12 Top-Rated Weekend Getaways in Oregon

Written by Brad Lane

Oregon is stacked with amazing weekend getaways, from romantic retreats to family destinations and outdoor adventures. Choose from ancient calderas with a view to some of the best sport climbing in the country and other awesome places to visit in Oregon, like seaside scenic corridors, glacier-fed mountain meadows, and influential cities that help define the culture of the Pacific Northwest.

While a weekend works, some of these places, like Cannon Beach and the Columbia River Gorge deserve much more time. Other attractions like the McKenzie River offer multiple outlets of excitement, including hot springs and hiking trails. Plan your next adventure with our list of the best weekend getaways in Oregon.

1. Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake National Park | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Oregon's only national park, Crater Lake is one of the most unique and beautiful natural attractions in the state. Nearly six miles in diameter, this ancient caldera is the remnants and result of the Mount Mazama eruption over 7,000 years ago. Fed only by rainwater and snowmelt, the water of Crater Lake is a stunning deep blue and is one of the most pristine lakes in the world. The view from the Crater Lake rim is breathtakingly beautiful, and the Discovery Point trail here earns the status as one of the best hiking trails in Oregon with constant caldera views. Other ways to access the wonders of Crater Lake include a driving tour of Rim Drive, where plenty of parking areas provide views of the caldera. A trolley tour on Rim Drive is available throughout the summer.

By hiking to Cleetwood Cove within the caldera, visitors can also swim in the icy-cold waters of Crater Lake or catch a ferry to Wizard Island. The night sky is remarkable at Crater Lake, revealing the Milky Way and other celestial wonders. Campgrounds are available at the park, but many people make Klamath Falls their base for exploring the area.

Getting to Crater Lake National Park from Portland takes about four or five hours by car, depending on the route. You can also catch a bus or take the train from Portland to Klamath Falls and then hop on a shuttle up to Crater Lake.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Klamath Falls.

2. Cannon Beach

Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach

Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Nothing beats a weekend at the beach, and no view quite compares to the one found at Cannon Beach. On the northern Oregon coast, this is one of the best weekend getaways from Portland. Just a 90-minute drive from Portland, Cannon Beach has been attracting families and tourists for nearly 100 years. Looking out to the impressive Haystack Rock, the beach at Cannon Beach is wide, inviting, and filled with scenic appeal.

The downtown district of Cannon Beach caters to family vacations with arcade parlors, ice-cream purveyors, and a large collection of affordable restaurants. Common activities on the beach include tide pool viewing, kite flying, and simply laying a towel down to enjoy the sun. Cannon Beach provides many places to spend the night, with hotels like the Stephanie Inn setting a high bar for comfort, class, and ultimate vacation enjoyment.

3. Mount Hood

Mount Hood

Mount Hood

On the Columbia River 60 miles west of Portland, Hood River is an adventurous city filled with good food, a friendly community, and endless recreation spread in every direction. Although it's most noted for windsurfing and kiteboarding world, other top attractions of Hood River include auto-touring the Historic Columbia River Highway Scenic Byway, hopping aboard the Mount Hood Railroad ,and utilizing the wind, water and hiking trails of the surrounding Columbia River Gorge.

Hood River also lends easy access to the nearby Mount Hood and historic areas like the Timberline Lodge. Within the city, Hood River provides cultural entertainment including local restaurants and a historic downtown shopping area. The Best Western Plus Hood River Inn is a well reputed hotel in Hood River thanks to rooms and suites with views of the river, as well as an onsite restaurant and scenic outdoor pool and hot tub area.

4. Portland Editor's Pick

Sunset over Portland

Sunset over Portland

The epicenter of culture in Oregon, Portland has a way of turning a weekend visit into a long-term relocation. Aside from internationally renowned attractions like the Japanese Rose Garden, Powell's City of Books, and the Portland Art Museum, the community of Portland can be eclectic, welcoming, and always bustling with excitement.

