Welcome to the beautiful state of Oregon. Located in the Pacific Northwest, sandwiched between California and Washington, Oregon just might be one of the most underrated destinations in the United States. There are so many things to do in Oregon from incredible hiking trails to picturesque beaches, hip urban centers, high mountains, and waterfalls. Oregon has it all! So let’s dive into some of the top places to visit in Oregon.
The Best Things to Do in Oregon
People often skip right over Oregon from flying from Seattle, Washington to vacation in California, but it should not be missed! To help you plan your visit to Oregon and put it higher on your travel radar, let’s explore all the top attractions in the state. Where are you going next on a road trip? I bet Oregon will pop to the top of your bucket list after this!
1. Smith Rock State Park
For some of the best hiking in Oregon, Smith Rock State Park is a must. Travel Oregon made it a part of the 7 Wonders of Oregon and for good reason. This beautiful State Park is a mecca for rock climbers with more than 1000 bolted routes! Its cathedral rock spires make for picture-perfect scenery with it all reflecting in the winding river below.
Things to do in Smith Rock State Park
There are plenty of reasons to visit Smith Rock State Park besides rock climbing, it is an outdoor lovers’ paradise. Hikers can enjoy beautiful trails making it one of the most popular state parks in Oregon.
Our favorite is Misery Ridge Trail which is challenging but takes you out to stunning views of the park’s rock formations, and the River Trail, which follows the Crooked River and offers great opportunities for wildlife viewing. Keep an eye out for golden eagles, mule deer and river otters when you are out for your hike. Read more: Smith Rock State Park – Misery Ridge Hike
Smith Rock State Park is also a great place for mountain biking with 30 miles of biking trails suitable for all levels. So, rent a bike and hit the trails or you can simply relax and do some car camping. There are campsites for RV camping, tent camping and there are even yurts and cabins for rent in the park.
Where to Stay Near Smith Rock
There are closer places to stay near Smith Rock including the Smith Rock Resort and Crooked River Ranch Cabins
Stay near Smith Rock at Sisters. We stayed at Five Pine Lodge offers unique lodging in the nearby central Oregon town of Sisters. We stayed here the night before our cycling trip to Smith Rock via the Sisters to Smith Rock Scenic Byway.
Sisters is a great place to make a base with annual events like the Sisters Rodeo and the Sisters Folk Fest plus beautiful outdoor activities like SUP, Mountain Biking, Hiking, and more! Read more at TravelOregon
2. Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area
Another one of the 7 Wonders of Oregon is the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. I think this is the place that attracts people to the state. It is the largest National Scenic Area in America measuring an astounding 80 miles long and 4000 feet deep along the Columbia River.
Being a gorge, there are naturally several waterfalls in the area including Wahclella Falls, Horsetail Falls, Latourell Falls. and Bridal Veil Falls. You can search for them among the 80 miles of trails in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Some of the more popular trails include Eagle Creek Trail, Dog Mountain Trail, and the Gorge Trail #400.
This is one of the most popular day trips from Portland. This Half Day Waterfalls Tour takes you on a 3.5-hour tour where you’ll visit attractions like Portland Women’s Forum, the Crown Point Vista House, Latourell Falls, Multnomah Falls, and Horse Tail Falls.
3. Multnomah Falls
Multnomah Falls is the highest waterfall in Oregon and the second tallest year-round waterfall in the United States. It’s such a popular attraction in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area that it warrants its own mention. Multnomah Falls is a beautiful two-tiered waterfall, with the upper falls standing at 542 feet and the lower falls at 69 feet. The falls are surrounded by lush greenery and are one of the top places in Oregon for taking photos.
Visitors can reach the falls by car, bus, or train. There is a parking lot at the site, but it can get crowded during peak season. There is also a shuttle service available during peak season. he Multnomah-Wahkeena Loop trail is a popular option that takes visitors past several waterfalls in the area.
There is also rock climbing in the area and the Columbia River Gorge is known for its strong winds, making it a popular destination for windsurfing and kiteboarding enthusiasts. The Hood River area is particularly popular for these sports.
