8 Small Oregon Towns that Should be on Your Radar This Summer

wallowa lake tramway gondolas oregon

For summer travelers, Oregon has hidden jewels that provide distinctive experiences outside of the usual popular tourist destinations. Off-the-beaten-path places, breathtaking natural scenery, and exposure to the local culture are all offered by these less popular destinations. 

Although Oregon's major cities and well-known tourist attractions frequently steal the show, the state is also home to a number of undiscovered jewels that provide summer tourists with unique experiences. Beyond the well-known sights, these less popular places

These undiscovered treasures provide amazing experiences for outdoor lovers, history fans, and those seeking quieter settings. They range from remote national monuments to charming lakes and parks.

Prepare to take a break from the road and explore Oregon's undiscovered jewels this summer. This article presents eight lovely and less populated little towns that perfectly capture the essence of living in Oregon, from quaint seaside retreats to breathtaking mountain communities. 

Cannon Beach

The Cannon Beach Fat Bike Festival is one of the most scenic Fat Bike Festivals in the world.

The alluring small village of Cannon Beach is renowned for its breathtaking coastline scenery and quaint vibe. It is situated between the Pacific Ocean and the magnificent peaks of the Coastal Range on the northern Oregon coast, about 80 miles west of Portland.

With a population of around 1,600 residents, Cannon Beach retains a quaint and welcoming feel, making it a popular destination for tourists seeking a relaxing coastal getaway. Despite its relatively small size, the town offers a wealth of attractions and activities that showcase the natural wonders and cultural heritage of the area.

Cannon Beach has a rich history that dates back thousands of years when it was inhabited by Native American tribes, including the Tillamook people. In the early 19th century, explorers and fur traders began to arrive in the region. However, it was not until the late 19th century that Cannon Beach began to develop as a community. The town's name is derived from cannon that washed ashore from a shipwreck in the 1840s.

Over time, Cannon Beach has evolved into a renowned coastal destination, attracting artists, writers, and nature lovers alike. Its iconic Haystack Rock, towering at 235 feet, serves as a symbol of the town and is one of the most photographed landmarks on the Oregon coast.

Today, Cannon Beach offers a perfect blend of natural beauty, artistic inspiration, and a thriving tourism industry. Visitors can enjoy long walks along the sandy shoreline, explore tide pools teeming with marine life, visit art galleries and boutiques in the charming downtown area, and indulge in delectable seafood cuisine. 

Whether you seek tranquility amidst scenic landscapes or an active coastal adventure, Cannon Beach promises an unforgettable experience for all who visit.

What to do in Cannon Beach 

Haystack Rock: 

Haystack Rock, which stands 235 feet above the sandy shoreline, is perhaps Cannon Beach's most recognizable feature. At low tide, the tidal pools are filled with vibrant aquatic life, making it a haven for wildlife. The region may be explored, seabirds can be seen, and puffins can even be seen during the breeding season.

Ecola State Park: 

The spectacular coastline views and verdant woodlands of Ecola State Park, which is close to Cannon Beach, are unmatched. Visitors can enjoy beachcombing along secluded lengths of sandy beach as well as hiking through scenic trails that lead to breathtaking overlooks and picnicking in the tranquil surroundings.

Local Art Scene: 

The vibrant art culture at Cannon Beach is well known and draws artists from all around the world. The town is home to a large number of galleries that display a wide variety of artistic mediums, including paintings, sculptures, glass art, and pottery. Explore these galleries, interact with the artists, and find one-of-a-kind keepsakes here.

Boutique Shops: 

With its lovely collection of boutique stores, Cannon Beach is a sanctuary for shopping. Specialty shops may be found all over the downtown area, selling everything from locally made jewelry and clothing to home goods and gifts. It's a joy in and of itself to stroll around the streets looking for hidden gems. 

In addition to these main draws, Cannon Beach is home to beautiful beaches perfect for beachcombing, surfing, and taking leisurely strolls. The town's dynamic and energetic environment is further enhanced by the year-round festivals and events it hosts, such as the Stormy Weather Arts Festival and the Sandcastle Contest. Cannon Beach is a must-visit location for anyone looking for coastal charm and a dash of artistic inspiration because of its natural beauty, artistic flare, and charming shopping opportunities.