Nearby natural attractions rival the many urban things to do in Portland, and the best hiking trails near the city explore awesome areas like Forest Park, Mount Tabor, and Powell Butte. Public transportation in Portland is easy to navigate, making a car-free weekend a recommended approach for any visit.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Portland

5. Bend

Elk Lake near Bend

Elk Lake near Bend

On the eastern edge of the Cascade Range in central Oregon, Bend's high desert location boasts 300 days of sunshine annually and backyard access to the Deschutes and Willamette National Forests, including Mount Bachelor and the Three Sisters Wilderness. The Deschutes River meanders through the city providing floating and fishing opportunities, as well as hydrodynamic interest at the city's Whitewater Park. Other top attractions of Bend include the High Desert Museum and the Old Mill District, where remnants of the city's lumber days add to the current cultural vibe.

Few other places are primed for weekend getaways like Bend. From skiing at Mount Bachelor to rock climbing at Smith Rock State Park, Bend is also within close driving distance to some of Oregon's best waterfalls and top-rated hot springs. Two of the best hiking trails near Bend include the Big Obsidian Flow Trail within the Newberry National Volcanic Monument and the Green Lakes Trail off the Cascade National Scenic Byway.

For added cultural appeal, Bend also provides a thriving downtown district filled with local eateries, coffee shops, and other purveyors of Pacific Northwest flavors. A must-do for any visit, Pilot Butte State Scenic Viewpoint can be accessed by foot or vehicle and provides informational plaques and a great overlook of the city.

6. Columbia River Gorge

Artist appreciating Starvation Creek Waterfall in the Columbia River Gorge

Artist appreciating Starvation Creek Waterfall in the Columbia River Gorge | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

The border between Oregon and Washington, the Columbia River Gorge presents stunning displays of natural attractions one after another and makes for an incredibly romantic weekend getaway. Home to many of the best waterfalls in Oregon, including the iconic 620-foot Multnomah Falls, the park also encompasses elevated hiking trails, historic highways, and is a kiteboarding and windsurfing mecca.

A common way to access the gorge is from Portland and heading east against the Columbia River current. Places like Eagle Creek along the way can take up the entire day, and a full weekend can be spent touring the various trailheads and parking spots that line Interstate 84 and the Historic Columbia River Highway. For awesome views and luxury accommodation, check out the Columbia Cliff Villas Hotel, in Hood River.

7. Astoria

Flavel House Museum in Astoria

Flavel House Museum in Astoria | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

On the far northwest corner of Oregon, Astoria provides a fun Pacific Northwest flavor all its own. Sightseeing steamboats push against the current of the bordering Columbia River, and evidence of the city's logging and fishing history remains in the well-aged architecture seen from the streets. Perhaps perpetuated by the iconic 80s movie, The Goonies, set in Astoria and detailed at the Oregon Film Museum near the downtown district, the entire city exudes a feeling of childhood adventure and secret treasures.

On the western side of the city, the 3,700-acre Fort Stevens State Park lends access to actual shipwrecks and the ocean, as well as the largest campground on the coast. Plenty of weekend events occur in Astoria throughout the summer, though this charming small town warrants a visit any time of the year. A notable hotel in downtown Astoria, the Cannery Pier Hotel provides a great vantage point over the water and easy access to the cultural district.

8. Eugene

City of Eugene

City of Eugene

Home to the University of Oregon and the Oregon Ducks, Eugene is a collegiate city packed with many cultural things to do. Outside of academic offerings, a few other reasons to spend the weekend in Eugene include an abundance of city parks, gardens, and arboretums, as well as a Saturday market, which brings the community together throughout the warm-weather season.

Some of Oregon's most iconic national forests border Eugene, like the Siuslaw National Forest abutting the ocean to the west and the Willamette and Deschutes National Forests that help define the Willamette Valley to the east. For a hotel close to campus and other top attractions of the city, the Inn at the 5th provides upscale accommodations and on-site dining.

9. Central Oregon Coast

Highway 101 on the central Oregon coast

Highway 101 on the central Oregon coast | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Also known as the heart of the Oregon coast, the section of Oregon's coastline stretching from Depoe Bay to Florence is filled with fantastic views, fun cities, and more than one weekend's worth of things to do. Comprised of a steep sea cliff, the western border of Depoe Bay is a great place to spot the resident pod of grey whales that makes this charming town the official whale-watching capital of the Oregon coast.

