Oregon is a state renowned for its natural beauty, with an abundance of breathtaking landscapes and scenic wonders, from the crystal-clear waters of Crater Lake to the rugged coastline of the Pacific Ocean.
Choose from towering mountain ranges to pristine lakes, verdant forests, and a rugged coastline, and from the charming cities of Portland, Astoria, Bend and beachside Cannon Beach.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the prettiest places in Oregon, highlighting each location’s unique features and attractions.
Prettiest Places in Oregon
The state is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, nature lovers, and anyone in search of serene and picturesque environments.
Experience Nature in Oregon
You will find an incredible variety of breathtaking natural landscapes in Oregon, including majestic mountains, dense forests, pristine lakes and rivers, and a rugged coastline dotted with lighthouses and beaches.
1. Mount Hood National Forest
Mount Hood National Forest – Discover the breathtaking beauty of Mount Hood National Forest.
With its stunning landscapes, pristine lakes and rivers, and endless opportunities for outdoor recreation, including hiking, camping, and fishing, you’ll find everything you’re looking for and more.
Here are a few of the prettiest places of interest:
- Trillium Lake: A beautiful alpine lake surrounded by towering trees and offering breathtaking views of Mount Hood.
- Timberline Lodge: A historic ski lodge that offers ski runs in the winter and hiking trails in the summer, along with stunning views of Mount Hood and the surrounding forest.
- Mirror Lake: A serene alpine lake surrounded by old-growth forest, with stunning reflections of Mount Hood on its calm waters.
- Mount Hood Meadows: A popular ski resort offering world-class skiing and snowboarding in the winter, and scenic hiking trails in the summer.
- Columbia River Gorge: A stunning river gorge with towering cliffs, cascading waterfalls, and scenic vistas of the Columbia River.
Take a scenic drive along the Columbia River Highway, explore the waterfalls of the Columbia River Gorge, or relax in the hot springs of Hood River – all within the boundaries of Mount Hood National Forest.
2. Crater Lake National Park
Crater Lake National Park – Crater Lake National Park is a truly unique and special place, offering breathtaking views and unforgettable experiences.
As a visitor, you’ll be awestruck by the beauty of its deep blue lake, surrounded by towering cliffs and surrounded by dense forests.
Drive along Rim Drive for breathtaking views of the lake and surrounding scenery, or hike to one of the many nearby vistas for an even closer look.
For a truly unique experience, plan to take a boat tour of the lake to see it from a different perspective, and learn about its fascinating geological history.
Whether you’re interested in outdoor recreation, scenic drives, or simply taking in the beauty of the Pacific Northwest, Crater Lake National Park is a must-visit destination that you’ll never forget.
Experience the beauty of Crater Lake National Park in style by staying in one of my recommended hotels near Crater Lake, Oregon. The guide includes places to stay in Medford, Ashland and Klamath Falls.
3. The Oregon Coast
The Oregon Coast – Discover the breathtaking beauty of the Oregon Coast, a rugged and scenic region that stretches along the Pacific Ocean.
Drive along the stunning Pacific Coast Scenic Byway for breathtaking views of the ocean, towering cliffs, and lush forests, and take a break at one of the many charming beach towns along the way.
Here is a brief overview of some of the prettiest places along the Oregon Coast:
- Cannon Beach: Known for its iconic Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach is a charming coastal town that offers stunning views, miles of sandy beaches, and a variety of shops and restaurants.
- Seaside: Seaside is a popular destination for families and tourists, offering a wide range of attractions, from an aquarium to a historic carousel, as well as a scenic promenade and miles of sandy beaches.
- Manzanita: This small town is known for its tranquil atmosphere, pristine beaches, and towering dunes. Visitors can enjoy scenic walks, beachcombing, and birdwatching in this charming coastal town.
- Yachats: Yachats is a picturesque coastal town surrounded by rugged cliffs and natural beauty. Visitors can hike along the coast, soak in hot springs, or take a scenic drive along the Pacific Ocean.
- Pacific City: This charming coastal town is home to an iconic beach, the Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area, and Haystack Rock, which offers visitors a variety of outdoor activities and breathtaking views.
- Depoe Bay: This small town is famous for its whale watching and scenic coastline, as well as its vibrant harbor and shops.
- Florence: Florence is a charming coastal town that offers a range of outdoor activities, such as hiking, fishing, and kayaking, as well as cultural attractions, like the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area.
- Lincoln City: Lincoln City is a popular destination for families, offering a variety of beaches, parks, and shopping. Visitors can also enjoy the city’s unique Glass Floats program, which places glass art along the beach for visitors to discover.
- Newport: Newport is a picturesque coastal town that offers a variety of attractions, including the Oregon Coast Aquarium, the Yaquina Head Lighthouse, and the Nye Beach Historic District.
- Rockaway Beach: This small town is known for its scenic coastline and beach, as well as its outdoor activities, such as fishing, hiking, and surfing.
The Oregon Coast is ideal if you’re interested in beachcombing, whale watching, hiking, or simply taking in the beauty of the Pacific Northwest. The Oregon Coast has something for everyone.
Elevate your experience on the Oregon Coast by staying in one of the best boutique hotels in Cannon Beach, handpicked and recommended in my guide. Enjoy a unique and personalized stay in one of these charming and stylish accommodations, each offering a unique blend of comfort and sophistication.
4. Columbia River Gorge
Columbia River Gorge – Discover the breathtaking beauty of the Columbia River Gorge, a truly special destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.
Hike to one of the many breathtaking waterfalls, go windsurfing on the Columbia River, or explore the area’s rich history by visiting historic sites such as the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.
This is a great destination if you’re an avid hiker or simply looking for a scenic getaway.
