Heceta Head Lighthouse

Oregon is a beautiful state filled with beaches and unique attractions. Visit the Columbia River Maritime Museum, Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, Oregon Observatory and other unique attractions. Top things to do in Oregon for families include the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, Hartfield Marine Science Center and the High Desert Museum. Here are the best things to do in Oregon. Photo: Joshua Rainey/Fotolia


»Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum

Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum


The Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum was founded by Airforce Lieutenant and Oregon Native Michael King Smith. The museum serves to preserve the history of air and space flight, as well as to educate the public.

Exhibits include a collection of WWII aircraft, an SR-71 Blackbird, a Titan missile, and a B-17 bomber. Also on display is the cargo hold of the original Spruce Goose, built by industrialist and aviator Howard Hughes. Guests can learn about helicopters, airplanes, and rockets, and can also tour the Oregon Aviation Hall of Honor, which honors outstanding men and women aviators from the state.

500 Northeast Captain Michael King Smith Way, McMinnville, OR 97128, Phone: 503-434-4180

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»Western Antique Aeroplane & Automobile Museum

Western Antique Aeroplane & Automobile Museum


Step into the past at the Western Antique Aeroplane & Automobile Museum. The WAAAM covers over 2.5 acres and contains one of the largest collections of antique automobiles and airplanes in the country. Dozens of still-working aircraft are on display, as well as over 130 classic cars, motorcycles, and tractors. Military vehicles, gliders, bicycles, and antique engines can also be found here.

The museum holds special events and shows throughout the year and will often take their classic airplanes up for a flight demonstration. The museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

1600 Air Museum Rd, Hood River, OR 97031, Phone: 541-308-1600 25 Best Things to Do in Oregon - Photo: Western Antique Aeroplane & Automobile Museum

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»Oregon Trail Interpretive Center

Oregon Trail Interpretive Center


The Organ Trail was a treacherous 2,000 mile-long road that settlers took to find a new life on the west coast. Visitors to the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center will find information about the settlers, their journey, and the dangers they faced along the way.

Exhibits include information on the history of the trail, wagon replicas, artifacts from the trail, and depictions of the way of life of both the settlers and the Native Americans from the area. There are also four miles of hiking trails with beautiful mountain views surrounding the center. A theater inside the center hosts live shows, lectures, and films throughout the year.

22267 OR Hwy 86, Baker City, OR 97814, Phone: 541-523-1843 25 Best Things to Do in Oregon - Photo: CrackerClips/Fotolia

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»Portland Japanese Garden

Portland Japanese Garden

Japanese gardens are places of peace and tranquility, meant for quiet reflection and meditation. The Portland Japanese Garden is a 5.5-acre plot of land beautifully landscaped in the Japanese tradition. The five gardens incorporate the traditional elements of stone, water, and plants, as well as pagodas, water basins, and bridges.

The large variety of plants and architecture means that there is something to see no matter what time of year it is. The garden also hosts educational programs, cultural festivals, workshops, and both public and private tours. Read more

611 SW Kingston Ave, Portland, OR 97205, Phone: 503-203-1321 25 Best Things to Do in Oregon - Photo: skobeisse/Fotolia

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»Oregon Museum of Science and Industry

Oregon Museum of Science and Industry


The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry is a fun, interactive learning experience for both children and adults. Guests can browse through 5 galleries with over 200 exhibits dedicated to space, agriculture, energy, robotics, and the ocean. Eight laboratories provide hands-on learning experiences in such topics as chemistry, life science, physics, and industrial design.

A large state-of-the-art movie theater at the museum shows Hollywood blockbusters, documentaries, and educational films. The museum also hosts special events such as demonstrations, festivals, and exhibitions. Read more

1945 SE Water Ave, Portland, OR 97214, Phone: 503-797-4000 25 Best Things to Do in Oregon - Photo: Oregon Museum of Science and Industry

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»Whale Research EcoExcursions

Whale Research EcoExcursions


View whales in their natural habitat with Whale Research EcoExcursions. Captain Carrie Newell is a professor of marine biology and a whale researcher. She and her team lead daily excursions to see gray whales as they migrate up and down the West Coast.

EcoExcursions take guests on comfortable gasoline powered boats and provide coats, rain gear, hats, and gloves for the trip. Excursions are held year-round, but the best time of year for whale viewing is during the summer months. Tours must be booked in advance, and are held weather permitting. Tours will not be held in rough weather. Read more

234 SE Hwy 101, Depoe Bay, OR 97341, Phone: 541-912-6734 25 Best Things to Do in Oregon - Photo: Whale Research EcoExcursions

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»Things to Do in Oregon: Hartfield Marine Science Center

Things to Do in Oregon: Hartfield Marine Science Center


Part of Oregon State University, the Hartfield Marine Science Center is a working lab where scientists study the ocean and the creatures that live in it. The science center has open exhibits to allow the public to better understand marine life and to help in conservation efforts.