Lodging and dining options

To meet a variety of tastes and budgets, Cannon Beach provides a selection of hotel and dining alternatives. Here are some suggestions for hotels, restaurants, and cafes in the area:

The Ocean Lodge

The Ocean Lodge is a wonderful beachfront lodging option with cozy accommodations and breathtaking ocean views. The lodge has cozy rooms with rustic furnishings, fireplaces, and balconies. In addition to the immediate beach access, guests can unwind in the common spaces and take advantage of the complimentary breakfast.

Stephanie Inn

The Stephanie Inn is a chic coastal hideaway and a boutique hotel of the highest caliber. It offers a truly opulent experience with luxurious rooms and suites, prompt service, and stunning ocean views. The award-winning Stephanie Inn Dining Room offers guests excellent dining, wine receptions, and gourmet breakfasts.

Sea Sprite at Haystack Rock

This seaside hotel has cozy, well-appointed beachfront rooms with full kitchens or kitchenettes, allowing visitors to experience life away from home. The Sea Sprite also offers a soothing outdoor hot tub and private beach access.

Popular Summer Attractions

Cannon Beach stands out as a distinctive summer vacation spot because of a number of elements that add to its charm. Here are some things that make Cannon Beach a unique destination to visit in the summer:

Beautiful Sunsets: 

The Pacific Ocean provides a gorgeous background to Cannon Beach's famously beautiful sunsets. The broad sandy beach offers the ideal vantage point from which to view the brilliant hues as the sun sets. Visitors can take beautiful pictures or just enjoy the grandeur of nature's splendor.

Tide Pooling

At low tide, the area surrounding Haystack Rock, one of Cannon Beach's most recognizable monuments, changes into a mesmerizing fantasy. Visitors will have a great chance to tide pool here and get a close-up look at the intriguing marine life. 

The tidal pools provide a view into the varied and fragile coastal life, from bright sea stars and anemones to scuttling hermit crabs.

RELATED: The Best Tide Pools on The Oregon Coast & Where to Find Them

Summer Events 

Cannon Beach holds a number of summer events that liven up and energize the community. One such occasion is the yearly Sandcastle Contest, where competitors display their amazing sand sculpting abilities. 

For guests of all ages, the festival atmosphere, live music, and imaginative sand sculptures make it a highlight. Other activities that improve the town's summertime atmosphere include farmer's markets, outdoor concerts, and art festivals.

Outdoor Activities 

Cannon Beach's summer months provide ideal conditions for outdoor pursuits. Visitors can play beach volleyball, take leisurely strolls along the gorgeous beaches, or try their hand at surfing or paddleboarding. 

Hikers can explore adjacent trails like those at Ecola State Park, where they can immerse themselves in the beautiful coastal forests and take in expansive ocean views.

Beyond its natural beauty, Cannon Beach emanates the atmosphere of a quaint seaside village. Its charming downtown is filled with interesting stores, art galleries, and warm cafes. 

Visitors can take a stroll through the streets, look at regional artwork, and discover one-of-a-kind mementos. The friendly locals enhance the town's appeal by making tourists feel at home.

Beautiful sunsets, tide pooling possibilities, summer activities, and the general feel of a coastal community make Cannon Beach a very distinctive summer vacation spot. Whether you're looking for peace, excitement, or cultural events, Cannon Beach makes for an unforgettable and alluring summer vacation.


Sisters is a charming tiny town that perfectly captures the spirit of the Pacific Northwest. It is located in the picturesque Cascade Mountains of Central Oregon. Sisters, which is roughly 10 miles south of Bend, is renowned for its beautiful scenery, recreational activities, and a strong feeling of community.

Sisters was founded as a logging and ranching hamlet in the late 1800s and has a long and illustrious history. The Three Sisters Mountains, a well-known volcanic range in the Cascades, which are close by, inspired the town's name. 

Sisters was an important location in the early growth of Central Oregon because it served as a transportation hub for agricultural and logging products as well as a crucial supply point for the area's expanding population.

