: Zak Shelhamer / OCVA

Oregon’s Spirit of Travel Lives On

When you're ready for your first vacation after isolation.
April 27, 2020

There’s nothing like a worldwide quarantine to give us renewed appreciation for something we may have once taken for granted: the freedom to travel. As Oregon joins other states and countries in recovering from the global health pandemic, our hearts and minds are already dreaming of the future getaways we’ll take when it’s safe to travel.

Luckily, we don’t have to go far to fill our wanderlust. Within a few hours’ drive, Oregonians have access to verdant forests and mountains, the high desert and lush wine country, bountiful rivers and 363 miles of pristine public coastline.

When we visit another part of Oregon, we escape from our daily lives. We clear our minds, lift our spirits and stretch our comfort zones. We connect with people with different experiences and make precious memories with our loved ones. And now more than ever, our tourism dollars have the power to lift up local businesses that have been missing us, just as we’ve been missing them.

Whether you’re yearning to visit an old favorite spot or to find a new place to call your own, it’s our spirit of travel that will help get us through these challenging times. That’s the theme of this year’s National Travel and Tourism Week (May 3-9, 2020): Spirit of Travel. 

Which Oregon region will you explore when it’s safe to travel again? Here are some of our top ideas for your first blissful Oregon getaway after travel restrictions are over. Until the time comes, stay up on the latest COVID-19 travel alerts here, and follow these smart rules for social distancing while recreating outdoors. (Note: Before you travel this summer, make sure to call businesses to make sure they are open.) 

A dog jumps into the river in Bend.
At Bend's Riverbend Dog Park, dogs can easily access the water and go swimming in the city. (Photo by Nickie Bournias)

Central Oregon

As a self-contained unit, camper-van or RV road trips are one of the safest and most affordable ways to travel these days. Plan now for your ultimate RV road trip through Central Oregon to visit some of the region’s most iconic sites. Have pups itching to hit the trails as well? Find our top resources for your pet-friendly trip in A Dog’s Guide to Trails in Central Oregon. In between treks, make sure to go beyond outdoor adventure in Central Oregon and take advantage of the farm-fresh culinary scene, artisan-based beverage innovations, cultural attractions and guided adventures this region has to offer.

A person walks on a boardwalk through the red mounds of Painted Hills.
The Painted Hills is one of three units of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument.

Eastern Oregon

If you’re looking for wide-open spaces, point the car toward Eastern Oregon, where the rolling hills, ranches and high-desert landscapes stretch as far as the eye can see. Four hours east of Portland, find tasty food, drink, and Old West-inspired history and culture all around; see our Making Memories in the Wallowa Mountains for inspiration. Something more soothing? Take the ultimate trip to unwind and recharge at one of the several hot springs of Southeastern Oregon. Keep the pace nice and slow as you breathe in the fresh air along paved paths during an epic “Don’t Hurt the Dirt” tour of the Painted Hills.

A mountain biker kicks up dust while pedaling around a corner.
Gear up to hit the mountain bike trails of Klamath County. (Photo by Kamrin Nielsen)

Southern Oregon

You’ve been social distancing for so long, it may be time to rouse the senses. Southern Oregon’s wild beauty is the perfect setting for thrilling nature therapy like mountain biking, zip lining, paddling on crystal-clear lakes and hiking through lava flows. Find inspiration in 4 Wild Adventures in Klamath County. If you’re looking for pristine trails to explore without too many crowds, check out these 5 stress-busting hikes in Southern Oregon. And did someone say wine tasting? Southern Oregon’s world-class wineries offer intimate tasting rooms with low-cost tasting fees and stunning views minus the crowds. Here’s how to explore the Bear Creek Wine Trail in the Rogue Valley.

Two people walk behind a waterfall on the Trail of 10 Falls.
Silver Falls State Park is known as the crown jewel of the Oregon State Parks system. (Photo by Caleb Wallace / WVVA)

Willamette Valley

Maybe the quarantine has been tough on your relationship and you’re ready to plan a real getaway. Get inspired by these romantic getaways in the Willamette Valley. Make sure to stop for world-class wine and food along the new self-guided Mid-Willamette Valley Food Trail, a journey through the region’s vineyards, orchards, farms, restaurants and other tasty stops. On your travels, plot out your route to see these top waterfall trails in the Willamette Valley — a roundup of gorgeous hikes suitable for all ages.

Water rushes into Thors Well near Cape Perpetua.
Enjoy 363 miles of public coastline safely with a zoom lens at Thors Well. (Photo by Joey Hamilton)

Oregon Coast

If you’ve been dreaming of the Oregon Coast and its brilliant sunsets, crashing waves and windswept beaches, there’s no better time to plan your return. Escape the crowds and explore the coastal trails at Bayocean or Kilchis Point, just a couple of the almost-secret spots around Tillamook. Head south on Highway 101 for the full road-trip experience, and soak up the sights at these 5 stunning photo-worthy Spots on the Central Oregon Coast. Between Reedsport and Brookings, the wide-open beaches and waterways are calling. Here’s how to paddle the Southern Oregon Coast, whether you’re a pro or a first-timer.

St. Johns Bridge peeks above the trees.
Portland has many nicknames: Rose City, Beervana and Bridgetown, to name a few. (Photo by Nickie Bournias)

Portland Region

One of the best things we can do these days is to take a walk — as much for our physical and mental health as for our connection to nature and time to recharge, away from screens. Here are 5 family-friendly hikes around Portland and our guide on how to hike in Forest Park for moderate- to expert-level trekkers. Water is also a restorative life force, and luckily, the Portland region is surrounded by excellent paddling if you know where to look. Here’s how to paddle the Lower Columbia River Water Trail — an explorer’s guide to the tranquil waterways just minutes from the city. Find more mini adventures with these easy getaways near Portland, from a wine-lover’s trip to the Tualatin Valley to history-packed trips to Oregon City and Gresham.

A parent and child paddle on a glassy lake.
Mt. Hood isn't just for snow-lovers; it has major summer appeal too. (Photo by Modoc Stories / hood-gorge.com)

Mt. Hood and the Columbia River Gorge

Feel the stress melt away as you leave the city behind and enter the scenic vistas of Mt. Hood and the Columbia River Gorge. Burn off some energy with these top treks on our Mt. Hood hiker’s bucket list. It may be early summer, but it’s not too late to head out on a mindful stroll through the blooms with these wildflower hikes. Get your taste buds dreaming of future adventures as you explore the East Gorge Food Trail, a self-guided route of 30 farm-fresh businesses in the less-crowded areas of the Gorge just east of Hood River.

About The

Jen Anderson
Jen Anderson is a longtime journalist and travel writer/editor who is now Travel Oregon’s Content & Community Manager, helping to align content for visitors via social media, print and web. She’s called Oregon home for 25 years and loves finding the latest places to eat, drink and play around the state with her husband and two boys. Brewpubs, beaches and bike trails top the list.