20 Cities in Oregon

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Situated in the picturesque Pacific Northwest region of the United States, Oregon has a stunning coastline, soaring mountain peaks and lush evergreen forests. Nicknamed the Beaver State, Oregon’s colourful cities and charming towns are delightful to visit. Cities in Oregon range from large and cosmopolitan Portland to idyllic Seaside and outdoor-focused Bend to the always-lively college town of Eugene, providing visitors with so many options to pick from. Here are our top 20. 

Oregon Cities

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20 Cities in Oregon

1- Portland

Portland City Downtown Skyline Cityscape Of Oregon, In USA
Portland is one of the best cities to live in Oregon and has the largest population.

First settled by trailblazers of the Oregon Trail during the mid-1800s, Portland is a major economic and cultural hub in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States.

With a population of more than 650,000 across a metro area of more than 2.5 million, Portland is the largest city in the Beaver State and the second-largest in the Northwest after Seattle.

Portland was named after Portland, Maine, and experienced rapid growth during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, mainly because of its location at the Columbia River and Willamette River confluence.

A once dangerous and ‘gritty’ port city during the turn of the 20th century, these days, Portland regularly ranks among the happiest and most-liveable places in America and is renowned for its hippy population and forward-thinking folk.

From the stunning blooms on display at the Portland Japanese Garden to the Moda Center in downtown, where the NBA’S Portland Trail Blazers ply their trade, there’s a laundry list of fun activities and destinations to experience in Portland.

Top tour: Portland Sightseeing Tour, Including Columbia Gorge Waterfalls.

2- Eugene

distant view of eugene at sunset with mountain backdrop
Eugene is one of the scenic cities in Oregon to visit.

Known by many as “Track Town, USA”, Eugene is synonymous with the arts, the outdoors, and sports.

Eugene has played host to World Athletics Championships and is the birthplace of Nike, a global sports titan that began in humble Eugene in 1964.

The second-largest city in terms of population in the Beaver State is home to the main campus of the University of Oregon, one of the leading public education institutions on the West Coast.

While athletics and academics might overshadow most attractions in Eugene, the Hult Center for the Performing Arts and the 5th Street Public Market prove there’s more to this colourful city than first meets the eye.

Top tour: Private Wine Tour with Tastings from Eugene.

3- Gresham

Oregon’s fourth-largest city by population, Gresham is the perfect city to visit in the Beaver State if you’re looking for a healthy balance between the outdoors, history, culture and entertainment.

Gresham lies just 16 miles (26 km) east of downtown Portland and is renowned for its picturesque surroundings, with the city sandwiched between Mount Hood to the one side and the Columbia Gorge to the other.

Farmer’s markets and community theatres can be found throughout the city over weekends, while the paved pathways linking Gresham with the other cities in the Portland metro area also serve up some excellent hiking and jogging opportunities for active folk.

4- Seaside

The Boardwalk And The Aquarium Store Seaside OR
Seaside is one of the lovely cities in Oregon.

Seaside is widely regarded as the more family-friendly and down-to-earth neighbour of Cannon Beach, providing beach bums with the same great waves and stunning coastal vistas of Cannon Beach with an added Seaside flair and charm.

The city is a go-to getaway destination for many families residing in the Northwest thanks to Seaside’s great amenities and balance of attractions that include several top-notch entertainment, historic and outdoor venues.

The city sits roughly 18 miles (29 km) east of downtown Norfolk and is the perfect platform to explore all the beautiful scenery and world-class attractions that southeast Virginia has in store.

From the scenic shores of Arcadia Beach State Recreation Site to the Lewis and Clark Monument, where the famous pair finished their expedition westward, Seaside’s breadth of fun and unique things to do make it a must-visit destination in Oregon.

5- Astoria

Astoria Cityscape With Astoria-Megler Bridge
Astoria is one of the best cities in Oregon to discover the state’s maritime history.

Founded in 1811, Astoria is the oldest city in Oregon, a port and the first permanent settlement west of the Rocky Mountains.

The city was named after New York City entrepreneur John Jacob Astor, whose American Fur Company established Fort Astoria, modern-day Astoria.

Astoria’s strategic location along the banks of the Columbia River and near the Pacific Ocean meant the city was a vital fishing and shipping port, which visitors can learn more about at the Columbia River Maritime Museum downtown.

If you’ve had your fix of Oregon’s scenic waterways and sublime beaches, stop by Astoria’s historic Flavel House Museum, Astoria Column or Lewis and Clark National Historical Park for a fascinating peek into 19th-century Oregon.

Top tour: Untold Uniontown Walking History Tour.

6- Beaverton

The seventh-largest city in Oregon and the home of Nike, Inc.’s headquarters, Beaverton is a popular destination for travellers hoping to enjoy the comforts and attractions of Portland without the crowds.

The city lies just 8 miles (13 km) west of downtown Portland and is situated near the Cooper Mountain Nature Park, which serves up some of the best hiking in Oregon.

