Oregon is an incredible state to visit! Filled with the most dramatic Westcoast scenery, drives and parks; it’s the kind of state you can explore for years and not get bored. Plus, there’s a heap of the best places in Oregon to visit even if the great outdoors isn’t your thing. It has some totally cool cities that you really shouldn’t miss.
To be honest, the natural landscapes of Oregon make it an incredible place to discover (and it’s something that always draws me to the west coast USA). You see, there’s a ton of beautiful Oregon hiking trails and vistas to see and most within easy reach for moderate hikers.
Though, as I said, it’s not just the hikes or the nature that makes up the best places in Oregon for a trip away! To help you along your way, I wanted to share some of my total favourite jaunts, areas and cities that you really shouldn’t miss.
Take a look, below, at the best places in Oregon to visit. Have an epic time exploring!
1.) Yaquina Head
Situated just north of Newport, Yaquina Head is an incredible coastal area to explore if you’re fancying a little trip away from the city itself. Honestly, the coastline all around Yaquina Head Lighthouse (from the 1800s) is just beautiful and an incredible place to go for a ramble on the trails that cross the area.
Although a relatively small area (in comparison to some of the other parks in Oregon), Yaquina Head really is a stunner to visit. This is especially true in the late afternoon when you can partner a ramble with a great sunset view, too.
Be sure to follow the Lighthouse Trail or head up to Salal Hill for some totally beautiful scenery. Just be sure to take some water with you and some sunblock in the summer months. Even on a cloudy day, that wind can fool you into getting sunburned!
Finally, for a quieter (and totally tranquil) sunset spot, head further north up the coast to Moolack Beach. The views across the ocean are just so stunning!
2.) Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area
Right at the southern limits of Siuslaw National Forest, the Oregon Dunes is one of the best places in Oregon to explore on a trip. shaped over thousands of years, the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area is one of the largest expanses sand dunes in the whole world!
Best of all, the sandbanks and hills are as silky and powdery as you can imagine. You can easily spend a whole day exploring the wider area, especially with all the spots to see and do. After arriving, head on one of the quad/ATV tours that’ll take you right within the dunes themselves.
That being said, if you fancy something a little calmer, pack your hiking boots and head to some of the trails that stretch for miles.
One thing to note… although never totally rammed with people, if you want a much quieter experience it’s best to arrive early in the morning. Yes, it can be chillier but you’ll have a lot fewer people around.
Around a 100-minute drive from Portland, Eugene is one of the best places in Oregon to visit if you’re fancying a little city break. The thing I love most about Eugene is that it’s big enough to get a great west coast city experience but small enough to get around easily.
Once here, be sure to explore the incredible Museum of Natural and Cultural History. Yes, it might be an intimate museum but one that certainly packs a punch! Afterwards, head over to the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, which is totally epic and perfect to visit if you’re fancying an indoor activity.
Also, for some great views across Eugene, head over to Skinner Butte Park. There are some lovely (and pretty easy) trails to follow and is perfect for a morning jaunt.
If it’s a park you’re after, visit Hendricks Park. This is the oldest park in all of Eugene and one spot that’s totally beautiful on a sunny day. Make sure to visit the native plant gardens and follow the trails through the forest routes.
Getting hungry? Grab a table over at 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 a totally beautiful spot to visit. It’s a totally pristine area to visit and includes so many spots to see and things to do whilst road tripping along the coast.
Of course, you can’t miss a visit to the coastal bays at Bird Point and the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse Viewpoint that are just nearby.
For a gorgeous hike, pop along the Indian Beach Trail or stop off at Crescent Beach that’s totally blissful.
Finally, don’t forget to see the iconic Haystack Rock just off Canon Beach. It’s totally easy to find and well worth a gander after wandering the town itself.
Oh, and for a perfect brew, head into Sleepy Monk Coffee Roasters. Their coffee blends are so good.
5.) Silver Falls State Park
Being one of the biggest parks in the state, Silver Falls State Park is totally beautiful and one of the best places in Oregon to explore for a big slice of the wild! Around a 40-minute drive from Salem, it’s totally easy to visit for a day trip or a longer getaway into the great outdoors.