4. Historic Columbia River Highway Scenic Byway
We loved road-tripping through Oregon and The Columbia River Gorge Scenic Highway is a beautiful and historic drive that takes visitors past numerous scenic viewpoints and waterfalls. The drive is approximately 75 miles long and is home to several overlooks, including Crown Point and the Vista House. The historic Columbia River Highway is a great drive to really take in the views.
The byway was constructed between 1913 and 1922 and is considered a marvel of engineering and a masterpiece of highway design. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
It is great way to see the highlights of the Columbia River Gorge and its many waterfalls, including Multnomah Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and Horsetail Falls. Make sure to get out of the car to take in its amazing views, and stops at its various viewpoints, picnic areas, and trails.
One of the more unique ways to explore the Gorge is to get on the water. This Jet Boat Tour takes you along the Willamette River and the mighty Columbia River toward Multnomah Falls at 45 miles per hour. Views you’ll see along the way include, Cape Horn, Beacon Rock, Mount Hood, and more along the way.
Where to Stay at Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area
There are plenty of places to stay in the Columbia River Gorge area on both the Washington State and Oregon sides. We’ll stick with Oregon since that is where you are visiting.
5. Visit Bend
Bend is our favorite community in Oregon with so many things to do we gave it our own post! Don’t miss visiting one of its many microbreweries where you can enjoy a cold drink, or float along the Deschutes River while doing some tubing.
With shopping and dining galore, Bend is a great place to make a base when checking out all the things to do in Central Oregon. There are hiking and mountain biking trails and the beautiful Tumalo Falls. Read more at: 26 Fun and Adventurous Things to do in Bend, Oregon
6. Newberry National Volcanic Monument
Located in Central Oregon, the Newberry National Volcanic Monument is one of the most fascinating things to do in Oregon. Covering 54,000 acres of the Deschutes National Forest is filled with lava flows and cinder cones that formed thousands of years ago. You can actually go inside Lava Cones to see how they were formed by volcanic eruptions.
The Lava Lands Visitor Center is located in the Newberry National Volcanic Monument offering a variety of exhibits and educational displays that explore the geology, ecology, and history of the region.
One of the main attractions at the Lava Lands Visitor Center is the Lava Butte, a cinder cone volcano that rises over 500 feet above the surrounding landscape. Visitors can hike to the top of the butte and enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding forests and mountains. The visitor center also offers ranger-led programs, guided hikes, and educational activities for visitors of all ages.
The lava tubes that we explored are Boyd Cave and Lava River Cave. Check out this Newberry half day Volcano trip to explore the lava flow with a professional guide. We toured this area with Wanderlust Tours, (TripAdvisor’s number one-rated tour company) in Bend. Read More: Exploring the Lava Tubes of Bend, Oregon
7. Soak in Some Natural Hot Springs
With all that volcanic activity, you can be. sure there are several hot springs around Bend a few to check out are Paulina Lake and East Lake Hot Springs, and Summer Lake Springs. Breitenbush is the largest thermal spring area in the Oregon Cascades
The Umpqua Hot Springs is worth the hike to its three descending pools located on the North Umpqua River in the Umpqua National Forest surrounded by towering pine trees.
8. High Desert Museum
We’ve been talking a lot about outdoor activities like hitting the biking trails to soaking in the natural beauty of the state, and the High Desert Museum of Bend keeps with that theme.
Staying true to the outdoor adventurous spirit of Bend, the High Desert Museum spans on 135 acres of forest lands and is devoted to the natural and cultural history of the high desert area. Filled with nature trails and outdoor exhibits the museum shares stories of the people, places, and wildlife of the area. There are permanent and changing exhibits offering workshops, animal shows, and lectures.
Where to Stay in Bend
Oxford Hotel – If you are staying in Bend, we loved our accommodations at The Oxford Hotel located downtown Bend. Tetherow Hotel is an award-winning hotel located on a golf course. This luxury property is 10 minutes from downtown, 7 minutes from the Old Mill District, and 20 minutes from Mt. Bachelor with a shuttle service.
9. Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway
And from Bend, you can enjoy a drive along the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway starting from downtown Bend. We actually did a portion of this by bicycle and it was awesome. Read more at Things to do in Bend
The Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway begins in the city of Bend and winds its way through the Deschutes National Forest and the Cascade Mountains covering approximately 66 miles of highway. Along the way, visitors can stop at several scenic viewpoints, including Mount Bachelor, the Three Sisters Mountains, and the beautiful Sparks Lake.
