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When you think “Oregon,” you probably think “outdoor adventure.” Oregon is a state known for its forests, coastline, and diverse geography. But it’s also a hub of some of the region’s best metropolises, large and small.
The state's natural beauty, quirky culture, and thriving food scene all make Oregon’s cities unforgettable. Whether you're looking for a romantic weekend or a fun-filled vacation with the family, consider including a city or two in your itinerary.
Here are some of the best in the Beaver State:
Corvallis is in the heart of the beautiful Willamette Valley. It's known for its fresh, local foods, its quaint downtown area, and its friendly people. The city streets showcase public art as well as plenty of greenery, which make it a great city for exploring on foot. Galleries host regional artists, and the city boasts a variety of boutique shops, charming secondhand stores, bookstores, farm stands, restaurants, and bars offering local Oregon brews. There are a multitude of trails offering adventures on foot or by bike. The Corvallis to the Sea Trail starts here, and the Willamette River winds through the city, opening up water recreation as well. Outside of the great dining and drink options within the city, the area around Corvallis offers some of Oregon’s best wineries. You can make a day trip of picnicking, relaxing, and exploring the vineyards.
Ashland is a small city in Southern Oregon, located near the border of California. Even though it’s small, Ashland is known worldwide as the home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, which draws thousands of visitors each year and brings artists from near and far. Because of the festival, the city has become a rich hub of creativity. You can enjoy exhibits at the Schneider Museum of art and local galleries, find an eclectic mix of goods at the Ashland Artisan Emporium, have a family adventure at the ScienceWorks Hands-On Museum, and enjoy shows at the Shakespeare Festival and the Oregon Cabaret Theatre. When you get hungry, you’ll find delicious food options in town as well as some idyllic wineries nearby. And, like all of these Oregon cities, Ashland is only a step away from outdoor hikes, bike-rides, and adventures.
Bend, in Central Oregon, is probably the state’s most outdoorsy city(which is saying a lot). Its unforgettable outings include the Lava River Cave, Tumalo Falls, Deschutes National Forest, and Oregon’s famous Three Sisters. With more than two dozen golf courses in the central Oregon area and three of the top-rated public courses, it’s no surprise that some call Bend “the Palm Springs of the North.” In winter, you’ll find skiing at Mt. Bachelor and snowshoeing on local trails. Additionally, Bend companies offer guided biking, whitewater rafting, and winter adventures. The High Desert Museum houses exhibits on the local history and natural environment. Peterson Rock Garden offers a memorable and unique sightseeing experience. And you’ll find concerts at the Les Schwab Amphitheater and enjoy delicious food and beer at a wide selection of restaurants and breweries in town.
Twenty miles from the Pacific Ocean, Coos Bay is the city from which to explore Oregon’s epic coast. Just thirteen miles southwest of the city, you’ll find a trio of stunning state parks that allow you to explore beaches, dunes, the gardens of an old estate, and views of the coastline. Plus, the Coos Bay area hosts events nearly every month of the year, including the Coos County Fair in July, the Blackberry Arts Festival in September, the Shore Acres Holiday Lights in December, and the Jazz Festival in March. The city boasts a wealth of museums for such a small place. And, if you’re in for a more high-end outing, you can stay and play golf at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, ranked among the best in the country. With a temperate coastal climate, Coos Bay is a comfortable and beautiful place to visit year-round.
Salem is the capital of Oregon and the center of much of the state’s historic and heritage-centric sites. You can visit the Mission Mill Museum, the State Library, Oregon’s State Capitol building, which offers tours, and the Willamette Heritage Center, where you can interact with performers in historical costume. Additionally, you’ll find a number of historic homes that offer tours. For the artistically minded, Salem offers art galleries, including the Hallie Ford Museum of Art, concert venues, and theatres. If you’re looking for something fun to do with the kids, you’ll enjoy the Children’s Museum and The Enchanted Forest amusement park. Known for its many parks, Salem is a beautiful place to explore.
This is certainly the most well-known city on this list. Oregon’s largest city, it still maintains a small town feel. There are plenty of bike trails and parks for the outdoorsy, as well as a diversity of museums and theaters for the indoorsy, including Portland Center Stage and the Portland Art Museum, which displays more than 42,000 works from around the world. Portland prides itself on being a destination for excellent food, delicious local beer and wine, and some of the world’s best coffee. Plus, if you want to find something to read while enjoying that coffee, you’ll have the selection of a lifetime at the city’s famous Powell’s Books – the world’s largest independent bookstore. In short, there’s no way to go wrong by picking Portland as a travel destination.
Gear up for a trip to any of these destinations by visiting PNW Journey and perusing our unique and Pacific Northwest attire and accessories. The look and feel of our designs focus on comfort, fun, and adventure, just like the great destinations of the PNW.
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