Sunrise at the beach with sea stacks at Battle Rock Wayside in Port Orford on the Oregon coast. Editorial credit: Bob Pool /

The Best Small Towns in Oregon for a Weekend Retreat

The state of Oregon, on the Pacific Ocean between Washington and California, features miles of sandy beaches, magnificent cliffs, mountains, and trails. It is a nature lover's dream and caters to many activities, such as fishing, surfing, skiing, and backpacking. The main cities are Portland, Eugene, and Salem, all of which are within driving distance of dozens of charming small towns perfect for a weekend vacation. So pack up the car or RV and experience the beauty Oregon has to offer, whether that be oceanside or further inland.

Cottage Grove

Arched sign across East Main Street in Cottage Grove Historic District, Oregon, USA.

Arched sign across East Main Street in Cottage Grove Historic District, Oregon.

Located close to Eugene, Cottage Grove is a picturesque town surrounded by nature. Head over to Dorena Lake for swimming and boating or Cottage Grove Lake for fishing, picnicking, and playgrounds. If you're a cyclist or just want to ride bikes with the family, ride the Covered Bridges Scenic Bikeway or explore the Row River Nature Park. The town is also close to many waterfalls, including Pinard Falls, Parker Falls, Moon Falls, and Brice Creek Falls.

Want to reach new heights and see the world down below? Hike the Bohemia Mountain Trail, and while you're there, witness what was once the Bohemia Mines, now just withered away structures and railways. Cottage Grove also has plenty to do in town, including its historic downtown area, featuring bookstores, boutiques, cafes, and dozens of murals. Enjoy one of the eateries, or try a craft beer at a brewery.

On a rainy day, spend the afternoon at the Warren H. Daugherty Aquatic Center and enjoy family-friendly swimming. Visiting in July? Try to time it around Bohemia Mining Days, which hosts a pop-up saloon, carnival, and chuckwagon breakfast. As for accommodations, stay close to town at the Cottage Grove Inn, or if you're traveling with kids, consider the Sweet Springs Family Farm, located just 20 minutes away. It caters to all types of lodging, including a central hotel, a tenting area, and an RV park. Children will love spending time with the farm animals, and if you're looking for a place to have an event such as a birthday or reunion, they are experts at hosting.


Panoramic drone shot of the jetty and harbor entrance in Brookings, Oregon.

Panoramic drone shot of the jetty and harbor entrance in Brookings, Oregon.

The closest seaside town to the California/Oregon border is intertwined with the town of Harbor. Surrounded by towering cliffs, sandy beaches, and nearby mountains, Brookings comes alive with nature. Watch the waves crash against the rocks at Chetco Point Park, or go beachcombing at the Harris Beach State Park. Watch the sunset at Lone Ranch Beach, or test your patience and whale watch. Swim at the outdoor pool, play some tennis at Bud Cross Park, or swing amongst the trees at the Salmon Run Golf Course.

If you're spending the day in town, take advantage of the many dog parks and dog-friendly areas, the Brookings Harbor indoor farmers market, and the beautiful streets of Port Brookings Harbor. Enjoy the marina, lots of food options, shopping, and beach access. As for events, attend the Winter Art and Chocolate Festival in February or listen in on the summer concert series at Azalea Park. Looking to spend the night? Consider the Beachfront Inn, featuring ocean views and easy access to the harbor.


Aerial view of the Whitewater Park in Bend, Oregon.

Aerial view of the Whitewater Park in Bend, Oregon.

Located further inland, Bend is surrounded by mountains and lush forests and is about a 3-hour drive from Portland. Visiting in the winter? Hit the slopes at the Mt. Bachelor Ski Resort or cross-country ski and sled at the nearby snow parks. In the warmer months, stop at the Tumalo Falls trailhead, a hike that passes by over eight waterfalls, including Bridge Creek Falls and Double Falls. Descend into the caverns at Boyd Cave, which has a marked entrance as well as a staircase for easier access.

Enjoy biking? Ride through the trees on Phil's Trail or journey around the Deschutes National Forest. Wanting to stay close to town? Walk through the Riley Ranch Nature Reserve and enjoy the lookouts, or float down the river from Riverbend Park. Take the kids to the indoor Trampoline Zone and Adventure Park, or browse the bakeries and breweries downtown as for accommodations, located right on the Deschutes River and across the street from the Original Pancake House.

Coos Bay

Aerial view of Pacific Highway 101 passing through Coos Bay, Oregon.
Aerial view of Pacific Highway 101 passing through Coos Bay, Oregon. Editorial credit: Manuela Durson /

An oceanside town two hours away from Eugene, Coos Bay is surrounded by jagged rocks, lush forest, and sandy driftwood-covered beaches. Walk alongside Bastendorff Beach and splash through the waves, or go for a swim at North Beach. Search for shells at Cape Arago State Park, and if you're lucky, spot some sea lions sunbathing. Back in town, visit Coos Bay Village and shop at the cute boutiques, indulge in some fish and chips, and try a new brew at a local taphouse.

