava River Cave
- 4.3 Crater Lake
- 4.4 Lan Su Chinese Garden
- 4.5 John Day Fossil Beds
- 4.6 Washington Park
- 4.7 Smith Rock
- 4.8 Mount Hood National Forest
- 4.9 Bend
- 4.10 Astoria
- 4.11 Hood River
- 4.12 Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor
- 4.13 Newport
- 4.14 Silver Falls State Park
- 4.15 Willamette National Forest
- 4.16 Newberry Volcanic Monument
- 4.17 Hells Canyon
- 4.18 Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve
- 4.19 Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center
How to Get to Oregon
There are several international airports in Oregon which are only a few minutes away from cities. Regardless of where you are from and where you want to go, Oregon’s cities and attractions are only a flight away.
The Oregon International Airport is considered as one of the main airports in the state. It’s located less than an hour away from Portland and it offers flights to and from various cities in the world. Aside from having numerous flights from major airlines such as Delta Airlines and American Airlines, there’s a lot of handy facilities in the airport such as a mini theatre, and so much more.
Getting Around Oregon
The major cities in Oregon like Portland have Uber and Lyft access so getting around should not be a major issue. Other services like shuttles and taxis are readily available as well. However, if you want to explore the city and its surrounding areas, we suggest renting a car from one of the companies that are available at the airport. You can pre-book cars ahead of the trip as well.
Another convenient way to get around the cities is by biking. Oregon is a bike-friendly state so there are many bike rentals available. There are also roads, trips, and tours, which are dedicated to bikers. This is a leisurely way to get around Oregon while enjoying its wonderful sunsets and memorable views.
Of course, you may want to visit the mountains and rough roads in Oregon as well. The best way to get around the state and its natural sites are via the trains. The most popular trains in the state include Grant’s Getaways Eagle Cap Excursion Trains, the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad and more.
Getting to the mountains is a bit rougher but thanks to Oregon’s extensive public transportation options, this is made easy. For instance, if you want to get to Mt. Hood, you can take the Mt. Hood Express located in Portland.
Best Time to Visit Oregon
The best time to visit Oregon depends on what you want to experience. The most popular time for tourism in the state is during winter as the mountains offer quite the amazing views and amazing winter activities. The mountains at the northern region of the state offer some of the best skiing and snowboarding tracks in the U.S.
Of course, as there are many tourists during this time, careful planning is required. If you want to avoid flooded hotels and resorts, then visit early November or late January. Snow is still pretty present during these periods but there are fewer people to contend with at hotels so expect to pay smaller prices at hotels.
The coastal areas, on the other hand, are best visited during Spring. This is when the beaches truly come alive but as it isn’t the summer season just yet, there are fewer people to contend with, meaning the rooms are relatively cheaper and you’ll get to relax a lot better.
If you are just planning on visiting the cities in Oregon, we suggest visiting during early March. At this time of the year, the snow has already subsided but the weather remains comfortably cool. It’s the perfect time to explore museums, zoos, and other attractions located within the confines of Oregon’s cities.
Oregon Activities to Get the Most Scenic View
Oregon is one of the top cities in the world that offers the best views of nature. In fact, it is one of the most popular destinations for American travelers even hundreds of years ago because of the natural beauty that it has. And luckily, you can still get a glimpse of it as it never faded and has become all the more gorgeous over time. If you want to check the kind of views of nature that Oregon has to offer, here are some things to do in Oregon where you can get the best views of it.
1Portland Japanese Garden
Visiting the Portland Japanese Garden is one of the best things to do in Oregon to see the state’s natural beauty. It may be landscaped to get the vibe of a Japanese garden but it still shows a portion of the state’s natural beauty. Here, you can get to enjoy a variety of a number of gardens that will surely relax you. The best part of this place is that there will always be something to see no matter what time of the year you visit this place as it’s not just filled with a huge variety of plants but it also has some good architecture that is worth seeing.
