15 Best Cities to Visit in Oregon

tigard balloon festival

Located between the sunny beaches of California to the south and the emerald green landscapes of Washington to the north, Oregon combines the best of the two neighboring states, but at the same time, it is unique and very different.

Oregon is a big state, which is only 39.9% smaller than California.

At the same time, its population amounts to 10.7% compared to the total number of people living in California, which makes a great difference when it comes to the population density.

The cities in Oregon are much smaller. In addition, they have preserved their traditional appearance.

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Outside the cosmopolitan Portland, you will find numerous towns and villages which have remained practically unchanged since their establishment (in most cases, during the 19th century).

Here are the cities you should not miss while in Oregon:

1. Newport Bay

newport bay
Newport Bay by Max Rae/Flickr

With a population of almost 10,000 inhabitants, Newport Bay is a small town located on the central Pacific coast of Oregon.

Because of its scenic location on the shores of the beautiful Yaquina Bay, in the estuary of the Yaquina River, this is in fact one of the most photographed places in the state.

The town is quite an attractive place to spend the weekend along the coast due to its mild climate and enormous golden beach.

Some of the most important attractions are the 3,223 ft (982 m) long Yaquina Bay Bridge (completed in 1936), the Yaquina Head Lighthouse and the large yacht marina.

2. Cannon Beach

cannon beach
Cannon Beach by Steve Walser/Flickr

Cannon Beach is the most popular city along the coast of Oregon and with good reason.

First of all, here you will find the most beautiful beach in the Pacific Northwest.

Also, the Haystack Rock, which is among the most famous landmarks along the west coast, is located here too.

Not to mention that a number of movies have been filmed here over the years.

The natural beauty of the city attracts a constantly increasing number of visitors from all ages and from different parts of the United States.

The city is both an idyllic place to relieve stress and a lively thriving tourist center.

3. Eugene

shelton mcmurphey johnson house
Shelton McMurphey Johnson House by Rick Obst/Flickr

As a classic college city, Eugene is a lively and spirited place, which offers a number of great things to do.

Busy and innovative, it is an attractive spot for recreation because of the numerous cultural events, great restaurants, bars and parks.

Eugene is also known for its popular hippie culture, high quality wines and craft beer.

If you are in love with hiking, the city won’t disappoint you.

The surroundings of Eugene are known for their unique natural beauty.

Because of the combination of exciting hiking trails, dense forests and spectacular waterfalls, it is one of the best destinations for cycling and hiking enthusiasts in Oregon.

4. Brookings

harris beach state park, brookings
Harris Beach State Park, Brookings by Rick Obst/Flickr

Located just north of the border with California, Brookings is a secret gem.

Known for its extremely scenic coastline and great sandy beaches, it has gained popularity as a beautiful but still affordable and quiet vacation spot.

Although the ocean here is traditionally cold and most people avoid entering the water, the miles long fine sandy beaches attract a lot of tourists.

Brooking is known for having an especially mild Mediterranean climate, with long warm but not hot summers and fresh but not cold winters.

The most popular in the area is the so-called Harris Beach. It is known as a very good place to kayak or surf.

5. Coos Bay

cape arago lighthouse, coos bay
Cape Arago Lighthouse, Coos Bay by Diana Robinson/Flickr

Founded in 1853, Coos Bay is a small town with a population of only 16,415 residents or approximately 32,107 in the entire agglomeration (as of 2018).

Located not far from the ocean, it is a green oasis, combining scenic location and well-preserved wildlife in the area.

If you are a nature lover, you will definitely enjoy the beauty of the unique natural area northwest of the town.

It combines huge sandy dunes, little ponds and coastal grassy vegetation. The variety of species of birds is impressive.

The deep water Coos River separates the city and the impressive miles long superb golden beach.

The climate is very pleasant, with winter temperatures of around 50°F (10°C) during the day and 64 – 68°F on average in summer, with some days reaching up to 86°F (30°C).

6. Manzanita

manzanita
Manzanita by ryan harvey/Flickr

Manzanita is a small town with a population of only 656 people (as of 2018).

However, it is a popular destination that attracts visitors with its high quality food and drinks.

The picturesque valleys in the area are famous for their well-developed winemaking.

Manzanita combines surroundings with wild unspoiled nature and a beautiful golden beach.

Never too hot or too cold, the climate of Manzanita is very pleasant and mild, especially in July, August and September.

Despite being a bit changeable, the climate is generally healthy and is very good for outdoor activities, except on occasional rainy days.

7. Portland

portland's skyline
Portland’s Skyline by Truflip99/CC BY-SA

Portland is the largest and most cosmopolitan city in Oregon.

With a population of 653,115 people, it is a mosaic of modern skyscrapers, quiet suburbs, deep rivers, bridges and wonderful parks.

The impressive 545.9 feet (166.4 meters) high tower of the Wells Fargo Center is the tallest building in the city and in Oregon as a whole.

