Oregon is home to some of the most captivating views in the entire United States, offering everything from miles-long beaches to stunning mountainous terrain to charming small towns. With its beautiful coastline, popular state parks, and the deepest lake in the country, it’s no surprise that this state is considered a nature lover’s destination.
The outdoor adventures in Oregon are endless. You can explore its rugged coastline, hike to waterfalls, and marvel at its snow-capped Wallowa Mountains (also known as “Little Switzerland”). There are also plenty of places to satisfy your taste buds, from craft breweries and micro-distilleries to a renowned wine region and a thriving food scene.
With so many things to see and do in the Beaver State, you might not know where to begin your adventure. So, we’ve compiled our list of the absolute best things to do in Oregon for all types of travelers, including the top family-friendly attractions, outdoor activities, and hidden natural wonders. Stick to this Oregon bucket list and there’s no doubt you’ll have an amazing time exploring the state’s scenic landscapes!
Don’t forget to check out our web story: The 25 Best Things to do in Oregon
- 25 Cool and Unique Things to do in Oregon
- 1. Sample the Best of Portland
- 2. Experience the Charming Seaside City of Astoria
- 3. Marvel at Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach
- 4. Taste Local Eats at Tillamook Creamery
- 5. Visit Timberline Lodge Where “The Shining” was Filmed
- 6. Soak in the Bagby Hot Springs
- 7. Drive the Scenic Highway in the Columbia River Gorge
- 8. Go Kitesurfing or Windsurfing on Hood River
- 9. Take a Boozy Wine Tasting Trip to Willamette Valley
- 10. Walk Behind Water at The Trail of Ten Falls (Silver Falls State Park)
- 11. Go Hot Spring Hopping in the Willamette National Forest
- 12. Float Down the Deschutes River in Bend
- 13. Hit the Slopes at Mount Bachelor
- 14. Go Rock Climbing in Smith Rock State Park
- 15. Marvel at the Painted Hills
- 16. Get Off the Beaten Path and Explore Remote Eastern Oregon
- 17. Camp Under the Stars in the Alvord Desert
- 18. See Majestic Migrating Whales in Depoe Bay
- 19. Go Off-Roading at Oregon Dunes
- 20. Road Trip to Thor’s Well
- 21. Visit the Sea Lion Caves in Florence
- 22. Hike Scenic Landscapes via the Oregon Coast Trail
- 23. Take a Dip in Crater Lake National Park
- 24. Take a Candlelit Cave Tour at Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve
- 25. Discover Hidden Gems Along the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor
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25 Cool and Unique Things to do in Oregon
1. Sample the Best of Portland
Most travelers will begin or end their trip in Oregon’s largest city, Portland. This vibrant and quirky destination has a long list of fun things to do. It’s best known for its ultra-hip eateries, microbreweries, coffee shops, and bike-friendly streets.
Powell’s City of Books is considered an institution in the city, while Lan Su Chinese Garden offers a tranquil escape in the Chinatown district. On Saturdays, be sure to pick up local arts and crafts at the bustling Portland Saturday Market. Families can opt for a picnic in Mt. Tabor Park or a visit to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.
Food connoisseurs flock to Portland for its impressive food scene. Cartopia Food Cart Pod, Portland State University Food Cart Pod, and Cartlandia Food Cart Pod are just some of its most famous food cart spots, while Pine Street Market food hall features a bunch of local favorites. Of course, you can’t leave without trying one of the sweet treats at VooDoo Doughnuts, Doe Donuts, or Coco Donuts!
You can also find great beer in Portland, with Occidental Brewing Company, Breakside Brewery, Level Beer, and Upright Brewing topping the list. And the coffee shops in this city will have you ditching the big chains, particularly at Coava Flagship, Pajaro, and Push X Pull.
2. Experience the Charming Seaside City of Astoria
Tucked into the gorgeous inlet where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean, Astoria is a fantastic stop on any Oregon road trip. The seaside charmer is also a hotspot for The Goonies movie fans, as well as outdoor lovers.
Head to the downtown district to browse its shops, restaurants, and galleries. You’ll find a mix of historic buildings and notable attractions, including Liberty Theater, Fort George Brewery, the Museum of Whimsy, and the Garden of Surging Waves.
