In the vast selection of travel destinations, Oregon stands out as a state with a diverse landscape, ranging from coastal beauty to mountainous terrains. Among its natural gems are towns that offer a blend of American history dating back to the days of joint occupation between the United states and Great Britain, with natural wonders found on its beaches and Cascade Mountain’s slopes, and vibrant local west coast culture. Whether you are a solo traveler seeking adventure, a couple looking for a romantic escape, or a family in search of wholesome experiences, these towns are among the best to visit in 2024.
Nestled in the Columbia River Gorge is a haven for windsurfing enthusiasts. With the mighty Columbia River as a backdrop, Hood River attracts adventure seekers and water sports enthusiasts from around the globe. However, the town is not just about adrenaline-pumping activities. The surrounding area boasts extensive fruit orchards, making it a major producer of apples, pears, and cherries.
For fans of craft beverages, Hood River won’t disappoint. It is home to several locally-owned craft breweries, like Full Sail Brewing Company. The town’s historic downtown, adorned with a collection of well-preserved buildings and local shops, adds a touch of nostalgia to your visit. Do not miss the opportunity to take part in the Hood River Valley Harvest Fest in October, a celebration of the region’s agricultural bounty.
Astoria has a little for everyone with its maritime heritage and breathtaking views. The Columbia River Maritime Museum stands as a testament to the town’s deep connection to the sea, showcasing a national treasure trove of maritime artifacts. You can climb to the top of the Astoria Column for panoramic views that will leave you breathless. Astoria’s Victorian architecture, represented by well-preserved homes, adds a touch of elegance to the town’s charm esthetique.
Film buffs will recognize Astoria as the filming location for the iconic family classic The Goonies. The Riverfront Trolley offers a delightful journey through Astoria’s maritime history connecting residents and visitors to the town water water-driven past. Don’t miss the Crab, Seafood and Wine Festival in April, an award-winning event held since 1982.
Silverton, a town surrounded by natural wonders, is a paradise for those seeking a serene escape. The Oregon Garden, sprawling over 80 acres, is a botanical haven that showcases the region’s diverse flora. Nearby, Silver Falls State Park boasts numerous waterfalls and trails, inviting hikers and nature enthusiasts year round. The town itself is adorned with large-scale outdoor murals, turning Silverton into an open-air art gallery. For history buffs, Silverton offers well-preserved pioneer farmsteads, providing a glimpse into the area’s agricultural past. Experience the Silverton Poetry Festival or explore the local wineries that add a touch of sophistication and romance to this charming town.
Baker City leaves a lasting impression with its National Historic District and invites you to step back in time. Over 100 buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places narrate the story of a bygone era, shaped by the 19th-century gold rush. The town’s rich gold mining history unfolds through the Baker Heritage Museum, offering a fascinating glimpse into local history. Outdoor enthusiasts will find Baker City a gateway to a plethora of activities, from hiking to fishing and skiing, with the scenic Elkhorn Mountains nearby as a gorgeous backdrop to it all. Baker City’s thriving local art scene, adds a contemporary flair to this historical haven with events like the First Friday, where once a month you can hop between the galleries.
Bandon located along the breathtaking Oregon coast, is a town that captures the essence of coastal living. Renowned for its world-class golf courses, Bandon is a mecca for golf enthusiasts seeking stunning ocean views. The town’s coastal ecosystem invites visitors to explore tidal pools, observe seals, sea lions, and shorebirds, and drive along the scenic Beach Loop Drive to witness dramatic rock formations. For a taste of local flavors, Bandon is known for its cranberry farms and features a cheese factory offering delightful tastings. Visitors should engage with the active fishing community, which ensures a steady supply of fresh seafood that graces the tables of Bandon’s local eateries. In addition, check out the Rockfish Festival for fun, music, and art, alongside education from wildlife organizations on the Rockfish species.
