Oregon is like a world of its own. Between the beautiful mountain ranges and fun water activities, plus the interesting art scene and the welcoming locals, it’s easy to feel like you could stay here forever.
When you’re only passing through, though, you need to make sure you get to the best places to visit in Oregon. Most people only think of Portland when they travel to Oregon, but there’s much more to discover if you head out of the city and tune in with nature.
Here are the top things to do in Oregon if you’re looking for an adventure unlike any other.
1. Multnomah Falls
If you’re looking for a beautiful place to get away from the hustle and bustle of Oregon, Multnomah Falls is where you need to go.
Multnomah Falls is an over 600-foot tall waterfall grazing down the mountains outside of Portland. It’s visible from the highway driving in, but the best view of the Falls is right at the foot of it all. A beautiful hike through the woods ends up at the famous Bensen bridge, where you can witness the power of the second largest waterfall in the United States up close and personal.
It’s a sight unlike any other and it’s not hard to get to. A quick drive from Oregon’s biggest city and you won’t be in an urban jungle anymore. Instead, you’ll be right in front of one of the most beautiful locations in Oregon, tucked away among the natural wonders of the state. Pay a visit to Multnomah Falls and enjoy an awe-inspiring location that few places other than Oregon can offer.
2. Crater Lake National Park
As cool as it is to see a waterfall that’s 600-feet tall, it’s even more breathtaking to stand at the shore of a lake that’s 600 meters deep.
Crater Lake spans 33 miles around in the middle of a mountain range. It’s surrounded by foresty with over 90 miles of hiking and bike riding trails to entertain yourself with. The trails range from beginner to moderate to difficult levels, which means there’s something at Crater Lake for the whole family to enjoy.
Test your advanced skills on the Union Peak Spur Trail or build up your hiking abilities with a hike on Pinnacles Trail or PCT Alternate South.
3. Mount Hood National Forest
As great as Crater Lake National Park is, it’s only one of the many beautifully preserved parks worth visiting. Other outdoor adventures are waiting for you in Mount Hood National Forest.
Mount Hood National Forest stretches for 60 miles covering forest ranges, high mountains, lakes, streams, and all kinds of fun trails. It offers something for the whole family. You can enjoy a day of swimming and fishing out on Lost Lake while others in your group go horseback riding or hunting.
There are also hot springs for everyone to enjoy and let off a little steam!
Make sure you plan ahead if you want to go fishing, though. There are over 150 lakes in the Mount Hood National Forest area with fishing laws regulated by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. It’s best to check their current requirements before throwing out a line in this park.
Mount Hood National Forest is a popular camping area all year long, and a great place to stop for a night or two if you’re driving through Oregon.
4. Columbia River Gorge
Speaking of camping, consider putting the Columbia River Gorge on your list of places to visit in Oregon.
The Columbia River Gorge is home to the largest concentration of waterfalls in North America. This park offers trails for nature lovers to explore on foot and paved roads to enjoy a scenic drive. If you’re looking for an easy trail with amazing scenery, check out the two-mile Latourell Falls Loop Trail.
The water has enough wind around it for sports like windsurfing and the park allows boats on the water for tubing. If you somehow get sick of being outside all day, the Columbia River Gorge is close to some of Oregon’s best museums. It even has a beer trail for you to enjoy some adult fun in the great outdoors!
Make sure you try a few of the local brews between all the exploring you plan to do.
5. Smith Rock
Smith Rock, which sits Northeast of Bend, is where you need to be if you’re a fan of rock climbing. In fact, some say this is where sport climbing began!
Keep your eye out while you’re climbing up a route or walking around the trails. Highlining has become popular in the area too, and it’s not unusual to see people walking on thin ropes way up above ground.
If you want an easy trail with river and climber views, try the Canyon Trail. Enjoy Oregon’s amazing natural wonders with a visit to Smith Rock.
6. Newberry National Volcanic Monument
Newberry National Volcanic Monument offers something a little different from the classic forest trails and water activities throughout the area. This national monument is a hands-on education center to learn about the volcanic activity that’s happened here over the years.
The names of many of the trails and lookout points have a volcanic theme. Head to the Big Obsidian Flow Trail for a distant view of the Cascade Mountains, including the Three Sisters. It’s one of the more unique places to see in Oregon and well worth the trip if you’re nearby.
Make sure you stop into the Paulina Visitor Center upon arriving at Newberry National Volcanic Monument. The staff here will point out all the must-see natural attractions for you, and there’s a Discover Your Northwest bookstore worth checking out, too.
7. Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve
Don’t forget there’s plenty of cool stuff to see below the trees!
You only have to know where to go. The trails in Oregon Caves National Monument lead you into a series of passages and chambers through a bunch of caves.
You go through the caves with a guide who tells you all about this natural marvel and keeps the group moving on time. Tours are traditionally 90-minutes long. You can also take a 3-hour trip through the caves if you’re willing to squeeze through tight spaces and see what the less-crowded cave areas are like.
Either way, don’t pass up this unique opportunity to explore these amazing caves.
8. The Oregon Air and Space Museum
Once you’ve seen all the best natural attractions that Oregon has to offer, set your sights on the skies above at the Oregon Air and Space Museum.
The Oregon Air and Space Museum is a fun, interactive museum meant to teach visitors all about the history of aviation both on earth and in space. It’s filled with historical exhibits and interesting facts. But, it’s better to go and discover them for yourself than to sit at home reading about them!
Don’t leave without taking a look at the uniforms display or the Oregon Aces Wall!
9. The Portland Japanese Garden
Picture this: you’re enjoying a walk through an urban district, then you find yourself entering a gorgeous garden designed with every detail in mind.
That’s the wonder of the Portland Japanese Garden. Spend a few minutes here and you won’t feel like you’re in the States anymore. The Japanese Garden features lush greenery and lovely flowers everywhere you turn. The buildings feature Japanese architecture and the trails make you feel peaceful and stress-free with their beauty.
This is the perfect place to unwind after a long flight into Portland or to say goodbye to your Oregon adventure before heading home.
10. Albany, Ashland, Salem, and More
Keep in mind that although Oregon is mainly known for all the outdoor adventures it’s home to, it also has a few small towns worth checking out.
If you find yourself close to the wineries of Albany or the art shows of Ashland, take the time to stop and check it out. Do the same if you end up near Salem where you can discover some cool history or if you end up in a quiet yet cozy place like the town of Bend.
Don’t be afraid to go off the beaten path when visiting this amazing state – that’s usually how the best vacation memories happen!
Discover All the Best Places to Visit in Oregon
You can read about what to do and where to go in Oregon all you want, but at some point, you have to see all the best places to visit in Oregon for yourself. What are you waiting for? Plan your trip to the Beaver State today and see what you find!
For more insights on everything to experience in Oregon, click here.