Nestled on the west coast of the United States, below the state of Washington and just above California and Nevada, Oregon isn’t usually listed in the tourist guides of Uncle Sam’s country. We prefer San Francisco, Los Angeles, Route 66 or Las Vegas. In fact, when we decided to stay there on our first trip to the USA in 2012, we were asked what we were going to do there. Luckily, we ignored the bad tongues… and, it’s been said, traveling in Oregon is just great! We’ll give you 10 good reasons to go.
1. To rave about a breathtaking natural environment
If you like great scenery, you will be served on your trip to Oregon! From Cannon Beach with its impressive stone columns rising from the waves to the snow-capped peak of Mount Hood (3,249 meters above sea level) to the incredible Crater Lake, which will make you feel like you’re exploring another world or dizzying waterfalls that will make your head spin… traveling in Oregon will make you see all the colors.
2. Rediscovering America far from the clichés
They call you United States, you think junk food and fatties? Travelling to Oregon might change your mind! The State is famous for its gastronomy (yes, I dare the term!), its micro-breweries and its wine. On the menu: seafood and fish on the coast, burgers with sweet potato fries, fusion dishes inspired by Mexican cuisine, the best donuts in the world… And if you’re a vegetarian or follow a specific diet, you’ll be in paradise because there’s no shortage of options!
3. Feeling welcomed with open arms
You will feel welcomed with open arms! If there is one thing that struck us during our trip to Oregon, it was the welcome of the locals (by the way, we stayed at a friend’s house and… at his friends’ who, without even knowing us, opened the doors of their house to us or even entrusted us with their second residence!) The small town of Eugene, located south of Portland, is known for its cool baba and hippie side. In Portland, the great chefs of restaurants proudly display their tattoos… One feels a real open-mindedness and a sincerely sympathetic look from the locals. Anyway, it feels good!
4. Following in the footsteps of the great explorers
Between 1804 and 1806, Lewis and Clark led the first American expedition across the United States on foot to the Pacific coast. A great adventure commanded by Thomas Jefferson, the 3rd American president… A few years later, Oregon was the scene of the conquest of the West and the gold rush… If it is true that for a European traveller, the historical heritage of the USA seems quite meagre, it is nevertheless pleasant to walk in the footsteps of these explorers of not so long ago and to imagine their adventures.
5. Avoid crowds
During our trip to Oregon, we met almost no non-American tourists (except in Portland) and it was nice to blend in without feeling like we were constantly being solicited by tourist bait. Hearing that we came from Belgium, people were completely amazed and we even received a few gifts or generous attentions just for that 🙂.
6. Wanting to set up shop illegally in Portland
Because Portland is just unique and has some of the best street food in the world. Because it’s a cultural city where it’s impossible to get bored, because it’s nice to stroll around the Saturday Market, a huge open-air market where artists and craftsmen come to present their creations. You can find everything from vegan and organic dog biscuits to magnificent ceramic works.
7. Feeling inspired by eco-responsible approaches
When I told you we’re a long way from clichéd America… In Portland, a lot of the restaurants grow their produce on rooftops. We eat local, organic and in season. We travel a lot by bike or skateboard (recognized as an official mode of transport!). In the natural sites, you are made aware of a responsible and respectful attitude… We sort the waste, we encourage the use of bicycles…
8. Take a tour of microbreweries
As Belgians on a trip to the United States, we have to admit that discovering local beers was not at the top of our expectations for this trip. And yet… The microbrewery phenomenon has boomed in Oregon and almost every restaurant has its own beer. The choice is endless and the quality is there! We even tested Belgian style beers that could have instantly cured any trace of homesickness.
9. Not having to choose between the mountains and the sea
…or even the desert. Oregon’s got it all! The ocean where to surf, ski slopes, wide open spaces for hiking and even western cities (the city of Sisters has awakened cowboy instincts in us!).
10. Driving on scenic roads, the dream for road trip lovers
Oregon is the state with the largest number of scenic byways in the United States, signposted roads through beautiful scenery. If you are renting a car (which is probably the best option if you have the possibility), take the opportunity to take these roads and enjoy the view! One of the most popular is along the entire Pacific coast, another one will take you to discover the “mirror lakes”, lakes in which the sky is perfectly reflected (unfortunately it was raining when we went there) or along the Columbia River…