Portland, Oregon’s liveliest city, is known for its aspiring artists, craft breweries, trending food culture, and its inclusive community spirit. Portland has always been known as a “hipster” town, with a hippy culture stemming from the 1960’s that hasn’t died down a bit, and their hipster offspring are just carrying on the tradition. Events like cycling nude in parades, live jam sessions and dancing in the streets are just a few examples of what you can experience in Oregon.
Places to Visit in Oregon
- Cannon Beach
- Haystack Rock
- Willamette Heritage Centre
- Crater Lake National Park
- Oregon Caves National Monument
- Oregon Dunes National Recreational Area
Unique Things to See and Do in Oregon
- Smell the lavender in Lavender Valley
- Get your picture taken with 31 foot Paul Bunyan in Kenton
- Tour the perfectly preserved 1887 Chinese Medical Shop (The Kam Wah Chung & Co Museum)
- Weave your way through a tour of Portland’s Shanghai Tunnels
- Walk through Oregon’s highlands and view the Painted Hills
- Trek up to Mount Hood
- Any outdoor activity you can think of: ziplining, hiking, biking, canoeing, kayaking, boating and more!
The Oregon Coast and Mount Hood
Oregon is a pretty big state and there is a lot to see, but if you travel by car you can pretty easily see a good chunk of the state’s hot-spots. Starting out in Portland will introduce you to the funky culture of “Keep Portland Weird.” One of the hip districts for foodies to check out is the Pearl District. Here you can find just about any kind of cuisine – even Peruvian, but be warned this area can come with a high price tag.
The downtown core, along with Chinatown and the old district are also great areas to visit. Be sure to check out Skidmore Fountain, Saturday Farmers’ markets, and take a tour through the Shanghai Tunnels. A fun area for the singles out there is the younger ‘hood of Northwest. The houses in the area are old craftsman beauties, and the shopping, restaurants and bars are lively.
Venturing on from Portland, you can head east by car to see the Mount Hood loop. With plenty of waterfalls, a great view of Mount Hood and the Hood River town – where you can stop for lunch. The loop in total is 146 miles long and takes about 3 hour and 20 minutes (without stops). This scenic drive is great for photo ops, especially when stopping off at all the pear orchards, vineyards, and farms on Highway 35. You can even find wild mushrooms here – for all the risotto lovers! And with cideries enjoying a strong come-back, be sure to check some of those out along the way too.
After the loop, head west to Astoria and then travel down the coast. Astoria is an older shipping port that is still in use today and was the Pacific Fur Company’s main trading post in the 1800’s. It’s a beautiful little town with a great old watering hole called the Fort George Brewery and Public House, which is located in 1811 on the original settlement site for Astoria. The pub owners restored the building and offer a full service restaurant to all ages.
In true Oregon style, you can also follow the coastal map for Oregon’s North Coast Craft Beer Trail. Check it out online and follow the trails to local craft beer joints. And if you’re driving and can’t drink, you can always make retail purchases and then try them at your destination – which of course would be Cannon Beach. Pick a perfect spot to picnic on the beach – looking out unto the ocean and Oregon’s famous haystack rock formation.
Getting Around Oregon
The best way to get around Oregon is by car, but if you’re renting during the summer be sure to book ahead of time as car rentals are popular. Oregon is filled with little neighbourhoods/towns with fantastic restaurants serving locally grown or produced foods that are most easily accessible by car – and you don’t want to miss them!
Plus, some of the many of the natural attractions are truly only accessible by car. The most revered drive is along the coast. Getting to Cannon Beach from Portland is about an hour and a half drive, or alternatively travelling down to Tillamook takes approximately one hour and forty minutes.
Travelling by train is done through Amtrak. Most of the train stations line up with Greyhound bus stations and routes can be mapped out on their website (www.amtrak.com). It can take longer to get around by train, they don’t have the high-speed trains that other countries have, but they can offer some very scenic routes. International travellers can opt into their USA Rail Passes too which offer a couple of options depending on the number of days you wish to travel for.
Greyhound is the only national bus service (across the United States, not just the state). Travelling by bus can take longer than other means, but the service goes to most small town and major attractions. Double check transportation options once you arrive at a location though, as public service isn’t always available and is why we recommend travelling by car.
Best Time of Year to Travel to Oregon
Oregon is typically characterized by grey skies, drizzling rains, and a temperate climate, but for those who know better, Oregon summers are the best time to visit. The summers are hot, especially in areas like Willamette Valley (wine country) and Southern Oregon. Along the coastline the Pacific Ocean winds keep the days and nights fairly cool, so you’ll want to bring some sweaters, specifically for the evenings.
Travelling eastward into the Cascades can be even cooler with the higher elevation, particularly around Mount Hood. Even farther east is a totally different terrain, desert land, which experiences hot days in the summer, but cold nights. During the winter months, there are snow covered mountains inland and a rainy grey shoreline along the coast.
Ready to plan your visit to Oregon? Check out these popular guides and trips.