Oregon has long been known as one of the country’s greenest states for its endless expanses of vibrant green land, whether in the central valleys, the rolling hills and jagged hilltops, or along the rocky coastline.Oregon is famous for its scenic beauty in its rural areas and endless entertainment options in its big cities.
Oregon’s most popular tourist attractions are also some of the country’s most beautiful natural landscapes like Crater Lake National Park and the Columbia River Gorge. In the city of Portland, museums, parks, and gardens top the list of must-see attractions.
Columbia River Gorge
This natural wonder is one of Oregon’s most visited and photographed locations. The gorge spans the Columbia River which cuts a line between the states of Oregon and Washington and creates stunning vistas, rugged rock-strewn hiking trails, and scenic waterfalls. Visitors to the gorge can drive along the Columbia River Highway including the scenic bypass which winds along the bottom of the gorge for close-up views of some of the popular waterfalls and hiking trails.
The star of the gorge is Multnomah Falls, a 627 foot waterfall which is the tallest in the state. Visitors can hike a short trail to the top of the falls or enjoy the views from the historic footbridge below.
Crater Lake National Park
This sapphire blue lake is the deepest lake in the United States and Oregon’s only National Park. Crater Lake was formed when Mount Mazama erupted more than 7,500 years ago forming a deep, brilliantly blue lake and one of the state’s most dramatic landscapes. Visitors to the lake can drive the rim of the caldera to view the lake, picnic, hike, or enjoy a boat tour out to Wizard Island in the center of the lake.
Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, more commonly called OMSI is a science and technology museum that is one of Portland’s most popular attractions. The museum contains an IMAX Dome theater, a planetarium, and exhibition halls that feature a variety of hands-on exhibits popular for families. The museum’s temporary exhibits explore cutting-edge science and technologies.
Atop Mt. Hood, one of Oregon’s most popular recreational areas is the historic Timberline Lodge, a mountain lodge built in the 1930s. The lodge is a National Historic Landmark made famous for its stunning architecture. The lodge is also known for its ski resort which offers the only “year round skiing” in America with the longest ski season, only closing for a few weeks a year. Besides skiing and snowboarding, the lodge is a popular destination for hiking and climbing.
Washington Park Oregon
Atop a hill above the city of Portland is this expansive urban forested area which is home to many of the city’s most popular tourist attractions. Washington Park offers a full-day’s worth of entertainment for visitors of all types at attractions like the Oregon Zoo, the World Forestry Center, the Portland’s Children Museum, Hoyt Arboretum, the Portland Japanese Gardens, and of course the city’s famous International Rose Test Garden. Also nearby Washington Park visitors can tour the historic Pittock Mansion and enjoy views of the city at Council Crest.
Top Things to Do in Oregon
John Day Fossil Beds National Monument
This eastern Oregon National Monument is known for its well-preserved layers of fossilized plants and animals that date to the about 44 million years ago through the Miocene period about 7 million years ago. To learn about and view the fossils visitors can participate in ranger led programs and walking tours. The entire area is popular for hiking and picnicking as well.
Portland Japanese Garden
The Portland Japanese Garden is a traditional Japanese garden occupying 12 acres, located within Washington Park in Portland, Oregon. The Garden overlooking the city provides an urban oasis for locals and travelers alike. The garden encompasses eight separate garden styles and includes an authentic Japanese Tea House, meandering streams and walkways. The new hilltop Cultural Crossing Village, three steel-and-glass pavilions linked by a large courtyard near the shuttle stop to the main garden.
The Oregon Zoo is a zoo in Portland Oregon. The 64-acre Oregon Zoo has five major exhibit areas: Great Northwest, Fragile Forests, Asia, Pacific Shores and Africa. Within these large areas are 23 specialized exhibits. Within each zone you’ll find animals and exhibits such as Africa Savanna or Amur Cats that recreate the habitats of specific animals, 1,800 individual animals represent 232 species or subspecies of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish and invertebrates.
Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum
Not far from Portland is one of the country’s premier space and aviation museums.The Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum features indoor and outdoor exhibits related to aviation and space flight history. The Space Museum displays artifacts from several space missions as well as replicas. In the Aviation Museum a wide variety of airplanes and artifacts are on display beneath the massive Spruce Goose, a huge wooden airplane the size of the entire building.
Oregon Caves National Monument
The Oregon Caves National Monument is located near the city of Cave Junction where a visitor center is located, in addition to the visitor center at the cave entrance. The cave was discovered in 1874, although it is relatively young at only a few million years old. Visitors can tour the cave or explore the surrounding park where Big Tree, Oregon’s largest known Douglas-fir stands at 13 feet in diameter.
Things to Do in Oregon
Although Oregon might have a reputation for being one of the wettest places in the country, it’s this unusual rainfall that makes this rainy state beautifully green. On a visit to Oregon, pack your parka, and plan for plenty of time to explore the great outdoors, visit several historical landmarks, and see the sights in the state’s biggest city, Portland.