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Top Destinations for 2017: Oregon

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Oregon is a state that brings out the adventurer in everyone who visits. As naturally stunning as it is culturally diverse, it is the underrated gem of the Pacific Northwest.

There is something in Oregon for everyone, whether you are a nature lover, a foodie or a music maestro. You will be spoilt for options just deciding where to start. Oregon’s rich natural scenery ranges from the lush volcanic valleys around Mt Hood to the other-worldly beauty of Oregon’s High Desert.

Whether you simply want to admire the scenery, or are an experienced outdoorsman, you will find endless activities to make the most of the fresh air.

 

Biking in Mt Hood

 Biking in Mt. Hood

Oregon is not only perfect for outdoor adventures, it is also ideal for the culinary. The US state is known for having some of the best food and craft beer in the country, with countless micro-distilleries and 17 wine regions, along with handcrafted sea salt, ice cream, cheese and more.

So if Oregon isn’t already on your travel radar, here are some highlights to show you why it should be at the top of your list:

Where to go

The ideal place to start any trip to Oregon is Portland, the state’s capital and largest city. Portland is a bustling artistic community that has an eclectic restaurant and music scene. The city thrives off of independent businesses, from niche bookstores to locally owned boutiques and cocktail bars. Portland locals are famous for their love of food trucks, artisan coffee, and microbreweries.

Mt. Hood

 Mt Hood, from Tom Dick and Harry Mountain Trail

Just a two-hour drive away from the big city is Mount Hood, the highest mountain in Oregon, rising a mighty 11,000 feet above sea level. Perfect for all seasons, Mt Hood has six ski areas, and in the summer the valleys around the mountain are a hiker’s paradise, filled with wildflowers in the spring, and apples and berries in the fall.

 

Oregon Coast

 Pacific City 

Equally stunning to Oregon’s largest mountain is its coastline, all 363 miles of which is accessible through the Oregon Coast Trail, with panoramic views of rugged cliffs, evergreen forests, Sahara-like sand dunes and extensive beaches. The coast is ideal for everything from whale watching to surfing. Along the trail, you’ll also pass through endless quaint towns, such as Pacific City or Cannon Beach.

 

Crater Lake by Steve Addington

 Crater Lake. Credit: Steven Addinton

A trip to Oregon isn’t really complete, however, without a visit to Crater Lake National Park. It is hard to imagine this idyllic place was formed out of a violent volcanic past. The lake is ringed by the stunning cascade mountains filled with old growth forests ideal for hiking, backpacking, cross-country skiing and more.

If you’re looking for more intense outdoor activities, Smith Rock State Park is the place to go. Smith Rock is the birthplace of American sport climbing and any outdoor adventurer’s playground, located in Central Oregon’s High Desert. Thousands of routes of all varieties and difficulties attract climbers from all over the world. However, if climbing isn’t your forte, Smith Rock also offers hiking, mountain biking, golfing, caving, to name a few. Plus, foodies have a pick of 24 craft breweries and counting in the region.

What to do

Go to a food festival

Oregon is renowned for its tasty annual events like the Oregon Truffle Festival in January, the Oregon Cheese Festival in March and Feast Portland, a world-class celebration of food and drink, in September. Seafood and wine festivals are also abundant; Newport hosts one in February, along with Astoria in late April.

  Vineyard

 Field and Vine Dinner, Mt. Hood Territory

Explore Oregon’s wine country on the Sip 47 wine trail

Take a leisurely trip along the Oregon route 47, which runs right through Tualatin Valley, famously known as the gateway to wine country. Pick from the region’s countless vineyards and pinot noir wineries. If you’re there in the autumn, attend a grape stomp, where all ages go barefoot in half barrels and crush grapes, a festive event that is often paired with tastings, live music and games to celebrate harvest time.

Hit up any of Portland’s famous festivals

Portland has a wide range of famous festivals for all tastes. There is the Portland International Film Festival in February, the popular Chocolate Fest in mid-January, the Portland Jazz Festival in February, and the Oregon Brewers Fest in late July, among many others!

 

Hiking on the coast The Oregon Coast

Hike the Pacific Crest Trail

If you really want to challenge yourself, try hiking a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail. The whole trail is 2,659 miles long from California to Washington, but in Oregon, the trail takes you past some of the most stunning natural scenery in the State, including Crater Lake National Park, Umpqua National Forest, and the Columbia River Gorge.  

Hot Air Balloon through The Willamette Valley

The Willamette Valley holds breathtaking scenery, with a mix of forests, rivers and farmland, but the best way to see this region is from above. Float above the valley and admire the bright summer weather or the vibrant autumn leaves. Flights aren’t usually cheap, but it is an unforgettable experience, and it is often followed by brunch at a local farm or vineyard.

Feeling inspired? Check out more of our Top 20 Destinations for 2017 HERE

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