The byway is also home to several recreational areas, including several lakes the serene Elk Lake, the clear and shallow Cultus Lake, and the scenic Devils Lake. It is also home to several trails for hiking, including the popular Green Lakes Trail and the challenging South Sister Trail.
The best time to visit Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway is in summer and early fall when the weather is mild, and the roads are clear. In the winter months, some portions of the byway are closed due to snow, but it is a popular destination for winter sports enthusiasts, including snowshoers, cross-country skiers, and snowmobilers.
10. Mount Hood National Forest
Speaking of winter, Mount Hood National Forest houses the highest peak in Oregon at 11,239 feet. We visited Oregon in late summer and actually drove through a bit of snow while driving the Mount Hood Scenic Byway, which is a 105-mile route that takes visitors past Mount Hood. There is great skiing here in the winter with hiking in the summer.
Mount Hood National Forest covers over one million acres of land and is a year round destination. In the summer there are more than 1,200 miles of hiking and biking trails and in the winter there is skiing and snowboarding at Timberline Lodge and Ski Area, Mount Hood Meadows, and Ski Bowl
You can check out this Mount Hood Day Trip where you will explore Hood River Valley, and marvel at the Columbia Gorge on a full-day tour from Portland
11. Cove Palisades State Park
Cove Palisades State Park is a public recreation area located in Central Oregon and is yet another place for outdoor lovers to enjoy the natural beauty of Oregon. It covers more than 6000 acres and is located on the eastern side of Lake Billy Chinook.
The park features several campgrounds, hiking trails, picnic areas, and boat ramps. Visitors can enjoy swimming, boating, fishing, and water sports on the lake. The park is also home to the Tam-a-lau Trail, a popular hiking trail that leads to the top of a cliff overlooking the lake.
One of the most notable features of Cove Palisades State Park is the Crooked River Canyon, a deep gorge that was carved out by the Crooked River. The canyon is surrounded by towering cliffs and is home to several unique rock formations, including the Chimney Rock and the Island.
12. Crater Lake National Park
Did you know that Crater Lake is the deepest lake in America? Formed by a volcanic eruption 7,700 years ago this scenic lake is a whopping 1943 feet deep. There are no inlets to this lake allowing it to remain pristine and clear and unlike anything you have seen. You can take a guided boat tour of the lake, or hike one of its many trails.
Crater Lake is one of the most iconic natural landmarks in Oregon but there are many things to do in Crater Lake National Park besides dipping your toes in the deepest lake in the USA.
There are 90 miles (150 km) of trails for hiking and in the winter you can go snowshoeing here too! Crater Lake National Park also features unique geological formations such as Wizard Island, which is a cinder cone that rises up from the lake, and Phantom Ship, a rock formation that resembles a ghostly ship floating on the water.
Make sure to take a road trip along The 33 mile (53 km) Rim Drive which offers some beautiful scenic views of Southern Oregon. See the National Parks Service for trail closures and more information. (right now certain trails are closed)
Crater Lake National Park is truly one of the best things to do in Oregon and here’s a fun fact, Crater Lake National Park is the only National Park in Oregon. It has National Forests, National Monuments, and state parks but Crater Lake is the only National Park!
13. John Day Fossil Beds National Monument
Oregon is filled with a diverse landscape. You can be in lush forests one minute and high desert plains another. At the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument in Central Oregon, you are transported to an ecosystem that reminds me of the Badlands. With layered fossils and colorful cliffs, they are one of the most popular attractions in Oregon.
The Painted Hills reminded us of Rainbow Mountain in Peru. The colorful layers stand out creating such a striking scene, they were named one of Oregon’s 7 Wonders. The Painted Hills Overlook Trail is the best for showcasing its beauty. Another way to take in the scene is to take a drive along the Journey Through Time Scenic Byway.
John Day Fossil Beds National Monument covers over 14,000 acres of land and is home to one of the most diverse and well-preserved fossil records in the world, with fossils dating back over 50 million years. The monument has three different units, and each unit has a visitor center with exhibits that showcase the fossil history of the area. These exhibits include fossils of plants, mammals, and insects.
