Super useful & totally free travel guides, written by travel experts who love Oregon

Scenic view of the Three Sisters volcanoes
The Three Sisters volcanoes stand proud behind grazing horses

Why We Love Oregon: Lush forests define Oregon, a Pacific Northwest state with more trees than people. Hiking trails line the state from north to south, including high-altitude technical mountaineering climbs in the Cascade Mountains and easier, leveled walks throughout the forest or along the Pacific Ocean. Metropolitan Oregon is one of our favorites on the west coast. 

Portland satisfies all our coffee shop/hipster/art/music needs and smaller outdoorsy towns like Bend and Ashland offer no shortage of outdoor activities, inviting us to lace up our hiking boots and get lost for a while in the woods. As one of the greenest states west of the Mississippi, Oregon is also home to scenic coast with famous landmarks like Cannon Beach.

Best of Oregon

🏙️ Places to Visit

View of the blue water at the Crater Lake National Park
Crater Lake’s deep blue waters

No trip to Oregon is complete without visiting the Cascade Mountains, thick southern forests, major cosmopolitan cities, and the Oregon coast. Here is a summary of the top destinations in Oregon:

  • Portland – Oregon’s biggest city is the best place to visit for good food, a lively art scene, live music, and more!
  • Mount Hood – Climb or ski down Oregon’s highest mountain, less than 2 hours outside of Portland in the heart of the Cascades.
  • Bend – One of southern Oregon’s most forested cities that’s also rated as one of the best places to live in the state.
  • Cannon Beach – One of the most popular coastal features in Oregon, Cannon Beach is a must-see!
  • Crater Lake National Park – Oregon’s sole national park doesn’t fall short in stunning views and alpine hiking trails around a volcano rim.
  • Painted Hills – Desert-hued stratigraphy has transformed this central Oregon landscape into a colorful oasis.
  • Cape Perpetua – Lush Oregonian forest collides with the Pacific Ocean at this scenic coast.
  • Salem – Oregon’s capital city defined by a heavy art scene and a distinguished food and drink scene.
  • Eugene – Situated on the Willamette River, Eugene is home to the University of Oregon and top-quality breweries.
  • Astoria – One of Oregon’s most picturesque sleepy fishing towns on the coast with plenty of hiking trails.

Things to Do

Oregon is overflowing with fun things to do, from hiking through thick forests or alongside alpine lakes to exploring fishing towns and white water rafting.  

  • Photograph Multnomah Falls – One of the most impressive waterfalls in the Pacific Northwest is only 1 hour outside of Portland.
  • Visit Crater Lake National Park – Oregon’s sole national park is home to an indescribable site of a volcanic lake thousands of years old.
  • Hike Mount Hood – Oregon’s highest mountain beckons climbers to reach the top of a snow-crested 11,249-foot summit. It’s one of the many great hikes near Portland.
  • Catch a concert in Portland – The biggest city in Oregon boasts a lively music scene with a concert happening every night. For more, see our full guide to what to do in Portland.
  • Visit a sleepy fishing town – Oregon’s west coast is full of coastal village gems off the beaten tourist path like Astoria and Bandon.
  • Visit Smith Rock State Park – Go river rafting, rock climbing, or hiking throughout the “Grand Tetons of Oregon.”
  • Hike in Silver Falls State Park – Get your fill of cascading waterfalls on the Trail of Ten Falls just outside of Salem, OR.
  • Raft down the Rogue River – Hold on tight as you wind your way through the Rogue River, over bumpy white water and smoother river stretches.

👉 Explore our full list of things to do in Oregon. 

View of the famous bridge at the Multnomah Falls
Multnomah Falls and its famous bridge

🗺️ Where to Stay

Aerial view at the Downtown Portland
Downtown Portland on a gloomy day

Oregon offers a diverse array of places to stay, along the coast or at the foot of the Cascade Mountains, each with stellar hotel options.   

