4 Can’t-Miss Things to Do in Oregon

Crater Lake Oregon

Planning the perfect Pacific Northwest (PNW) getaway can be challenging, with all the fun and unique things to do in Oregon. This guide highlights can’t-miss sights and activities to include on your next trip to Oregon.

Oregon is a fantastic destination for solo travelers, couples, and families. The state offers unlimited exploration between its scenic wilderness areas and lively cities. From the rugged coastal region to the old-growth forests of Mount Hood and the southern mountains, there’s something for every kind of traveler in Oregon.

Regardless of the time of year you visit Oregon, there are fun activities and places to discover. This roundup of top things to do in Oregon will help you organize the trip of a lifetime to this PNW jewel.

1. Go Hiking

Oregon is home to many world-class hiking areas with mountains, canyons, volcanoes, rivers, and more. Regardless of the time of year you visit Oregon, there are endless opportunities to explore the state’s picturesque landscapes. Summer is beautiful in Oregon, but winter provides exciting seasonal activities and snowsports if you don’t mind the cold.

Crater Lake National Park

A trip to Oregon would be incomplete without visiting Crater Lake National Park. In the state’s southwestern portion, Crater Lake is Oregon’s only national park with over 180,000 acres.

The park encompasses Crater Lake and the surrounding mountains, which were formed by a volcano thousands of years ago. Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the country, reaching almost 2,000 feet in depth.

One of the best ways to experience the vibrant blue waters of Crater Lake is by hiking. There are many trails throughout Crater Lake National Park, ranging from leisurely to strenuous. Regardless of your fitness level and who you’re traveling with, there’s a hike for everyone in this Oregon national park.

Columbia River Gorge

Another popular Oregon hiking area is the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. This canyon is a stunning example of the rugged yet picturesque PNW landscape. It contains waterfalls, rivers, forests, hiking trails, and mountain biking paths. Plan a day trip to Columbia River Gorge to get outside and explore Oregon’s scenic beauty.

Mount Hood National Forest

Mount Hood National Forest is a can’t-miss destination in Oregon. A dormant volcano, Mount Hood dominates the forest, which offers skiing, alpine lakes, and wildflower meadows. The wilderness area is home to the Timberline Trail, a famous long-distance hiking trail that circles Mount Hood over roughly 40 miles.

Winter is an especially popular time to visit Mount Hood for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, tubing, and more. Oregon is dry during the colder months, so don’t forget to pack moisturizer. We recommend Laneige for its ultra-hydrating products that prevent dry, cracked skin.

2. Enjoy Waterfall Views

Thanks to its wet, rainy climate, Oregon is the perfect place to chase waterfalls. What better way to spend an afternoon than to enjoy the sights and sounds of Oregon’s stunning waterfalls? These beautiful outdoor areas also make great backdrops for snapping Instagram pictures.

Tumalo Falls

Whether you want a casual stroll or a challenging hike, Tumalo Falls is a fantastic place to experience Oregon’s rugged beauty. This nearly 100-foot waterfall is located near the city of Bend, making it a convenient and rewarding area to spend a few hours.

Observe the falls and snap photos at the viewpoints accessible from the picnic area, or tackle the almost 6.5-mile-long Tumalo Creek Trail.

Silver Falls State Park

Silver Falls State Park is a one-of-a-kind outdoor destination for spotting waterfalls. Silver Falls is home to many jaw-dropping water features and is the largest state park in Oregon.

Visit the almost 180-foot South Falls for the unique chance to hike behind a towering water flow. Another great option is the Trail of Ten Falls, a roughly 7-mile loop that passes numerous scenic waterfalls.

Multnomah Falls

Located along the Historic Columbia River Highway, the oldest in Oregon, Multnomah Falls is a classic PNW spot. The waterfall’s easy access from Portland, just 30 miles east of the city, makes it a popular choice for tourists. Multnomah Falls cascades over 600 feet, making it the tallest waterfall in the state.

Enjoying the awe-inspiring views of Multnomah Falls is a classic Oregon activity any time of year.

3. Visit the Coast

Oregon may not have the white sandy beaches you’re used to seeing in Hawaii, but the state’s coastline is uniquely beautiful. Home to marine animals like whales, octopi, otters, sea lions, and more, the coast offers some of the best things to do in Oregon.

Oregon Coast Aquarium

The charming coastal town of Newport is home to the Oregon Coast Aquarium, a world-class attraction located along Yaquina Bay. This aquarium hosts native Oregon species ranging from harbor seals and puffins to sharks and rays. Pack good walking shoes to explore the aquarium’s 23 acres—these affordable Golden Goose dupes are stylish and comfortable.

Whether planning a family outing or a romantic date, the Oregon Coast Aquarium is a fantastic place to learn more about the local Pacific Ocean environment in a fun, engaging way.

Cannon Beach

The small coastal city of Cannon Beach offers some of the most famous things to do in Oregon, including Haystack Rock. Despite having a population of around 1,500, Cannon Beach attracts hundreds of thousands of annual visitors.

The imposing Haystack Rock formation dominates the Cannon Beach shoreline—the perfect photo backdrop. At low tide, you can explore tidal pools containing sea stars, anemones, crabs, and more.

Sea Lion Caves

The Oregon Sea Lion Caves are a can’t-miss spot near Florence, along the iconic Highway 101. This coastal network of caves is home to the country’s largest natural basalt rock sea cave. A large herd of Stellar sea lions, sometimes numbering in the hundreds, can be spotted in and around the cave. After exploring the Sea Lion Caves, drive roughly 30 miles south to visit Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, one of the world’s most expansive areas of sand dunes.

4. Explore the Cities

Urban explorers will love visiting Oregon’s unique cities. While the capital of Portland is a popular attraction, the state has plenty of charming towns for shopping, dining, and sightseeing. From bustling downtown areas to laidback local hangouts, Oregon offers visitors many terrific opportunities to experience the PNW city life.


Portland offers city lovers many of the top things to do in Oregon. Famous for its quirky, offbeat atmosphere, Portland is an eco-friendly haven for artists and musicians.

Washington Park is a can’t-miss Portland activity, encompassing over 450 acres of scenic walking trails and open green spaces. The park is also home to the renowned Portland Japanese Garden and the Oregon Zoo.

Food connoisseurs will enjoy exploring Portland’s vibrant culinary scene, known for its vegetarian-friendly restaurants and local coffee shops. There are also countless antique markets, thrift shops, and secondhand book and vinyl record stores in Portland, which are perfect for shopping.

Portland’s eccentric blend of sights and attractions makes it a popular PNW destination for road trips and pre-wedding getaways with friends. Pack your favorite bachelorette party games and enjoy a weekend in this bustling city.


Head to southern Oregon to experience the natural beauty of Ashland. Located near the Oregon-California border, Ashland is best known for hosting the annual Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

This small town is an artistic and cultural hub, thanks to its assortment of galleries, theaters, and museums. Nature enthusiasts also flock to Ashland to explore the surrounding mountains and ski areas.


Bend is the perfect Oregon city for outdoor excursions and incredible breweries. Situated along the Deschutes River in central Oregon, Bend is well-loved among hikers, skiers, and mountain bikers.

Explore Smith Rock State Park, one of North America’s best rock climbing areas, home to sheer cliffs, river canyons, and walking paths. After a day of outdoor adventures, end your evening at one of Bend’s highly-regarded craft breweries.

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Elise Armitage is the founder of What The Fab, a travel + lifestyle blog based in California, founded in 2012. At the beginning of 2019, Elise left her corporate job at Google to chase her dreams: being an entrepreneur and helping women find fabulous in the everyday.

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