Budget Travel

Pocket-friendly Tours: Top 12 Free & Cheap Things to do in Oregon

Cheap Things to do in Oregon

Budgeting and planning are, most certainly, key to a perfect vacation. If you’re planning a budget road trip, Oregon will certainly be at the top of the list in this matter. For instance, our list of “Top 12 Cheap Things to Do in Oregon” will allow you to derive the maximum joy out of your trip without extensive planning or budgeting. This article is frequently updated and packed with useful and practical tips.

While Portland might be the most popular city in this Western State, the region is also dotted with numerous small towns, national parks, and places of interest that you can enjoy without opening your wallet. You can find out more about the best Oregon road trip destinations by checking out our comprehensive sampling.

Creating memories is the most important thing on vacation, and we’ve provided you with a list of things that are within your budget, so you can certainly remain focused. Have a look at the list and pick out the budget-friendly activities that you want to do. Don’t forget to take some time for yourself and just relax. Make the most of it!

Top 12 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Oregon

While Oregon can be a perfect road trip destination. Check out this list with the most up-to-date and detailed guide about cheap things to do in Oregon:

1. Whale Watching Spoken Here Interpretive Center in Depoe Bay

Whale watching, unique, free and cheap things to do in Oregon

Whale watching is a mesmerizing experience. Even more so if you can do it completely free of charge. The Whale Watching Spoken Here Interpretive Center in Depoe Bay, Oregon is a state-funded facility that offers visitors a chance to learn about these majestic creatures.

As you learn you can also be on the lookout for these mammals by looking west towards the Pacific Ocean.

Visitors here can easily spot one of the gray whales that make its home offshore from March through December, often without taking a tour boat or needing binoculars. This is quite a site and this is why it is our top-listed free thing to do in Oregon. If you’re traveling with your partner in Oregon this is a must-visit place.

There are over two dozen centers in Depoe Bay offering whale-watching attractions to tourists and visitors every day.

2. Central Library

Portland’s Central Library is the oldest of its kind on the West Coast. Constructed in 1913, the public library includes over 16 miles of shelves with some of the finest collections of books and artwork.

Apart from the history of the building, it is a perfect place to visit with family and kids. There is even a huge cast-bronze tree named “Tree of Knowledge” by Dana Louis in the children’s reading room.

This magnificent structure is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places making it one of the most intellectual of the cheap things to do in Oregon.

3. Oregon Caves National Monument

Oregon Caves National Monument: not free but reasonably priced

The Oregon Caves National Monument is situated in the Siskiyou Mountains in southern Oregon. Completed in 1909, the monument includes cave tours, youth activities, relaxation, campgrounds, and parks.

Popularly known as the “Marble Halls of Oregon”, the caves are a result of years and years of water chiseling the marble rock to create these wonders. A descent into these caves is not free of cost but is reasonably priced so it perfectly fits with our list of cheap things to do in Oregon.

4. Brewery and Distillery Tours

Best Brewery and Distillery Tours in Oregon

Portland is famous for its distilleries and breweries. Most of these attractions are typically free of charge. At least once a week the breweries and distilleries offer free tours often followed by complimentary tastings.

This is sure one of the top-of-the-chain cheap things to do in Oregon, so, if you are interested in availing yourself of these free tours then be sure to check out participating locations at Distillery Row.

Just make sure you contact the distillery of your choice beforehand to secure your spot. Also be sure to look into the Distillery Passport for special offers, including periodic free tastings.

There are more than 75 breweries in the Portland area. Breweries that offer free tours include (but are not limited to) Hub, Ground Breaker, Ecliptic Brewing, Kells Brewery, and more. 

5. Tillamook Cheese Factory

Tillamook Cheese Factory: Oregon famous and award-winning places

Tillamook Cheese Factory is famous for its award-winning products. In addition, the Tillamook cheese factory in Oregon also offers over forty flavors of ice cream. Now, that’s reason enough to visit the factory on your next visit to this beautiful state!

The factory also offers a unique learning experience to visitors as they can see how these products are made and flavored before they are brought onto the shelves. The center is open throughout the year and in a year receives nearly one million visitors annually.

6. Oregon Railroad Heritage Center

Oregon Railroad Heritage Center, Portland

The railroad is the foundational structure of this country and the Oregon Railroad Heritage Center is a true ode to this. The Heritage Center is designed to celebrate the trains of the past including the Oregon Pacific, the Union Pacific, and the Portland Streetcar.

Even today, Portland boasts of the highest number of working steam locomotives in the country and this center is the perfect place to explore the rich railroad history of railroading in Oregon. The Oregon Railroad Heritage Center is a must-visit for fans of the locomotive and everyone else as well.

