Last updated: 10:29 AM ET, Wed October 05 2022
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Toketee Falls, North Umpqua River, Oregon (estivillml / iStock / Getty Images Plus)
Toketee Falls, North Umpqua River, Oregon (estivillml / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

Oregon is a place for adventurers, whether on a wilderness excursion or an urban trek. There’s much to explore in this Pacific Northwest state, with its bustling cities, quaint towns, vast valleys, majestic mountains, wild rivers, pristine lakes and a magnificent coastline — all within seven distinct regions.

Portland, Oregon’s largest city, is an urban playground, with a cornucopia of restaurants, entertainment and cultural attractions. The city boasts more than 150 galleries and many museums, like the Portland Art Museum and the 3-D Center of Art and Photography, as well as monthly art walks. Cultural attractions also include the Oregon History Museum, the World Forestry Center Discovery Museum and Portland Underground (aka Shanghai Tunnels), once used to shanghai sailors, loggers and ranchers.

Nearby, the Willamette Valley is the heart of Oregon’s agriculture country, with roadside stands and farmers’ markets selling the bounty of the land. But the most famous crop here is grapes, which are made into some of the finest wines in the world, particularly the pinot noir variety. Many wineries offer tasting rooms, and wine tours are available from several Portland-based operators.

The Mt. Hood and Columbia River Gorge region offers more than 60 miles of forested mountains, 77 waterfalls and myriad lakes and streams, as well as four ski and snowboard areas. This area is also ideal for hiking, mountain biking, fishing, kayaking, rafting and kite boarding.

The Oregon Coast stretches nearly 363 miles, with small towns, historic lighthouses, stunning views, miles of hiking trails, a variety of galleries and museums, and the world-class Oregon Coast Aquarium, with more than 500 species of animals.

Southern Oregon is known for its performing arts, much of which takes place in Ashland, and the Tony-Award winning Oregon Shakespeare Festival. It’s also home to Crater Lake (the country’s deepest), Oregon Caves National Monument, plenty of outdoor recreation, and a plethora of art galleries, theaters and antique malls.

Central Oregon is ideal for outdoor sports, like biking, hiking and horseback riding, in the high desert; snow sports at Mount Bachelor; golf at more than 25 courses; fly fishing at more than 150 lakes and rivers; and rock climbing a Smith Rock.

Eastern Oregon captures the spirit of the West. Lewis and Clark, Chief Joseph and the Oregon Trail pioneers lived or passed through here. But the region’s history goes back much further — 44 million years, in fact. And John Day Fossil Beds and Thomas Condon Paleontology Center Museum bring that era to life.

Much of Oregon’s cuisine comes from local farms, and visitors will find a variety of choices, from freshly caught seafood on the coast to buffalo and elk in the east. Visitors can dine in brew pubs, gourmet restaurants, mom-and-pop cafes and trendy bistros.

Portland International Airport is Oregon’s biggest airport, served by 13 major airline carriers, as well as major rental car companies. Many smaller cities have regional airports. In addition, Amtrak’s Cascades, Coast Starlight and Empire Builder routes travel through Oregon.

While Oregon’s climate is generally temperate, it differs on either side of the Cascade mountain range. To the west of the range is much more precipitation, mostly during winter, with an average of 36 inches falling in Portland annually. Summers there are mild and dry, however. To the east of the range, there is much less precipitation. Other than the coast, Oregon summer temperatures are warm, with average highs mostly in the 80s.