12 Most Scenic Small Towns in Oregon

Martina Rosado
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Joseph

Road, Jefferson, OR.

Located in the heart of the Willamette Valley, Joseph Road in Jefferson, Oregon, is a scenic drive through rolling hills and green valleys filled with ranches, farms and apple orchards. Hiking trails crisscross the area, providing access to scenic overlooks for picnicking and camping.

The town of Jefferson itself is a bit of a hike from the Joseph Road entrance, but with the help of local gas stations, restaurants and hotels, travelers can plan and execute a pleasant roadside stop-off tour of Joseph Road.

You can also take a scenic drive of the Jefferson area with the Springwater Corridor Trail. Hikers and bikers can enjoy the vast and diverse landscape of Northern Oregon as they meander along the 50 mile trail.

Baker City

Baker City is located at the foot of Mount Jefferson in southeastern Oregon. About 8,000 people live in the area, and since major highways 575 and 205 intersect in town, you can pick up a great geology lesson by crossing one.

Learn about the area’s ancient volcanism through tours offered around Mount Jefferson. The Civilian Conservation Corps’s work at Mount Jefferson from 1933 to 1941 is what ensures the access for the tours.

The town is also home to Baker Heritage Village, with a restored 1870s home and museum interpreting the local history.

Florence

Oregon.

Florence is an unincorporated community and census-designated place in Linn County, Oregon, United States. Its population was 15,870 at the 2010 census.

The community was known by many names during the 19th century, including, in the early years, St. Charles, St. Matthew, and Forestville. The name was changed to Florence in the early 1900s, and the town became known throughout the country for the gorgeous “Florence Gardens” located just outside the town limits. The gardens were eventually bought by German immigrant George H. Roehl and renamed Roehl’s Gardens, which remain a popular tourist attraction of the town to this day.

The town’s location between the Willamette Valley to the south and the Coast Range to the north makes Florence a unique out-of-the-way community in Central Oregon. The city provides year-round recreation, shopping, dining, and hotels to support the tourist season.

Florence has approximately 35,000 residents. Its population includes a number of retirees from nearby cities of Salem and Eugene. Because of this strong mix of values, Florence residents enjoy a diverse culture.

Florence is a charming small town with a strong, independent community, with a greatly supported local economy and strong local retailing scene.

Brownsville

On the edge of the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, eleven miles from Florence on Hwy 26, you’ll find Brownsville, a tiny town with just 10 or so residents in the center of one of the most breathtaking natural landscapes in the world. Florence, approximately 50 miles south, is a hub with plenty of dining and accommodation options.

As you turn off Hwy 26 onto Leo Culotta Road, you’ll be meeting the lives of local residents. In the Brownsville Post Office, you’ll see a line up of pickup trucks sporting gun racks. In the middle of the town, you’ll have the dusty diner. The Southern Oregon Historical Society Museum in the other end of the street is great for the budding naturalist.

In 30 minutes of driving on Leo Culotta Road, you’ll see an outstanding strip of beach, natural creeks, ocean water, and large sand dunes.

If you love nature, then you’ll love your visit to Brownsville. If you want to spend your day in nature, then pack a picnic and spend the day in the dunes. Immerse yourself in the fresh air and get ready to take in some spectacular views.

McMinnville

Oregon.

Imagine taking a drive through the forest of Oregon to discover hidden treasures and have an adventure. Sound like a fantasy? Then you have to check out little McMinnville.

McMinnville is a quiet town that still has some life. There are museums and art galleries that have been open for over 50 years, and there are plenty of local restaurants to try. If you're lucky, you might get to see a ghost ship or soulmate. Visit the town to explore and have a real adventure.

Top 5 Things to Do in McMinnville Oregon

McMinnville Wildlife Viewing Area: Nestled in between the scenic Cracker Neck River and beautiful mile-long Willamette River is a wildlife viewing area. Here you will find birdfeeders, benches and even a restaurant to have an outdoor lunch. The wildlife viewing amenities are great for the whole family. 813 SE Knappa St.

Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception: Located in the heart of downtown is the cathedral. It is a beautiful structure with a glass dome and stained glass windows. This cathedral is a local landmark that was built by Irish immigrants in the late 1800s, and it is the only cathedral in the state of Oregon. The cathedral welcomes everyone, including non-Catholics, for Sunday Mass. It is the oldest Roman Catholic church in the state of Oregon.

Cottage Grove

(Vancouver)

If you’re looking for a little something different or something a little more laid back, Cottage Grove is the perfect little town for you. Tucked underneath the cascading Mount Hood, Cottage Grove is a quaint little town near Oregon’s coast. With limited options available in the small town, Cottage Grove is also one of the few places you can actually find…well, cottage Grove.