Beaverton serves as an excellent base from which to explore the many award-winning wineries of the nearby Willamette Valley and the beautiful Tualatin Hills Nature Park and the Gilded Age architecture featured at the Belle Ainsworth Jenkins Estate.

7- Oregon City

Red Clerical Needle On A Map Of USA, Oregon And The Capital Salem
Map of cities in Oregon.

On the banks of the Willamette River roughly 12 miles (19 km) south of downtown Portland, Oregon City was the Oregon Territory’s first capital and the region’s lumber, paper mill and flour hub.

Oregon City rivalled Portland for economic and political supremacy during the state’s pioneering days and was home to the Oregon Spectator, America’s first newspaper published west of the Rocky Mountains.

Numerous attractions and landmarks are dotted throughout Oregon City to visit, reminding people of the city’s 19th-century prominence, such as the Baker Cabin Historic Site, the Barclay House and the End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center.

Top tour: 2.5-hour Dinner Cruise on Willamette River.

8- Newport

Yaquina Bay Bridge
Newport is one of the affordable cities in Oregon.

Home to art galleries and some of the best seafood restaurants in Oregon, the city of Newport is among the interesting coastal cities to visit in the Beaver State.

Newport’s population is roughly 11,000 people and is a popular vacation destination for travellers looking for a more laid-back time in the Pacific Northwest.

The city is steeped in Native American history, with the habitation of the Newport region dating back 3,000 years when the Yaquina called the area home.

Formally settled by pioneers in 1864, Newport features many exciting places to visit, such as the world-class Oregon Coast Aquarium, the Agate Beach State Recreation Site and the Newport Historic Bayfront.

9- Corvallis

aerial view of corvallis
Corvallis is another city in Oregon to tick off your to visit list.

Home to the main campus of Oregon State University, Corvallis is a colourful and youthful city on the banks of the Willamette River, roughly halfway between Salem and Eugene.

The city features a downtown littered with pubs, restaurants, shops and cafes, with plenty of picturesque wineries and farmsteads to explore just outside Corvallis proper.

Corvallis is the westernmost city in the United States’ contagious 48 states that boasts a population larger than 50,000, with Corvallis coming in at roughly 60,000 inhabitants.

Things to see and do in this trendy Oregon city include visiting Reser Stadium, the Majestic Theatre and the Corvallis Alley Art Walk.

Top tour: Corvallis Scavenger Hunt Walking Tour and Game.

10- Coos Bay

Coos Bay is the largest city on the Oregon Coast and an easy one to pick for outdoor attractions and historic charm.

The region was inhabited by the Coos, Siuslaw, Coquille and Lower Umpqua people for thousands of years and has been permanently inhabited by Europeans since 1853.

Renowned for its picturesque coastline and stunning beaches, Coos Bay’s litany of amazing places to visit include the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, the Cape Arago Lighthouse and the Coos Art Museum, perfect for your next seaside vacation.

11- Bend

Cascade Mountains in the distance and aerial view of Bend
Bend may not be one of the biggest cities in Oregon but it’s certainly a popular spot.

With the majestic Cascade Mountains and the Deschutes River right on the city’s doorstep, Bend is an absolute dream destination for anyone interested in exploring Central Oregon’s great outdoors.

With a population of more than 100,000 people, Bend is Central Oregon’s largest city and was first incorporated in 1904, following the opening of the city’s first commercial sawmill.

Initially little more than a logging camp, Bend rapidly grew in size and stature when outsiders discovered its world-class outdoor amenities, which include epic mountain biking trails, stunning hiking paths and skiing slopes during wintertime.

Today, Bend is among the fastest-growing cities in the Northwest and features an unrivalled list of outdoor activities and attractions to experience, making it one of the most popular cities in Oregon for visitors.

Top tour: Electric Bike Tour of Bend & Deschutes River.

12- Baker City

Situated in eastern Oregon near the Idaho state border, Baker City is steeped in gold rush dreams and Oregon Trail tales.

The city was established during the mid-1800s and experienced rapid growth during the region’s gold rush of 1866 and 1874, with newly acquired riches, fortune seekers and outlaws flooding into modern-day Baker City.

Baker City is a leading tourist destination in eastern Oregon thanks to the city’s colourful past, with several one-of-a-kind attractions and landmarks to stop by, including the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center and the Geiser Grand Hotel.

Top tour: Self-Guided Baker City Walking & Tasting Tour- “A Taste of History”.

13- Salem

Salem Oregon Capitol Building Government, Architecture
Salem is one of the cities in Oregon to tick off your to-visit list.

Unlike what most tourists and people unfamiliar with Oregon might believe, Portland is not the Beaver State’s official capital city, with that honour bestowed to Salem, the third-largest city in Oregon.

Salem was settled in 1842 and became the newly founded Oregon Territory’s seat of governance in 1851.

It’s a large university town with Corban University, Willamette University and Chemeketa Community College all calling Salem home.

