There are plenty of incredible things to do in Oregon, a naturally beautiful state in America’s Pacific Northwest. It’s most well-known for its stunning natural scenery and great outdoor activities. Two of its spectacular parks, Mount Hood and Crater Lake, are nationally sought-after hiking and skiing destinations.

    The U.S. state has some of the country’s best museums, beautiful small towns and a dramatic coastline that make for great weekend getaways. From road trips down a coastal highway to wine testing routes, the Beaver State will likely surprise you with what it has to offer.


    Portland Japanese Garden

    A beautifully serene green space in Portland

    • Couples
    • Families
    • Photo

    The Portland Japanese Garden is a beautiful 5.5-acre green space west of Downtown Portland. The serene garden is landscaped in traditional Japanese style with pagodas, bridges, streams and a variety of plants to admire. The urban green space has become one of Portland’s favorite escapes from the bustling streets.

    Along with the stunning nature, you’ll find a Japanese-style teahouse, cultural festivals and educational workshops throughout the year. The queue for tickets can be quite long on weekends, so it’s best to pre-book them online before you go. Try to time your visit with either the golden autumn colors or the Spring blossoms for the most beautiful experience.

    Location: 611 SW Kingston Ave, Portland, OR 97205, USA

    Open: Wednesday–Monday from 10 am to 5 pm (closed Tuesdays)

    Phone: +1 503-223–1321


    Multnomah Falls

    A dramatic cascade of water in the Columbia River Gorge

    • Adventure
    • Photo

    Multnomah Falls is a dramatic 600-ft cascade of water in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Neighborhood. It’s the tallest waterfall in the state and one of the most popular day trips from Portland. The falls are an easy stop on the Historic Columbia River Highway that traces through the picturesque gorge east of Portland.

    There’s a visitors center, gift shop and restaurant near the base of the falls. From here, it’s an easy stroll to the lookout and main viewing area. There are also other hiking trails around the falls for those with more time. Multnomah Falls is a very popular place to visit, so expect a lot of crowds on weekends – it’s a spectacular sight, nonetheless.

    Location: 50000 Historic Columbia River Hwy, Bridal Veil, OR 97010, USA

    Phone: +1 503-695-2372


    Crater Lake

    Visit America’s deepest lake in this stunning national park

    • Budget
    • Adventure
    • Photo

    Crater Lake is a fluorescent blue body of water in the Crater Lake National Park. Formed about 7,700 years ago by a volcanic eruption, it’s the deepest lake in the country at almost 2,000 ft. It’s one of the most beautiful sights in all of Oregon and a popular weekend escape in the south of the state.

    The lake is best accessed in the summer at Rim Village, where you can take the Rim Drive that circumnavigates the crater. You’ll also find some of Oregon’s best hiking trails in the national park, with spectacular vistas of the surrounding Cascade Mountains. In winter, however, you’ll be confined to cross-country skiing due to heavy snowfall in the area.

    Location: Crater Lake National Park, OR 97604, USA

    Phone: +1 541-594-3000


    Cannon Beach

    Admire Haystack Rock on this beautiful stretch of coastline

    • Families
    • Budget
    • Photo

    Cannon Beach is one of the most beautiful vacation destinations on Oregon’s northwest coastline. The beach has a wide stretch of golden sand, with spectacular coastal rock formations dotting the shoreline.

    Out of all of these features in Cannon Beach, Haystack Rock is the most iconic landmark of Oregon’s northern coast. The giant monolith stands just out to sea, making for a spectacular sunset photo. The small coastal town of Cannon Beach is a bustling resort town with great restaurants, hotels and shops for an excellent summer vacation. If you visit in summer, expect to share the beach with plenty of fellow beachgoers.

    Location: Cannon Beach, OR 97145, USA


    Willamette Valley

    Explore Oregon’s world-class wine region

    Willamette Valley is Oregon’s very own world-class wine region, running south of the city of Portland. The 240-km-long valley is especially known for its internationally recognized premium pinot noir wine. Major towns in the valley, such as Salem and Eugene, make excellent bases for exploring the wineries.

