For some trips you want to take the road less traveled, get off the beaten path and explore unknown back roads and hidden byways. Other times, well, you just want to get there already. Whether you’re looking to maximize your time or don’t feel like facing the drive (especially in winter, when road conditions can be unpredictable), why not fly into or near your destination? In that fashion, Oregon’s got you covered. With robust regional airports operating in the Willamette Valley and the Oregon Coast, as well as in Central, Eastern and Southern Oregon, you can fly to your Oregon adventure. And once you’re on the ground, take advantage of the growing offerings for car-free travel in these destinations.
The Redmond Municipal Airport, located just 18 miles north of Bend, has direct service to and from Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Phoenix and Portland with 28 daily flights. Once you land, you can rent a car on-site, hop on a Cascades East Transit bus, or book a ride with one of the area’s many shuttle services. Bend’s centrally located lodging properties make it a convenient place to visit without a vehicle. This premier outdoor destination also offers itself up for car-free active adventuring with easily accessed Pilot Butte State Scenic Viewpoint and the beautiful Deschutes River, which runs right through the center of town. From mid-December to mid-April, you can jump on the Mt. Bachelor Shuttle to ski the mountain’s 4,300 acres of lift-accessible terrain and 3,365 vertical feet of drop. The Bend Ale Trail fits perfectly into a car-free trip with myriad options for shuttle, taxi or town-car service.
The Eastern Oregon Regional Airport is owned by the city of Pendleton, which sits just a mile away. The largest public airport in the region, it is conveniently located for travelers from Portland; Spokane, Washington; Boise, Idaho; Salt Lake City and Seattle. As such, it is the gateway for exploring the eastern side of the state. Car-free travelers can access Pendleton’s public transit system, as well as car rental, shuttle services and taxis. Lodging options cluster close to town, making car-free travel an attractive option. Most famous for the iconic Pendleton Round-Up, which takes place in September, Pendleton offers a history lesson any time of year at the Tamástslikt Cultural Institute, which tells the past and current stories of the local Cayuse, Umatilla and Walla Walla tribes. Pendleton’s renowned craftspeople carry on Western traditions at places like Hamley & Co. Saddle and Western Store, Staplemans Boots & Leather and Montana Peaks Hat Company. Newer Western traditions include The Prodigal Son Brewery and Pub and Alexander’s Artisan Chocolates.
The Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport in Medford provides easy access to Southern Oregon for travelers from San Francisco, Seattle, Salt Lake City, Denver and Portland, among other Northwest cities. From here, visitors can access car rental and taxi services or hop on the bus with the Rogue Valley Transportation District and access centrally located lodging. Here in the heart of one of the state’s oldest wine regions, oenophiles can explore the cozy tasting rooms along the Umpqua Valley, Upper Rogue, Applegate Valley and Bear Creek wine trails. (In winter be sure to call ahead, as hours fluctuate.) Nearby Mt. Ashland beckons powder hounds during the winter months, while summertime sees mountain bikers speeding down the trails. (A free Town Shuttle picks riders up at Mt. Ashland Hills Hotel & Suites. Crater Lake National Park has a beauty that changes with the seasons and is surprisingly lovely in winter. (Consider a car-free trip to Crater Lake and Klamath Falls to skip the winter driving.) Theatergoers can find quality performances almost year-round at the Craterian Theater at the Collier Center for the Performing Arts in Medford or at Ashland’s renowned Oregon Shakespeare Festival (February through October).
The Eugene Airport provides nonstop service from cities including Chicago, Denver, Phoenix and San Diego, as well as other major Northwest cities. Car-free visitors will appreciate the town’s bike-share program and extensively mapped bicycling routes. Lane Transit District bus service travels extensively throughout the Eugene and Springfield areas for access to the many lodging options in the region. With a storied history in track and field at the University of Oregon, Eugene (aka Tracktown) frequently hosts world-class sporting events, including the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Track and Field Trials and the World Athletics Championships in 2021 — the event’s first staging in the U.S. Amateurs can get a feel for the running vibe with popular routes in and around town. Art lovers delight in Eugene’s self-guided mural tour, part of a goal to create 20 or more outdoor artworks before the championships bring large crowds. Get a taste of Brew-gene’s bragging rights to some of the state’s best craft breweries along the Eugene Ale Trail. Book a tour, such as Pacific Pub Cycle, if you don’t have a designated driver. And you can hop on the Diamond Express Transportation to shuttle between Eugene and Oakridge.
Offering service from San Francisco (daily flights) and Denver (seasonal flights), the Southwest Oregon Regional Airport in North Bend is the only commercial airport on the Oregon Coast. Free parking near the terminal is a major perk, and you’re not likely to encounter long lines for check-in or security. Convenient ground transportation includes taxis, shuttles and rental cars, and the beautiful, rugged Southern Oregon Coast affords ample lodging opportunities. This stretch of pristine coastline includes hot spots for fishing, catching and cooking your own crab, and touring the Cape Blanco Lighthouse — the westernmost point of Oregon and the oldest lighthouse in the state, marking its 150th birthday in 2020. North Bend’s sister city of Coos Bay is your gateway to the arts, history and fresh coastal seasonal fare along the Wild Rivers Coast Food Trail. The day after Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve, Shore Acres State Park hosts an enormous holiday light display with free hot cider, punch, coffee and cookies ($5 or and Oregon State Park pass are required to park; visit on a weekday for fewer crowds). Enjoy the mild climes on the Coast any time of year with a guided paddling or surfing excursion through South Coast Tours (all gear included) to explore some of the Coast’s most enchanting wildlife, Wild and Scenic rivers, and photo-worthy spots.