2Lava Tube Cave/Lava River Cave
Made by a volcanic eruption that happened about 80,000 years ago, hence the name, exploring this place is one of the best things to do in Oregon if you want to see some natural beauty. Here, you can get to see some cool geological formations, stalactites, and more. You will even pass on echoing caverns as well. Plus, since this place was created by lava flowing downhill from Mt. Mazama’s volcanic vent, you can also get to see the cave floor covered with nearly 7,000-year-old volcanic ash. But don’t worry, even if the nearby volcano is still active, researchers say that it will not erupt anytime soon.
And speaking of Mt. Mazama, Crater Lake was also formed when Mt. Mazama erupted more than 6,000 years ago. And like the Lava Tube Cave (also known as the Lava River Cave), seeing the Crater Lake is also one of the best things to do in Oregon if you want to enjoy nature more. This is because aside from the amazing origin, this place also offers some of the best views of nature in Oregon. As a matter of fact, it is one of the top places that artists and photographers love because of its beauty.
4Lan Su Chinese Garden
Also one of the landmarks that you shouldn’t miss is the Lan Su Chinese Garden. This place, as its name suggests, is a Chinese garden that blends the styles of art and nature. Hence, it’s one of the best places to be in Oregon if you want to see some picturesque views. The best part of it is that this place also offers many activities, including watching a demonstration of Chinese brush painting, listening to Chinese poetry or music, and learning how to play Mahjong, to name a few. Explore this place by yourself or sign up for a guided tour, this place is not to be missed.
5John Day Fossil Beds
John Day Fossil Beds will let you get a glimpse of the state’s past. And we’re not just talking about a century ago. Rather millions of years ago. And yes, its name stays true to what you can get to see in this place because, apparently, this place really contains fossilized remains of animals and plants that once lived in the area. In addition to such unique sight to see, it also boasts of beautiful sceneries in the forms of colorful hills and towering cliffs. On top of that, it is home to a variety of wildlife and plants.
Aside from the beautiful sights that Washington Park has to offer, what makes visiting this place perfect for those looking for the best things to do in Oregon is that it offers a number of activities that the whole family will surely enjoy. Along with the Portland Japanese Garden that we have mentioned, this place also houses several museums (the Forestry Museum and the Children’s Museum), an amphitheater, a zoo, an arboretum, playgrounds, picnic areas, and miles of trails where you can hike. On top of that, it has an archery range, tennis courts, and a soccer field. It really has everything for everyone in the family.
If you want some more outdoor activity as you enjoy nature, visiting the Smith Rock State Park is one of the best things to do in Oregon that we highly recommend. This is because this place has many routes that are perfect for hiking, rock-climbing, and sightseeing. It is so worth the visit that it is one of the top spots in Oregon that climbers love to frequent. Also, this place offers the best morning views so you might want to consider camping here as well for that memorable travel experience.
8Mount Hood National Forest
Mount Hood National Forest is also a place that you should visit if you are looking for some things to do in Oregon where you can also get to enjoy nature at the same time. Known as the highest mountain in Oregon with a peak rising to more than 11,000 feet, this place is really a sight to see. But what makes this place all the more worth visiting is that it also offers some scenic viewpoints that you can access through the Mount Hood Scenic Loop. Also, it has waterfalls and hot springs that you can enjoy.
The Bend is also a must-visit among the many places in Oregon. Aside from its great location, which is at the center of the state, this place also lets you get to see a mix of volcanoes, dry plains, and national forests. What makes it even more awesome is that since it is located roughly at the center of the state, this place is surrounded by cool attractions that you can visit too, including, the High Desert Museum, Mount Bachelor Ski Area, Smith Rock, and more. Visiting this place is not just like hitting two birds with one stone, rather, you can get to hit multiple!
Also one of the things to do in Oregon if you want to see the best views of nature that the state has to offer is to visit the Astoria. It’s actually a seaside city. Hence, you can get to see the nice views of the sea and the city. It has a vibrant downtown neighborhood, scenic Riverfront, museums, and more. And if you can get to visit the Astoria Column, you can get to see a breathtaking view of the city. Go here at night or day, no matter what time of the day, this place will fill your eyes with some of the nicest sights in the state.
