The Getaway
Authentic Oregon: Exploring Its Small Towns

Oregon is home to some of the most diverse landscapes in America, with over 360 state parks and a dramatic coastline. It is also famous for food, craft beer, and wines, with many excellent dining experiences. The Oregon Trail provides a backdrop to many historic sites in the region, each with a story to tell. In addition, the natural wonders of Oregon include the Painted Hills, Smith Rock, and the Wallowas, all providing inspiration for a trip to this gem of the Pacific Northwest.

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01 Climb rocks in Redmond

Redmond sits in the desert area of Oregon and is most famous for Smith Rock and the sport of rock climbing. Smith Rock State Park has an abundance of boulders, walls, and over 1800 routes for climbers. In addition, the town has some good eateries, local breweries, and several shops and antique stores to explore after a day of climbing.

02 Go wine tasting in Jacksonville

The scenic town of Jacksonville is at the heart of Southern Oregon Wine Country. Some of the vineyards have global reputations for quality and regularly win awards. You can take a vineyard tour to learn more about wine production in places like Applegate Vines or enjoy one of the many wineries with tasting rooms where you can sample the wares. Back in Jacksonville, you'll also find several good restaurants where you can enjoy a glass or two of wine with a meal.

03 Enjoy fly fishing in Sisters

Sisters is in a beautiful setting at the foot of the Cascade Mountains. People come here to fish on Suttle Lake and to enjoy the spectacular views of Lake Washington from the shore. You'll also find fly fishing on the challenging Metolius River, where rainbow trout are abundant. Sisters is also famous for its annual quilting festival, which attracts crafters to the town.

04 Admire the gardens in Silverton

Silverton is a haven for gardeners and a town where the scent of flowers delights in the summer. When you visit this beautiful town, you'll discover 20 specialty gardens in the Oregon Garden. There's also a working tree farm, tram tours, and concerts in summer, along with a popular beer festival. Another famous attraction is the Gordon House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Visitors also enjoy walking out to nearby waterfalls.

05 Spot marine wildlife in Florence

The small town of Florence lies where the Siuslaw River meets the Oregon coastline. With all those waterways, there's a lot of marine wildlife here. Check out North America's largest sea cave by descending an elevator to see crowds of sea lions. You can also take a boat trip to spot whales off the coast. Birders will enjoy the prolific birdlife close to the water. Don't forget to head into town to taste fresh seafood or clam chowder.

06 Go cycling in Cottage Grove

Cottage Grove is a delightful town that was a gold mining hub in the 1860s. Start by exploring the Downtown Commercial Historic District, where enticing cafes and ice cream parlors line Main Street. The Bikeway has views of two beautiful covered bridges. Nearby, the Row River Trail on Dorena Lake also has several covered bridges along the route. Like most Oregon towns, there are also breweries and wineries to enjoy in Cottage Grove.

07 Admire the views of Joseph

The Wallowa Mountains are a major attraction in Oregon. Their incredible views earned the town of Joseph the name of "Little Switzerland." There's a lot to do here, from hiking in the mountains to fishing in Wallowa Lake. If you don't want to climb, four-person tram cars will take you to the top of Mount Howard to enjoy a glass of wine from the Willamette Valley. Back in town, learn more about the area at Wallowa County Museum.

08 Revisit the movies in Astoria

If the pretty town of Astoria feels familiar, chances are you saw it in the movie The Goonies. Visit the Captain George Flavel House Museum, also featured in the movie, and the Oregon Film Museum. Astoria has many historic buildings set on the shores of the Columbia River, where you'll find water sports here, including kayaking. The river is the ideal place to relax with a cold beer after a day of sightseeing.

09 Step back in time to Baker City

Baker City was once one of the major milestones on the Oregon Trail for pioneers crossing into the American West. Today, the town is home to the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, where visitors can learn about the lifestyle of the settlers. Don't forget to explore the Baker Historic District, where you'll find the 1889 Saloon and the Geiser Grand Hotel as a reminder of nineteenth-century America. The Baker Heritage Museum is an excellent place to learn more about the area, and there's also a narrow gauge steam railway here.

10 Appreciate nature at Cannon Beach

Cannon Beach is one of the most beautiful towns in Oregon. It has a fantastic beach to walk along, and Haystack Rock is a nesting spot for hundreds of seabirds. You'll encounter puffins, gulls, and many other species here. Just outside town is Ecola Park, with walking trails and beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean. Back at Cannon Beach, you'll find good restaurants, excellent seafood, and some fantastic art galleries.

11 Eat cranberries at Bandon

Bandon is a beautiful coastal town that is also known as the "Cranberry Capital of the West Coast." This scenic spot has attracted vacationers for over 100 years. Explore the downtown shops and cafes, and you'll find lots of cranberry-themed products and foods. Bandon is also famous for its sea birds and is one of the best places in Oregon for spotting bald eagles and osprey. Whales are frequently seen off the coast as well.

12 Appreciate science in McMinnville

McMinnville is popular with visitors to Oregon as it is close to the wineries in the Willamette Valley. However, this small town also has the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum, which is a hit with families. If you visit in May, there's a UFO Festival that attracts crowds of sci-fi enthusiasts. McMinnville has many inspirational places to eat, including authentic Mexican cuisine at Los Molcajetes and community dining at Mac Market. You can also sip a glass of local Edgefield wine at the Rooftop Bar in McMenamins Hotel Oregon.

13 Browse art galleries in Ashland

Ashland is a beautiful town surrounded by mountains. Many hiking trails here exist, but people love this town mainly because of the art scene. There are several inspirational art galleries in town, and the theaters have a wide range of performances. In addition, Ashland is home to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, which is held each year from February to November.

14 Hit the beach at Pacific City

Pacific City is right on Cape Kiwanda's headland and is popular with vacationers. The sandy beaches attract crowds, and surfing is one of the most popular sports here for athletes and spectators alike. Kayaking on the Nestucca River is another popular activity, and visitors also enjoy hang gliding, birding, and hiking along the coast.

15 Experience cowboy culture in Pendleton

The Pendleton Roundup attracts lovers of cowboy culture every September. This huge rodeo is the ideal place to see cowboys in action as they rope, ride, and show off their skills. Visitors will also find dances, food, and concerts, all with a cowboy theme. It's an excellent way to celebrate the cowboy heritage and rural lifestyle.

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