Top 25 Attractions and Places to Visit in Oregon
Oregon is a state of adventure landscape. From the coast to the mountains and high desert of Oregon, state vacations travel through all terrain. (Attractions and Places to Visit in Oregon)
There are so many places to visit and things to do in Oregon that planning a getaway can take a while until you have a complete picture of everything Oregon offers.
Some of the beautiful places in Oregon include an ancient lake created by a volcanic eruption, a luscious gorge with waterfalls streaming in, and several impressive sea stacks jutting out to sea.
These scenic attractions are spread across the state, making memorable road trips and excursions.
In addition to its natural beauty, Oregon is equally known for its urban charm. The state’s largest city, Portland, holds an international reputation for attracting tourists with a distinct and welcoming culture.
The top things in Portland range from visiting rose gardens and art museums to browsing a huge bookstore. And this cultural capital is one of many great cities in Oregon.
Plan your summer or winter trip to Oregon with our list of the top attractions and places to visit.
- Crater Lake National Park
With a landscape like nowhere else, Crater Lake National Park is located in the Cascade Mountains of southwestern Oregon.
It is not a crater but an ancient caldera from an extinct volcano, Mount Mazama, which erupted 7,000 years ago. Today, the lava rocks surrounding the incredibly blue and bottomless lake reach 2,000 feet.
Not far from the edge of the crater, Rim Drive circles the lake in a clockwise direction. It starts from the Rim village and can only be driven in the warm season months. During the winter, snowshoers and cross-country skiers use the uncultivated road for winter travel.
Crater Lake National Park is home to some of the best hiking trails in Oregon. Stunning trails such as Watchmen Peak offer spectacular views of the caldera, while more moderate options lead through paved footpaths from Rim Village.
And extended hiking and backpacking opportunities are present just off the rim, including the Pacific Crest Trail stretching across the country.
Head to Clearwood Cove, where cruises to Wizard Island depart to explore the lake only in the summer months. Camping is also available at two developed campgrounds, with most sites being found at Mazama Campground.
There is much to see outside of national parks in southern Oregon. Crater Lake is surrounded by many wooded places, such as Umpqua National Forest and Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, with hundreds of miles of hiking trails to explore.
- Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area
The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area follows the course of the Columbia River as it cuts through the Cascade Range.
This stunning river gorge serves as the boundary line between Oregon and Washington and is known for its spectacular scenery and numerous waterfalls.
Traveling along the Historic Columbia River Highway offers slower speeds than the adjacent Interstate 84. This historic corridor has many roadside attractions to enjoy and is a popular route to explore via bicycle.
The state’s tallest waterfall, Multnomah Falls, is perhaps the most iconic display of gravity in the Columbia River Gorge.
With a dazzling two-tiered waterfall, the area around Multnomah offers plenty of hiking and biking trails and camping facilities.
Multnomah Falls is one of the most popular day trips from Portland but isn’t even close to the only waterfall to see in the gorge. One of the many other great sites is Punchbowl Falls on Eagle Creek.
Cannon Beach is a popular tourist destination on the northern Oregon coast, offering spectacular views of a vast stretch of sand and jagged coastal cliffs.
Haystack Rock is the largest of these sea stacks and is constantly present during any visit to this coastal community.
Cannon Beach also offers cultural appeal with restaurants, boutique shops, grand hotels, and spectacular ocean views.
This combination of culture, community and ocean access earns Cannon Beach its reputation as one of the coolest small towns on the Oregon Coast,
To the north of Cannon Beach, include the charming Ecola State Park and Tillamook Head for visiting historic and natural landscapes.
The lovely town of Seaside is at the other end of Ecola State Park, offering more days of family-friendly travel along the coast.
- Washington Park, Portland
Portland offers a bevy of delightful parks and gardens, but none have the density of attractions as Washington Park.
The famous International Rose Test Garden is adjacent to the impressive Portland Japanese Garden within the park grounds. Each displays exceptional horticultural expertise and is a favorite with the green thumb.
The park entices fun finds at the Oregon Zoo and the Portland Children’s Museum for families. The park is also home to some of the best hiking trails in the Portland area. Plan to spend an entire day exploring this urban respite in the city’s heart.
A free Washington Park shuttle operates within the park daily between April and September, and several public transportation options help reduce the need for parking.
- Mount Hood National Forest
Mount Hood is the highest mountain in Oregon, with a peak of 11,239 feet. This vastness makes the mountain an unmistakable landmark of the state, seen from miles in every direction. On clear days, it provides a spectacular backdrop to the city of Portland to the east.
Mount Hood National Forest includes the entire mountain and most of it. This public place offers all kinds of adventures.
Mount Hood Skibowl on the mountain’s slopes has downhill offerings, picturesque hiking trails such as the Timberline Trail, and scenic views accessible via the Mount Hood Scenic Loop. The country-wide Pacific Crest Trail also traverses the southwest side of the mountain.