You can capture stunning views of Astoria atop the historic Astoria Column, then enjoy a picturesque stroll along the Astoria Riverfront. Outdoor attractions abound in this charming city, from scenic hiking trails at Fort Stevens State Park to retracing famous steps at the Lewis and Clark National Historical Park.
The Goonies fans won’t be disappointed with the nostalgia found in Astoria. To get an up-close look at famous filming locations, stop by County Jail and the Flavel House Museum, then visit the Bowling Alley, Lower Columbia Bowl, and nearby Cannon Beach where they biked to in search of One-Eyed Willy’s hidden treasure.
If you’ve got extra time, Seaside is a popular beach town just 30 minutes from Astoria. The beach here is one of the best on the coast and it features a 1.5-mile promenade that runs alongside the Pacific Ocean.
3. Marvel at Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach
Cannon Beach is a small coastal city at Tolovana Beach State Recreation Site and a popular getaway on Oregon’s beautiful coast. It’s here you’ll find Haystack Rock, one of the state’s most recognizable and photographed landmarks. Haystack Rock was formed about 15 million years ago by lava flows and is a hotspot for nature lovers and a top thing to see on the Oregon Coast.
Beloved for its colorful tide pools, it rises 235 feet from the edge of the picturesque shoreline. Visit at low tide and you might even be able to walk right up to the formation and marvel at sea stars and other local tide pool creatures.
If you want to catch a sight of the adorable tufted puffins, visit around early spring to mid-summer. Birdwatching is a popular activity here year-round, with a chance to observe unique birdlife such as pelagic cormorant, black oystercatchers, and harlequin ducks.
Spend your time strolling the sandy beaches and admiring the iconic rock formations, then explore the small boutique shops and cafes in the charming downtown area. You’ll find ample opportunities for outdoor adventures nearby, including kayaking, surfing, and wildlife spotting.
4. Taste Local Eats at Tillamook Creamery
No visit to Tillamook is complete without a stop at the famous Tillamook Creamery. It’s here that you can sample some of their world-famous cheese and creamy ice cream while learning about its more than 100-year-old traditions.
Take a free, self-guided tour of the Creamery and browse its videos, historical displays, and interactive kiosks. At this top-rated Pacific Northwest attraction, you can get an exciting behind-the-scenes look at the Tillamook cheesemaking room and packaging line.
Made to look like a modern barn, the Creamery also boasts an on-site cafe where you’ll find a tasty menu of food made with real ingredients. Fill up with artisan pizzas and gourmet mac and cheese or try a healthy salad topped with fresh seafood. For the 21 and over crowd, there are also Northwest brews and wine options.
More than just a cheese factory, Tillamook is also a gorgeous town on the Oregon Coast. The beach and nearby forest are great for hiking and sightseeing, while its flowing rivers appeal to kayak and paddleboard enthusiasts. You can also spend a few hours driving along the 40-mile-long Three Capes Scenic Loop for a peek at Oregon’s gorgeous coastline.
5. Visit Timberline Lodge Where “The Shining” was Filmed
“Here’s Johnny!” Only an hour away from Portland, the iconic Timberline Lodge was portrayed as the Overlook Hotel in the Stanley Kubrick film The Shining. If you’re a fan of classic horror movies, visiting this landmark filming location is one of the best things to do in Oregon.
Used for the exterior shots of the fictional hotel in the 1980 classic, the hotel looks much the same as it did in the film. It is, however, a luxury ski lodge and mountain retreat and one of Oregon’s most popular attractions.
Built by hand in the 1930s, this architectural gem is set high on the shoulder of one of the most iconic peaks in the Pacific Northwest: Mt. Hood. It’s one of America’s most notable National Historic Landmarks that continues to operate after 80 years and also offers a range of high-alpine mountain experiences.
Take advantage of the multitude of outdoor activities at Timberline Lodge. In the summer, you can enjoy biking and hiking, while winter offers snowshoeing, snowboarding, and skiing. Stay overnight for access to luxury amenities such as a pool, a mountain hot tub, and a sauna.
6. Soak in the Bagby Hot Springs
Less than an hour’s drive from Estacada lies one of Oregon’s most popular hot springs. Surrounded by the beautiful Mount Hood National Forest, Bagby Hot Springs is a luxurious spot to soak after hiking a 1.4-mile trail through old-growth trees.