Sisters has transformed into a center for the arts and culture over time. Numerous studios, galleries, and stores in the town feature the creations of regional artists and craftspeople. Each year, tourists from all over the world flock to the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show, one of the biggest outdoor quilt displays in the world.

In addition, Sisters is well known for its accessibility to outdoor activity options. With endless trails to explore, the nearby mountains are a haven for hikers, mountain bikers, and wildlife enthusiasts. The Deschutes National Forest and Smith Rock State Park, two nearby attractions, offer more chances for outdoor activities like camping, fishing, and rock climbing.

Sisters is known for its creative flare, natural beauty, and annual events including the Sisters Rodeo, Folk Festival, and Outdoor Quilt Show. These activities unite the locals and highlight the town's distinctive customs and identity.

RELATED: The Best Camping in Oregon - Our Top Campgrounds

Sisters Main Attractions 

sisters oregon
Truck and mountains outside of Sisters, Oregon in Deschutes County on a stormy morning (Photo by Jim Choate / Flickr)

Sisters, Oregon, offers a variety of attractions for outdoor enthusiasts and those seeking a taste of its unique culture. 

Sisters Rodeo

The Sisters Rodeo, an annual event, showcases thrilling rodeo competitions and the Wild West's rich cowboy heritage. 

Deschutes National Forest

The Deschutes National Forest provides a stunning natural playground for outdoor activities, including trails, campgrounds, and scenic spots like Three Creek Lake, McKenzie Pass-Santiam Pass Scenic Byway, and the Metolius River. Sisters also offers hiking and biking trails, including Peterson Ridge Trail and McKenzie River Trail. Outdoor recreation options include fly fishing in the Metolius River and Hoodoo Ski Area in winter.

Sisters exudes a charming western vibe with rustic storefronts, wooden boardwalks, and old-fashioned street lamps. The town hosts various events and festivals, including the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show and the Sisters Folk Festival, providing a memorable and engaging experience for visitors.

Lodging and Dining Options

Lodging and dining options in Sisters and its surrounding areas cater to various preferences and budgets. FivePine Lodge, Black Butte Ranch, Cold Springs Campground, and Pine Rest Campground are recommended for rustic yet luxurious accommodations, spas, fitness centers, and on-site restaurants.

Near the Sisters Rodeo, Deschutes National Forest, and hiking and biking trails, there are fewer dining options directly, but Sisters is conveniently located and offers a range of restaurants. Packing a picnic or bringing snacks and water is essential for a memorable and engaging experience.

Popular Summer Attractions

Sisters, Oregon, is a unique summer destination with stunning mountain views, outdoor adventures, and a vibrant cultural scene. Sisters offers breathtaking panoramic views of towering peaks, including the iconic Three Sisters Mountains. 

SUmmer outdoor activities include hiking and biking trails, camping, fishing, horseback riding, and wildlife spotting. The nearby Deschutes National Forest offers camping, fishing, horseback riding, and wildlife spotting. Sisters also hosts a vibrant music scene, with the Sisters Folk Festival showcasing diverse musical genres.

The charming small-town atmosphere is complemented by boutique shops, art galleries, and eateries. Sisters hosts various festivals and events, such as the iconic Sisters Rodeo and the world-largest Outdoor Quilt Show. Whether you're enjoying the natural beauty, outdoor adventures, or cultural celebrations, Sisters is a captivating and unforgettable destination for summer travelers.


The Bandon Fish Market exterior
Fish And Chips Chowder House Fish Market in Old Town Bandon. Photo by Jasperdo via Flickr CC2.

Bandon, a picturesque coastal town on Oregon's southern coast, offers breathtaking scenery, outdoor activities, and a rich history dating back to the 19th century. With a population of around 3,000, Bandon maintains a small-town feel and is known for its natural beauty, including rugged cliffs, rock formations, and coastal forests. 

The town's Old Town district offers a glimpse into its past, with historic buildings, local shops, galleries, and seafood restaurants. The Bandon Historical Society Museum provides information on the town's maritime heritage. Whether seeking outdoor adventures, cultural experiences, or a tranquil escape by the sea, Bandon is a captivating coastal destination.

