Leila George checks out five places outside of Oregon's hipster capital that are also worth visiting

1. Astoria

Best known as the town where iconic 80s movie The Goonies was filmed, Astoria was innundated by crazy fans in 2005 and 2015 for the movie's 20th and 30th anniversaries. But this historic port town has many other attractions: cool hipster stores, an amazing bridge (Astoria-Megler, a 6.5km long truss bridge that connects Astoria to Pt Ellice in Washington state) and there's also an urban winery and brewery — the fabulous Buoy Beer Company. About half an hour south of the town you'll find the charming seaside town of Cannon Beach and Haystack Rock, also featured in The Goonies — you might not want to swim, however, because, trust us, the water is freezing.

2. Boring

Don't let the name put you off — this place is worth a stop for the #lol Instagram posts alone. You'll find the town, founded by William H. Boring, about 20km east of Portland, in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. Our pick would be to visit during the first two weeks of August for the annual Goth Float on the Clackamas River when the goth community don black togs and heavy eye makeup to float 6.4km on inner tubes; or Boring and Dull Day, when the town celebrates its sister town Dull, in Scotland. What a party that must be.

3. Bend

Bend, about three hours southeast of Portland, is a mecca for lovers of the outdoors — think rafting on the Deschutes River, skiing on Mt Bachelor, mountain biking, hiking, camping and rock climbing. The township has lively nightlife, with microbreweries and live music venues, but we like the sound of snowshoeing into the forest with Wanderlust Tours for a toasty bonfire, desserts and hot drinks.


4. Eugene

The second largest city in Oregon after Portland, Eugene is known for its active lifestyle, and thriving arts scene. Local landmarks include the charmingly named Skinner and Spencer Buttes (a butte is a flat-topped hill).

Buoy Beer Company.
Buoy Beer Company.

As you go further north up the Columbia River towards Washington state, the geography changes rapidly from lush rainforest to desert, which is great news for grape growers and wine buffs — especially fans of hearty reds. The Willamette Valley alone, which you'll find north of Eugene, is home to more than 500 wineries, producing some of the best pinot noir in the US. Craft beer is also massive here, as are artisan markets.

5. Salem

Not to be confused with the Massachussetts Salem, of the witch trials fame, the Oregon Salem is the state capital and right in the heart of the Williamette Valley. Fans of Milos Forman's 1975 masterpiece One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest will want to make a beeline for the Oregon State Hospital which stood in for the mental hospital where Jack Nicholson's character Randle McMurphy suffered at the hands of the dreaded Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher).

Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over the Cuckoos ' Nest.
Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over the Cuckoos ' Nest.

Actual patients and staff of the hospital were used in the film, which closed in the 2000s after issues of overcrowding and staff abuse of patients. These days, the hospital is a Museum of Mental Health, with several of its preserved rooms open to the public. Creepy. On a cheerier note, Salem is also home to the Enchanted Forest, a quaint fairy tale-themed fun park which harks back to ye olde times.