Each year, outdoor enthusiasts flock to Oregon by the thousands, and for good reason. Known for its scenic beauty composed of lush forests and dreamy coasts, this Pacific Northwest state has bountiful offerings for nature lovers and outdoor recreationalists. It’s also well-known for its Willamette Valley wineries and farm-to-table fare.
Groups traveling to Oregon can cross many items off their travel bucket lists by visiting its natural wonders, but they’re also sure to experience unexpected delights with its unique array of cuisine, attractions and lodging. Here are some of the top Oregon travel spots, from tried-and-true staples to new and noteworthy gems.
The striped hillsides and red dirt of the Painted Hills look like something found on Mars rather than Oregon, but groups can find this otherworldly scenery during their trip to the Beaver State. Part of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, the Painted Hills formed as the result of volcanic activity millennia ago that left them with stripes of red, yellow, tan and black. Groups can hike around the beginner-level trails to see the striated hills from all angles. To see the hills at their most vivid and colorful, a trip in the afternoon is recommended.
Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area
Wildflowers and waterfalls await travelers at the Columbia River Gorge, the largest national scenic area in America. Groups can check out spectacular views of the gorge from Crown Point. The picturesque Multnomah Falls, a plunge waterfall totaling 620 feet tall, is one of the area’s top attractions, but there are many other waterfalls on trails throughout the area. In spring and summer, groups can spot brightly colored wildflowers at Rowena Crest. In addition to the abundant natural beauty, the Columbia River Gorge area is also home to multiple restaurants and breweries where groups can enjoy the region’s local food and beverage.
Crater Lake National Park
The only national park in Oregon offers plenty for groups to see. With stunning blue waters surrounding a central island, Crater Lake is what makes the national park famous. It was formed by a volcanic eruption thousands of years ago that caused the collapse of a mountain peak. There are many hiking and biking trails for groups to explore, including several vantage points of the lake. Groups can take a boat tour of the lake, narrated by a park ranger, for a chance to see the island up close. Trolley tours around the rim of the lake are also available for groups looking to enjoy the scenery with a side of trivia.
Up and Coming
Willamette River Regenerative Tours
The Willamette Valley is a region south of Portland known as Oregon’s Wine Country. It’s a 120-mile stretch full of beautiful country, charming cities and many wineries. A trip to Oregon is incomplete without a trip to the Willamette Valley, so the Willamette Valley Visitors Association and several other local organizations have launched a program designed to promote sustainable travel in the region. This includes guided kayaking tours along the Willamette River; environmentally conscious service projects; stops at restaurants with fresh, local ingredients; and of course, plenty of opportunities to sample the valley’s most famous varietals.
Mobi-Mats for Accessible Beach Access
Lincoln City, a coastal town in northern Oregon, is known for its seven miles of beaches, where visitors can fly kites, search for shells in the sand and discover colorful tide pools with abundant marine life. Everyone deserves a chance to see the stunning views of the Pacific on these gorgeous Oregon beaches, and Lincoln City is making that a reality with the addition of Mobi-Mats at three different beach access points. These ADA-approved Mobi-Mats roll out right to the water and ensure the beach is accessible for everyone, regardless of age or ability.
Oregon Outback Dark Sky Network
Some of the darkest night skies in the world can be found in the Oregon outback, remote land in several southern Oregon counties with varied landscapes ranging from desert conditions to pine forests. While there’s plenty of scenery to enjoy during the day, a look up at the night sky in the Oregon outback means groups can see more constellations than ever, and there are organizations that aim to keep it that way. The Oregon Outback Dark Sky Network is a grassroots initiative committed to preserving Oregon’s extremely dark night skies, devoid of light pollution. Passing through the Outback is the perfect way to contribute to this worthy cause.
Located in the small Willamette Valley city of McMinnville, the Tributary is a brand-new addition to the hotel and dining scene in Oregon. Its use of earth tones provides guests with all the relaxation and rejuvenation associated with the region, while its clean and modern décor promote a sense of luxury and comfort. The adjoining restaurant, Ōkta, provides innovative meals made with local ingredients, and hotel guests are even served breakfast in their rooms. Groups can explore McMinnville’s charming shops and restaurants, hike or bike in the area, or arrange tours of some of the region’s abundant wineries.
Ashland Springs Hotel
Originally built in 1925, the Ashland Springs Hotel has a long history of providing lodging to visitors of the Rogue Valley. It has changed hands plenty of times but became the Ashland Springs Hotel in 1998 when construction began to restore the building to its former glory and historic charm. The boutique-style hotel is now a gem of downtown Ashland and features 70 comfortable guest rooms on its nine stories, as well as an onsite restaurant and historic bar. For a luxurious addition to their stay, guests can visit the Waterstone Spa next door.
Oregon is almost as notable for its wines as for its natural beauty. Just west of Portland, Oregon’s newest winery and restaurant combines naturally beautiful views with a chic setting for group dining. Amaterra, meaning love of the earth, provides a gorgeous Oregon backdrop of rolling hills with elegantly plated meals and a good selection of local wines. Groups can try a glass of one of Oregon’s signature Pinot Noirs along with an entrée from the rotating seasonal menu, which features plenty of fresh, local produce. A wine tasting can be arranged to allow groups to sample some of Oregon’s other famed varietals.
Located in historic downtown Albany, Sybaris Bistro is a cozy and inviting option for groups looking for a one-of-a-kind Oregonian dining experience. While its architecture may be classic, the food is eclectic and exciting. The menu changes monthly and features fresh, seasonal ingredients and interesting culinary combinations, along with Willamette Valley wines. Almost everything on the menu, right down to the condiments, is made in-house. Appetizers and entrees feature classics like seafood and steak to rarities like bison and rabbit. Guests should also save room for a signature Sybaris dessert like the chocolate hazelnut cake.