Places to Visit in Oregon in the Winter

You’ll find a variety of places to visit in Oregon in the winter. Enjoy snow adventures at Mt. Hood, explore the charming towns of the Central Oregon high desert, or road trip along the Oregon Coast during the winter months.

If you’re looking for Oregon vacation ideas, winter is a great time to escape the crowds. There are plenty of places to see all the best Oregon beaches, National Parks, State Parks, hiking trails, and more!

places to visit in Oregon in the winter

The weather in Oregon in the winter will vary from the coast, inland desert, and mountains. It’s important to know the weather forecast and road conditions for the places you’ll visit in the winter so you’re prepared with the right clothing, gear, and supplies!

Some mountain passes will require chains due to snow conditions. We’ve experienced a scary drive through a blizzard trying to head to the Oregon Coast from the east driving over a few mountain passes!

To help make your trip planning easier, we’ve compiled this comprehensive list of must-do activities that belong on every Oregon Bucket List: things to see, do and taste all around the state! Grab the free download by clicking the graphic below!

Oregon Bucket List Packet optin
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Visiting Oregon in the Winter

When it comes to planning a winter trip to Oregon, it’s important to know the weather to expect for the location you plan to visit. Here are three main climate regions in Oregon to give you an idea of temperatures to expect:

Oregon Coast Winter Weather – Temperatures during the day average in the high 40s with lows below freezing. Expect rainy weather in the winter, with occasional snow that usually melts quickly.

Inland Oregon Winter Weather – Willamette Valley and Portland will be colder than the coast with highs in the mid 40s and lows below freezing. It doesn’t rain as much as the coast, but snow and ice are more common.

Central Oregon Winter Weather – Average highs are near 40 with lows near 20. The winter months are the rainiest, but that’s only about two inches per month so most locations are relatively dry.

Eastern Oregon Winter Weather – It will be cold, and it’s not uncommon to have winter temperatures dip below 0! The Columbia River Gorge is windy all year. Ice storms can occur during the winter, and could close I-84 along the river.

Southern Oregon Winter Weather – The Medford area average winter temperatures range from highs in the 40s to lows in the 30s. Snowfall accumulations are a few inches that can limit outdoor activities.

Oregon Cascades in the Winter – This area receives a large amount of snow in the winter. Crater Lake snow totals are about 40 feet each year! Expect cold winter temperatures with highs in the 30s and lows in the 20s.

Road trips in the winter require a bit more planning for “what if” situations. You never know if you’ll be sitting in traffic or on the side of the road with car troubles. Here are a few basic winter road trip supplies to pack:

We also make sure that our warm winter clothing is in easy reach “just in case”:

Map of Oregon Winter Vacation Spots

Here is a map of winter vacation spots in Oregon to help you plan your travel itinerary!

We recommend the Oregon GuideAlong App to hear fun behind-the-scenes stories and local tips that play automatically as you drive, based on your GPS location as you drive through the state!

Map of places to visit in the winter in Oregon

Places to Visit in Oregon in the Winter

You’ll find a variety of ways to spend a winter vacation visiting Oregon. Enjoy winter snow sports like skiing or snowshoeing, or hiking to see waterfalls in the rainforest, or walks along the beaches on the coast!

We’ve asked our travel friends to share their favorite winter destinations in Oregon. We bet you’ll find yourself adding a winter vacation spot or two to your Oregon travel bucket list!

Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach
Haystack Rock

Cannon Beach in the Winter

Embrace the charm of a West Coast winter by venturing to Cannon Beach, one of the most charming beaches in Oregon. Despite the cooler temperatures, this coastal beauty offers a unique and serene experience, and you get to enjoy this tranquil place during its charming off-season. If you are looking for a place to stay, make sure that you consider a warm and inviting hotel in Cannon Beach.

There are a range of activities to enjoy here. Make sure you bundle up and take a leisurely walk along the coastline, where you’ll find Haystack Rock beautifully decorated by snow, an added charming wintery touch.

A personal favorite place to go it to cozy up in a local cafe like the Sleepy Monk for an Irish homely feel.

Or visit the Cannon Beach Association, a non-profit gallery that features local arts & crafts, where you can truly immerse yourself in the area’s arts and culture scene.

You can’t forget to savor the fresh seafood that the area is renowned for. Try The Wayfarer Restaurant and Lounge, a local woodsy spot with a salmon cannery theme that serves American seafood plus breakfast.

We recommend packing warm clothing and rain gear, as the weather here can be unpredictable. You will enjoy fewer crowds which thankfully grants you more intimate moments with the breathtaking landscapes.

While the average temperature ranges from the high 30s to the low 50s °F, the coastal beauty and tranquility make Cannon Beach a must-visit winter escape. So, bundle up and go explore this enchanting coastal destination. (Recommended by Candice, CS Ginger)

Places to Stay in Cannon Beach, Oregon

Cape Kiwanda
Cape Kiwanda

Cape Kiwanda in the Winter

Pacific City and its beautiful Cape Kiwanda is a stunning destination year round, but it has a special kind of magic in the wintertime, thanks to its moody low-hanging fog and beautiful light rays. But one of its most unique aspects is actually not found on the cape itself—but rather offshore!

