Renowned for its artsy, laidback atmosphere, coffee culture, and award-winning microbrews and Pinot noir wines, Oregon especially caters to outdoor enthusiasts. This state has a diverse landscape of mountain peaks, dense forests, rolling hills, valleys, deserts, water ways and ocean vistas.
Portland, the largest city (and my home town) in the northwest of the state, is home to a vast and diverse selection of quality restaurants, representing both local and global cuisine, as well as great cafes and breakfast hotspots. The “Rose City” overlooks the Willamette River that runs through it, which connects to the Columbia River, then in turn feeds into the ocean. The city is the perfect hub from which to connect to the outdoors—within about an hour’s drive is the Pacific Ocean to the west; to the east is Mount Hood and the Columbia River Gorge, which is shared with its northern neighbor, Washington, and known for the amazing Multnomah Falls. Viewed from the west hills of the city on a clear day, Mount Hood creates an amazing backdrop for the sunrise.
Divided by the Cascade Mountain Range, which runs north and south, the more populous western third receives plenty of precipitation throughout year to maintain lush, dense greenery. Seen for miles on either side of the range are its white-capped mountain peaks: the northern most Mount Hood looks at Mount Jefferson to its south; the Three Sisters stand together in Central Oregon; and then in Southern Oregon sits the 8,000-year-old caldera of Crater Lake, now the deepest lake in North America. To their east, the more sparsely populated eastern two-thirds is sunnier, and thus drier, with several points of interest, wide-open vistas, and high deserts.
Eastern Oregon conjures up images of pioneers who moved west along the Oregon Trail past the Snake River, which now creates the border with Idaho. Millions of years of geology are exposed in the Painted Hills found in its soil layered in hues of red, gold, yellow and black. Prehistoric plants and dinosaur remain can be found in the nearby the John Day Fossil Beds and appeal to our inner paleontologist.
Along the opposing western edge, follow Highway 101 from Astoria in the far north down the entire 400-mile coastline of the Pacific Ocean. The Oregon Coast is home to fascinating sea life found in tide pools and open waters, home to seals and barking sea lions. Get mesmerized watching migrating whales or by fierce ocean storms. Visit quaint beach towns and lighthouses. Fly kites or dig for clams on the beaches. Ride dune buggies in the sand dunes. Explore the beauty of thick, coastal rainforests. The Oregon Coast has an array of dramatic views and outdoor experiences for all ages.