Woman biking on the Promenade in Seaside, Oregon.

8 Coolest Towns in Oregon for a Summer Vacation in 2024

Summer is all about the great outdoors, and in Oregon, extraordinary beauty defines the natural landscape of its small towns. From the gorgeous coastlines of the Pacific Ocean to the many sea stacks that complement the waters, a summer here will be truly spectacular. Beyond the coast of the Pacific, several towns in this state are decorated with mountains, lakes, waterfalls, rivers, streams, and verdant forests. These natural endowments combine to create a summer itinerary full of things to do, see, eat, and learn. Pack your bags and get ready to be stunned by the Haystack in Cannon Beach, the waterfall in Hood River, and several other attractions in these coolest towns of Oregon this summer.


Sisters, Oregon, USA: A pioneer town settled in 1880, popular tourist destination, and gateway to Mt. Bachelor recreation areas.
Sisters, Oregon, USA: A pioneer town settled in 1880. Editorial credit: Daniel Shumny / Shutterstock.com

Sisters is a charming town named after the Three Sisters Mountains, making it a prime tourist destination for outdoor buffs and hikers in summer. Aside from the three mountains, other prime outdoor attractions for hikers around Sisters include the Deschutes National Forests, the Willamette National Forest, and the Cascade Mountains.

Top trails in these areas include the Suttle Lake Shoreline Trail, Mackenzie River Trail, and Misery Ridge Loop Trail in Smith Rock State Park, which features a desert landscape. Away from the outdoor adventures, visitors to Sisters have other things to enjoy like great dining at Sisters Meat and Smokehouse and exciting art exploration at the Hood Avenue Art District.


Canoeing on the Necanicum River in Seaside, Oregon.
Canoeing on the Necanicum River in Seaside, Oregon.

Seaside is a town of spellbinding landscapes and gorgeous scenery, making a summer vacation here thrilling and memorable. This scenic town lies on the coast of the Pacific Ocean, with the gigantic Tillamook Head on its southern end. The beach is the town's highlight attraction, where thousands of visitors come every year to admire the sunset, harvest razor clams, and surf the waves in summer. Visitors can also walk on the 1.5-mile Promenade along the beach for many eye-catching sights and more fun.

Seaside also features many family-friendly attractions, such as Seaside Carousel Mall, Captain Kid Amusement Park, and Fun Land Arcade. For some history, visit the Lewis and Clark Saltworks, where a group of men desperately boiled seawater to make salt when it became scarce.


Astoria, Oregon: The Liberty Theater and downtown area.
Astoria, Oregon: The Liberty Theater and downtown area. Editorial credit: Bob Pool / Shutterstock.com

A summer vacation in Oregon's oldest town always promises to be unforgettable. This town is positioned on the south shore of the Columbia River, where it joins the Atlantic Ocean. Once here, visitors can savor fine views of the Astoria-Megler Bridge, which crosses over the Columbia River. Next, visit the Columbia Column, a magnificent 125-foot tower in Coxcomb Hill, 600 feet above sea level, overlooking the river.

Visitors can ascend this tower to an observation point at its top for panoramic views of the town, river, and beyond. For something unique, ride the historic Astoria Riverfront Trolley that courses through the town’s historic district and bridge and features intriguing stops. For some history, visit the Columbia River Maritime Museum featuring maritime artifacts, antique boats, and a Barbey Maritime Center.

The Dalles

The Dalles, Columbia River Gorge, Oregon.
The Dalles, Columbia River Gorge, Oregon.

The Dalles is a lovely town along the Columbia River where visitors will experience summer with a unique blend of history, postcard-perfect views, and thrilling outdoor experiences. To begin with adventures, visitors can hike the riverfront trail, featuring access to the downtown area, numerous benches, and great river views. Proceed inland and check out Pulpit Rock, once used by Methodist missionaries to preach to locals. The petroglyphs in nearby Columbia Hills State Park, Washington, are also worth a visit, although it is strictly by reservation.

For history, visitors are invited to the Columbia River Gorge Discovery Center, featuring interactive exhibits on everything about the Columbia River Gorge and Wasco County. For even more history, visit Fort Dalles Museum (one of the state's oldest history museums) to see military and pioneer artifacts.