14. Oregon Coast
The Oregon Coast is a spectacular 300-mile (480 km) long stretch of coastline. It is so spectacular that it too is a part of the 7 Wonders of Oregon. Cannon Beach is the perfect place to make a base while exploring the Oregon Coast. Featured in movies such as The Goonies and Point Break, this beautiful beach is definitely one of the top things to do in Oregon on the coast.
The Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area is located along the Oregon Coast and they are the most temperate coastal sand dunes in the world stretching for 40 miles. This is the place to try your hand at sandboarding.
15. Cannon Beach
Cannon Beach is the most recognizable beach in Oregon with the Haystack Rock standing guard. Haystack Rock rises 235 feet from the edge of the shoreline creating a striking scene.
Cannon Beach was named one of the most beautiful places in the world by National Geographic and it was featured heavily in the movies The Goonies. There are plenty of places to stay and things to do off the beach including hiking, craft brewery tours, and plenty of birdlife including puffins!
This Oregon Coast Day Tour takes you to the white sand beaches of Oregon on a full-day tour. Stops include, including Cannon Beach to see Haystack Rock, Short Sand Beach at Oswald West State Park, Ecola State Park, and Neahkahnie Point to view the dramatic Oregon Coastline
16. Thor’s Well
One of the best places to visit in Oregon for photographers is the magnificent Thor’s Well. This impressive sinkhole is located on Highway 101 / Oregon Coast Highway just outside of Yachats in the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area.
It requires a bit of hiking so wear proper footwear and keep your wits about you as the Oregon Coast can change without notice. Make sure to keep a safe distance away as people have been swept away here.
Oregon Coast Aquarium
The Oregon Coast Aquarium is a popular place to visit for families. Located on the scenic Oregon coast, with views of Yaquina Bay and the Pacific Ocean, visitors can enjoy the stunning scenery while learning about the marine life that inhabits it.
We have a love-hate relationship with aquariums but also understand that it is the conservation efforts and funds of aquariums that are helping to save the oceans. At the Oregon Coast Aquarium, the animals are housed in environments that mimic their natural habitats as closely as possible, and they are fed diets that meet their nutritional needs.
The aquarium participates in various conservation efforts, such as sea otter rehabilitation and the Oregon Marine Mammal Stranding Network, which rescues and rehabilitates stranded marine animals.
Located at the mouth of the Columbia River, Astoria is another popular tourist destination in Oregon. One of the main reasons to visit Astoria is its connection to the famous Lewis and Clark Expedition.
In 1805 explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, reached the mouth of the Columbia River and established a camp near what is now Astoria. Today, visitors can explore the Lewis and Clark National Historic Park in Astoria, which includes several sites related to the expedition, including the reconstructed Fort Clatsop, where the expedition spent the winter of 1805-1806.
While in Astoria make sure you climb the Astor Column for some great views and be sure to check out its many museums including the Oregon Film Museum located in the Old Clatsop County Jail that was featured in The Goonies.
Another highlight here is driving across the Astoria-Megler Bridge, the longest continuous truss bridge in the United States. It spans 4.1 miles across the Columbia River connecting Oregon to Washington State.
18. Columbia River Maritime Museum
The Columbia River Maritime Museum is located in Astoria and deserves its own section. Located on the waterfront, it showcases the significant role this historic port city has played in Oregon’s history for more than two centuries.
The museum features a variety of exhibits that explore the history of the Columbia River. Visitors can see artifacts and displays related to the region’s maritime industry, including fishing boats, shipping vessels, navigation tools, and maritime art. The museum also has an extensive collection of photographs and archives that document the history of the area.
19. Fort Stevens State Park
Fort Stevens State Park is located on the northern coast of Oregon spanning 4,200 acres of land, including 9 miles of ocean shoreline. The park is named after the historic Fort Stevens, which was built in the late 1800s and served as a military defense installation during the Civil War, World War I, and World War II.
One of the must-stops on your road trip is the Peter Iredale Shipwreck, this shipwreck is located directly on the beach and is a very popular photo stop. This area includes the historic fort, military batteries, and the Oregon Military Museum, which features exhibits on the history of the fort and military defense in Oregon.