  • Portland – From shared hostels to more luxurious hotels and everything in between, Portland has it all.
  • Sisters – Stay overnight in an expanse of majestic scenery, defined by protruding volcanoes and a Western-style wooded town.
  • Mount Hood – Stay in Oregon’s most visited wooded area for early access to hiking or ski trails.
  • Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area – Camp overnight on the Oregon coast and rip down some dunes ATV-style in the morning.
  • Willamette Valley – Did you know that Oregon is one of the leading wine producers on the West Coast? Welcome to Willamette Valley.

🛎️ Best Hotels

You’ll find all sorts of accommodation options in Oregon, whether you’re looking for a rustic A-frame cabin, a coastal cottage, or big-city lodging.

  • Salishan Coastal Hotel – Stay in the heart of the Oregon coast at this beachy abode with its own golf course.
  • The Nines Portland – Live large while in Oregon at this 5-star hotel in the heat of the big city action.
  • Crater Lake Resort – Stay at a cabin resort inside the national park for early access to hiking trails.
  • Tu Tu’ Tun Lodge – Stay right on the Rogue River and experience serenity away from big city crowds.
  • The Inn at Arch Rock – A coastal boutique near Lincoln City right on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
View of a rocking chair at the Crater Lake Lodge with a view
Rocking chairs invite Crater Lake Lodge guests to relax with a pristine view

🚗 Best Road Trips

View at the coastline of Pacific Coast Highway
Driving along the Pacific Coast Highway

Road-tripping is the best way to see the scenic state of Oregon. Drive along spectacular scenic forest, mountain, or beach roads with your own set of wheels in Oregon.

  • Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor – Drive past secluded beaches and jagged bluffs along a dense stretch of Highway 101.
  • Highway 101 – Arguably the most famous highway in the U.S., follow PCH from California to Washington for amazing views.
  • McKenzie Scenic Byway – An 82-mile loop from Bend to Portland drives past lava fields, rushing rivers, and snowy peaks.
  • Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Byway – This 172-mile scenic byway drives right past two of Oregon’s wildest and biggest rivers.
  • Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway – Dazzling alpine peaks and turquoise blue lakes make this byway one of the most scenic in OR!

⛱️ Best Beaches

The author with a scenic view on her background in Yachats, Oregon
Travel writer McKenna enjoys a scenic lookout over Yachats, south of Newport
  • Cannon Beach – No, this isn’t a Southeastern Asian island, it’s the rocky beach scenery of the Pacific Northwest!!
  • Seaside – A Pacific Ocean beach town just north of Cannon Beach that’s the perfect place to escape without crowds.
  • Newport – A sleepy fishing town along the northern coast that’s known for local coffee and high-quality seafood.
  • Gold Beach – The Rogue River meets the ocean at this quiet beach town in southern Oregon.
  • Manzanita – One of the more scenic beaches along Oregon’s north-central coasts boasts a 360-degree view of Neahkahnie Mountain. 

⛰️ Best Mountains

The Mount Hood covered with snow during late spring
A late spring photo of Mount Hood
  • Mount Hood – Oregon’s highest mountain offers experienced climbers an intense hike to the volcano crater at the summit.
  • Three Sisters – The 47.5-mile Three Sisters volcano loop is one of the best places to backpack in central Oregon.
  • Mount Jefferson – The state’s second-highest mountain is one of the most technical and beautiful climbs in the state. 
  • Steens Mountain – Alpine lakes surround the nearly 10,000-foot mountain, as well as hundreds of nearby wilderness trails.
  • Mount Adams – This eastern Cascade volcano offers technical snow hiking that’s perfect to tackle on an overnight trip. 

⛷️ Best Ski Resorts

View skiers enjoying their day at the Mount Hood
Downhill skiing on Mount Hood
  • Mt. Bachelor Ski Resort – A Central Oregon resort just outside of Bend with plenty of beginner-level runs.
  • Mount Hood Meadows – One of the most popular resorts in Oregon on the state’s highest mountain.
  • Timberline Lodge – A ski resort on the southside of Mt. Hood that’s famous for its killer ski slopes and being in the movie The Shining
  • Mount Ashland – Over 240 skiable acres beckon avid skiers and snowboarders to its southern Oregon slopes each year.
  • Willamette Pass – A beginner-friendly ski resort with plenty of ski runs for more advanced borders as well.