What to do in Bandon 

Bandon, Oregon, is a world-renowned golf destination with stunning coastal courses and a charming character. Key attractions include Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, Coquille River Lighthouse, Old Town Bandon, Bandon Beach, Face Rock State Scenic Viewpoint, fishing, crabbing, boating on the Coquille River, and scenic drives along Cape Blanco and Cape Arago. 

The town's rich maritime history is celebrated at the Bandon Historical Society Museum, offering a memorable experience for golfers, nature lovers, and those who appreciate the charm of coastal towns.

Lodging and Dining Options 

Bandon offers a variety of lodging and dining options to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable stay for visitors. Some recommended options include Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, Sunset Oceanfront Lodging, Bandon Inn, Tony's Crab Shack, Alloro Wine Bar & Restaurant, Edgewaters, Lord Bennett's Restaurant & Lounge, and local eateries. 

These accommodations cater to various tastes and budgets, providing a comfortable place to stay and a diverse selection of culinary experiences. The town also features cafes, bakeries, and local eateries for quick bites and coffee. Explore the charming Old Town area for additional dining establishments, including seafood markets.

Popular Summer Attractions

Bandon, Oregon, is a unique summer destination known for its exceptional golfing experiences, stunning coastal views, and remarkable wildlife viewing opportunities. The Bandon Dunes Golf Resort offers world-class courses with breathtaking landscapes, making it a must-visit destination for golf enthusiasts. 

The coastal scenery is mesmerizing, with rugged cliffs, pristine sandy beaches, and iconic sea stacks creating a picturesque backdrop. Wildlife enthusiasts can observe a diverse array of bird species, including tufted puffins, bald eagles, and shorebirds, at places like Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge. 

The summer season also offers the opportunity to witness migrating gray whales passing along the coast.

Outdoor adventures include kayak or paddleboard explorations of the Coquille River Estuary, hiking trails through coastal forests, and tranquil beaches. Bandon's charm lies in its charming coastal town, with its historic buildings, local shops, art galleries, and restaurants. 

Overall, Bandon offers an extraordinary experience that captures the essence of the Oregon coast.

Hood River

Hood River, located in Oregon's Columbia River Gorge, is a charming town with a population of around 8,000. Its natural beauty, outdoor recreational opportunities, and thriving food and beverage scene make it a popular tourist destination. 

With a rich history dating back to the late 1800s, Hood River has evolved into a hub for outdoor activities, particularly wind sports like windsurfing and kiteboarding. The town's downtown area features boutiques, art galleries, breweries, cideries, and farm-to-table restaurants, showcasing the region's produce and craft beverage scene. 

Hood River's picturesque landscapes, thrilling outdoor adventures, and thriving culinary offerings make it a sought-after destination for those seeking an active and memorable experience in the Pacific Northwest.

What to Do in Hood River

Hood River is a beautiful Pacific Northwest destination with a rich agricultural heritage and diverse attractions. The main highlights include Hood River Waterfront Park, Mount Hood Railroad, and local orchards. 

The park offers scenic views of the river and surrounding mountains, picnic areas, walking and biking paths, a sandy beach, and kiteboarding and windsurfing areas. The Mount Hood Railroad offers a nostalgic train ride through the picturesque Hood River Valley, with themed excursions. Hood River is also known for its apple and pear farms, offering self-picking opportunities and farm stands.

Outdoor recreation options include hiking, skiing, snowboarding, hiking, and mountain biking. The vibrant food and beverage scene includes breweries, cideries, and wineries, offering tours, tastings, and farm-to-table cuisine. 

Hood River provides a memorable and enjoyable destination for visitors seeking outdoor recreation, cultural experiences, or a taste of the region's agricultural heritage.

Lodging and Dining Options

Hood River offers a variety of lodging and dining options to suit different preferences and budgets. Popular options include hotels and resorts with river or mountain views, vacation rentals with kitchen and living space, charming bed and breakfasts, farm-to-table restaurants, breweries and cideries, casual eateries and cafes, and food carts and trucks. 

Popular Summer Attractions

Hood River is a unique summer destination with its unique offerings and vibrant atmosphere. It is known as the "Windsurfing Capital of the World" due to its prime location in the Columbia River Gorge, offering ideal conditions for windsurfing and kiteboarding. 