46 miles (74 km) from Portland and 66 miles (106 km) from Eugene, Salem is a great day-trip destination if you’re travelling from Oregon’s two largest cities, with something for everyone to see and experience.

Top tour: Salem Scavenger Hunt: Oregon’s Beautiful Capital.

14- Ashland

Ashland is a mid-sized city near the California state border in southwest Oregon that’s perhaps best known for playing host to the annual Oregon Shakespeare Festival, a nine-month gathering of the Beaver State’s literati and Shakespeare fans.

The city has a population of about 21,000 and was first settled in 1852 by gold prospectors when the valuable metal was discovered in the nearby town of Jacksonville.

Abuzz with boutiques, cafes and top-notch restaurants, Ashland is a must-visit Oregon city if you’re into the literary arts.

The slopes and trails of nearby Mount Ashland make the city great for outdoor enthusiasts.

Top tour: Ashland: Scavenger Hunt + Trivia.

15- Hood River

Hood River is an incredibly scenic city in northern Oregon renowned throughout the Pacific Northwest for its abundance of world-class outdoor attractions and activities.

The city sits on the shores of the Columbia River, roughly 61 miles (98 km) east of downtown Portland, making it a great place to plan a weekend getaway from Oregon’s largest city.

From Hood River’s excellent windsurfing conditions to the many majestic waterfalls dotted just outside the city limits, Hood River is a truly unique Oregon city that’s well worth checking it the next time you’re in the Beaver State.

Top tour: Hood River: Scavenger Hunt + Trivia.

16- Florence

A stone’s throw from Oregon Dunes National Recreational Area, Florence is a charming coastal combining indoor and outdoor attractions in one marvellous vacation destination.

Florence features an impressive number of unique attractions and historic sites for a city with a population of less than 10,000.

The Siuslaw Pioneer Museum, the Heceta Head Lighthouse and Old Town Florence are the city’s standout tourist destinations.

From horseback riding on some of Oregon’s most picturesque beaches to a shopping spree in Florence’s many art galleries, boutiques and souvenir stores, there’s no end to the fun and adventure in Florence.

Top tour: Oregon Coastal Tour: Florence to Yachats.

17- Lincoln City

Oregon Coast Near Lincoln City Oregon
Lincoln City is not one of the big cities in Oregon. It has a small-city vibe and a beautiful coastline.

Boasting more than seven miles (11 km) of uninterrupted Oregon coastline and a population of fewer than 10,000 people, Lincoln City is often one of the Beaver State’s most overlooked destinations.

Lincoln City was officially incorporated in 1965 and named after former president Abraham Lincoln, with Lincoln City situated just 88 miles (142 km) outside downtown Portland.

Lincoln City remains a popular summertime destination among budget-minded Oregon families, and with attractions such as Devils Lake State Recreational Area and the Lincoln City Summer Kite Festival to stop by, it’s very easy to see why.

18- Yachats

Regularly ranked among lists of the best vacation destinations in Oregon, Yachats is a small city on the Oregon Coast, roughly halfway between Newport and Florence, renowned for its low-key charm and Native American history.

Yachats lies about 86 miles (138 km) from Eugene and is the perfect base from which to explore Oregon’s stunning Siuslaw National Forest, which borders Yachats to the east.

Once a flourishing settlement of the Alsea People, Yachats was officially incorporated in 1967 and is today home to must-see attractions such as the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area and the Earthworks Gallery, making Yachats perfect for your next Oregon vacation.

Top tour: Oregon Coastal Tour: Florence to Yachats.

19- Hillsboro

Hillsboro is the fifth-largest city in the Beaver State and part of the larger Portland Metropolitan Area, just 19 miles (30 km) west of downtown Portland.

The city has over 106,000 people and was inhabited for thousands of years by the Kalapuya People before the city’s official settling by Europeans during the 1840s.

Hillsboro’s sights range from Roloff Farms to the annually-held Oregon International Air Show, making it well worth visiting whenever you find yourself near Portland.

20- Medford

Nestled in southern Oregon’s scenic Rogue Valley, Medford is a unique city widely known throughout the Beaver State, thanks to its award-winning cheeses and farm-fresh produce.

Medford is the central hub of the Rogue Valley’s many excellent wineries and craft breweries.

With more than 86,000 people calling the city home, there’s always something fun and exciting to do around town.

The city was founded in 1883 by Oregon and California Railroad surveyors, who stumbled across modern-day Medford after plotting a pathway through the valley.

Complete with tree-lined streets and scenic public parks around every corner, Medford is a delightful city to visit in southern Oregon, with much to experience regardless of your age or interests.

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Mark Westwood is a Seattle-based writer who writes for various online blogs and travel websites. In 2017, he went on a 12-month road trip across the USA visiting many iconic landmarks and small towns along the way. Having explored over 20 countries, his favourite places to date are along the west coast of the USA but he is happiest anywhere where there are mountains and ocean.