The Pacific Northwest region provides many opportunities for tourism and enjoyment, no matter what type of activity or destination awaits travelers. Of all the states worth visiting in this region for a welcoming atmosphere, nothing comes close to Oregon. Whether participating in public walking tours in Cannon Beach or sipping coffee at Blue Banana Coffee House in Lostine, you are sure to meet friendly locals and fellow adventurers. For travelers seeking to take in the sights of natural beauty and wonderful communities all around the state, here are nine of the most welcoming small towns to help achieve that goal.
A small coastal town in northwestern Oregon with 1,598 residents, Cannon Beach is a pivotal destination for art lovers and has very friendly neighborhoods. It maintains the importance of being a geographic beauty for travelers who want to see the state's rugged forests, ocean beaches, rivers, and Oregon Coast Mountain range. Peaceful excursions to Les Shirley Park and NeCus Park are guaranteed to bring smiles as locals will usually wave at newcomers trekking by.
The charming side of the coastal village comes to life through Haystack Rock and its nesting puffins, where visitors and settlers alike can be seen discussing the avian wonders of the world. Public walking tours at Icefire Glassworks and Cannon Beach History Center spur a lot of tourist attention as well, enhancing the welcoming experience for anyone curious about glassblowing and local history.
For a quaint small town with 1,238 residents, Joseph creates an alluring environment for all locals and visitors. While taking part in activities across the Wallowa Mountains, one may find the grace of Wallowa Lake, where tourists are often seen taking lovely photos and videography of panoramic views of the mountain backdrop. Eagle Cap Wilderness is another locale where one may encounter welcoming vibes from residents, as they will always share information with travelers about what to expect when hiking during the summer.
For artistic minds, Joseph juggles both vibrance and creativity, as seen through the Oregon Artwalk and Main Street locales. To avoid large crowds and public gatherings, you can rest in a hot sauna while taking in gourmet meals and happy conversations at Wallowa Alpine Huts.
With a population of 21,988 residents, this small town is the best destination for hospitality in the state. Ashland instills a family-friendly atmosphere at the Centennial Ice Rink, a frequented winter locale near the mountains and serves all backcountry needs for snowboarding and skiing. The Irvine & Roberts Weisinger Family Winery and Long Walk Vineyard are popular tourist attractions that create the perfect wine-tasting experience while being greeted by the locals.
Thriving artistic communities are easy to find at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, with many performers showcasing world-class talent downtown. For tourists who want to see academia up close, a trip to Southern Oregon University may help with that, as guests will often be seen navigating the school campus and having lunch with students and faculty.
A connection point between the central Oregon coastline and the Siuslaw River, Florence is home to 9,553 residents who understand true natural splendor. Its beauty and exotic locales make it worth visiting and perhaps even relocating to, with Historic Old Town Florence being a focal point for travelers due to its Siuslaw tribal history and riverfront exploration trails along a scenic boardwalk. The Heceta Head Lighthouse, just 12 miles north of the town, is a sight best captured on cameras due to its bright lights and sophisticated 1890s architecture.
This town is also home to the Sea Lion Caves, the country's largest sea cave system with its guided tours and rocky interiors full of stellar sea lions. Anyone looking to participate in live entertainment may even enjoy Three Rivers Casino Resort, seen as the Northwest's friendliest and most advanced gaming locale, where guests and residents participate in blackjack and live poker while sharing hearty laughs over drinks at the bar.
Gearhart is a lovely oceanside town with 1,945 inhabitants and is a getaway destination for travelers wanting to stay in quiet and calming areas. The Gearhart Golf Links, one of the oldest golf courses in the region, is an amazing locale to be around for grassy sports expeditions right near open waters. Meanwhile, friendly chatter can be expected at Fort Stevens and Fat Bike Route along Del Rey Beach State Recreation Site, mixing tours of coastal military history with happy cyclists and kite flying.