Surrounded by dense pine forests is a charming town that offers a perfect blend of outdoor adventure and cultural experiences. Sisters is famous for its annual outdoor quilt show, with the 49th Annual event running in July of 2024. The event welcomes visitors to explore the artistry of quilting against the backdrop of the Three Sisters Mountains. The Sisters Rodeo, held annually, adds a touch of Western flair to the town’s festivities. Dive into the craft fair at the Sisters Folk Festival in September, showcasing the work of local artisans, or cozy up in one of the local cafes and soak in the warm and welcoming atmosphere that defines Sisters.
Florence has a diverse range of attractions inviting travelers to explore the wonders of the Oregon coast. The Sea Lion Caves, the largest sea lion cave in America, offers a unique glimpse into marine life. The historic Siuslaw River Bridge, an architecturally dazzling town staple, adds a touch of nostalgia to Florence’s waterfront. Nature enthusiasts will revel in the proximity to the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, where vast sand dunes meet lush forests. The vibrant old town area, with its charming shops and restaurants, creates a perfect blend of history and contemporary coastal living. Florence’s annual Rhododendron Festival in May (running for over 100 years) and picturesque lighthouses add to the town’s natural beauty.
McMinnville, nestled in the heart of Willamette Valley wine country, is a town that caters to a diverse range of interests. The Evergreen Aviation Museum, housing the famous Spruce Goose aircraft, invites aviation enthusiasts to explore the history of flight. McMinnville’s renowned Third Street is a bustling hub filled with shops and eateries, creating a vibrant atmosphere.
Wine connoisseurs will appreciate the proximity to boutique wineries, like The Eyrie Vineyards and Westrey Wine, that ensure a delightful tasting experience. McMinnville’s annual UFO Festival in May, one of the largest in the nation, adds an element of mystery and fun to this cultural hub; 2024 marks the festival’s 24th year!
With its 19th-century gold rush town appearance this is a town where the arts and heritage harmonize. The Britt Music & Arts Festival, a famous annual event, transforms Jacksonville into a haven for music and arts enthusiasts in the summer. Take a stroll through the network of hiking trails in the surrounding hills, such as the East Applegate Ridge Trail, offering both exercise and a scenic escape. Wine lovers will find Jacksonville close by to several notable vineyards and tasting rooms, like Daisy Creek Vineyard. The well-preserved historic cemetery adds a touch of contemplation to your visit, inviting reflection on the town’s rich past.
Cannon Beach, known for its iconic Haystack Rock, stands as a testament to the mesmerizing coastal beauty that Oregon offers. The town’s numerous art galleries, such as DragonFire Gallery, showcase the talents of local and regional artists, creating a vibrant arts scene. Cannon Beach invites exploration of unique coastal ecosystems, with tidal pools accessible for a closer look at marine life. Join the annual Sandcastle Contest for a playful experience along the shore that children will adore. Local brewpubs and eateries, like Bill’s Tavern & Brewhouse, offer a delightful culinary journey.
Nestled near the stunning Wallowa Lake, Joseph unfolds as a town where nature and culture are intricately interwoven. Renowned bronze foundries showcase the artistic prowess of the community. Experience the rich Nez Perce Native American heritage that defines Joseph’s identity at the Nez Perce Wallowa Homeland Visitors Center. Spectacular views of the Wallowa Mountains offer a picturesque backdrop for your visit. Regular art walks featuring local artists and galleries invite you to explore the town’s creative spirit. For those seeking adventure, horseback riding in Joseph’s scenic settings with outfits such as Wallowa Lake Pack Station, adds an element of old-time exploration.
These eleven Oregon towns stand as beacons in 2024, catering to the varied interests of singles, couples, and families alike. From the windsurfing paradise of Hood River to the coastal beauty of Cannon Beach, or the historic charm of Astoria to the cultural haven of Joseph, Oregon’s hidden gems invite you to embark on a journey where each town paints its canvas of memories on the hearts of every traveler. So, as you plan your adventures for 2024, consider these towns, for each is a gem in the crown of Oregon’s enchanting landscape.