Trust local experts to show you Oregon’s best-kept secrets
Whether you’re looking for a buzzy city break, a gourmet escape or a boots-on adventure, you’ll find it in Oregon
The Pacific Northwest state is flush with natural wonders, from windswept beaches and waterfall-filled canyons to the snowy crown of Mount Hood, visible from Portland on a clear day. It’s a food-lover’s delight, too. Rows of Pinot Noir stripe Oregon’s valleys, farms swell with berries and hops, and pink shrimp and salmon are plucked from Pacific waters.
The best way to explore is with a local expert. Guides will whisk you into the wilds of Oregon to kayak on whitewater or camp in pine forests or take you behind the scenes at Portland’s breweries and bakeries. Discover more with the Hidden Trails of Oregon podcast series, plus our pick of the best guided tours of the Beaver State.
For adrenaline junkies
Go Wild American Adventures
Itching for an off-grid adventure? Go Wild American Adventures takes outdoorsy types into Eastern Oregon’s backcountry heart, where wide-open deserts, plunging canyons, lakes and peaks await.
Expert naturalist guides will lead you out into the wilderness on a private, bespoke trip (you can also join an existing tour) and the level of luxury is up to you: go back to basics with the Classic Backpacking adventure or upgrade to Luxury Wild Camping to enjoy a fully outfitted camp, including a kitchen and games.
The real drawcard is the location, though. Whichever tour you choose, Wallowa-Whitman National Forest (where most excursions unfold) promises a pinch-yourself setting with alpine peaks, pin-drop-quiet woodland and canyons beating down towards Snake River.
Lost Plate food tours
Take a trip to Portland, Oregon’s urban hub. Here you’ll find a huge store of food carts and creative international restaurants, plus acres of wine country nosing up to the city’s doorstep.
Lost Plate Food Tours are proudly run by Portlanders and excursions offer a deep dive into the city’s diverse food scene. Its ‘Food Carts, Pods, and Patios Tour’ explores the hip Central Eastside neighbourhood, where carts dole out everything from fried chicken and waffles to jambalaya. You’ll stop by one of the city’s many craft breweries, too.
Alternatively, head for the ‘Downtown Coffee and Donut Tour’ to sample two of the city’s greatest specialities. Portland heaves with artisan coffee shops and roasteries such as Stumptown, which also showcases work by local artists. Nearby, there’s a perpetual line at ultra-popular Voodoo Doughnut, which is known for its bright pink livery and sweet creations heavy with rainbow sprinkles or maple frosting. You’ll discover this favourite plus other, lesser known ‘donuteries’ on the tour.
For nature lovers
South Coast Tours
Oregon has natural beauty in spades and some of its wonders are revealed on excursions with South Coast Tours. Guides focus on Oregon’s bucolic southern coast, with its dune-backed beaches, charming small towns and misty forests.
Strike out on a paddle tour through Port Orford Heads State Park and keep your eyes peeled for cormorants and oyster catchers overhead. You might also spot harbour seals and even grey whales in the right season. Confident kayakers can also tackle the Class 2 and 3 rapids along the lower, aptly named Wild and Scenic Rogue River. The water rushes between craggy banks thick with forest that turns burnt orange in the autumn.
South Coast Tours also runs surf lessons and scuba diving tours, where you’ll sink beneath the ocean’s surface to see colourful sea urchins. If you’d prefer to stay on dry land, head to the Pine Grove Trail in Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest. This downhill mountain-biking route beats through fragrant pines and opens out at the confluence of the Wild and Scenic Rogue and Illinois rivers. South Coast Tours offer a shuttle to and from the trail.
For the personal touch
MountNbarreL guided tours
This is one for the oenophiles. MountNbarreL tours beat into wine country, taking guests through vineyard-stitched Hood River and the Columbia River Gorge. Popular regional varieties include Pinot Noir, Riesling and Chardonnay, and you’ll sample the area’s bounty on private tastings and behind-the-scenes tours. Hop on a shuttle or work up an appetite for your catered lunch with a bike or ebike ride between venues.
You can also tailor your trip to your group, adding on spa treatments and farm-to-table food experiences, or plan a multi-day retreat. Cinematic views of Mount Hood and Mount Adams will be on tap, too.