Oregon Bucket List: 23+ Best Things to do in Oregon (2023)

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Oregon is a state that offers a wide abundance of natural beauty, outdoor recreation, and unique experiences. That’s why we’ve put together the ultimate Oregon bucket list – a collection of must-see destinations and activities that will help you make the most out of your time in this incredible state.

From the rugged coastline to alpine lakes and dormant snow-capped volcanoes, there are countless opportunities to explore and discover something new. Plus, being in the rainy Pacific Northwest, much of Oregon is green year-round, full of life, and abundant in waterfalls!

Whether you’re a resident or just planning a trip here, there’s no shortage of adventures waiting for you in Oregon. 

So grab your hiking boots, camera, and sense of adventure as we take you on a journey through some of the best places to visit in Oregon!

Oregon Bucket List

Go cliff jumping at Crater Lake

Bright blue lake surrounded by rock mountains.

Crater Lake National Park, home to the deepest lake in the U.S., has to earn a spot on your Oregon bucket list! If you visit in the summer, be sure to do the 1-mile steep hike down to the lake via the Cleetwood Cove trail.

While down at the edge of the lake, you can go swimming- though the water is quite chilly at 55°F during the summer. There’s a fantastic cliff-jumping spot here, too, for the more adventurous!

Watch the sunset at Smith Rock State Park

Sun peeking over a scenic landscape with a river running through it.

If you’re around Bend, Oregon then Smith Rock State Park is a must-visit. Smith Rock features towering rock walls with the Crooked River running through the park. 

There are some hiking trails here, and the park is a popular climbing destination. But if you’ve got limited time to spend here, stopping for a sunset and just walking up from the parking lot is worth it!

Go kayaking at Trillium Lake

Girl kayaking with a mountain behind.

Trillium Lake is located near Mount Hood, with a picture-perfect view of the snow-capped volcano towering above it. 

If you want solitude, visit the lake for a lovely sunrise. But if you want to soak in the sun and don’t mind braving the summer crowds, spend the day here by lounging by the lake and go kayaking! 

If you don’t have your own kayak or stand-up paddleboard, there are some to rent along the lake’s shores. The lake isn’t that big, so just an hour or two on the water should be enough time!

Head down into the Sea Lion Caves

Go to the largest sea cave in the U.S. on the central coast near Florence, OR. It is a wildlife preserve and bird sanctuary where you can hear tons of sea lions roaring inside the cave. What an experience to add to your Oregon bucket list!

It is open year-round, daily from 9 am-5 pm and tickets are 16$ for adults, and children 5-12 years old are 10$ each. 

Hike to Proxy Falls

In a state like Oregon where waterfalls are plentiful, it’s hard to pick a favorite, but Proxy Falls is up there! The hike is short to the falls, but the payoff is huge!

The falls are over 220 feet high and the water cascades down along this beautiful moss-covered rock wall in the back of it. It sets the perfect PNW scene. 

The road to Proxy Falls is only open during the summer and closes for snow in the colder months.

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Visit the colorful Painted Hills

You’ll forget you’re in Oregon when you get to the Painted Hills! Located 75 miles east of Bend, the Painted Hills is a geologic site and one of the 7 natural wonders of Oregon.

These hills are vibrant and colorful and look truly out of this world. Head to the Painted Cove trail to walk directly through bright red and yellow hills on a picturesque boardwalk. 

The Red Knoll trail is another short hike in the park with a great payoff. 


Where should you travel next?

See the infamous Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach

Located along the northern Oregon Coast, Cannon Beach is one of the most popular beaches in the state. 

These dramatic rocks and stunning stretch of coastline are only an hour and a half drive west of Portland.

Do a foodie tour of Portland

Foodies will do very well in Portland, whether you’re looking for fresh seafood, fun food trucks, or indulging your sweet tooth in amazing doughnuts!

Take this highly-rated tour to 5 different food carts and a brewery in an off-the-beaten-path neighborhood. Or join this popular underground donut tour and test all of Portland’s best donuts.

Visit a winery in Oregon’s Wine Country of Willamette Valley

Oregon also has a fantastic wine country in Willamette Valley. The valley is 150 miles long, with 700 wineries to choose from, and is most known for its Pinot Noir.

If you’re staying in Portland, it may be easiest to jump on this highly-rated tour to Willamette Valley where you can visit 3 wineries, worry-free with a driver.

Soak in Umpqua Hot Springs

The hike to these hot springs is just under a mile round trip with about 300 feet of elevation gain. There are several small hot pools here, but it is popular, and they tend to fill up quickly, especially in the peak summer season.

I suggest getting here early on a weekday to ensure you can soak in peace for a while before the crowds arrive. Hot springs are very fragile environments, and it is more essential than ever to leave no trace and pack out your trash. 

Also, note that these are optional clothing, so you could see people here enjoying their time in the nude!

Explore Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor

View of the ocean along the coast.

One of my personal favorite spots off this list, Samuel H. Boardman, has some of the best coastal views I’ve seen along the entire West Coast! 

This part of the coast is where the ocean meets forest, with trees growing right out of the rocks in the ocean. The waves are intense here as well, and it is soothing to just sit and watch them crash along the shore for a while. Sunsets are hard to beat here, so try to catch on while you’re there!

