What is Oregon Known For? All the Things to Know, See, and Do, in the U.S’ 33rd State.
If you’ve ever been to Oregon or know anything about it, you may have heard it referred to as “The Beaver State”. This is because, back before it was even a state, settlers had mainly known the territory for the abundance of beavers that they were able to trap and strip of their fur. Oh how time has passed since then.
Don’t get me wrong— beavers are cool, but now that we’re out of the colonial era, there’s plenty of other reasons to visit the great state of Oregon. Its terrain is perfect for the outdoorsy types and has quite a few notable landmarks, as well as quite a bit of history to glean from the state’s old soul.
Here are just a handful of things that the state is known for that you might be interested in seeing should you take the time to stop by.
If you’re just looking for a place to sit down and have a nice drink, Oregon’s got you covered. Breweries are one of the state’s specialties and have become one of the biggest boosts to their economy. Portland itself has over 70 different breweries, and you might recognize a few yourself if you’re a connoisseur of craft drinks. Deschutes Brewery, Rogues Ale Brewery, and Ninkasi Brewing Co are all labeled as a part of the top 50 craft brewing companies in the United States according to Craft Brewing Business.
So, if you’re the type searching for a cozy little spot for a nice drink with your friends, or perhaps just a great string of bars to go hopping for a fun night, you’ll find no shortage of places in the Beaver State.
Can’t have a few good drinks without good food, and Oregon knows this and has taken plenty of notes. It’s known for quite a few cash crops, including blueberries, huckleberries, marionberries, and hazelnuts. In fact, the state is actually a producer of 99% of the United States’ hazelnut crops. This, along with being the base of Tillamook Creamery, allows for a sweet and homely taste of what Oregon has to offer. You may recognize some brands such as Salt & Straw Ice Cream, Voodoo Donuts, and the aforementioned Tillamook Creamery, which is something of its own treat.
Tillamook Cheese Factory
Do you like cheese? No, I mean, do you really like cheese? How about butter? Milk? Ice cream? More cheese?
If you said ‘yes’ to any or all of those, you’re going to want to stop by Tillamook, a name you’ve no doubt heard of because it appears on the front of many cheese products at your local grocery stores and supermarkets. Their home base is in the titular city, a mega factory that is more than happy to give tours and allow you and your family to watch the cheese-making process and try some ice cream, jerky, and yes, cheese. Take a look at their menu, as they allow you to sit down with the family and share a meal. One of their best-selling sandwiches is, surprise surprise, their grilled cheese.
Hopefully you’re not lactose intolerant.
This goes out to all the sneakerheads, shoe enthusiasts, and people who like comfortable feet. The shoe supergiant is such a big name that many Orgonians associate it with Oregon itself. You would be hard pressed to find someone not already rocking a pair or at least have a couple pairs stashed away in the closet.
While the headquarters are in Beaverton, just outside of Portland, you’re going to find plenty of outlets advertising the shoe so you can browse until your shoe soles wear away. They also heavily associate with brand of major college athletic teams in the area, The Ducks.
University of Oregon
Eugene, Oregon, home of The Ducks. If you’re looking for a longer stay, or just want to catch a few games, Eugene is your place to be. It has a fairly large student base that is quite dedicated to research, though that might just be overshadowed by the athletic fanbase. While the other athletic sports shouldn’t be snubbed by any means, UO’s football team is their crown jewel, and each game in Autzen Stadium promises a very fun time.
Perhaps you could enjoy a few games at a bar while having a drink from one of Oregon’s many craft breweries.
No Sales Tax
That’s right, no sales tax. Oregon is one of five states without it. Of course, they have to make money somehow, and so an increase in income tax and property tax cover for it. However, if you don’t live in Oregon and are simply visiting, that still means no sales tax for you.
While not huge, if you’re thinking about stopping by and still want to save a tad bit of money while doing so, I offer you that suggestion.
Also, as a side note, you also don’t have to pump your own gas.
Oregon is widely known for its natural landmarks, with one of the biggest being Crater Lake. It got its name due to its distinct crater formation, with part of its surrounding terrain forming a perfectly smooth and circular bowl that the lake now sits in. The landmark spawned from a volcano collapsing thousands of years ago, forming a deep indentation in the earth that now holds the deepest lake in the United States. Geographers might just be asking me just how it gets its water if it spawned from a volcano. The secret to the beautiful blue waters that fill the chasm is that it’s all sourced from rain and snow.
Neat how nature works, isn’t it?
If you come from a pretty rocky area, you might be familiar with a mountain range in your background, but how about just one, large, looming mountain?
Just driving into Portland, you’d have to be blind to miss the massive white-capped monument at its feet. Or, rather, Portland is at the mountain’s feet, as that is one large rock. It peeks at roughly 11,240 ft, is a good 12.4 miles in diameter, and is a fantastic spot for tours, skiing, and sightseeing. A majority of Portland’s Christmas trees come from the forests surrounding the mountain, too.
Seeing Hood peek over a forest of green trees like some 500,000 year old protector does make one feel small at times, but it’s a sight worth seeing. If you’re wondering how a mountain can grow to be so big and stand alone, that’s because Mount Hood is actually a (potentially active) stratovolcano, which explains its size. If you’re willing to bundle up and put on some snow shoes, perhaps you could have a turn standing at its peak and taking in the beautiful sights the mountain watches over every day.
The Grand Canyon may be considered the biggest gorge in the US, but Hells Canyon is without a doubt the deepest. Can you expect anything less from the same state that holds the deepest lake? You can call Oregon many things, but it isn’t shallow, that’s for sure.