Pristine locales, like McMenamins Gearhart Hotel and Dawning's Art, are the most welcoming parts of the town, with comfortable and laidback community treats like barbecue meet-and-greets and handmade home decor. For anyone desiring a complimentary welcome cocktail, the Pot Bunker Bar delivers the best drinks in the town while one can observe antique golf clubs around the cozy lair. Family-friendly enjoyment and accommodations are also available at the Drifthaven, a centerpiece of the town that caters to cute picnics and lawn games for guests of all ages.
With a population of 35,159 residents, McMinnville rests at the junction between the North and South sides of the Yamhill River as a native Kalapuya land. Tourists in this town may encounter friendly locals and heartwarming conversations at 1882 Grille, a commonly visited restaurant, thanks to its spectacular rooftop views. For a more personally gratifying excursion related to wine-tasting, travelers can check out Bailey Family Wines, while boutique fashion lovers may revel in clothing at Cupcake Couture and Incahoots, both of which provide welcoming atmospheres.
If one desires nature, the Belle Pente hillside is a great choice with its misty shrouds overlooking the Oregon Coast Range. Art admirers can see the coolest artworks over at the Narthex Gallery and the Erin Hanson Gallery, two locales where expressionism comes to life in unique ways. For historical and scientific influence not seen anywhere else, the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum creates an unparalleled educational thrill.
A small rural town with an abundance of natural beauty and enchanting charm, Oakland is an impressive getaway destination. Despite having only 952 residents, it is a mainstay for natural wonder. The Tyee Recreation Site is a nature-driven camping locale for adventurists seeking outdoor motivation and is connected to the main stem of the Umpqua River, where one may find welcoming fishers and lakeside activities.
For scenic routes, car riders may prefer the Umpqua River Scenic Byway, which offers various photographic moments of Highway 138's most beautiful wineries and coastal dunes, with an optional stop at the Rochester Covered Bridge, a frequented locale by residents who can help educate newcomers on the story of Oregon's architecture. Iconic and old-fashioned ice cream and candies are available at Tolly's Restaurant, one of the most welcoming and vibrant locales in the town that has been in operation for close to 50 years now.
Rated one of the top ten best antiquing towns in America, Aurora has 1,158 inhabitants and is home to the coziest locales for travelers hoping to find historical charm. The Old Aurora Colony Museum generates tourist attraction through its guided tours of mid-19th-century herb gardens and furnishings, with multiple vintage stores and a chocolate candy factory to please younger crowds.
Those seeking friendly golf lessons may like the Langdon Farms Golf Club, a premier venue that promotes a welcoming theme with its lavish events and extravagant buffet meals. Tourists who want to take part in seasonal pumpkin farm gatherings can socialize at Fir Point Farms, where guests and residents are introduced to a myriad of fresh squash varieties and delicious cinnamon rolls ready to take home for the holidays. If there is still room left on one's itinerary, the Aurora Mills Architectural Salvage is nice for tourists who want to auction off or purchase vintage Victorian memorabilia.
A dramatic natural beauty in the Wallowa Valley with only 213 inhabitants, Lostine makes up for being so small in size by having the most stunning coffee shops in the state. A gateway to the Lostine River and its synonymous Canyon, this hub in Wallowa County is the perfect getaway for anyone wanting cozy delights mixed with spunky themes, as seen at the Blue Banana Coffee House located on Highway 82.
Welcoming attractions, such as the Wallowa Barn Tour, invite road-trippers, photographers, cyclists, and history buffs from all wakes of life to learn more about the living history of the town while driving around soaring mountain backdrops. Faithful to tradition, Lostine Flea Market has the most intricate vendors selling old-age trinkets and ornaments found only in this town. The Lostine Tavern is also an option for tourists wanting to feel included in the latest humorous topics while enjoying a top-notch hamburger meal.
All of these welcoming small towns pave the way for tourism and the travel industry in Oregon. With so many attractions and locales to learn more about, there is no better way to enjoy one's next trip than to sightsee the most friendly towns. When visiting the "Beaver State," be sure to have this list handy when checking off things to do on the itinerary.