30 Essential Oregon Bucket List Activities & Food

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This Pacific Northwest state is home to some of the most stunning landscapes in the country. Home to unique, quirky cities and eye-catching views, there’s a reason so many people flock to Oregon for vacation each year. Your Oregon bucket list could easily be never-ending, but we’ll highlight the must-do activities, food, and more. 

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Perfect for starting your own adventure, whether you prefer to wander outside or stay indoors, Oregon is home to a little bit of everything. The name “Oregon” comes from the Shoshoni phrase for “River of the West,” and the Columbia River truly does make an impact on this coastal state. Are you ready to start your bucket list?

Oregon Bucket List Trip Destinations

Though most people are only familiar with Portland, this isn’t the only must-visit destination in Oregon. Add these spots to your travel bucket list

1. Experience the best of both worlds in Bend

Bend, Oregon, has a little bit of everything. Because it’s located in Oregon’s High Desert and near the Cascades, you can snowboard and rock climb on the same weekend when the weather is right. Known as Oregon’s best-kept secret, this is an action-packed place to visit. 

2. Find your basecamp in Medford and Ashland

These neighboring cities are the perfect basecamp for all beloved activities in Oregon. Located near Crater Lake National Park and the Mt. Ashland Ski Area, you can easily take in the best of the state from one of these small towns. 

3. Visit the Alps of Oregon

You don’t have to go to Europe to experience a taste of the Swiss Alps. Known as the “Alps of Oregon,” the Wallowa Mountains in the northeast corner of the state seem as though they’re taken from a scene in The Sound of Music. 

4. Escape to the traditional charm of Seaside

Seaside is one of Oregon’s first resort destinations. Over the past century, the Seaside Promenade and beach have attracted people from all over the country. Founded over 200 years ago, this small town is a quaint beachside oasis. 

5. Unplug in Corvallis

This college town is located along the Willamette River. Thanks to Oregon State University, there’s a youthfulness to this slow-paced town. With bookshops, cafes, and pubs, this is a great place to unplug from the big city hustle. 

Outdoor Activity, Hike, and Adventure Bucket List Ideas for Oregon

An outdoor-lover’s paradise, there truly is so much to discover in the Pacific Northwest oasis. Oregon is home to some of the best hiking, climbing, and activities in the country. 

6. Glimpse Thor’s Well

Even if you’ve seen a sinkhole, you’ve never seen one like this. Thor’s Well is also known as the “drainpipe of the Pacific,” though it’s really just a deep hole near the Pacific rocks. As the waves slam into the rocks, the water flies into Thor’s Well as though the god himself struck. 

7. Soak in Terwilliger Hot Springs

While you’ll need to hike a bit into the wilderness, the Terwilliger Hot Springs is the perfect place to unwind in nature. These six pools range between 85 and 112 degrees, so they really heat you up. However, clothing is optional here! 

8. Hike along Crater Lake

Located within Crater Lake National Park, Crater Lake was created by a volcano that erupted so intensely thousands of years ago that it created a deep, 2,000-foot crater within the earth. Today, this is one of the deepest (and prettiest) lakes in the world, home to endless hiking trails. 

9. Roam through John Day Fossil Beds

Though you might not think of Oregon as being home to a desert, that’s exactly what you’ll find at John Day Fossil Beds. These red cliffs and canyons are a colorful ode to the natural Oregon from millions of years ago. 

10. Frolic with sea lions

Finally, if you’ve ever wanted to see sea lions up close, now’s your chance. The Sea Lion Caves are a series of underground caverns where these fun creatures come to rest. Visitors can descend the stairs or take an elevator to see these fast-rushing underground streams themselves. 

Spring and Summer Oregon Bucket List Ideas

The warmer months are perfect for exploring the best that Oregon has to offer. Though the weather is typically mild, it can still be unpredictable at times. 

11. Experience Cherryfest

The city of Salem, Oregon, is aptly known as “Cherry City” since it’s home to so many cherry trees. During the annual Cherryfest in the summer, the city fills with fresh cherries, food, and fun. 

12. Go on a wildlife safari

At Wildlife Safari in Winston, you experience the beauty of the savannas of Africa without ever leaving Oregon. Home to species like elephants, hippos, and lions, you can drive along a trail to see them up close from your car. 

13. Visit wine country

Who said Napa was the only place to find great wine? Willamette Valley Oregon is one of the best places in the country to enjoy wine. With vineyards in every direction, you’ll never want to leave. 

14. Pound the trails at Lewis and Clark National and State Historical Parks

Covering multiple states, the Lewis and Clark National State Historical Parks are located throughout Oregon. Many of these trails were pounded by the infamous Lewis and Clark duo themselves as they made their way out west. Some of the best parks in Oregon are Ecola State Park and Fort Stevens. 

