The 19 Best Small Towns in Oregon

It's the most beautiful time to see the Beaver State.

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With wild Pacific Ocean on the west, pioneer trails on the east, and mountains in between, Oregon's small town scene runs the gamut from Old West to beachy.

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Hood River

Known as the windsurfing capital of the world, attracts a steady stream of hikers, bikers, and skiers, too, who flock to the area for its easy access to both Mount Hood and the Columbia River.

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Mosier

A pedestrian and bike trail wends its way east for five miles from Hood River, passing through twin tunnels and two different climates zones to reach quaint , tucked among the basalt cliffs of the Columbia Gorge. This tiny town is surrounded by hiking and biking trails and orchards galore. Closer in, find tasting rooms for cideries and wineries.

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The Dalles

At the sun-drenched eastern entrance to the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, and near the Deschutes River, is home to history that ranges from petroglyphs to pioneers, much of which is represented in the murals covering buildings downtown.

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Carlton

Farm country charm meets sophistication in this once rough-and-tumble logging town. Today, cheese mongers, artisan chocolatiers, and more than 20 tasting rooms fill the three-block-strong , surrounded by vine covered hills.

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McMinnville

At the heart the Pinot-Noir-producing Willamette Valley is , a historic town lush with maple trees, boutiques, breweries, coffee shops, and farm-to-table dining. Come for the craft beers, artsy events, and exceptional local wine touring, stay for the with a Boeing 747 on the roof.

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Silverton

Situated on the 45th parallel, was planned in 1854 around a large Oregon White Oak tree, which was long a meeting spot along the Santiam trail for the local Native Americans. Today the town is home to murals, an 80-acre botanical park, and the gateway to Silver Falls State Park—and all 10 of its waterfalls.

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Astoria

The oldest settlement west of the Rockies is , a fishing village meets Victorian-era homes, forts, museums, and local brews, all overlooking the Columbia River close to its effluence to the Pacific Ocean.

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Gearhart

Chef James Beard was first exposed to Pacific Northwest cuisine in this seaside town nestled among the dunes. There are no traffic lights in but the town streets—which lead to antique shops and home stores, restaurants, and an art gallery—are made wide for cycling.

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Cannon Beach

Otherworldly outcrops known as Haystack Rocks jut through the Pacific Ocean mist on the shoreline; lighthouses dot the coast in the distance; and art galleries, boutiques, and distilleries fill the picturesque coastal town of .

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Manzanita

Home to seven miles of sandy beach, the third most photographed scenery in Oregon, and views of Neahkahnie Mountain to the north, is a sweet little beach town with a gourmet grocer, two book stores, and delightful dining.

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Yachats

To the north is the wave-carved inlet known as Devils Churn; to the south is Thor's Well, a hole drilled into the basalt rock that seems to drain the entire Pacific Ocean. In between is quaint —its name comes from the Chinook word for "dark water at the foot of the mountain"—with its artist galleries and Native American artists, boutiques, and hotels. Nearby, hiking trails wend up to Oregon Coast's highest point, Cape Perpetua.

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Grants Pass

Oregon's Rogue River runs through , known as the state's whitewater rafting capital. Downtown's National Historic District is home to antique stores, live theatre, and even a soda fountain.

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Ashland

Mountains may rise all around— is set at the convergence of the Siskiyou and Cascade ranges—but it's the arts, and especially the Bard, that draws crowds to this town. From February through early November, Ashland is home to the 82-year-old Oregon Shakespeare Festival festival. Plus, galleries, theatres, restaurants, and more abound in this small town just 16 miles north of the California border.

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Jacksonville

Old-school Americana charm meets Gold Rush history in this small town that's home to six tasting rooms, boutique shops, and epicurean treats. Also here is the summer-long outdoor concert series known as Britt Fest that attracts the likes of a Britt Orchestra, Diana Krall, and Michael Franti & Spearhead.

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Sisters

Three mountain peaks (the Sisters) tower to the west of this small town full of 1880s facades and vibrant arts. While ' proximity to skiing, camping, and fishing attracts adventure seekers, there's also America's first beer spa—where you can soak in hot tubs filled with beer inspired ingredients while sipping a local pint from Deschutes Brewery.

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Lostine

Centuries-old businesses distinguish in eastern Oregon: There's the 107-year-old general store—where they're selling everything from fresh eggs to $500 kevlar lined jeans—and a farm-to-table tavern. Also here: a parked through its wall.

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Enterprise

Brewers and boss lady ranchers call home. No wonder, given that one of the earth's deepest gorges, Hells Canyon, lies just to the east. Near town, at the south end of Wallowa Lake, stand a historic lodge, cabins, and a tramway that shuttles visitors to the top of the mountain. With three bronze foundries nearby, the area is also a hub for Western bronze art.

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Joseph

Cowboys and world-class artists mingle along downtown 's cobblestone sidewalks, traipsing between galleries and gathering beneath seven life-size bronze sculptures. Set in an evergreen valley with a snowcapped mountain backdrop, this mountain town is filled with art—including a bronze foundry—shopping, and restaurants. Its perimeter gives way to alpine lakes, rivers, and canyons.

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Baker City

Established in 1874 as a pioneer-era trading center between Salt Lake City and Portland (the Oregon Train passed by here), is known as eastern Oregon's basecamp. It's home to more than 100 historic buildings, including the 1889 Geiser Grand Hotel. Just outside town is National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center. Clint Eastwood's Paint Your Wagon was filmed in Baker City, too.

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