Weird and Wonderful: 10 Unique Attractions in Oregon

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If you love exploring quirky, offbeat, and downright strange attractions, it’s time to visit Oregon. From haunted tunnels and UFO festivals to prehistoric gardens and the largest independent bookstore in the world, this state is filled with weird and whimsical hotspots for adventurous travelers.  

Check out these ten attractions the next time you’re in Oregon.

1. The Oregon Vortex (Gold Hill)

The Oregon Vortex sign in Gold Hill, Oregon. Photo Credit: Jim Hickcox.

First on the list is the Oregon Vortex, located in Gold Hill, Oregon. Since 1930, this strange anomaly has attracted visitors by seemingly defying the laws of physics. Here, people seem to shrink as they approach you, balls roll uphill, and brooms stand on end. Indigenous Americans once referred to the area as the “Forbidden Ground” because their horses would not set foot inside the perimeter. While visiting the vortex, check out nearby attractions such as the Crater Rock Museum and Rogue Valley ZipLine Adventure.

2. Shanghai Tunnels (Portland)

A view of the underground tunnels in Portland, Oregon. Photo Credit: Keary O.

Named one of the most haunted places in America by Thrillist and USA Today, Portland’s Shanghai Tunnels are the perfect place to tour if you’re looking for a bone-chilling good time. Used during the 19th century to kidnap men for forced labor on ships transporting illegal goods, these underground tunnels and catacombs are located in Old Town Chinatown. Learn about the history of these tunnels on a guided haunted tour, where truth and myth blend in a mysterious tale of kidnapping and intrigue. After your tour, grab a bite and a brew upstairs at Old Town Pizza & Brewing, which occupies the space leading into the tunnels.  

3. Enchanted Forest (Salem)

Enchanted Forest in Salem, Oregon. Photo Credit: Pam Falcioni.

This magical theme park in Salem, Oregon, brings fairytales to life through rides and interactive experiences that feel more like a roadside attraction than Disney. Face the Challenge of Mondor, an interactive ride where you’ll fight the creatures of the dark at the behest of the local wizard. Explore Storybook Lane, where you can visit Alice in Wonderland. Stroll through the Old European Village and stop by Pinnochio’s Playhouse. Or, head to the Tofteville Western town and pan for gold in a recreation of the Wild West. Once you’ve had your fill of nostalgia and wonder, check out nearby attractions like the Willamette Valley Vineyards or the Gilbert House Children’s Museum.

4. McMenamins UFO Fest (McMinnville)

A band performs in the UFO Fest parade in McMinnville, Oregon. Photo Credit: Dee Browning / Shutterstock.com.

Every May, the town of McMinnville hosts the world’s second-largest UFO festival in honor of when two Trent locals snapped a photo of an alien spacecraft in 1950. The out-of-this-world festival brings in thousands of visitors who come to experience the parade, live music, costume contest, and speakers. While in town, you can sip your way through the nearby wineries, catch a live show at the Gallery Theater, or learn all about the history of flying at the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum.

5. Powell’s City of Books (Portland)

Powell’s City of Books in Portland, Oregon. Photo Credit: TFoxFoto / Shutterstock.com.

Bibliophiles cannot plan a trip to Portland without visiting the world’s largest independent bookstore, Powell’s City of Books. The shop has over a million new and used books, including a room dedicated to rare books. Located downtown in Portland’s ultra-hip Pearl District, Powell’s City of Books is within walking distance of a wide array of indie boutiques, craft breweries, coffee shops, and art galleries. Top attractions in Pearl District include the Portland Art Museum, Deschutes Brewery, and Portland Center Stage.

6. Prehistoric Gardens (Port Orford)

The Prehistoric Gardens in Oregon. Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk.

Nestled on the Oregon Coast along Highway 101, the Prehistoric Gardens combine science, nature, and adventure in an immersive rainforest park with 23 life-like dinosaurs. Guests will feel like they have stepped into real-life Jurassic Park as they wander through the exhibits and come face-to-face with towering dinosaurs like a 46-foot Brachiosaurus and a flying Pteranodon. This unique tourist attraction is located within a short drive of some of Oregon’s most breathtaking parks, like Sisters Rock State Park and Humburg Mountain State Park, for a fun day trip that combines the natural wonders of the past and present.

7. Harvey the Giant Rabbit (Aloha)

Harvey the Giant Rabbit in Aloha, Oregon. Photo Credit: Steve Morgan, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Standing at 26 feet tall and over 2,500 pounds, this statue of Harvey the Giant Rabbit pays homage to the 1950 cartoon that went on to inspire the famed Broadway play and beloved moving starring Jimmy Stewart while attracting visitors worldwide to the Tualatin Valley. Located outside of a boat repair shop in Aloha, Oregon, the figure is the perfect photo op for your next Instagram story. Afterward, catch a baseball game at nearby Ron Tonkin Field or take an afternoon hike at Tualatin Hills Nature Park.

8. Paul Bunyan Statue (Portland)

The Paul Bunyan statue in Portland, Oregon. Photo Credit: Kaytoo/Shutterstock.com

This legendary lumberjack has stood guard in the Kenton neighborhood of Portland since 1959, and at a whopping 31 feet, he’s pretty hard to miss. While there are Paul Bunyan statues in other parts of the country, Portland’s is one of the largest. Don’t miss snapping a photo with the mythical logger before heading off to check out other Portland mainstays like the Oregon Zoo, Forest Park, Pittock Mansion, and the International Rose Test Garden.

9. Old Perpetual Geyser (Lakeview)

Old Perpetual Geyser in Lakeview County, Oregon. Photo Credit: Jon D. Anderson.

Old Perpetual Geyser is Oregon’s only continuously spouting geyser, shooting a magnificent plume of water over 60 feet every 90 seconds. The Lake County favorite in Hunter’s Hot Springs is located along the Outback Scenic Byway and makes for an ideal pitstop on an awe-inspiring drive. During your time in Lakeview, you can visit other attractions like Crater Lake National Park, the Sundial Bridge, and the National Automobile Museum.

10. The Astoria Column (Astoria)

The Astoria Column at Coxcomb Hill. Photo Credit: Emily Marie Wilson / Shutterstock.com

The 125-foot Astoria Column atop Coxcomb Hill is a unique work of art that offers a jaw-dropping panoramic view of the Pacific Northwest. The monument was built in 1926 by Italian artist Attilio Pusterla to commemorate the original settlement of Oregon. Visitors climb the 164 steps to the observation deck daily to take in the unparalleled views while learning the fascinating stories of Oregon’s history through the artwork depicted along the way. Nearby attractions include the Flavel House Museum, Fort Stevens State Park, and the Columbia River Maritime Museum.

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