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There is an abundance of outdoor and indoor attractions that will capture your imagination as you tour the gorgeous State of Oregon.
Wildlife and Zoos
The Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport is located on Yaquina Bay. One of the best aquariums in North America, you can explore an acrylic tunnel that drives through the “Passages of the Deep” exhibit. There is a seabird aviary, numerous outdoor exhibits, and the main building exhibits, which include “The Secrets of Shipwrecks” and touch pools.
The Seaside Aquarium is among the oldest aquariums on the Pacific Coast. It plays host to more than 100 species of marine creatures, including octopuses, eels, crabs and sea stars. Charleston Marine Life Center welcomes visitors with life-sized skeletons of a juvenile gray whale and a toothed whale orca. It provides interactive marine life presentations, as well as educational programs.
The Oregon Zoo is home to more than 2,200 animals. It is dedicated to the providing survival assistance to 21 threatened and endangered species through its breeding programs. You can drive through the roaming African elephants, tigers, zebras and maned wolves at the Wildlife Safari in Winston, among the 76 species that live in the park. Wildlife refuge programs can also be found throughout the Beaver State, including the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Princeton and Siletz Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Lincoln City.
Investigate the Astoria Column, built by the Astor family and the Great Northern Railway to commemorate the town’s role in the family’s business dealings. Inspired by the Trajan Column in Rome, the tower sports an observation deck with expansive views at the top of 164 steps. You’ll also find yourself drawn to the Astoria Historic Riverfront Trolley which provides a 3-mile tour on a heritage trolley during the warmer months.
Consider taking some time to explore the Peter Iredale shipwreck. The vessel ran ashore in 1906 and is still visible above the waterline. Railroad buffs have numerous sites to choose from, including the Mt. Hood Railroad Depot and the Historic Union Pacific Train Depot in Ontario.
The National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center is a must for any history fan. Learn about pioneer life on the treacherous Oregon Trail. The stories of the emigrant experience are told through programs, films, exhibits and special events that focus on westward settlements and the migration push.
The early days of fur trading can be explored at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site in Oregon City and Vancouver, Washington. The Fort was once known as the Hudson Bay Company Fur Trading Post, and the two sites reveal its fascinating history. On the Oregon side, you can visit the Barclay House, home to Forbes Barclay and the McLoughlin House, built in 1846. John McLoughlin has been referred to as the “Father of Oregon.”
Visitors to Albany should schedule a stop at Monteith House. The 1849 house, now turned museum, is reportedly the “most authentically restored Pioneer Era home” in the state. Architecture and history buffs in Portland will want to tour the 1909 Pittock Mansion.
Schedule time for a guided tour through the State Capitol complex in Salem. Don’t forget to explore the monuments on the grounds and visit the gold Oregon Pioneer.
In Portland, visit Lan Su Chinese Garden and the Leach Botanical Garden. Lan Su runs for a full city block and is modeled after the Suzhou, China classical gardens. Leach Botanical Garden is on the grounds of the John and Lilla Leach estate. The gardens were inspired by their botanical expeditions and holds over 2,000 species of plants.
The Willamette Valley also has some fine examples to tempt you. The Delbert Hunter Arboretum and Botanic Garden in Dallas sport Northwest trees and High Desert plants. Visitors can also enjoy spotting the numerous wetland species. Willamette University’s Martha Springer Botanical Garden and Rose Garden in Salem is filled with English perennials, native plants, numerous varieties of roses, and a tranquil Japanese Garden.
Meanwhile, visitors to St. Helens should wander through the trillium footpaths of the Columbia Botanical Gardens. Nesting season is a particularly lively time to visit.
From the volcanic landscapes that cover 50,000 acres of Newberry National Volcanic Monument to the Crack in the Ground in Christmas Valley, there is something here to intrigue you. Delve into the Oregon’s longest lava tube, the Lava River Cave. The cool, 5,000-foot interior welcomes explorers to assess its impressive stalactites and stalagmites. From there, head over to the Lava Cast Forest. You can also hike up to the Newberry Volcano – the caldera basin and Paulina Peak are particularly popular.
Dee Wright Observatory, which is crafted out of lava rock, offers visitors fascinating interpretive displays and unique views of the Cascades through “lava tubes.” Other popular formations include the Pillars of Rome, so called for their resemblance to Roman ruins and the towering Malheur Butte in Ontario.
