Oregon is an amazing state to visit! Filled with Westcoast’s most dramatic scenery, facilities and parks; it’s the kind of state you can explore for years and not get bored. Plus, there are a bunch of the best places in Oregon to visit even if a great outdoor stay is none of your business. There are a few totally cool cities that you really shouldn’t miss.
To be honest, Oregon’s natural landscapes make it an amazing place to discover (and it’s something that always attracts me west coast of the United States). You see, there are tons of beautiful Oregon hiking trails and vistas that can be seen, and they are within easy reach of moderate hikers.
Although, like I said, it’s not just hiking or nature that makes it the best place to travel in Oregon! To help you along the way, I wanted to share some of my favorite trips, areas, and cities that you really shouldn’t miss.
Check out the best places in Oregon to visit below. Experience an epic time of exploration!
1.) Yaquina Head
Located north of Newport, Yaquina Head is an amazing coastal area to explore if you want a little travel away from the city itself. Honestly, the coast around the Yaquina Head lighthouse (from the 1800s) is a beautiful and amazing place to walk the trails that cross the area.
Although a relatively small area (compared to some other parks in Oregon), Yaquina Head is truly stunning to visit. This is especially true in the late afternoon when you can join in and chat with a beautiful view of the sunset.
Be sure to follow the Lighthouse Trail or head to Mount Salal to a completely beautiful landscape. In summer, bring some water and sunscreen with you. Even on a cloudy day, that wind can trick you into getting burned!
Finally, towards a quieter (and completely quiet) sunset location, head further north along the coast to Moolack Beach. The views across the ocean are just so stunning!
2.) Oregon Dune National Recreation Area
Right on the southern borders of the Siuslaw National Forest, Oregon Dunes are one of the best places in Oregon to explore on a trip. Shaped over thousands of years, the Oregon Dune National Recreation Area is one of the largest expansive sand dunes in the entire world!
Best of all, the sandy shores and hills are as silky and powdery as you can imagine. You can easily spend the whole day exploring the wider area, especially with all the places to see and do. Upon arrival, embark on one of the quad / ATV tours that will take you right inside the dunes.
That being said, if you like something a little calmer, pack your hiking boots and head towards some trails that stretch for miles.
One thing should be noted … although never completely congested with people, if you want a much calmer experience, it is best to arrive early in the morning. Yes, it can be colder, but you will have a lot less people nearby.
About a 100-minute drive from Portland, Eugene is one of the best places in Oregon to visit if you want a small city vacation. What I love most about Eugene is that it’s big enough to get a great West Coast city experience, but small enough to be easily bypassed.
Once here, be sure to explore the amazing Museum of Natural and Cultural History. Yes, it may be an intimate museum, but one that certainly has a lot of punches! Then head to Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, which is completely epic and perfect to visit if you love indoor activities.
Also, for some great views of Eugene, head to Skinner Butte Park. There are several nice (and fairly easy) trails that are ideal for a morning outing.
If this is the park you are looking for, visit Hendricks Park. This is the oldest park in the whole of Eugene and one place that is completely beautiful on a sunny day. Be sure to visit the native plant gardens and follow the paths through the forest routes.
Are you getting hungry? Grab a chair on Fisherman’s market. Their seafood pies and crab legs are so delicious!
4.) Ecola State Park
Probably one of the most famous coastal areas in Oregon, Ecola State Park is an absolutely beautiful place to visit. It is a completely untouched area to visit and includes so many places to see and things to do while the road stumbles along the coast.
Of course, you can’t miss a visit to the coastal coves at Bird Point and View of Tillamook Rock Lighthouse which are only nearby.
For a beautiful hike, take the Indian Trail or stop at Crescent Beach which is completely blissful.
Finally, don’t forget to see the iconic Haystack Rock right next to Canon Beach. It is completely easy to find and worth gander after wandering the city.
Oh, and for perfect cooking, head to the Sleepy Monk coffee roasters. Their coffee blends are so good.
5.) Silver Falls State Park
As one of the largest parks in the state, Silver Falls State Park is absolutely beautiful and one of the best places in Oregon to explore much of the wilderness! Approximately 40 minutes drive from Salem, it is completely easy to visit it for a day trip or a longer getaway in the open air.
