Best Things to See and Do in Oregon

Mount Hood towering into the sky
Mount Hood towering into the sky | © Erin / Flickr

There’s a reason why the Pacific Northwest is referred to as “Pacific Northwonderland.” Oregon is filled with natural beauty, no matter what part of the state you’re visiting.

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Rivers, waterfalls, and mountains abound, making Oregon a true outdoor wonderland. However, if the great outdoors isn’t your thing—fear not; ‘The Beaver State’ still has so much to offer. From sporting events to wine and beer tasting, to munching on some of the best food to ever touch your tastebuds, there’s something for everyone in Oregon, and here are some of the best things to see and do in this great natural beauty..

Visit one of Oregon’s many breathtaking parks

Going to northern, southern, eastern, western or central Oregon? It doesn’t matter, because each region is home to at least one absolutely stunning state or national park. If you’re on the coast, stand in awe of Cannon Beach’s Haystack Rock from above as you hike in Ecola State Park. If you’re visiting central Oregon, marvel at Smith Rock‘s massive rock faces, or Crater Lake‘s pristine blue waters. In eastern Oregon? Check out the state’s newest park, Cottonwood Canyon. If wine tasting is more your thing, make a stop at Valley of the Rogue River State Park in southern Oregon. Up north exploring Portland? Make sure to add the Columbia Gorge to your “to-do” list. The possibilities are pretty much endless.

Captivating Crater Lake in the summer

Watch the windsurfers in Hood River

Hood River is known as the windsurfing capital of the world, and for good reason. The small town is situated in the Columbia River Gorge, and in the summer months, the wind channels through the canyon and into Hood River, giving windsurfers a destination to seek out. Even if you’re not interested in riding the wake on what looks like a surfboard with a sail attached to it, the visually-jarring sport is a spectacle to behold. Grab a beer from one of the many local breweries, stroll around downtown and then head to the waterfront for the main event.

Windsurfers in Hood River, OR

Attend a Blazers or Timbers game

Oregon only has two professional sports teams—the Portland Trail Blazers and Portland Timbers—and locals absolutely love them both. If you want to feel like a true Portlander, attend a game and see the truly diehard nature of each fanbase. The Blazers’ home, Moda Center, is known in the NBA as one of the loudest arenas in all of basketball, and going to a Timbers game at Providence Park is a soccer experience unlike any other.

Ski Mt. Bachelor or Mt. Hood

There are so many majestic mountains in Oregon, but if you’re looking to go skiing Mt. Bachelor or Mt. Hood are the destinations for you. Bachelor boasts the largest ski resort in the state, while Mt. Hood Meadows comes in close second. Not sure where to shred some powder? Mt. Bachelor rests in central Oregon, so you can pair your mountain adventure with a trip to Bend. Mt. Hood stands tall just east of Portland, so you can easily explore both in one visit.

Snow-covered Mt Bachelor in the winter

Conquer the Bend Ale Trail

When people talk about Oregon beer, it’s usually Portland that gets brought up first. However, Bend reigns supreme as far as locally fermented suds. With one brewery for every 4,500 people, the city contains the most breweries per capita in the whole state, and with the Bend Ale Trail, craft brew connoisseurs can easily navigate the many impressive breweries the central Oregon hub has to offer.

Hike to a waterfall in the Columbia River Gorge

The Columbia River Gorge is absolutely breathtaking. The 80-mile-long (129 kilometers) gorge was carved over millions of years by the Columbia River as it made its way to the Pacific Ocean, and as it formed, so did miles of vibrant foliage and 77 waterfalls on the Oregon side alone. Multnomah Falls is the most famous waterfall in the gorge, and a stunning hike to the top boasts awe-inspiring views. However, with so many falls plunging into the river, you really can’t go wrong if you’d rather skip the crowd and find a more quiet hike. We recommend Wahclella and Latourell Falls.

Multnomah Falls plunging into a pool below

Eat and drink your way through Portland

Portland is a foodie’s paradise. Known for its decadent donuts, exotic ice cream flavors and some of the best beer in the country, it’s the perfect city to indulge. If you’re worried about your waistline, you can balance things out with some drool-worthy vegetarian and vegan fare and make it a point to walk to each delicious destination on your list. Just make sure to bring an umbrella.

Catch a sunset on the Oregon Coast

If you want to go to the beach to lay out and swim in the ocean, then the Oregon coast probably isn’t for you. But if you’re more interested in breathtaking views of jutting cliffs, windswept trees and lush colors then it’s a must-see. Especially at sunset.

Colorful Cannon Beach sunset

Go whitewater rafting

If you are a whitewater rafter, Oregon is the place for you. With so many rivers winding through the state on their way to the Pacific Ocean, there are numerous destinations to ride the rapids. If you’re up for a multi-day excursion, southern Oregon’s Rogue River can’t be beat. If you want something a little less time-consuming, western Oregon’s Santiam and McKenzie rivers, northwestern Oregon’s Clackamas River, southern Oregon’s Umpqua River and central Oregon’s Deschutes River all offer exhilarating day adventures.

Rafting the Rogue River

Immerse yourself in Oregon Trail history

The Beaver State is rich with Oregon Trail history, and there are a handful of locales to visit and educate yourself on the pioneers’ magnificent, arduous journey. Our favorite is The National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, an eastern Oregon museum that offers living history demonstrations, interpretive programs, exhibits, multimedia presentations, special events, and more than four miles (6.4 kilometers) of interpretive trails.

Sip your way through wine country

Oregon may be known for its craft beer, but it’s quickly becoming a must-visit destination for wine lovers as well. In fact, there are over 700 wineries and 18 regions statewide. Because of its climate, pinot noir and pinot gris are the top two grapes grown in Oregon. However, you can find a variety of reds, whites, and rosés throughout the Beaver State. We recommend starting with the Willamette Valley, as it’s the largest (American Viticultural Area) in the state.

Oregon winery with view of Mt. Hood
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