The Hood River is also not to be missed. This city, located on the banks of the Columbia River also offers plenty of outdoor activities. In fact, it is known for being the best Oregon destination for windsurfing and kiteboarding. Moreover, it offers biking, hiking, and camping activities for those who want some things to do in Oregon that will get you closer to nature. But if you want some city life activities for a side trip, don’t worry, this place has some live music venues, shops, hotels, restaurants, and cafes for you to enjoy too. So whether you are looking for some nature-related activities or want some city life activities, this place deserves that spot in your travel itinerary.
12Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor
If you’re tired of the mountain views, visiting Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor is one of the things to do in Oregon that we can recommend. Because here, you can fill your eyes with some good oceanside sceneries. And to convince you more, this place is known for being one of the best places throughout Oregon to see the best Oceanside views. Aside from the ocean view, you can also get to see beautiful rock formations that make the place all the more scenic and perfect for a backdrop for that Instagram photo.
This place, on the other hand, is a bit different than the other natural attractions we’ve mentioned. This is because Newport mixes the beach scenery with Victorian heritage. What makes this place even more worthy of that spot on your list of things to do in Oregon is that this is where you can get to see some of the best unfiltered sunsets in the state, especially if you head to the Yaquina Head Lighthouse. On top of that, it is also known for the top spot for when you want to go whale watching. That said, don’t miss out on this too.
14Silver Falls State Park
And speaking of bodies of water, visiting the Silver Falls State Park is also one of the things to do in Oregon that you shouldn’t miss out on if you want to see the best views of nature. Here, as its name suggests, you can get to see waterfalls. And we’re not just talking about two or three waterfalls. Rather, you can get to see ten waterfalls. However, you will need to hike to see such beauties. But don’t worry too much as the hiking paths that will take you to these falls are moderate. So even if you’re not a pro, you can still get to enjoy this place.
15Willamette National Forest
Also one of the most frequented attractions in Oregon is the Willamette National Forest. It’s not a surprise that many locals and tourists alike love it as this place has a lot of natural sceneries to offer, including a number of volcanoes, rivers, mountains, plus plenty of hot springs. It also has an observatory. Furthermore, this place lets you see Salt Creek Falls (a majestic waterfall with a drop of 280 feet), as well as the famous Three Sisters Wilderness. You will definitely fall in love with nature again and again as you visit this place.
16Newberry Volcanic Monument
If you want to spend more time with nature and go camping, don’t miss a chance to visit the Newberry Volcanic Monument. This place is known to have the best campgrounds in Oregon as you will not just get to relax and enjoy the views of nature but this place also offers some outdoor activities, including hiking, boating, and bicycling. So whether you want a place to have the best views of the natural beauty that Oregon has or if you want a place that’s perfect for a family bonding, the Newberry Volcanic Monument is one of the best places to be in Oregon.
Known as the deepest Canyon in the United States, this place is also a must-add to your travel itinerary in case you’re traveling to Oregon. This is because aside from the nice atmosphere and the gorgeous views, this place also offers some lengthy outdoor excursions such as backpacking, hiking, fishing, as well as wildlife spotting. You can also try out whitewater boating as the Wild and Scenic Snake River runs at the bottom of Hells Canyon. This place is really worth the drive.
18Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve
If you want to go caving, we highly recommend the Oregon Caves National Monument Preserve. Get to know more about its marble cave as you go on a guided trek, this place is perfect for the whole family even those who have kids. Above its surface, you can also get to enjoy hiking trails through its old-growth coniferous forest.
19Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center
Unlike the other natural attractions in the state, the Opal Creek Ancient Forest center has a rich history to tell that you can get to know and understand better with the workshops, expeditions, and educational courses being offered, besides enjoying the scenic views that it has to offer. In addition to that, you can also enjoy hiking trails, cabin rentals, and campgrounds that will make your stay worth the while.