Thousands of gray whales migrate past its coast from mid-December through mid-January as they make their way down to the warm lagoons of Baja California. You may find a few local companies that are willing to take you out for a whale watching cruise, but your best bet will be to keep an eye out for them from shore. 

For the best vantage point, make the challenging climb up the cape’s 250 feet sand dunes, where you’ll be able to see Haystack Rock and beyond, spouts and the occasional fluke of the passing gray whales. Don’t forget your binoculars to get a better look!

Once you’ve gotten your fill, you can run down the sand dunes and walk directly into Pelican Brewing—the only brewery in Oregon to literally be on the beach. Fuel up from that steep hike up the dunes with a craft brew and some French fries! (Recommended by Jess of Uprooted Traveler)

Places to Stay in Pacific City, Oregon

Multnomah Falls in the winter
Multnomah Falls in the winter

Columbia River Gorge in the Winter

Though many people don’t think about visiting the Columbia River Gorge during winter, they are really missing out. The snow-covered waterfalls and less crowded roads make for a memorable experience in a beautiful “winter wonderland.” 

If you set out on a winter weekend trip or a day trip to the Columbia River Gorge from Portland, you’ll find plenty of fun things to do, including hiking, waterfall spotting, and wine tasting. Winter is also an ideal time to visit the Columbia River Gorge if you’re looking for off-season prices and smaller crowds — the rain and snow often keep tourists away from this famous drive until the summer and fall (which means more parking spots for you!). 

Popular things to do along the Columbia River Gorge in the winter include snapping a photo of snow-dusted Multnomah Falls, the most iconic Oregon photography location, grabbing breakfast or dinner at the Multnomah Falls Lodge, and checking out some of the hiking trails — just pack appropriate winter hiking gear and be mindful of trail closures.

You can also go wine tasting at popular wineries in the area, including Phelps Creek Tasting Room or Marchesi Vineyards and Winery if you’re looking for a relaxing break. (Recommended by Brittany, Travel by Brit)

Places to Stay Near Columbia River Gorge

Mt. Hood in the winter
Mt. Hood in the winter

Mt. Hood in the Winter

Located just a little over an hour’s drive from Portland, Mt. Hood is a top winter vacation destination for good reason. The sight of snow-capped trees, glistening slopes, and the highest mountain peak in Oregon (11,249 ft.) creates a picturesque setting that’s straight out of a postcard.

Mt. Hood is the perfect spot to enjoy all your favorite winter activities. If traditional options like skiing and snowboarding aren’t your idea of fun, don’t fret. There are a variety of alternative snow activities that welcome all skill levels, such as snowshoeing, snowmobiling, snow tubing, sledding, and sleigh rides.

For lodging, Government Camp is a great option, providing a ski village atmosphere with nearby dining and shopping. Opt for one of the many Mt. Hood cabins and vacation rentals in the area, or consider booking the Timberline Lodge for a ski lodge experience, complete with a pool, hot tub, and sauna for guests to enjoy.

Tip: If you plan to drive, make sure to put together a winter car kit with essentials like blankets, extra food, and water. It’s also recommended to equip your vehicle with tire chains or traction tires and purchase a sno-park permit if your visit falls between November and April. (Recommended by Devon, Say Yes to the Trip)

Places to Stay in Mt. Hood, Oregon

Newport Oregon
Newport, Oregon

Newport in the Winter

Newport is a coastal town on the Central Oregon Coast known for its stunning coastal landscapes, rich marine life, and quaint coastal town atmosphere. Visiting Newport is a must on any Oregon road trip.

Newport is a great winter vacation spot as it enjoys relatively mild temperatures compared to many other parts of the country. While there might be rain and chilly weather, don’t expect extreme cold or heavy snowfall. 

One of the advantages of visiting Newport in winter is the reduced number of tourists. This allows you to enjoy popular attractions and viewpoints without crowds often accompanying the summer months.

Newport’s rugged coastline and breathtaking ocean views are a year-round attraction. In the winter, the coastline takes on a wild and untamed beauty, with crashing waves and dramatic storm clouds painting a picturesque scene. You can enjoy long walks on the sandy beaches, watch the waves roll in, and take in stunning sunsets. 

Newport is home to the popular Oregon Coast Aquarium, which remains open year-round. The Newport historic bayfront is a popular area to explore year-round. You can stroll along the boardwalk, watch fishing boats come and go, visit shops that offer local crafts, and try seafood restaurants. (Recommended by Anu, Destination Checkoff)

Places to Stay in Newport, Oregon

Views along the Oregon Coast
Views along the Oregon Coast

Oregon Coast in the Winter

Have a hard time staying in just one spot? Take an Oregon Coast road trip! This route is about 300 miles and takes you to some of the most scenic and gorgeous destinations that Oregon can offer.