♨️ Best Hot Springs

Multiple pools at the Umpqua Hot Springs
The Umpqua Hot Springs
  • Umpqua Hot Springs – Southern Oregon springs that offer multiple soaking pools in the middle of the forest.
  • Bagby Hot Springs – Soak in rustic pools in the Mount Hood National Forest for a small $5 fee.
  • Paulina Hot Springs – Venture just outside of Bend to these springs right on the banks of Paulina Lake.
  • McCredie Hot Springs – Natural hot springs right on Salt Creek with fluctuating water temperatures.
  • Terwilliger Hot Springs – Natural rock springs in the Willamette National Forest ranging from 85-112 degrees.

🌲 Best National Monuments

Clear blue sky over the John Day Fossil Beds
Oregon’s John Day Fossil Beds
  • Fort Vancouver – Learn about the Pacific Northwest’s role as a fur trading post and military station at this monument.
  • John Day Fossil Beds – The colorful rock formations here preserve an ancient record of ecological life dating back 40 million years.
  • Oregon Caves – Crawl through dark, twisting passages in the Siskiyou Mountains for a trip to remember!
  • Nez Perce National Historical Park – Learn more about the early people that inhabited Oregon at this historical park.
  • Lewis and Clark National Historical Park – Learn about America’s most famous explorers along Oregon’s coast.

🖼️ Best Museums

One of the exhibits displayed in Portland Art Museum
A recent Indigenous artist exhibition at the Portland Art Museum
  • Portland Art Museum – The greatest display of timeless art in Oregon with rotating exhibits and artists.
  • Pittock Mansion- This French-Renaissance-style mansion is a great place to dress up and take photographs.
  • Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum – More than 50 aircrafts are on display at this aviation museum just north of Salem.
  • Columbia Gorge Discovery Center & Museum – Visit this interpretive center to learn all about Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge feature.
  • Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) – A large-screen theater, a planetarium, and exhibit halls educate the public about the scientific world.

Oregon Travel Advice

🗓️ Best Time to Visit

Oregon is a fun state to visit year-round, depending on what activities you want to do while in town. 

  • 🍂 Fall –  The best time to visit to witness the dense Oregon forest transform into vibrant fall foliage colors.
  • 🌞 Summer –  The best time to visit Oregon for the warmest and driest weather, plus fun outdoor summer events!
  • ❄️ Winter –  Ideal for skiing, snowboarding, saving money on accommodation, and visiting tourist sites without crowds.
  • 🌼 Spring –  The best time to see mountain wildflower blooms in hues of purples, blues, yellows, whites, and bright orange.

🚌 Getting In & Around

Oregon is a forward-thinking Western state when it comes to public transportation. From rideshares to public buses, bikes for rent, and more, it’s easy to get around in OR!

  • ✈️ Airports – Fly between the north and south if you’re pinched for time or don’t want to rent a car.
  • 🚗 Driving – Go where you want, when you want by renting your own car in Oregon.
  • 🚇 Public Transit – The cheapest way to transport around major cities in Oregon.
  • 📲 Ride Share – Rideshares are an ideal way to get around in Oregon at an affordable price.
  • 🚴‍♀️ Biking – Biking is one of the more popular ways to get around in OR, and a money saver too!
  • 🛴 Scooters – Major cities like Portland have public scooters available for a small fee.
  • 🚶‍♀️ Walking – Most things are within walking distance of each other in OR, even in the big cities.