15. Spot vampires at Cannon Beach

Cannon beach is the backdrop to many famous films, from Twilight to The Goonies. Though you might not spot vampires, there’s no way to put this stunning cliff-lined beach into words. If you wander into the town, you’ll find plenty to do in the summertime. 

Fall and Winter Oregon Bucket List Ideas

Though Oregon is known for its rainy fall and winter seasons, don’t let that keep you inside. There is still so much to see during this time of the year. 

16. Learn about the Oregon Trail

You can’t talk about Oregon without also talking about the Oregon Trail. On a chilly or rainy day, head inside at the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center in Baker City to learn about the exploration in the 1800s. 

17. Ski on Mount Hoot

Though Oregon isn’t particularly known for skiing, there are still some places to hit the slopes. Mount Hood is one of the best places to enjoy winter near Portland, and there are plenty of slopes for all skill levels. 

18. Take in the Kite Festival

In the fall each year, experience the Oregon Kite Festival. Thousands of bright kites take to the sky, from amateurs to professionals. Located on the beach, this is a show you won’t want to miss. 

19. Visit Halloweentown

If you’ve ever seen the Disney movie Halloweentown, you might be surprised to learn this town is a real-life place. St. Helens, Oregon, completely comes to life each year in the fall, and it’s easy to see why this town was chosen as the magical spot for Halloweentown. 

20. Photograph the iconic Multnomah Falls

Though most popular in the summer, the best time to visit Multnomah Falls in the Columbia River Gorge is actually the wintertime. If you brave the colder, snowy temperatures, you’ll see picturesque falls that look like they’re taken from a fairytale. 

Bucket List Foods and Restaurants in Oregon

A cultural melting pot, Oregon is the perfect place to check things off your food bucket list. From food stands to tried-and-true favorites, here’s what you need to taste. 

21. Chow down on a garden burger

Did you know the gardenburger was actually invented in Oregon? Considered a vegan and vegetarian paradise, there are so many delicious meat-free burgers to try in the Beaver State. 

22. Try an infamous doughnut

If you spot a bright pink box on an airplane from PDX, odds are someone went to the famous Voodoo Doughnut. Though this specialty doughnut spot has so many treats to choose from, the local favorite is the Bacon Maple Bar. Another Oregon doughnut favorite is Blue Star

23. Sip on a craft beer

Portland is nicknamed Beervana for a reason. With endless local breweries of all shapes and sizes, you can’t visit this state without trying some local brews. 

24. Taste your fair share of marionberries

Did you know marionberries were bred at Oregon State University? Made by crossing two types of blackberries, these are mostly used for local treats like marionberry pie, muffins, and ice cream. 

25. Pair your meal with tater tots

Tater tots are to Oregon what french fries are to the rest of the country. In fact, the “Ore” in the “Ore-ida” brand name refers to Oregon since that’s where the brand invented them in the 1950s. You’ll find tater tots on just about every menu in the Pacific Northwest! 

Portland, Oregon Bucket List Ideas

Of course, no Oregon bucket list would be complete without a dedicated section for Portland. Though you could spend weeks exploring this quirky city, here are the highlights you can’t miss. 

26. Visit the Rare Books Room at Powell’s Books

Composed of several city blocks, Powell’s Books is more than just a bookstore. It’s a Portland institution. Wander the maze of hallways and find your latest read, but don’t miss out on a visit to the Rare Book Room. 

27. Sip tea at the Portland Japanese Garden

If you want to take a trip to Japan, you don’t have to go quite that far. The Portland Japanese Garden is one of the best Japanese-inspired gardens in the world (outside of Japan), and it’s inspired by traditional temples and Minka houses. Better yet, enjoy a traditional tea tasting at the Tea House during your visit. 

28. Window shop along North Mississippi Avenue

This avenue is more like a neighborhood in Portland because it’s so popular. Full of trendy, offbeat stores, you can find just about everything here. The buildings are painted every color of the rainbow, and there’s always a new food cart to discover. 

29. See a movie at a local theater

Portland doesn’t have many big-name theaters, instead preferring what they call “living room” theaters. These quaint, small theaters are less expensive, and they usually have much better food and concessions – not to mention special film features. 

30. People watch at the Waterfront

The Tom McCall Waterfront Park is located in downtown Oregon, and this is the best place to take in the city’s bridges and sites. Home to weekend markets and live events, the Waterfront is a place where something is always happening.

Add Oregon to Your Travel Bucket List

You now know how to make a travel bucket list, and you’re ready to start exploring on your own. The world is a wide place. Whether you stay close to home or wander farther than before, don’t be afraid to add new things to your bucket list. Oregon has something to offer everyone, as you can see from this bucket list above. 

Where will you go next? A bucket list is a powerful way to identify what’s most important to you. It’s time to prioritize making new memories that last beyond a lifetime.

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