The best spots to hit in this scenic corridor are Natural Bridges, Arch Rock, Secret Beach, House Rock Viewpoint, Whaleshead Viewpoint, and Cape Ferrelo Viewpoint.

See the unique seaside rock formations at Face Rock State Scenic Viewpoint

Person walking in a yellow jacket on the coast on a dreary day.

Face Rock is in Bandon, OR along the Southern Oregon coast. Here you’ll see a large collection of uniquely shaped rocks in the ocean. Some of the best rocks here to look for are Wizard Hat, Table Rock, and the Keyhole.

This place is also home to a Native American legend. You can see what looks like an outline of a face at Face Rock, and some say they hear a woman’s voice in the wind. 

Visit Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area

Bright blue ocean near a tall rock.

Another one of the best stops on the Oregon coast is Cape Kiwanda. Here you can see a large haystack rock, similar to the one in Cannon Beach, plus sand dunes and sandstone arches along the beach!

It is definitely worth it to climb the large sand dune to the right of the parking lot to get views of the sandstone formations on the other side. But tread lightly and respect any places roped off since the sandstone can be very soft and literally crumble under your feet, making it extremely dangerous.

There is a 10$ day-use parking fee to enjoy this spot.

Search for tiny sea creatures in coastal tide pools

Visit tide pools to see tiny sea creatures such as starfish and sea anemones during low tide at one of the many stops along the coast. Note that it must be at low tide to visit tide pools.

Some of the best tide pools in Oregon are at Cannon Beach, Cape Kiwanda, and Cape Perpetua.

Go whale watching from Depoe Bay, OR

Oregon’s whale-watching capital is Depoe Bay, so if you’re there during the months of May through October, head out on a tour!

Dockside Charters is a popular tour company that takes visitors out whale watching each year. You’re most likely to see gray whales during these peak months as they are active and feeding along this part of the coast.

Check out Cape Perpetua at high tide to see the power of Thor’s Well 

Thor’s Well is a natural wonder that is a sinkhole along the coastline that drains water from the ocean. Visit during high tide for the most dramatic view of Thor’s Well.

Hike the Elk Flats trail to the most dramatic coastal view

Sometimes called the Forbidden Cliffs of Manzanita or the Neahkahnie Cliffs, this view is accessible via the Elk Flats trail. 

You will park and take the trail to the left along the coast. It does require a bit of route finding and bushwhacking as it is not a developed trail, but it should only take about 20 minutes to reach the viewpoint.

These jagged, rugged cliffs here are unlike anything else you will see along the coast!

Enjoy fresh ice cream from Tillamook Creamery

In Tillamook, OR visit The Creamery for fresh ice cream and right-out-of-the-oven waffle cones! With over two dozen ice cream flavors to choose from, you’ll be able to please everybody’s sweet tooth here!

Visit the famous Multnomah Falls

There are many beautiful waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, but Multnomah Falls is definitely the most popular. And for good reason! 

It is the tallest waterfall in Oregon at over 600 feet. Get here early, especially during the peak summer months, to secure a parking spot and beat the crowds.

There are several other great waterfalls to check out in the Columbia River Gorge, such as Wahkeena Falls, Fairy Falls, Horsetail Falls, Latourell Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls.

Hike to No Name Lake and Bend Glacier

Girl standing next to a lake with a reflection of a mountain on it.

The hike to No Name Lake and Bend Glacier will take a full day, and the trailhead is located within an hour’s drive of Bend. 

The hike is about 13 miles round trip with 2,650 feet of elevation gain. 

At the end of the hike, you’ll be treated to views of a stunning, turquoise alpine lake fed by a glacier, surrounded by a colorful mountain backdrop. The 13-mile hike is well worth it for this view!

See ten waterfalls on one hike in Silver Falls State Park

Take the 7-mile loop trail to hit ten waterfalls in Silver Falls State Park. This hike is considered moderate, with about 800 feet of elevation gain.

What makes this route even better is that the trail takes you around, above, and behind some of the waterfalls, so you experience waterfalls from all different views!

Witness the Cherry Blossoms bloom around Portland

The spectacular Cherry Blossom bloom usually happens around mid-March to early April and lasts for about 2-3 weeks. 

While there are many Cherry Blossoms all around the city of Portland, head to Tom McCall Waterfront Park or the Portland Japanese Garden, where they are the most concentrated. 

Attend the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival in the spring

Have you ever wanted to see the famous tulip bloom in Holland but don’t want to go all the way to Europe? Then head to Oregon’s own Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival!

Every spring, from mid-March to late April, you can see fields of tulips in Woodburn, OR, just 30 minutes south of Portland. Peak bloom is around mid-April each year but can vary.

You can also purchase fresh-cut tulips while here to take home as a souvenir!

The Wrap-up: Oregon Bucket List

Oregon is a state full of natural beauty and exciting adventures. Whether you are a local or a visitor, there are plenty of bucket list items to check off your list. 

From visiting Crater Lake National Park to hiking to plentiful waterfalls, Oregon offers something for everyone. You can also enjoy the vibrant city life in Portland or explore the stunning coastline along Highway 101. 

No matter what adventure you choose, it’s sure to be an unforgettable experience in this breathtaking state. So start planning your Oregon bucket list today, and get ready for an adventure like no other!

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