Once you’ve arrived, head straight over to explore some of the park’s iconic falls that are dotted all over the area. There are a heap of to see, especially South Falls and North Falls that totally gorgeous! If you want to spot more, follow the Trail of Ten Falls that’s just over 7-miles in length. It’s a relatively easy trail (for experienced hikers) and well worth the ramble to explore more of the state park.
Though, just like other iconic spots in Oregon, it can get busy. This means you should arrive nice and early if you want to avoid the crowds.
6.) Mount Bachelor
Around two hours from Eugene, Mount Bachelor is one of Oregon’s best skiing areas that’s well worth it for some time gliding down the slopes. It’s a totally beautiful area and one of the best places in Oregon for a range of runs to suit the whole family.
Now, Mount Bachelor doesn’t have the largest ‘resort’ feel but that’s all part of its charm in my opinion. Most people tend to lodge up in Bend (about 30-minutes away) and it’s totally worth booking a few nights in the city if you’re planning a longer ski trip.
7.) Hood River
At the banks of the Columbia River, Hood River is one city in Oregon that’s easy to visit as you travel along the Washington and Oregon border.
Whilst here, be sure to take a ride on the historic Mount Hood Railroad. It’s totally kitsch and well worth the experience whilst staying in Hood River.
If you’re blessed with some gorgeous sunny weather, head over 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 well worth it on a calm afternoon.
Oh, and for some of the best sweet treats, head into Mike’s Ice Cream for their delicious homemade cones. We love them!
Finally, don’t forget to explore the Crown Point State Scenic Corridor that’s on your route from Portland. It’s a totally gorgeous area across the river itself.
Speaking of Portland, it’s one of Oregon’s best places that you really can’t miss when visiting the state. Now, we’d recommend spending at least a few days in the city as there’s a fair bit to see and experience once you’re here.
After arriving, be sure to explore the totally iconic Japanese Garden that’s picture-perfect. You can easily whisk away a good few hours here and it’s totally blissful. Afterwards, head on over to the Portland Art Museum that’s been around since the 1800s. Inside, you’ll find a heap of Native American art alongside contemporary art that you can easily spend a whole day seeing.
If historic homes are more your style, pop inside Pittock Mansion. This Renaissance-style house has been in Portland for over 100 years! Nowadays, you can take a gander inside and tour the beautiful grounds that are gorgeous. Also, nearby, you’ll find a heap of paths and routes that make for a gorgeous stroll through the park.
For a tasty treat, book a table at Le Pigeon. Focusing on French-fusion dishes, it has heaps of character and a seasonal menu that’s totally yummy.
Finally, if you’re visiting on the weekend, head over to explore the Portland Saturday Market. It’s 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
Located in the cascade mountains is the Crater Lake National Park, one of the best places in Oregon for views! Well, in my opinion at least!
Technically more of a caldera than a crater, it’s a vast area that’s incredible to follow via the Scenic Byway (in the summer only).
After arriving in the national park, be sure to see the views from the Watchman Observation Station. It’s totally beautiful and easily one of the best views in the whole park. Yes, there might be a little ramble to get to the views but it’s all worth it.
Also, don’t forget to see the iconic Devils Backbone, Merriam Point and spot Wizard Island from the crater edge itself. We love it!
10.) Smith Rock State Park
Around a 40-minute drive from Bend, Smith Rock State Park encompasses an out-of-this-world landscape that really shows off the natural diversity of Oregon.
Once you get here and check-in at the Visitor Centre, be sure to follow the River or Canyon Trail that takes in the best spots in the park.
If you’re fancying a bit more of a challenge, head on the Misery Ridge Trail that cuts between the Crooked River.
Also, you can easily book a hot air balloon ride whilst in the area – it’s totally magical but you must be prepared for cancellations in case of dodgy weather.
11.) Multnomah Falls
Another spot perched between Portland and Hood River, Multnomah Falls is one of the best places in Oregon to visit on a wider road trip on the northern fringes of the state. Honestly, it’s a stop you have to make on the Columbia River Gorge and an iconic spot you can’t miss.
You can easily whisk away a few hours hiking the trails here. Plus, you get rewarded with some totally beautiful views.
One thing to note is that the parking lot can fill up fast (especially on the weekend). If you want to secure a space, arrive early and avoid weekends when it can fill up fast.