The natural hot springs are adjacent to a secluded tributary of the Clackamas River, offering a rustic experience for nature lovers. There’s a lower and upper bathhouse, which contains six-foot-long log tubs and round tubs on an open deck.
To reach these springs, you can follow the trail from the parking area and cross Nohorn Creek on a footbridge. After a scenic trek through the woods, you’ll reach a sign to indicate the entrance to the hot springs area. If you want to continue further on the trail, you’ll discover a campsite and the 30-foot-tall Shower Creek Falls.
Time your visit right, as the waiting time for the soaking tubs can vary depending on how many people are visiting at any given time. With this, summer and weekends can get quite busy.
7. Drive the Scenic Highway in the Columbia River Gorge
One of the most stunning vistas in the US, the Columbia River Gorge was designated a National Scenic Area for good reason. It’s only 30 miles east of Portland and one of the top things to do in Oregon, offering a scenic canyon full of waterfalls and a picturesque driving route.
One of the best ways to see it all is along the 70-mile-long Historic Columbia River Highway. Beginning in Troutdale and ending in The Dalles, this route takes you past the iconic Multnomah Falls, the Bonneville Lock and Dam, and the Bridge of the Gods.
Columbia River Gorge is the perfect place to stretch your legs on a hike to a waterfall, as it’s home to the highest concentration of waterfalls in the US. The 620-foot-tall Multnomah Falls is Oregon’s tallest waterfall and a year-round attraction for all ages.
The 2.4-mile hike to Latourell Falls fits the bill if you’re looking for some serious wow factor and is one of the closest hikes near Multnomah Falls. Oneonta Gorge is also near Multnomah and explores a cavern behind Ponytail Falls, while Triple Falls Trail offers views of three waterfalls in one hike.
8. Go Kitesurfing or Windsurfing on Hood River
Hood River is known as the “Windsurfing Capital of the World” because of its warm westerly winds, which also makes it popular for kiteboarding. If it’s a warm day in the gorge, you’ll often see a landscape of dozens of multi-colored sails dotting the sky above the Columbia River.
Kiteboarding and windsurfing enthusiasts from around the world flock here to experience its unique and optimal conditions. If you’ve never tried either extreme sport before, you’ll find plenty of schools nearby where you can try it out before attempting the adventure on your own.
For kiteboarding, the most popular launch spot is the Hood River Event Site. Alternately, windsurfers can head to Columbia Gorge Sailpark, Cascade Locks Marine Park, Mayer State Park, or Rooster Rock State Park.
Summer is a popular time to go windsurfing and kiteboarding on Hood River, as you can expect wind speeds to range anywhere from 10 mph to 30 mph. Professionals can visit year-round but beginners are recommended to visit between June and September.
9. Take a Boozy Wine Tasting Trip to Willamette Valley
Calling all wine lovers! Visiting the picturesque Willamette Valley is a must-do in Oregon. Not only does it boast around 700 wineries, but it’s a top wine grape producer in the US and is recognized as one of the premier Pinot noir producing areas in the world!
Some of the top places for wine tasting include Domaine Drouhin, Youngberg Hill, Yamhill Valley Vineyards, and Brooks Winery. If you’re not a fan of Pinot noir, you’ll find a wide selection of other wine varietals. Chardonnay is readily available, as well as Riesling, Syrah, pinot blanc, and sauvignon blanc. There’s truly something for every type of wine drinker.
This region is huge, so choose either the northern or southern portion and add favorite towns such as Dundee, McMinnville, and Newberg to your route. You can visit during “cellar season,” which begins January 1 and extends to the onset of spring. Enjoy the open roads, quiet tasting rooms, and more one-on-one time with winemakers.
While wineries are probably at the top of your itinerary, you’ll also find other fun activities to enjoy in this region. Visit an art gallery, go hiking and biking, or float above wine country on a romantic hot air balloon excursion.
10. Walk Behind Water at The Trail of Ten Falls (Silver Falls State Park)
While the northwest is home to a range of incredible waterfall hikes, there’s nothing quite like the Trail of Ten Falls. Located in Silver Falls State Park, this area is beloved for its 10 picturesque waterfalls, five of which are more than 100 feet tall.
