What Is Oregon Known For?
Oregon is a vibrant state known for its diverse landscape, rich history, and unique cultural offerings. It’s renowned for its stunning natural beauty, from breathtaking national parks to scenic coastlines, making it a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Oregon is also home to a thriving arts scene and holds a rich culinary tradition, marked by its renowned wine production and distinctive food cart culture. The state’s commitment to sustainability is evident in its eco-friendly initiatives and sustainable agriculture. Whether it’s for adventure, gastronomy, or art, Oregon’s appeal lies in its diverse offerings that cater to a variety of interests.
If anyone had to throw out a state in the Pacific Northwest, Oregon would probably be the first one out of most people’s mouths.
And then if you asked them what Oregon is known for they’d probably say, “uhhh…trees…rain…and coffee…just like the rest of the PNW.”
However, Oregon is truly one of a kind and deserves to be known for much more than the trees (although I admit that we do have a lot of them…).
So whether you’re a seasoned Oregonian or want to learn a bit more about our state so that you can start planning a trip, here are the 30 things that Oregon deserves to be famous for…at least according to me.
30 Things Oregon Is Know For
1. Crater Lake National Park
Crater Lake National Park, located in southern Oregon, is renowned for hosting the deepest lake in the United States, formed more than 7,700 years ago after the eruption and subsequent collapse of Mount Mazama.
The caldera lake is famous for its blue color and water clarity. The park spans over 183,000 acres and offers opportunities for fishing, hiking, camping, and during the winter, cross-country skiing.
The awe-inspiring natural beauty of the park makes it a must-visit destination in Oregon.
Portland, Oregon’s largest city, is known for its vibrant arts scene, diverse culinary offerings, and distinct neighborhoods.
Often referred to as “the city of roses,” Portland boasts an array of parks, gardens, and eco-friendly initiatives. Home to many microbreweries and food carts, Portland has a reputation for being a foodie’s paradise.
3. The Oregon Trail
The Oregon Trail is a historic 2,170-mile route that was used by settlers during the westward expansion of the United States.
The trail, which stretches from Missouri to Oregon, played a significant role in the country’s history, leading to Oregon’s nickname, the “End of the Oregon Trail.”
Today, remnants of the trail can still be seen, and its history is commemorated in various museums and historic sites.
4. Mount Hood
Mount Hood is Oregon’s highest peak and is a dormant stratovolcano in the Cascade Volcanic Arc.
Despite the lurking danger, it’s a popular destination for outdoor activities such as hiking, skiing, and snowboarding.
During winter, Mt. Hood’s slopes come alive with locals and tourists alike enjoying the ski resorts. During the summer, the mountain offers beautiful hiking and climbing routes, and the surrounding forests and rivers are popular among campers and fishermen.
5. Oregon Shakespeare Festival
The Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland is one of the oldest and largest professional non-profit theaters in the United States. Since its inception in 1935, the festival has produced a massive range of plays, including all of Shakespeare’s works.
The festival runs from February to October, featuring eleven plays that include works by Shakespeare as well as contemporary and classic playwrights, on three unique stages.
6. Outdoor Recreation
With its diverse geography ranging from forests and mountains to beaches and deserts, Oregon offers vast opportunities for outdoor recreation. This includes hiking in places like the Columbia River Gorge, cycling along scenic bikeways, white-water rafting in various rivers, and rock climbing at Smith Rock State Park. There’s also skiing and snowboarding at resorts around Mount Hood, and beach activities along the beautiful Oregon Coast.
7. Wine Production
Oregon is one of the premier wine-producing areas in the United States, with the Willamette Valley being especially known for its Pinot Noir. With over 700 wineries in Oregon, the state has a reputation for its organic and biodynamic wines. Visitors enjoy wine tasting, vineyard tours, and the many wine festivals that take place throughout the year.
