Liberty Theatre and downtown buildings in Astoria, Oregon. Editorial credit: Bob Pool /

These Towns in Oregon Have a Rich Cultural Heritage

The state of Oregon sits on America's west coast and is bustling with heritage. The region was first settled by the British Pacific Fur Company in 1811. The Americans purchased the territory from the British in 1846 through the Oregon Treaty. Finally, on February 14, 1859, Oregon became the 33rd state to join the American Union. Oregon is home to many towns, each with its own unique history. A visit to Baker City takes you to the house of philanthropist Leo Adler. Meanwhile, you will find the Heritage Station Museum in Pendleton. The following article discusses seven such towns in Oregon that have rich cultural heritages.


The Liberty Theatre in Astoria, Oregon.
The Liberty Theatre in Astoria, Oregon. Editorial credit: BZ Travel /

Astoria is a lovely port city and the county seat of Clatsop County, Oregon. It is one of the oldest settlements west of the Rocky Mountains, making for a perfect addition to this list. Today, Astoria provides beautiful local scenery and a long history of local culture. Those interested can head straight to the Astoria Column, a monument standing tall with stunning art. In 1898, the town set out to construct a structure that would rival the Eiffel Tower. On July 22, 1926, the town dedicated the monument to the public. Continue the cultural retreat at the Astoria Liberty Theatre, which was first opened to the public in 1925. The 700-seat theater showed both vaudeville acts and motion pictures. Today, visitors can explore the premises by booking a guided tour. Another hotspot is the Oregon Film Museum, a local historic exhibit housed in the Clatsop County Jail building. It shows visitors the story of Hollywood Films shot in the state, such as the 1985 film "The Goonies," which was shot here.

Combining nature with history near town is the Lewis and Clark National Historic Park. It is this fort where those on the Lewis and Clark expedition built shelter during the 1805 winter. Visitors can explore the rich history of the park grounds, visitor center, and 13 miles of hiking trails. Apart from the static activities, Astoria is also privy to many fun events. For example, The Midsummer Festival is a way to honor the history of early Scandinavian pioneers. The event takes place in June and celebrates the end of months of cold weather. It is a great experience for patrons, with entertainment and homemade Nordic foods.

Baker City

Aerial view of Baker City, Oregon.
Aerial view of Baker City, Oregon.

Baker City, a town in Baker County, is an ideal destination for history enthusiasts. The incorporation of this town occurred in 1874, and it was named after Edward Baker, an Oregon Senator who had been killed in the Battle of Balls Bluff. The Baker City of today is an inviting town with places to shop and lots of history to explore. Start off at the Baker Heritage Museum, which has been a showcase of local history since 1982. To the Northeast of town lies the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Centre. Visitors can gain a greater perspective on the history of the trail and those who explored it. The Centre also features an amphitheater that magnifies the educational experience.

The Chinese Cemetery in Baker City is a site commemorating the legacy of pioneers in the region. Chinese pioneers immigrated to the region in the early 1900s and worked on railroads and in the mines for the next few decades. Another insight into the past is the Leo Adler Museum, the renovated home of philanthropist Leo Adler. For 94 years, Adler lived in the house until his death in 1993. Following his death, an effort was undertaken to restore the property for visitors, thanks to which tours of the premises happen from Memorial to Labor Day.

For a bit of modern fun, the Baker City Farmers Market occurs within Central Park during summer. The Farmers Market is a great way for patrons to shop across a variety of food vendors. Or, head over to the acclaimed Glacier 45 distillery, where patrons are adorned with refreshing handcrafted Vodka and Gin.


Bridge along the Alsea River in Waldport, Oregon.
Iconic bridge along the Alsea River in Waldport, Oregon.

Seated in Lincoln County, along Alsea Bay, is the town of Waldport, Oregon. Incorporated as a city in 1911, the town is a lovely beach locale with plenty of ways to enjoy your visit. Tourists can jump straight into the past at sites like the Alsea Bay Bridge Interpretive Centre and Waldport Heritage Museum, where local history is on display. Open to the public since the 1900s, visitors love to explore the local exhibits, which provide a great educational experience. A 20-mile drive north of Waldport takes visitors to the historic Yaquina Head Lighthouse. Since 1873, the 93-foot-high structure has lit the way for ships entering the area. Today, the well-preserved building still stands and offers tours for visitors.

Isaac Lee Patterson served Oregon as its governor from 1927 to 1929, during which he made an effort to increase the amount of state parks. Today, local residents can enjoy various green spaces overflowing with outdoor charm. For example, the Crestview Golf Club lets visitors hit the links on the picturesque 9-hole course. The acclaimed course is accessible and provides a great full-day experience. Or, opt for the Waldport Farmers Market, a lively environment full of several vendors featuring baked goods, fish, and even sandwiches.


Bustling Main Street in downtown Sisters, Oregon.
Lively Main Street in downtown Sisters, Oregon. Editorial credit: Bob Pool /

The lovely town of Sisters lies in the quaint Deschutes County of Oregon. The town’s area was first settled in the 1880s when the post office relocated to the region. In 1901, residents established the community, and in 1946, it was incorporated into the city. Today, Sisters is an inviting community with activities to enjoy throughout the year.

