22 most beautiful places to visit in Oregon

The gorgeous state known for its jaw-dropping coastal scenery, bohemian communities, and its wonderful mix of mountainous and forested inland landscapes is easily one of America’s most unique and extraordinary states. I spent a month traveling around this wonderful destination and it truly captured my heart, so from a city with a strong cultural identity and progressive ideals to volcanoes, glaciers, and fossil-strewn deserts, here are the best and most beautiful places to visit in Oregon, USA…

1. Oregon Coast Highway (Route 101) – one of the most beautiful coastal road routes in the USA and must do on any Oregon trip or vacation

Beautiful scenery along the Oregon Coast Highway

Oregon Coast Highway

Sometimes known as the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway, this is easily the best place to visit in the beautiful state, The Oregon Coast is a long stretch of coastline along the Pacific Ocean which is simply stunning! The 363-mile stretch is said to be one of the most scenic highways in the world and the innumerable beautiful beaches to stop by make the drive totally worth it.

The Highway 101 winds down the entirety of the Oregon Coast and it starts with the Columbia River to the end of the California border. The coast is divided into three regions: North Oregon Coast, Tillamook County, and Lincoln County.

The highway also moves along the breath-taking forests of the Oswald West State Park, which is named after the Oregon Governor who secured Oregon’s stellar beaches for the use of the public. There are many very beautiful places to stop along here but my highlights include Seal Rock, Cape Kiwanda, Ecola State Park, and Astoria. I would also advise staying overnight at one of the many pretty coastal communities to really make the most of the unique and wonderful atmosphere!

2. Bend, Oregon – a small city located on a river that offers very beautiful natural surrounding landscapes

Bend - best places to visit in Oregon

Bend City - places to go in Oregon

Bend is a city nestled on the banks of the Deschutes River in the state of Oregon. The city itself is pleasant but it’s the surroundings that make this one of the best places to visit in Oregon. The west of the city has the gorgeous lakes and peaks of the majestic Cascade Mountains.

With a mountain range, the possibilities of winter sports are super high because there are scores of ski-resorts multi-use trails around this small city. Towards the south side of the city is the High Desert Museum which exhibits the local environment and other interesting facts about the area. To top it all, there is the Newberry National Volcanic Monument that will lead to the longest and most famous lava tube in Oregon. Bend is definitely one city you shouldn’t miss in this beautiful state!

3. Crater Lake National Park – one of the best destinations to explore in Oregon which is home to a stunning lake and many hiking trails

Crater Lake National Park

The Crater Lake National Park should always feature on a list of the most stunning places to explore in Oregon. It is located in the south-central region of the Oregon state and the main attraction of this National Park is the lake right in the midst of it.

The lake is famous for its crystal blue color and water clarity and is truly beautiful. The lake is said to have formed due to the collapse of the volcano Mount Mazama. The water is preserved only due to natural weather conditions like rain and snow and no water bodies flow into or out of the lake, so it’s really quite an extraordinary sight to behold!

4. Cannon Beach – perfect for an Oregon vacation and one of the best stops along the Oregon Coast

Cannon Beach Oregon

It isn’t really a secret that Oregon is the place to visit for really beautiful beaches and Cannon Beach is definitely one of the best. It’s a tiny coastal city located in the northwest region of the state and the beach in the city is known for its lengthy and sandy shore as well as the towering Haystack Rock, which is often hailed as one of the top-rated tourist attractions along the Oregon Coast.

Towards the north is the trail of the Ecola State Park which offers a truly wonderful view of the beautiful beach. Towards the south is Arcadia Beach which has some tide pools and picnic areas which is a great place to spend time with the family.

5. Portland – the quirky hipster city perfect for an Oregon weekend trip

Beautiful Portland Oregon

One of the most popular cities in Oregon, Portland is the state’s largest city and is placed on the Columbia and Willamette Rivers and not to forget the majestic Mount Hood. One of the coolest things to do in Oregon, Portland is known for its hipster and liberal culture and is said to be the most eco-friendly city in the USA. This isn’t really surprising though seeing as though it’s located in one of the most scenic states in the USA.