👉 Tips & Things to Know

  • ☔ – Be prepared for rain – Oregon experiences rain year-round. Pack accordingly for your upcoming trip and be prepared for unexpected storms.
  • 👨‍👩‍👧 – Ask the locals for help – Local Oregonians are extremely helpful. Don’t be too shy to ask for directions or recommendations on things to do.
  • 🍻 – Try the local brews – Oregon is known for delicious, locally crafted beer. Save the Budweiser and Model for home and try a local Oregon brew.
  • ⛽ – Don’t pump your own gas – Don’t pump your own gas at the station! Let a local do it for you and be sure to tip.
  • 🚌 – Take public transportation – Save a buck or two and take affordable public transport to get around the big cities.

🧳 What to Pack

  • 🧥 – Rain jacket – Oregon rains year-round, even in the summer. Be sure to bring a trustee rain jacket to keep you warm and dry through it all.
  • 🥾 – Hiking shoes – Hiking shoes or boots are the one thing you don’t want to forget to pack when visiting this forested mountain state.
  • ☂️ – Umbrella – Sometimes a rain jacket isn’t enough in Oregon during the rainy season. Umbrellas are guaranteed to keep you dry.
  • 🎒 – Hiking backpack – An essential if you’re planning to explore the Oregon outdoors.
  • 🩱 – Bathing suit – Don’t let Oregon’s reputation as a cold state keep you from bringing a bathing suit and experiencing top OR hot springs!

🧳 See the full Oregon packing list.

🤓 Facts & Info

  • Population – 4.2 million
  • Capital – Salem
  • Largest Metro Areas – Portland, Salem, Eugene
  • Time Zone – Pacific Daylight Time (GMT-7)
  • Airports – Portland International Airport (PDX), Eugene Airport (EUG), Rogue Valley International Airport (MFR)
  • Colleges & Universities – University of Oregon, Lewis & Clark College, Oregon State University, University of Portland
  • Nickname – Beaver State, 
  • Demonynm – Oregonian 
  • USPS Abbreviation – OR
  • Governor – Tina Kotek (Democrat)
  • CountryUnited States of America

💵 Costs & Budgeting

  • MERIC Cost of Living Oregon Rank – #45
  • 3 Star Hotel Room – $60/night
  • 1 Bedroom Apartment Rental – $100-200/night
  • Rental Car – $20/day
  • Public Transit Ticket – ~$5 (to airport from Phoenix)
  • Take Out Meal for Two – $25
  • Sit Down Dinner for Two – $30
  • Draft Beer – $6

FAQs About Visiting Oregon

Is Oregon safe for tourists?

Oregon is one of the safest states to visit in the U.S. To avoid the possibility of danger, I recommend visiting more remote, forested towns like Bend, Hood River, or Ashland and avoiding major metropolitan areas like Portland.

What do I need to know before traveling to Oregon?

Some important things to know before traveling to Oregon include: there’s no sales tax, car owners don’t pump their own gas, and the locals are extremely friendly and are most often more than happy to help out visitors.

What is the best month to go to Oregon?

July is the best month to go to Oregon because this is when the state experiences its hottest and driest weather. You will also encounter specific summer activities around the state at this time like organized bike rides and outdoor concerts.

How many days do you need to see Oregon?

Devote at least 1 or 2 weeks to fully exploring Oregon. There’s so much to see from north to south that less time only allows you to scratch the surface. If you only have a few days to explore Oregon, you should devote that time to one or two specific cities.

What are 3 things Oregon is known for?

Oregon is known for the Cascade Mountains, Portland, and Crater Lake National Park. 

Meet Our Oregon Travel Expert

McKenna Mobley, Travel Lemming author

McKenna Mobley

McKenna Mobley is an avid adventurer, traveler, mountaineer, and writer from Southern California. Her goal is to climb some of the world’s highest mountains and visit as many countries as she can. She loves Latin America and has been to almost every Latin country. She also has a thirst for solo adventuring and has hiked 400 consecutive miles by herself through the Arizona desert. You can also find her on her blog.

👉 Read McKenna’s Articles

📰 Oregon Travel Guides

Oregon’s dense beauty makes it one of the top bucket list destinations in the Pacific Northwest. With so many things to do and see in Oregon, you’re going to want to check out our most  complete travel guides on the best of the state listed below:

🗺️ Oregon Map