Hood River's craft beer scene is thriving, with breweries like Full Sail Brewing Company, Friem Family Brewers, and Double Mountain Brewery & Taproom producing a variety of unique and flavorful beers. 

The region's fertile soil and favorable climate make it an ideal region for fruit picking, with local farms offering u-pick opportunities. Outdoor recreation options include hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, paddleboarding, and fishing.

Hood River hosts various festivals and events throughout the summer, showcasing local breweries and craft beers. These events highlight the town's vibrant culture and agricultural heritage, making it an unforgettable summer experience amidst breathtaking scenery and a lively community spirit.


ashland oregon
Image courtesy of ijpr.org

Ashland, a quaint and culturally diverse town located in Southern Oregon's Siskiyou Mountains foothills, is noted for its scenic surroundings, thriving arts community, and prestigious theatrical festival. The charming Rogue River and the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument are just two of the magnificent scenery that surround Ashland, which is situated about 16 miles north of the California border.

Ashland, which has a population of about 21,000 people, manages to maintain a small-town feel while providing a variety of amenities and attractions. 

The town was first inhabited in the middle of the 19th century as a mining and logging settlement. But it was the discovery of mineral-rich lithia water springs that helped popularize Ashland and made it a place famed for its healing waters.

Ashland is perhaps best known for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, which began in 1935 and has since become one of the most prestigious theater festivals in the country. 

Every year, theater enthusiasts flock to Ashland to enjoy a diverse array of classic and contemporary plays performed in beautifully designed theaters.

In addition to its theater scene, Ashland offers a wealth of cultural experiences. The town's downtown area is a hub of activity, filled with art galleries, boutique shops, and a wide selection of restaurants and cafes. Ashland also hosts a variety of festivals and events throughout the year, including the Ashland Independent Film Festival, the Lithia Artisans Market, and the Ashland Culinary Festival.

The natural beauty surrounding Ashland provides ample opportunities for outdoor recreation. The Rogue River offers world-class fishing, rafting, and kayaking adventures, while nearby trails and parks provide opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, and bird-watching. In the winter, the nearby Mount Ashland Ski Area offers skiing and snowboarding for winter sports enthusiasts.

Ashland's unique blend of natural beauty, rich cultural offerings, and small-town charm make it a captivating destination for visitors. Whether you're immersing yourself in the world of theater, exploring the local arts scene, or enjoying the outdoor activities in the surrounding wilderness, Ashland provides a memorable and enriching experience in the heart of Southern Oregon.

What to do in Ashland

Ashland, Oregon, is known for its vibrant arts scene, natural beauty, and cultural events. Key attractions include the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Lithia Park, the Ashland Independent Film Festival, the Oregon Cabaret Theatre, and the Shakespearean Gardens. 

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival showcases classic and contemporary plays, while Lithia Park offers a serene escape into nature. The Ashland Independent Film Festival showcases independent filmmaking, while the Oregon Cabaret Theatre offers an intimate setting for performances. 

The Shakespearean Gardens, adjacent to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, pay homage to Shakespeare's works with colorful flowers, aromatic herbs, and sculptures. These attractions provide a rich and memorable experience for arts and culture lovers in Ashland.

Lodging and Dining Options

Ashland provides a variety of lodging and dining options to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable stay for visitors. Popular options include hotels and inns, vacation rentals, RV parks and campgrounds, farm-to-table and fine dining, casual eateries and cafes, wine bars and tasting rooms, and coffee shops and bakeries. 

These establishments cater to different tastes and budgets, offering comfortable accommodations, friendly service, and convenient locations. Visitors can enjoy a variety of regional wines and enjoy the laid-back atmosphere at wine bars and tasting rooms. 

Ashland's diverse culinary experiences cater to every palate, making it an ideal destination for travelers seeking a comfortable and enjoyable stay.

Popular Summer Attractions

Ashland, Oregon, is a captivating summer destination known for its theater performances, picturesque parks, and thriving arts scene. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) attracts world-class actors, offering a diverse repertoire of classic and contemporary plays. 