Farther south, the city of Newport provides quick access to scenic attractions like the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area. A rugged coastline is on display in Yachats, and an expansive landscape of waves and rock really stand out from the top of Cape Perpetua Scenic Area nearby. From Florence, the Heceta Head Lighthouse is worthy of a hike and is bookended by one of the best beaches on the Oregon coast, the fantastical Hobbit Beach.

For a place to stay in Depoe Bay, the Whale Cove Inn offers all-day whale watching from a sprawling, private back porch. In Newport, the Hallmark Resort lends access to both the beach and nearby city attractions. To explore Heceta Head and the surrounding area, the Ocean Breeze Motel in Florence features great rates, a newly refurbished interior, and fast access to the ocean.

10. McKenzie River

The McKenzie River

The McKenzie River

Surrounded by scenic attractions, the McKenzie River of central Oregon offers all sorts of recreation to enjoy. Home to wild blue pools, enormous waterfalls, and some of the best hot springs in Oregon, the McKenzie River also parallels the 26.4-mile McKenzie River National Recreation Trail. Other fun adventure activities include getting on the water, and on nearly any warm day of the year you can expect to find rafts, kayaks, and the occasional tube making its way down the river.

With many ways to access the natural wonders of this stunning waterway, one of the best weekend trips involves multiple nights at the aptly named Paradise Campground, operated by the National Forest Service. For a roof over your head and easy access to a shower, the nearby cities of Bend and Salem are the largest cities with the easiest access. One of the premier hotels in Bend, the Riverhouse on the Deschutes provides a vacation experience in itself.

11. Salem

Gilded Oregon Pioneer atop the State Capitol in Salem

Gilded Oregon Pioneer atop the State Capitol in Salem | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

The State Capitol building is a great first stop when visiting Salem, including the manicured State Capitol State Park complete with statues, memorials, and interpretive information. The gilded Oregon Pioneer atop the State Capitol overlooks the many other fun things to do in this thriving city of over 160,000 residents, including the inviting landscape of Riverside State Park.

Other top-rated attractions in Salem include the Hallie Ford Museum of Art; the Gilbert House Children's Museum; and the Enchanted Forest, a fairytale-infused theme park on the south side of the city.

For the ultimate weekend getaway, The Grand Hotel in Salem is connected to the Convention Center, with luxurious rooms and suites available, as well as a decadent in-house restaurant that can add to any romantic weekend getaway.

12. Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor

Secret Beach in Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor

Secret Beach in Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Perhaps the most scenic and certainly the most rugged part of the Oregon coastline, the southern portion is postcard worthy. Sea stacks of all shapes and sizes, secret beaches only accessible at low tide, and up-and-down hiking trails that will test your legs offer plenty of adventure. The best frame for the southern Oregon coast can be found within the Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor, a 12-mile linear state park connecting the coast to Highway 101. Options and parking areas abound for quick and prolonged stops exploring this top attraction of the Oregon coast, and the Oregon Coast Trail connects every scenic mile along the way.

A few of the many roadside stops and viewpoints to check out in the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor include Arch Rock, Natural Bridge, and the crescent beach presented at the Lone Ranch Picnic Area. Whales are often spotted from places like Cape Ferrelo during the spring and summer, and seabirds and other wildlife are common sights throughout the year. One of the best campgrounds on the Oregon coast, Harris Beach State Park lends immediate access to Samuel H. Boardman from the south, and the Best Western Beachfront Inn in Brookings provides oceanside rooms less than five miles from the scenic corridor.

More Related Articles on PlanetWare.com

More Adventure in Oregon: Apart from awesome weekend trips, the best hiking trails in Oregon. If it's waterfalls you seek, Oregon has a plethora to see, as well as numerous hot springs. If your departure point is Portland, see our article outlining the top-rated day trips and weekend getaways from Portland.

Exploring More of Oregon: The top-rated hiking trails near Bend deserve your attention, as do the best campgrounds near Hood River. If you are planning on a coastal vacation in Oregon, our Top-Rated Tourist Attractions on the Oregon Coast article is a recommended read, as well as articles detailing the best beaches, top-rated campgrounds, and best beach resorts on the coast.

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