Bandon, Oregon: Main downtown street.
Bandon, Oregon: Main downtown street. Editorial credit: Bob Pool / Shutterstock.com

Bandon is a charming town in Coos County, situated on the mouth of the Coquille River, where it boasts many natural attractions for summer visitors who love picturesque scenery and adventures. First, visitors here must check out Bandon Beach, featuring dramatic sea stacks, tidepools, and soft sands. This town is home to the Bullards Beach State Park, featuring a scenic beach and a jetty for views of the Coquille River Lighthouse.

The town also features the Face Rock State Scenic View Point, which offers views of a giant rock shaped like a human face. A Native American legend claims that a woman's voice can be heard in the wind while standing on the viewpoint, making it even more enjoyable. Next, head to Coquille Point to see spectacular views of the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge, an important sanctuary for thirteen species of nesting seabirds and several mammals. For history buffs, the Bandon Historical Society Museum and Old Town Bandon are great spots to soak in the area's history.


Riverwalk along the Siuslaw River in Florence, Oregon.
Riverwalk along the Siuslaw River in Florence, Oregon.

Florence is a pretty coastal town along the mouth of the Siuslaw River on the Pacific Ocean, surrounded by many prime outdoor attractions. Once here, summer vacation memories can start at Old Town Florence, featuring historic buildings, local shops, seafood restaurants, and gorgeous views of the river. Next, visit the Sea Lion Caves north of the town to spot sea lions and seabirds (if lucky in summer) and mesmerizing views of waves crashing on caves.

Hikers are not left out as the town features the half-mile Hobbit Trail that leads to Hobbit Beach - one of the best beaches in Oregon. For more beach fun, head to Heceta Beach to stroll and relax on the sands. Afterward, visit Heceta Head Lighthouse, 13 miles north of the town, to enjoy dreamy ocean views and experience the life of a lightkeeper at the Heceta Lighthouse Inn.

Cannon Beach

Landscape of Cannon Beach, Oregon, USA, with blue sky and rocks on the shore on a sunny summer day along the Oregon Coast. Travel photo with copyspace for text.
Landscape of Cannon Beach, Oregon, US.

Cannon Beach is a famous summer resort town in Oregon, famed for the magnificent Haystack Rock, a giant sea stack on the Pacific Coast. The town's beach is a popular spot to admire this 235-foot stack which can be reached at low tides, while other activities on the beach include watching the sunset, picnicking, bird watching, promenading, and sunbathing. Meanwhile, two towering rocks also stand near the Haystack Rock making the view more dreamy.

Cannon Beach is also close to Ecola State Park, where visitors can enjoy picnics, hiking, and stunning views of Tillamook Rock Lighthouse, which remains inaccessible to the public. If there’s still time, visit the nearby Arcadia Beach State Recreational Area (to see more rock formations and tide pools) or Hug Point (to discover sea caves, a beach, and a small waterfall).

Hood River

Hood River, Oregon: Sailboats and other watercraft in the Hood River Marina.
Hood River, Oregon: Sailboats and other watercraft in the Hood River Marina. Editorial credit: Bob Pool / Shutterstock.com

Hood River is a vibrant Port town on the Columbia River, named after the neighboring Hood River. In summer, the town's landscape, characterized by the towering Cascade Mountains and the Columbia River Gorge, becomes a prime playground for outdoor buffs. Visitors can begin by driving along the Columbia River Highway Scenic Byway to behold breathtaking sights of cragged cliffs, stunning waterfalls, and historic bridges.

For thrilling adventures, head to the Hood River Waterfront Park to enjoy some of the best windsurfing and kiteboarding adventures in America. Hood River is also home to Mount Hood, where opportunities for hiking, biking, and camping are abundant. For some relaxation and scenery, ride on the Mount Hood Railroad, which features views of lush forests, vineyards, and the snow-capped mountain.

Experience the Magic of Oregon's Charming Small Towns

In summer, the charming small towns of Oregon burst to life, revealing nature's dazzling beauty and setting the stage for various adventures or recreation. Dash into these towns for an unforgettable summer retreat, basking under the sun on beaches, fishing in majestic rivers, or reclining at the backdrop of history in museums. Come with the family and unwind at amusement parks or with a partner and play on the sands admiring the ocean. Regardless of how one decides to spend a summer vacation here, these towns offer the canvas to create mind-blowing summer experiences.

  1. Home
  2. Places
  3. Cities
  4. 8 Coolest Towns in Oregon for a Summer Vacation in 2024

More in Places