The park’s most famous attraction is the 177-foot-tall South Falls, where adventurous hikers can see the cascading waters behind the falls along the Maple Ridge Loop. For more of a challenge, follow the five-mile Winter Falls Loop and pass seven water features, including the two-tiered Double Falls.
Hikers who want the full experience can embark on the moderate eight-mile Trail of Ten Falls Hike. This three-hour hike allows you to walk behind four waterfalls and offers endless photo opportunities through a densely forested landscape. You’ll pass a rocky canyon and descend to a beautiful creek along the forest floor.
If you prefer to explore on two wheels, there are 35 miles of backcountry trails for mountain biking. The South Falls Day Use Area is also a great spot for families and features a swimming area, spacious lawn, picnic shelters, a playground, and horseshoe pits.
11. Go Hot Spring Hopping in the Willamette National Forest
Located east of the Willamette Valley, the Willamette National Forest features 1.6 million acres of sprawling landscapes. Hiking and camping here are popular pastimes in this park. Plus, it’s also home to a set of alluring natural hot springs.
Cougar (aka Terwilliger Hot Springs) is nestled beneath a canopy of the forest at the end of a quarter-mile trail and features gorgeous soaking pools fed by a small cave in a wooded ravine. You can take a dip in each of the six rock-walled pools, which feature temperatures of 85 to 112 degrees.
The Willamette National Forest is also home to Oregon’s well-known Blue Pool. Sitting at the base of Tamolitch Falls, this sapphire-blue pool of water is your reward after a two-mile hike that follows along the beautiful McKenzie River.
Bigelow “Deer Creek” Hot Springs is nestled on the banks of the McKenzie River and features a natural grotto with room for up to four people. It’s an especially picturesque destination in the fall when the foliage turns into vibrant hues of reds and oranges.
For a glimpse of the forest’s most beautiful waterfalls, add Sahalie Falls and Koosah Falls to your itinerary. Within walking distance of each other, they both offer captivating views of Oregon’s natural scenery.
12. Float Down the Deschutes River in Bend
Floating down the Deschutes River is one of the most popular things to do in Bend in warmer months. This river is teeming with activities, where you can enjoy hiking, kayaking, and even surfing, but floating here is almost a rite of passage for locals.
The easiest route is to hop in at Riverbend Park, float to the Colorado Avenue Bridge, then hop out. From there, you can walk to Shevlin Hixon Drive to get back to your car. You can also opt to start at the Colorado Avenue Bridge and float to Drake Park.
However, you’ll find one of Bend’s coolest attractions at the Colorado Avenue Bridge – Bend Whitewater Park. This park has three channels, including a “Whitewater Channel” with wave features for surfing, paddleboarding, and whitewater kayaking. In addition to a “Habitat Channel” for local wildlife, it also has a “Fish Ladder” for those looking to add a little rapids adventure to their float.
Make sure you have a high-quality, durable floaty for river use. Also, proper water shoes are recommended, as getting in and out of the tubes is rocky. Lastly, dry bags are great for storing your phone, keys, etc.
13. Hit the Slopes at Mount Bachelor
Considered the Pacific Northwest’s premier mountain destination, Mt. Bachelor is one of the largest ski resorts in North America. With 4,300 acres of skiable terrain, 3,365 feet of vertical drops, and 121 unique runs – it’s the top thing to do in Oregon for ski enthusiasts.
Appealing to seasoned skiers, families, and beginners alike, the resort offers terrain for all abilities and skill levels. One of the most popular lifts, Cloudchaser, offers intermediate terrain, while the iconic Summit Chair provides incredible 360-degrees views for intermediate levels and up.
You can get an aerobic exercise at the Nordic Center, where 21 groomed trails cover 34 miles of the alpine country. From here, you can enjoy beautiful views overlooking the snow-capped peaks in Three Sisters Wilderness. It offers the nation’s longest groomed Nordic season, typically from mid-November to late May.
If you’re a non-skier, you’ll also find a wide range of other fun activities at Mt. Bachelor to enjoy, such as a kid-friendly Tubing Park, snowshoe tours, and sled dog rides. In warmer months, you can pick from zip line tours and a bike park, while kids camps are available.