Since the beginning of the 1960s, Portland has been known for its ever-growing politically progressive views but it’s also a great place for independent shops, cafes, and restaurants, and festivals – mostly eco-friendly of course! Other highlights include the wonderful International Rose Test Garden, Portland Japanese Garden, Portland Art Museum, the Pearl District, and Pittock Mansion

6. John Day Fossil Beds National Park – a stunning US National Monument and Oregon landmark

John Day Fossil Beds National Park

Next on our most beautiful places to visit in Oregon list is the U.S National Monument in the Wheeler and Grant counties in east-central Oregon. The park is famous for its preserved fossils plants and mammals which are said to have lived millions of years ago.

The historical importance of this park is what draws all the history buffs. This 13000 plus acres of National Park covers semi-desert shrublands, riparian zones, and colorful badlands.

7. Bandon Beach – the pretty Oregon beach where the beautiful Coquille River meets the Pacific Ocean

Bandon Beach Oregon

Bandon is a coastal city located in the Coos County of Oregon state. The beautiful scenery from the Bandon beach will pop up first when you hit the button on many an Oregon Google search.

This is where Coquille River meets the beautiful Pacific Ocean and the city is also popular for its stellar golf courses at the Bandon Dunes Golf Resort. Another must-see spot in this gorgeous area is the pretty historic lighthouse situated at the main beach.

8. Mount Hood – Oregon’s highest mountain and landmark which draws the tourists

Mount Hood - most beautiful places to visit in Oregon

The highest and most iconic mountain in the state of Oregon is truly breathtaking and can be seen from miles and miles. Mount Hood is a potentially active stratovolcano in the Cascade Volcanic Arc.

It’s also the only mountain that offers year-round lift-served skiing in North America. Other popular activities in this beautiful spot include whitewater rafting, kayaking, skydiving, bird watching, hiking, and biking.

9. Tumalo Falls Deschutes National Forest – a natural protected space which is easily one of the most beautiful places to visit in Oregon

Tumalo Falls Deschutes National Forest

Another gorgeous place to go in Oregon, the Tumalo Falls is a wonderful 97-foot waterfall located on Tumalo Creek, in the Cascade Range in the state of Oregon. The waterfalls come under the Deschutes National Forest which is the home to Mount Bachelor, a stratovolcano.

The National Forest is popular for recreational activities like hiking and has several mountain trails to choose from. Mountain biking is another popular sport and people travel to Oregon from all over the USA just to try the incredible trails here.

10. Ashland – ‘one of the best small art towns in America’ and a fun things to do in Oregon

Ashland Oregon

I loved this place in Oregon too, the city of Ashland is located in the southern part of Oregon State. It was once named “The 100 Best Small Art Towns in America” so expect a charming cultural hot spot dotted with award-winning galleries, theaters, and restaurants.

It’s also popular for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival which is a repertory theatre founded in 1935. The southwest of downtown Ashland is the beautiful Lithia Park and the right time to visit would be the fall season. To the northeast of the city is the North Mountain Park which has a nature center and multiple themed gardens worth visiting too.

11. Shore Acres State Park – for truly astonishing coastal views and viewpoints

Shore Acres State Park

Tucked right above on a scenic bluff facing the Pacific Ocean, the Shore Acres State Park is a truly jaw-dropping beauty spot you shouldn’t miss while you visit Oregon. What began as a private estate with sprawling gardens purchased from several parts of the world (by shipbuilder adn curator Louis J.Simpson) has turned out to be a favorite Oregon beauty spot amongst nature and beach lovers alike.

With hiking trails along the coast, the State Park also offers its visitors the chance of relaxing picnic tables and several tide pools. Easily one of the best places to stop and explore in wonderful Oregon.

12. Yachats – the small coastal city which makes a pretty and peaceful ocean-side retreat

Yachats - best places to visit in Oregon

This charming town situated in the Lincoln county of Oregon is named from the Siletz language and has the meaning ‘dark water at the foot of the mountain’. It is also nicknamed as the ‘Home of the World’s Largest Ocean’ and it’s been named as the ‘Top 10 coolest small towns of the U.S.A’ (by Budget Magazine) so yes definitely deserves a place on this list!

The ocean-side community makes a lovely place to visit and stop in Oregon if you want a peaceful retreat, to explore the great outdoors, have a little bit of family time, or even a romantic getaway for two. When you’re here make sure you don’t miss Thor’s Well, a large and seemingly bottomless sinkhole that swallows the seawater around it.