Downtown is also home to a bountiful farmers market, where you can find artisan wares, fresh produce, and baked goods. Grab a coffee from a cafe and walk the North Bend Boardwalk, or stop in at the Marine Life Center in the neighboring town of Charleston. In July, catch the Oregon Coast Music Festival. Looking for an afternoon activity? Golf at the Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, or take a trip out to the Oregon dunes, where you can drive ATVs and try sandboarding. As for accommodations, the Itty Bitty Inn is close to parks as well as the bay and features retro-themed rooms. It is also within walking distance of many restaurants.

La Grande

Granada Theater in La Grande, Oregon.

Granada Theater in La Grande, Oregon. By Visitor7, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Settled between the Umatilla National Forest and the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, La Grande is a historical town that served as a major point on the Oregon Trail. You can tour the Lower Ladd Canyon Oregon Trail Interpretive Site to get to know the area's important history or have a picnic at the Historic Birnie Park located in the town. Go for a dip at the Perry swimming hole on a hot day, or walk around the Mt. Emily recreational area, where you can bike the Sasquatch/Ricochet Loop. You are also able to cycle along the Grande Tour Scenic Bikeway. Want to spot some birds and animals? Head to the Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area.

If you're staying in town, play a round of mini golf at Riverside Greens or grab some lunch at a local smokehouse, taqueria, or brewery. Grab an iced latte at JaxDog Cafe and Books, and pick up a new read while you're there. Afterward, make your way through town and stop at the many antique and craft stores as well as boutiques.

Visiting in July? Attend the Timber Cruisers Car Show, as well as Crazy Days, which takes place on the same weekend. Shop the pop-up vendors, test your skill at archery, eat some delicious food, and play games. Looking for somewhere to spend the night? The Grande Hot Springs RV Resort is a quick drive away and features mineral pools, a liquor store, an eatery, and a theater. It is also pet-friendly. Prefer to stay in town? The Landing Hotel offers an on-site restaurant as well as rustic, farmhouse-themed rooms.

Port Orford

Cape Blanco Lighthouse at Cape Blanco State Park near Port Orford on the Oregon coast.

Cape Blanco Lighthouse at Cape Blanco State Park near Port Orford on the Oregon coast.

A laidback coastal town along the Pacific, Port Orford is perfect for those wanting to experience the ocean and sights of Oregon but not be caught up in traffic and crowds. The town is small but has everything a traveler could need, including accommodation options and delicious restaurants. Consider staying at the Shoreline Inn and Suites, a top-rated motel located right next to the beach. It is also next to seafood restaurants and a nearby pub. Walk the main street and explore the cafes, bakeries, markets, and gift shops. Close to the Shoreline Inn is Battle Rock Waysode Park, which features lookouts, trails, and art pieces.

Further down is Port Orford Heads State Park, where you can stare out at the sea from atop massive cliffs. Or you can beachcomb at Paradise Point. If you don't mind the short drive, journey over to Cape Blanco State Park and walk to the Cape Blanco Lighthouse, where tours are offered from April through October.

If you love cycling, ride the Wild Rivers Coast scenic bikeway, or if you want to try something new, give surfing a try down at the beaches. Have young ones or just love dinosaurs? Visit the nearby Prehistoric Gardens, an adventure park home to 23 life-size dinosaurs set amongst the stunning Oregon rainforest.

Baker City

Aerial view of Baker City, Oregon, on a hazy day.

Aerial view of Baker City, Oregon, on a hazy day.

Located near the Idaho border, Baker City is full of history, most of it surrounding the Oregon Trail. It is home to the Oregon Trail trailhead, offering educational hiking, and has a National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretation Center similar to the one in La Grande. You can also visit the Baker Heritage Museum in town to learn even more about the state's Western past. If you're looking to explore the land surrounding Baker City even further, backpack the Elkhorn Crest trail or journey to Hell's Canyon at Snake River, the deepest gorge in North America. In town, you can tour the historic and rustic buildings lining the streets, especially downtown.

On Main Street, stop in at one of the art galleries or grab a bite to eat at a local restaurant. There is also no shortage of bakeries and cafes serving up delicious pastries, as well as shops with antiques and cute knick-knacks. Get the full experience and take a ride on a horse-drawn wagon through the street, or spend a night at the Geiser Grand Hotel, which offers tours as well as old-fashioned rooms and architecture. The town is also home to over eight parks, leaving you with plenty of places to play, people watch, and picnic.


Expanse of the bay bridge in Newport, Oregon.

The expanse of the Bay Bridge in Newport, Oregon.

Back along the ocean is Newport, a seaside village with no shortage of activities. Visit the Oregon Coast Aquarium and walk through the underwater tunnels, or stop in at Ripley's Believe it or Not World Adventure. There's also the Newport Discover Zoo, featuring exotic animals like kangaroos and sloths as well as birds like ostriches and toucans. Want to see some local animals just chilling amongst the tourists? Catch the sea lions lounging along the docks and marinas. Nearby parks include Big Creek Park, where you can picnic and walk the trails, and Agate Beach, where you can walk up and down the Oregon coast. There is also the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse and the Yaquina Head Lighthouse, both offering lookouts facing the crashing waves below.

