8 Small Towns That Capture Oregon’s Quirky Charm

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6. Baker City

Anyone who grew up playing the old computer game “Oregon Trail” will feel a little thrill when visiting this small town in the eastern part of the state. Flagstaff Hill, with its views over the Blue Mountains, signified that the long journey undertaken by those wagon trains was finally coming to an end – although many would still need to raft their way down the Columbia River. The National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center atop the hill offers plenty of information for history nuts to geek out about, including artifacts and replica wagons. Authentic wagon ruts, however, can be seen outside, a reminder that this wasn’t a game for the thousands of emigrants that traveled the trail. Further evidence of how difficult life was for those new Oregonians can be seen at the excellent Baker Heritage Museum, while the Chinese cemetery is a reminder of those who gave so much to help build the town.

Baker City Oregon wagon

5. Hood River

Modern day Oregonians are practically required by law to enjoy participating in outdoor activities. But one visit to Hood River and any non-natives will realize this is no hardship. The town is possibly the most scenic in the state, with the Colombia River stretching along its banks and Mt. Hood’s triangular form towering above. Waterfront Park is practically guaranteed to be filled with walkers, joggers and bikers, while the river below teems with windsurfers. Hood River calls itself the “Windsurfing Capital of the World,” and accordingly has a dedicated harbor just for those learning the sport. Opportunities for kitesurfing, kayaking and paddleboarding also draw thousands of visitors. After working up an appetite with so much activity, visiting one of the town’s many delicious restaurants is a must. With so many fruits and veggies grown in the surrounding valley, make like a local and eat what’s grown nearby.

Hood River Oregon
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