    There are several self-drive wine testing routes to choose from to explore some of the valley’s best vineyards. The Northern Willamette Valley is closest to Portland and a popular introduction to the region, while Southern Willamette and the Eola-Amity Hills offer a more secluded wine testing adventure.

    Location: Willamette Valley, OR 97301, USA


    Hatfield Marine Science Center

    Learn about marine life at this top research institute

    • Families
    • Budget

    The Hatfield Marine Science Center is part of the Oregon State University in Newport. This active research institute has open exhibits and public educational programs for visitors to learn about marine life and conservation efforts.

    Located just south of the town center, it’s one of the most popular attractions in the coastal town. It’s excellent for families, thanks to hands-on experiences with marine animals and feeding sessions to observe. The admission is by donation, so you can pay whatever you can afford.

    Location: 2030 SE Marine Science Dr, Newport, OR 97365, USA

    Open: March–May: Thursday–Monday from 10 am to 4 pm. June–March: daily from 10 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +1 541-867-0100


    photo by Oregon Attractions (CC BY 2.0) modified


    Mount Hood National Forest

    A stunning outdoor recreation area in Oregon

    • Adventure
    • Photo

    Mount Hood is one of the most iconic natural landmarks of Oregon. The state’s tallest mountain stands at 11,236 ft inside the vast national forest that covers more than 1,660 square miles. It’s one of Oregon’s most popular outdoor recreation neighborhoods and just half an hour’s drive east of Portland.

    The dormant volcano is surrounded by waterfalls, glacial rivers, hot springs and lakes. The slopes of Mount Hood also offer some of the best skiing in the Pacific Northwest, with 5 unique ski neighborhoods packed with long-running resorts and lodges. The forest has plenty of picturesque hiking trails that can be tackled in the warmer months.

    Location: Sandy, OR 97055, USA

    Phone: +1 503-668-1700


    High Desert Museum

    A family-friendly museum showcasing the natural history of Eastern Oregon

    • Families
    • History

    The High Desert Museum in Bend is a fantastic hands-on and informative museum showcasing the natural history, culture and art of Eastern Oregon. It's situated in 135 acres of woodland just south of the center of Bend and has over 9,600 sq ft of indoor exhibit space. It’s widely considered one of the highlights of any visit to the city of Bend.

    The museum has many permanent exhibitions on the climate and animals of the High Desert, Native American culture and early settler life, among other topics. The museum is also incredibly kid-friendly, offering native wildlife encounters, nature walks and educational day camps year-round.

    Location: 59800 US-97, Bend, OR 97702, USA

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +1 541-382-4754


    photo by Another Believer (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    Oregon Coast Highway 101

    Take a road trip down the Pacific Northwest coastline

    • Budget
    • Photo

    The Oregon Coast Highway 101 is a major north-south road that runs along the coastline of the entire state. A journey along the highway is considered one of the best road trips on the Pacific Coast, with spectacular scenery and coastal towns along the way.

    You don’t have to traverse the entire 364-mile-long highway. Popular coastal towns include Cannon Beach, Newport, Port Orford and Brookings, which all offer great beaches and dramatic rocky scenery within just a short drive. The entire coast is a very popular summer vacation destination but a road trip along the Oregon Coast Highway is beautiful at any time of the year.

    Location: Oregon Coast Highway, OR 97366, USA


    Columbia River Maritime Museum

    Discover an extensive collection of maritime history

    • Families
    • History

    The Columbia River Maritime Museum is dedicated to showcasing the history and landscape of the Columbia River Bar. The harbourfront building in the center of Astoria town has over 30,000 objects on display covering almost everything about shipping, fishing and marine life.

    The Columbia River Bar, spanning across both Oregon and Washington state borders, is known as one of the most dangerous river passages in the world. The museum exhibits the history of roughly 2,000 shipwrecks just from the last 50 years alone. The museum also has an IMAX theater, which shows a range of movies about relevant topics from maritime war history to marine life conservation.

    Location: 1792 Marine Dr, Astoria, OR 97103, USA

    Open: Daily from 9.30 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +1 503-325-2323


    photo by Steve Morgan (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    Elisha Donkin | Contributing Writer

    Start planning your trip

    Keep exploring


    United States of America

    Back to top