Do you yearn to hike in autumn forests, breathe the fresh mountain air, be humbled by majestic snow-clad peaks, and be bewitched by a magical natural wonderland? Then Oregon is the perfect travel destination for you. Sandwiched between Washington and California, Oregon has everything from mountains and valleys to beaches and high desert. From the west to the east, each town here has something new to offer be it ocean vistas, tree-lined hills, historical architecture, interesting cultures, or stunning mountain vistas. One of the best ways to explore this state is through its picturesque towns – each with a distinct charm. Here’s a list of the 10 most beautiful small towns in Oregon for you to plan your next getaway.
Earlier known as Linkville, the sunny city of Klamath Falls is far away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Here, you can hike along the river, do some bird watching in Wood River Wetland, take a romantic boat tour with your partner, or explore one of the many well-marked trails here such as the Sky Lakes Trail. For history buffs, there are several museums to visit, historical walks, and a quaint Trolley ride reminiscent of the city’s beginnings along the Oregon Trail.
Set in the heart of Willamette Valley, famous for Pinot Noir, is the historical town of McMinnville. Spend a major chunk of your stay in the historical district of McMinnville - a charming nine-block area with over 64 well-preserved historical buildings. Stroll through lanes flanked with maple trees; explore Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum; relax in cafes and breweries, and enjoy hearty meals at farm-to-table restaurants. McMinnville hosts numerous events all year through including an annual UFO Festival in May.
Hood River is a lively town popular among hikers, skiers, and bikers for its stunning location in the Columbia river gorge with both Mount Hood and the Columbia River close by. You’ll see a melange of spectacular views here from majestic snowy mountains to valleys of wildflowers, from fruit-laden orchards to charming vineyards. For a high adrenaline holiday, there are adventure sports like windsurfing and kite surfing. This town also boasts award-winning restaurants and breweries.
A pretty town by the Columbia River, Astoria was named after John Jacob Astoria, an investor from New York, who built Fort Astoria about 207 years ago. This quaint town with its stately Victorian homes, picture-postcard views, and delicious seafood is easy to fall in love with. There are plenty of activities for those who love being outdoors, with many hiking trails and forest walks. If you want to learn the history of the town, visit the Heritage Museum. End your days on a peaceful note at one of the many charming restaurants by the pier.
The Dalles straddles the eastern entrance to the Columbia river gorge. It was named by French-Canadian trappers who called it ‘dalles,’ a French word for rapids of a river through a narrow gorge. Sun-drenched and peaceful, it makes for a perfect weekend getaway. Walk in the grassy prairies of Tom McCall Preserve, buy a book from Oregon’s oldest bookstore, learn about regional plant and wildlife at the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center and Museum, have a family barbeque at Sorosis Park, or bike along the riverfront trail.
Once termed the ‘Queen City of the Inland Empire’ in the 19th and 20th century, today Baker City is one of the most prominent towns along the historic Oregon Trail. Heritage architecture, boutiques and shops, and restaurants make the town’s historic district the most popular haunt for visitors. To dive into the history of the town, spend an afternoon at the Baker Heritage Museum and National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center. For a taste of the great outdoors, go on one of the many hiking, cycling, or fishing trails nearby.
Ashland is a relaxed artsy community town in the Rogue Valley near the California border. Surrounded by the majestic Siskiyou and Cascade mountain ranges, this town offers some great views, wine tastings, and mountain trails. However, the soul of the town is in its art and culture - you can browse through the many charming art galleries here, watch a few shows in the local theatres, and buy unique souvenirs at boutiques. If you are planning a visit, try to make it for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, held from February through early November. This 82-year-old tradition is a very popular local festival.
Quaint Jacksonville is a delightful mix of old-school American charm and the Gold Rush history. Life slows down here so that you can live a good life with food, wine, scenic surroundings, and warm hospitality. Hike along the mountain trails nearby, explore the boutiques and fine dining in the downtown, tour one of the many family-run wineries. For wine lovers, there are six exquisite Jacksonville Wineries with tasting rooms and the scenic Applegate Wine Trail to explore. You can also plan to visit during the Britt Fest outdoor concert held all summer long.
Nestled near Salem, on Hwy. 213, is Oregon’s garden city – Silverton. This historical town is the gateway to Oregon’s largest state park, Silver Falls State Park. Go on the famous Trail of Ten Falls where you get to walk behind a 177-foot waterfall. To take a break from outdoor adventures, visit interesting art galleries in the downtown. Enjoy the small-town charms here like tree-lined neighborhoods, artistic murals, fragrant gardens, quaint homes, and some refreshing beer.
Carlton is Oregon’s Pinot Noir paradise with romantic vine-covered valleys, engaging wine tours, quaint bed and breakfasts, beautifully restored cottages, and over two dozen wine tasting rooms in the historic downtown. Spend an evening on Main Street, exploring boutiques, cafes, restaurants, and wine tasting rooms. You’ll find a superb selection of organic cheese, artisan chocolates and desserts, fresh meats, and spicy preserves to choose from. This sleepy little village with its fine dining, gorgeous natural setting, and warm hospitality makes for an indulgent weekend getaway.
Small towns with big hearts
Oregon’s geography is varied and wonderful with everything from beaches to mountains to deserts. The smaller towns here reflect this rich natural and geographical heritage in a quiet and laidback fashion. Oregonians are spirited and welcoming people who love the outdoors and their home passionately. Stay in one of these Oregonian towns to experience the hospitality, culture, and beauty of this state at a leisurely pace.
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