Guests can reach out and touch marine animals such as fish and sea stars in the tide pool tanks, or view three tanks full of colorful ornamental fish. They can see the on-site octopus that occupies the first tank in the building, and watch as he is fed. Educational programs, day camps, and family events are also offered.

2030 SE Marine Science Dr., Newport, OR 97365, Phone: 541-867-0226 25 Best Things to Do in Oregon - Photo: Hartfield Marine Science Center- Oregon State University

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»Wanderlust Tours

Wanderlust Tours


Wanderlust Tours has been guiding travelers to the best of Central Oregon since 1993. Their professional guides provide small group tours of the natural wonders of the state. In the summer, guests can canoe or kayak on the Cascade Lakes, tour an underground lava tube cave, or view a non-active volcano.

In the winter, travelers can take daytime or nighttime snowshoe tour through the snow, or relax and warm up around a bonfire. Local brewery tours and custom events are also available. Tours must be booked in advance. Wanderlust provides equipment. Guests must provide appropriate clothing, water bottles, and sunscreen.

61535 S Hwy 97,Suite 13, Bend, OR 97702, Phone: 541-389-8359 25 Best Things to Do in Oregon - Photo: Wanderlust Tours

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»Oregon Attractions: Columbia River Maritime Museum

Oregon Attractions: Columbia River Maritime Museum


The Columbia River Maritime Museum in Astoria is dedicated to the history, landscape, and wildlife of the Columbia River Bar. The bar, one of the most dangerous river passages in the world, has caused approximately 2000 shipwrecks since 1972.

The museum contains exhibits dedicated to the history of the area, the pilots of the Columbia River and the U.S. Coast Guard, as well as the floating lighthouse ship, the Columbia. The museum also has an IMAX theater and hosts events and classes for children and adults. Located on the waterfront, the museum is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

1792 Maritime Drive, Astoria, OR 97103, Phone: 503-325-2323 25 Best Things to Do in Oregon - Photo: thepoeticimage/Fotolia

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»Things to Do in Oregon: High Desert Museum

Things to Do in Oregon: High Desert Museum


The High Desert Museum is dedicated to the preservation and understanding of the natural history, culture, and art of Oregon. The museum was founded in 1982 by biology student and environmentalist Donald M. Kerr.

Today, the museum covers 135 woodland acres and over 100,000 square feet of indoor exhibit spaces. Guests can see native animals such as the otter, bobcat, hawk, falcon, and badger, or can tour a historic homestead and sawmill. The museum also contains exhibits dedicated to the early settlers of Oregon and to Native American life and culture. Special camps and educational events are held throughout the year. Read more

59800 South Hwy 57, Bend, OR 97702, Phone: 541-382-4754 25 Best Things to Do in Oregon - Photo: High Desert Museum

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»Attractions in Oregon: Oregon Coast Aquarium

Attractions in Oregon: Oregon Coast Aquarium


The Oregon Coast Aquarium is one of the top tourist attractions in Oregon. The museum is committed to educating the public about the nature and wildlife of the Oregon Coast, and conservation efforts. The museum's exhibits showcase native sea life such as harbor seals, sea otters, sea lions, and seabirds.

There are also exhibits dedicated to the various natural habitats of Central Oregon, including sandy and rocky shores and coastal waterways. Guests can even scuba dive in the large aquarium, or get a kiss from a sea lion! The aquarium is open every day of the year except for Christmas Day.

2820 SE Ferry Slip Rd, Newport, OR 97365, Phone: 541-867-3474 25 Best Things to Do in Oregon - Photo: whitcomberd/Fotolia

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»Oregon Attractions: Washington Park

Oregon Attractions: Washington Park


Located on the southwest side of Portland, Washington Park is more than just a place to picnic and play. The park contains many attractions for children and adults. There are playgrounds, picnic tables, soccer fields, tennis courts, and an archery range.

The Portland Children’s Museum and Oregon Zoo are a part of the park. Guests can view beautiful plants, trees, shrubs, and flowers in the Portland Japanese Garden and the Hoyt Arboretum, which are also on-site. The park is beautifully landscaped and contains memorials to Vietnam veterans, Holocaust victims, and Sacajawea. The park is open daily from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.

