Best of Oregon

Mt HoodHere are some lists of my favorite places, restaurants, activities etc. in the amazing state I call home!
I will constantly be adding to these lists as I find new places I love!

Food!

  • “April’s at Nye Beach” – Located in Newport. When we walked across the street from our hotel while on our honeymoon and wandered into April’s we weren’t sure what to think. There were people dressed for a formal dinner as well as people dressed in jeans with wind-blown hair right of the beach. The main room is fairly intimate, the small room with low lighting give it a romantic feel. But the magic started when our food was served. the dishes we received were without a doubt the most amazing meals we have ever eaten. The flavors seem to dance on your tongue and you hate to end such a beautiful dance with a swallow.
  • “Newport Café” – Located in Newport. Home of the “Super Ultimate Monster Burger” (6lb patty topped with grilled onions, ham, fried egg, cheddar cheese and a 10 inch homemade bun. The portions are huge, the food is unhealthily delicious (my husband swears the deep friend mushrooms are to die for) and the atmosphere is casual and fun. It’s open 24 hours, it looks like a dive and I didn’t see one staff member that wasn’t covered in tattoos, in my experience those are always the best restaurants!
  • “Jem 100” – Located in Newberg. This 50’s style diner is tucked away in a hard to spot location but is more than worth the search! not only do they have tons of unique and fantastic ice cream flavors (don’t worry they have the normal ones too) and they will make you a shake out of any flavor you want but their true masterpiece is their burgers! Large burgers loaded with flavor and toppings, they don’t skimp on anything here! My personal favorite is the nacho burger but one piece of advice, you might want to use a fork. It certainly doesn’t stop there, they serve a huge variety of all American foods.
  • “Stanley’s Corner” – Located in Gladstone. Stanley’s is sports bar with a family friendly section. To be honest I have no idea how the food is at Stanley’s outside of the Super Nacho. I don’t know anyone that has gone to Stanley’s and ordered something other than the Super Nacho. Don’t underestimate this nacho, bring your family because you will not be able to finish it yourself. Stanley’s Super Nacho is a tradition in many families from the south-east Portland metro area. It’s not just a nacho it’s a family event.

Hotels!

  • “Sylvia Beach Hotel” – This bed and breakfast sits right on the beach in Newport and has more character than I had ever imagined a hotel could have. Be warned, this hotel isn’t for everyone, it takes a special type of person to truly appreciate this wonderful place. let me explain; no children or pets allowed, no wifi, no tvs, not even radios. What they do have is fun room themes (each room is designed after a different author), books, books and more books, spiced wine nightly, amazing meals served in the dinning room, note books in each room that guests write messages in for future guests, amazing views of the ocean (if you have an ocean view room), and the staff and owners are sweet, personable and amazing! We stayed at the Sylvia Beach Hotel for our honeymoon and it was the best decision we made! Don’t be afraid to disconnect.
  • “Ester Lee Motel” – Those of you who enjoy the charm of dive restaurants over fancy reservation places will love the Ester Lee. When I was a kid and we would take our vacations to the beach we always stays at the Ester Lee Motel in Lincoln City. It’s inexpensive, right on the beach and dogs are welcome. I prefer to stay in the cottages, many of which come with a wall of windows overlooking the ocean, a fireplace and a small kitchen. The décor hasn’t been updated since the 70’s but this place has charm in spades!

Activities!