7. Tillamook Air Museum

Located just south of Tillamook, the air museum is located inside a huge hangar. The former US Navy Blimp hanger is also the world’s largest clear-span wooden structure.

As a relic of World War II, the museum is designed to allow the visitor a glimpse of the world and technology that is more than half a century old.

Entry to the museum is not free but is reasonably priced at under $11 easily making it on our list of cheap things to do in Oregon.

8. Portland Japanese Garden

Portland Japanese Garden: Feel Japan in Oregon

Spread over nearly 5 hectares (12 acres), the serenely pleasing Japanese Garden in Portland, Oregon is filled with impressive views.

Located above Washington Park in the West Hills of Portland, this scenic garden is popular as one of the most authentic of its kind outside of Japan.

The 5 garden styles include the Strolling Pond Garden, Tea Garden, Natural Garden, Sand and Stone Garden, and Flat Garden.

Visitors coming here are assured a taste of Japan right in the capital city of Oregon. The attraction is among the more expensive on our list but is far cheaper than a flight to Japan and the nominal fee (under $19) covers the guided tour as well so it fits well under the budget travel list.

9. Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art

Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, Portland, Oregon

Located at the Portland State University, the Jordon Schnitzer Museum of Art is spread across 7,500 square meters in the heart of the university.

Apart from offering collaborating opportunities and learning to the students, the Museum of Art is also open to the public entirely free of charge.

What began with more than 3,700 works of art donated by Gertrude Bass Warner as a memorial to her late husband, the museum now boasts more than 13,000 permanent works on a rotating basis.

This intellectual and cultural “laboratory” is sure to please anyone who appreciates art, so if you’re an art enthusiast and traveling solo then this could be a sure place to travel. It also makes for an interesting visit for those keen on checking out the grounds of the University of Portland. Admission is $5.

10. The Hollywood Theater

The historic movie theater is situated in northeast Portland and is considered a historical point of the Hollywood district.

Inaugurated nearly a century ago in 1926, the Hollywood Theater is run by a non-profit entity to preserve and retain the historic place while using it to showcase modern-day motion pictures.

11. Crater Lake Rim

Crater Lake Rim, Oregon National Park

The Crater Lake Rim refers to the scenic drive around the Crater Lake in Oregon National Park. considered one of the world’s clearest and deepest lakes in the U.S., Crater Lake attracts tourists all throughout the year.

The Rim Drive refers to the historic 33-mile-long drive that encircles Crater Lake. This drive is scattered with nearly 30 lookout points where tourists can stop in and take in the natural beauty of the region.

While it may be the most memorable of all the cheap things to do in Oregon, the drive here is highly dependent on the season and the weather conditions. So, make sure that you check the feasibility beforehand.

12. Multnomah Falls

Multnomah Falls, 30 minutes from Portland, Oregon

Last, but not least, the Multnomah Falls. It is rare to find a natural beauty of this scale at just a half-hour’s drive outside a busy city like Portland. The Multnomah Falls are huge at over 600 feet in height and roaring in their might.

The Native American folklore associates the falls as being created to impress a young princess as she wanted a hidden and private place to bathe herself.

Visitors can follow the trail and walk up to the Benson Bridge to get a much closer look at the sheer magnitude of this natural waterfall. This is one of the most beautiful yet cheap things to do in Oregon.

Tips on Saving Travel and Accommodation Costs   

While you may have fun during your vacation in Oregon visiting destinations that are free of charge or have affordable admission fees, the cost of travel and accommodation can take a toll on your budget.

The best way to save on travel is to skip the airline and look at cheaper options like the bus or the railroad. They are not just cheaper, but you can also enjoy the scenic countryside as you travel and it will certainly give you the feel of luxury travel. In fact, train journeys can be fun whether you are traveling alone or with the family.

Like the airlines, hotel stays can turn out to be more expensive than you budgeted for at the beginning of your vacation. This is because you end up spending on meals,  laundry, and some hotels may charge an extra bed if you are traveling with a child.

Our favorite way to overcome this is by booking yourself a rental vacation home instead. These properties are fully furnished and functional homes that allow you to enjoy the conveniences of a home even when you are on vacation.

For instance, if you do not want to dine out, you can always pick up ingredients from the local store and cook a simple meal at a fraction of the cost.

Wrapping Up Free Adventures Of The Beaver State

From snow-capped mountains to sandy beaches, parks, and lakes, Oregon has something to offer to each and every traveler who visits this culturally rich state.

As one of the best domestic road trip destinations, a trip to Oregon can be even more memorable if you can pick a few items from our list of Top 12 Cheap Things to Do in Oregon.

Regardless of the time of year, you decide to visit, make sure that you check out vacation rental properties on www.rentaltrader.com to maximize your vacation budget and minimize your accommodation expense.

To get more information please fill out our web form or call us directly. 

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