13. Heceta Head Lighthouse – the striking Oregon lighthouse and gorgeous hidden gem

Heceta Head Lighthouse

This stunning lighthouse is situated on the Oregon Coast 13 miles north from Florence and 13 miles south of the Yachats small town. The lighthouse viewpoint is part of a state park and is midway up to a whopping 205-foot-tall headland.

A lovely aspect is that the lighthouse keeper’s house is accessible to tourists as a bed-and-breakfast inn! Yes, I’m sure you can imagine the incredible sea views from this point!

14. Florence – a lovely coastal town to visit in Oregon which is home to a sea lion colony

Florence Oregon

This is another pretty small town to visit in Oregon which is located at the mouth of the Siuslaw River. It is home to the expansive and vast Sea Lion Caves, which are home to a lively sea lion colony.

The trails from the restored Heceta Head Lighthouse offer a view of seabirds and migrating whales. The historic Old Town district offers several awesome shopping options too so everything combined makes it a great attraction to explore in Oregon.

15. Siltcoos Lake – a beautiful and tranquil place to explore in Oregon

Siltcoos Lake - pretty places to Oregon

This is the largest lake on the Oregon Coast and is a whopping 3,164 acre in size. The beautiful lake empties out onto the main Siltcoos River and there is a dam located at the downriver too. The lake is a popular destination for fishing and is considered as the home of several warm-water species.

Other popular activities include kayaking, boating, hiking, and the start of the Siltcoos River Canoe Trail. Camping options are also open to people who would like to also stay in this beautiful area in Oregon.

16. Columbia River Gorge – one of the best things to do in Oregon

Columbia River Gorge Oregon

Easily one of the best things to do in Oregon, this wonderful scenic area marks the border between Oregon and Washington. It’s an unspoiled place to visit home to spectacular scenery and unique geography. The gorge is up to 4,000 feet deep and stretches for over eighty miles as the river winds westward through the Cascade Range. 

Visit for hiking and gorgeous views as well as hand-crafted beer and farm-fresh dining. Also don’t miss the beautiful Multnomah Falls, a waterfall located on Multnomah Creek in the Columbia River Gorge. 

17. Yaquina Head – if you’re traveling to Portland you must visit this place! 

Yaquina Head Lighthouse

Designated an Outstanding Natural Area, this is a much-loved beauty spot to explore in Oregon. Located on the Oregon Coast about a mile out to sea, the views are just incredible here. 

Visit for both the tide pools which are filled with sea life and the wonderful lighthouse which at 93 feet tall is actually Oregon’s tallest lighthouse and has been warning ships to stay away from the cliffs since 1873. 

18. Smith Rock State Park – perfect for hiking, rock climbing, and sightseeing

Smith Rock State Park Oregon

One of the best things to do in Oregon if you like hiking or rock climbing, this area offers scenic views, deep river canyons, rugged wilderness, as well as several thousand climbs. 

Located in central Oregon’s High Desert near the communities of Redmond and Terrebonne, you can either visit for the day or camp overnight. 

20. Hot Springs – a hidden gem in the Oregon Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge

Hot Springs Oregon Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge

Oregon is home to a few hot springs so definitely try and visit at least one before you leave. I loved the very rustic version where you can also bath which was hidden in the Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge in Oregon’s high desert plateau.

It takes a while to get there but it was worth it and the surrounding scenery is spectacular with towering cliffs and peaks, wildlife, canyons, and grasslands. Easily one of the most awesome things to do in Oregon.

21. Cape Perpetua – one of the best viewpoints in Oregon

Cape Perpetua

Another one of the best destinations to visit in Oregon if you love scenic views, this is a large protected forested headland that juts out into the Pacific Ocean on the central Oregon Coast.

Located just two miles from Yachats visit here for views of the frothy surf crashing upon the rugged shores and don’t forget to take your camera! 

22. Willamette Valley – one of the most beautiful Oregon attractions

Willamette Valley Oregon

If you love wine and are wondering what to do in Oregon then this is a must-visit place. As well as the seriously beautiful scenery the 150-mile long valley in Oregon is home to more than 500 wineries. 

The Willamette Valley is also famous for its world-class Pinot noir which it exports and sells all over the world. Definitely not a place to be missed! 

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