Oregon Feature

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Top Things to Do in Oregon

Wine Tasting. Few wine-producing regions in America are more strongly identified with a single varietal than the Willamette Valley is with Pinot Noir. More than 200 vineyards here produce this rarefied wine, not to mention excellent Chardonnay and Pinot Gris. If you're short on time, drive to tiny Carlton, which has more than 20 tasting rooms.

White-water Rafting. Oregon offers some of the best white-water rafting in the country; the mighty Rogue River is a thrilling ride. Several outfitters offer trips along this frothy, 215-mi river in the southwestern part of the state. Other excellent spots for rafting include the Deschutes River in Bend, and the Clackamas and White Salmon rivers near Portland.

Mount Hood. Just 60 mi east of Portland, the state's highest mountain is the only place in the "lower 48" where you can ski year-round. There are five different facilities, Timberline Lodge Ski Area being the most scenic.

Crater Lake National Park. The deepest lake in the United States is also the clearest, a fact readily grasped as soon as you behold this searing-blue body of water formed from rain and snowmelt that's filled an ancient volcanic caldera. In summer this 21-square-mi lake is southern Oregon's foremost attraction, and its encircled by a well-maintained 33-mi road.

Coastal Villages. The nearest coastal town to Portland, Cannon Beach also happens to be one of the most picturesque. Anchored by 235-foot-tall Haystack Rock, the town is noted for fine art galleries and cafés specializing in organic coffee and fresh-caught seafood. Other charming coastal hamlets include Florence, with its historic Old Town; Astoria, once the salmon-canning capital of the West; and Newport, with its engaging Oregon Coast Aquarium.

The Columbia Gorge. The 75-mi section of the breathtaking Columbia River that extends just east of Portland to The Dalles provides some of the most stunning scenery in the Pacific Northwest. Towering cliffs on both the Washington and Oregon sides of the river form a dramatic backdrop, and meandering highways line both banks (on the Washington side, Hwy. 14 is slower but offers better views).Water and wind sports abound.

Portland Neighborhoods. Oregon's largest city is famed for its eccentric neighborhoods, which merit at least a day of exploring. Be sure to hit Hawthorne, Mississippi Avenue, and Alberta on the east side, where vintage clothiers and organic coffeehouses abound. Just north of downtown, the more upscale Pearl District has stylish boutiques and trendy eateries—it's also home to legendary Powell's Bookstore. On weekends, don't miss nearby Portland Saturday Market, the largest arts-and-crafts fair in the country.

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Sunny, hilly, and attractive, Ashland is a charming, small city in its own right, but attending this world-class festival, which presents plays (from Shakespeare to classic to contemporary) on three different stages from mid-February to early November, is all the more reason to go.

Brewpubs. The nation's second largest producer of craft beer, Oregon has no shortage of microbreweries—many of them serving their product, along with great food. You're sure to have an authentic experience at any of the prolific and decidedly quirky McMenamins pubs and breweries throughout the state.

Beachcombing. Dramatic, pristine beaches line Oregon's windswept coast, offering countless opportunities for hikes along the sand, plus surfing and swimming for the intrepid (Oregon waters are frigid, even in summer). The 41 mi of rolling bluffs that make up Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area near Reedsport are a favorite draw. Also check out the beautiful beaches near Manzanita, Yachats, and Brookings.

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