10 Irresistible Reasons to Visit Oregon
You might be surprised to learn that Oregon is more than a gorgeous coastline, craft beer heaven and counterculture capital.
Oregon is also an award-winning wine producer, an outdoor lover’s playground and a dream destination for shoppers and foodies. Take a look at these 10 reasons to visit Oregon. No matter when you visit and what your interests are, Oregon is a gem of a state with universal appeal.
1. Crater Lake National Park
With a depth of 594 meters, Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the USA. The lake is formed in the caldera of an extinct volcano and all of its water comes only from snow and rain. The result is an astoundingly clear, clean and blue lake that provides outstanding photo opportunities and outdoor recreation. In the summer, enjoy fishing, hiking, stargazing, camping, boat cruises on the lake and trolley tours of Rim Drive, a scenic route around the caldera’s perimeter. Winter is excellent for cross-country skiing, snowboarding, sledding and ranger-led snowshoeing excursions.
A view of Wizard Island at Crater Lake National Park.
2. Oregon Cowboy Country
The central and eastern regions of Oregon retain the cowboy and pioneer culture that characterized the early days of settlement. You’ll find many opportunities to explore Oregon’s cowboy culture at dude and guest ranches around the state. Visit Wilson Ranches Retreat, a working cattle ranch and bed-and-breakfast near the town of Fossil. You’ll feel like you’ve traveled back in time when you fill up on a hearty country breakfast before horseback riding, hiking or participating in a real cattle drive.
An Oregon cowboy takes a break after herding cattle
3. Pendleton Round-Up
Held the second full week of September, the famous Pendleton Round-Up features amazing athletics in rodeo events that include bull riding and calf roping. Visitors also enjoy carnivals, parades, vendors, live music and evening outdoor shows. The Umatilla, Cayuse and Walla Walla tribes host a pageant and an authentic Tipi Village that is a visitor favorite. The Round-Up’s centerpiece is the thrilling rodeo that you must see to believe: bronco riding, steer wrestling, wild cow milking and more.
The Grand Floral Parade at the Pendleton Round-Up
4. Oregon Coast Aquarium
As one of the state’s top tourist attractions, the Oregon Coast Aquarium is fun for visitors young and old. See playful sea otters, sea lions and harbor seals as well as a variety of other sea creatures, including jellyfish, turtles, octopi and reef fish. Pass through underwater walkways from the coastal reef environment to the deep ocean, where sharks will swim just centimeters from your face.
Children and parents reach in and touch the marine life in the touch pools
5. Portland Farmers Market
There are dozens of farmers markets throughout Portland, but the largest takes place on the picturesque Portland State University campus. More than 200 sellers throughout the year offer products including fresh produce, dairy products, meats and handicrafts. There are also chef cooking demonstrations, children’s cooking classes and live music while you browse.
Going to a Farmer's Market is the perfect way to taste some fresh local cuisine
6. Mount Bachelor
Mount Bachelor is the largest ski resort in the Pacific Northwest. Just a 30-minute drive from the popular vacation towns of Bend and Sunriver, Mount Bachelor is a 2,764-meter inactive volcano that boasts world-class skiing, snowboarding, tubing and snowshoeing from November to May. When the weather warms up, you can take a scenic chairlift ride or go hiking and mountain biking. Unique to this ski area is that there are no accommodations on the mountain itself, which makes for astounding scenery and uncrowded ski conditions.
A view of Mount Bachelor with its reflection in a lake
7. Tax-free Shopping
Unlike most U.S. states, Oregon collects no sales tax, so each purchase will save five to 10 cents per dollar spent. Find your favorite brands in large stores like Nordstrom, Macy's, H&M and Apple, or try Oregon-made specialty products and gift shops in Troutdale, Woodburn, Seaside, Lincoln City and Bend. Get even more for your money by shopping at outlet malls such as Troutdale Premium Outlet, Lincoln City Outlets, Seaside Outlets and Woodburn Company Stores.
8. Painted Hills
When you arrive in Painted Hills, you will see millions of years of history in the mountains. Named for its richly colored soil layers, these hills inspire onlookers with stripes of yellow, gold, black and red that change in hue with the light and moisture content. Painted Rocks is one of Oregon’s Seven Natural Wonders and is part of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, a vast park of stunningly preserved fossils in eastern Oregon.
A view of the Painted Hills in the afternoon sunlight
9. Timberline Lodge
Attracting nearly 2 million visitors each year, Timberline Lodge was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1977 and is one of Oregon's top tourist destinations. The lodge is about halfway up Mount Hood, Oregon’s tallest peak, and has the longest sustained ski season in North America. When the snow piles high in winter, the first floor of the hotel is often covered with snow and needs to be accessed by a snow tunnel or direct entry onto the second floor. Interesting fact: You might recognize the hotel from the 1980 thriller, “The Shining.”
The fireplace in the lobby of the Timberline Lodge
10. Willamette Valley Wine Country
Wine Enthusiast’s Wine Region of the Year for 2016 was Oregon’s Willamette Valley, home to more than 500 wineries and one of the world's major producers of Pinot Noir. Although the number of wines and wineries continues to grow, Willamette Valley winemakers have never lost the desire to craft or innovate their own hand-made varieties. Reserve a guided tour or rent a bicycle to explore five scenic craft winery trails.