Cottage Grove has a few fun activities to choose from such as taking strolls and walks along the Salmon River, viewing the amazing wildlife within Silver Falls State Park, or enjoying some fresh air in the nearby Ponderosa Forest. With Cottage Grove’s unique view of Mount Hood, it’s easy to find the perfect spot for you.

Keep an eye out for: the flagpole that was chopped in half and former mayor Bob Frease, U.S. Navy World War II veteran, who served aboard –Old Ironsides”, the USS Constitution, and also for nearby Bear Creek Falls Trail.

Sisters

OR.

Sisters also has some incredible hiking nearby with trails that make for great walks. This picturesque town is located in the majestic Cascade Mountains and is a great place to spend the day.

Klamath Falls

Oregon.

Klamath Falls is a nice small town to visit that has been named a Tree City USA community since 1993. As you might guess from the name, Klamath Falls gets its water from the Sprague River, but they are no where near the Mighty Beaver’s actual supply. Because of the Sprague’s location and its high concentration of magnesium, one of the big claims to fame for Klamath Falls is Oregon’s “Mountain Potato”. These potatoes are unlike anything you’ve ever had, and they have a unique, nutty flavor.

The town of Klamath Falls was founded in the 1890…and was officially called “Mining Camp 25”. Klamath is a Native Native American word believed to have meant “swamp or sitting down water”. In the 19th century, when the area was a hotbed of gold mining, there was a lot of sitting-down-water.

The over-all feeling of Klamath is one of peace and tranquility. With no major roads to speak of, this is one of the best small towns in the Pacific Northwest for that getaway feeling.

Ashland

Ashland is a perfect example of Oregon’s small town feel. It offers many things that a town its size shouldn’t be able to offer like music, art, theater, and sports.

It’s located near the Crater Lake National Park which is five hours away and Mount Hood National Forest with its tallest mountain. It’s also just a two hour drive from the coastline in Oregon.

It contains many unique shops, restaurants, and art galleries. Because of its proximity to Crater Lake National Park, it provides a lot of opportunities for outdoor recreation. For artistic individuals, the Ashland area is a home run.

It’s a short drive away from the theater district of Portland, which includes the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. The arts in the area can also be seen at the Arthur Miller Theatre, the City Theatre, and the ART on Main, which is a non-profit organization that is home to many museums like the Foothills Art Museum, the Ashland Art Center, and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

Hood River

Oregon.

You might think Hood River is known for its football team, but it's really known for its outdoor adventure and ski resorts. Unlike some of the towns on this list, Hood River is located outside of the Cascade Mountains. You’ll feel right at home if you’ve been to a town like Bend or Redmond, OR.

The town features some great lodging options, including the Villa Victoria Bed and Breakfast. The town is also home to the International School of Film and Arts, which brings in filmmakers from all over the world to learn how to make movies.

You won’t regret a fishing excursion, as the Hood River draws in some world-class trout. The friendly river also provides great opportunities for sailing, kayaking, and paragliding.

Renting a yacht would be a great way to combine some biking and sailing adventures.

The Pine Mountain Observatory gives you the chance to see the stars up close and personal.

Hood River is just a few miles from Mount Hood and the Hood River Foothills, which leads to 2,000 foot waterfalls. You can also reach some of the best small towns in Oregon to see.

If you’re interested in going for a hike, the gorge trail and Zigzag Canyon are just a short drive away.

Astoria

OR.

Astoria is located on the northern coast of the Oregon Coast. This town used to be the place where wild salmon and herring were hunted. This is a great place for nature lovers and outdoors people. You can be out on the ocean exploring fissures, sea stacks and even beaches or just witness the beautiful sunset over the hills. There are wonderful restaurants here that offer food from the coast as well as other regions of the country. It really is a wonderful place to visit.

Cannon Beach

Cannon Beach has been compared to the Ocean City that one lives to see on a postcard. It’s more than just a beautiful emerald cape jutting into the Pacific Ocean. It’s also a beloved year-round destination visited by visitors from all over the world.

As the state’s number one summer resort town, Cannon Beach has been a summer haven for visitors since the “The Cannon Beach Club” was built on the bluff overlooking the Pacific in 1902.

The National Park Service recognized Cannon Beach’s scenic natural beauty and its worth as a cultural and natural attraction historically and representative for the State of Oregon. It was the first officially designated Oregon state scenic area.

Families come to Cannon Beach to enjoy the coastline, tide pools, and Fish Rock. For those looking to simply take it all in, there is no better place to take in the sights.

There is also the Maritime Museum, which is a collection of memorabilia and stories of what life was like for the people who worked on the ships, right up to today’s small boats.

The Museum can be found just a block downriver from the popular Lighthouse Park, and has an educational theme that provides the opportunity to encourage and teach young people.