The historic town of Government Camp and the nearby Timberline Lodge are big attractions in this mountainous landscape.
The reflective Trillium Lake offers a postcard setting and a stunning mountain view. Mount Hood National Forest fans out from the peak to encircle the waterfalls and hot springs.
The Bend sits roughly in the center of Oregon, surrounded by a mix of national forests, volcanoes, and dry plains. The city’s High Desert Museum has informative exhibits about the surrounding arid regions.
Famous things in Bend include:
- Rafting trips on the Deschutes River.
- Visiting the volcanic landscapes of Lava Butte and Newberry National Volcanic Monument.
- Skiing at the large Mount Bachelor Ski Area.
- An iconic waterfall in the area, Tumalo Falls, can be accessed just a 10-mile drive from Bend.
In addition, Smith is renowned for its many routes with rock climbers and its long history as a rock-climbing destination.
Hiking trails around Bend are a great way to explore these scenic areas, and mountain biking trails also add to the excitement.
For a more laid-back approach, the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway is a popular auto-touring route through Deschutes National Forest.
The drive passes through lakes, mountains, and spectacular scenery, with many picnic spots and campsites available along the way. (Attractions and Places to Visit in Oregon)
In the far northwest corner of Oregon, adjacent to the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean, Astoria is a charming seaside town with inspiring surroundings.
Although small, it is known as the San Francisco of Oregon, thanks to its coastal location and vibrant downtown district full of community flavor.
Movie fans may recognize Astoria as the backdrop to the cult-classic film of the ’80s, The Goonies. Visitors to Astoria can learn more about this film and other Oregon productions at the Oregon Film Museum in the old Clatsop County Jail.
Nearby, the Flavel House Museum in Astoria provides historical insight into this aging city. Other top Astoria attractions include the beautiful riverfront and the Astoria Column, with great views of the area. (Attractions and Places to Visit in Oregon)
The beautiful town of Hood River is on the banks of the Columbia River, about an hour east of Portland.
It is an excellent place for sightseeing and outdoor sports and is a destination for kiteboarding and windsurfing. Other everyday things to do in this adventure area include hiking, biking, and camping.
The city is also known for its booming culinary scene. Menus are often fortified with ingredients fresh from the adjacent Hood River Valley.
Even more flavors of the region can be found on the 35-mile Fruit Loop, which runs south from downtown into agricultural areas.
Visitors seeking less physical activity can easily hop on the historic Columbia River Scenic Byway to explore a lush world of waterfalls.
The Mount Hood Railroad also departs from the Hood River and travels 17 miles to Odell, with Mount Hood overlooking the entire route. (Attractions and Places to Visit in Oregon)
Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor, Brookings
Samuel H. The Boardman State Scenic Corridor is a 12-mile linear park between Brookings and Gold Beach on the southern Oregon coast. And this stunning coastal corridor boasts some of the best oceanfront views in the state.
The park is named after the first Oregon Parks Superintendent and is easily accessible from US 101.
Various pull-offs connect the entire park, adding to the beaches, rock formations, and the distinctive natural beauty that defines this part of the coast. The Oregon Coast Trail also spans the entire park, offering a very challenging day hike.
Some popular pitstops along this scenic corridor include Arch Rock; Indian sand; and one of the best beaches on the Oregon Coast, Lone Ranch Beach. (Attractions and Places to Visit in Oregon)
Smith Rock State Park, Terrebonne
Smith Rock State Park is an international climbing destination in central Oregon near Bend. The state park has over 1,000 bolted play trails that line a stunning river valley environment. These routes range from beginner to finger hard, requiring good climbing experience and gear.
It’s not just climbers who flock to this outdoor playground—mountain bikers, hikers, and photographers often explore the state park’s beautiful surroundings. And with a high-desert weather system, climbing and exploring Smith Rock in winter is usually a T-shirt effort.
For one of the best hikes in the area, visit Misery Ridge. Despite its formidable name, the trail provides a spectacular view of the Crooked River and its canyon walls.
Smith Rock State Park has an RV-exclusive campground and walking area for campers and hikers.
Official Site: https://smithrock.com/
Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Ashland
The world-famous Oregon Shakespeare Festival takes place in Ashland for most of the year. This non-profit theater production puts on over 700 shows annually, spread over three stages, including the beautiful Allen Elizabethan Theater. And catching one of these exhibits is a quintessential Southern Oregon travel experience.
With a season spanning from February to October, with great fanfare, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival defines much of the community and culture of the nearby city of Ashland.
This is especially true in the downtown district, brimming with Victorian-themed restaurants and shops. Most of the audience disperses out of theaters and onto these streets after a show. (Attractions and Places to Visit in Oregon)
Newport’s family-friendly attraction is located on the Oregon Coast, a city that mixes beachfront views with a distinctly Victorian heritage.