14. Go Rock Climbing in Smith Rock State Park
If you’re looking for an adrenaline-pumping adventure in Oregon, plan a day trip to Smith Rock State Park. Known for its deep river canyons and rock climbing opportunities, adventure seekers across the globe come here to explore more than a thousand bolted routes.
Known as the birthplace of US sport climbing in 1986, the park is situated in Central Oregon and sees over 300 days of sun per year. Covering over 650 acres and featuring around 3,000 feet in elevation, its towering rock spires feature cliffs that cater to all skill levels.
Some of the most popular climbing areas are The Dihedrals, Christian Brothers, the Gorge Area, and The Marsupials. Most of the classic lines are single pitch, but you can tackle more challenging routes on the 600-foot-tall spires.
There are also plenty of scenic hiking trails, including the popular 2.5-mile River Trail that is family-friendly and includes mostly flat terrain. Steep trails make it fun for mountain biking enthusiasts, while the park’s abundant wildlife offers a chance to spot eagles, falcons, river otters, and beavers.
15. Marvel at the Painted Hills
Tucked away in Eastern Oregon is one of the state’s most unique landscapes, the Painted Hills. Part of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, this high desert region features a geological wonderland with colorful hills formed over 35 million years ago.
Plan a day trip to this surreal landscape in Oregon’s high desert region and discover one of the most captivating attractions in the Pacific Northwest. Looking as if they were painted by Mother Nature herself, the hills are splashed with a kaleidoscope of yellow, gold, black, and red tones.
The colors might even appear to change throughout the day, as the view differs with changing light and moisture levels. It’s no surprise that the Painted Hills is considered one of the 7 Wonders of Oregon.
With short trails winding along the hills, there are a few ways to take in the view of this natural beauty. The most popular is the Painted Hills Overlook Trail that starts at the parking lot, while the Painted Cove Trail has an elevated boardwalk.
For an added bonus, visit the Painted Hills between April and May for a view of the blooming wildflowers. If you have extra time, see the “wild” fossils in the Clarno Unit or take in scenic views from the Sheep Rock Unit.
16. Get Off the Beaten Path and Explore Remote Eastern Oregon
Eastern Oregon is one of the least visited areas of the state and a vast outdoor playground. Its rugged natural beauty makes it the perfect pick for a road trip. If you prefer to explore the road less traveled, give this gorgeous area of Oregon a try.
Home to the deepest canyon in North America, Hells Canyon is one of the most popular destinations in Eastern Oregon. Drive along the Hells Canyon Scenic Byway to marvel at captivating views of the canyon plummeting more than 8,000 feet, which practically dwarfs the Grand Canyon.
Surrounded by the Eagle Cap Wilderness, the Wallowa Mountains are another iconic natural wonder in Eastern Oregon. Serious adventurers can hike to the top of the 8,255-foot-tall Mt. Howard or hike to waterfalls on the 10-mile Hurricane Creek Trail, while families can enjoy the scenery on the Wallowa Lake Tramway.
You don’t want to miss a trip to Owyhee Canyonlands, the largest expanse of undeveloped land in the lower 48 states. With volcanic features and rock formations, it offers scenic road trips in the high desert of Malheur County and the option for guided rafting trips down the Lower Owyhee Canyonlands.
17. Camp Under the Stars in the Alvord Desert
If you’re looking for an epic overnight adventure in Oregon, head to the Alvord Desert. The hype is real at this unique destination and visiting the desolate landscape is considered a top thing to do in Oregon for camping enthusiasts.
Sitting on the east side of the Steens Mountain Range at an elevation of 4,000 feet, the Alvord Desert features a surreal landscape of snow-capped peaks towering above a cracked desert floor. It was once a lake extending over 100 miles but has since dried up, leaving a dry lake (playa) that is about 20 miles long and seven miles wide.
One of the biggest draws to this area is being able to camp on the desert playa. There aren’t many places in the world where you can spend a night on salt flats! Many travelers recommend setting up camp on the edge of the playa.
During your trip to Alvord Desert, some of the most popular things to do include driving on the playa, stargazing, and soaking in the nearby hot springs. Located on the edge of the playa, Alvord Hot Springs is the most popular. If you’re lucky, you might even spot wild mustangs drinking from the springs!