The 93-acre Lithia Park offers a serene escape into nature, with lush greenery, meandering pathways, and manicured gardens. The town's vibrant arts scene showcases various artistic styles and mediums, with galleries hosting exhibitions and events. 

Outdoor recreation opportunities include fishing, whitewater rafting, kayaking, hiking, wildlife viewing, and exploring the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument.

The town's culinary scene offers a range of options, from farm-to-table establishments to international cuisines and gourmet dining experiences. Overall, Ashland offers a memorable and enriching experience that celebrates the arts, nature, and the creative spirit.


Yachats Oregon
Image via / yachatsoregon.org

Nestled along the rugged central Oregon coast, Yachats is a quaint and picturesque town known for its natural beauty, tranquil ambiance, and breathtaking ocean views. Located approximately 25 miles south of Newport, Yachats offers a charming escape into a coastal paradise.

With a population of around 750 residents, Yachats exudes a small-town charm that attracts visitors seeking a serene coastal getaway. The town is situated where lush forests meet the dramatic coastline, and its name, derived from the Siletz language, means "dark water at the foot of the mountain."

Yachats has a rich history that dates back thousands of years, with evidence of indigenous peoples inhabiting the area for centuries. European settlement in the region began in the 19th century, driven by the timber industry and the allure of the Oregon Coast's natural resources. Over time, Yachats transitioned from a logging town to a haven for artists, nature lovers, and those seeking a slower pace of life.

Today, Yachats is renowned for its unspoiled natural beauty and outdoor recreational opportunities. Visitors can explore miles of sandy beaches, hike along scenic trails that wind through old-growth forests, and marvel at the powerful waves crashing against the shoreline. The town also embraces its artistic spirit, with galleries and studios showcasing the works of local artists.

What To Do in Yachats

Cape Perpetua Scenic Area

Located just south of Yachats, the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area is a coastal gem that offers stunning panoramic views and diverse ecosystems. Visitors can explore the trails that wind through ancient forests, visit the tide pools at Cook's Chasm, and witness the awe-inspiring Spouting Horn geyser. The Cape Perpetua Visitor Center provides educational exhibits and information about the area's natural and cultural history.

Yachats State Recreation Area 

This picturesque beachfront park in the heart of Yachats offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. Visitors can stroll along the sandy shoreline, fly kites, or have a picnic while listening to the crashing waves. The park also provides access to the historic 804 Trail, which winds along the coastline and offers scenic vistas.

Little Art Galleries

Yachats is home to a vibrant arts community, and the town's little art galleries showcase the talent and creativity of local artists. Visitors can explore these intimate galleries, which often feature a variety of mediums including paintings, sculptures, ceramics, and jewelry. It's a great opportunity to appreciate and support the local arts scene.

Lodging and Dining Options

Yachats offers a variety of lodging options to suit different preferences and budgets. Visitors can find cozy bed and breakfasts, charming inns, vacation rentals, and campgrounds in and around the town. 

Some notable options include oceanfront cottages, rustic cabins, and campsites with scenic views. Popular dining options in Yachats range from seafood-focused restaurants offering fresh catches of the day to cozy cafes serving homemade baked goods and local specialties. 

Many establishments emphasize using locally sourced ingredients and showcase the flavors of the region.

Popular Summer Attractions

Yachats offers a unique summer experience with its breathtaking coastal trails, exceptional whale-watching opportunities, and a thriving local arts scene. The coastal trails provide opportunities for scenic hikes, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the beauty of the Oregon coast. 

The town's strategic location makes it an excellent spot for whale watching, as gray whales migrate along the coast during the summer months. Yachats also boasts a vibrant arts scene, with galleries showcasing the works of talented local artists. Visitors can explore these galleries, attend art events, and find one-of-a-kind artistic pieces to take home as souvenirs. 

The combination of natural beauty, outdoor adventures, and a flourishing arts community makes Yachats a special summer destination that captures the essence of the Oregon coast.


The outside of The Dog Spot in Joseph, Oregon.
The Dog Spot In Joseph Oregon. Photo by Lois M. via Yelp.