In addition to the high-rising skyline, Portland offers also a number of wonderful historical areas to visit, including the Old Port Historic District.

The city is known for its hipster and crunchy culture but also for its great restaurants and cafes, numerous cultural events and busy nightlife.

It is one of the most popular shopping destinations in the Pacific Northwest.

8. Florence

heceta head lighthouse
Heceta Head Lighthouse by Ian Sane/Flickr

Florence attracts visitors from near and far.

It is a favourite place to visit for people from different ages but is especially popular with elderly tourists.

It is a quiet and relaxed place but you can still find everything you need for a great vacation.

First of all, it is well-known for its miles long pristine beaches, ocean waves, lush greenery and wonderful cool and fresh subtropical climate, without too low or too high temperatures over the year.

Here you will find numerous historic buildings, several museums, the lighthouse and the Siuslaw River Bridge, which is the most iconic structure in the city.

Florence is famous for the Rhododendron Festival, which has been held every year since 1906.

9. Lake Oswego

lake oswego
Lake Oswego by Eric Prado/Flickr

For many reasons, Lake Oswego is considered one of the best places to live or spend your summer break in Oregon.

The Alpine-type city with a population of approximately 39,532 (as of 2018) is located not far from the lively and busy Portland.

It is known for the beautiful nature in the vicinity.

The shores of the lake are covered with dense pine forests, and in addition, the climate is wonderful, especially during the summer season.

The whole area is a particularly attractive place to spend a short holiday as it has a rich history.

The town is famous for its cultural and historical tourist routes as well as for its numerous parks and walking trails.

10. Astoria

cherry house, astoria
Cherry House, Astoria by Bruce Fingerhood/CC BY

Founded in 1811, Astoria is the oldest city along the coast of Oregon and in the state as a whole.

Moreover, according to many, it is considered the oldest one to the west of the Rocky Mountains and in the Pacific Northwest of the US.

That’s why here you will find a number of very beautiful historical buildings, including the popular and easily recognizable Cherry House from 1877.

It is known for its scenic location on the shores of a vast bay in the estuary of the Columbia River.

11. Baker City

miners jubilee parade in baker city
Miners Jubilee Parade in Baker City by Baker County Tourism/Flickr

Baker City is a beautiful small town with a population of 9,757 people.

It is an attractive place to visit in all seasons but especially in summer when some of the most interesting rodeos in North America are usually held.

The downtown is dominated by low historical buildings which bring the spirit of the American West from the 19th century.

As one of the oldest cities in the state, Baker City flourished during the rise of the mining industry in the area.

12. Tigard

tigard balloon festival
Tigard Balloon Festival by Photo Kent/Flickr

Tigard is a mixture of old and new. It is a wonderful relatively small city with a population of 54,758 inhabitants.

It is located not far from Portland and Lake Oswego and is an attractive place to visit.

It offers a large selection of boutiques, shopping centers, cafes and great restaurants.

However, what it is most famous for is the Balloon Festival, which takes place every year in late June.

Even if much smaller than the festival in Albuquerque (NM), the festival of Tigard is still among the most exciting events of this kind in the United States.

In addition, the city offers a number of wonderful parks and gardens to visit.

13. Hood River Town

hood river town
Hood River Town by Leigh Anderson/Flickr

Hood River Town is one of the windsurfing capitals of North America.

This is a very interesting and curious fact because the city is located far from the ocean.

However, here you will find excellent conditions for practicing this sport.

The waters of the deep Columbia River are at your disposal, and it turns out that this is absolutely enough.

If you visit the opposite shore, which falls within the state of Washington, you will be able to enjoy the best panoramic view of the beautiful Hood River Town.

Mount Hood can be seen in the background of the settlement.

The historical part of Hood River Town is dominated by low old buildings with a traditional look.

As its population is only 7,806 (as of 2018), this is a quiet and relaxing place.

14. Jacksonville

jacksonville - the spirit of the west
Jacksonville – the spirit of the West by Devon D’Ewart/Flickr

With a population of only 2,904 people in 2018, Jacksonville is a little charming town that could be easily explored within a day.

However, if you are searching for the spirit of the traditional American West, this is the place to go.

Jacksonville is an attractive wine region where you can spend an unforgettable weekend.

Here you will find an impressive number of great bars and restaurants for such a small town.

There are many local festivals and concerts, so there is always an event to visit if you want to diversify your stay here.

15. Ashland

southern oregon university, ashland
Southern Oregon University, Ashland by Al Case/Flickr

As of 2018, the population of Ashland is only 21,263 residents.

Even if it is a small town, however, it is one of the cultural centers in the United States.

A city of arts, it is really impressive with its festivals and rich cultural life.

The famous Shakespeare Festival is held every year in the town and is considered the most important cultural event here.

In fact, Ashland is one of the most thriving cities in Oregon, where you will find great restaurants, bars and hotels.

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