18. See Majestic Migrating Whales in Depoe Bay
For animal lovers, whale watching is easily one of the coolest things to do in Oregon. One of the best spots to see this phenomenon is at Depoe Bay, which is considered the state’s whale-watching capital.
Oregon’s whale watching season peaks twice a year, first during winter (mid-December to mid-January) and then in spring (late February to May). During this time, around 20,000 whales migrate between the icy seas of Alaska to the breeding lagoons in Baja California, Mexico.
At the Depoe Bay Whale Watching Center, you can watch as these majestic creatures dive and breach into the waters. It features a heated indoor viewing area perched on the sea wall as well as educational displays. Humpback, orca, and blue whales have all been spotted here.
If you’re up for an excursion, sign up for a whale watching tour with a local company. Some of the most popular include Dockside Charters, Tradewinds Charters, Whale Research Eco Excursions, and Whale’s Tail Charters.
In addition to Depoe Bay on the northern coast, you can also visit Ecola State Park for whale watching. Cape Perpetual State Scenic Area on the Central Coast and Cape Blanco Shore Trail on the Southern Coast are excellent alternatives.
19. Go Off-Roading at Oregon Dunes
Whether you’re looking for an off-roading adventure or some peace and quiet, the otherworldly landscapes at the Oregon Dunes National Recreational Area won’t disappoint. With the Pacific Ocean on one side and a series of lakes on the other and a beach in the middle, it’s like nowhere else in Oregon.
The wind-sculpted sand dunes stand as tall as 500 feet above sea level and provide endless opportunities for fun. Thrill-seekers can try their hand at Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) adventures since about half of the area is comprised of a recreation area that’s open to motorized vehicles. Hiking, photography, canoeing, and camping are also available.
Follow the 1.25-mile loop of Bluebill Trail for a look at the southern area of the dunes, or enjoy miles of open sand and inland dunes at Horsfall Beach. Alternatively, opt for a trek through a spruce forest along the John Dellenback Dunes Trail.
Start your visit at the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area Visitor Center. Located in Reedsport, it features interpretive exhibits, maps, and brochures, as well as friendly staff to help you plan your day at this natural attraction.
20. Road Trip to Thor’s Well
Easily one of Oregon’s most spectacular natural wonders, Thor’s Well in Yachats is a hole carved out of the basalt shoreline that appears to be draining the sea. Nestled on the edge of the Oregon Coast near Cape Perpetua, the seemingly bottomless sinkhole is actually around 20 feet deep.
It’s an old sea cave that has collapsed, creating a unique “drainage pipe” and the incredible sight of thrashing water. Many visitors come to this natural attraction to just sit back and be mesmerized as the water jets out and then gets swelled back down the hole again. The best time to see it is at high tide or when a storm is coming (although it can be more dangerous with sneaker waves).
To reach Thor’s Well, you’ll need to walk down a short path from the parking lot. Be careful when exploring, however, as the jagged volcano rock terrain can be slippery. This natural attraction is not for the faint of heart!
For more sightseeing, you can also visit nearby Devil’s Churn with incredible tide pools and a collapsed sea cave. The Heceta Head Lighthouse is another worthy landmark, while the charming town of Yachats is a delightful area to explore.
21. Visit the Sea Lion Caves in Florence
Another must for animal lovers, visiting the Sea Lion Caves near Florence is one of the coolest things to do in Oregon. Not only is it the largest sea cave in the United States, but it’s also a wildlife preserve and bird sanctuary.
Home to Steller sea lions year-round, this cavernous preserve is a popular stop along the scenic Highway 101. Winter is the best time to see the barking sea lions inside the cave, while in warmer months you can observe them lounging on the outdoor ledges along the shoreline.
From the Visitors Center, it’s a short walk to the elevator that takes you over 200 feet down to the base of the cave where you can observe the resident animals. After seeing the sea lions, it’s also possible to spot humpback whales, orca, and dolphins from the center throughout the year.
Florence is also a great spot for beach lovers, with uncrowded shorelines at Strawberry Hill Wayside, Heceta Beach County Park, and Carl G. Washburne Memorial State Park. You can also try sandboarding at Sand Master Park or horseback riding along the shore at Baker Beach.