There are 238 major waterfalls scattered through the Oregon countryside. Multnomah Falls rushes down the Columbia River Gorge and is considered among the most impressive of the 77 waterfalls in the region. It falls in two separate stages with the upper and lower falls combining to fall a total of 620 feet.
The Sahalie and Koosah Falls draw the crowds throughout the year. Sahalie Falls has a viewing platform just off the parking lot. The Koosah Falls can be accessed via an easy 2.6-mile loop trail (includes stairs). Lee Falls in Gaston is at the tail end of an hour-long, mostly flat hike. You can watch the steelhead and salmon jump near the Rainie Falls in Grants Pass, or take a hike to Sweet Creek Falls, which opens to reveal 11 waterfalls in Mapleton.
Diamond Creek Falls and Salt Creek Falls are both located in Oakridge in Willamette Valley. Diamond Creek Falls has an initial drop followed by a series of tiered drops that are part of the lower falls. Salt Creek Falls can actually be found earlier on the loop trail. South Falls along the Trail of Ten Falls in Silver Falls State Park is also a big draw.
A mecca for outdoor enthusiasts, the Oregon Cascades come alive during the fall season near the city of Sisters.
Named after the Three Sisters volcanic peaks within the Three Sisters Wilderness, Sisters features outdoor activities like hiking, biking, and horse riding – ideal recreation during the crisp fall weather.
Set within the Deschutes National Forest, Sisters is home to the Sisters Ranger District Office.
Covering nearly two million acres, the forest encompasses five wilderness areas, and six National Wild and Scenic Rivers – plus the Newberry National Volcanic Monument.
Amongst the stunning fall foliage, visitors to Sisters Country may also backpack, fish, and mountain climb – plus kayaking, canoeing, whitewater rafting, and sailing for you water fiends – during the fall season in the mountains of the Oregon Cascades.
A hotspot for visitors and residents alike, the Hawthorne District is a gathering of bars, restaurants, and boutiques set in southeast Portland. A major entertainment district in the Portland metropolitan area, top attractions like the Bagdad Theater & Pub and Powell's Books on Hawthorne call the district home.
Pick up some new and used records at Crossroads Music, or explore the many thrift and antique shops of like Vintage Pink and Hawthorne Vintage. Try some Mcmenamins Ruby Ale at Barley Mill Pub, have a quick lunch at Riyadh's Lebanese, or grab a seat outside and enjoy Portland’s beautiful weather with a slice from Wy'East Pizza.
Abandoned in 1906, the Peter Iredale Shipwreck is easily one of the most unique sites along the Oregon coast.
Travel to the northern ridge of Oregon's coast and visit Fort Stevens State Park – there you'll find the Peter Iredale wreckage, visible from the shore.
A member of the Graveyard of the Pacific, Peter Iredale is just one of many shipwrecks located in region from Tillamook Bay to the northern-most tip of Vancouver Island.
Given its historical significance, the shipwreck is also a part of the Lewis and Clark National and State Historical Parks.
A mainstay attraction in the Portland metro area, the Pittock Mansion is just west of downtown within the Pittock Acres Park.
Built in 1909, Pittock Mansion was the former residence of Henry Pittock, the Oregonian publisher and magnate.
Today, this brilliant chateau is available to the public via year-round, guided tours.
With 22 rooms, the Pittock Mansion is one of the largest and well-preserved estates in Portland, eventually being added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.
Made famous by the television program "Little People, Big World," the Roloff Farm in Hillsboro is a family-owned and operated pumpkin farm. Although the show has been off the air since 2010, visitors of the Portland metro area continue to visit the farm for its host of family-friend attractions.
Found just off of U.S. Highway 26, and only minutes from nearby Forest Grove, the farm offers in-depth tours, as well as many different pumpkin-related products on-site. Don't miss the on-site petting zoo, obstacle course, wagon tours, pony rides, and so much more.
As you plan your next trek across the Oregon Cascades, head for Oakridge, a charming and quaint city, and visit the Willamette Fish Hatchery. Operated by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Willamette Hatchery raises, primarily, chinook salmon and summer steelhead.
Because the Willamette Fish Hatchery is in such close proximity to the Willamette National Forest, you'll be able to fish the local lakes, ponds, and streams found within. When you want to visit the actual hatchery, you can do so all year long – take note, though, Dexter Ponds can be visited only mid-June through September.