Independent, intriguing, and so damn green—Oregon inspires us everywhere we look. Whether you’re hitting the road solo or showing off for out-of-town friends, here are a handful of the Beaver State’s must-see sights.
1. Powell’s Books
Make this book-lover’s mecca your starting point. Dubbed the “City of Books,” Powell’s SW 10th & Burnside headquarters calls itself the largest new and used bookstore in the world. It takes up an entire Portland city block and houses about one million books. Be sure to pick up the color-coded, room-by-room map. The in-house coffee shop let’s you browse through the books you find.
2. Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area
One of Oregon’s natural wonders is just a 40-minute drive east of Portland. Meandering through the Cascade Mountains, the Columbia Gorge features a chorus line of 75 photo-worthy waterfalls. Multnomah Falls is the big mama at 620 feet high—also the most crowded with tourist. Trust us: a day hiking or biking in this Pacific Wonderland is a welcome break from the Portland bustle.
3. Oregon Coast
There are lots of beach towns along the Oregon Coast. But for the best scenery, history and seaside splashery, we suggest these two "shore" things:
Cannon Beach. Browse the small shops on the town’s cute main street then stroll the beach to get up close and personal with historic Hay Stack Rock. Spy the massive rock’s nesting seabirds and explore its tide pools. Cool Instagram images lurk here.
City of Astoria. Just 20 miles north of Cannon Beach lays historic Astoria. Perched on the mouth of the Columbia River, this famous rest stop of Lewis & Clark has undergone a huge urban revival of late. Hit one of the town’s great new brewpubs for lunch. Take the Riverwalk Trail for a car-free view of the city’s waterfront. Visit film locations from “The Goonies” and “Kindergarten Cop” movies for quality selfies.
4. Crater Lake National Park
Seeking more jaw-dropping views of nature? Head to Oregon’s (and America’s) deepest lake. An ancient mountain exploded like the Death Star to create this perfectly round, sapphire-blue body of water. Hike, camp and look for signs of Bigfoot, who is often sighted here in South-Central Oregon. You can stay in an historic lodge, too. May the camera be with you.
All artsy with no fartsy, Ashland is an active little southern Oregon city that hosts festivals all year long. The big draw is the Oregon Shakespeare Festival held every winter. You can also catch film festivals in the spring, a classical music festival in summer and much more. There’s no better way to add instant drama to your Oregon travels.