The cut into the earth comes around 7,900 ft deep, following the Snake River. The canyon stretches ten miles, but it can’t all be claimed by Oregon. Technically, it counts as an attraction in Idaho, where it also runs through, so try not to row yourself all the way over to the next state. It’s excellent for hiking, rock climbing, or kayaking; it’s also exceptionally beautiful, both from the lowest point and the highest. Be sure to take a pair of binoculars with you because you’ll be able to see far and wide once you’re standing in or above the canyon
The World’s Smallest Park
Okay, stay with me here— don’t click off. We’re about to go from the grandiose to the mildly interesting and fairly quirky, because Portland, Oregon is home to Mill Ends Park, the smallest recognized park in the entire world. The park is a favorite of Oregon residents’ to take pictures with, as it’s a mere 2-foot circle that holds a singular tree and maybe some succulents or bushes depending on the time of year. You’ll even see a couple Christmas ornaments or a couple lights. It’s always ready for the holidays, because unsurprisingly, it’s not that hard to maintain.
In case you’re wondering, it is a legitimate park that is in the Guiness Book of World Records as the smallest of its kind and is maintained by the Oregonian government.
Ever been to a ghost town before? Well if you’d like to visit a few, Oregon has 80 to choose from, each one abandoned at some point in history and for some reason.
I wish I could delve more into these, as ghost towns are always a goldmine of historical insight, but again, there are 80 of them. Each one has their own individual past and the settlers all left for one reason or another. You can only really learn by exploring for yourself. While you’re at it, you might be in for a mystery or two. Some of these towns have some unsolved questions regarding why the were abandoned the way they were, so if you’re looking for something to really get those thoughts turning, there’s no better place to start than the ghost towns.
Because these small settlements have been abandoned, the case is usually that the wildlife has been allowed to reinstate itself. Your eyes will thank you for the sights you’ll find along the way.
If you want to talk about breath-taking, look no further than Oregon Coast. For those of you about to pack your swimsuits, the water is too cold for swimming. That doesn’t mean you can’t sit nearby in the grass, watching the sun set or rise as the cool sea breeze washes over you. The Oregon Coast often has hotels and restaurants where you can sit by and take in the majesty of everything. Or, if you want to get a little closer, you’ll find plenty of curiosities in tide pools. Since the beaches aren’t in use all that often, you’re sure to find plenty of starfish, crabs, and many, many seashells by this sea shore.
I always suggest hiking somewhere overlooking the ocean, as I think those up-high views can really change your perspective on many things and stay in your mind for a lifetime.
A great game, and an even better attraction, the Oregon Trail is a name you’ve undoubtedly heard before. The 2,170 mile-long trail travels from Missouri to Oregon. It’s a historic road where you can find museums that detail what life was like for settlers that traveled that very same path. It allows one to harvest a wealth of knowledge, and you’re allowed to hike its path, take a horse, or even grab a covered wagon if you want that true settler experience. Given its size, though, you’d be forgiven if you didn’t want to travel the entire trail.
If you’re looking to experience life from the point of view of an early settler, the Oregon Trail is a great way to do so. Just try to keep your family from passing from dysentery, and everything should be good to go.
Oregon’s Wine Vineyards
If you’re more of the wine type of person over a glass of craft beer, Oregon has you on that front as well. As it turns out, alcohol is kind of their thing. They would know this because they have over 750 vineyards in the state. You can find them all over the state, though most are near the major cities, with a few vineyards being reserved just the Oregon coast, or when you want a glass of wine while you watch the sun dip below the sea.
Like many wineries, these vineyards allow you to come in, try some new foods, some great wine, and you may even be around for an event or wine tasting they’re holding. It’s a pretty fun time all around.
This may be a niche little hobby for some, but it’s something to seriously consider if you’re quite knowledgeable on mushrooms and their culinary uses. Oregon has mushrooms, and it has a ton of them. Honey fungus are no doubt the most abundant, but let us not forget those amazing morels that sprout up from late March to mid-May. Just a pound of them can rack up a price tag of $75 or so, so it’s no wonder why people will lunge at the opportunity to grab several for themselves for no price at all other than a couple of dirty hands.
If you want to find some people who love mushrooms just like you, or if you even just learn about the many types of fungus, you’re going to want to check out the Estacada Festival of the Fungus. It’s held every November with the opportunity to learn more about identification, go foraging for some edible fungus, and be able to taste the spoils.
If you’re the type who is looking for more of a thrill, Oregon is once again your place to be. Specifically, central Oregon. That’s where you’ll be able to participate in a litany of activities, many revolving around Mount Hood.
Want to camp? The forests around Mount Hood are perfect for pitching a tent, hunkering down, and watching the stars. Just make sure you bring plenty of blankets, because it gets cold.
Are you looking for rock climbing? Oregon is overflowing with mountainous terrain, all of which allows you to gain higher ground and to see more beautiful sights. You can find places like these everywhere, though my biggest suggestion would be scaling up the walls of Hells Canyon. Quite a few rock climbers like to go for that, especially since it’s a rather smooth trip down afterwards.
Parasailing is another sport that has taken Oregon by storm quite a bit. The lakes are big and inviting to all who would like to test their skills with some friends, a boat, and a sail. Along with that comes wakeboarding, which is quite popular on Oregon’s coast. There’s no shortage of water sports you can get yourself into.
Snow sports are the biggest attraction, however. Mount Hood is a haven for those looking to partake in anything you can think of involving snow. The skibowl at HooDoo is a great place if you’re looking to put on a couple skiis and go for it, but if you’re looking to do something close with friends, innertube sledding might just be your go to. Or you can do neither and have a nice hike through the snow. Maybe build a snowman if it suits your fancy. No matter what, just remember to stay safe!