Located in the northeastern corner of Oregon, Joseph is a charming town nestled in the stunning Wallowa Valley. Situated at the base of the Wallowa Mountains, Joseph offers breathtaking natural beauty, a rich history, and a welcoming community.

With a population of around 1,000 residents, Joseph maintains a small-town ambiance that attracts visitors seeking a peaceful retreat in the midst of picturesque landscapes. The town is named after Chief Joseph, a revered Native American leader of the Nez Perce tribe who once called this region home.

Joseph has a history rooted in the timber and ranching industries, which played a significant role in its development. The town was established in the late 19th century as a trading post and hub for pioneers moving westward. Over the years, Joseph has evolved into a destination that celebrates its cultural heritage, natural wonders, and outdoor recreation opportunities.

What to Do in Joseph

Wallowa Lake

wallowa lake tramway gondolas oregon

One of the main highlights of Joseph is the pristine Wallowa Lake, located just south of town. Surrounded by the majestic Wallowa Mountains, the lake offers breathtaking views and a wide range of outdoor activities. Visitors can enjoy swimming, fishing, kayaking, paddleboarding, and boating on the crystal-clear waters of the lake. The surrounding trails provide opportunities for hiking, biking, and horseback riding, allowing visitors to explore the scenic beauty of the area.

Joseph Branch Railriders

A unique and family-friendly attraction in Joseph is the Joseph Branch Railriders. Visitors can pedal railrider bikes along an abandoned railway track, taking in the picturesque landscapes and enjoying a leisurely ride through the Wallowa Valley. This engaging activity offers a fun and interactive way to experience the beauty of the region while learning about its history.

RELATED: This Pedal-Powered Rail Ride in Oregon is Simply Awesome

Chief Joseph Days Rodeo

Each summer, Joseph hosts the Chief Joseph Days Rodeo, a renowned event that celebrates the region's western heritage and showcases the skills of talented cowboys and cowgirls. The rodeo features thrilling rodeo events such as bull riding, barrel racing, steer wrestling, and team roping. It's a lively and authentic western experience that draws participants and spectators from near and far.

Lodging and Dining Options 

Joseph offers a range of lodging options to accommodate visitors. Cozy bed and breakfasts, rustic cabins, vacation rentals, and campgrounds can be found in and around the town. 

These accommodations often provide a cozy and comfortable retreat with scenic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. Dining options in Joseph include family-owned restaurants, cafes, and bakeries that offer hearty and delicious meals. 

Visitors can savor local flavors, including regional specialties and farm-to-table cuisine, while enjoying the warm hospitality of the town.

Popular Summer Attractions

Joseph stands out as a unique summer destination due to its pristine lake, abundant outdoor activities, and vibrant rodeo event. The breathtaking beauty of Wallowa Lake, with its crystal-clear waters and majestic mountain backdrop, provides a picturesque setting for outdoor adventures and relaxation. 

Visitors can engage in a wide range of activities, from swimming and boating to hiking and fishing, immersing themselves in the tranquility and natural splendor of the area.

The Joseph Branch Railriders offer a one-of-a-kind experience, allowing visitors to pedal their way through scenic landscapes along an old railway track, connecting with the history and beauty of the Wallowa Valley in a unique and engaging way.

The Chief Joseph Days Rodeo adds excitement and western charm to the summer experience in Joseph. This authentic rodeo event celebrates the town's cultural heritage and offers a thrilling spectacle for visitors of all ages. Witnessing skilled cowboys and cowgirls competing in traditional rodeo events provides a captivating glimpse into the western way of life.

Overall, the combination of a pristine lake, abundant outdoor activities, and a vibrant rodeo event makes Joseph a unique summer destination that captures the spirit of the American West and offers a memorable experience for those seeking adventure, natural beauty, and a taste of western culture.


Located on the Oregon Coast, Manzanita is a charming seaside town known for its pristine beaches, breathtaking natural beauty, and laid-back atmosphere. Situated in Tillamook County, Manzanita offers a tranquil coastal escape amidst stunning landscapes.

With a population of around 600 residents, Manzanita maintains a small-town feel that appeals to visitors seeking a peaceful retreat along the Oregon coast. The town's name comes from the native manzanita shrubs that dot the area, adding to the natural beauty of the surroundings.