It’s a perfect journey for those who want to mix in hiking, scenic views, photography, and exploration all in one winter trip.

The great thing about this trip is that it’s very unlikely you’ll run into snow – the coast gets mild temperatures all winter long so roads are clear.

The winter is also the perfect time to take this drive because hotel prices are cheap, crowds are small, and you will get hiking trails all to yourself!

Some of the most iconic stops include Cannon Beach, Cape Perpetua, Cape Kiwanda, the Oregon Dunes, Samuel H Boardman, and Heceta Head Lighthouse.

If you are looking for a memorable US winter vacation, look no further than a road trip down the Oregon Coast! (Recommended by Emily, The Mandagies)

Places to Stay in Bandon, Oregon

Enjoy outdoor adventure at Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area

Oregon Dunes in the Winter

Winter is a terrific time to explore the Oregon Dunes National Recreation area. It’s a fun place to visit in Oregon with kids to keep your whole family entertained. 

Located just south of Florence, you’ll find the most spectacular sand dunes that span nearly 40 miles along the coast!

The Oregon Dunes are open 365 days a year. Since they are on the Oregon Coast, it rarely snows so the trails and viewpoints can be enjoyed year round!

We recommend sandboarding and off-roading to explore the dunes! As nature photographers, we also like the variety of wildlife found here such as deer, elk, sea lions and bald eagles. (Recommended by Dave & Jamie, Photo Jeepers)

Places to Stay in Coos Bay, Oregon

Portland Winter Light Festival
Portland Winter Light Festival

Portland in the Winter

Winter is here, and it’s time to plan your next vacation. While many cities hibernate during the colder months, Portland, Oregon, comes alive with charming neighborhoods, gorgeous nature, and vibrant events. Check out these Portland bucket list ideas during the winter!

Portland Winter Light Festival: A Dazzling Celebration – This is a yearly tradition that brightens up the cityscape with colorful light installations, interactive displays, and live performances. The festival takes place in February and attracts locals and visitors alike.

You can start your night at the OMSI (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry) and follow the illuminated path along the Willamette riverfront. You’ll encounter mesmerizing light sculptures, projections, and fire pits where you can warm up and enjoy some marshmallows.

The Portland Winter Light Festival is free and family-friendly, and it’s an unforgettable way to experience Portland’s art, culture, and community. There is no entry fee required.

Neighborhood Strolls – From Hipster Haven to Historic Charm, Portland is a city of neighborhoods, each with its identity, vibe, and story.

When the weather gets chilly, put on your coat, grab a coffee or a hot cocoa, and take a leisurely stroll around one of the quirky Portland neighborhoods, like the artsy and eclectic Alberta Arts, the historic Nob Hill with the art deco buildings, boutique shops and coffee houses, and Hawthorne district, with the vintage shops. (Recommended by Karen, Moving Memos)

Places to Stay in Portland, Oregon

Secret Beach
Secret Beach

Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor in the Winter

Winter is a great time to visit the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor in Oregon. While the shorter days and rainier weather means less likelihood of sunny photos, seeing the Oregon Coast in the winter means fewer visitors and moody coastal views.

Just driving through the park offers stunning vistas, but there are also plenty of spots to pull over and take a quick hike to a viewpoint or down to the beach. The best part is that the whole area is free to visit.

Natural Bridges is one of the most famous viewpoints in the area, but the short hike to Secret Beach nearby is equally worthwhile. You’ll also cross the Thomas Creek Bridge, the highest bridge in Oregon. Arch Rock and Cape Ferrelo Viewpoint are also great spots to stop and stretch your legs. (Recommended by Christine, Live Love Run Travel)

Places to Stay in Brookings, Oregon

Willamette Valley Oregon vineyard
Willamette Valley Oregon vineyard

Willamette Valley in the Winter

Right in the heart of Oregon lies the Willamette Valley, an often overlooked destination in the winter, boasting a staggering 700 wineries within its borders. The area’s tranquil, unspoiled beauty, the multitude of wine offerings, and romantic hideaways make it for the perfect winter getaway… but that’s not it.

In early winter is when the vineyards become a resplendent, golden hue, burn oranges and deep reds. The vineyards are incredible and should absolutely be visited!

The valley’s landscape is extraordinary; think rolling hills, flourishing vineyards, and quaint historic towns. Renowned as a haven for wine enthusiasts, the region’s fame precedes it, especially due to its iconic Pinot Noir vineyards.

Make sure you book in early for a wine tasting and a vineyard tour to complete your experience. Sit back, relax, sip some of the world class wines and enjoy!

You’ll find a multitude of lodging options in wine country including secluded bed-and-breakfasts and luxury hotels provide spa treatments, inviting a bit of R&R. Renowned for its ‘farm to fork’ restaurant scene, featuring locally sourced ingredients, the region is a haven for foodies too. (Recommended by Adriana, Wanderlicious)

Places to Stay in Corvallis, Oregon (Willamette Valley)

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