4001 Southwest Canyon Road, Portland, OR 97221, Phone: 503-319-0999 25 Best Things to Do in Oregon - Photo: png studio/Fotolia

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»Powell's Books

Powell's Books


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Powell’s Books, one of the biggest attractions in Portland, has been in business since 1971. Their inventory contains over 2 million new and used books, and they sell at five locations in Portland and through the internet.

Powell’s is dedicated to the love of the written word and does more than just selling books. They host book clubs, story time for children, writing workshops, and more. Their flagship location in Portland covers an entire city block and contains 1 million books, a reading gallery, a rare book room, and a coffee shop. Powell’s is open daily from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.

1005 W. Burnside St, Portland, OR 97209, Phone: 800-878-7323 25 Best Things to Do in Oregon - Photo: andriano_cz/Fotolia

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»Lan Su Chinese Garden

Lan Su Chinese Garden


The Lan Su Chinese Garden was built by Chinese artisans and reflects the traditional Chinese style of blending art with nature. Guests can relax and connect with nature as they take a quiet walk through the beautifully landscaped paths.

The garden also offers many activities, events, and classes that showcase Chinese art and culture. Learn how to play Mahjong, watch a demonstration of Chinese brush painting, or listen to Chinese music or poetry. The garden is open daily, year-round. Self-guided tours are always available, and guided tours are offered at various times throughout the day.

239 Northwest Everett Street, Portland, OR 97209, Phone: 503-228-8131 25 Best Things to Do in Oregon - Photo: jon bilous/Fotolia

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»Oregon Attractions: The Grotto

Oregon Attractions: The Grotto


The Grotto is a spiritual retreat dedicated to Mary, the mother of Jesus. It is a National Catholic Shrine which provides a place of peace, quiet, and spiritual restoration to its visitors. The Grotto contains a botanical garden with native plants and trees. In the center is Our Lady’s Grotto, which is a cave carved into a massive cliff.

Other parts of Grotto include beautifully landscaped gardens, a chapel, religious artwork, and beautiful views of the Cascade Mountains and Mt. Saint Helens. A gift shop and visitors center are also on-site. The Grotto is open daily. People of all faiths are welcome.

8840 NE Skidmore St, Portland, OR 97220, Phone: 503-254-7948 25 Best Things to Do in Oregon - Photo: The Grotto

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»Forest Park

Forest Park

With over 5,000 acres of wilderness, Forest Park is a nature-lovers paradise. The park was designed the Olmstead brothers, New York’s Central Park’s designer’s sons. It was commissioned in 1948 and has served as a natural oasis in Portland ever since.

The park contains over 80 miles of hiking trails and covers a 7 mile stretch of land in Northwest Portland. The park also hosts many programs and events for the public, such as guided hikes, herb walks, cycling, and lectures. 25 Best Things to Do in Oregon - Photo: olegmayorov/Fotolia

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»Things to Do in Oregon: Heceta Head Lighthouse

Things to Do in Oregon: Heceta Head Lighthouse

Heceta Head Lighthouse sits high on a cliff overlooking the rocky Oregon coast. It is a working lighthouse and has been in operation since 1894. Its light can be seen up to 21 miles out to sea. Behind the lighthouse is the Keeper's House.

It served as the lighthouse keeper's home for many years. Now it houses an Interpretive Center and a six guest-room bed and breakfast. Lighthouse tours are available year-round, and tours of the Interpretive Center are offered during the summer. The lighthouse can also be rented for weddings, parties, and special occasions.

725 Summer St, Florence, OR 97439, Phone: 866-547-3696 25 Best Things to Do in Oregon - Photo: Joshua Rainey/Fotolia

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»Willamette Valley

Willamette Valley

Willamette Valley is Oregon's premiere wine country. Over 700 wineries can be found in the area's 150 square miles. In addition, local farms provide fresh produce and meats to the area's many farm-to-table restaurants. Shopping, dining, entertainment, and lodging are available in the charming towns and cities throughout the valley.

Travelers who crave adventure will find hiking, biking, horseback riding, kayaking, and camping among some of the most breathtaking scenery in the United States. There are parks, museums, theaters, amusement parks, and more. Willamette Valley truly has it all! 25 Best Things to Do in Oregon - Photo: hktelleria/Fotolia

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»John Day Fossil Beds

John Day Fossil Beds

Explore the past at the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. The beds contain the fossilized remains of plants and animals that lived in the area millions of years ago. They form an excellent picture of the changes that the earth and its ecosystems went through during that time.