22. Hike Scenic Landscapes via the Oregon Coast Trail
Offering a new meaning to “beach vacation,” the almost 400-mile Oregon Coast Trail is a hiker’s paradise that crosses sandy beaches, popular state parks, and picture-perfect coastal towns. It’s the ultimate Oregon long-distance trek, earning the nickname “The People’s Coast.”
Whether you choose a single-day hike or multi-day excursions, you can explore a huge stretch of Oregon’s coastline in 10 distinct segments. Along the way, you can marvel at offshore sea stacks and marine life, explore old-growth forests, and hike up scenic headlands.
There are so many activities to partake in along the Oregon Coast Trail, as each beach community is filled with unique character. Hike from Fort Stevens State Park to Oswald West State Park in Section 1 to pass the towns of Seaside and Cannon Beach or include Oswald West State Park in Section 2 to see the towering Neahkahnie Mountain.
Enjoy the stunning scenery along the Three Capes Scenic Route in Section 3 or enjoy 28 miles of sandy beach from Otter Rock to Heceta Head in Section 5. Alternately, opt for a day in the small town of North Bend and see some of the largest waves in Oregon at Shore Acres State Park.
23. Take a Dip in Crater Lake National Park
Nature lovers will want to add a visit to Crater Lake National Park to their Oregon bucket list. Widely known for its shockingly blue color and incredible scenery, it’s a beautiful spot in the summer for swimming, boat tours, hiking, and driving around its popular Rim Drive.
Covering an area of 249 square miles, it’s an easy two-hour road trip from Bend to see one of the most pristine national parks in the US. At 1,943-feet deep, it’s the deepest lake in the country and is surrounded by towering cliffs and volcanic islands.
While this park is beautiful year-round, June to September is the most popular time to enjoy hiking, camping, and fishing. Swimmers who want to take a dip in the clear waters should head to the Cleetwood Cove Trail, which drops 700 feet to the shoreline. It’s the best spot to safely swim.
The 3.4-mile Garfield Peak Trail is another popular route, where you can enjoy panoramic views of the entire lake. However, if you prefer to explore by car, follow the 33-mile Rim Drive to find over 30 pullouts with picture-perfect views of the stunning volcanic scenery.
24. Take a Candlelit Cave Tour at Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve
For an adventurous trek through some of Oregon’s most fascinating natural wonders, visit Oregon Caves National Monument. Located deep within the Siskiyou Mountains, these dark and twisting passageways feature beautiful calcite formations.
One of the coolest cave adventures for kids and adults alike, get an up-close look at one of the most complex geologic areas in North America on a 60-minute Candlelight Cave Tour. Lit only by the flicker of your candle lantern, the ranger-led excursion goes deep into the dark passageways and offers insight into what early explorations looked like.
You can also feel like Indiana Jones on the longer 90-minute Discovery Cave Tour, which also explores the dark depths of the Oregon Caves with a ranger guide. On this tour, you’ll pass marble passageways and visit a huge room 220 feet beneath the surface while learning about the interesting geology surrounding you.
There’s also a specific Kids and Family Cave Tour that is kid-centered. Catering to children 13 years of age and younger who meet the 42-inch height requirement, the 90-minute tour takes little ones past narrow and twisting passages.
25. Discover Hidden Gems Along the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor
If you want to see one of the most stunning areas of Oregon’s coastline, head to the Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor. You’ll find a little bit of everything in this scenic area, from beautiful sea stacks to sand dunes and, of course, plenty of incredible viewpoints.
With just 12 miles along the coast between Gold Beach and Brookings, you’ll find a variety of gorgeous pullouts, viewpoints, trailheads, and picnic spots. You’ll have access to an array of short hikes, each only a few miles long and stemming off from the parking areas. However, they are listed as moderate due to steep trails that can be tricky to navigate.
Natural Bridges is one of the most iconic stops in the entire park. With seven arch rocks and blowholes, it’s well worth a visit. Secret Beach is another favorite and its landscape is often made up of foggy views of the sea stacks over the cliff’s edge.
Whaleshead Beach is an ideal spot for a picnic, where you can marvel at a rock formation in the shape of a whale’s spout. Cape Ferrelo Viewpoint is a popular spot for Oregon Coast photography, particularly at sunset. For a trip to the sand dunes, add Indian Sands to your itinerary!
There you have it! 25 of the best things to do in Oregon. What’s your favorite thing to do in the Beaver State?
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