If you want to stretch your legs, the Columbia River Beach is a long stretch of beach and is popular for beachcombing and exploring the tide pools.
20. Oregon Coast Trail
If you love sandy beaches, a rugged coastline, and exploration, then the Oregon Coast Trail is one of the best. This trail takes you along 363 miles of coastline on the Pacific Coast. It is composed of several trails if you want to divide up your hike, one of the best is in Ecola State Park which takes you just a little inside the coast for amazing cliff views of the Pacific Ocean.
The Oregon Coast Trail starts at the Columbia River south jetty in Fort Stevens State Park. The trail ends at the California border in Southern Oregon at Crissey Field State Recreation Site. Read more: 12 Best Hikes in Oregon That Will Blow Your Mind
21. Pacific Crest Trail
If you are looking for more of a challenge, The Pacific Crest Trail runs from The Washington border to southern Oregon 455.2-miles. If you want a taste of what the hikers feel like going from Canada to Mexico, hop on it for a couple of days and start hiking.
You’ll pass through miles of lodgepole pines, views of Crater Lake, the Oregon Cascade Mountains, wildflowers, rivers, wildlife, and a whole lot more. You don’t have to do the entire Pacific Crest Trail, you can join it at any time. Check the PCT Oregon Website for day hikes around Oregon.
Plus you can say you did the Pacific Crest National Trail without having to hike all 4200 km of it. Get more information on where to hike the Pacific Crest Trail at the PCT Association Oregon.
22. Oregon Caves National Monument
Located in the Siskiyou Mountains of Southern Oregon, Oregon Caves National Monument is a must for people looking for adventurous things to do in Oregon for the whole family. This unique destination is located in southern Oregon, near the city of Cave Junction.
Oregon Caves National Monument was established in 1909 and covers over 480 acres of protected land. The centerpiece of the monument is the Oregon Caves, which are a series of marble caverns that were formed by underground streams over millions of years.
Take a guided cave tour (note: Visitors must be 42 inches tall to join to tour) that is led by a park ranger to see the underground caves and the unique stalactites, stalagmites, and flowstone. The tour is about 90 minutes and you’ll make your way through a half-mile path of narrow passages as low as 45 inches high. Visit the website for tour details.
23. Sea Lions Cave
Speaking of Caves, Sea Lions Cave is a fun place to visit in Oregon to view sea lions frolicking on the rocks. Located on the Oregon coast near the town of Florence, it is the largest sea cave in America and it is the only known mainland rookery (breeding ground) of Stellar sea lions in the United States. The cave was discovered in 1880 and was later developed into a tourist attraction in the 1930s.
The cave is more than 12 stories tall and is about the size of a football field. There is an elevator that will take you down to the caves where you will get to explore the largest sea cave in America. This unique adventure lets visitors watch the sea lions lounging on rocks, swimming in the water, and interacting with each other.
Besides the Stellar sea lions, the cave’s walls are home to a variety of marine animals, including harbor seals, and sea birds. The best time to visit Sea Lion Caves is during the winter and spring months when the sea lions are most active. During this time, visitors can see hundreds of sea lions in the cave, as well as on the rocks outside of the cave.
This is truly one of the most unique things to do in Oregon. How often do you get to view sea lions in their natural habitat within a huge grotto from the safety of a viewing platform?
24. Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor
The Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor is a beautiful stretch of the Oregon coast that weaves along the Pacific Ocean in southern Oregon. It treats road trippers with views of rugged cliffs, and secluded beaches. There are several scenic viewpoints, hiking trails, and natural landmarks, such as Arch Rock, Natural Bridges, and Secret Beach.
This 12-mile (19 km) stretch of coastline is located on the southern coast of Oregon and runs from just south of the city of Brookings to the Pistol River. It’s a short stretch, but it can take a full day to truly appreciate its beauty and to enjoy its hiking trails, wildlife viewing (including whale spotting), and stopping at its historical landmarks.
25. Willamette Valley Vineyards
The Willamette Valley is home to Oregon wine country. It has more than 500 wineries within 150 miles of the Willamette Valley producing some of the best Pinot Noirs in America. (the character Miles of Sideways would be very happy).