In town, walk the Yaquina Bay Bridge, a 1930s steel arch bridge, or head to the Newport Historic Bayfront, where you can stroll amongst sailboats. Spend an afternoon at Nye Beach, which has direct access to sandy beaches as well as several cafes, shops, and lunch spots. Love to fish? Join a fishing charter, or go crabbing, as Newport is the Dungeness crab capital of the world. At night, check into the Hallmark Resort, which has ocean views as well as an indoor pool. Or if you're looking to have a one-of-a-kind experience, check out the Newport Belle Bed and Breakfast, a riverboat converted into suites.


Aerial view of Manzanita Beach with Pacific Ocean surf on the Oregon coast.
Aerial view of Manzanita Beach with Pacific Ocean surf on the Oregon coast. Editorial credit: Rob Crandall /

Just under two hours from Portland, Manzanita is a beach town next to a cluster of other towns, including Nehalem. It is perfect for cycling, surfing, fishing, and hiking. Begin your backpacking journey at the Oregon Coast trailhead or hike the Elk Flats Trail. Spend the day relaxing on the sandy beaches of Neakahnie-Manzanita State Park, or ride horses alongside the waves at Nehalem Bay State Park. Speaking of Nehalem, travel to the nearby town for some fish and chips, as well as a walk down the Nehalem River.

Back in Manzanita, stop in at the Hoffman Center for the Arts, where you can often catch a musical performance, film screening, or author reading. The streets are home to plenty of cafes, ice cream shops, pizza places, and restaurants serving everything from seafood to grilled dishes. Find your next favorite book at Cloud and Leaf, or pick up a toy for your furry friend at Four Paws pet store.

Looking to enjoy the area and get your heart racing but don't own the equipment? No worries, Bahama Mama's rents out bikes and surfboards. As for a place to stay, check out the Ocean Inn, which is right near the beach and has spectacular views of the ocean.

Lincoln City

Lincoln City, Oregon, USA, situated on the beautiful Oregon Coast.

Lincoln City, Oregon, is situated on the beautiful Oregon Coast.

Just an hour's drive from Salem and two hours from Portland, Lincoln City is a hiker's dream. It has several trailheads perfect for a day of backpacking, including the Cascade trailhead, Rainforest trailhead, and the Knoll Open Space trailhead. If hiking isn't your thing, have a picnic at the Roads End State Recreation Site or visit Devils Lake for some swimming, boating, and camping.

The town is also lined with sandy beaches perfect for beachcombing, tide pool hunting, crabbing, and clamming. You can also get lucky and spot some whales from one of the viewpoints. At night, during specific times of the year, enjoy a beach fire and listen to the waves crash softly while the sun sets around you. You can also rent fat tire bikes or go horseback riding through the sand.

Want an adrenaline rush? Head to the Salishan Aerial Park and zipline through the trees. In town, stop in at Output Records and find something great, or play some games at the Game Over Arcade. There are also tons of restaurant options, including seafood, grills, and Mexican. Or treat yourself to a delectable cocktail or a craft beer flight at a local bar. Looking for a place to crash for the night? Consider the Pelican Shores Inn, which has its own beach access, pool, and beautiful views of the sea.


Aerial photograph of the beach in Netarts, Oregon, on a sunny day.

Aerial photograph of the beach in Netarts, Oregon, on a sunny day.

If you're looking for a place to fish or load up on shellfish, Netarts, combined with the nearby resort community of Oceanside, has just what you're looking for. Under two hours from Portland, Netarts offers miles of ocean real estate perfect for clamming, crabbing, and deep-water fishing. And if that's not your style, enjoy the dozens of trails and seaside parks. Have a picnic at the Cape Lookout, and if you're feeling up for it, hike the Cape Trail.

Further up the shore by Oceanside, explore Tunnel Beach, which features giant rock formations you can walk through. Or search the tide pools up at Lost Boy Beach and find some treasures. Close by is the Short Beach trailhead, which leads to Larson Creek Falls. Rent kayaks and float along the waves, or rent a boat and sail out to the Three Arch Rocks Wildlife Refuge. You can also spot seals and sea lions if you're lucky.

Back in town, dine at Schooner Restaurant and Lounge and enjoy fresh-caught seafood and delicious drinks. Brought an RV? Set up camp at the Netarts Bay Garden RV Resort, which offers beach access, firepits, boat rentals, and shellfish gear rentals. If you come in just a car, check out the Oceanfront Cabins in Oceanside, which look out at the sea and are right beside the Blue Agate cafe and the Oceanside Beach State Park.

Explore Oregon: A Blend of Natural Beauty and Rich History

Oregon isn't just known for its stunning coast, as it is also home to centuries of history, including the Oregon Trail. It has something for everybody, whether it be families, couples, or retirees. Whether you want to get out and feel the ocean breeze in your hair or keep it lowkey and browse the streets of small towns and learn about their past, Oregon has the place for you. Want to know the best times to travel or even more places to stop and take in the sights? Browse the WorldAtlas site and plan out the perfect trip.

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