Manzanita has a history rooted in logging and fishing industries. Over time, it has transformed into a popular destination for tourists looking to unwind, explore nature, and enjoy the serene beauty of the Pacific coastline.

What to Do in Manzanita

Manzanita Beach

The highlight of Manzanita is its beautiful sandy beach, stretching for miles along the coast. Visitors can stroll along the shoreline, take in the breathtaking ocean views, and enjoy the tranquility of the surroundings. The beach is perfect for sunbathing, picnicking, beachcombing, and building sandcastles.

Nehalem Bay State Park

Just south of Manzanita, Nehalem Bay State Park offers outdoor enthusiasts a wealth of recreational opportunities. The park features miles of hiking and biking trails, picnic areas, and a large campground. Visitors can also enjoy activities such as boating, fishing, crabbing, and wildlife watching in the park's diverse habitats.

Local Shops

Manzanita is known for its charming local shops that offer a unique shopping experience. Visitors can explore boutiques, art galleries, and specialty stores showcasing handmade crafts, local artwork, clothing, jewelry, and more. The town's shops reflect the creative spirit and artistic talent of the community.

Lodging and Dining Options

Manzanita offers a range of lodging options to cater to visitors. Cozy beachfront vacation rentals, charming bed and breakfasts, and quaint inns provide comfortable accommodations with scenic views. Additionally, campgrounds and RV parks are available for those who prefer a more rustic experience. 

Dining options in Manzanita include a variety of restaurants, cafes, and eateries that offer a range of cuisines, from fresh seafood to international flavors. Visitors can enjoy delicious meals while taking in the laid-back coastal ambiance.

Popular Summer Attractions 

Manzanita is a special summer destination due to its tranquil beaches, birdwatching opportunities, and unique local shopping experience. The pristine beaches of Manzanita provide a peaceful and serene setting for relaxation and beach activities. 

Visitors can enjoy sunbathing, beachcombing, and long walks along the sandy shoreline.

Birdwatching enthusiasts will appreciate the abundant birdlife in the area. Manzanita and its surrounding natural habitats attract a variety of coastal and migratory bird species. 

The Nehalem Bay area offers opportunities for birdwatching and observing the diverse avian population.

Manzanita's local shops offer a distinct shopping experience, with a focus on handmade crafts, local artwork, and unique items. Visitors can explore the town's boutiques and galleries, discovering one-of-a-kind treasures and supporting local artisans.

Overall, Manzanita's tranquil beaches, birdwatching opportunities, and unique local shopping experience make it a special summer destination for those seeking relaxation, natural beauty, and a touch of coastal charm.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, Oregon is home to several hidden gems that offer unique summer experiences. From the picturesque coastal town of Cannon Beach to the artistic haven of Ashland, and from the outdoor paradise of Hood River to the scenic beauty of Bandon, each destination has its own allure and attractions.

Visitors can expect stunning landscapes, outdoor adventures, vibrant arts scenes, and a variety of dining and lodging options in these charming towns. Whether it's exploring the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, windsurfing in Hood River, golfing in Bandon, or strolling along the tranquil beaches of Manzanita, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

To make the most of the visit, it's recommended to plan the trip during the summer months when the weather is pleasant and the towns come alive with events and activities. It's also important to respect the local communities and natural environments by following guidelines and being mindful of the surroundings.

Don't miss the chance to discover these hidden gems in Oregon, where small-town charm, natural beauty, and cultural experiences await. So pack your bags, hit the road, and embark on an unforgettable journey to these enchanting destinations.

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Tyler James, founder of That Oregon Life, is a true Oregon native whose love for his state runs deep. Since the inception of the blog in 2013, his unbridled passion for outdoor adventures and the natural beauty of Oregon has been the cornerstone of his work. As a father to two beautiful children, Tyler is always in pursuit of new experiences to enrich his family’s life. He curates content that not only reflects his adventures but also encourages others to set out and create precious memories in the majestic landscapes of Oregon. Tyler's vision and guidance are integral to his role as publisher and editor, shaping the blog into a source of inspiration for exploring the wonders of Oregon.