This beautiful region is perfect for cycling, hiking, and slowing down as you hop from vineyard to vineyard. Book this Willamette Valley Wine Tour on a day trip from Portland taking you through the rolling farmland and vineyards of the Willamette Valley.
There are other wine regions outside the Willamette Valley in Oregon too! In fact, there are 21 wine regions in Oregon producing 100 different varieties of grapes. The Faith, Hope, and Charity Vineyard is a 15-acre vineyard that produces fantastic red and white wines just 20 minutes from Bend Oregon. We loved the welcoming hospitality of their elegant western tasting room while enjoying the gorgeous views of Central Oregon.
26. Silver Falls State Park
If you are looking for waterfalls, Silver Falls State Park should be at the top of your list of things to do in Oregon. Located in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, east of Salem, it covers over 9,000 acres of protected land.
One of the top things to do in Silver Falls State Park is to take a hike along the Trail of Ten Falls which weaves through a forest landscape passing a series of ten waterfalls. This moderate 7.2-mile loop is well-maintained and is a must-see.
Silver Falls State Park has everything you can expect from a State Park including picnic areas, campgrounds, and day-use facilities. In the summer months, visitors can swim and fish in the park’s streams and pools, and in the winter months, visitors can snowshoe or cross-country ski on the park’s trails.
27. Go Horseback Riding at Brasada Ranch
Our stay at Brasada Ranch was one of our favorite things to do in Oregon and heading out on a trail ride was unforgettable. Located in Central Oregon just 30 minutes from Bend this is a Dude Ranch combined with urban elegance. There are trail rides where you can explore the high desert landscape, learn of the Indigenous culture, and take in the spectacular views while horseback riding.
Our ride took us out to Spirit Rock which looked like a picture right out of an old Western movie. The smell of sage filled the air and desert shrubs blew in the wind along the dusty trail. We then enjoyed a luxurious spa and a five-star dinner. Book your night at the Brasada Ranch.
28. Willamette National Forest
For a state that has so many outstanding state parks and natural beauty, it just keeps on coming. The vast Willamette National Forest spans 1.6 million acres.
One of the main attractions at Willamette National Forest is the Three Sisters Wilderness, a protected wilderness area that includes three volcanic peaks known as the Three Sisters. The area offers a wide range of hiking trails that lead through alpine meadows, old-growth forests, and across rushing streams. Visitors can also explore the many lakes and waterfalls that dot the landscape, including the popular Sahalie and Koosah Falls.
Another popular attraction in the Willamette National Forest is the McKenzie River Trail, a 26-mile-long trail that follows the McKenzie River through the forest. The trail offers stunning views of the river and passes by several notable attractions, including the Tamolitch Blue Pool and the Sahalie and Koosah Falls.
29. Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland
The Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) is located in southern Oregon in Ashland and is one of the largest and most prominent regional theaters in the United States. As you may have guessed, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival mainly produces the works of William Shakespeare.
The festival was founded in 1935 and has since become a cultural icon in the Pacific Northwest region. It attracts over 400,000 visitors each year and is one of the biggest tourist draws in the state of Oregon. The plays are performed in three different theaters, including the iconic outdoor Elizabethan Theatre, which seats over 1,000 people.
It reminds me a lot of the Stratford Festival here in Ontario, Canada. Seeing a Shakespearean play performed by professional actors is something you truly must experience at least once in your life.
30. Wallowa Whitman National Forest
Making our way out to the Wallowa Mountains, the Wallowa Whitman National Forest is yet another popular hiking destination in Oregon. Some popular hikes include the Chief Joseph Trail, the Eagle Cap Wilderness Loop, and the Wallowa Lake Trail.
And like many places in Oregon, this national forest has scenic drives, camping and year-round outdoor activities. Hop in your car and enjoy the Hells Canyon Scenic Byway and the Wallowa Mountain Loop Road drives and keep an eye out for elk, deer, bighorn sheep, and black bears. In the winter, The Anthony Lakes Ski Resort is a popular destination for downhill skiing and snowboarding.