The Oregon Coast Aquarium and Hatfield Marine Science Center are often favorite places to visit, and to the north, the Yaquina Head Lighthouse is an epitome of coastal beauty.
The town is a good base camp for exploring the central coast and whale watching. Opposite the city’s busy bay is Yaquina Bay, which has a large fishing fleet.
Stretching from a sheltered bay, the city’s wild Pacific beaches offer storm-surge rollers and unfiltered sunsets. (Attractions and Places to Visit in Oregon)
Sisters is a fun western-themed town on the west side of the Cascade Mountains, about a 30-minute drive from Bend.
It is smaller than Bend and offers a more tourist-oriented community with a centralized downtown shopping area.
This downtown area has a distinctly Western charm dating back to the 1880s, with many modern retailers in old-fashioned storefronts.
Sisters is also a prime base camp for adventurers. The Willamette and Deschutes National Forests dominate the landscape immediately to the east, offering endless adventures throughout the year.
For one of the best automobile loops in Oregon, hop on the Mackenzie Pass-Santiam Pass Scenic Byway starting in Sisters. (Attractions and Places to Visit in Oregon)
Silver Falls State Park, Sublime
Silver Falls State Park is thirty minutes east of the state capital, Salem, and offers perhaps the most dazzling display of waterfalls in the country.
It is home to the nationally recognized Trail of Ten Falls, a moderate hiking path that tours many of the area’s water attractions.
This jewel of the Oregon State Park System takes users behind some waterfalls for an exciting perspective.
One of these waterfall tunnels includes the largest waterfall in the area and one of the best waterfalls in Oregon, the stunning South Falls. (Attractions and Places to Visit in Oregon)
Address: 20024 Silver Falls Highway Southeast, Sublime, Oregon
Depo Bay is a seaside town overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Perched on the edge of a cliff with its high vantage point and Main Street, it easily earns its reputation as the “Whale Watching Capital of the Oregon Coast.”
With ocean sounds presented along the entire western edge of the city, Depot Bay completes an authentic Oregon Coast vacation.
Local taffy shops and seafood restaurants line charming Main Street next to the world’s smallest harbor, with commercial fishing trips encouraging a day of adventure.
Depot Bay also provides easy access to a stunning stretch of coast. Several public access points dot the elevated Depo Bay shoreline, with spectacular lending views come sunset. Areas such as Devil’s Punchbowl and Yaquina Head are within a quick drive from Depo Bay on Area 101. (Attractions and Places to Visit in Oregon)
Newberry National Volcanic Monument
Newberry Volcanic Monument offers a plethora of unique scenery within Central Oregon’s Deschutes National Forest.
It is centered around the Newberry Caldera and encloses 1,200 square miles of the volcano. The Lava Lands Visitor Center is a great first stop visiting the monument to learn more about this thermally active region.
Popular activities in Newberry include cycling, hiking, and boating. One of the best campgrounds in Oregon is Newberry.
Those who make reservations at the famous Little Crater Lake Campground have immediate access to the welcoming waters of Lake Paulina.
Several beautiful hot springs are dug into the shoreline of Lake Paulina. This thermal area is accessible from the campground by boat ride or a moderate hike next to the water. (Attractions and Places to Visit in Oregon)
Klamath Falls is a base camp for adventure in southern Oregon. The city is one of several stops on the state-crossing Volcanoes Heritage Scenic Byway.
Crater Lake National Park is 90 minutes north of Klamath Falls on this bucket-list highway, and Lava Beds National Monument is less than 60 minutes south.
Apart from the natural attractions, the city offers many attractions and things to do. The city gets plenty of sunshine year-round, and places like Moore Park and the Links River Trail offer plenty of room to hang out.
For cultural appeal, head to Klamath Fall’s downtown district, where history and modern flavors meet for a fun travel experience.
Around the downtown area, a collection of Klamath County museums provides valuable insight into the room. (Attractions and Places to Visit in Oregon)
Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area
South of Florence begins the dune landscape of the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. It stretches along the Pacific coast for about 40 miles before reaching Coos Bay.
The National Recreation Area is within the Siasala National Forest, near other scenic attractions such as Cape Perpetua and the Heceta Head Lighthouse.
The sea and several pocket forests sandwich these miles of shifting dunes, providing plenty of space to explore on foot or via off-highway vehicles.
Popular destinations within the dunes include the Umpqua Dunes area in Winchester Bay and the sand boarding destination known as Sand Master Park in Florence.
For a great place to pitch a tent or park an RV, Jessie M. Hahnemann Memorial State Park is located south of Florence and is one of the best campgrounds on the Oregon Coast. It provides a popular location for access to dunes with horse and off-road vehicle staging areas.