In 1912, the announcement of a hotel building project occurred in the center of the town. The Historic Hotel Sisters is a two-story structure with 19 guest rooms that has served many functions through the years. It is now a restaurant where visitors can relax while dining on the Ranch House Burger. Nearby, the tale of Hardy Allen beckons history enthusiasts in town. Hardy Allen built his estate in 1908 after moving to Sisters to open a Blacksmith shop. The Allen family remained a prominent name in the community until Hardy's death in 1954. The house is now a local historic landmark.

For a broader approach to local culture, visitors should plan their trip for the famed Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show. This is one of the largest quilt shows on the planet, bringing the community together in appreciation of the arts since 1975. Meanwhile, outdoor lovers opt for Aspen Lake Golf Course, an 18-hole course that has no shortage of obstacles. The list includes sand traps, changing terrain, and its signature red sand bunkers. Visitors to the course can also enjoy a meal at the adjoining Brand 33 Restaurant.

Myrtle Creek

Horse Creek Covered Bridge in Myrtle Creek, Oregon.
The historic Horse Creek Covered Bridge in Myrtle Creek, Oregon. Editorial credit: Tami Freed /

Myrtle Creek is one of the oldest settlements in Southern Oregon, and it is full of cultural heritage. In 1854, many traveled to the region along the Scott-Applegate Trail in search of gold. This promoted growth in the area, and the Incorporation of Myrtle Creek occurred in 1893. Today, Myrtle Creek is a beautiful town with many ways for residents to enjoy themselves.

The Applegate Trail-Dole Road ruts have become a historic landmark in the region. The Ruts tell the story of the travelers who entered the region during the Gold Rush. Visitors can peruse a region of land marked by interpretive signs. Around the same time in 1930, the construction of the 110-foot Horse Creek Covered Bridge took place in town. While the bridge was donated and reconstructed, it is still an important part of local history. Continuing the charm, visitors to Myrtle Creek can enjoy the Grist Mill, which has been a part of the town for several decades. It was one of the first mills built in the region, with a capacity of 45 barrels of flour per day.

Those interested in a day outdoors opt for Millsite Park. The park now provides many amenities, from a playground to a nature trail that everyone can enjoy. Speaking of enjoyment, the Grand Victorian Theatre is another hotspot in town. Various shows light up the venue, from the regular dinner show. To the Dr. Delusion's Illusions Comedy Magic and Illusion show in March. Festivals continue outside the theater, such as the famed Myrtle Creek Summer Festival, where tourists can have a blast through competitions and fireworks.


The lively Pendleton Round-Up in Pendleton, Oregon.
Horse riders during the lively Pendleton Round-Up in Pendleton, Oregon. Editorial credit: Png Studio Photography /

Pendleton, a town named after George Pendleton, a political senator, is a wonderful destination in Umatilla County. Take a trip back in time at the Heritage Station Museum at the historic Pendleton Train Depot. Exhibits in the museum include an old schoolhouse and a caboose that ooze rustic allure. Moreover, the structure marks decades of work preserving regional history, and in 2024, the Umatilla County Historical Society celebrates its 50th Anniversary.

Aura Goodwin Raley is one of the historical figures in Pendleton, as she and her husband Moses Goodwin are amongst the earliest local settlers. Over the years, they built the first house in Pendleton and opened a hotel. Her legacy remains ingrained in the town’s heritage, and it was recently commemorated with a statue in town. On the other hand, kids can visit the Children's Museum of Eastern Oregon, which has a unique educational structure. Constructed in 1996, the Museum provides kids with a variety of hands-on exhibits so kids can learn history and have fun doing it. Kids will also enjoy the Pendleton Round-Up, an acclaimed regional event taking place since the 1900s. Meant as a celebration of the frontier era, the festivities evolved into a tradition with parades, concerts, and much more.


Buildings along Silver Creek in Silverton, Oregon.
Buildings along Silver Creek in Silverton, Oregon.

Located, in North Central Oregon, within Marion County, is the town of Silverton. The incorporation date for Silverton as a city occurred in 1885, and it was named after its proximity to Silver Creek. Visitors here adore the array of historical figures, such as Stu Rasmussen, who in 2008 became the first American Transgender Mayor. Follow the old tales to the Freedom Memorial Plaza, commemorating locals who lost their lives in military combat. In 1936, the Palace Theater opened in Silverton and has entertained the masses since then. In April 2012, a fire caused structural damage to the building, but it quickly re-opened and is providing patrons with entertaining cinema. Along with cinema, the Silverton Farmers Market has been a local staple in the community. Visitors can shop across various local produce, from eggs to vegetables, while meeting the locals.


The state of Oregon is replete with wonder and adventure. Across the state are towns with unique stories and cultural heritage. Each has a fresh take on cultural heritage, from the Outdoor Quilt Festival in Sisters to the Oregon Film Museum in Astoria. Moreover, with tons of natural areas and eateries to entertain, the possibilities are endless. Many experiences are awaiting your time in Oregon. So book your tickets now!

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