5. The Columbia River Plateau
The Columbia River Plateau – The Columbia River Plateau is filled with fascinating places of interest that are sure to enthral and captivate visitors.
You can visit the Plateau and the Gorge on the same day or stick to one place to really take it all in.
In addition to the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, other must-visit sites include the Columbia River Gorge, the Dalles Dam, and the Maryhill Museum of Art, which showcases a diverse collection of art, artifacts, and cultural treasures from around the world.
For outdoor enthusiasts, the region is also home to a wealth of pretty hiking and camping opportunities and world-class fishing and boating on the Columbia River.
This might be an interesting destination if you’re a history buff, nature lover, or simply looking for a scenic getaway; the Columbia River Plateau has something for everyone.
Cities offer a unique blend of man-made beauty and natural scenic elements. They often have iconic landmarks, beautiful architecture, vibrant public spaces, parks and gardens, and a bustling atmosphere that can create a visually appealing and exciting experience.
Additionally, cities often host cultural events, festivals, and exhibitions, which can bring a unique beauty to the urban landscape.
Portland – Oregon’s biggest city is known for its vibrant and eclectic neighborhoods, beautiful parks and gardens, stunning architecture, and thriving arts and culture.
Portland is home to many pretty places, neighborhoods, and architectural styles. Some of the must-see attractions include:
- Pearl District: A chic and trendy neighborhood known for its beautiful brick buildings, art galleries, and upscale boutiques.
- Washington Park: A lush and sprawling park that includes the International Rose Test Garden, the Japanese Garden, and the Oregon Zoo.
- Old Town Chinatown: A historic neighborhood with cobblestone streets and historic buildings, including the historic and ornate Chinatown Gate.
- The Portland Building: A postmodern building designed by Michael Graves, known for its vibrant colors and iconic Portlandia statue.
- The Pittock Mansion: A historic French Renaissance-style mansion that offers stunning views of the city and its surroundings.
- The Japanese Garden: A beautiful and peaceful Japanese garden located within Washington Park, featuring a koi pond, a Zen garden, and a tea house.
Discover the best cool boutique hotels in Portland with my guide, offering unique and stylish accommodations for a memorable stay in the city.
Salem – Salem, Oregon’s capital city, is a hub of history and culture with beautiful parks, gardens and historic landmarks.
Explore the beauty of the Oregon State Capitol building, stroll through the Willamette University campus and take in the view of the Willamette River.
Discover the charm of the city by visiting its historic homes, peaceful gardens and scenic parks.
Other attractions include Bush’s Pasture Park, Deepwood Estate, and the Elsinore Theatre.
These destinations showcase a blend of historical significance, picturesque landscapes and cultural richness.
Discover the best of Salem, Oregon with my insider’s guide to the top boutique hotels in Salem, offering comfortable accommodations in Downtown Salem and an authentic local experience.
Eugene – Experience the beauty and charm of Eugene, Oregon, with its lush green parks, vibrant cultural scene, and stunning natural surroundings.
In Eugene, you’ll find parks like Alton Baker Park, Washington-Jefferson Park, and Owen Rose Garden, as well as historic neighborhoods like the Jefferson Westside Neighborhood.
Take a stroll through the historic neighborhoods, visit the famous University of Oregon campus, or immerse yourself in nature at the nearby Willamette National Forest.
Explore the picturesque city and discover the perfect boutique hotels in Eugene for your stay with my expert guide and review.
Bend – Bend is a charming city that offers stunning natural beauty and outdoor adventures, from the Deschutes River to the nearby mountains and lakes.
Discover Bend’s stunning natural beauty and outdoor adventure opportunities with a visit to Smith Rock State Park or a hike along the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway.
Explore the charming historic district, including the Old Mill District, for unique shopping and dining experiences.
Discover the charm of the city and surrounds with my guide to the best boutique hotels in Bend, Oregon, offering a unique and intimate travel experience.
Astoria – Discover the charming, historic town of Astoria, Oregon, located where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean.
This unique destination is home to Victorian homes, the historic Astor Street District, and the Columbia River Maritime Museum, offering a glimpse into the area’s rich maritime heritage.
Take a stroll along the riverfront, visit the oldest continuously operating brewery in the state, or climb the Astoria Column for stunning views of the surrounding countryside.
Discover the unique charm of Astoria with my guide to the best boutique hotels in Astoria, offering comfortable and stylish accommodations to enhance your visit.
Responsible Travel in Oregon
If you’re interested in how to travel more sustainably and responsibly, here are a few ideas to get you started.
- Use public transportation: Take advantage of the many public transport options that you can find in Oregon’s larger cities.
- Choose eco-friendly accommodations: When booking your hotel, look for accommodations that prioritize sustainability, like using renewable energy, conserving energy and water, and minimizing food waste.
- Opt for low-emission vehicles: If you need to rent a car, choose a hybrid or electric vehicle, or carpool with friends or family.
- Support local businesses: By eating at local restaurants, shopping at local markets, and visiting local attractions, you can help support the local economy. Consider hiring a local guide to take show you around areas of interest.
- Respect wildlife and protected areas: When hiking, camping, or exploring, stay on designated trails and avoid disturbing wildlife or damaging protected areas.
Oregon is known for its breathtaking natural beauty and diverse landscapes. From the majestic mountains of Mount Hood and Crater Lake to the rugged coastlines of Cannon Beach and the Oregon Coast, and the lush green parks and historic neighborhoods of cities like Portland, Eugene, and Salem.
The Columbia River Gorge and Plateau offer a unique blend of history, beauty and outdoor recreation, while Bend and Astoria offer their own unique and charming atmosphere.
Whether you’re looking for scenic drives, lush nature trails, or quaint coastal villages, Oregon has something to offer everyone.
Recommendations are independently chosen based on personal travel experiences and extensive research.