  • Underground Portland Tour” – This is a fascinating tour of the tunnels (sometimes called Shanghai tunnels) running underneath downtown Portland. If you are interested in history, the sordid past of Portland or just a fun tour underneath a city, this is a great activity for you!
  • “Beyond Bizarre Tour” – If you are a little more twisted, like being creeped out or are looking for a fun Halloween activity look no further! This is the same underground Portland tour as mentioned above but with a ghostly twist. My husband and I love this ghost hunting tour! see review
  • “Finders Keepers on the Beach” – An event that starts every October in Lincoln City. Every day beautiful blown glass floats are placed on the beach. If you find one you can take it to the visitor’s center to receive your certificate of authenticity and a bio of the artist who made that float. Of course you get to keep the floats you find too!
  • “The MAiZE” – Out on Sauvie island there is a corn maze; confusing but fun by day, haunted and frightening by night… This one stop fall attraction also has a pumpkin patch, hayrides, a “cow” train, a huge hey stack pyramid to climb and farm fresh produce to take home.
  • “Newberg Old Fashion Festival” – They’ve got a parade, booths selling home-made or unique items, live music, delicious food, carnival rides, and that small town feel you just can’t get in the city.
  • “Portland Christmas Tree Lighting” – In downtown Portland, at Pioneer Court House Square, the day after thanksgiving a short but sweet event happens every year to kick start the Christmas season. The lighting of the Portland Christmas tree may not be as grand an event as the New York tree lighting ceremony but to me its better in so many ways. Thousands of people gather and huddle together in the rain to sing Christmas songs, drink Starbucks and watch our tree light up the night. It’s the sense of community and togetherness that starts the Portland holiday season off right!

Attractions!

  • “Vista House” – This observatory sitting high above the Columbia river gorge provides breath taking views from all angles (nature and architecture), as well as a memorial to Oregon pioneers. It is a must see if traveling through the gorge!
  • “Multnomah Falls” – While in the gorge be sure to check out Multnomah falls (and the 10 other surrounding waterfalls)! This is the most famous waterfall in Oregon and for good reason. The view from the bottom and from the bridge is amazing enough in itself but even better is the view from the top. The hike to the top is long but not difficult, though the path is narrow and it’s a long drop so watch your step. Don’t forget to check out all of the surrounding waterfalls as well, most with must shorter hikes.
  • “Oregon Zoo” – It may be weird to have a Zoo membership when we don’t have kid yet… Don’t judge me! The Oregon zoo makes the membership fee well worth it! My husband and I frequently go on dates to the zoo. It may not be as elaborate as the San Diego zoo but it should definitely make your “must see” list.
  • “Romona Falls” – This waterfall is what I imagine the entrance to an enchanted fairyland would look like. It has a magical quality to it that is almost impossible to explain. It’s a short and easy 1/4 mile hike but is only open late spring through summer due to flooding during the rainy season.
  • “Newport Aquarium” – Both indoor and outdoor exhibits. Tunnels of glass create the effect of being surrounded by sharks and stingrays. Several opportunities to get your hands wet and feel sea life for yourself. It’s an all day adventure so be sure to give yourself enough time!
  • “Lighthouses” – There are eleven lighthouses along the Oregon coast and each is well worth the detour! Pull out your map and be sure to visit each of the following lighthouses; Tillamook Rock, Cape Meares, Yaquina Head, Yaquina Bay, Cleft of the Rock, Heceta Head, Umpqua River, Cape Arago, Coquille River, Cape Blanco, Pelican Bay.
  • “Evergreen Air and Space Museum” – Home to many historically significant aircraft, including the Spruce Goose! Be sure to check out both the aviation museum and the space museum and if you have time (and remembered to bring your suit) skip on over to the larger than life waterpark. If waterslides aren’t your thing, stay dry with a 3D movie.
  • “Winston Wildlife Safari” – This is a drive through wildlife safari where you are in control! You drive through in your own car, go as slow or fast as you please and stop to take as many pictures as you want. They have done a great job keeping you safe while disguising the barriers between you and the animals. We took my father-in-law and it was a very memorable day!
  • “John Day Fossil Beds” – In Oregon we have it all! Ocean, Mountains, waterfalls, rainforests, and high dessert! The John Day Fossil Beds is a large national monument that is made up of three main units, Sheep Rock, Painted Hills and Clarno. Each unit is unique and worth the drive! We went for the painted hills unit but were pleasantly surprised by how amazing the entire experience was. Be prepared to abandon civilization for this trip, though you will encounter a few ghost towns along the way.
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