In addition, the park contains beautiful scenery in the form of towering cliffs and colorful hills and on-site museums. The park is a natural habitat for many varieties of mammals, amphibians, birds, trees, and plants. Wildlife and plant life change seasonally, so there is always something new to see. The park is open daily, year-round. Museum hours vary.

32651 Highway 19, Kimberly, OR 97848, Phone: 541-987-2333 25 Best Things to Do in Oregon - Photo: Zack Frank/Fotolia

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»Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm

Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm


The Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm began as the humble family farm of Ross and Dorothy Iverson in the 1950’s. In 1974, they began growing and selling tulips. Today, the farm contains over 15 acres of tulip growing fields.

The farm is open to the public from the end of March to the beginning of May, when thousands of tulips open their blooms in a breathtaking display of color. Fresh cut bouquets and tulip bulbs are also available for purchase. Wooden Shoe also hosts a pumpkin fest and Halloween display in the fall and the farm can be rented for weddings and other special events.

33814 S Meridian Rd, Woodburn, OR 97071, Phone: 503-634-2243 25 Best Things to Do in Oregon - Photo: David Gn/Fotolia

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»Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center

Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center

The Opal Creek Ancient Forest stands as a monument to the past. Two-thousand-year-old artifacts from the original Native American inhabitants have been found there. In 1859, gold was discovered in the mountains, and miners came to settle in the mining town known as Jawbone Flats. In the 1990’s, over 30,000 acres of wilderness was combined into a national preserve, the Opal Creek Ancient Forest.

Today, the Jawbone Flats town has been restored and preserved, and the forest contains hiking trails, campgrounds, and cabin rentals. They also offer expeditions, workshops, and educational courses to promote conservation and stewardship for people of all ages.

721 NW 9th Avenue, Suite 236, Portland, OR 97209, Phone: 503-892-2782 25 Best Things to Do in Oregon - Photo: Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center

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»Oregon Attractions: Oregon Observatory

Oregon Attractions: Oregon Observatory


When the sun goes down, the fun begins at the Oregon Observatory. The Observatory has a large collection of telescopes available to the public. Visitors can view nebulae, deep space stars and even distant galaxies through a guided constellation tour.

During the daytime, guests can get a safe, up-close view of Earth’s closest star, the Sun. The observatory also hosts lectures, school programs, and star parties, and can be booked for private parties and events. The observatory is open from June until October.

57245 River Rd, Sunriver, OR 97707, Phone: 541-598-4406 25 Best Things to Do in Oregon - Photo: Oregon Observatory

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»What to Do in Oregon: Astoria Column

What to Do in Oregon: Astoria Column


High on a hill, 600 feet above the city of Astoria, sits the Astoria Column. The column was the last in a series of monuments commissioned by Ralph Budd and placed across the United States. It stretches 125 feet into the air and is covered with artwork originally drawn by Italian artist Attilio Pusterla.

Scenes on the column depict the early settlement of the state. Guests can climb to the top of the column for a bird’s-eye view of Astoria and the Pacific Ocean. There are picnic tables and benches on the surrounding grounds, as well as access to the Cathedral Tree Hiking Trail.

1 Coxcomb Drive, Astoria, OR 97103, Phone: 503-325-2963 25 Best Things to Do in Oregon - Photo: Frank Jr/Fotolia

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»Attractions in Oregon: Vista House

Attractions in Oregon: Vista House


Vista House stands 733 feet above the Columbia River at Crown Point. It is a gray sandstone building with a rotunda on the top that serves as a look-out point for travelers to the area. Vista House offers spectacular views of the Columbia River Gorge.

Visitors to the house can also learn about its history and construction, and about the geography and native wildlife of the area. The lower floor of the house contains a gift shop and espresso bar, with proceeds from sales going to the upkeep of the structure.

40700 E Columbia River Hwy, Corbett, OR 97019, Phone: 503-344-1368 25 Best Things to Do in Oregon - Photo: Atomazul/Fotolia

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»Pearl District

Pearl District


Portland’s Pearl District is an urban success story. The once-booming neighborhood had fallen into disrepair and ruin by the 1980’s when a group of developers purchased the land and buildings with a vision to rebuild. Today, the Pearl District is a diverse neighborhood with many affordable and upscale apartment complexes, as well as office and retail buildings.

Visitors will find over 70 restaurants offering everything from burgers and craft brews to pasta to Asian specialties. Retail stores sell clothing, accessories, shoes, home décor, athletic equipment, and more. And don’t forget about First Thursday, an art festival held on the first Thursday of each month. 25 Best Things to Do in Oregon - Photo: ablokhin/Fotolia

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25 Best Things to Do in Oregon