Portland is high on many traveler’s lists, but what about the rest of the great state of Oregon? There’s beauty to be found in every corner of the state, from the rugged Pacific coastline to the desolate splendor of the eastern desert. More than that, though, there’s quirkiness scattered throughout the state, displaying Oregon’s unique history in all its various guises. Read on to find out the eight small towns that best capture Oregon’s quirky charms.
McMinnville may have grown up around a flour mill, but it’s grape barrels that keep the economy spinning these days. Yamhill County is at the heart of Oregon’s ever burgeoning wine industry, and McMinnville is a great jumping off point for the nearly 200 wineries in the area. Unique tour possibilities abound, from horseback riding between tasting rooms to a hot air balloon ride that lets visitors truly appreciate the beauty of the valley. In McMinnville itself there are 13 winemakers and, because this is Oregon, 6 craft brewers for anyone craving something a little hoppier. The historic downtown also features several excellent restaurants showcasing the local wines. For those who like a little quirkiness served alongside their Pinot Noir, McMinnville holds an annual UFO festival in May, complete with alien costume parade, to celebrate a famous UFO sighting that occurred in 1950.
The first thing to know about this coastal town is how it’s pronounced: Yah-hots. The next thing to know is: don’t tell anyone else about this tiny gem. One of the most attractive features of the town and its surrounding area is that it’s rarely ever crowded, even in the dead of summer when inland temperatures are soaring and Willamette Valley residents flee to the coast. The main attraction here is Cape Perpetua, located just outside town. The headland rises over 800 feet at its highest point, giving visitors the opportunity to see 60 kilometers out to sea on a clear day. Walk the 26 miles of hiking trails, or stay closer to the ground to seek out the gray whales that feed along the coast. The town itself is a typical cute Oregon coastal town, featuring art galleries and local crafts for sale.
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