8. Oregon Coast
Stretching 363 miles from the Columbia River to the California state border, the Oregon Coast is renowned for its rugged beauty marked by sandy beaches, towering sea stacks, picturesque lighthouses, and quaint coastal towns. Notable locations include Cannon Beach, known for Haystack Rock, and the stunning Cape Perpetua Scenic Area. The coast is a popular spot for outdoor activities, such as beachcombing, tidepooling, surfing, and fishing.
9. Powell’s City of Books
Based in Portland, Powell’s City of Books is the world’s largest independent bookstore, selling new and used books. It occupies an entire city block and houses approximately one million books. Bibliophiles from around the world visit Powell’s to browse its vast collection spanning every possible genre.
10. Nike Headquarters
Nike, the multinational corporation known for its athletic apparel and footwear, was founded in Oregon. The Nike World Headquarters located in Beaverton has a sprawling campus featuring office buildings, research labs, design studios, and even sports facilities.
11. Tillamook Cheese Factory
Located in Tillamook County, the Tillamook Cheese Factory is a famous stop in Oregon and one of our favorites when we’re driving the Oregon Coast. Visitors can take a self-guided tour of the cheese-making process, sample their award-winning cheeses, and indulge in delicious Tillamook ice cream (but you should probably get the fried cheese instead…).
12. Oregon Vortex and House of Mystery
The Oregon Vortex is a roadside attraction located in Gold Hill, Oregon, known for its perceived gravitational anomalies. This spherical field of force, half above the ground and half below, produces intriguing visual illusions that challenge the laws of physics.
13. Multnomah Falls
Located in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Multnomah Falls is a majestic two-tier waterfall that drops a total of 620 feet, making it the tallest waterfall in Oregon.
It’s a popular spot for photography and hiking, with a trail leading to Benson Bridge and the top of the falls for panoramic views of the gorge.
14. Voodoo Doughnut
This unique doughnut shop in Portland is known for its offbeat, creative doughnut varieties, such as the Bacon Maple Bar and the Portland Cream. Voodoo Doughnut has become a popular tourist destination and a cultural staple of Portland. Just be sure to temper your expectations and be ready to wait in an hour long line.
15. Haystack Rock
An iconic landmark on Oregon’s Cannon Beach, Haystack Rock stands 235 feet tall and is one of the largest sea stacks on America’s Pacific coast. It’s also a marine sanctuary, teeming with various bird species and rich tidal pool life.
Oregon is recognized for its commitment to environmental sustainability. From the numerous green spaces in its cities to the statewide commitment to renewable energy, waste reduction, and sustainable agriculture, Oregon often ranks high on lists of the most eco-friendly states.
17. Food Cart Culture
Especially in Portland, food carts have become an integral part of the city’s culinary scene. These carts, grouped in what’s locally known as “pods,” offer a wide variety of cuisines, and some have even gained national acclaim.
18. Craft Beer
Oregon, and particularly the city of Portland, is renowned for its robust craft beer scene. The state is home to over 200 breweries, making it one of the top beer-producing states in the country.
Known for its high-quality hops and the innovative spirit of its brewers, Oregon’s craft beer scene is diverse, offering everything from crisp pilsners to complex barrel-aged stouts.
Numerous breweries offer tours and tastings, and there are beer festivals throughout the year, like the Oregon Brewers Festival and Portland Craft Beer Festival. Brewpubs and taprooms are common sights across the state, not just in the cities but also in smaller towns, each offering unique, locally brewed selections.
19. Oregon Ducks and Oregon State Beavers
Collegiate sports, especially football, are a major draw in Oregon, with the University of Oregon Ducks and Oregon State University Beavers leading the charge. Both schools are part of the Pac-12 Conference and share a heated rivalry, culminating in the annual Civil War football game.
The Ducks’ Autzen Stadium in Eugene and the Beavers’ Reser Stadium in Corvallis draw large crowds for home games, and both teams have passionate statewide (and nationwide) followings.
20. High Desert Museum
Located near Bend, the High Desert Museum offers a unique blend of nature, history, and culture. Through exhibits and presentations on wildlife, Indigenous culture, history, and art, the museum provides insight into the region’s past and present.
