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Oregon’s indie state of mind

travel-portland1Courtesy Travel Portland

Call it the natural playground of the Pacific Northwest: With sand dunes, cascades, sea caves, mountains and valley forests, Oregon offers travelers an abundance of outdoor beauty.

Adventure lovers have long made sport of enjoying Oregon’s outdoors, but the state’s bounty extends to travelers of all types. Its fertile soil and rich agricultural heritage have made the state a popular destination for agritourism, and chefs and restaurants have taken advantage of the local produce to make a name for themselves on the national cuisine scene. And destinations around the state have made their mark on the drink scene too, as many Oregon wineries, microbreweries and distilleries attract visitors and acclaim.

For groups, a tour of Oregon promises fun in many different flavors. From the natural beauty of Eugene and Bend to the cool vibe in Portland and the agricultural riches of Washington County, the state offers plenty of ways to play.

‘Capital of Cool’
Perhaps no other destination in Oregon is enjoying more buzz than Portland. Situated in the northwest corner of the state, Portland is Oregon’s biggest city and is in proximity to many of its outdoor attractions and farmlands.

“Portland has been dubbed the new capital of cool,” said Heather Anderson, tourism manager for Travel Portland. “You’re seeing an indie spirit and outdoor lifestyle come to life with independent shops and restaurants.”

Portland’s culinary culture is one of the attributes that is proving popular with visitors right now. Area chefs have access to the best produce from nearby farms and have become leaders in the national farm-to-table movement. That food scene couples well with the city’s famous beer culture.

“We have 52 craft breweries in the greater Portland area,” Anderson said. “There are so many different ways to experience that. You can do a pedal bike tour and check out the breweries or food carts by bike. You can step on a small school bus with Brewvana Tours and visit the breweries, meet the brewers and hear their stories. There are lots of food and drink walking tours around Portland, too.”

Groups that visit breweries around town can sample the local beers and get a behind-the-scenes look at the craft brewing process. Several breweries also offer lunch or dinner for groups, some with flights of beer tasting.

Brian Jewell

Brian Jewell is the executive editor of The Group Travel Leader. In more than a decade of travel journalism he has visited 48 states and 25 foreign countries.