10 Things to Know Before Visiting Oregon

Mt. Hood in the summer
Mt. Hood in the summer | © Tony Fischer / Flickr

Oregon is a lush, awe-inspiring state. Though most people come to visit Portland, there are so many regions to explore. Central Oregon is a great place for adventurers; the coast is breathtaking, while some of the best wine is in Southern Oregon. But no matter where your Oregon trip ends up taking you, there are some universal tips that apply. Here are 10 things to know before visiting.

There’s no sales tax

Oregon is one of five states in the U.S. that does not impose sales tax. While locals make up for it by paying higher income and property taxes, it’s great for those who are just visiting. If you’re an avid shopper, make a list of everything you want to purchase while in Oregon, and make sure to pack an extra duffel bag to carry home your tax-free loot.

Always pack a raincoat, no matter the time of year

Although the chance of rain during the summer is pretty slim, it still happens. Portland averages .67 inches of rain in July and August, while Central Oregon cities like Bend, and Southern Oregon destinations like Ashland receive an average of less than a half inch of precipitation during those months. Even though the weather is top-notch during that time of year, it’s still smart to bring a raincoat, just in case you get caught in one of those rare summer rainy days.

Portland fall rain

People are really nice…unless you’re from California

Oregonians are some of the nicest people you’ll meet. Just don’t tell them you’re from California—specifically if you’re visiting the state’s largest city. Tensions between Portland and the Golden State remain high over the course of decades, and as the city’s population (and therefore pollution) numbers continue to rise, Rose City residents blame Californians. It’s escalated so much that locals have defiled transplants’ cars and homes with graffiti, and you can see ‘No California’ stickers plastered throughout the city.

…or talk about Portlandia

There are some natives who think Portlandia is funny, but for the most part Portlanders despise the show and swear its caricature depiction of the city is not accurate. Additionally, there are people who truly think the show has ruined their city. Because you never know where someone swings on the Portlandia scale, it’s best to just not bring it up at all.

If you visit the coast, prepare to be cold

The Oregon coast is truly a magical place. Haystack Rock jutting out of the Pacific Ocean will leave you breathless, as well as the jagged cliffs, towering sand dunes and lush greenery. But with bright foliage comes rain, and lots of it. Even the summer months average over an inch of precipitation, and you’ll be lucky to have a beach day with a temperature over 70 degrees. If you’re looking for a beach vacation that involves laying out and swimming, Southern California may be a better destination for you, but if you want jaw-dropping scenery and adventure, the Oregon coast is hard to beat.

Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach

Oregonians love their Timbers and Trail Blazers

Oregon is home to two professional sports teams—the Portland Timbers and the Portland Trail Blazers—and people all over the state go crazy for them. Portland acquired the MSL team in 2009, and since then the Timbers have been a force to be reckoned with, winning the MLS Cup in 2015. The Blazers are a different story. The NBA team was founded in 1970 and won its lauded championship in 1977. Although the team hasn’t won a Larry O’Brien trophy since that magical season, the fanbase is said to be one of the loudest and proudest in the whole country. If you’re visiting Portland and either team is playing a home game, the atmospheres are hard to beat.

There’s good beer all over Oregon

Oregon is known as the beer capital of the country—and for good reason. It’s the number two hop-growing region in the U.S., and as a result hundreds of breweries call the Beaver State home. The Portland Metro area, unsurprisingly, is the state’s craft beer hub; however, Bend boasts more breweries per capita than anywhere else in Oregon, and the Gorge, Southern Oregon, Eastern Oregon, the Willamette Valley and the coast all have more than a dozen local breweries. If you’re a beer aficionado, Oregon is the state for you.

There’s also good wine all over Oregon

People know Oregon for its wealth of beer, and the state produces some mighty fine wine as well. In fact, there are over 700 wineries statewide. Because of its climate, pinot noir and pinot gris are the top two grapes grown in the region; however, you can find a variety of reds, whites and rosés throughout the Beaver State. From Southern Oregon to the Willamette Valley, you can create a travel itinerary that includes both exquisite wine tasting and equally wonderful sightseeing.

Oregon winery with view of Mt. Hood

Oregonians don’t pump their own gas

Another Oregon quirk travelers need to get used to is at the gas pumps. Oregonians don’t pump their own gas. However, that is changing in some areas. A bill recently passed where retailers in rural areas with populations of less than 40,000 are allowed to have self-served pumps. Of course, this left some locals panicking because they don’t know how to pump their own gas.

Visit in the summer

Yes, you will always run the risk of rain if you decide to visit Oregon; however, if you travel in the summer you’re bound to be blessed with the best weather the Pacific Northwest has to offer. In most regions, the averages are in the 80s during July and August, and mid-70s in September, which is perfect weather to hike to one of the many breathtaking Oregon waterfalls; kayak, raft or float a rushing river, or simply enjoy some tasty food (paired with a local beer or wine, of course) al fresco.

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