31. Wallowa Lake Tramway
For a scenic ride take the tramway to the top of Mt. Howard for panoramic views of Wallowa Lake. Located in Northeastern Oregon, the 3700-foot tramway rises up through the Wallowa Mountains making it one of the most popular things to do in Oregon. Sit at the top and enjoy a cocktail as you take in the rugged scenic views.
The Wallowa Mountains are often compared to the Swiss Alps and if you have ever seen the Swiss Alps, you’ll know that is a very high compliment. See details here.
32. Spend Time in Portland
No “best things to do in Oregon” article would be complete without mentioning Portland. The largest city in Oregon is located where the Willamette and Columbia Rivers meet creating an amazing destination for outdoor lovers in search of a coold city vibe.
Portland totally surprised us with its laid-back hip vibes. Their slogan is fittingly “Keep Portland Weird”. There are so many things to do in Portland it warrants its own post, but we are going to highlight a few of our favorite outdoor things to do so you can keep reading.
Like Bend, it is known for its microbrews but there are so many places to visit in Portland. Notable things to do are: eat at one of its many food trucks and peruse the over one million books at Powell’s City of Books. This bookstore is one of the most iconic places to visit in Portland covering an entire city block. Walk across the St. John’s Bridge for views of the Willamette River, and check out the many museums and gardens.
33. Washington Park
Washington Park is a sprawling urban oasis that is easily accessed with the help of Portland’s light rail. Spanning 458 acres, this is an urban park that is filled with plenty of attractions. Washington Park houses the Oregon Zoo, an archery range, tennis courts, an arboretum and plenty of trails. But it is its two unique gardens that are a star attraction.
Known as the City of Roses, Portland is home to the stunning and public Rose Test Garden. Found within Washington Park, the International Rose Test Garden boasts 500 varieties of roses sources from around the globe. The roses are sent here to test the viability and the plant’s characteristics.
Although open year-round, the garden is best seen between the months of May and September. During that time period, more than 10,000 rose bushes bloom in unison, backed by the incredible views of Mt Hood. After the garden, wander over to the iconic ice cream shop Salt & Straw for some distinctive ice cream flavors.
Portland Japanese Garden
Considered one of the most authentic Japanese Gardens outside of Japan, the Portland Japanese Garden is another garden located within Washington Park and is not to be missed. We have visited a lot of Japanese and Chinese Gardens in our day and they are a beautiful place to find your Zen.It has the usual elements of an Asian garden with water features, rocks, gardens, and buildings blending all of the elements beautifully together.
The most notable garden is Portland’s Japanese Garden. We’d never been big on gardens until we visited Japan. Seeing Japanese Gardens changed our tune. They are as beautiful as they are serene. The Japanese Garden in Portland is modeled after the gardens of Japan with rocks, pagodas, gardens, and ponds.
34. Portland Museums
If you are finding a little too many things to do in Oregon outside on this list, spend some time indoors enjoying Portland’s Museums. There are plenty to see, but here are a couple of standouts.
Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) was founded in 1944 and is one of the oldest science museums in the United States. If you are looking for things to do in Portland on a rainy day, this is the place.
The museum features a variety of hands-on exhibits, live demonstrations, and interactive displays that explore various scientific fields such as physics, chemistry, biology, earth science, and technology. Some of the most popular exhibits at OMSI include the Earth Science Hall, where visitors can explore a replica of a Pacific Northwest cave, and the Turbine Hall, which features large-scale demonstrations of water and electricity.
Portland Art Museum
Art lovers will enjoy the Portland Art Museum. Located near the Portland State University campus, the art museum features work from across the globe and also focuses on Pacific Northwest Native American Art.
You could spend a full day wandering the halls and taking in several masterpieces, stunning photography, and iconic prints. However, even with just an hour or two, you can still make the most of the experience.
Where to stay in Portland
The Benson a Coastal Hotel – This elegant hotel has been serving guests for more than a century. The four-diamond landmark hotel was a great stay in the heart of downtown Portland. The Jupiter – This was a very cool-themed hotel that brought us back in time. This old motor inn has been transformed into a boutique hotel tastefully decorated with mid-century design.
And these are the best things to do in Oregon. Have you visited the Pacific Northwest? What are your favourite Oregon Attractions?