The museum is set on 135 forested acres and includes a significant outdoor component, with trails and live wildlife exhibits that let visitors experience the high desert environment.
21. Bend, Oregon
Bend is a city on the Deschutes River, in the heart of Oregon. Known for its scenic setting, a multitude of outdoor sports and activities, and vibrant downtown area, Bend has something for everyone.
In the winter, visitors can head to Mount Bachelor, a nearby ski resort. In the warmer months, the area’s many trails, rivers, and lakes are perfect for waterfall hikes, camping, biking, fishing, and boating.
The city is also known for its craft beer scene, boasting one of the highest numbers of breweries per capita in the nation.
22. Rose Festival
The Portland Rose Festival, a tradition since 1907, celebrates Portland’s nickname as the “City of Roses.” This annual event includes multiple parades, waterfront carnival rides, dragon boat races, concerts, and fireworks.
The highlight of the festival is the Grand Floral Parade, a major procession that draws hundreds of thousands of onlookers each year. The Rose Festival takes place from late May to early June, with events spread over three weeks.
23. Dungeness Crab
As the state crustacean, the Dungeness crab holds a special place in Oregon. It’s a key part of the state’s seafood industry and a staple of its coastal cuisine. Fishing for Dungeness crab is a popular recreational activity in the area, and the crab is celebrated at multiple festivals and events, such as the annual Charleston Crab Feed.
24. Pioneer Courthouse Square
Located in the heart of downtown Portland, Pioneer Courthouse Square is often referred to as “Portland’s living room.” This urban park hosts over 300 events each year, including concerts, farmers markets, and community gatherings. The square is also a popular spot to relax and people-watch amidst the hustle and bustle of the city.
25. Tech Industry
Known as the “Silicon Forest,” Oregon’s tech industry is a key sector of the state’s economy. The state is home to more than 4,000 tech companies, with major players like Intel, which employs more people in Oregon than any other business. Oregon’s tech industry is growing rapidly, bolstered by a talented workforce, advantageous tax structures, and the draw of Oregon’s high quality of life.
26. Hells Canyon
Located along the border of eastern Oregon and western Idaho, Hells Canyon is North America’s deepest river gorge, deeper even than the Grand Canyon. It’s a popular location for outdoor activities such as whitewater rafting, hiking, and fishing. The canyon offers breathtaking views and is home to a wide range of wildlife.
27. The Painted Hills
Part of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, the Painted Hills are one of the great natural wonders of the PNW. The hills get their name from the colorful layers of its clay-rich soil, which appear to be ‘painted’ hues of red, gold, black, and orange. The colors change with the light and moisture levels, making each visit unique.
28. Douglas Fir Trees
The Douglas Fir is Oregon’s state tree and is emblematic of the state’s rich forests. These evergreen conifers are one of the tallest trees in the world and are a critical part of the state’s timber industry. They’re also an important habitat for local wildlife and a beautiful sight in Oregon’s many parks and wilderness areas.
29. Ghost Towns
Oregon is home to more ghost towns than any other state in the U.S. These abandoned settlements, mostly remnants of the gold rush and pioneering era, provide a fascinating look into the state’s history. Some, like Shaniko, are well-preserved and popular tourist destinations.
30. Sustainable Agriculture
Oregon is known for its commitment to sustainable agriculture. From its many organic farms to its innovative agricultural practices, the state is a leader in producing high-quality, sustainable food products. This commitment is reflected in Oregon’s thriving farm-to-table restaurant scene, its numerous farmers’ markets, and its strong community of artisan food producers.
As you’ve no doubt gathered by now, Oregon is far more than a typical Pacific Northwest state known for trees, rain, and coffee. It’s a diverse tapestry of stunning natural landscapes, rich historical narratives, and unique cultural experiences. Its attractions range from vibrant cities and scenic trails to robust culinary and arts scenes.
So, when the name Oregon comes up, remember to go beyond the common stereotypes – it’s a state that deserves recognition for its breadth of offerings and unique charm.