Visitors to the dunes should be aware of icy plovers and the restrictions put in place to protect their habitat. (Attractions and Places to Visit in Oregon)
Hell’s Canyon National Recreation Area
In the extreme northeast of the state, marking the Idaho border, Hells Canyon is the deepest canyon in the United States.
This rugged river valley is within the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest and is largely inaccessible. But for adventurers, it offers longer outdoor trips like rafting and backpacking trips.
The wild and scenic Snake River runs along the valley floor and is a major bucket-list item for whitewater boaters.
Other popular activities at Hells Canyon include nature photography, wildlife spotting, fishing, and hiking.
The Western Rim National Recreation Trail leads to the Oregon side of the valley and provides excellent views for hikers and backpackers.
For those traveling by car, the Heales Canyon National Scenic Byway departs from Baker City and La Grande with side trips to Hell’s Canyon Dam and Viewpoint. (Attractions and Places to Visit in Oregon)
Oregon Coast Trail
Stretching for more than 360 miles along the western edge of Oregon, the Oregon Coast Trail (OCT) takes in the sights, sounds, and top attractions of the Oregon Coast.
Most tackle the Oregon Coast Trail in sections, doing three to five days at a time and covering 20 to 30 miles. Several campgrounds along the trail have state parks with separate hiker/biker sites.
Reservations are not required for the hiker/biker sites, although all have to be reached via muscle-powered transportation.
While the trail mostly sticks to the beaches, hikers on the OCT navigate the forested headlands, catch a boat ride to the mouth of the river, and walk along the shoulder of US 101 for parts of the trek. Strengthening logistics such as campgrounds and estuary crossings requires research before any trip. (Attractions and Places to Visit in Oregon)
Willamette National Forest
The vast Willamette National Forest covers about 1.7 million acres on the western slopes of the Cascade Mountains.
The forest has spectacular views, including several volcanoes, mountains, rivers, and some of the best hot springs in Oregon.
Visitors can explore the trails or head to attractions such as the Dee Wright Observatory (a stone tower atop Mackenzie Pass) or the 280-foot Salt Creek Falls. The famous Three Sisters Wilderness can also be accessed within the Willamette National Forest.
Dense national forests mainly surround this region of the state. Directly to the east, Deschutes National Forest is just as famous for recreation. And to the north, Mount Hood National Forest encircles the impressive peak for which it is named. (Attractions and Places to Visit in Oregon)
Willamette Heritage Center at The Mill, Salem
Salem is the capital of the state of Oregon. It is within the Willamette Valley and is home to the historic theater, the favorite family Carousel, and an Enchanted Forest.
Other top attractions in Salem include Riverfront City Park, the State Capitol Building, and the Willamette Heritage Center.
The Heritage Center looks at the life and industrialization of the Willamette Valley in the late 1800s. It is spread over five acres and centers on Thomas’ Woolen Mill in 1895.
Along with the prominent red structure, other historic wooden buildings are brought to life by exhibitions and interpretive guides. (Attractions and Places to Visit in Oregon)
Address: 1313 Mill Street Southeast, Salem, Oregon
Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, Eugene
This windowless museum in Eugene is designed to protect its art treasures. The wide-reaching collection includes mainly Asian artifacts and pieces from the Americas and Europe.
Opened in 1933, the museum is located on the University of Oregon campus, where other attractions include the Museum of Natural and Cultural History and a historic track at Hayward Field.
Guided tours of the museum are available on the first Saturday of every month and are included with the cost of admission. (Attractions and Places to Visit in Oregon)
- Address: 1430 Johnson Lane, Eugene, Oregon
- Official site: http://jsma.uoregon.edu/
Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve
This underground attraction is centered on a marble cave, accessible only during guided tours. The National Park Service offers a variety of tours that explore the cave, ranging from guided treks for families and children to wild cave expeditions that break away from the usual tourist trail.
Above the surface, the protected area provides hiking trails through old-growth coniferous forests. The monument is at an altitude of 4,000 feet in the Siskiyou Mountains.
Seventeen primitive campsites are available at the monument’s Cave Creek Campground, located about four miles from the cave entrance. (Attractions and Places to Visit in Oregon)
Address: 19000 Jews Highway, Kew Junction, Oregon
Medford is the largest city in southern Oregon and a hot spot for travel and vacations. It is considered the heart of the Rogue River valley, which links the town to an agriculturally rich region and several natural playgrounds.
Outdoor adventures that depart from Medford include jet boat tours of the Rogue River and climbing to the top of the culturally significant Table Rock formations.
A local favorite is Prescott Park to explore, which includes one of the city’s most prominent peaks, Roxy N’ Peak.
Medford is also a center of culture in southern Oregon. Its large population lends itself to more shopping malls and big box retailers.
But the downtown district, with local shops lining the streets, is the best place to experience the Medford community.
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