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Best Places To See In Oregon

Updated on August 2, 2021

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The state of Oregon is, arguably, the most beautiful state in the United States. It was admitted into statehood in 1859, and consists of over 90,000 sq ft. It is most commonly known for the Lewis and Clark Expedition, which started in 1804 at the behest of President Thomas Jefferson and lasted until 1806. It is a wonderful place to live and definitely worth a visit (or two!).


Portland, the city of roses, is Oregon's largest city and, for the urbanite, is definitely worth a visit. To start, make sure to visit the Portland Saturday Market. The Portland Saturday Market began in 1973, and is an outdoor market of well-made, handmade crafts. The MAX (the local light rail) goes right through the heart of the Saturday Market, so parking is not an issue; Portland was voted number 1, by Travel and Leisure Magazine, for Public Transportation.

Every June, Portland has their Rose Festival - the Starlight Parade in and of itself is worth seeing. However, there is also rides, and food, and all of this is at the beautiful Waterfront Park.

For the intellectuals, a visit to Powell's is a must. Powell's Bookstore, established 1971, is the size of an entire city block. It is distinctive in that they sell both used and new books, and shelves them next to each other. Chances are if they don't have it, it can't be found.

Another well liked excursion is the Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler, an authentic triple-deck paddle wheeler, as seen in the movie Maverick with Mel Gibson and Jodie Foster.

The Portland Aquarium is a recent addition to Portland. Encompassing 12,500 square feet it has a wide variety of exhibits. The Oregon Zoo, given four stars, is another good family spot.

A tour of note is called Underground Portland. Like Seattle, Portland has underground streets - called shanghai tunnels - that were closed off. Be warned - this is not a tour for the faint of heart.

Multnomah Falls

As stated before, Oregon is home to the Columbia River Gorge; however, for the less athletically challenged, there is also the Historic Columbia River Highway. The Historic Columbia River Highway is always worth a drive, with an emphasis on stopping at Multnomah Falls. The falls are 611 ft tall, and can been seen from the road, but if you want, you can get a better look by hiking to the top.

These falls are actually just the largest and most easily accessible. For those who are willing to hike, or love to hike, there are 77 other falls to be seen!.

Mt. Hood

Mt.Hood is the largest mountain in the area, and the second largest climbing mountain in the world. It is very popular with snowboarders, but is also friendly to the snowboard challenged. For instance, there is Crown Point, a scenic overlook about 773 ft over the Columbia River.

Mt. Hood is known for it's snowboarding with Mt. Hood Meadows being a favorite. Never snowboarded before? Don't worry - they'll show you how! And make sure to stop by the Timberline Lodge while you're there; built in 1937, Timberline Lodge was declared a national historic landmark in 1977 but more importantly it's a fun place to visit - it has lodging, dining, and a year-round heated pool.


Crater Lake

Also worth a visit is Crater Lake, located in the Crater Lake National Park. Crater Lake was formed after the collapse of a volcano and is the deepest lake in the United States and the ninth deepest lake in the world. Just as importantly, it is beautiful to look at. There are many spots to see it from the road or you can hike the bottom and see it up close and personal. The hike is a difficult one, but worth it – the water in the lake is so blue that people often wonder if there is something in it to make it so blue. (There is not, it is just really pure.)

The Shakespeare Festival

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival was founded in 1935 and is one of the oldest and largest non-profit theaters in the nation and has won a Tony Award. Situated in Ashland, they present between 750 to 800 performances of eleven plays between February to November with a total audience of 410,000 people a year.


Fort Clatsop

Fort Clatsop was the winter encampment for the 'Corp of Discovery' - otherwise know as the Lewis and Clarke Expedition. The original building is not there, but a replica was built as close to the original site as possible. During the summer months there are daily costumed programs and other ranger led activities. The interpretive center is open year round, and is a great stop for history geeks.


The Oregon Coast

Approximately 347 miles long, the beautiful Oregon Coast is always worth a visit.To start with is Astoria, where Kindergarten Cop and The Goonies was filmed. Cannon Beach's Haystack Rock was also featured in The Goonies. Seaside is worth a stop for families - their main drag is open year round and features many family friendly attractions like an arcade and shopping.

The Tillamook Cheese Factory is another great family stop. You can tour the facilities and see how cheese is made, but make sure to finish your trip in the store at the end and have fresh from the factory ice cream, cheese, and - my favorite - cheese curds. (My kids call it squeaky-cheese.)

Newport is another family friendly stop. Besides the shopping and other tourist-friendly stops, Newport is home to Ripley's Believe it or Not, the Undersea Gardens, and The Wax Works Museum.

And, for the adults and families with older children, a tour of Oregon's lighthouses is always fun.There are nine original lighthouses, and seven of those are open to the public.


Pendleton Roundup

Established in 1910, the first roundup drew a crowd of 7,000 and closed down the entire town. It was reported that, "The words ‘Pendleton’ and Round-Up’ are on the lips of thousands and will continue to be for months and years to come… The Round-Up is a whirlwind success.”

While the rodeo is the center of the week-long roundup, that's not all that happens that week. It starts with a Dress-up Parade, followed by the Outdoor Kickoff Concert. Previous performances have included Reba McEntire and Geoge Strait. It is finalized by the Westward Hoi Parade which is unique in that no motorized vehicles are allowed - only horse covered wagons and American Indians in full regalia.

Speaking of American Indians, they are a key part of the Pendleton Roundup. states that, " Members of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation – the Umatilla, Cayuse, and Walla Walla Indians who live eight miles east of Pendleton -host a grand tribal village that annually includes more than 300 teepees." Another draw is the Pow-wow Dance Competition and the Indian Beauty Contests that are held every year.


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