When you arrive, head straight towards exploring some of the cult waterfalls of the park that are dotted all over the area. There are a bunch to see, especially South Falls and North Falls which are totally beautiful! If you want to spot more, follow the Trail of Ten Waterfalls a little over 11 miles long. It is a relatively easy trail (for experienced hikers) and is worth exploring to explore more of the state park.
Although, just like other cult places in Oregon, it can be busy. This means you should arrive nice and early if you want to avoid the crowds.
6.) Mount Bachelor
About two hours from Eugene, Mount Bachelor is one of the best Oregon ski resorts worth sliding down the slope for a while. It’s a completely beautiful area and one of the best places in Oregon for a number of trails to suit the whole family.
Now Mount Bachelor doesn’t have the greatest ‘resort’ experience, but in my opinion it’s all part of its charm. Most people tend to settle in Bend (about 30 minutes away) and it is totally worth booking a few nights in the city if you are planning a longer ski trip.
7.) Hood River
On the banks of the Columbia River, the Hood River is one city in Oregon that is easy to visit while traveling the Washington-Oregon border.
While you’re here, be sure to take the historic Mount Hood Railroad. It is completely kitsch and is worth the experience during your stay on the Hood River.
If you are blessed with beautiful sunny weather, head to The Hook and rent a kayak from Hood River SUP and kayak. It’s a great way to explore some of the wider waterways and it pays off in a quiet afternoon.
Oh, and for some of the best sweet treats, head to Mike’s Ice Cream for their delicious homemade cones. We love them!
Finally, don’t forget to explore Crown Point, state stage corridor it’s on your route from Portland. It is a completely beautiful area across the river itself.
Speaking of Portland, it’s one of the best places in Oregon that you really can’t miss when visiting the state. Now we would recommend you to spend at least a few days in the city, because here you can see and experience quite a bit of it.
Upon arrival, explore a completely cult Japanese garden that is perfect for a picture. You can easily take a few hours here and it is completely blissful. Then head to the Portland Art Museum which has existed since the 1800s. Inside you will find a bunch of Indian art along with contemporary art that you can easily spend all day watching.
If historic homes are more your style, enter the Pittock Mansion. This Renaissance-style house has been in Portland for over 100 years! Today you can go inside and see the beautiful terrains that are beautiful. Also, nearby you will find a bunch of trails and routes that make for a beautiful walk in the park.
For a delicious treat, book a table at Le Pigeon. Focusing on French-fusion dishes, it has a bunch of characters and a seasonal menu that is completely delicious.
Finally, if you’re visiting on the weekends, head out to explore the Portland Saturday Market. It is one of the largest in the country for arts and crafts. The market attracts hundreds of small businesses and thousands of visitors from the wider northwest. You won’t want to miss it.
9.) Crater Lake National Park
Situated in the cascading mountains is Crater Lake National Park, one of the best places in Oregon for views! Well, at least in my opinion!
Technically more of a caldera than a crater, it’s a huge area that’s amazing to follow through the Scenic Byway (summer only).
Upon arrival at the national park, be sure to take a look at the views from the Watchtower. It is absolutely beautiful and is easily one of the best views in the whole park. Yes, you could take a little walk to the view, but it all pays off.
Also, don’t forget to see the cult Devols Backbone, Merriam Point and spot the Wizard’s Island from the very edge of the crater. We love it!
10.) Smith Rock State Park
About a 40-minute drive from Bend, Smith Rock State Park encompasses a landscape beyond this world that truly showcases Oregon’s natural diversity.
Once you get here and sign up for the Visitor Center, be sure to follow the river or canyon trail that occupies the best spots in the park.
If you want a little more of a challenge, take the Misery Ridge trail that runs between the Curved River.
Also, you can easily book a balloon ride while you’re in the area – it’s completely magical, but you have to be prepared to cancel in case of bad weather.
11.) Multnomah Falls
Another location located between Portland and the Hood River, Multnomah Falls is one of the best places in Oregon to visit on a wider trip to the northern outskirts of the state. Honestly, you have to stop at the gorge of the Columbia River and a cult place you can’t miss.
You can easily take a few hours hiking trails here. In addition, you will be rewarded with some completely beautiful views.
It should be noted that the parking lot can be filled quickly (especially on weekends). If you want to secure space, come early and avoid weekends when it can fill up quickly.
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